Netflix recently added a new special by Dave Chapelle called Sticks and Stones.
First off, I thought the special was hilarious. Especially, the segment about the alphabet people as he calls us.
You should go watch the segment, Here’s a link to an animated version.
I’m going to assume you’ve watched it. This interpretation of the community to me, is spot on.
To explain this I’m going to tell another story. Recently, I worked with my town to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance. It would have been the first time the town did. I didn’t have a lot of time to organize anything, but I did get the town to agree to light up one of their buildings in the trans pride flag.
Well, they did the rainbow instead. When we went to go see the building lit up, I was pretty immediately disappointed. What was more disappointing was what happened when I shared a picture of the building to a group of local folks in the community. Where I was somewhat crushed to see the town, on a day specifically for the trans community reduce us to just ‘the rainbow people’ none of the queer folk saw anything wrong with it. They’re trying they said, what should I expect they said.
A more polite way of saying “just shut the fuck up.” sure, but still not nice, and definitely not very inclusive. There’s the unspoken line right there, and it manifests in so many different ways. It’s why the trans community had to wait until the gay community was more settled before we were invited back in.
Everyone says that pride was started by trans women of colour. Yet no one cares that the T wasn’t widely added to the acronym until the late 90’s, 30 years after Stonewall, what happened between those points? No need to speak of that. Gay political groups undermined the advancement of trans rights in order to secure their own, as gay rights were seen as more politically palatable and advancing the community as one would hold them back. We don’t talk about it, but it’s a part of our history.
“Just shut the fuck up.”
It’s why when I talk to an old gay man about how we were both hurt when we came out to our parents he was brave and he told me I’m selfish and need to understand my parents perspective.
Because it’s hard to love trans people, it’s hard to accept trans people.
Because we’re different within the community, Because it’s their community and they’re generous enough to allow us in.
I often feel the most accepted by the community when I’m perceived just as a lesbian, not a trans lesbian, I can’t bring that up. Acceptance to them is accepting that I’m gay just like them, the trans part is messy and difficult and better left out of polite society.
I’ve spoken of this before, and it’s so pervasive. This idea that because trans people are begrudgingly accepted in the community, that we should be happy. So they don’t need to try and meet any of our unique needs, because we should appreciate that they let us in at all. So we shouldn’t be upset when they expect us to “Just shut the fuck up.”
They’re trying, and that’s supposed to be good enough.