On several occasions, I’ve been asked why I’m so open about the fact that I am a transgender woman. No, I’m not walking down the street with a sign on my back that tells people that I lived the first 26 years of my life publicly identifying as a male, but I am very open about who I am in conversation, on the internet and in my personal life. The question tends to be phrased in the following way:
“If things are so bad for trans people, if it’s still legal to be fired for being openly trans, if you know how society feels about trans people, why would you willingly let someone know that you’re trans?”
Exactly, things are bad for trans people. However, I’m fortunate and privileged in a lot of ways. I was fortunate enough to be born into a white, middle-class family who accept me for me. I live in a fairly liberal city in a fairly liberal state. I had the benefit of hormone replacement therapy being effective to the point of not immediately “outing” myself to complete strangers.
For those reasons, I feel a sense of responsibility to try to humanize the public’s perception of transgender individuals. As I’ve written about in the past, too often the only exposure to trans people the public comes across are wildly distorted caricatures found in movies and TV programs like Ace Ventura and Nip/Tuck, among dozens of examples.
As a higher percentage of the general public became acquainted with a gay or lesbian friend or relative, support for LGB issues began to rise. A 2009 Gallup poll uncovered an important trend: knowing someone who identifies as gay or lesbian more than doubles the likelihood that an individual will support LGB initiatives (in the case of this poll, marriage equality).
I do this in hopes that trans people can benefit from a similar trend. Perhaps knowing a trans person will benefit us, leading to more support.
So, fellow user of the internet. I’m Parker, and now you know me. Seriously, write me an e-mail: WriteToParker@gmail.com. We can chat. I’m a pretty cool gal. Really, I am.
That aside, I am open about my trans status because I know that there are others out there who don’t have the ability to evangelize on our behalf. I am open about my trans status because a good portion of the world still fails to see us as legitimate members of society. I am open about my trans status because I believe the words Harvey Milk used regarding gay and lesbian individuals apply here:
“You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.”
So, for those with the ability, like Harvey Milk, I ask that you come out, come out, wherever you are.