Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Am Somebody!

Internalized trans-phobia, I think it is something that we have all going through at one time or other in our lives.

Someone posted this old blog post from Transgender Mental Health on Facebook and I want to write about it because I think it is an important topic to talk about. She writes,
Internalized trans-phobia refers to feelings some people have inside about their being trans that they might not even be aware of.  It refers to how some people hate that part of themselves and are ashamed of it.  The phrase comes from the similar experiences of gay folk who sometimes have “internalized homo-phobia”.

How does this happen?  This happens because of discrimination, ignorance and stigma in society against people who display gender non-conforming behavior.  In other words against men and boys who appear feminine or girls and woman who appear masculine or “butch” or people who are more gender-queer and don’t appear to be completely male or female.
I think she makes a very good point; “internalized trans-phobia” happens because of the stigma attached to being trans. When we are fighting with ourselves and trying to deny that we are trans that is where the angsts comes from, we think that being trans is the worst thing in life, we see it as a curse. That is also where our high suicide rate, our high drug and alcohol dependency comes from, our own internalized self-loathing.

Internalized trans-phobia also is what causes “lateral hostiles” when other trans-people try to distance themselves from other trans-people in order to make themselves feel superior or disassociate themselves from other trans-people. They hold themselves aloof from the trans-community. They might call other trans-people who they feel beneath them “men in a dress” or use other derogatory phrases to separate themselves from.

She goes on to write,
…Some people take a long time to come out as trans because they have so much internalized trans-phobia.  It can hold you back in life, not only in terms of finding a way to be the gender you are, but in many areas of your life such as forming deep and satisfying connections to others.
For me that is so true, it did keep me from developing deep romantic connections because I could never give my whole self to a relationship. I never developed my true potential and it is still hard to overcome the feelings of inadequacies, I tend to over compensate and try too hard to please.

As she says, “It takes time to “undo” deep down beliefs about gender-variant people…” it takes time to develop self-acceptance to realize that the world will not end with coming out.

When I wrote my “Personal Statement” for my MSW Application to grad school, I wrote…
In coming out, I leaned self-acceptance and in gaining this acceptance came empowerment. This has become a valuable tool in which to help others.  Self-acceptance allows one to not only believe in themselves but that all things are possible – even social change and social justice.  I think the Reverend Jesse Jackson said it best in his poem “I am Somebody”-- we are all somebody and we can never forget that.

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