Not a monster. Just a kind, gentle human being. This is my uncle who lived his life in secret and in shame because the world decided something was wrong with him.
Isms & Social Justice

This Is What Transgender Looks Like

Not a monster. Just a kind, gentle human being. This is my uncle who lived his life in secret and in shame because the world decided something was wrong with him.

This is the face of transgender. This was a kind, gentle person who never hurt anyone. Yet he lived his entire life in secret shame because the world believed him to be ugly.

This is not a post about bathrooms. Or about laws being passed to regulate who uses which one.

This is a post about humanity. Every human being walking down the street, visiting your local restaurants, working alongside you at your place of employment, passing you in a car, is just that—a human being. And it appears that basic civil rights are still not granted to all human beings in our society, for a reason that is quite obvious. It’s because like people of color, people with disabilities, gay people, and anyone remotely different from what many consider “the norm,” people who are transgender are the newest crop of humanity deemed undeserving of basic human rights.

The sad truth is, small-minded people are scared. It’s because of memes like this, which perpetuate the idiotic, uneducated, bigoted perception that people who are transgender are inherently child predators. And this assumption is absurd and unfounded and born out of fear and lack of education about that which is different.

Would I let my kids be alone with the person pictured in this internet meme? No. This person is a stranger to us. But I don’t automatically assume this person is a child predator. Or a rapist. I do think that maybe (s)he grew tired of the world judging him/her and refusing to allow him/her a safe place to be, so (s)he said fuck it and started dressing like this. Or maybe (s)he never tried at all to conform, knowing (s)he’d never be welcomed. Can you blame him/her? With the state of this nation in 20-freaking-16? But to automatically assume (s)he’s going to harm my family? Because (s)he dresses like this? That’s what makes this person a sexual offender?

Is this what a predator looks like?

I don’t know this person, or the state of his/her mental health. But just for comparison’s sake, this is what a predator looks like. (You’ll have to click the link because I’m sure as hell not putting his picture in this post.) Remember this guy? Doesn’t he look like your grandfather? He sure didn’t show up in any cruel memes prior to his big scandal. He wasn’t transgender. Or gay. Just a regular old pedophile. Who happened to be married. And a father.

Assuming transgender = sexual predator makes you sound like an idiot. Like truly, an uneducated person without a fully developed brain. A person transitioning is just a person trying to be his or herself in your fucked up world.

I’ve never known someone who looks like the person in that cruel internet meme. But I will tell you that this is what transgender looks like to me.

This Is What Transgender Looks Like

This is my uncle, not long before he died. We always joked that he kind of looked like Frank Perdue. He was an adorable little guy, incredibly loving and friendly and hilarious. And safe. NOT A PREDATOR. But he was transgender, born a woman. He transitioned over time, but fully began living his life as a man long before I was born, so I never knew him otherwise. And I didn’t need to know. It didn’t matter. His contribution to the world had nothing do with what part of his body he peed out of. And therefore had nothing to do with which bathroom he used. (Obviously the men’s—you may have been in there with him once or twice. Gasp! Looks like you made it out fine and weren’t attacked.)

My uncle wasn’t a threat. He was taunted and abused and called horrible names like butch and dyke as he transitioned to living his life as a man. The world tried to make him ugly. Because the world is ugly. But it failed. All of the bigoted, provincially-minded people who didn’t understand him, and failed to see what really mattered—that he was a kind human being—failed. He was never ugly. And he certainly was never a predator.

I understand the need to protect our children. My children’s safety is my most important job too—which is why I teach my kids about true predators, and how to protect themselves. And I also teach them about people who unfairly judge the man in the picture above.

I do not teach them to instantly fear a man who might look or act differently from their daddy.

And I’m thankful that my uncle taught me what transgender, and also humanity, truly looks like.