Jennifer Burke, at the always insightful Transcending Gender blog, quotes Jami Ward from not THAT different in response to the question, What do transgendered folks owe the rest of the world? The answer resonates beyond the trans community.
We owe the world education. We are the only ones who know what it is like to be transgendered. We are the only ones who can try to tell people who have no gender dichotomy what it’s like to be different the way we are. If we are not willing to spend time with others, to answer questions and to show the world that we are not represented by Jerry Springer’s “guests”, then we cannot complain that people won’t accept us as just plain folks. We haven’t been willing to show them that we are just that.
What, then, don’t we owe the world? We don’t owe the world submission. We have every right to be who we are, and we should be willing to stand up and say so. We don’t owe the world comfort. We cannot be concerned if our existence makes others uncomfortable.
I see it differently, not as a debit owed but rather as a gift to give. I educate because I want to, not because of a debit. I help my fellow brother and sisters because I love them and want to help them, not because I am paying back a debit owed.
When I go to a support group, I don’t go to pay back a debit, I go because I want to help them; I want to make their life a little easier by sharing my knowledge.
Diana, I love your motivation–such love and generosity.
This is something I have tought about very much the last 4 months when I started in a new school and no one new about my gender history. I really whant to be a part of changing some of all the prejudice but on the other hand is so wonderful to be able to just be that man I always wanted to be. It feels like I can breathe for the first time. (Well, not really breathe freely, I still have to use chestbinders but mentaly I already have full respiratory abilitys).
What do I owe my narrow-minded surroundings? What do I owe my self?
Of course I what to change the world, but I have no idea where the tipping point is between my integrety (or is it ego) and what I can contribute with to others?
Alex, the more I hear your story, the more I feel moved by it. Thank you for your honesty.
Yeah, I know I struggle sometimes with the desire to reach out to others and with the desire to not have to put myself out there. I has taken me time to figure out what is the right way for me, and I imagine it will change over time as I grow and change.