I was reading the comments in a contentious diary last Friday, when I encountered the following. It took my breath away.
Just stop it. You aren’t convincing anyone or winning anybody over. I believe sexuality is an immutable characteristic like skin color, but if you can hide in a closet to keep from suffering it’s consequences, than the discrimination you suffer is nowhere near Jim Crow if for no other reason than you can’t hide from it.
Hide in the closet? Really? For a transsexual person, hiding in the closet is tantamount to dying, because what you are counseling is to not transition. If that were possible, there wouldn’t have been the crisis point which leads to the transitioning.
It’s not like people can’t tell when someone starts changing sex…or that we can keep it a secret if we want to keep our family, friends and/or our job/career. Or maybe you think it would be better for us to abandon those family members, those friends and that career. What kind of a life do you expect that would be?
It’s hard enough to encounter the fact that our families most often abandon us…as do those friends we may have had…and that we often lose that job…which, since we are unlikely to be hired during transition, means we will probably lose that career as well. Gone. Kaput.
Our only real choice is to stay put and try to tough it out. That means no closet most of the time. It means having people say things like
If only you were gay…
like they would treat us any better if that were the case.
And for gays and lesbians, the closet also means death…the slow rotting of the soul death of a million cuts. In order to get people to treat us better requires people out there telling our stories, so that the public can learn that we are people, too, not with some horrid, civilization destroying agenda, but the simple “agenda” of trying to ensure that people like us have the opportunity to develop the ability to live a free and open life…without fear of reprisal physically, economically, or socially.
To read the sentiment that was voiced in that comment made me quake down in my bones. It’s the same sentiment that sometimes comes out of the right wing: it’s okay to be gay as long as you don’t BE gay. That is, it’s okay to be gay as long as they aren’t aware of it. Gay people shouldn’t be out. We should be ashamed of who we are. And transpeople damn sure shouldn’t be able to transition…especially in public view.
Telling GLBT people that they can hide being GLBT is insulting. It’s telling us we should be content to lie and hide, which robs us of a social life and a political voice. Clearly the sentiment does not come from someone who has ever had to live a life where the boundaries of one’s world shrink until it feels like one can reach out in two opposite directions and touch those boundaries. That’s what my home felt like until I began transition.
The only “good” aspect of the closet is that it’s an excellent perspective from which to watch your soul wither and die.
Is that really what people want? Because we’re dying over here…in case you hadn’t noticed.
Also posted at WGLB.