It’s been a while since I played that song. The version from the La Cage Aux Folles soundtrack that sits in my iTunes, it’s been a while since I’ve heard it at all, and yet it’s been in my head all day. I suspect that spending a good two hours watching Laverne Cox talk about Trans* rights last night might have something to do with it. Youtube you are my friend when it comes to these things, not so much when you suggest I sit through another Westboro Baptist Church documentary (I watched the Louis Theroux ones because I like his style, not because I want to sit and listen to their hatred all day long).
I’m not going to pretend that I can fully comprehend Laverne’s take on things. And that’s okay, I can’t put myself in her shoes, I’m not a Transgender Woman and I’m not a Person of Colour. However, there are parts from each video that I watched that I can relate to. Having to own your Trans* identity rather than suppress or deny it, coming to terms with who you are and watching as your family struggle to do the same thing. Watching Laverne last night, listening to her talk, I was struck by her passion, her determination and her pure eloquence (I was struck by her beauty when she first came into my radar on Orange is the New Black. If you haven’t seen it yet, get your backsides over to Netflix).
One of the most poignant quotes I took away from last night was this one:
“If we can love Transgender people that will be a revolutionary act”
which came from this video:
From my perspective this means loving the whole Trans* community and that love has to start from within. We are a community, those of us who are Trans* Men, Trans* Women, Genderqueer, Gender-nonconforming, Gender Creative, Androgynous, anyone and everyone who is not a part of the Gender Binary. We all have different tales, we all have different perspectives on what it means to be part of the Transgender community, but we are a community nonetheless. If we learn to love our differences, the wonderful rainbow of different ethnicities, different gender identities, different backgrounds, different experiences, then we create a bond that cannot be broken.
Then we need to apply that love amongst the wider LGBTQQIA community. Some of us, myself included, straddle more than one of those labels, some don’t. But we are still the marginalised because we go against the ‘norm’, because we are not cisgendered heterosexuals. If we can love each other and remember that each and every letter in that community deserves equal footing we’ll be putting ourselves in a better, happier place. Through that love we can educate each other on the differences and reaffirm our bond with each other.
That education can spread to individuals in wider society too, starting with our friends and family. The heterosexual cisgender people that we choose to let into our lives. They can’t see things from our perspective, but if we give them information, educate them on what things appear like from our point of view, that information can make a difference. They in turn may (and often do) disseminate that information and so on and so forth, not just to other adults, but to their children too, the more people educated, the more chance we have to be seen as equals. It’s a slow process, and we’re starting to see the progress inch by inch, fight by fight. We’re educating the Western World and hopefully the more we educate the Westernised World, the quicker that message will spread to all the civilisations on this planet that we all call home.