Is there a place?
[In response to a weird question at the end of the book talk with Rebekah Robertson and Georgie Stone, hosted by ABC journalist, Matt Neal.]
Thanks for coming along to the discussion last night. Your comment at the end of the evening though really caught me by surprise, to the point where I wondered if you’d listened to the talk. Do you remember what you asked, I wonder? You asked me if there’s a place in the world for trans women. I’m not sure if you’d given your question much thought before blurting it out, and obviously my face must have given away my shock at your words, because you went on to say, “Well, you know, it’s hard enough for women as it is, is there room for trans women?” Maybe I misunderstood your words, but to me that sounded like you throwing still more fuel on the comment which preceded it. Mortified, all I could do was wave you out of my shop. I wish Beck Robertson had been standing with me at the time, because she would have known just what to say.
But what I would like to say to you now is that there absolutely is room for trans women. And it is up to society - up to us, as it always has been - to make room for everyone. It is a strong community who can stand by their diverse populations, who provide everyone a place at the table. You may as well have asked is there a place in the world for the elderly? Is there a place in the world for the autistic? Is there a place for immigrants? For the disabled? For diabetics? For black people? For gay people? It is not my job to educate you about trans women. It is your job to educate yourself about those in your community, and consciously try to open your mind and heart to people who are not like yourself. I thought that by attending this event that is what you were trying to do. There is so much we can all learn from our diverse populations.
Rebekah’s talk was a genuine and big-hearted discussion about finding a place for her daughter Georgie. And they are doing that very successfully, despite the opposition, despite the dickheads who can’t accept their reality. Georgie is evidence that there is a place for trans women, but she’s not the only one who’s living a successful life post-transition. There are many young and adult trans people living in our local region - Port Fairy, Warrnambool, Hamilton, Mt Gambier - and beyond, and you wouldn’t even realise it. Just people, like any other. They have regular jobs, they do their regular day-to-day things like grocery shopping and taking care of their families. Most of the trans women and trans men we know just want to get on with their lives, they just want to live as women or men and not be treated any differently than how you yourself live as a woman. It is the rare and courageous person, like Georgie, who is prepared to speak up for that population – because of the dickheads out there who refuse to give them a place at the table. Who, for some screwed up reason, feel that they aren’t worthy of a place, and who actively elbow them away from the table. These are the same people who take great joy in outing trans people to others – and this is a practice that is never okay. We all need to be so much better than that. And we need to tell people who try to block the path of a trans person, or who out a trans person, that it’s not cool to do so. The kids are fine, as Georgie says, so why can’t the adults get it?
Can you offer a place at the table for our diverse populations? If you can, then others can too. There is most definitely a place for trans women, just the same as there are places for you, for the elderly, for the autistic, for immigrants, for the diabetic, for the disabled, for black, for gay and anyone else. I hope that this note enlightens you a little bit. And perhaps you’ll understand still more once you’ve read Beck’s book.
Remaining hopeful that, as Beck says, people are really lovely.