Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Transgender Day of Visibility

   So, apparently today is the first “Transgender Day of Visibility.” I say “apparently” because when I google for the phrase, I have very little success in finding anything remotely official or organised-looking. I’ve seen it mentioned in a few places, including on Facebook, but it seems very underground. That’s fine, I guess sometimes I just think that there are more transfolk than there are. I was hoping there’d at least be a domain dedicated to the day (you know: “www.transgenderdayofvisibility.com”) or something. But, whatever, maybe that just proves the point of why a day like this is important. What could be a better example of transfolks’ invisibility?

   I struggle with this sort of thing all the time. I’m pretty comfortable identifying as a woman nowadays, with no prefixes or suffixes, and the rest of the world seems pretty happy with that as well. I didn’t ask for the physical anamoly of my birth, nor am I particularly proud of the fact that I’m transgendered (I’m not the slightest bit ashamed, either, mind you), yet it will always remain a part of the history of my life. That’s one reason I really dig the phrase “woman of transsexual history,” because it puts the fact that I am a woman front and center, but also acknowledges my history. But for most people that I encounter during my day, I’m “just” a woman.

   So, how do I work on my “visibility” as a transperson?

   The real answer is that I’m not sure. I’m out to pretty much everyone who knows me, I blog very openly about things, and I’ll answer even the most prying questions from relative strangers. But I still usually think I could be doing more. I guess today when I went to Walgreen’s I think I was supposed to wear this shirt proclaiming my transsexuality for all the world to see. I can’t help it, when I go about my everyday life, everyone sees me as a woman. As I said in a recent post, I’m not trying anymore, it just is what it is. I don’t know how I could ~more~ visibly trans without handing out business cards to everyone I meet, and I’m not going to do that.

   I think this is one of those issues within the trans-community (such as it is): the folks who integrate and blend well in their “target gender” tend to just sort of recede into the woodwork, so the folks that are left to be “visible” are the folks that have trouble integrating into their target gender, or the folks who have less interest in blending anyway (genderqueer people, androgynes, and the like). Women who are like me seem to be much less visible, especially post-surgery. Sometimes there’s an argument in the trans-community that in the popular vernacular most people think that “transgender” and “transsexual” are synonymous (they’re not). I am both transgendered and transsexual, but one can be transgendered without being transsexual (my boyfriend, as a crossdresser, would be an example of that, actually). But, lots of people think that since I’ve had my surgery I’m not any sort of “trans” anymore (I’ve had a few of my cisgendered friends ask me that, actually). For the record, I will always have a transsexual history, so I still include “transsexual” in the littany that is my identity (“woman” comes before “drummer,” and “drummer” comes before “transsexual,” and “transsexual” comes before “Swedish,” and so on). It gets so confusing, so many folks that are visible as transgendered people are visible only because they feel they have no choice, and many people that can blend just do (wouldn’t you? it’s pretty tiring sometimes being the “visible transperson” in a room full of cisgendered folks).

   And I have mixed feelings about women like me being totally invisible when people think of transgendered folks. Most transfolk I know are just everyday folks, going about their lives, but in the popular imagination transfolk are the extremists of gender transgression. Sometimes I feel invisible both as a transsexual living in a cisgendered world, but also as a very gender-conforming woman in a world which considers transgendered folks as gender-rebels. 

   Huh.

   This seems like one of those posts wherein I ask a lot more questions than I find answers. I’m never sure if I’m visible enough. I’ll talk to almost anyone about my life and my story, but I don’t run around screaming that I have a transsexual history in crowded restaurants either. It’s a very fine line. I just want to live my life; I’m a woman with a fairly interesting history, and I’m part of a very small and very misunderstood minority. I guess I just do the best I can.

   Happy First Transgender Day of Visibility.

   🙂

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4 Comments»

  helen boyd wrote @

so who told you it was? i’d like to track this down – i like the idea.

  Bianca Transsexual wrote @

Let someone draw a penny from a hundred penny box and say the date. Bianca Transsexual

  me wrote @

you shouldn’t worry. we all have many layers.

  pickypenelope wrote @

I’m not exactly “worried,” just sort of pondering. It is my lot to kick things around in my head quite a bit. I felt like today seemed a good time to think about what it means to be visible as a transwoman. I’m very comfortable with the way I live my life, and my life kind of rocks, but I also like to reexamine things pretty regularly. Interestingly, since I’ve become more comfortable in my new life, I’ve become a lot more comfortable being “visible.”

Weird.

But thanks for the concern; and you’re right of course, we’re all multi-layered onions.

🙂


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