Photo: The immaculate Candy Darling.
In honour of Trans Day of Remembrance, GLAAD has released a timeline showing some landmarks in the trans community, including the Compton cafeteria riots in 1966 where trans women took a stand against discrimination and police harassment, and BC’s very own Jenna Talackova being the first trans Miss Universe competitor.
Today is an important day because there is still a far way to go when it comes to ending transphobia and discrimination, in and out of the LGBT community.
I have a friend, a straight girl who I adore, and there are some things about our community that she just doesn’t get. She and her boyfriend are conservative, and after a couple glasses (okay bottles) of wine, she has told me that she doesn’t think trans people are “right.” She just doesn’t understand how someone can be born in the wrong body, and despite my best efforts to explain to her that the world, and people in it, are more complicated than she realizes, she’s still uncomfortable with the idea. It can definitely be disheartening, but I like to think that I’m slowly but surely helping her evolve to a more empathetic place. It takes time, unfortunately, especially for someone like her, who isn’t even comfortable with drag queens. Some people might ask why I’m friends with her at all if she’s so bigoted, but I don’t believe in writing people off just because they don’t get it. In fact, it can be paramount that you don’t write them off if they don’t get it, so that you can be the one to help them see the light. We have to keep trying to educate and inspire, because if we give up on people’s hate, it wins.
If you’re lucky enough to know any trans people, today is the day to thank them for being so fucking brave. It isn’t easy being yourself when you’re living as the gender you were born, never mind when you’re trying to transform and be free in a world that is so quick to label and put people in what they believe is the appropriate box. It takes a lot of nerve, and at the very least, everyone should be able to understand, respect and admire that much.
As a creative person, I really look up to trans people. Warhol Superstar Candy Darling is one of my all-time idols. When I was 18 I changed my name and moved to New York City from the Prairies. I didn’t change genders, but I certainly changed my identity. I liberated myself from my past, my pain and my dissatisfaction. And in doing so, my life became art. I started with a blank canvas and haven’t stopped painting since. I can relate to the way many trans people have picked up a paintbrush and passionately worked at a masterpiece, and I hope they know that what they’ve created is both priceless and beautiful.