Without a doubt, one of the most frequently-brought up points in regards to the transgendered community and one which I personally wrestled with in my younger years was the blatant lack of trans-role models. I have a few which I’ve listed elsewhere on the blog in earlier entries, but these were observed later in my transition and appreciated mostly for their foreign film work. I didn’t really know anything about how they tackled life on a day to day basis or what their true characters were. Indeed, many of my trans-role models were born in countries where being transgendered isn’t as steeped in stigma as it is here in the United States. That’s wonderful for them, but difficult for American fans who’d like to know more but simply can’t due to language barriers.
When I spoke at the Swish panel, someone brought up this issue and asked me what my thoughts were on the matter…did I feel like there was a decent amount of trans role models out there for the youth? My reply was a firm “no,” to which some random audience member, whom I suspected just loved the sound of her own voice, rose for the third or fourth time and entered into a long-winded monologue about how she disagreed, saying that there were great role models out there and then proceeded to list the typical handful of American tg reality show contestants and actresses. She then implored us to like them on FaceBook and follow them on Twitter, implying that basically it was our fault that they weren’t huge successes and more accessible to the younger generation of impressionable trans-minds. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for trans-solidarity, especially considering how little of it there is…but to mindlessly revere a public figure as a role model merely because they are trans seems to me a very flawed way of thinking. Many of the people she named, I was aware of because of mutual acquaintances, firstly and quite frankly they were not the type of woman I strive to pattern myself after. In many cases, I either found the skill in their craft lacking in some way or considered them to be vulgar, oversexed caricatures of womanhood. Perhaps I am harder on them for being trans, maybe it’s because I’m sick of seeing the same tired people flittering from one cage to another and perpetuating the stereotype that we’re all surgery-obsessed, body-modification freakazoids who are okay with not being taken seriously…with being bypassed. Let me rephrase that…who aren’t okay with it, but are somehow strangely enough, shocked when such things happen. Can you blame society for not taking you seriously when you’re acting like a ten-cent streetwalker and singing songs about blowjobs? Hell, I’d sneer at a cisgendered woman who did that…but for a trans-sister to act like that…is extremely disappointing.
Is this what the kids have to emulate? To look up to? Are these the women who’ll defend their younger sisters and brothers? It’s less of a sore point and more of a deep-rooted ache within me. There was so much solitude for me growing up. My home was not the haven it should have been. My “friends” were always telling me how to be…well, not me. I had no one to steer the way or cut a path. My inspiration was desperation. I don’t want another trans-kid to reach that point, or worse fly from the cage of others’ expectations and demands on what to do to fit in into another cage; relegating their femininity, their very womanhood to the position of freakshow that many in our society expect it to be and in fact demand it to be…because if it ceases to be…for just one moment, then we’d be taken seriously, then things might start to change–I mean, really change. Then we’d have power. We’d be strong.
And it would petrify them.
Until we have trans-folk being presented multi-dimensionally through the media, not as parlor joke or freakshow or hypersexed dumbass…but as captains of industry, celebrated authors, laser gun-toting sci-fi heroines, eccentric millionaires, strident protesters, prize fighters, and every other trope under the sun…I’ll remain my very own role model, thank you. I refuse to settle for what’s out there merely because it is. I deserve more than that, and so do the kids goddammit! I hope one day…posts like this won’t need to be written, but until then please accept my humble rant dear readers, I give it to you whole-heartedly, with every good intention.
Until next time.