Trans people can experience love. Trans people can experience joy because they are trans. And yes, cis people can love trans people.
I never thought I would find more to say on these ideas than the above. To me, they are self-evident. But apparently, many, many cisgender people do not understand these concepts. There have been so many transgender people that have pointed this out over the years, and it seems that the greater culture still isn’t hearing us. In an interview with journalist Tuck Woodstock, author Jeffrey Marsh tells us about a time when another interviewer asked them if they hoped to find love.
Jeffrey: It’s so funny because I think I know the clip you’re talking about. I think the interviewer even was like, “you know I hate to have such a traditional mindset but do you hope to have a partner?” It’s like what are you talking about? We’re human beings. Anyway.
Tuck: I’m very traditional, but do you hope to experience love (laughing)?Jeffrey Marsh, Gender Reveal Ep. 93 25:30
And this same question has been asked of every part of the LGBTQ+ community for as long as we have been publicly visible. One of my favorite quotes of all time is Harvey Fierstein’s response to a really ridiculous question by Barbara Walters.
“Those are not heterosexual experiences and those are not heterosexual words. Those are human words. Love, commitment, family, belong to all people.”Harvey Fierstein, Interview with Barbara Walters 1983
I only recommend you watch the full interview if you want a sense of where the public perception of gay people was back then, how far it has come since 1983, and how many of these same questions are being asked about trans people today.
I am not the first person to say that trans people love. We will be saying this as long as we love. Because as long as some cisgender people continue this rhetoric that all queerness leads to is pain and suffering, we will continue to shout it from the rooftops that we love and are lovable.
“I am transgender and this doesn’t mean that I am unlovable.”Lana Wachowski
I credit the deliberate campaign of some people who feel threatened by our very existence as the reason that this ridiculous idea continues to permeate the zeitgeist to this day. I feel extremely strange to be addressing this specific issue. I am old enough, and from a conservative enough area, to remember when society at large was asking these same questions about gay people.
“Perhaps the most important contribution of queer by choice people to the fight against homophobia is that when we say that we chose to be queer, we force people to realize that it’s possible to want to be queer. For too long homophobes have painted us as one-sided creatures who experience nonstop pain. To paint us this way is to paint us as something less than full and well-rounded human beings, and they paint us this way specifically to scare others into repressing their own potential queerness. The reality is that there’s much to enjoy about being a member of the queer community and we who are queer by choice want homophobes to realize and acknowledge that.”Gayle Madwin, queerbychoice.com
But what’s worse is that the people who call us “unlovable” are likely some of the very same people who claim we have gone too far in accepting transgender people. How could we have gotten this far without love? People who love trans people, trans people who love themselves, how would societal acceptance of trans people have been possible at all if trans people were inherently unable to love and be loved?
I am not writing this for people who think we are unlovable. I am not even writing this for those of us who are comfortable with ourselves. I write this for the people who have lived in an entirely cis world, until they started to question their internal dialogue. I am declaring, once again, that trans people are inherently lovable because I was fed the lie that transition is all pain and suffering. I was fed the lie that there is no joy, love, and light in being trans. That trans people are killed, by suicide and murder. That trans people are discriminated against. Sometimes, all of this is true, much more than it should be. However, there is a side of transness that people who call us unlovable don’t want you to see.
The very existence of the great many self-assured, confident, joyous trans people in this world is a form of direct resistance to this narrative.
Trans joy is resistance, trans love is resistance, trans existence is resistance.
But it shouldn’t have to be. Consider why these people, and ideas have been removed from the view of the majority of cis discourse. There are systems, well-funded and hidden from the view of greater society, that actively work to muffle and silence the voices of the trans community because they see it as their Biblical duty to do so. Don’t just take my word for it, take look at the deeply researched series that Imara Jones, and the team at Translash Media, put together on the anti-trans hate machine.
Even in the face of all of this, still there is trans joy. Still there is trans love. Still there are trans people. And still we persist.
Complement these musings on trans love with an exploration of why “passing” doesn’t define your transition.