Monday, January 28, 2013

Coming Out as a Form of Activism

Make sure to check out my first post on terms and definitions so you know what I'm talking about!
Many roads of activism exist, between starting a city-wide petition, rallying, educating, rioting in the streets – you know. The basics. But I’ve recently begun to realize that, for LGBT individuals (and anyone else in an invisible minority), there is one imperative route of activism that is often overlooked: coming out. I, personally, am a trans* woman, so my coming out story of activism aligns with that identity.

I tend to argue that trans* people are the most visible population of any in the GLBT community, since expressing as our appropriate gender is part of our identity. Because of this, I didn’t have the luxury of appearing female to close friends first to test the waters. Instead, I went immediately into coming out, in the most literal sense, to everyone in eye-shot. Soon after, I elected to pledge to a sorority, Phi Theta Chi, and was soon accepted as a Sister. I took 40 hours of training to work at the Women’s Resource Center to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and I worked to convince my (traditionally Conservative) Mathematics department to reserve for me one of five spots available to the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Math.

In short, I began living as a woman; began living as I have always wanted to. At first pass, these may all seem like very personal achievements, but once we factor in how public my coming out is, we can better see how this counts as very progressive and potent activism. In my public coming out, I have shown to everyone who has seen me that trans* is a real identity (this ain’t your baby boy’s porno fantasy anymore). By being outspoken and thoughtful, I have shown people that being trans* is more than comic relief in a film. By joining my sorority and attending all-women’s conferences, I have given hope to other trans* people and shown them that acceptance is out there; shown them that they don’t need to be afraid to come out and that, when they do, they might have a chance at alleviating the dysphoria that rips their psyche apart by being forced to pretend that they’re a gender they don’t identify with. I crave for my entire existence to be an inspiration to anyone who needs one, and have had my inspirational qualities affirmed by several people, from a quiet thanks in passing from a still-closeted trans* person to a sobbing appreciation from a cisgendered Sister who claims I have reignited hope in her life. No matter what laws pass (or fail to), and no matter what discrimination LGBT people face, my coming out, and the successes that I strive for with it, will always be a beacon to look to.

Coming out is one of the most potent forms of activism, and if your goal is to make a change in your community – exemplify yourself.

13 comments:

  1. Great job! You are a role model for many people out there and I know that you will continue to play that part in many people's lives.

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  2. Reading your post was such an eye opener to me. I want to say first and foremost that if anything I say offends, please be upfront and honest. I am a very naive person when it comes to member of the LBGT community, although many of my close friends are gay. Honestly, I have always admired trans* genders and their will and drive to be who they are. But I know that it has been far from easy. Reading your post gives me a little glimpse into your life and the struggles you indeed face. I have so many questions that I don't think I would ever be able to ask, but reading about strong people like you, answers some of my questions. It gives me hope: that no matter what I am going through, and how difficult it may seem, some people are struggling more than I am. I need to be thankful for the life I have been given. You should be proud of what you have done and the inspiration you are to others going through the same things as you. And you def. LEPT in; I admire you for that! I am excited to hear more about you throughout this semester and learn your standpoint on topics. Bravo!

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  3. Your post really opened my eyes. I am so happy to hear that you are so super confident in who you are and that you will not take shit from anyone! The things you have accomplished are fantastic and inspirational for not just the trans* community, but for women everywhere! Continue to be a role model and great things will happen! I had no idea how hard it could be for people to be who they are, so thank you for opening my eyes to the perspective of the trans* community.

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  4. I'm glad you are able to live your life happy now! :) I believe our society has not been educated on the Trans community. I think people are uncomfortable because they dont know. Over coming your fears and doing what YOU WANT in life is one of the most important things, no one should hide or pretend to be someone they are not. Im happy you were able to step out, even though im sure it was very difficult with such a judgmental society that surrounds us. Great Blog! :)

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  5. Excellent Blog -- Thank you for sharing your personal story. It is people like you that give the GLBT community a better name and a better image.

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  6. Great blog setup! I think it was an excellent, professional and informative move to put a post about terms. I think that a lot of the time, people curious about/ignorant about is terminology, misconceptions and misleadings originate in a basic understanding. I think it was a great move to add that little nugget of knowledge for unfamiliar readers, as well as people who need to reference back to a word.

    I think your personal story was inspiring, and triumphant. I would refer LGBT individuals to your blog if they were confused, discouraged, or needed to a familiar story to theirs- your tone is calm, precise yet descriptive. You obviously have a knack for writing (and math!) and it shows. I liked hearing about your accomplishments and successes- it was a great positive thing to read, some good news, which I appreciated. A lot of the time I blog, I feel very negative or disconnected. Your blog was friendly and welcoming. Can't wait to read more!

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  7. I like your blog. To be honest, I have never really thought about this subject. I am not very knowledgable on it, but you seem to be very well associated with where you are heading in life and what you hope to achieve from it. I like the fact that you used your own personal affiliation with the subject and that helped to bring the blog alive. I feel like you should go into more depth and go into more explanation of the subject. Use more real life examples and run with it. I like the topic as it comes to activism, because this is activist writing and I feel like you have a good grasp of it.

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  8. So after considering the aspect of coming out as an activist action after you referenced this post at our teach-in event, it got me to start thinking that you're quite right: Simply existing is an activist action, especially when a power dynamic is involved; it'd be even more of an activist action with one being open about their existence, and by choosing educating others in the process.

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  9. I thought your point that coming out is a strong point of activism was interesting, as it was not something I had really put together before. However, after reading your story, I do believe that coming out can be a great form of activism and awareness to those around you. When you choose to educate others while at the same time being comfortable with who you are and what you believe, I think it's a great way to make a change socially.

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  10. Having been part of your writing group, I think that this final version is excellent. Your activism, at a bone-deep, every day level, is incredibly powerful.

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  11. Very inspirational and heart warming, I believe you give many people a lot reassurance about themselves with this blog and hopefully some of your strength as well!

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  12. First, thank you so much for all the information. I will be directing anyone who needs it to this blog as a resource. Combined with your personal story, it is very effective activist writing. Now, I want to tell you how you inspire me. I can relate to "I crave for my entire existence to be an inspiration to anyone who needs one." It seems to me that you are doing an excellent job of loving yourself and I am taking notes! "Exemplify yourself" is the only way to uplift others and you are courageous.

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