Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Mine is the shoulder that gets cried on. Mine is the advice that is solicited. I am the one woken up at odd hours to incoherent weeping over the telephone. I am the one dragging my ass at work because I stayed up late helping someone help themself with their problem(s).
It might be my compassionate point of view that they desired. It might be my bullshit goggles. It might be my empathy. It might be the way I trained my knee not to jerk. It might be my sympathy. It might be that I'm such an odd duck that I may have experienced whatever their problem is. It might be because I'm openly trans and seem comfortable with it and with other people. Or it might be because I care and they can sense that.
I don't do it to score points on some imaginary scorecard. I don't do it to make me seem like a better person. I don't do it for Heaven, Nirvana, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
I do it for the good feeling that I get. I am gluttony.
I do it for aesthetic purposes; smiles are much more beautiful than frowns. I am vanity.
I do it because I hate to see someone hurting and must get my revenge on the hurt. I am wrath.
I do it because I am too lazy to pass it off on someone else.
I am sloth.
I do it because I know that the person may come to me again in the future. I am greed.
I do it because I know that I can relate to anyone. I am pride.
I do it because I care about them. I am lust.
For fuck's sake, **RETURN THE FAVOR!** At the very least, show me some open-minded sympathy in general. I hurt, I bleed, I weep. I'm trans and being transgender isn't just a walk in the park. Speaking of walks in the park, try taking a walk through Central Park with tits and a dick.
I've been raped, ridiculed, bullied, tormented, denied appropriate medical care, denied employment, and oppressed in other ways. This doesn't include the many ways I've oppressed **myself**. Guilt, fear, low self-esteem, low self-confidence and self-worth, anxiety, depression, and dumpsters full of neurotic thoughts. Through a lot of introspection and self-analysis, I've come to not only accept, but to love who I am. I'm pretty damn amazing.
I can be a bitch. There are times that I am insensitive. I've been a grouchy asshole. I am not perfect, but I am fucking awesome.
Charlene grew up in a small town in the midwest. She never wanted for much of anything. She never worried when her next meal would come, never had to scramble to find somewhere to sleep and had no fears about walking her dog no matter the time of day or night.
Having so many things handed to her, Charlene came to expect everything to be handed to her. Using the tried and true trans method, she would just wish for it to happen and get incredibly depressed when her wishes weren't granted.
"Why is everybody always pickin' on me?" was a frequent complaint. She felt she was beset by negative comments from everyone around her and often victimized. Because nobody should have to deal with such terrible circumstances, she knew it was the fault of others.
Her best friend was Cathy van Pelt. Cathy was a very smart budding feminist and always did her best to help Charlene with her problems. When Charlene first came out as a girl, Cathy took her in hand and guided her in the proper way women should behave.
The first major step that Cathy helped Charlene through was GRS. "A woman cannot have a penis, so you should have yours cut off." Charlene did so obediently and also granted her strange request: to give Cathy one of the testicles that was removed.
"If you want to be a real woman, you must be able to kick the ball," Cathy would encourage, "If you can kick it, you will be given equal opportunities, protections, treatment, and quality of life with respect to circumstances." She would hold the ball near the ground and pull it away just as Charlene was about to kick it. "Better luck next time!" Cathy would say. She new that Charlene wasn't ready yet to be a real woman.
To illustrate the level of dedication Cathy gave to molding young Charlene into a model woman, here's a small anecdote:
At school, both Cathy and Charlene had to use the restroom at the same time. Charlene was following Cathy into the girl's room when Cathy turned around and ordered, "Stop! You don't belong in here. Use the boy's room."
"But I'm a girl. I had the surgery just like you said I needed to," Charlene whined.
"That doesn't matter. You used to have a penis and penis equals rape. There is no way you can ever use the woman's room."
"But Pig-Pen just went into the boy's room and he's been giving me creepy looks and telling me all of the things he wants to do to me. A few days ago he grabbed my butt. I'm scared," Charlene sniveled.
"It's not like you can get pregnant. A real woman's reproductive rights are sacred. Nothing should ever compromise or threaten to compromise that. Rape is a terrible, debilitating thing," Cathy logically instructed.
