Recently there have been a number of celebrities that have come out to announce that they define as transgender. For some of them it wasn’t a shocker, for others it was out of the blue or and for a few it was what made them different to stand out as part of their calling cards. Even though most of them have something in common with the rest of the trans community in being trans, they don’t show case what it is to be trans in this day and age.
I personally think that it is awesome that these celebrities, who have established themselves in front of the media, are willing to step out it into the light and address that they are transgender. I think it is awesome for Bruce Jenner to put his business out there in front of millions of Americans and other people across the world to try to help portray a community that needs much of it. The only problem is that most people still don’t understand what it is that the trans community has to go through.
Now the major problem with having trans celebrities such as Bruce Jenner, Andreja Pejic, Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, etc. is that these people do not have to go through most of the realities that most trans people have to endure. I am not saying that being trans does not toll on their life, I am saying that they can still survive in the world after coming out, they can still get access to medical care and that they are able to afford the expensive medication or surgeries that will allow for them to cope with their dysphoria. These celebrities do not have to experience the true hardships that many trans individuals have to face in their daily lives. They have advantages that will benefit them and do not have to live like most trans people do according to the statistics. They will not have to worry about keeping or finding new employment. They will not have to worry about being able to afford or being allowed to stay in the places that they live. They will not have to worry about being denied service at places that they want to shop or eat at. They will not have to live through their lives like that of what the average trans person has to endure and in turn they will not be able to truly portray what it is that thousands of trans individuals have to go through everyday.
Most of the media coverage that the trans community has had of late is of success stories where children are accepted by families, actors and actresses being nominated or winning awards or people who have had successful transition stories in their lives. We hardly get any national media coverage of the trans people who kill themselves, get murdered, or down right have to suffer because they are not accepted by society. We do not get any publicity of how much our community has to go through and how much harder it is for trans people to exist against the rest of society.
Bruce Jenner might have had it hard trying to cope with his gender issues while growing up, but is he going to have to wait in long lines at clinics because his medical insurance does not want to cover his medication? Is he going to have worry about what coming out means for employment, housing and his family? Does he have to worry down the line about the costs of his transition and if he wants surgeries, where he is going to get the money?
All of these are things that most of the trans community has to go through. Most of these things are the trans community’s realities and most of these things are going to continually happen because these are the things that are not being addressed. Our community is still going to suffer and it is still going to be neglected. Our dead names and our gender identities are still going to be used to humiliate us or used against us when our stories sometimes make it into the media. Our brothers and sisters who pass away are still going to have an uphill battle to fight when sometimes even their families desecrate their identities when they cannot defend themselves.
Now that we have trans celebrities out there who have put faces to the word transgender does not mean that, us as the trans community, have benefited from their exposure. Yes, some of those faces are trying to make a difference and trying to be advocates, but at the same time they are not changing the picture of what most Americans see when they think of the word transgender. They are not show casing that we can be the people next door, the employees right next to them, the waiters/waitresses, the child in the school play, the ones that are there to help them when they are in need. They do not show that we are just as normal as everyone else and maybe even as boring as the fellow American.
The trans community has far ways to go, but relying on icons or celebrities to get us there will continually hold us back. We have so many differences inside our community that not one person or group can meet all of our requirements. We were all brought up in different styles that even we sometimes have conflicting thoughts that don’t fully align with everyone, but at the end of the day we are all human and need to be addressed by our needs when the time comes.
I am thankful that we are starting to get to address the help that our community needs. I am thankful that even people in the White House and on Capitol Hill are beginning to understand how much it is that we suffer. I am glad that things are at least starting to move in the right direction to get us to a place that might be able to offer us a peace of mind for our community, but at the same time I am still scared to have to experience life through the way that things are currently.
I constantly live with the fear of being attacked for being who I am. As a woman I have to live with the fear that a man who believes that all woman are meant for his pleasure or that because I am seen as the weaker sex will attack me to try take advantage of me. As a trans woman I have to live with the fear that I am going to be attacked because there is something off about me that someone does not find appealing or that they will figure out I am trans, which is enough to get me assaulted. And finally as a trans woman of color I have to live with the fear that because I fall into that category that I am more likely to die from being murdered than any other person in this country.
As a woman and transgender, this is my reality. This is what I have to live with. Even though my future looks bright and the one for future generations to come, it saddens me that it is still no where near what the trans community needs it to be. Getting famous faces out there might get us noticed, but it does not solve all of the issues that we have to live with everyday. It will not stop the prejudices, the biases, the neglect, the stereotypes or the ignorance that we have to live with. If these popular faces can help make that happen, then they will truly mean something.