Where Did This Soapbox Come From?

Everyday I come out to more people and it gets easier.  I talk about top surgery at work openly and have little fear of anyone’s response.  This is mostly due to the fact that upper management has made it clear they have my back.  This confidence also comes from the overwhelming support I have gotten from my friends.

I’m really fucking excited for the surgery, and appreciate the fortunate spot I find myself in: not only can I afford it, but also I have had great help from my therapist and loved ones learning how to accept my trans identity.  Lots of people don’t have this.  Most of you know the stats, but I am going to repeat them here for those of you who don’t.  According to “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” by the National Center for Transgender Equality:

“Ninety percent of transgender and gender nonconforming people report harassment, discrimination and mistreatment on the job, and the injustices they face have devastating economic and personal consequences.”

“A staggering 41 percent of the more than 6,400 respondents said they had attempted suicide, compared to a rate of 1.6 percent for the general population.”

“One in five transgender people in the U.S. have been refused a home or apartment, and more than one in ten have been evicted, because of their gender identity.”

“78% of respondents who were out as trans while in K-12 school indicated that they had been harassed on the basis of their gender identity, with over one-third (35%) reporting that the harassment escalated to physical assault. The abuse could be so severe that it resulted in almost one-sixth (15%) leaving school to escape. Those who are able to persevere had significantly lower GPAs, were more likely to miss school out of concern for their safety, and were less likely to plan on continuing their education, according to data from GLSEN2. Perhaps most alarmingly, 51% of NCTE survey respondents who had been bullied reported attempting suicide.”

This study is comprehensive and respected and the first to have such a large pool of respondents in the trans community.  And it’s ugly and we all have to take responsibility for changing the lives of transgendered individuals.  This isn’t about tolerance anymore, it’s a matter of acceptance, because, of course, when one claims to be “tolerating” another, it is really intolerance that is occurring.  Could you ever look another person in the eye and say to them sweetly, “Oh darling, of course you are welcome here.  I am tolerating you.”  We tolerate things we dislike but can’t change.  We don’t tolerate those whose essential humanity we recognize as the same as our own.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”  And that is the bottom line here: what we do to the least of each other we do to ourselves.  When we don’t take up the plights of the minority even those of us in the majority are injured.  And if we cannot be moved to action to save ourselves, then we are no race worth saving.

Ok.  I’m done preaching.  Let me get back to speaking for myself.  I’m fucking angry that these stats reflect reality for a population I consider my people.  I’m fucking angry that this shit is common.  I am mad our stories usually end with a murder.

I am with them in Rockland.

I am reading new stories everyday.  Ones like this, and this, and this.

What can I do?  I can tell everyone I know I’m a trans dude, and that’s a start.

For God’s sake, be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

8 thoughts on “Where Did This Soapbox Come From?

  1. I’m so happy for you, and excited to hear about the support you’re getting. The statistics anger me and scare me. The news does too, sometimes. Thank you for your bravery in helping to make this world a safer, more open-minded place.

      • You know, i haven’t really felt brave. At times it has felt borderline selfish — he had been so depressed for so long that i really thought we were going to lose him, and when he disclosed to us what was going on with him i saw it as the key to saving him. I would have done just about anything to keep from losing him. I was so glad to finally have an answer to the questions of why he was depressed and what can we do to help that supporting him has been easy. As long as i can see him genuinely happy, that’s all i need.

      • Everyday parents choose to ostracize their children, to throw them out of the house, to send them to bullshit reparative therapy, to deny their right to their identity. You took the hard road of listening to your child and supporting him no matter the cost, because the cost to not support him, you knew, was far greater.

        When I came out as a gay 17 year old, my mom told some of her friends at work and one of them was struggling with how to deal with a niece that was gay. The girl’s parents were bullying her and denying her. My mom said, “I just don’t understand how someone could stop loving their child.” And that has always been my mom’s starting point, she has always approached my sister and I from a place of love. It takes a brave person to choose compassion over judgment because compassion requires patience and wisdom. Judgment just requires a mouth.

        I see that compassion in you, too. And I thank you for it.

        -E

  2. Eli, you’ve done a great job of summarizing the stats and eloquently calling to action to change them. While we need to hear the positive stories of acceptance such as yours, we also can’t lose sight of the chilling reality for many others. Do you mind if I re-post this into my blog?

  3. Pingback: Retrospect | My Life Without Tits

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