Snowflake Baggage by Vë Eugenides Hardy

August 12, 2012 in Coming Out, Community, Culture, Europe, Identity, Member Submitted Articles, Passing, Society, Trans, United Kingdom, United States, Wipe Out Transphobia by Emma

V. E. HardyWhen first coming to terms with being on the  trans* spectrum and considering doing something about it, there seems to be endless tales at our finger tips about dealing with Society. From altering one’s appearance to “pass”, to transitioning “correctly”, to dealing with the backlash from friends, family, peers, strangers… ok, pretty much anyone. But the thing that seems to end up blindsiding the recently out is also what seems to be mentioned the least.

This is the tension that exists in the community we become a part of, willingly or unwillingly, by coming out.

I can not even begin to list the unsettling amount of people who have told me how their transition was going smoothly before they attempted to search for support in the trans* community. So many expect to walk out of a stressful situation into a like minded, accepting group, only to instead discover the definition of jumping from the cooking pot into the fire.

I’m not trying to say that the trans* community as a support network is usually some horrible entity, because if I was, I’d be flat out lying. I simply see such danger in people tentatively reaching out for assistance, usually due to a situation that has become crushing, viewing the trans* community as some promised land. So I’m willing to state it as many times as I need to:

The community is messed up, too.

The trans* community, like any community, is made up of People. Most marginalized, some traumatized, and, yes, run-of-the-mill fallible People. This community was created on the basic need of camaraderie in the face of bigotry,  yet through this we have created separate groups based on different ways of approaching being trans*, each thinking it knows the “right way” to act. Some of us decide to try out the genderqueer movement to find better understanding there, but the same patterns usually reappear in different ways. So many People are busy trying to prove their perfectly legitimate identities by denying others’ identities, and seem to forget the very roots from which their own problems with society stem. And that’s a dangerous thing to forget.

But I would not be the happier, healthier person I am today if I had not found a great gender-identity support group when I did. And there is a long list of identity-based communities, whether it be for gender identity or something not even mildly related, which I have entered to find my footing as an Other. Yes, in every one of these communities there were People. But even with the aforementioned issues that come with this, I also got the strength I needed from seeing that I was not alone. I made friends and built bonds with people I probably wouldn’t have otherwise gotten the pleasure to know. I found validation for many things I was blaming on my own incompetence, and was able to begin the journey of peaceably accepting myself.

Yet I always reach that inevitable moment where I became an Other among the Others, as most everybody does at some point. And the thing is, we’re all Others. There is no one way to approach any identity. Remember that  motivational thing about being a special snowflake? Well, it’s true. Each one of us is a special freakin’ snowflake, so as much as we find strength in that camaraderie, that sharing of burden, in the end, it’s our own personal baggage. No one can carry it all for us or do anything more than assist with the unpacking. Seriously, no one knows the correct place to put our stuff like we do, so why should they now suddenly be trusted with something as important as mental baggage?

So whether your special snowflake self continues to drift on the winds, joins in on an avalanche of change, or any other numerous tacky metaphors, don’t forget (and I’m going to take a leap of faith here) that you are acknowledging being trans* because you’re acknowledging that need to be true to yourself. Not a want, but a need. Don’t subscribe to a community’s identity laws simply because you’re supposed to… I’m sure we all know where that got us to varying degrees before this transition became the best option.

Don’t be afraid to change, experiment, or even be completely wrong, and most importantly, be sure that you don’t lose the self you were doing this for in the first place. There are People being People no matter where you turn to, and none of them are You. None of us is as weak as we have been made, or convinced ourselves, to believe, so even though most of us crave the boost that finding a community can offer us, don’t forget to give yourself some credit. This trans* thing isn’t an easy road, and the fact that you’re stepping up and finding a way to acknowledge that part of yourself is pretty bad ass.

(I stand by my beliefs that my beliefs don’t need to be your beliefs. Take what I have to say in whatever way you need to or leave it. I wish you the best of luck in finding the peace that you need.)

A Wipe out Transphobia Member Article
Written and Submitted by Vë Eugenides Hardy