We live in a world where the United States elected an African-American president, twice, and a 65-year-old transgender woman reached one million followers on Twitter even faster than he did. Now is the time to be alive.
Yet the eruption that followed Caitlyn Jenner's birth on the cover of Vanity Fair also reveals the length of the road to acceptance. Its horizon is the distance.
A friend of mine propagated the problem at the heart of it all in a post on Facebook:
"Yesterday the world welcomed a new female citizen to the planet. She is 65 and outsmarted all other women by successfully avoiding menopause. Welcome to the world. With that as the backdrop, let's agree that we need disclosure from members of the opposite sex who were once members of the same sex. This will avoid significant unnecessary phone calls to 911 and novellas."
"(1) We were not members of the same sex, ever - we were always the true gender, only the body needed help. (2) It is a medical problem that requires intervention - there is nothing to disclose other than the stigma you yourself impose, which is your issue, not anyone else's. (3) Demanding disclosure reveals more about the tenuity of your masculinity than anything else."
And, as point (4), I included a link to my own take on Manhood, which has to do with how fucking incredible guys who feel secure in themselves are.
"Zoe, I respect you as a woman, a friend and last but certainly not least as a lawyer who I hope will one day be a judge. This is not relevant for me because I'm married . . . but if I were single and I were about to hook up with you there are things about your sexuality and health that I would want to know. Your gender at birth would be one of them. Call me crazy."
In response I confessed:
"Sweetheart, we would not reach that point because I would have weeded you out as prejudiced before then. XO"
He wrote back:
"...I felt the need to address this because a decade ago I went to war on a case. The client was facing 15 years for attempting to murder a transsexual who performed a service on him. I saved my client on that one. When you see the transformation of Caitlyn from Olympian male to the queen of Glam . . . I think it's reckless to not disclose your sexual identity..."
I could not hold back:
"An asking for it argument? Really? The man who sexually assaulted me back in 2005 didn't care about me being transgender - and I was pre-op at the time! - violence is about power, plain and simple. I agreed to a misdemeanor plea because it was the jurors that I was concerned about - just like the ones whom you persuaded to acquit your client for precisely that reason. Congrats on the win."
His response revealed where he was coming from:
"Zoe, it is not discrimination for a person to want to know someone's sexual identity. If a straight man doesn't want to sleep with [a] transgender woman that's ok. It's also ok for a lesbian to choose not to sleep with men. That's not discrimination. I should also add that it's not discrimination for gay men to pass on women. We are all [G]od[']s children. My point is disclosure. It's the right thing to do..."
I bowed out with a plea for help:
"I get it, and you may be surprised to hear that I agree - though as a matter of filtering out douchebags from my end, not the other way around. The point is that one need look no further than the first comment in this thread to see the impact that you could have..."
The first comment in the thread, from someone I do not know, was about "how blur[red] the lines have become that we now accept this mental disorder of transgender as normal..."
Disclosure of my past has sparked the exposure of such bigotry before. It is an undercurrent that tolerance surfs over at the risk of drowning without acknowledging the tide beneath the surface.
How long will we countenance this separate-but-equal principle that operates concealed in plain view? The challenge is to reach past the face of acceptance into discrimination's heart and resuscitate it with love.
Zoe Dolan is the creator of the Being Transgender - Naked project and the author of the forthcoming book There Is Room For You - Tales From a Transgender Defender's Heart.
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