Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Transgender: Not a First World Problem

It is not a "First World Problem" to request that you not murder me.

Nearly two months have passed since I came out to the world that I have always been a trans woman. Since that time, I continue to discover previously unknown and unfed regions of my soul. 

There were many reasons which contributed to my decision to remain closeted for so long.  I have already mentioned maintaining a male external form for my wife was of huge importance to me, my desire to show her every bit of love I could to bring her joy. Just as great however was my own misguided sense, that with all of the privilege I seem to have,: Good health, Upper middle class American white male with a Master's degree, a career in my chosen field, married for 24 years to a woman who loves me, with our own home (north of the Rondo neighborhood which was destroyed by I-94), two cars, vacation time, with two children, two cats, a dog, with the luxury to "play poor" by taking extended camping trips throughout the year, knowing at the end of the trip we can come back to hot showers and comfortable beds.

Why should I affirm my true identity when there are so many other issues in the world which need to be addressed? 

My friends and acquaintances know very well that my biggest concern every day; what informs my vote each election is The Environment - Global Climate Change. Witnessing how much our warming climate f'd up Minnesota in the past 25 years makes the peer-reviewed scientific findings no longer abstract, but reality.
Related to this is the livelihood of the majority of the worlds human populations and the Ecosystems / Biodiversity of which humans are an integral and most influential part. Starvation, Healthcare, and Education doing what I can to help other human beings rise above their own base inclinations to discover the world outside of themselves - using that to inform the context of their everyday lives. This is not just for the sake of human lives, for everything in our eco-system

Those who cannot or will not discover what is outside of themselves  are those who sow destruction, violence from a soil of prejudice.

From this I narrow my focus into animal rights, protected habitats, acidification of the oceans, projected mass extinctions and human rights. The dignity of all human beings. Marginalized populations in the world: Attention to women, people of color, world poverty, torture, ... anyone subject to generations of economic disadvantage who does not have the freedom, resources or luxury to think beyond where they are getting their next meal - every action is dedicated to survival.

So with all of my privilege, how could I bring myself to possibly justify affirming my transgender Identity. 

Because I have been perceived as "male" it is assumed that I feel the privilege that comes along with it. That I cannot possibly know the experiences women feel every day. That because I have a "male" body, what right do I have to understand what other women who were assigned female at birth experience with regard to their bodies. Trans women are all too aware of these differences. 
When talking about harassment, rape and assaults, I remained quiet about my own experiences of being assaulted and raped due to the fact that even in "guy mode" I was not perceived by male peers as being like them.  But for the rest of society, because I am perceived as male, I must walk among the very types of men who were my abusers, remaining strong and keeping these experiences all to myself. Because again, that was in the past, I am strong, and I am not being tortured now. 
It took me decades to finally bring myself to the point in therapy where I could justify confronting those past experiences, overcoming my own guilt and sense of what I deserve for myself when there are others in the world who have and continue to suffer far worse.  Going to therapy in itself had long filled me with guilt - as therapy seems just another luxury of my privileged status.  

The thing is, these experiences of women - long marginalized, are typically the first things thrown in the face of trans women whenever they finally open up or step out of the shadows of their male facade. Do they not understand that trans women themselves have long thought about this too!? That we have a heightened sensitivity to these experiences?  When others, even our supporters utter these differences it reveals their underlying impression that they still regard us as men. Perhaps they do so because they are still in the clumsy, beginning stages of their understanding. Bringing up the differences nonetheless communicates that rather than them being receptive to thinking outside of themselves and learning about the true experience of trans women, they are more concerned with defending their own sense of identity - still regarding us as an outsider rather than as another woman in the already diverse identities of women. So if you hold these views, please get over yourself. Our experiences are not about you.

So again with the privilege, "Why do you want to be woman when the society favors men?" --- This is not a question that should be directed only toward trans women. This is a good question for ALL women.  My answer is because I am a woman

Now, I am not affirming my true gender, my real identity because I have privilege. I am affirming it because I am transgender. I am a she, not a he; a chick, not a dude.

First World Problems
As the world learns more about trans identities,  there is a lot of reactionary, unlearned banter in recent years that being transgender is a First World Problem. 
A first world problem is, complaining at the fully stocked grocery store, that you have been waiting in line for 10 minutes because there are only 2 cashiers on duty; Complaining that that gas prices are getting too high because its making it more expensive for you to take out your ATV / Snowmobile for a joy-ride; Complaining that you'll have to wait either between 8-12 or 1-5 for the cable guy to show up; or waiting for a plumber to come route your system -- because you have indoor plumbing that needs maintenance. complaining that the diet cola your are drinking isn't helping you lose weight, but then use clean drinking water to water your yard and eat a candy bar instead of the variety of healthy food readily available (because you don't like the taste!); That cloth diapers are less convenient for you than disposable,  that you can't rake your own yard because your leaf blower is out of gas! etc. -- THESE are First world Problems!

Transgender individuals are not a problem.  We exist in every society and we always have.  Sure we are rare, an estimated 2-3 Gender Non-Conforming (which includes transgender) individual per every 1000. or about 2,000 in every 1 Million. -- But we have always existed.  
The wide-spread use of the Internet, which since the rise of personal computing and browsing with graphic user interfaces is really only about 20 years old. Is what has made it possible for isolated trans women, men, and other GNCs, to find each other in remote hidden pockets of our communities. 
Even the vague references in the Bible such as those strictures about "cross-dressing" -- which is not the same as being transgender -- attest to the fact that trans identities have always been a known natural reality of human diversity.  It is not a reflection of reality, but choice in the way people make up rules on how they chose to deal with trans women. This history of how societies interpret their religious dogma (in the West - based upon 12,143 unique words as translated into the English language KJV) has prevented far too many people from assessing reality as it really is. And thus their traditional response has been to kill us.  Since it is no longer kosher to kill us, they chose to stigmatize us as being mentally delusional; that we are a problem to be solved; degraded, as they do all marginalized people, that we are claiming "special rights" - None of those are acts that they are interested in learning about experiences other than their own selfish lives.

It is not transgender and gender non-conforming individuals who are the problem.  It is those who deny the real world, preferring dogma; rejecting any account an inquisitive, objective scientific and researched view of nature reveals.

We ask that you get over yourselves, rise up and show some awareness of Truth...

...and please stop murdering us.  We aren't the Problem.

with much Love,
Xenia, a woman, a she

Related Articles:
Still Think Trans Women have Male Privilege? These 7 Points Prove that they Don't.

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