Death on the Halfshell

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.  

Link

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.

24 comments

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    • Robyn on October 2, 2010 at 12:06 am
      Author

    …trying to figure out just who is the person inside the skin you see every morning in your mirror, but when you do, whatever you do, keep it a secret so you won’t offend other people’s sensibilities.

    • Edger on October 2, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Ignorant people should be outed. They should be ashamed of being ignorant and should always be transitioning to states of less and less ignorance.  Ignorant people damn sure shouldn’t be allowed to remain ignorant – especially in public view – and should be corrected whenever possible.

    Good thing there are teachers around – of all sexes.

    • Heather on October 2, 2010 at 12:22 am

    I REALLY REALLY feel like you should.

    It is a shiny bullet right to the heart.

  1. or age, race, natioality, culture or class. We are all equal under the law, the one that declares our rights inalienable. It really amazes me that people who proclaim to be Democrat’s can place one groups equality above another. It’s pathetic to think that any group of people’s suffering has earned them more equality or that people who are gay should hide. why? African American’s used to try and ‘pass’ as they called it they would not want to go back to this day. My heart goes out to you that you have to endure this kind of blatant ignorance, lack of empathy or basic understanding of what equality means.      

    • Robyn on October 2, 2010 at 1:08 am
      Author

    …available in Orange.

  2. By, essentially, my own PERSONALITY.

    I just cannot fucking shut up.  Even when I was 13 fucking years old, I just couldn’t fucking shut my mouth about some things.

    It’s almost a contagion with me.

    Oh, when I was 13 I didn’t say I was gay.  Not outright, not to my mom and my stepdad.  It just was apparent as the nose on my face.

    What is my point with this?  I don’t know, precisely — maybe it’s humor.  I just can’t help it — part of me is Joan fucking Rivers.

    Even today, about different things, obviously, than my sexuality, I am often reminded to shut the fuck up about this or that and everything will be, you know, okay?

    This works for so many things, but about the soul killing thing and sexual orientation/gender identity, you’re just dead on.  If I actually succeeded in repressing that, I’d probably be dead from suicide.

  3. I said something about you, over there.

    • melvin on October 2, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Dan Savage has done us all a great service: It Gets Better

    As you certainly know Robyn there have been way too many willing to throw the T overboard on the theory we’ll come back for them later. As I hope you know, I have never been one of them.

  4. quite some time.  

  5. …. making unfortunate comments.

    http://www.dailykos.com/commen

    which are uprated by other unfortunate souls.

  6. this type of comment was on the Daily Kos?!

    Noooooo.

    Get out 🙂

    Well if it’s any conciliation, if it weren’t for a transgendered friend in Miami during the FTAA in 2003 I would of been arrested.  They also helped make makeshift splints for a guy that jumped the fence into the sump and thought it was level ground.

    I dare say our transgendered Goonie was the most scared of being arrested out of all of us.  Almost as if they feared death from these officers.  So I’d say the fear is equal in this case.

    And for the record, I played the role of “Mouth” in this adventure, and everyone survived.

    No gold though :-/

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