spring is definitely in the air around here. but that isn’t what i am writing about this day…
instead, this is about things in the air, or rather ‘on the air’ … the media. media coverage of things can do many things, not all of them good. but it can tell the truth about issues that are largely misrepresented. and that’s a very good thing.
lately one of those things is about transgender people. folk already know that it was due to a barbara walters special on transgender children that aired in april 2007 which led to the beginnings of a much happier life for my daughter, ziona. when she told me she was a girl, i had no idea how to help her…until then. the airing of that program actually started me on a research journey. ordering books from amazon.com such as ‘the transgender child'; calling boston children’s hospital to speak with dr. spack’s clinic; and scouring the internet for anything to help me understand how to support my daughter…how to ease her pain.
that’s one thing about transgender people, old and young, that cis-gender people don’t and maybe can’t understand. just how much pain is experienced…
every good parent ‘feels’ their child’s pain. we fret over every fever. break out the chicken soup and lose sleep until our little one feels better. when they are bullied or have their feelings hurt by their peers, schoolmates and such, we want to take their pain into our own souls and perhaps sternly reprimand someone else’s child for their insensitivity. we cringe when we clean out the gravel from their skinned knees. so you can imagine how heart-wrenching it is when the ‘booboo’ your child has is one of being a girl or boy in the body of the opposite gender.
ziona was suicidal at three.
altho, i’m not usually the optimistic type when it comes to human nature, i can’t help but to be very hopeful at the recent and even upcoming media representations of transgender people. the series “transparent” on amazon…chaz bono, janet mock, …just google ‘transgender media icons’ and lists of role-models for our transgender children come up. and that’s a very good thing!
my daughter is well on her way to becoming the girl she was always meant to be. i had an ear to hear her words and a heart to feel her pain. but were it not for media covering this ‘thing’ of “transgender kids”, who knows how much more pain she would’ve had to endure. like my many transgender adult friends who had to suffer through puberty in the wrong body…and for transgender women, the many irreversible effects of testosterone, which mean more difficulty in being ‘read’ as just women.
so i am delighted with the media bringing the promise of a better day for transgender people. just google ‘transgender documentaries’ or ‘programmes about transgender kids’. i am hosting a woman who had found herself ‘homeless’ after she divorced her wife and disclosed to her family that she is not a man, but a woman. she has been approached to be part of a new documentary which, if she is chosen, would help pay for her transition…she has recently gotten a job and no doubt will be finding her own place in the near future. but to afford the cost of transition in a state with no obamacare or find an insurance companies that will pay for it isn’t easy. and who really has extra tens of thousands of dollars to afford it on $13 dollars per hour. i hope they pick her, of course.
our culture and in fact the ideas many people have floating around in their brain-pans are largely infused by media. the television programmes and the movies tend to be very good at imprinting people with values that are represented. this can be very bad at times. for example when the news drum-beats for war, or commercials make women feel ‘less than fresh’ in order to sell them something. but it can also be good, when the invisible becomes visible, when the light of our collective attention is poured out in a dark place. programmes that tell the stories that have been ‘left out’ … or wrongly portrayed, programmes that educate about things that are misunderstood, are a way forward and a welcomed relief to the ignorance and bigotry that might stand otherwise unchallenged.
yes, there’s something in the air these days….and it makes me very hopeful