What do 'they' think of 'us'?
So, what do "they” think of us?
Rocio F. C. Hernandez finds out what people in Manchester's gay village really think of the Trans community...
Perhaps you know that feeling… some people really cannot stop staring at you when you are wearing a dress. You are pretty sure of what are they thinking and you do not like it. You are feeling very uncomfortable, and wish you could just fly away! I have been there too…
But hold on a second, I know transgender people are capable of amazing things but mind-reading is still not on the list, not as far as I am aware. What if you are being just too hard on yourself, and out there nobody really cares. Even more, what if some people were actually supporting your decisions and thinking: "Well done!”.
Wouldn’t it be nice just to be able to go and ask them?
Well we just did. We went out to the streets of Manchester City Centre asking people to speak their minds out about "us”, the transgender community. But we wanted to get them thinking on how would they feel if they had to confront directly with transgender issues. So we asked: What if your father, your sister, or your mother would come to you and say: "I am transgender”.
I must say I was pleased with the responses of people; although at the same time I got a glimpse of the road ahead, and what is still needed to do regarding our inclusion in society. In general, people were very polite and respectful towards the decisions of each individual; but they also acknowledged a certain concern about their beloved ones taking the right decision. "I would say, first of all, Are you sure you want to go through this?, Because it is life changing”
Although scarce, there are still some myths about our community. There are some people around who perceive us as a sexually driven kind. "If they don’t touch me, if they don’t come too close to me like: "I like you” then, no problem”
The concerns about making the right decision to transition are well justified, since the life of a Trans person is not easy. But gladly most -if not all of them- also acknowledged a firm will to support their hypothetical Trans relatives. "I’ll be more than willing to help , most definitely” , " If you have thought about it for several years, then maybe you should go for it, and I would support you through that”, "I’d probably be surprised, but I’d be happy for them as long as they are happy with themselves”.
We also asked people whether they knew any transgender person close to them, some actually did: close friends, close relatives, even a girl from Pakistan very familiar with the Hijra community (a South Asian equivalent to the western MTF transgender community). These interviewees were supportive of their relatives and acquaintances. But most of our interviewees did not know any Trans person, or as one of them said: "I don’t know if I know!”.
Which leads me to my final thought on this issue: The road behind us has gained the Trans community a good amount of supporters in the broader society, but they will not come out and give us a helping hand unless we go out and ask for it. Many of us Trans people are still hiding, with good reason for some bits, but perhaps it is not as bad as one may think.