We are very strange us humans. We are like coins. On one side we can be very compassionate and loving and willing to move the earth to help another person rise out of their struggles. On the counter side however, our capacity to be cruel and vindictive is legendary, going to extraordinary lengths to harm and abuse those we see as different to us.
I’m not sure whether this is an inbuilt phenomena, something inherently part of our DNA, or is something we learn from our peers and society in general. I suspect it’s learnt behaviour rather than some natural function of being human. It could be tribal in nature or a function of the reptilian brain; difference equates to danger.
Pick a topic, any topic, and you’ll find most people sit on one end or the other of a spectrum, a binary model of right and wrong, left and right, conservative and labour, female and male, light and dark, masculine and feminine, gay and straight, trans and cis, rich and poor, the deserving and the undeserving. We pick wars and a multitude of other conflicts because they are easy as we don’t care who we hurt as long as we get what we want. How many of us are born sociopaths or simply learn by osmosis a technique that appears to bring the greatest riches?
No one with a loud voice seems to sit in the middle, the non binary point. That point then, along the scale of differences, ideas and concepts, becomes an easy target for those only interested in shouting and screaming at those they see as opponents, those sitting at the other end of a very long spectrum following a Gaussian shaped distribution. Neither end of this vast spectrum has the capacity to listen even when new information contradicts their narrative. “The others must change, not me.” It seems there is no capacity in the system to be mistaken or having a change of mind with the inclusion of new information. It seems the belief of the individual overrides the ability to treat someone with humanity and compassion. “The others must change, not me.”
To be rejected by society is not a nice experience. It causes great pain within, intense confusion and a chasm like depression. Being transgender is not a choice or a lifestyle or a mental illness. It’s a fundamental part of who we are and not something a whim will resolve. It requires a depth of understanding of one’s identity, a willingness to dig deep to discover the Self hidden by years of rejection and abandonment.
To be our authentic Self, trans people have to excavate further than most, turning over the dregs of decades of vilification and bullying to illuminate that which is behind the masks we erect as protection. How many people are willing to drop the facades and present their true selves to the world? How many people are willing to be truly authentic, open and honest?
When I appeared in the audience on BBC Question Time voicing my experiences of being a trans woman, I was surprised at the number of vile comments I received on social media. Yes, there were many who gave very positive and compassionate comments but those were far outstripped by those who considered me mentally ill and not worth the cost of treatment I may or may not receive from the NHS. Treatment, they say, is elective so I should pay for it myself. Would they make those same comments to someone who was anorexic or had leukaemia or suffered from schizophrenia? What is it about trans people that makes us an easy target? What is it about trans people, such a small minority in terms of numbers, that we trigger such virulence and bile from others in society?
Anyone who chooses to deliberately invalidate and bully those they consider mentally ill must be suffering from their own mental disorder; i.e. have sociopathic tendencies, or simply don’t care. To treat someone inhumanly can only mean they have little or no humanity, compassion or empathy. Why would they choose to make that person’s life much more difficult knowing that their actions could push them to self harm or move them nearer to the possibility of taking their own life?
I have noticed that many people use scripture to justify their positions quoting chapter and verse that LGBT people are somehow less than and abominable. We all agree that schizophrenia is a mental illness where they see and hear things that are not there in reality. So, does this mean that those who believe in a being whose existence cannot be proven is a mental disorder? As a society we choose to call this religion. That’s ok then!
There are many religious people who are compassionate and loving and accepting of differences but these are outnumbered by those who have their own agenda stating that their way is the only way. Religion has not been a force for good but is one that generates conflict and has been, and still is, the cause of abuse, slaughter and murder. Religion no longer has the moral and ethical high ground and so has lost the right to define what is right and what is wrong, and particularly from ancient books full of contradictions open to interpretation.
To use scripture to define ‘normal’, denies the possibility of difference and the unusual. To use gender stereotypes to define ‘normal’, limits individuality and variation in expression. It is the height of arrogance that someone knows what is right or wrong for me. I have free will to make my own choices in life. For me, the society of the 1950s drastically limited my choices and this was painful in the extreme. I could not fit in the box marked ‘normal’ so found my natural Self vanishing more and more every day. There are no words I can use the describe the level of pain and torture that existed in a life not worth living. Simple words cannot convey the distress I experienced during my formative years to create a person who just existed. A positive environment was not available to me to shine and to thrive into my inherent creativity. I became less than.
Although we are born with a set of DNA strands, we are all unique beings. Even identical twins are not truly identical. Their fingerprints differ as do their abilities and their personalities. Their experiences will differ as they will be with different people during their upbringing and later life as they move into becoming adults.
We all bring something different and worthwhile to the world, something that is unique; individuality. What would the computing world look like today had they not hounded Alan Turing to an early grave?
So, what is it about trans people that makes us an easy target?
I will leave you to ponder that question. It is your unique perspective that counts. But how much of your perception is based upon truly independent thought or based upon millennia of subconscious programming by those who have an agenda of their own.