It has been a long, hard struggle.
And it is not over yet.
But this is progress. Time Magazine has declared that this society has reached the “transgender tipping point.”
I’m not a subscriber, but Zack Ford at Think Progress informs me that June 9, 2014 issue of the magazine includes “an extensive Transgender 101 article” that covers many of the issues affecting our community, photo essays of some of the transgender people who have influenced American and world culture (no, I am not included)…both living and dead (Kye Alums, Cassidy Campbell, Carmen Carrera, Candis Cayne, Lynn Conway, Caroline Cossey, Laverne Cox, Paisley Currah, Jamie Ewing, Fallon Fox, Rose Hayes, Christine Jorgensen, Isis King, Lana Lawless, Ashton Lee, Chelsea Manning, Janet Mock, Mike Penner/Christine Daniels, Renee Richards, Sylvia Rivera, Amanda Simpson, Lea T, Jenna Talackova, Brandon Teena, Billy Tipton, and Lana Wachowski), and an interview with Ms. Cox.
Ford calls it “perhaps the most positive and in-depth representation of transgender life experiences ever presented in mainstream print media.”
Of course, there is little to compare amongst Katie Couric’s interview with Cox and Carrera, Piers Morgan’s insensitivity and combativeness with Mock, the Grantland story of Dr. V’s Magical Putter. Time’s story is assembled by Katy Steinmetz.
Ford points out that rather than focusing on what it means to transition, the stories focus on what it is like to be transgender in a world that is not in the least accepting or understanding of us. Time boasts that none of the individuals referenced would be mis-gendered (as if that would be a major accomplishment). The main feature is said to emphasize the discrimination trans people experience…including that we are “significantly more likely to be impoverished, unemployed, and suicidal that other Americans.”
There’s not just one trans story. There’s not just one trans experience. And I think what they need to understand is that not everybody who is born feels that their gender identity is in alignment with what they’re assigned at birth, based on their genitalia. If someone needs to express their gender in a way that is different, that is OK, and they should not be denied healthcare. They should not be bullied. They don’t deserve to be victims of violence … That’s what people need to understand, that it’s okay and that if you are uncomfortable with it, then you need to look at yourself.
Steinmetz explains the differences between the biology of sex and the culture of gender…and the differences between sexual orientation (“who you want to go to bed with”} and gender identity (“who you go to bed as”).
Steinmetz highlights many obstacles that remain to transgender equality: full inclusion in public schools and in athletics, inclusion in the military and at women’s colleges, changes to legal documentation, access to inclusive health care coverage, and blatant discrimination in employment, housing, and basic services – and the mental health consequences that follow.
Time’s broad treatment of transgender issues could go quite far to raise awareness about who the members of this community are and what they’re experiencing in society. All that it took was inviting people to share their stories and presenting them in a way that respected their identities and experiences.
Still, I somehow doubt my work is done.