Coming out has been a process, for me, that never really ended. Although it began nearly nine years ago, being a part of the queer community has meant been in a constant state of learning; and with that comes the realization that not everyone is as open to this knowledge as one would hope. It started out small. I knew how I was different from a young age, but never knew how to articulate it. Eventually, in high school, I found a small group of people who were like me. They fell somewhere within the queer spectrum. Somewhere that was never exactly where I, or anyone else in our small group, did. Suddenly, I found myself face to face with a multitude of identities I’d never heard of and knew nothing about. In hopes of being a better friend and support system, I began to seek out more information on these identities myself.
Once I reached college age, I found myself once again face to face with identities I didn’t know existed. Except this time, I was surrounded by massive groups of queer friends. And therein lies part of the problem. I found myself where I am now, floating between multiple groups as opposed to being apart of a community. Although there are a few exceptions, for the most part, the systems of oppression we, as a community, have been fighting against for decades have now permeated the community itself. Some things, people, or facets are “more important” than others. Which leaves me in a very strange place.
I am a trans* man. I officially began my HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) on July 16th, 2012. After about a month or so on testosterone I began to “pass” (be read as male) more. And that’s when I noticed it. The huge change in the way I was seen by the world and the way the world treated me. On most days I am read as a gay man, but that’s only because of the rainbow guitar pick I wear every day around my neck. If it is not easily seen, I am read as a straight, cisgendered, man. Other men see me and think I’m just “one of the guys”. They call me “man”, “bro”, “buddy”, etc. Women however, now see me as a threat. (Unless they happen to know me personally). My partner recently moved into an all girls dorm. Whenever I am there without them by my side, the women who reside there do their absolute best to avoid me. If they see me walking in the hallway along side them, they walk faster. If they see me waiting outside by the door for my partner or their roommate to let me in, they close the door as quickly as possible to keep me out. At first this confused me. Then it hit me. “Passing” as a man now meant I had male privilege. Gone are the days of walking around at night worrying for my safety or being careful about what I wear. After 21 years living in our society, I am now free to just be. And it’s sickening.
Mainly because while I now have access to this privilege, the people closest to me do not. My partner is a female bodied individual. About a week ago, they met me after one of my classes and were visibly shaken. After a while, they admitted to me that they had been leered at by two men on campus - two fellow students. These men felt so entitled to keep leering at my partner that they even crossed the street when my partner did so as to keep doing so. My partner was upset about this for days and still has trouble sleeping. Yesterday, one of my closest friends posted to her blog about two encounters she had with people that have a lot of learning left to do. Two men made homophobic comments towards her while she was trying to buy some damn groceries. Then a friend told her that if she wasn’t carrying a weapon, anything that happened to her (sexual assault or otherwise) was her own fault. And it’s weeks like this that make me hate humanity. Because I can’t understand why it seems that most people are only thinking of themselves. Because I will never understand the sense of entitlement that some people cling to tighter than their debit and credit cards. Because I will never understand why most people are content with living their lives and letting those who have had their rights stolen sit and deal.
Many people I’ve spoken to throughout my life have expressed the same belief - that no one individual can create change within our society. Honestly, that is pure laziness. I still believe that we all have the power within ourselves to make a positive change and create a better future for the generations of queer people that will live long after we are gone. It’s time to start thinking more about how we can help each other, than how we can help ourselves - how we can become a true community. It’s time to stand up for the ones we love, because everybody knows and loves somebody who is part of a marginalized or oppressed group. We can make a difference, all we have to do is listen and start.