In every culture you will find subcultures. I want to discuss the LGBT community…more specifically, the ‘T’ or trans community.
When I answered the call within myself of sexual orientation, I was freed of the guilt, stigma, and overall disgust of my family and the world I had come to know. This new world of just ‘being myself’ was full of newness, freedom…enabling me to enjoy that part of me that only a fore existed in my dreams. I soon started learning of many subsets or subcultures within the “gay machine”. Not only were there many relationships between gay men that were just like traditional hetero ones, most were even more honest in design than the mirage of a Puritan construct that plagues most hetero marriages today. There were so many ‘types’ of men…boys, bears, leather, muscle, club, drag/fem, etc., each with their own gatherings and parties across the nation. Most groups tolerate the others as a matter of ‘getting along’, as we were all seen from the outside as degenerates, sinners…repulsive to ‘normal’ humanity. Soon, those within the LGBT communities became avid activists, showing just how hypocritical those who fought against us were, and still do. Soon, we were being represented as mayors, senators and leaders…not just in the stereotypical ways. (drag queens, hairdressers, etc.) Exposure began to show the average person, just how ‘human’ we really were, different yes, but certainly not freaks of nature. We pulled together and changed the face of the gay community. Though we were very different, we in the LGBT communities, fight the same enemies…ignorance and intolerance.
The trans community is different from the LGB communities in that the LGB communities are defined by sexual orientation, we on the other hand, are dealing with another unrelated issue…our gender and the associated dysphoria. In short, sexual orientation is who you want to wake up ‘with’, and gender is who you want to wake up ‘as’. It’s not about just making a statement of who you sleep with, but who you are at your very core. This incongruence is a cruel torture to both mind and body, sapping your mental and physical health. The mountain of circumstances that must change for us can be completely overwhelming. The bullying, the jibes, the labeling as ‘freaks’ are sometimes too hard to bare and many trans persons try to commit suicide, many sadly succeed. So the battle we face goes beyond our sexual orientation, it cuts to the very core of society…our gender.
Under the current umbrella of ‘Trans*’ there are many subcultures and layers. There are those who are cross dressers and transvestites that merely enjoy the fetish of dressing and acting as women, but I want to talk about those with gender dysphoria within this colorful ‘trans*’ arena. These are the women and men that were assigned male/female at birth, but the emergence of their gender was the very opposite of that obvious assignment. Most live their entire life with this dysphoria, tortured by the fact that they continually attempt to fit a mold that society has shaped for them by the mere observance of their genitals. It is unhealthy both mentally and physically for them, and they need to transition to align their bodies with their minds. The level of gender dysphoria varies person to person. Some women want their lower surgery immediately; to quell the dysphoria and some never have surgery because of health or financial reasons. Most women with this dysphoria go the path of HRT, or Hormone Replacement Therapy, to assist the changing of their bodies to be congruent with their minds.
Many never ‘need’ surgery, as HRT is enough to quell the painful dysphoria thus allowing them to lead healthy lives as their identified gender. Many obtain FFS (Facial Feminization Surgery) to give them a softer, more feminine facial appearance. Many obtain BA (Breast Augmentation) to give them the confidence that so many women lack. Some cannot live with themselves without being completely physically congruent and have GCS (Gender Confirmation Surgery). These are all personal choices that each trans woman will or will not make in accordance with their level of dysphoria. Many desire surgery but cannot afford the procedures because insurance will not cover it, or they have no finances to draw from. Those persons go on living with their painful dysphoria. Thankfully the healthcare industry is changing to accommodate coverage for Gender Dysphoria, as it relates to the persons health…both mentally and physically.
Both pre-op and post-op girls (those who have had GRS or not) will always have one thing common; “We all started out as something else”. Those who have been fortunate to obtain financing or have the money to obtain surgery, should not belittle those who cannot or do not have surgery. We are all women, just the same. Your needing surgery shows your level of dyphoria. Many just have the surgery to be congruent with the rest of their body. All of which is ‘good’, as we all want to live happy and healthy in a society that has yet to understand us. Most of us agree that we have never really been men, although we’ve had to masquerade as such. What I’m trying to say is, “Why the infighting?” Is it just human nature that some try to lift themselves up by putting someone less fortunate down? When I came out trans, I did so coming out of the gay community. Yes, we had our differences, but we worked together for ‘our’ common good. We in the trans community need to pull together, not deflate or depreciate one another’s experience and realize that AS A WHOLE, our society thinks we are abhorrent freaks of nature, and our battle is the same, to fight it!
So if you are living a ‘stealth’ lifestyle because you can, remember that those who cannot or choose not to be hidden, are fighting for YOUR very right to exist and be eventually respected in our society. I personally did not leave one closet, only to live in another. From the outside, looking in…we are all the same. WE ARE ONE. Let’s start acting that way.
“We Are Trans Beautiful!” – Ally Raymond