Discrimination: Subtle vs. Overt

Discrimination is a bad word these days, diversity and inclusion is in, discrimination is out. So did we abolish discrimination? Obviously not, but we changed its characters. Back in the day it was socially acceptable to openly hate someone because of some element or another. Now you have to be careful and hate them quietly. You could obviously treat everyone with dignity and respect, but that’s hard and doesn’t make you feel good, so just hate quieter and you won’t feel awkward at family get togethers.

When people think of discrimination they think of the overt kind. Segregation as an example. Where there is a very obvious difference placed between two peoples for the detriment of one and the improvement of the other. What has happened is that these behaviors have largely become unseemly, so that its become preferable to create institutions and practices that move people and resources away from each other so that, no there’s not a segregated water fountain, but oddly there seem to only be white people at this park.

So subtle discrimination comes from the same troublesome belief that not all people are equal, that not all people deserve the same dignities and that not all people deserve equal opportunities. It’s shameful but it still exists. It comes from hate, it comes from fear, it comes from envy. It does not come from a positive emotion.

So how does this subtle discrimination become enforced. In very quiet ways, in a lack of opportunity, in a need to prove yourself above all others. I remember a joke by Jerry Seinfeld “I’m not afraid when I hear I have a female pilot when I’m flying, because I know she had to be three times as good to get there then a man.” That’s subtle discrimination. When you expect more from someone with no basis, it’s discrimination. When you try and teach someone a lesson because they don’t conform to your ideals that’s discrimination. Basically when you lord your power over others that don’t comply with your world view you are discriminating.

I made a comment to my employer that their behaviour recently had a discriminatory slant to it. I told them that I hoped their actions weren’t based out of discrimination, but that I had concerns that they were. Since coming out their tones and understandings have shifted. I have changed as a person, or more accurately stopped trying to be something I’m not. I’ve been dropping my walls and letting myself be a person. It’s tough, but its healthy. Change always creates some sort of fear. Fear leads people to try and stop the source.

I want to impress upon anyone reading this. That its not your fault if you want to be who you are. If you’re trying to be a good natured, honest, caring, and concerned person. You can’t really go wrong. Don’t let others push you to fear what you are because its inconvenient. Don’t let yourself fear what you are, and hold yourself away from who you are because someone is pushing you away from it. It’s hard to maintain your confidence, especially when you’re already scared. Don’t invite in other hate to your heart. Know when you’re being manipulated, know when you are being pushed back into a corner, and know that you are worth being a person like everyone else.

Being yourself is part of the path to a contented and happy life. Some of us have to start further behind on that path, but don’t forget that a satisfying life is ultimately your own responsibility and you can’t afford to let others doubt corrupt you, if you’re anything like me then you have more then enough of your own doubt to get you through the day.

Differentiating Between Acceptance and Support

I’m going to illustrate my point with a little bit of an equivalency, see if you can spot the difference.

I accept that apples are not very tasty in the winter. How could they be? They’re not fresh, they’re not crisp, they’re kind of mushy. So I only eat apples during apple season. I accept that other people eat apples, but I don’t support it myself.

I accept that Trans people are different people. How could they be normal? They’re weird, they act different, and they make me feel uncomfortable. So I don’t like talking about them being trans. I accept that they are people, but I don’t get it and I’m trying hard enough.

I’m uncomfortable with eating stored apples, it’s personal preference and other then apple farmers largely no one is hurt by this. Apples are largely indifferent to the attitudes of those around them. Who can know for sure though.

Trans people on the other hand are real, are people, and have to interact with others all the time, and most importantly they’re not inanimate objects. We know we make you uncomfortable, because we don’t fit into your worldview. No one needs reminding less about how uncomfortable trans people make others then trans people. It’s not something we want. We don’t ask for it, but from our earliest memories we’re told to fit into a box that doesn’t fit right. With varying consequences for not doing so.

Accepting something is reasonably easy. Accepting something is similar to saying “I don’t hate it” which is a pretty low bar. Support requires effort, and I’m sick and tired of people saying I support when they mean I accept.

