This weekend I ended up writing yet another Twitter thread to respond to another mainstream media piece, one dehumanising trans people. The specifics of what I was reacting to this time are unimportant, because there have been plenty of times like this before and sadly there are going to be plenty more in future.
I’m always jumping into the role of being the ranting trans woman, raving about my thoughts and experiences to try balance whatever offensive lies have just come out. I’m sure plenty of my Twitter followers are a little sick of it, but I can guarantee you that nobody is more tired of it than me.
I’m tired of being the ranting trans woman on a tirade yet again, having to lay down basic truths, and ignore the flak I get for doing so.
I’m tired of being told by bigots that they aren’t actually bigots, just because they’re not outright calling trans people degenerates or predators this time. They’re only saying our identity is a sham, peddling a gentler and apparently more understanding kind of transphobia. They just claim that we belong in a strange sub-level of human identity, somewhere for us gender freaks to sit outside of respectable types who don’t rock the boat. A type of existence that can be present in society, but never be respected or even humoured.
I’m tired of seeing everybody from politicians, to reality TV stars, to religious leaders, chiming in with their own personal take on what society should do with those pesky transgender people. The same people who always ignore the fact that we’ve been here the whole time, around the globe, in every society.
I’m tired of all of this because it’s my life.
Tomorrow I have to get up for work, get to my desk by 8:30am and put on a smile, pretending that everything is fine. None of my colleagues are trans, none of them pay attention to the ongoing discourse of whether trans people are human or not. Their lives aren’t affected, they can ignore it.
The outcome of these debates don’t change the lives of cis people in any way, people won’t treat them differently and nothing will happens to their rights. It’s all a game to them, one they can choose to play or ignore. Trans people can’t ignore it, we have to play whether we like it or not because our lives are the game pieces.
Being trans is part of my life, but it is not my job, it is not my entire life. It doesn’t pay anything, nor does everything else I’ve got going on in my life pause when the latest scandal breaks out.
The emotional labour of defending myself, and the process of dealing with the damage of enduring this constant mental barrage, is something I have to squeeze around my responsibilities. Those who write transphobic drivel in the media are making a living off of doing so, they actually profit from this. They can send an invoice for an essay full of lazy hate and then go back to their lives, completely unaffected. Safe.
Nobody pays me to defend myself. Nobody gives me a day off of work to process the emotional toll of knowing another bigot with a megaphone wants my rights reverted. I’m expected to just roll with all that hate and just shrug it off. It’s treated as the price of being transgender.
Nobody will cover for me while I go comfort friends who are already on the edge. In our community we look after each other, knowing few outside will. Those are friends who, like me, are transitioning as their last resort because they already tried everything else.
Transition is exhausting but liberating, yet often those attacks in the media will tell us that it’s wrong and unnatural. To those who write those accusations, I ask this: What would you have me do, considering that I’ve already tried the alternative for two decades and found it made me miserable. Transition makes me happy, I can’t ever go back to how I was before, it would break me. But if you want to stop us transitioning, stop expressing ourselves and using language that is our right to use, then what do you want from us instead?
Do you want our subservience? For us to pledge that we’re lesser people and will never be who we see ourselves as, to instead crawl through life in miserable shame? That sounds awfully anti-feminist.
Perhaps you just want the entire transgender identity eliminated? For us all to just cease to exist? You clearly want one or the other, there are no other options, other than leaving us the hell alone. Next time you speak out against us, at least have the courage to be honest about what you’d do with us all.
When somebody writes an article like that, or makes a documentary, or speaks out on the evening news, they’re dancing around what they really want to say: they don’t think we’re people. To them we’re not deserving of the same rights, not worthy of being held to the same standards. They’re not questioning our humanity, they’re outright denying it. That’s exhausting to hear over and over, but more than anything, that shit makes me angry.
So yes, I am tired of being the ranting trans woman.
I don’t want to be the ranting trans woman, I would love to fill my social media and my website with fluffy and fun content, to let my gender be an afterthought and not such a defining part of my life. But until people stop attacking us I’m going to keep ranting, I’m going to keep proudly talking about the fact I am transgender.
Because there are people who won’t leave us alone, I’m not going to lie down and ignore their shit when I know how much those attacks hurt people, and how much lasting damage they can cause. I could ignore it, but as long as I believe I can do some good speaking out, then I’m going to keep doing so until I don’t have to.
Edit March 6th: Originally this blog post used “The Angry Trans Woman” and not “The Ranting Trans Woman” as its title. Thanks to Sarah and Catherine, who commented below, for pointing out the similarity to a phrase I was not aware of. It wasn’t my intention to allude to any established concept, especially a derogatory one aimed at another marginalised group, but ignorance is not an excuse. Therefore I apologise for not being aware and unintentionally creating an irresponsible and inappropriate allusion.