As we approach the Transgender Day of Visibility on Saturday, Support Worker Danielle Oliver looks at what it means to be a visible trans role model.
Being visible within the trans community can be hit or miss.
A lot of trans individuals would like to go through their transition and then disappear into a new life of what they perceive to have missed out on. Or what they perceive ‘through socially constructed stereotyping’ and not necessary who they are.
When I started my transition even the NHS-funded clinics would focus on unnecessary stereotyping, which didn’t help.
I thought that once I have finished transitioning I would then blend into the public sphere and remain anonymous. It is true that many trans individuals prefer to be out and open about who they are which I believe now is a good thing as we should always celebrate our differences.
The point that a lot of people miss is that sometimes moving off into obscurity and on with their life isn’t always possible, maybe because of physical limitations, problems with surgery or even social transition. That last part is probably the most underestimated aspect that a lot of trans individuals do not take into account. It’s so important to be yourself and not to play to any stereotypes.
I was brought up male, my dad was a natural role model and all of my friends were male. We did stereotypical male things like play football, video games, rugby – I knew nothing else.
I knew I was different from a young age so I went into a copying mentality. I would copy my friends and like the things they did. So where does this fit in with visibility?
Well I knew nothing else so when I came to terms with who I was I didn’t know how to be myself, I had no clear understanding of the things I enjoy. I struggled in social situations with other girls because it was a socially alien world to me.
I worked extremely hard to overcome the fears and trepidations that I faced and finally accept that it is ok to do things I enjoy, new and old. Now I have a better understanding of who I am, it is not a lot different to who I was except for the fact that I am now comfortable with who I am.
I do enjoy football to a certain extent, I still play video games. My journey of self-discovery led to me finding out more about myself. I don’t have the patience to apply precise make-up or do my hair but I enjoy being outdoors, history and architecture.
I could have focused on the negatives associated with the trans community such as alarming hate crime statistics, the worldwide murder-rate or even the alarming figures of suicide rates, but I refuse to as I’m a firm believer of positivity.
I believe those who are visible should be celebrated as they are learning to finally be themselves, not just physically but more important socially and are not following the crowd.
I also believe we should celebrate that we are finally moving away from a non-binary system which will help eliminate the gender stereotypes that plague our society and just let everyone be themselves without fear of what they enjoy.
I believe this is something we can all learn from.