A question in e-mail:
You recently said you were supportive of transsexuals. Could you expand on what you mean by that?
First off, the quote my correspondent is talking about is probably the one here, in which I say “I am generally trans-positive because I believe people should be who they are, and they deserve love and support in becoming and then being that.”
To expand on that — well, look. Everyone is in the process of becoming who they are; we all start as rough drafts and through the act of living and choices we make, refine who are, hopefully getting closer to who we imagine we could be as we go. None of that is easy. Some people have further to go with that process than others, because of their own set of circumstances. I think if you’re a good person or are at least trying to be, when you see someone on that sort of journey, you encourage them when you can. And if they have come to a place where they are happy (or even just happier) with who they are, then you celebrate that with them.
People who are trans seem to me to have a particularly hard journey: The eventual recognition of the disconnect between the gender their bodies have and the gender they sense themselves as being, the years of dealing with that disconnect, the hard choice to rebuild their lives and all the repercussions of that choice, and having to do all of that with much of the rest of the world looking on and judging. That’s a hell of a road to walk.
So the first question to ask is simply: Why make it harder for them? I can’t think of any good reason for it; for me that solves that. The second question is: What would I want if that were my road to walk? If nothing else, I would want people to accept that even if my road is rough, where I’m going is somewhere I think is worthwhile and will help me be the person I want to be, for myself and for everyone else. That being the case, by the principle of the Golden Rule, that’s what I should do for transfolk, if nothing else.
(Note, if you will, that this is not a cookie-bearing statement. I am saying I try to be a decent person to transfolk. You don’t get extra credit for trying to be a decent human being. That should be your default setting.)
All the above is general and pretty high-minded, so on a personal level: I know transsexual people, like most of the transfolk that I have met and consider at least a couple to be good friends. I don’t have a single moral, ethical, religious or philosophical objection to transfolk in any way, and have no idea why I should. I support their rights, including the right not to be discriminated against, in the workplace and out of it, due to their trans-ness. I additionally judge people who I think are transphobic, usually punting them into the category of “asshole.”
I also readily admit to being a work in progress on trans matters. I occasionally flub the gender of the transfolk I know, which I feel bad about because even if it’s unintentional it’s still a poke, and like a lot of folks, there are probably times when I step in it and don’t know until later. It wasn’t until this year that I clued in that “tranny” was a slur; it’s not a word I use at all but I saw a pal get dinged for it and when “ah,” and then “duh.” And in a day-to-day sense I’m not keeping up with trans issues and concerns, and as an extension of that I don’t have positions or thoughts on every issue that has an impact on their lives. So, occasionally clueless but hoping to improve. If you’re trans and you see me step in it, feel free to let me know.
On the tangentially related matter of transvestitism, my entirely of thought on the matter is: Wear what you like, I want you to be happy.
Indeed, in a general sense “I want you to be happy” covers most of my response to the variation of human identity experience at this point. Is what you’re doing making you a happier and better person? Is what you’re doing hurting anyone else? If the answers are “yes” and “no,” respectively, then not only am I fine with what you’re doing, the fact of the matter is that my approval or consent should be entirely immaterial. Be the person you are.