Now and then a friend expresses sadness that the world is not accepting of transgender girls. I’m writing this blog entry after just having spent the weekend in San Francisco, where the politics are especially positive about transgender girls (and guys too).
In case my insights can give hope to good people whose standard for success is universal acceptance …
Specific to transgender issues in general, and me in particular, I’m winning over people in my circle of friends and acquaintances, one at a time. I explain and educate. I speak at movie screenings (I recommend the TRANS movie made by SexSmartFilms) and I am nowadays invited to speak at events such as the Trans Day of Remembrance, or to students at the University of Nevada, Reno. I provide mentoring services for transgender girls of any age (free) and consulting services for parents of transgender girls of any age (not free). I also write a blog intended to help transgender girls.
There is steady progress, but … the victories are measured: one person at a time.
Celebrating the victories is just as important a understanding the failures. I have a friend (likely to be downgraded to “acquaintance” soon) who is a Conservative Midwest Christian in his 60s. Even though I’ve sent him quite a few fact-based explanations, he basically has a problem with admitting that the concept of being transgender exists as anything but a mental disorder. I could, as far as this individual is concerned, proceed on the premise that I’m the Tooth Fairy, with equally little validity. Until today, I’ve been puzzled as to his unusual resistance since he seems to have no problem with accepting wildly improbable claims on other subjects, including those that allegedly happened thousands of years ago and thousands of miles away.
Today, I learned more as to why his belief system is a key to the puzzle. He’s a fan of “Focus on the Family.” As I understand his dedication, before he even watches a movie, he’ll see if it’s on their approved list. This particular organization also has an appointed individual who, with condescension presented as compassion, will pathologize (consider to be sick) both homosexuality and transgenderism, in ways that don’t reconcile with, or even conflict with, a science-based approach. Until this particular organization, and others like it, back off from this sort of official line, most people in their sub-culture won’t do so either. Hoping that they’ll ever come around is overly optimistic.
These organizations exist because this sort of mind-set exists, and the roots for that are deep and unpleasant. It might take many generations for this sort of mindset to wane, and to the extent that Christian or Islamic fundamentalism gains ground, this mind-set is likely to do so as well.
As an example of how bad things can get: in Uganda, there’s a lot of popular support for a law that simply sentences people to death for being gay and not hiding it well enough. It’s highly likely to pass.
I don’t agree with every liberal idea, but in so many ways, the City of San Francisco is the center of the universe for better ways of thinking about the world — but with a few notable and wonderful exceptions, the farther one travels away from it, the worse it gets. San Francisco and what it stands for is a powerful but tiny beacon in a vast darkness.
There many people with irrational ideas. Winning them over is a slow process at best — but if we expect universal acceptance, we’ll always be disappointed.
What we can achieve instead is to create a large enough safe zone, right here, around each of us — and expand from there.