When you say I support without meaning it what you’re basically saying is that I feel more social pressure to accept you then I personally feel. So I need to firmly state that I don’t want to experience anything negative from your existence. The person saying this, is the one bringing the negativity, and it has to be experienced by someone. This negativity generally ends up being borne by the one who is being ‘supported’. In the end you’ve accomplished the opposite you want by saying I support you.

The worst part is, I don’t think that’s very upsetting to people who feel this way. They don’t want to be supportive, if they did they’d take on some of the burden not leave it for others. So lets maybe commit to being honest. It’s okay to be honest to a trans person and say I accept that you’re trans. As long as you actually mean it.

 

 

 

“Nobody Wants to be Trans”

Someone said this to me yesterday. I won’t name names, I’m a real lady like that. But it is something that I know I struggle with, and I think it’s a sentiment that is pretty common. Nobody wants to be trans. it comes from a simple enough place. Being trans can be tough, given the choice people would choose the easier path.

I wouldn’t be the same person I am now if I wasn’t trans. I can’t imagine a path my life could have taken if I wasn’t trans that would have been similar. Gender identity isn’t the core of your being, but it’s not many layers up. It subtly and un-subtly touches every part of your life. So to say that I would rather not be trans… well I can’t agree with that.

Even professionally I’m good at what I do. I don’t think I’d be nearly as good as I am if I weren’t trans. There’s a whole depth of character and experience that I can draw on to round out my practice.

I’ve noticed it most acutely when coming out to people that when thinking about trans people, non trans folk can’t seem to wrap their mind around. In my case they focus on how my wife feels or has dealt with ti, because they can imagine her perspective better then mine. It’s understandable, but I’m also not an alien. I’m not some non-human entity. I’ve just got a difference that sets me apart from a lot of other people.

Which is why I think people think being trans is bad, because it’s different, its separate. Often times its lonely, its uncomfortable. But for me at least it has harboured great virtues. I have incredible patience because I’ve had to. I have a desire for safety and security that has pushed me further then ambition ever could. I have great inner strength and harmony because I’ve had to deal with my demons.

Being trans has forced me to know myself. That is a gift, I live my life with peace, most of the time, because I have had to spend the time unpacking my baggage, understanding each element of it. Then put it back together to be a functioning human being.

So would I rather not be trans? No, would I rather being trans be easier? hell yes.

 

 

Writing our own stories

I had a discussion about introspection today with one of my coworkers. I think its fair to say that most of us know we don’t always admit the truth about ourselves, to ourselves. We run into trouble when we start detaching ourselves from our own truth entirely.

So that begs the questions, who writes our own stories?

When I wake up in the morning, there’s a very simple task ahead of me, I need to pee. That’s the first thing I do every morning, I wake up, and I go to the bathroom. and it is just that simple, there’s no other step, and somewhere after that, I become a full fledged thinking person, before I pee though, I’m a toilet hunting missile.

So I think its safe to say, at some point I decide, to start deciding things. probably shortly after washing my hands.

So I decide to start deciding things, but what if I never look back at these things, or hold my own life uncritically. Who writes my story then.

I’ve talked on the nature or truth before, and how I hold it more tightly then I do the other lofty human rights, like freedom. Yet, truth is one of the easiest things to give up, and one of the hardest things to fight for.

So who writes my story if I don’t pay attention. Obviously as humans we’re very adept at creating our own narrative, even if we don’t understand the protagonist, because lets be honest, we’re the protagonist of our own story, and we generally don’t understand ourselves that well.

So, if we don’t understand ourselves, yet still lead lives of varying levels of fulfillment. Who writes the story, is it that as people we follow those who do make decisions, and as such those who don’t choose their own path are the amalgamation of a web of leaders and trailblazers their lives are touched by.

Or is there some sort of generic social template that you can put yourself onto autopilot with?

