Transgender is a controversial topic to say the least. It has been written by experts in the medical, psychological, social-economic, legal and religious fields. One can find probably as many reasons to support or to oppose this phenomenon.
I am not an expert on this matter. That is, I do not have any certificate to substantiate that I am an expert on this matter. Except, I am a transgender woman.
My life is probably very typical of the many transgender women who were born decades ago. Society at my time of young adulthood was very different than today’s. The term transgender has not been coined yet. There was no internet and there was no information about Transgender. Transgender people from my generation typically lived in a gender confused and closeted life.
My body was like an after-market add on that just didn’t quite work with how I felt about myself. I felt very feminine but my body has all the wrong add-on. It was puzzling, annoying, frustrating and I felt very alone in this world.
In the 1990s, I finally learned that I am a transgender woman. And that I could do something about my mismatched body parts came as the best piece of news since my birth. From then on, my life goal became both clear and complicated. On one hand, I knew I wanted to live as a woman. On the other hand, I also knew my life will be hell because people, friends and even loved ones, without any reason, would consider me an outcast, a shameful entity of the society. Some may even believe that I could be dangerous to society even though I have never been a danger to anyone in my life. I have to constantly make trade-offs between my desire to live as a woman, my true self, and the need to build my professional and business career and the need to provide for my family and give my family the lives and opportunities they deserved.
Things have changed a lot since then. There are more understanding of the issue but the heightened awareness of transgenderism in the general public has also brought on sometimes uncontrolled and unmitigated level of explicit hatred and blind fear against transgender women.
To counter the hate and fear, many experts have tried to produce medical and psychological facts and reasons to support and “normalize” transgenderism. I don’t know for a fact that those efforts have changed people’s mind about transgenderism. It is my believe that people who are fearful and hateful of transgender women, will continue to be so no matter what the experts may say. It is not an intellectual struggle. It is reflexive perception coming from a life time of unmovable belief that gender is binary and determined by visible physical biological traits. That belief cannot be changed just because a few experts have drummed up arguments that sometimes can seem very circular in nature.
IMHO, the only way society in general will gradually accept transgenderism is when transgender people have been “normalized” by their own social and economic success. I have witnessed how our society have gradually accepted Gay and Lesbian communities as “part of the fabric of our society”. The recent acceptance and legalization of Gay Marriages was seen as the final proof that Gay and Lesbian is normal and an integral part of our society.
What caused that changed after decades of struggle on Gay issue? I still vividly remember the hate and fear against Gay people in the 1980s when HIV and AIDS were seen as God’s punishment lavished onto the sinners — Gay people. The views and perceptions of Gay and Lesbian have changed a lot since then.
The change did not come because the general public has finally accepted the experts’ opinions on Gay and Lesbians. As a matter of fact, there isn’t any concrete medical or biological proof that Gay and Lesbian is biological though there has been much talked about that from experts since decades ago.
The general public has gradually accepted that people have different sexual preferences and that it is just an irrefutable fact. How did that happen?
IMHO, in the past decades, Gay and Lesbian people have attained visible and significant successes in our society. We have seen Gay CEOs of large and successful companies. We have seen successful Venture Capitalists who are Gay. We have seen successful professional athletes who are Gay or Lesbian. We have interacted with successful interior designers, architects, lawyers, doctors who are openly gay or lesbian. It is almost a foregone conclusion that if you want to have a really creative and stylish hair do, your stylist will very likely be a Gay person. We almost expected to hear that our favorite actors or actresses are Gay or Lesbian.
Gay and Lesbian are no longer perceived as the drug addicts, the HIV carriers, the weird and ugly looking faggots and dykes. Instead, Gay and Lesbian are successful people, upper middle class people, living in the high end mansions.
That is how the tide against Gay and Lesbian got pushed back gradually, through the social-economical success of one Gay or Lesbian person at a time.
It is likely that Transgender people will have to go through the same path before we could be accepted by the general public as normal and integral part of the society.
Where and How can we (transgender people) start to build successful economic and social (in that order) lives?
IMHO, we can start by ignoring the social injustice, the fear, the set back, the ignorance of the public etc. Instead, put all our efforts and energy into value creations. It is through the values we have created that benefit the society in general that the tide against us will recede.
No, it will not be easy. It will be very hard. It will be harder than anything we have ever done in our lives. And it will be harder for many of us because of the hate and fear in the society against us. But it can be done. It has been done by other transgender people and their lives have gotten a lot better. And when we are successful in creating values for the society, our lives will get better, and the lives of those who come after our generations will become normal, joyful and peaceful. It is worth our struggle. It is a struggle we can do on our own without having to wait for government assistance/hand-out or acknowledgment or acceptance or donations from any one. We are as smart and as hard working as anyone. We may be transgender women or men, we are also free and strong people who can dictate our journeys forward. We can do this.
We must not be distracted by the noises all around us. Those noises come from both haters and supporters. Ignore all of them. None of that could be helpful for us. Heads down, work on whatever is right in front of us. Give it 100% of what you have. Do it better than you have the last time and the time before that. No matter how mundane or unimportant or uninteresting the work we have at hand, we must give it everything we have. As we complete our work at hand successfully and beyond others’ expectations, opportunities will open up and we will be able to get the next piece of work that we can again apply all we have on it. Keep repeating that and we will see success eventually. Nothing magical will happen in the short time. Put in your next 15 years on it. And you too can be successful and live an upper middle class or better life. It is through yours and hers and his economic and social success, one at a time, that we can move transgenderism into the mainstream and be part of the fabric of our society.
Life is full of excitements and opportunities. The fruits of life won’t be given to us. We have to go grab it ourselves.
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