[CW slurs, transphobia, homophobia]
Here’s a scary fact: I didn’t know trans men existed until I was in my late teens.
I grew up in the 90s, where the only access I had to the amazing vault of knowledge that is the internet was occasional shots on the one PC we had in the classroom for researching projects, and then forays on the library computers after school when we got to high school. The internet as we know it is fairly recent, and outside of it, resources for trans kids are very scarce.
I think that’s part of the reason I was 25 before I realised I was trans.
What I did grow up with was the parroted transphobia and misogyny my parents had learned growing up in the 60s and 70s, compounded by the AIDs “scare” in the 80s, and spread to me as just being “the way things are”.
The best way to combat bigotry is with knowledge, and that was a sword I was yet to be handed.
It meant that as a teenager, going through puberty, I had a lot of thoughts that made me hate myself, as I might have been one of the dreaded “trannies”, though that couldn’t be possible, because that only included men who were pretending to be women to trick them, right? Or gay men who wanted to wear women’s clothes, because somehow their sexuality informed their gender.
And despite knowing this was all bullshit by the time I came out, it was still a battle I had with myself. Because certain social media sites archive and save old messages, I can look back to when I first came out as trans and see the struggle I was having with myself.
The self-doubt. The panic over dysphoria. The self-hate.
Nowadays I wear my trans identity with pride, but it was a long fight to get here. And I’m not the only one who has had this struggle, I won’t be the last.
And it’s not as though transphobia in our media has gone away either: we see right now Michelle Rodriguez defending her transphobia film, but apparently we can’t argue with her because she’s “bi and one of [us]”.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is eternally popular, and yet he’s been called out for his use of slurs, and using disgusting slurs as a “game” (despite the wording in that article, “she-male” is absolutely a slur).
It continues, and so we have another generation of trans kids growing up being told they’re freaks, disgusting, don’t deserve to exist, and constantly seeing folx like them ridiculed in media, or that they’re deluded.
It takes a lot to break internalised bigotry, it’s hard to grow up in this world and not, but we absolutely, positively must, not for our sakes, but for the sake of those to follow.
I’m 27, I’m not going to inherit the world. But I have a 10 year old cousin who will, and if nothing else I owe it to her to create a better world. And if I can’t do that, then I must sharpen the sword and arm her best I can to deal with it.