After TDoR this past week I’ve had a desire to do more trans activism. I’ve submitted a volunteer request to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and hopefully somewhere there I can do something. We’ll see where all this is leading but one thing I have noticed is a lack of trans history. Oh, it’s there but more modern regular history seems lacking (that or I’ve not looked into all the right places). We are often overshadowed by LGB history and it leaves us in the cold, particularly for trans guys. This lack of history can mean a lack of “society” or culture for trans guys. From the research I’ve done thus far we have Thomas Beattie, Buck Angel and Brandon Teena, each uniquely special and poignant to our history in their own way. The most tragic is, in my opinion, Brandon.
That said, there has to be more. I know that transmen make up the smaller portion of the transsexual/transgender community but certainly there has to be more out there, isn’t there? When searching the blogosphere for trans individuals to connect with, I’m faced with lots of beautiful transwomen but am having a hard time finding transguys. I’ve been pondering the why for a while now and have come up with a few thoughts/conclusions on this (entirely based on guesses and conversations):
- Most transguys go stealth and give up their trans history. This isn’t an unusual behaviour or response and totally understandable. What I’ve seen more often from transmen* is that they’ve identified as a boy or man since age <insert whatever young age here> and never identified with their female-born body. Many outright despise Beattie for showing the world a pregnant transman and thus, reducing us to “freak status”.
- There’s just less of us. I’ve seen figures as low as 10% but I do suspect that is changing. With far easier access to resources, the number of transmen is probably increasing. The Philadelphia Trans Health Conference 2008 was disproportionately high in the number of masculine-spectrum trans individuals, a lot of them young (18-24 age range seemed common).
- A feeling of disconnect from any community. For some transmen who were part of the lesbian/queer community first and then transitioned they find, as I have found recently, an ostracization by those communities. There is no sense of connect with transwomen and thus, they feel they have no where to go. So they fade into the woodwork of stealth, never to be seen or heard again in the communities that were once home.
- It’s noticeable that the only identified transmen that one can find historically (the three listed above) are all white. Based on the support group I go to, there should be POC, Latino and other races making up the history of transmen.
- We are afforded privilege, particularly those that are white. And with the privilege means we blend in with society without even trying. We are accepted as brethen without question by cisgendered guys (something I’ve noticed in some of the non-LGBTQ sites I’m part of)
I’ve been told that at some point I’ll want to be stealth, even if it’s for safety reasons. This may be true but right now I have no desire to do this. If anything, I intend on staying out as long as I can and for as long as I want. Many transwomen are successful at doing this, so why not the guys? For our community and culture to survive and prosper, we need to have a history. We need heroes who have stood up against adversity and role-models for those yet to come. We need someone to look to and say, “I wanna be like him”.
I’m going to continue searching to see if I can find some more, perhaps stuff that isn’t as mainstream but I remain doubtful at what won’t be found.
*I use the term transmen to refer to all trans individuals born female at birth but presenting and/or transitioning (medically or not) masculine outwardness.