Message in a bottle
Helen G // 16 April 2010
There’s an interesting article on the CNN International site about a recently-completed project “that asked transgender, transsexual and questioning people to create a message they wanted others to know”.
Overall, iReporters wanted the world to hear their voices, their stories, and to possibly teach a few people along the way. [A contributor, Oscar Robles] summed up the feelings many transgender people shared through their submissions.
“People get really wrapped up in their minds about people who are queer-identified or trans-identified,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be that big of a deal. Correction, it isn’t that big of a deal.”
Hmm. It is and it isn’t; I think it depends on the individual’s self-perception, as well as how they are perceived by others.
Which seems to lead into the often vexed question of living ‘in stealth’: as Andrea James says at TS Roadmap, “Various levels of stealth have advantages and drawbacks, and one isn’t better than the other. It’s a very personal decision that must be based on your individual needs” – and the article reports a couple of the contributors touching on this point:
Jett Smith […] says that he has worked jobs for months without anyone ever knowing his transgender status, and while he understands the desire to be stealth, he prefers to be upfront about it.
While [Avery] is out at work and says she doesn’t try to hide away, she remarks that her transgender identity isn’t a topic that comes up in general conversation or everyday activities.
It’s encouraging to see that several of the contributors consider their ‘transness’ to be of comparatively little importance in their lives. While that may not be everyone’s experience, it does help to underline the point that the trans community is not some anonymous monolith whose every member unquestioningly complies with imposed cultural stereotypes; we are, each and every one of us, individual human beings whose diversity deserves to be celebrated and included, not ridiculed and marginalised.