Donna Rose: Pride – A Transgender Perspective

From The ACLU Get Busy Get Equal:

By Donna Rose

Donna Rose blogs at TheDonnaBlog, where she advocates for transgender and LGB equality. In her
contribution to the ACLU’s online symposium in
celebration of LGBT Pride, Donna discusses what Pride means to the transgender community and reflects on her life as a transgender woman.

Click here to learn more about the ACLU’s weeklong online symposium on LGBT Pride.

At first glance I’m pretty unremarkable.  I’m a middle-aged woman, and a single parent to a 22-year-old son.  I was divorced after a marriage of almost 20 years.  I have a successful career as an IT consultant for Fortune 500 companies.  I have two dogs, I rent a home, I enjoy photography and music, and I live paycheck to paycheck just like millions of other Americans.

The thing that makes me unique is that I’m transsexual.  More specifically, I’m a transsexual woman.  My path to womanhood was admittedly “untraditional” and arguably a bit more difficult than most, but somehow that seems to make it all the more valuable to me.  That single fact about me doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone else.  It doesn’t make me more or less worthy of basic human rights.  It doesn’t define me.  Unfortunately, there is a world of people that choose to disagree.

Some labels become defining labels in that they trump all the others.  Somehow, the moment that others learn about my unique pedigree all those other important facts about me and my life seem to get called into question, or forgotten altogether.  Even more disturbing, however, is the fact that to acknowledge that single fact about myself is to forfeit basic human rights that most take for granted in this country.  Suddenly, I can be fired from my job for no reason related to job performance.  I can be denied housing, and health insurance.  I can become the target of harassment or violence at the hands of those who choose to hate and may very well get away with it.  How can that possibly happen in this day and age?  Simple.  Prejudice, Ignorance, Discrimination – all are alive and well in the 21st century and those who challenge gender norms often pay a horrific price because of it.

I, like many transgender people, simply want to live my life and to be left alone.  I consider my transgender journey to be a pursuit of self-fulfillment and happiness more than a journey specifically about gender.  In that context, it’s a much more universally human journey than many seem to want to acknowledge in that my gender is simply the pathway, not the destination itself.  Still, I refuse to live my life trapped by fear of discovery or satisfied with the table scraps that others would force me and people like me to accept.  I refuse to reduce the scope of my life to fit the comfort levels of others, or to accept that other people’s fears somehow require me to expect less out of my own life.

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