I know I’m late on this one since Trans Day of Visibility was Saturday, but since it was a big weekend for my interfaith household (Passover and Easter) you’ll have to forgive me. I was busy cooking up a storm and cleaning house; basically all the wifely duties involved in Seder. But I did want to talk about why visibility is both important for me and complicated.
Diverse visibility is what allowed me to discover who I am and the lack of visibility is what held me back. As I’ve discussed before, there were many signs as a kid that I didn’t fit the masculinity mold. But the biggest reason I never figured out who I was back then was because I knew absolutely nothing about trans people or nonbinary identity. I grew up in a subculture so isolated from the diversity of the real world that I didn’t even know any out gay people much less terminology around gender. And even as I started to enter queer spaces in college, I didn’t see how I fit into that picture since the only trans people I saw at that point were more binary focused in a way I didn’t think I could access. So I just called myself a gender-nonconforming ally for a long time.
And as I started to re-explore my identity again in my mid-20s, I knew then that there was some level of queerness because of my affinity for queer and trans people but I couldn’t see myself in the people around me who were mostly either assigned female at birth androgynous or transmasculine. Eventually someone who I was dating gave me the push I needed to consider how broad a term genderqueer can be and how that could apply to me. And as I began to look harder for representation of assigned male at birth genderqueer people, I discovered people that I finally felt like I fit in with like Jacob Tobia, Alok Vaid-Menon, and Jeffrey Marsh.
And that’s why I started this blog. So that people on a similar path to me can see themselves represented and some of the steps I’ve taken, the fears I have, and the reality of nonbinary life. I don’t want anyone to assume that I can speak as a representative for any demographic but for my voice to add to the diversity of identity and opinion out there online.
And that brings me to the downside of transgender visibility. Too often the voices of people with the most privilege like Caitlyn Jenner are the ones that get boosted. And believe me when I say that Caitlyn DOES NOT speak for the majority of trans people. And when cisgender people write about trans people, they often twist the narrative to fit preconceived notions of transition. So if you really want visibility, boost the unfiltered voices of a diverse spectrum of trans and nonbinary voices.
I am visible every day. It is impossible to escape the hypervisibility of being me in a very cisnormative world. But visibility only does me good if people are actually listening to what trans people say and not just telling the same old misinterpretations of our actions and intentions. So if you are reading this blog and listening to the stories told by my trans siblings, thank you. I appreciate that you are seeking the source and learning along with us.