· By Kelly Hogaboom
it's trans awareness week, strap in because I am once again depressed about it
Trans issues regarding our welfare, our joy, our visibility, our careers - these things are getting better for us. There is no doubt. There are still major setbacks, backlashes, and of course social and political problems that haven't budged at all - but we are seeing improvements. Trans individuals are being elected to office, engaged in mainstream ad campaigns, and are receiving increasingly compassionate and science-based medical care. As I write today, Alexandra Billings is charming audiences with her character Inspector Ainsley Lowbeer on the streaming sci-fi TV show "The Peripheral". No, I haven't seen it - but her role is a milestone, for sure. We will see even more milestones next year.
Obviously these are wonderful developments. And even though life is still dangerous, and treacherous - not because being trans is awful, but because how people often treat us really is - it's exciting to be a part of positive social transformation.
The community is faring better, but I personally am not. Since coming out in spring 2021 I have experienced a series of blows and indignities - and losses, some of them major.
It's all the more strange for me because I have this oddly wonderful personal life - a beautiful family, a wonderful partner - and I get to live in this delicious, gorgeous place. My family has avoided Covid, we have enjoyed good health for years, we have a safe and cozy home, we are doing exactly what we want to do with our careers. In many ways my life is a paradise. An Eden!
But the thing is no matter how good we have it in our nuclear family or our close circle, people need more than that. We need to be seen and validated, as a part of society. Even if we're fringe, we need to be told we're important.
And I really, really am on the outs. Neither seen, nor validated.
As a nonbinary person I am a minority even within the trans community, which is itself already a minority. Sometimes I feel like I occupy a sliver of a sliver, which - if you relate to this in a foundational way - you know how odd that feels. It is so strange to be a normal person, a person just like every other person really, except you walk around and people tell you all the time you don't Belong. Sometimes they tell you this in really shitty ways or they giggle behind your back, but a lot of times it's this odd, polite smugness; an airy dismissal that feels impenetrable.
Even there my situation is complex. I have the twin distinction of on one hand being loved and treasured by my local mainstream community - I live in an economically-depressed rural town where I have generational roots - but also, I am made invisible on a constant, daily basis. I am made invisible every day in conversation, even in the most casual of exhanges; I am made invisible every time I fill out a form at the dentist or whatever, every time I am invited to (or excluded from!) a "moms'" gathering, every time I'm called "ma'am" or "miss" (the latter is tragi-comic if you ask me).
Just last week I was misgendered while talking to a trans practitioner!
It's like everyone has decided I'm invisible and while MOST of them will be fairly polite if I say, "Hey I'm here and I matter", it still feels like I'm losing at this game!
Some people feel special when they feel different, and that sounds super cool. And if that's you, I am really glad for you!
But I think I feel spooked. I feel like I'm at the edge of the herd, about to be picked off (or shoved out). Even in the LGBTQ+ community itself, I am a double-minority and have experienced a lot of sly (or overt) lateral oppression. Or whatever you'd call it, honestly I'm too tired to find the best current lexicon which will be outdated in five minutes anyway.
So I'm not really down with this "We are family!" shit because the LGBTQ+ family has not, historically, been all that kind to me and people like me. Just so you know I'm an Olde, I'm forty-five, and bisexuals are still treated shitty in the community but damn it was really rough in the early nineties when I came out!
So yeah, I don't belong. People tell me this, all the time - and have for years.
Some of my feelings of unreality and alienation - well if not paranoia or a trauma response, they're probably silly on my part. I don't think I am about to be picked off and my rational mind tells me that the people who reject me, or the groups that exclude me - well honestly, it's their loss.
I'm mostly walking around with the case of the Spookies. And Transgender Awareness Week makes me feel irritable - rather than seen, or celebrated. Then I feel guilty about being irritated, because I know for many people this week is a lot of fun - and I don't want to piss on their fun! I want people to feel good during this week!
Despite all this I don't regret coming out, I don't regret correcting people on my pronouns and having a high standard for that. I don't hate who I am. I am nonbinary, I am bisexual, I really am this person, and I like this person because they're just a person. My gender and sexuality are as beautiful and natural and unique as my green eyes, my love of spicy food, the way I rub my feet together in bed when I'm starting to feel sleepy! I'm just another human being, perfectly made, rather unremarkable in it all, living only as a bright candle for too-short a time on this fantastic planet!
So during this year's Trans Awareness Week I feel a little blue - again. But I have to tell myself: it's okay to feel low. I do not owe anyone a constant stream of cheerful, constructive material. It's okay to have feelings that other people are afraid of.
After all: I'm not afraid of my feelings - I'm really not.
So I get to have them and - gasp! - I even get to share them, on a public platform.
Thanks for reading.