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Wish You Were (T)Here

When you are transgender and your family doesn’t show up to support you.

I want to preface this piece by saying I’m very much not an “I do for you, so you need to do for me” type of person, but neither am I a person who enjoys giving everything I can with little to no reciprocation or appreciation – I am not a doormat. But I’m beginning to feel like one among my family, especially more so lately.

“I’VE LONG AGO LEARNED TO RELY ON NO ONE BUT MYSELF BECAUSE IT ALL TOO OFTEN LEADS TO MY DISAPPOINTMENT WHEN OTHERS LET ME DOWN.”

There are very rare times in my life that I ask my friends and/or family to join me in something, whether it’s a simple matter of changing one’s Facebook profile picture in memory of those slain at Pulse to helping our new organization to joining me at an event, particularly one as big and important as the NYC Pride March. I’ve long ago learned to rely on no one but myself because it all too often leads to my disappointment when others let me down. I’ve taken on the mentality of – if someone surprises me by stepping up, and standing out I will enjoy the surprise and appreciate the gesture, but I will never expect it from anyone and therein will never be let down when, inevitably, they do not come forward to join me. Do not take this as a “poor me” statement, it’s a way of living that I’ve adopted so many years ago I cannot even remember when I started it and, for the most part, it’s served me well and I do not feel that I am missing anything out of life other than not being disappointed on a regular basis. There are times, however, when I try to impress upon those who are presumably close to me how important something is to me but, without fail, I find myself engaging in whatever it is alone.

For those who feel that maybe I expect from others but do not want to give in return I can only say that’s certainly not the case. I’ve put myself in great financial strife, I’ve lost countless hours of work when every penny counts, I’ve rearranged and juggled entire chunks of my life to squeeze in something as seemingly small as a dance recital, and I’ve dealt with immense personal pressure to somehow figure out how to “get there” or afford the next thing someone comes up with. I don’t consider what I do in order to accommodate my family and their events as heroic or warranting any special pat on the back. My reward is seeing my niece’s face light up as she runs to give me a hug because she’s so happy I made it to her preschool stepping up ceremony. Or when my youngest niece races past everyone else to run into my arms because she’s so happy to see me. Or unspoken appreciation of my other niece (yes, I have a lot of them) that I managed – through outrageous obstacles – to make it to her sweet sixteen family trip.

It pains me, though, that when I keep inviting my family to come to a group at our new organization it falls on deaf ears. That’s fine, spending a Friday night in a group setting isn’t for everyone, although at least once it would have been nice. It really got my brain kicking into overdrive after no one came to pride but then I heard “we were thinking of coming” and just simply decided “meh, not worth it.” It was the first time I was marching in it, and it’s such a great event in general. While being trans isn’t all I am, it is a major part of who I am. Being in the LGBT spectrum itself, we see so many different things that many cis and het people don’t as they’re simply not exposed to it, so a day at pride would remove those blinders about our struggles and why we still march every year. To celebrate, and support and continue to fight for whom I am and what rights I do and don’t have along with all the other 40,000+ marchers and the millions of others who couldn’t march.

“WHILE BEING TRANS ISN’T ALL I AM, IT IS A MAJOR PART OF WHO I AM.”

I think it’s mainly because I feel like my friends and family don’t really “get it” and feel that just by knowing me in some capacity they’re “in the know” about LGBT stuff. Today 45 cowardly tweeted that transgender people cannot serve in the military in any capacity (so he can scrape together a few dollars for his precious wall) and the majority of those I know probably haven’t a clue that this happened. The few people who responded to my posts on facebook about it with “I’m with trans” or shared the articles or generally disagreed with what he did were the very same people who voted for this guy. They are so far removed from the reality of what I – what we all – face on a daily basis. They have no concept that everything they have they take for granted and that my sharing in any level of what they have is tenuous and could be stripped away from me with the click of a pen. For me, having those who are supported to be near and dear actually get into the trenches to learn and become active would be amazing.

I do have to say, though, that I do not take for granted that I do have friends and family. While I complain about their inactivity or lack of being a larger part of my life, I have to appreciate the fact that I do have these people. So many trans people are without family, without homes, without a support network. If you’re out there and you’re reading this please know that we are here for you in whatever way we can be. Reach out to us and we will form our own network of friends and family. We need to come together more now than ever before.

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