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In the article below, Liam Klenk, author of Paralian: Not Just Transgender, examines the public’s view of trans people in the wake of the toilet debate in America. In the UK, trans rights have been less controversial but a story on BBC News’ Instagram earlier today highlighted the global issues trans people face.
‘I was Liam, and something inside my soul knew with absolute certainty he was who I had been all my life. More than ever, I was confident to not let my life be controlled by clichés and abstract societal constructs. I had just escaped one prison and saw no reason to voluntarily admit myself to the next one. I knew I was a man – not by anyone else’s standards but by my own.’ (Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 10)
For many, ‘transgender’ is an abstract concept – someone wanting to be another gender, a freak of nature, on the fringe, scary, maybe even someone to be hated and despised for their otherness.
It is not surprising that more than 1,000 trans individuals worldwide become victims of hate crimes each year. They are being bludgeoned, stabbed, stoned, shot, and beaten to death. Most of these crimes happen on the North and South American continent.
How much smarter were the indigenous tribes of North America. Most of these tribes accepted and honored up to nine different genders. Every shade of what we nowadays classify ‘LGBT’ was present. These people were integrated into society, even revered as having special powers. Most of all they were allowed to simply be who they are.
In the ‘civilized’ world we lost touch with who we were as a species. Instead of celebrating diversity we saw merit in structuring and regulating society to the point of suffocation. And we went out there to ‘educate the savages’ . . . As a result, the world became more narrow-minded instead of growing onward and outward.
The whole bathroom discussion we are witnessing lately in the US highlights the fact that a large percentage of the world population nowadays still sees our world with frightening small-mindedness. Many have no idea what transgender really means.
Politicians say, ‘Why should we allow a grown man to use the woman’s bathroom?’
Really? Do we want to look at someone, obviously a woman, albeit born in the wrong body and a bit blurred around the edges, and call her a ‘grown man’? Who are we to determine who someone really is? How many of us have stopped and truly talked with someone transgender? I mean actually talked with them, not just watched talk shows sensationalizing the issue?
If you are trans, you were never your birth gender to begin with.
I’m a trans man. I came into this world in the body of a girl, yet I was always a boy.
Confusing, isn’t it?
Believe me, it was and is at times just as confusing for me as it is for you. I’d love to have been born in the ‘right’ body.
Our physical appearance is just packaging and sometimes, for no apparent reason, the labels have been switched.
Through no fault of their own a small percentage of people (not as small as we think – nearly 15 million worldwide according to the latest UN figures) come into this world and find themselves stranded in a body not fitting their true gender. But gender is a matter of soul, not of body. You KNOW who you are. Deep down, no matter your packaging, you always know. Gender is far more fluid than society allows and far less bound by physical aspects.
As someone very wise recently said to me, ‘Who would put themselves through all the hardship, psychological ups and downs, as well as countless surgeries if what they’re experiencing weren’t real?’ Good point.
If, like me, you find yourself stranded in difficult circumstances, there is no choice but to move forward and make the most of the cards you’ve been given. I’ve made my peace with never having a complete male body. Then again, what is complete? I like who I am. Even though it was traumatising at the time, I’m happy to have lived through almost two decades in the ‘wrong’ body. These experiences are invaluable and have moulded me into a more compassionate (and in a sense more complete) individual.
In the end, all of us experience difficulties during the course of our lives. If you’re trans, being trans is just one element in a life filled with a myriad of challenges. I’m not just transgender. I’m the sum of my experiences: an individual, a human being, a soul in search of being at one with myself just like everyone else out there.
To those still searching – trans or cis, or any stage in between – you know best who you are. Don’t let yourself be defined by anyone else’s standards but your own.
Liam Klenk’s book, Paralian is available for pre order now on Amazon and will be on general sale at the end of the month.