Transgender Survivors versus Victims


Image from Jen Theodore 
on Unsplash

There is a huge difference between being a survivor in life than a victim. Perhaps an over simplification of the two is a survivor takes what is given to them, lives with it and in the end result make it all better.  On the other hand, a victim becomes a martyr in their own mind and is slow to make improvements. It is very easy for a transgender woman or trans man to be a victim. After all, why were we "chosen" to live such a difficult life. Often it takes years to realize we are not victims after all. For some reason we were given the opportunity to explore two sides of the binary gender spectrum. 

By years I mean the struggle we go through to just fit into a society which seems increasingly hostile against us. I went through some of it yesterday when I was running my errands.  My first stop was at the Post Office where I stopped to mail one of Liz's (my wife) packages which contained her handmade beaded jewelry she makes. I could only describe the woman at USPS behind the counter as older and somewhat bewildered with her meeting a transgender woman probably for the first time. But, since it was the weekend of  Transgender Day of Visibility, it was a good as time as any to be exposed to the real world. In a matter of seconds I dropped off Liz's package for it's trip to California and the clerk turned her attention to her next postal patron. 

Ironically, on my way back home, I needed to stop and reward myself for all the errands I attended to. So I stopped at a coffee shop drive through for a special coffee brew. One for each of us. As I pulled up to the window at the drive through, I was waited up by a cute, tattooed obviously young queer girl who was very nice. Perhaps she noticed we were distant cousins on the LGBTQA spectrum. To keep the line moving, I quickly paid and exchanged pleasantries with her and was on my way. Looking back, she reminded me of my transgender grandchild. I left with the hope she has a bright future of life ahead of her.

So, in the matter of two stops I had seen both ends of the public gender spectrum. One bewildered older person and one friendly energetic queer person. By now you may be wondering what all this has to do with victims versus trans survivors. I learned long ago, I couldn't run and hide if I was ever able to progress in the world as my authentic feminine self. I needed to overcome all the nights of coming home crying after being laughed at or stared at in public. I think being a survivor to me was when I came to the realization if I could never be mistaken totally for a cis-woman, I could still live a life as an out fulltime transgender woman. I wish I could tell you where I came up with the strength to be a survivor rather than staying home and feeling sorry for myself. Perhaps my best trans girlfriend at the time said I passed out of sheer willpower. I believe it was because deep down I felt what I was doing was right and felt so natural. Just to be able to go out and free myself from my gender closet encouraged me to not be a victim. Perhaps for the first time in my life. 

The urge turned out to be so strong for me to live as a woman, I was able to overcome the false idea that women have an easier life than men. When in realty, the opposite happened. I learned a cis woman's life was a many layered often difficult existence and I wanted to learn more and more. As I did I became more of a survivor than I ever thought I could ever be as I lost all of my male privileges. No more could I expect to be respected because of my white older maleness and be called the hated and unwanted "Sir" word. I needed to start all over again in a feminine foreign world and prove once and for all I was a survivor versus a victim. Now we all need to be survivors to battle all the gender bigots seeking to erase us. Perhaps now more than ever before.    


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