I remember on Christmas day my family was getting set to go to church. Yeah. Church. Just a few days prior the pope had not only announced that the Catholic Church was officially in opposition to a UN statement against the decriminalization of homosexuality, but he also declared in a Christmas message, that transsexuals are a destructive force to the ecology of man, linking us to a metaphoric destruction of the rain forests that are the souls of man. Needless to say, it was a huge sacrifice on my part to attend any Catholic services at all, let alone dress up in my nicest skirt. Nevertheless, because I know how much having the family at church means to my mother, I clenched my teeth and decided to go. This may simply be vanity on my part, but my mother right before church complimented my sister on her appearance while saying nothing to me. And dammit I was dressed nicer than she was to go to a religious ceremony in an organization that officially thought that I was a destructive force. Actually, no one in my family has ever once complimented my appearance since I began transition. In the past whenever I wore a collared shirt my mom would say, “You look handsome,” or “you look nice today.” And yet, here’s my mom saying my sister looks pretty, all while I sit back and pretend not to feel a glaring omission.
This has all got me thinking about what, exactly, constitutes a home, and what is the value of family. I suppose I’ve generally though of home as being (as a random free online dictionary phrases it) “an environment offering security and happiness; a valued place regarded as a refuge.” And what, then, is family? “Two or more people who share goals and values,” or so says the fabulous free online dictionary. Then comes the interesting question: do I have either of these things? The Christmas vacation has taught me that I no longer feel the house I grew up in is an environment of happiness or affirmation, and I certainly now doubt that my biological family and I have values or goals in common. Does this make me a homeless orphan with a biological family and a crummy apartment? I guess in a figurative sense, indeed, I am a homeless orphan, but my family has seemingly accepted me on some levels. Hell, they paid for my genital reassignment surgery, so how opposed to my sex identity could they possibly be?
It all falls back on acceptance—or maybe the better phrase would be “environment of support, respect, and affirmation” (because you know me, I like my language to be as precise and accurate as possible, dern it, even if this is only a blog that I don’t, generally, proof read). But I’m damn serious: this environment of SRA (as I shall now abbreviate it) is essential. Statistics say that 25% of LGBT youth are kicked out of their homes when they come out to their parents. Some 80% of youth experience verbal harassment in school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT people have a suicide rate four times higher than the straight, cisgender, cissexual world. 50% of transgender people attempt suicide. I, for one, am not particularly a fan of statistics because one set of numbers invariably varies from source to source, but regardless these numbers are terrifying. However, I know I am part of the 80% verbally harassed. I am part of another 60% that have experience non-verbal harassment or violence. I am part of the 50% who have attempted suicide. I’m also part of probably another statistic (who’s numbers I do not know) of trans girls practicing self injury.
These are all signifiers of a grave lack of SRA. Watching a lot of the coverage of the inauguration the past few days I noticed one picture in which a man held a sign reading “Homo-sex is a threat to national security,” and I’ve likewise seen article popping up continuing to compare trans people to sex predators and the insane; I’ve seen people furious over Obama’s support of the LGBT community. It’s certainly obvious that there are people actively working against LGBT rights, but maybe the term “cultural warfare” isn’t as inaccurate as I thought. There are people who literally have devoted years of their life to making sure gay and transgender people are beat down and dehumanized. I certainly knew about this, but I guess it’s just now really, really
sinking in how profound their hate is:
Hate is the generic word, and implies that one is inflamed with extreme dislike.
We abhor what is deeply repugnant to our sensibilities or feelings. We detest
what contradicts so utterly our principles and moral sentiments that we feel
bound to lift up our voice against it. What we abominate does equal violence to
our moral and religious sentiments. What we loathe is offensive to our own
nature, and excites unmingled disgust.
How hate is above described is how they hate us. These images together with the apparent bigotry of my biological family has gotten me wondering about the availability of support, affirmation and respect, almost as if they are precious resources that are quickly being depleted, or as though they are rationed out only to those privileged few. But surely people have seen the inauguration of Barack Obama and heard his speech yesterday; there is still hope:
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to
set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring
spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that
noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise
that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full
measure of happiness.
If Obama is hailed by some as a messiah then it is only because our world has been so stripped of any hope; it is because never before has a US president offered us the hope of obtaining our “full measure of happiness.” In light of all the negativity and blatant hatred being hurled at the LGBT community, here is a ray of hope. Hope that we might finally be respected and regarded as equal human being. Hope that our identities may be affirmed and supported instead of cast down below, the dregs of society. Hope that we may soon find ourselves no longer homeless orphans.