Recently you may have heard a story in the news about a young man, Tyler Clementi who took his life because he was outed online. This event, and many other recent ones like it has inspired a movement called the “It Gets Better Project”. Where adults in the LGBT community share their stories, and a inspirational message to LGBT youth that it does get better.
It’s easy to look at the tremendous progress the transgender community has made over the last 30 years and exclaim how good it is compared to when we were young. For a moment, think back to the internal struggle you had growing up – with no support, no answers, noone to tell. Where darkness was a constant companion, and suicide a welcome option at the hands of the transgender you.
Before I share my story, take a moment to watch the videos on the It Gets Better Project website, or the one filmed by Google employees below [as far as I know this is the only corporate branded contribution to this movement]. If you need help there are people who are out there who understand what you’re going through and can help you see the brighter day of tomorrow. Please contact the folks at the Trevor Project – a program focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBT youth. And in the words of the last speaker on the video below, “Think of yourself when being a little older … , think of yourself coming back and telling you that it’s going to be okay. Because it is.”
Does it Get Better For Transgendered Women?
Barbara Sehr wrote an interesting article in the Seattle Pi, and shared “For many trans folks, it doesn’t get better as adults”. Perhaps it’s because there are so few of us, or the LGB folks are a few decades ahead of us in terms of social acceptance. I think there’s more to it. Those in the LGB community share our trauma of telling loved ones and friends. They share our secrecy and shame, inner confusion and fear of what others will say or do.
It’s hard hiding yourself when you hear the world around you cursing your kind and condemning you to eternal damnation. It’s even harder never being able to hide yourself. Unless your blessed with passability a transgender women is constantly aware of who she is. An askance stare, or guarded comment can signal an outing – or worse, others can feel tricked and betrayed and even the most innocent circumstance can turn violent.
Months of practicing poise and the right vocal tone are needed, then there’s the surgeries and recovery, the endless list of skills one must learn, the struggle to find clothes that fit and shoehorning yourself into a social role you’ve spend your whole life untrained for.
But it gets better!
Despite the hardships mounted on pain doubled over with doubt and ridicule it gets better. Few things can compare to the acceptance of a loved one, or the first time you’re truly yourself around others. Even with half my journey untravelled, it is better than I could ever have imagined.
I think back to just a few years ago. I was scared to tell another soul who I was, crumbled at the thought of going out in public and cluelessly attempted to don femininity like a minotaur at a Macy’s sale. Even when I was presenting as myself, I was wracked with doubt and worn down by guilt. But it got better.
So while I think Barbara message is right, I think she’s overlooking the tremendously positive growth that many in the transgender community have experienced. And that as adults, it does get better.