"Yes, you're probably right. I'm sorry I'm such an idiot. Thank you for helping me," Charlene replied with proper gratitude.
Charlene also had a little sister named Sally who worried about her all of the time. Sally had very misguided views on what it took to be female. She would often tell her big sister to take control of her own life, to be her own woman, not someone else's idea of what a woman is. Charlene's convictions were strong enough to resist this temptation as she would answer, "Always blaming me for everything!"
As time passed and technology improved, Charlene found that there were many other girls like her out in the world. The most useful tool was the internet and social networking sites. Charlene would send requests of friendship to any transgender girl she happened across in her world-wide web wanderings. When she found girls who posted ill-conceived and -considered notions like her sister Sally had, Charlene would comment on them and try to teach them the right and true way to be a woman.
These fetishistic 'girls' often replied that it doesn't take a vagina to be a woman, it's what's in your brain. Charlene showed the depth of Cathy's teaching by telling these 'girls' how wrong they were, how stupid it is to believe something like that. The 'girls' would resist being properly educated and ask for further explanation as to why it was so wrong to believe as they did. "Only babies would believe something so stupid," Charlene would then get angry and block such a wrong-headed imbecile who could never be saved.
Charlene's strength, critical thinking skills and character make her a role model to all right-thinking transgender women everywhere. If you wish to succeed in this world as a transgender woman, you should emulate this soon-to-be woman (when Cathy deems that she's earned it).
Hey, white folk! Getting picked on =/= current and historical institutionalized discrimination and oppression
Growing up, I was picked on for a number of things: a mole near my nose, my hair color and length, my weight, my skin coloration and my last name being the most notable. "Moleface!" "Carrot Top!" "Fatso!" "Powder!" "No jewels!" I'm an emotional and empathetic person and hadn't yet developed any armor to this, so I was frequently brought to tears. Even though I was often made miserable by this, I never once thought to compare what I was going through to the current and historical institutionalized discrimination and oppression that black people and other POC face.
I have enough empathy to know that I could never understand what it's like to grow up with that much disprivilege. I was never assumed to be a criminal, lazy, stupid, shiftless or even subhuman just because of the color of my skin. Police officers didn't harass me or my family. I had no problems getting a loan for my first car. I could go anywhere and participate in any activity in my town without people becoming suspicious of me or following me. I never had other white people police my behavior, presentation, choice of music or anything else because it wasn't 'white enough.' The 'flesh' colored crayon in the Crayola 48-pack was pretty close to my skin tone, too.
Go back to the first paragraph and reread those epithets. Back now? Good! Don't they seem incredibly juvenile and almost amusing? I mean, come on! "Carrot Top?" My hair was strawberry blonde, not red. None of the words used to pick on me have the historical weight and sheer hatred tied up in the N-word.
If I were to research my ancestry, I doubt I could ever find one person in my family tree who was ever owned by another. No, that's too sugar-coated. I could never find one person in my family tree who was ever a slave. My race was never dehumanized and othered to the point where considering them property was nothing to write home about.
"But that was a long time ago, just let it go," one might say. Sure, so was Jesus. Now shut up about him. Speaking of Christ, religious people have never once used bible verses to 'prove' that I or others of my race are less-than-human. Do you get it yet?
"But what about reverse-racism?" one might ask. What, does it really hurt to be called a 'cracker' or a 'honkey?' Seriously? Black people have no power over you institutionally. They can't limit your opportunities. You've got the white privilige power armor and these almost humorous epithets slide off like orange sauce off a duck's back.
You may get picked on because of your weight, height, hair color, or any other trait or feature, but it is not equivalent to the racism that black people and other POC face and have faced for centuries. I certainly can't understand what it must be like so I have no idea how any other white person could.
You really ought to check your privilege about now. No, let's go even deeper. Don't just check your privilege. Check what privilege itself means in this context. Understand the concept. Imagine what life might be like if many of the things you take for granted weren't true. Imagine that you would have to work much harder in society to achieve the same results you get now. It isn't all Escalades and booty-shaking.