Hi Stephanie Donnell, thank you so much for reading, and for your response. I always appreciate the time people take to leave thoughtful commentary.
I think these exchanges of empathy are how we progress as a society (at least I hope, anyway).
You mentioned some of it was difficult to read as it brought back many painful memories from your earlier school years. You’ve touched on the one thing I’m desperately trying to figure out right now… I’ve been performing in theatre for 35 of my nearly 45 years on this planet, and I’ve taken a break from performing for a while because a.) not enough time or energy, and b.) I’m collaborating with a producer & director to create & write a one-woman, multimedia show that will attempt to bridge the empathy gap between cishet, white or otherwise privileged folks in America who don’t realize they’re privileged, and marginalized groups.
I’m also trying to approach creating this show in a way that could appeal to both cis and trans/enby audiences, together at the same time, without pissing off the cis folks too much and totally turning them away, and without seriously triggering the trans folks and totally turning them away. And I’d prefer to not have to “water it down” to make the material more ambiguous, and thus, more easily accepted and digested by everyone. Is it even possible to create such a show?? Who knows. I’m going to keep trying, though.
5th grade was also my trans child’s worst year. Well, now that they’re about to be finished with 7th grade, I’ve gotta say this year was right up there with 5th grade. And 4th grade, for that matter. But at least in 7th grade, my child is living a more authentic life — no longer masking as a cis guy, which never really “took off” to begin with — and has better friends. So yeah, I guess 4th-5th were my child’s worst years.
I’m so, so sorry that you went through all this during a particularly harsh era that was in no way LGBTQ-friendly. But also, I’m so, so thankful that you did not commit suicide. I’m thankful that you’re still here today, giving testimony that may save someone else’s life — you never know who’s reading/watching/listening, or for whom your words (or mere existence) might resonate and validate. ❤
I was born in 1974, and as I metioned, grew up in the theatre. At the time, the theatre world was predominantly permeated with gay men and young boys who were “feminine,” most of whom came out later in the 80s as gay. Some even had lucrative careers as drag queens. I often wonder how many of those “feminine” boys from my youth may have actually been trans, only they didn’t know it. I still have friends mostly in the theatre, and thankfully, it’s still a world that celebrates diversity. Now, there’s as many lesbians, bisexuals, queer folx, cishet men and women, and trans people as there were gay in the 80’s theatre scene (in my area at least).
I will never forget how hostile society was to all my “feminine” male friends in the 80’s — a time when fear, ignorance, and paranoia from widespread misinformation about HIV and AIDS was running rampant. I witnessed several of the softer, gentler, kinder boys in middle school get called “fag/faggot” and much worse countless times over. The homophobia grossly offended and outraged me then, and it still does now. Though now, it seems being gay is more acceptable to society, so it’s the trans kids’ turn to suffer the same fate as the gay kids of the 70s/80s did. Homophobia is slowly getting confused with, or morphing into, transphobia.
I love your analogy for being trans while going through puberty. It draws a clear picture in the mind. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it is, and I witness my child every day, pushing through life, existing, being as authentic as they can while also self-protecting in some ways. It hurts too much to think about sometimes.
I hope the world changes. I hope the 100 million (or 43%) of eligible voters who couldn’t be bothered to vote in 2016 come out in droves for 2020. I hope they’ve learned what apathy breeds. I hope somehow, however impossible it is, that all the gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics continue to get struck down (preferably at lightning speed), and I sure as hell hope our government and law enforcement officials are doing more behind the scenes than we’re aware of to protect the integrity of our elections from hostile foreign powers.
Anywho, sorry for the political rant. It seems impossible for it not to seep into social commentary lately. Thanks again for reading and responding. Standing in solidarity with you.