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Passing for life

Thu 2 Dec 2010 In: Our Communities View at NDHA

What do we really understand about the issues of being transgender as a community? Some of us grew up and learnt from the well meaning that to be trans person it is to be a “man trapped in a woman's body” or vice versa. We thought that transvestite was the same as transgender and some of us even thought drag queens and kings were also trans people. We put our ‘drag' artists on pedestals; we love their gender bending ways. Larger than life, obviously camp, hilarious, entertaining, and often when they get it wrong somehow tragic. Imagine, just for a moment, being a transgender person living in that shadow, seeing those representations and then struggling for your own identity and validation. It is not a matter of putting on a sparkly frock, or a pair of jeans and bush shirt. But somehow we still hold on to these perceptions of what it means to be a woman or a man. Do we really understand ‘gender' at all? Let's not pretend that we are all nice and play well together. How many times have we ourselves allowed people from our trans community to become objects of ridicule behind our closed doors? When our rights were being demanded in the fight for social change and justice, our trans people were leading from the front. Many people, even in our own community, don't even know that the law is not equal for trans people in our country. There is an irony that they fought so hard for the cause, yet they are the only ones who have not won yet. So what can we do about it? We can stand up to be counted when it counts; we use some of our energy and freedom to make sure they get to enjoy what we have. We can say thank you by showing our trans community the same sense of leadership, passion, and courage that they showed us. We don't avoid conversations with trans people in public for fear that someone may see us, we don't make the supposition that a drag queen and a trans person are the same. The Human Rights Commission recently reviewed the chapter on “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”. In the OUTLine submission we asked for greater recognition and legal changes for trans people to enable easier transition and appropriate legal status. There is nothing more humbling than seeing the personal struggle that our trans sisters and brothers confront in being themselves. Not only because of the way ‘society' treats them, but because of the way we often do. We cannot in all conscience ignore the reality of being trans in this community on one hand and talk about gay pride on the other. As a community we struggled for years to get the law changed, let's not give up now when we only have one more corner to turn. For more information on transgender issues, and how you can help, visit look under “legal”. Vaughan Meneses is the General Manager of OUTLine Vaughan Meneses - 2nd December 2010    

Credit: Vaughan Meneses

First published: Thursday, 2nd December 2010 - 11:04am

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