What is a community? Well, in my eyes it’s a group of people with something in common, whether that be where they live, how they live, or an identity that they share. The word ‘community’ is often synonymous with friendship, loyalty and kinship. Yet, within this community, I always sense an underlying hostility. Perhaps this arises from our constant fights with the outside world, fights that our existence and survival depend on. But there is no need for that passion to be used against one another – for a lot of us, this community is all we have, it is our family.
I have been subject to, and the witness of, unwarranted hostility within this community in many forms. When someone speaks out, they are often torn down. When someone is different, they are often shunned. And when someone attempts to educate, they are often exiled. When new ideas or principles are shown, even within this incredibly supportive community, there are those who seek to quash them. Is it a fear of the new and unknown? Is it simply pride in tradition? I do not know, but what I do know is that this community is often a refuge for those who feel rejected by their wider communities. However, if this lack of openness continues, even this last sanctuary may no longer be a safe place.
I often feel that transgender people are very protective over their identities, and of their experiences. I suggest that this stems from our need to teach ourselves to be proud of who we are, and to accept ourselves as such. The years of questioning and confusion coupled with a fight for acceptance will ultimately result in a person who is very attached to who they are. And it is understandable that when a stranger presents themselves with a different approach to their identity, it can often feel as though your identity is somehow lesser. Accepting that everyone is different, and that every person experiences and copes with their gender identity in a different way is hard to grasp. How can they possibly not feel the exact same way I do? But the inevitability is that there will never be anyone in the world with the exact same relationship to their gender as you.
Some people need to physically transition, others do not. Even within those categories there is variation. Some trans* people feel the need for hormones, or surgery, or both. Others may only feel the need to present differently or change their name or pronouns. For some, there is a need for all those things. The transgender community, inclusive of the non-binary community, need to understand that while some two people may have the same identities, their execution of those identities will be different, either internal or external. The methods of transition will also certainly be different. For example, there are different methods of changing one’s name, different orders that hormones and surgeries can be done, and even different timelines of coming out. There has been hostility towards those that do not discover they are transgender until a very late time, and towards those that do not need to, or want to (for whatever reason, including religious, anxiety, underlying medical condition, etc.) physically transition, and towards those that do not change their name, and to those that use they/them pronouns. We are always going to be different; can’t we simply be different together?
In saying this, the trans community welcomed me with open arms, as it does for most people. I have this platform where I can express my views and share current events with people going through similar things to me. I have made friends through this community, and I would not see it ruined by a simple need to hold onto one’s own identity so tightly, that others cannot express their own in their own way.