A few weeks back, Calpernia Addams, a prominent transgender activist, was talking about her difficulty with members of the trans* community as she attempted to cast a TV show featuring transgender people. It seems she was receiving emails and messages from people who wanted to make sure that her casting selections were composed entirely of transgender people who met some specific concept they had of what a transgender person should be seen as.
I remember well, when I was first transitioning, that some of the hardest people to cope with were other transwomen. For some members of the community, I was ‘doing it wrong.’ Really? Doing it wrong? How do you juggle flaming chainsaws while blindfolded and riding a unicycle? Any way you can!
It wasn’t just early transition, this has happened to me even recently. I was at a housewarming party about six months ago in a mostly transgender crowd. Most of the ladies were extremely thoughtful to one another, and took efforts to build each other up. That said, there were a couple of my sisters who hadn’t gotten the memo to be nice.
One of the things a trans* person has to learn for themselves is which behaviors from their old identity are genuinely a part of who they are, and which parts they were having to embody in order to keep up the lie of being what people expect them to be. (Which is to say, which behaviors were just to prove their gender as assigned at birth.)
The ladies with whom I took issue (and, this is the first of several places where I will likely make angry comments happen) were still hanging on to the ugly competitive boasting which had likely been a centerpiece of their false male identities. This was absolutely something I had to do in my feeble attempts to be seen as male by my young peers.
I feel like I can hear you talking to your screen right now.
“But, cisgender women have ugly competitive behavior too.”
That’s definitely true, but I hope you’ll allow for the possibility that the two seem a somewhat distinct in my observation of their tone.
I do not know why people within this community, who are so marginalized, have the energy to both fight against the vicious discrimination that we face, and still have enough fight left to turn against one another.