Second Class?

| Jul 18, 2011
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I don’t know if you caught it, but the recent issue of New Republic had a cover story on transgender people. It called us “Second Class Citizens.” This was not meant as a slight — it was meant as an observation. The article, written by Eliza Gray, states that we are “America’s Next Great Civil Rights Struggle.”

Here’s the URL if you can’t find a copy on the newsstand or your favorite bookstore.

It’s only the beginning of the article and the comments, but, well, there it is.

So. I’m Second Class. Beneath others, as it were. Well, DUH. That’s why I hide my true self and lie (and the fact that my wife would throw me out.) People are scared. Trans people are scared because we get beaten, murdered, discriminated against and mocked. Other people are scared because for some of them the mere sight of us causes discomfort. I get that. Not all of us are pictures of femininity (or masculinity in the cases of my transmen friends.) Should we be punished for that? Of course not.

But we are.

150 years ago, the sight of a black man in some places in the US was enough to cause people to shout slurs and abuse that person. After all, they were slaves then: Sub-human in the eyes of their slavers and abusers. (And before you get all puffed up with “how can you compare hundreds of years of slavery to our issues?” work with me a minute as I develop my point.)

60 years ago, the sight of a black man in some places in the US was enough to cause people to shout slurs and abuse that person. After all, they had to know their place. There were laws and stuff, but who cares? They were second class citizens.

40 years ago, being outed as a Gay person was social and career suicide. So they hid.

A few months ago, being a transwoman was enough to get someone beaten and mauled in a Baltimore McDonalds.

Now we have a black president. And Gay people hold high positions and have achieved so very, very much in securing rights.

And then there’s us. We hide. As being outed can be cause for people to shout slurs and abuse. Social and career suicide.

Now of course we’ve made strides as well. We are in government and some other prominent places. This is because people fought back. Because of brave people at lunch counters and on buses and at Stonewall.

In The US, most people didn’t know about the evils of slavery until Harriet Beecher Stowe brought it into their living rooms with Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Many felt powerless against Jim Crow until Dr. King showed us that a person can stand up to hate. Ms. Gray states in her article that most people are related to or know a gay person these days, so gay rights seem logical and right.

And where are we? Well, we hide. We go stealth because we just want to live, or we live the lie because the ramifications of doing otherwise are very dire indeed. And one in three of us attempt suicide, to say nothing about how many of us are clinically depressed. We are who we are — this isn’t a frivolous choice, and the research is beginning to back this.

And, finally, people are trying to see us as human, not as depraved monsters or twisted souls. Because they are learning that we ARE people.

Thank you, Eliza Gray, for your small contribution to the fight. I just wish I could do more. And hopefully someday I will.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul, Transgender Opinion

Sophie Lynne

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Comments (2)

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  1. The Artist D The Artist D says:

    I recently wrote about this on my blog noting how it’s always someone. Black, gay and now transgendered. As soon as people feel they are completely over the gay thing (which will be about as much as they are “really” over the black thing) they will move on to public destruction of trans until they think they are “really” over that. I don’t get why after so many different groups of people have popped up we still need to take 50 to 100 years to figure out if it’s socially OK.

    With so many fights fought you’d think by now we’d just say “hey here is a new different person … well, join the club!” Instead they insist that THIS difference is totally different and must be analyzed / discriminated against until it’s a forced to be another social norm.

    That same piece I wrote by the way was turned down by a popular editor because it was too vague. He told me I couldn’t tell people everyone was acceptable, including differences that have yet to be discovered among humans. He said nobody would relate to that! Hah.

  2. thank you for writing this piece. i do wish you were not accurate but you are we need time to help the world we live in to develope understanding and that only comes thru information and also being challenged to think and evaluate. that is why all those you mentioned have arrived. yes time is important but we must all so be responsible for our future or at the very least help creat the opportunity for all to grow learn and eventually embrace and those other transgender friends will have a better opportuinty and place to live . hugs veronica black

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