Not everyone has the privilege to be out, to be open about their true gender. At the same time, not everyone has the privilege of being stealth either, living as their true gender while nobody/very few people around them know about their gender assigned at birth. Because of this, a lot of people who are able to come out, and are not able to ‘hide’ their trans status, find themselves in a position of being out. Of being ‘visibly trans’. Today I want to talk about what that is like and how you can deal with it.
I went through a period of time where I was ‘visibly trans’. Now, I live my life pretty stealth. Most people at work (residents) don’t know, and nor do a lot of staff members. I do this because it is a lot easier for me to go about my life without being ‘out’. I do feel sometimes like I am still being called the wrong thing – since I use they pronouns rather than he – and sometimes it is hard. But most of the time it is okay, I would rather just go about my job without constant questioning.
For the time in my life where I was visible though, it wasn’t too bad most of the time. I had very few issues, but when I did, it was certainly noticeable. I got abuse in public, I was outed in front of people on stage (something I mentioned in my Drag post), it was just a horrible situation to be in when someone took to misgendering me accidentally or intentionally, it sucked.
When someone takes time out of their day to be hurtful on purpose, you have to wonder what is going on or has gone on in their lives to make them so. Nothing excuses the behaviour, don’t get me wrong, but you have to wonder what may have triggered it. For some, it is fear – they don’t know enough about you, you are literally the unknown. For others, it may be past experiences – they may have dated a trans person who was abusive for example. Again, neither of these things are excusable in any way. I want to make that perfectly clear. If you can go through life looking at every person individually, why should a trans person be any different?
As a trans masculine white English person I am very privileged, I am in a position where I protected by my gender, my skin colour, and laws that are in place in England. Being out for me is a lot safer than it is for others. Being out is, at times, very dangerous.
This is never more true than for trans women of colour in places such as Brazil, which has the highest rate of trans deaths each year. I spoke about it in my post around Trans Day of Remembrance last year, trans women of colour are targeted daily, hour by hour, beaten, abused, threatened and murdered, simply for being themselves. It is often put down to fear, to ‘gay panic’ etcetera, which is frankly absurd. If you are scared of someone, you don’t just murder them.
It is important to remember just how much privilege we have here in England, particularly those of us who are not people of colour, we are in a position of power, and we are not as targeted as others. Being out is both a privilege and a curse and we need to remember this.
I hope this post has been helpful to those who have read it, and educational to some. I apologise for it not being too long, however tomorrow’s post in the A-Z Challenge is P for Passing. See you there!