Over the course of these last six or seven years since I have come out of the closet and openly acknowledged to myself and pretty much the world that I am transgender, I have seen tremendous changes in myself and also the culture and society around me. While there is still hate and transphobia in pockets all through the town I live in, I do see many more instances of acceptance and respect. I see people inspired by the example I present. People know I am not putting on a show or act or “playing pretend” to gain attention or to stir controversy. People more often than not are judging me by the content of my character and conduct. I wish this were the case all the time, but that is not always the case. The situation is getting better though by leaps and bounds.
The more visible I am and the more comfortable I become in the clothes I wear and the expression I present, the more confident I become and the more certain I feel that coming out has been the right thing for me to do. I am especially encouraged when I find that what I am doing with my life is inspiring to others who are dealing with the same issues of identity and self-discovery. I am more motivated to continue my own journey as I realize others have begun looking to me as inspiration and motivation.
I know that as society becomes challenged to re-evaluate what they think, know, feel, and assume about gender expression and gender identity and sexuality, more pathways to understanding and expression will open up. I think people will continue to realize that the world is not just black and white or static or dynamic– but varied and fluid and adaptable and ever-changing.
At some point society will come to understand that there are much bigger issues to face-off against than whether or not we should allow gender barriers to exist or gender stereotypes to persist. I think people will see that we face much greater challenges than deciding who could marry who and what people should wear or how people should dress, act, think, feel, and express themselves.
We are dealing with a world that must face the realities where population exceeds the means to feed, clothe, and shelter said population. We face a world choking on pollution and plastics. We face climate change, deforestation, erosion, and wildlife extinction events. We face childhood poverty and starvation, we face childhood obesity in the United States, and continued problems with police brutality, social injustice, racism, corruption in government, and so many other issues too many to name.
But there is hope. As the struggle for equal rights and social justice advances with the LGBT community, so too does the broader struggle towards more progressive advancement on environmental and social issues. Social movements are growing and people fed up with injustice and the stagnant status quo of corruption and inequality can take pointers from the LGBT community. It may have taken us decades to win the right to have same-sex marriage in the U.S. but it was done and that movement inspired other movements and can still inspire more movements to come towards equality and social justice. With the LGBT community, we have shown that nothing is impossible.
Churches have become open and affirming in many places. LGBT history is being taught in some schools. LGBT culture is becoming more accepted. People are recognizing LGBT members representing us in state and federal government too. We are earning our equal spaces in society. And as we gain our spaces, we can continue to fight for those who remain left out.
There is hope and we are an example of that hope for ourselves and for others.