Last night, I was watching ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ with my mother and cousin. Following the episode, we watched the show, Watch What Happens Live, featuring RHOA star, Porsha Williams and ‘Orange Is The New Black’ star, Laverne Cox.
Almost immediately, my cousin asks if Laverne is a man, adding. “because she looks and sounds like a man.”
I respond by saying, “she identifies as a transgender woman and she stars on that show, ‘Orange Is the New Black.’”
He then responds, “That’s what I said, she’s a man.”
My mother then interjects to add, “That’s a man! I could tell. He looks like a man.”
I repeat, “She’s a transgender woman. She is not a man.”
So, my mother replies, “That’s a man. She was born a man. It’s a man. I’m not trying to hear about all of that.”
I ignore them and respond by saying, “She’s really dope, she is the first transgender woman to be nominated for an Emmy…”
I was then interrupted with, “That’s not a she. It was born a boy. So, it’s a boy. You hear that voice. His voice is deep as hell. And he looks a mess. He’s ugly.”
My mother then continues on with a rant about how God did not make people for them to change their gender. A person is born with the body parts they’re born with for a reason and God didn’t intend for them to change that. If you’re born with a penis, you’re a boy and if you have a vagina, you’re a girl. That’s how God made it. And He made it that way for a reason. And there’s simply no changing how God made you.
I immediately got pissed and went into a rant about the fact that God created what’s on the inside and the flesh is just an illusion, perpetuated by Satan, meant to distract you. I reminded her of her own sterilization surgery, that inherently, changed the original order of how God made her. I then added that, it wasn’t even Godly for her to say such a thing about any person.
However a person identifies, that’s how they identify. God made us to view ourselves from our inside, out. If who we feel like inside, doesn’t match what we look like outside, I would argue, it is unGodly for anyone but God Himself, to judge us for working to correct that battle between our spirit and physical being.
I then added, “You’re mentioning God! That’s not what Jesus would say! Jesus would not say, ‘that’s a man, not a woman! God didn’t make him that way, so I rebuke him!’ What would Jesus do?! Jesus would say, ‘I love you and accept you as you are.’
To which, she replies, “I’m not Jesus!”
I quickly snapped back, “Clearly! So, you shouldn’t be using God in your defense for transgender shaming, to spread ignorance and hate.”
The debate quickly tempered off, into a back and forth about using God’s name to defend wicked practices and beliefs, to which it easily died out.
Afterwards, I moved on and made way for new conversation. But that didn’t sit right with me. I didn’t stop feeling attacked and disrespected.
I couldn’t dismiss the feeling of disregard and dehumanization, I felt overwhelmed with. I may not identify as a transgender and would more accurately label myself, if I were labeling myself at all, as a cisgendered woman. Nonetheless, I felt as hurt and betrayed by my mother, as I imagined, I would have if I were transgender or even trans curious, myself.
It then dawned on me, that perhaps I was hurt and upset for the exact opposite reason. Maybe it was the fact that I don’t identify as trans, and thus, felt isolated from access to the advocacy of trans people, that was tugging at my feelings.
I mean, as a cisgendered identifying person, did that really mean I had no right to feel the way I felt? Or rather, more importantly, were my cries for fair assessment and judgement, not as righteous or justified, because I am considered an outsider from the community at question?
Have I, no rights, as a person that’s been marginalized and cascaded for identifying with people and realities beyond the main scope of normity, to defend others who face the same fate? Have I, no rights, as a simple but very passionate, human being, to demand fair respect and dignity be afforded to the views of everyone?
I mean, what truly grinds my gears about transphobia, is not the willful ignorance, disgusting dehumanization or downright inhumane disrespect of trans peoples personhood, but instead the fact that people really feel this way. It is the idea that, no matter how much I challenge their hateful ideas and wicked excuses for ignorance, they are in fact, entitled to their opinions, and this is in fact, their opinion.
It hurts me to believe that people can cry about the hate shown in the lawless and careless regard for the Black lives that are being slaughtered nationwide, and yet, not cry just as a hard, when a trans person of color is attacked with the same hate.
How can we dare attempt to measure the value of a life, outside of our own?! Who do we really think we are?! Are even human beings, ourselves, anymore?!
I just don’t know anymore. And, judging by the fact that I’m not trans, I’m not even sure what I think, matters anymore. At least, not to anyone other than myself.