I remember, back in the late 90’s to early 2000’s, how life was so confusing. It seemed that a lot of people had an opinion on how I should have lived my life, and felt the need to express those opinions even when I didn’t ask for it. For a young person trying to find their place in the world, it’s the worst thing to have to listen to…although Nickleback comes a close second.
Cut to present day and nothing much has changed, society still has its opinions and Nickleback continue to bloody release records. I suppose nowadays, information and sharing your opinion has become a lot easier through social media, which gives you a much larger platform to spread the word. We see it everyday when we wake up and grab for our smartphones as we try to shake off the sleepy haze.
The transgender community has become a lot more visible in recent years, but that doesn’t mean that the transgender movement is something ‘new’. We’ve been around for a very long time, living our lives, existing, attempting to build a life that feels right for us, all the while trying to combat the stigma that seems to come with simply being ourselves. A trans person has to endure so much, but we don’t let that stop us from being who we are. We’re a fucking strong community.
Nonetheless, it’s absolutely fantastic when allies support the trans community and show their support everyday. Some show their support by rallying with us for equal rights and taking a stand against those who try to bring us down, and others do it simply by accepting others for who they are and then getting on with their own lives. All of this is music to my ears and I think it’s high time more people did the same.
We all have opinions on how things should be, and we all have a right to express an opinion. With that said, when we tread the waters of debate, chances are you’re going to come across that one opinion that pulls you under and end up sinking deeper and deeper until you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of conflicting ideals.
I do a lot of volunteering, and I love to volunteer. To give my time and support to an organisation that is built to provide support and guidance to the LGBT community here in Manchester is a great thing to be a part of. A particular part of that support comes in the shape of a monthly community event called #TransMCR.
At #TransMCR, trans individuals and allies are welcome to visit and participate in all sorts of activities, or just come by for a hot cuppa and some cake and meet new people. This month, I helped out and during the day, I met an absolutely wonderful individual who was in the early stages of her transition. It was her first time coming to the event and I could see that she was a little nervous, but had a glimmer of excitement in her eyes. The moment she walked through the door, I could see that glimmer and it reminded me so much of myself.
As we got to talk, I could see her beautiful personality coming through and she ended up having a fabulous time participating in the events of the day. As the event came to an end, she thanked all of us for making her feel so welcome. She felt so at ease to just be herself without worrying about the opinions of others. As a result, her personality shined through and it was lovely to see. It was then that I started thinking about my experiences during the early stages of my transition.
Back in my day, I didn’t have a community event to go to, and social media didn’t even exist. All I had were the feelings in my heart and the questions in my head, all the while having to deal with society as a whole and its constant need to dictate my every move. The one thing nobody ever did was ask me how I would like to live my life. Nobody seemed to think that maybe, just maybe, I might want to make my own fucking decisions and they should all back the fuck off!
Self discovery is exactly that, something you do yourself. I had enough of everyone’s opinions and decided to focus on myself instead of others. I knew that not all of these opinions came from a malicious place, quite the contrary. There were people I knew whose intentions were sincere, but at the end of the day, only I knew how I wanted to live, and that was good enough for me.
As a result, I had amazing experiences, endured hard times, made mistakes, picked myself up and became the fabulous creature I’ve come to adore today. It took years of practice, but I taught myself how to take someone’s opinion, good or bad, filter it through me and let it go without taking a part of me with it. No words should have that much power to bring me down. Not anymore.
These days, the subject of gender and sexuality has become so broad, and as a result, discussions about gender can become so sensitive that you may find yourself treading those uncertain waters, not knowing how to respond when you become tangled in a conversation with someone who may not share your views.
It’s not easy having a conversation about gender these days. Gender isn’t as black and white as a lot people may believe it to be, I along with the millions of transgender individuals around the world are living proof of that, but the fact that conversations about gender are more prevalent today is very encouraging. At the end of the day though, no matter what opinions people may have about how a person should be addressed or how they should live, the only opinion that actually matters to that person is their own.
When we try to have a conversation, especially on social media, it can easily turn into a debate and can sometimes find yourself having to defend your opinions against strong characters. On the flip side, you might be that strong character whose intentions are noble, but whose delivery can seem incredibly sharp to someone who isn’t aware of your certain style of debate.
Either way, we all need to be mindful that in the middle of all this debate is the person you feel the need to debate about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been that person. That’s why these days, when I see the spark of debate turning into flames that grow bigger and more ferocious, it saddens me because I wish people would just let people grow and live by their own values like I did.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not saying that we should all keep our mouths shut, what I’m saying is we shouldn’t be making more problems for ourselves and becoming so overtly sensitive about issues that should be an issue. It’s so easy to get into debate about stupid things, when our Facebook feeds are riddled with ridiculous articles and click bait that begs you to spread their views and rattle cages until we’re all screaming to be heard instead of doing what we should be doing, which is fucking ignore it.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a BIG The Simpsons fan. There’s nothing I love more than to put on some classic Simpsons and laugh my arse off. My favourite Simpsons moments are the Treehouse of Horrors Halloween Specials. One in particular that comes to mind that I feel is the best way to demonstrate my point is a Halloween special called ‘Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores’…trust me, I’m hopefully about to make a point!
In the episode, Homer steals a giant donut from a huge statue, which is subsequently struck by lightning, along with a bunch of other giant advertising statues, and they begin to destroy the town of Springfield…please, just stay with this, the point is coming up real soon!
Cut to the final showdown, these huge statues have completely taken over, and Lisa discovers that the best way to stop all of the carnage is simply to ignore them…here comes my point…and as soon as the town stopped freaking out and paying attention to the statues that craved their attention, they began to disappear, only Lisa got the message across by singing a jingle which was much more effective than how I’m explaining it!
My point is…finally…is that we come across negative bullshit that craves our attention and wants us to get worked up. It wants us to argue, to pick at the values of others and watch us inadvertently bring each other down when our intentions weren’t ever to cause someone to feel that way. We’re always going to come across someone whose opinions and values differ to our own, but when the topic of conversation is about an entire community that has existed for countless years, maybe we should take a moment and think that we might already know how we would like to live our lives, and it’s everybody else that thinks they have the right answer.
Nobody comes into this world with an instruction manual. I’m not mad at my mother for raising me as her son was I was little. What makes me incredibly proud is that my mother never held me back when I wanted to play with my sister’s Jem doll back in the late eighties, or when I loved to play dress up in the early 90’s when I wore t-shirts as skirts. She never judged me when I told her I was gay in my adolescent years and that I had been secretly dating boys.
Finally, as I write this with a swelling heart of emotion, she never held me back when I told her my truth as a trans woman. To this day, she gave me the freedom to express myself the way I saw fit and taught me that the world will always have its opinion of me, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen. My mother taught me to always live to the soundtrack of my own thought and feelings.
Live your life the way you want to live it. Life is too short to let the opinions of others or the rules of how to identify yourself in society dictate who you should be. The world will always have it ways of telling you what do and how to live, the trick is to take what life throws at you, filter out the bullshit and hold on to what makes you happy.