That’s not to say that there are people that never make decisions, but to truly understand yourself you need to know; what you decided to do, and why you decided to do it. For almost every decision you make. That is exhausting. Many of our decisions we redo day in and day out. I make toast for breakfast most mornings because I know I usually make toast for myself most mornings. So I don’t need to think too hard about that, toast is tasty and easy. That spins off into other decisions, when I buy groceries I need to buy bread, because I will choose to eat toast for breakfast etc.

Or maybe we truly are creatures of habit. There’s not much about Mormonism I find interesting but there is one facet. They believe that If you’re not ready for ‘heaven’ or whatever they call it. That you have a chance after death to prove your worth again. However, even knowing what you do, you’re held back by the routines and decisions you made in life. Basically, once you die its hard to break the mold of your habits. Whether its true is irrelevant, but I wonder, does this type of thing happen during our life.

Do we build ourselves into an idea of a person and run ourselves accordingly. Letting ever more major decisions wash over us as we build up a repertoire of premade decisions?

In that case, we do write our own stories, but we’re really boring and bad authors.

I don’t have an answer, but I always wonder.

Who writes our stories?

 

The only people without

The only people who fell never near

The only people without fear

Living softly, hollow, shell cracking

The only people lacking

Turned and twisted, reduced with mud

Souls heavy steps, shallow thud.

Sun has broken, clouds subdue

In heart of hearts, hope does renew

The only people without fear

Sing silently their story’s near.

Am I really?

Am I really just some parts?

Am I really not allowed to start?

Am I really just a laughing stock?

Am I really key to hatreds lock?

Will I really feel the pain?

Will I really be treated sane?

Will I really be a nanny?

Will I really always be some Tranny?

I am more than your insanity.

I am risen above your animosity.

I am more then any part.

I am more within my heart.

The consequences of not baring your soul

I’ve talked before about how it feels to start working towards medical transition.

Here and here.

There’s definitely more to discuss there but I wanted to step back even further and talk about what it feels like when Transition is not on the horizon.One of the things I hadn’t noticed at the time was how dehumanising the process of transition is. The reason for this is that its taken transition for me to feel like a person, to in turn understand what I’d experienced.

Things might be a little different now but where I grew up and when I grew up being Gay was still considered a largely negative thing. The existence of Transgender people as a concept, let alone as members of the community was unheard of. As such, though I knew there was something different it took me until my teens to start to understand what I was.

One of the worst effects of being in the closet at such a young age is the isolation. This feeling of wrongness that pervades your whole being is not something you fully understand or could point out if asked. Its this element you quickly learn to disguise. My way of coping was to mirror expectations. What I mean by this is that if someone thought I was angry, or mean. I was angry and mean. If someone thought I was quiet and reposed, that was what I was. It was exhausting trying to balance people with different expectations co-mingled but I did.

The other downside is that I didn’t build very deep friendships. I had long term friends, because I was consistent in meeting their expectations so there was little to complain about. Yet I couldn’t really connect to people because I was incapable of connecting to myself.

That’s the meat of the problem. Using an onion analogy when speaking with a therapist I met later on that, though gender isn’t the core of your personality, it’s not many layers past it. If you have an underdeveloped or neglected sense of gender. Your societal expectations are out of whack. Your sense of self is impacted. Who you are and what you are begins to atrophy because you have no working context for how to express that socially. Humans are inherently social creatures. We relate to ourselves largely through how we relate to each other. So as I was unable to build any sort of consistency in my relations to others. Eventually I became nothing to myself.

There’s a lot of consequences of this that I’ll discuss more of them later, but the main message I have with this is that realising that I was Trans was not as simple as understanding who I was and finding my soul. It took a lot of background work just understanding what had been lost and what needed to be built. The pain of not having an identity, which is what I consider myself having missed out on during my normal development. Isn’t so easily reconstructed. When you talk about developmental milestones there’s certain ones that are very hard to recreate once missed. You just have to try and figure out how to be you with all of the pain and missing pieces anyways.

Because the alternative is much worse.