*content warning: this article contains mentions of suicide
Perhaps the closest we can get to freedom, in fact, is to choose which prison we want to stay in.
There are many normative rules, of conduct, of codes and of typifications. Wherever you look, wherever you go, they are there to guide us. Actually, no – to shape us. Telling us what we can do, feel, say, be and want. Or preventing us from doing any of these actions.
For a long time in my life, being one trans person was synonymous of being dirty, sinful, cursed and unworthy, so much so that I tried to commit suicide twice while still a child (at the age of 14 and 16) – a common fact in the lives of many trans people who dare to be who they are. And still express it.
I would like to bring 4 reflections so that we can celebrate not only today, but to broaden our vision beyond identity issues.
I have joined my friends from Integra Diversidade, a consultancy firm specialized in Inclusion and Diversity and of which I am a member, made up only of women and working on four main axes (gender/immigration and refuge/race and ethnicity/LGBTI+) and I proposed a taskforce: “Let us unite on this special date, where in 2004, for the first time in the history of Brazil, trans individuals were at the National Congress to speak to the Brazilian parliamentarians about the reality of this population and to write texts focusing on this theme and its transversality with each of our axes?”
The challenge was immediately accepted and the result is these 4 Reflective TRANSrevolution Liberations, of which I begin with my LGBT+ axis and then an extract from the three previous publications that complete this special one.
4th REFLECTION: Gender Identity X Affective-Sexual Orientation
We talk a lot about the acronym LGBT, but we forget that LGB (lesbians, gays and bisexuals) refers to the issue of affective-sexual orientation and the T (transgender people) refers to gender identity. Besides creating a series of confusions, it seems to show a union and inclusion that is often not so true.
I see very often, companies saying that they hire LGBT people, and when I look at who they are, the vast majority are: white, cisgender, non-feminate gay men. Very few escape from this and rare are the cases where we see trans professionals.
We really have to start counting and mapping if trans professionals are entering companies. Either that or we need to stop saying that we are LGBT inclusive. You can choose. I further explore this topic in my article – http://casadamaite.com/blog/sem-t-não-há-inclusão-lgbt
Reflecting on our limitations and constraints, whether in terms of orientation or prejudice, is the first step towards true freedom. We can only have a free and strong society when all its individuals share that same freedom and strength. Otherwise, this society is an utopia, an illusion.
As Swami Paatra Shankara teaches us: “We are free to choose the prison in which we want to stay, but freedom also gives us the keys to that prison. It is all a matter of choice. Only we can live our own lives. Projecting our life on others will certainly be unfortunate. They are also in their own chosen prisons”.
To conclude, and in order to brighten up this Trans Visibility day, I hereby leave an article of my good friend Camila Couto, which brings a list of amazing simple ways to respect and support the trans cause.
How can homosexuals and bisexuals cisgenders be allies of the trans cause?
In theory, the LGBTQI+ should be united and fight for the same rights. But in practice this doesn’t always happen and, often, there are several situations of discrimination coming even from those who suffer prejudice. In this text, I will talk a little in the first person, about how we, homosexual and bisexual cisgender people, make transphobic blunders and how we can ally ourselves to the trans cause. .
I belong to the LGBTQI+ community. I belong because I’m a cis woman who engages with other women. Because I’m lesbian, does it eliminate any possibility of transphobic attitudes? How can I, as a lesbian, fight for the cause and rights of trans people? How, in my daily attitudes, can I avoid oppressing these people? I’m extending this question also to gay and bisexual cis people, how can we put ourselves in favor of the inclusion of trans people in the environments we attend?
I have witnessed several situations in groups of homosexual and bisexual cisgender people who discriminate against trans individuals. It’s not because we belong to the LGBTQI+ community that we are immune to socially rooted transphobias. Most of the prejudice is the lack of information on issues of gender identity, moreover, the lack of interest in wanting to know more and learn about trans people is something that contributes to discrimination within the LGBTQI+ group itself.
The existence of a trans person is not understood by the LGBTphobic, chauvinist and patriarchal society. Suffering discrimination within the LGBTQI+ community itself makes the life of trans people even more difficult and with reduced opportunities. With this in mind, I decided to make a list of very simple ways to respect and support the trans cause.
- Treat trans people the way they want to be treated, ask how the person prefers to be called, their name and which pronouns to use. Refer to them in this way.
- Talk about employment opportunities with trans people, because one of the main facts that makes life difficult for these people is their employability. The barrier to entering the formal labor market is very high, a fact which corroborates that 90% of trans women in Brazil resort to prostitution. For this reason, disseminate vacancies and initiatives focused on the insertion of trans people in the labor market.
- Whenever you have the opportunity, indicate and hire trans people for jobs. There are many skilled and creative trans people in the market, making the working spaces diverse, bring countless benefits to organizations.
- Educate yourself on gender identity issues. Remember that sexual orientation is the attraction, desire or affective bond one feels for another, and gender identity refers to the gender one identifies with. Knowledge brings us closer to the causes.
- Educate those around you, do not let an attitude or transphobic comment go unpunished in the places you attend, in your home, work or group of friends.
- Support initiatives in favor of trans people. There are several NGOs and entities that develop inclusion work and training of trans people and you can be an ally acting in a voluntary way, helping financially or promoting these initiatives!
Below are the rest of the reflections already published by my partners and which complete our special 2020:
1st REFLECTION: Gender Identity x Gender
“When talking about transgenderism immediately common sense thinks of trans women. We hardly talk about trans men. It’s as if we don’t exist. The beard has grown, that’s it! It becomes invisible physically because nobody questions a beard. The boy may be small, frail, have a delicate face, but… he has a beard: it’s a man.” Leo Moreira Sá. Theatre, cinema and TV actor. Trans man.
Talking about gender in a profound way requires us to talk about other models of masculinities.
What happens when a trans man is hired by a company? Generally everything goes well – if you have made the change in the documentation and don’t talk about your transgenderism. A practical problem comes when, for example, they have to make a health plan. “The trans man is a man with some specific needs such as: need to go to the gynaecologist, have access to reproductive rights if he wants to get pregnant, endocrinological follow-up… If we don’t make structural changes in professional, school and in multiple social environments, we won’t be able to make this trans man visible”, adds Luiz Fernando. As Tryanda Verenna pointed out: “the most committed health plans still improvise to provide dignified care to trans people. It needs contracting companies and health service providers to operate with more information, as happens much better in the public health sector”. See the full text and also know what passing is at https://integradiversidade.com.br/2020/01/24/homens-trans-quem-sao-eles-e-por-que-devemos-conhece-los/ .
2nd REFLECTION: Gender Identity X Migration/Refuge
Imagine you fleeing from a country where having your gender identity exposed is synonymous with having your death decreed by law and arriving in another country that does not respect and hasn’t real inclusive policies for migrants and refugees. Sad reality found by thousands of people, unfortunately.
There are countless difficulties that transgender people face in crossing the migratory flow. A trans migrant must avoid violence twice.First, when they face the inherent dangers imposed by crossing borders, and second, when they encounter ubiquitous violence against their own trans population. The overlapping vulnerabilities that people in forced displacement suffer along with being a trans person result in humiliations of every kind. When they are not murdered, they are exposed to physical, sexual and psychological violence. What can we do? If you would like to go deeper in this reflection, please go to https://integradiversidade.com.br/2020/01/28/transito-livre/ .
3rd REFLECTION: Gender Identity X Race/Ethnicity
Nowadays, in ‘TransEmpregos’, I don’t find it very difficult to insert a transgender professional who has passing, is white and has, even if starting, a degree, in one of the more than 400 partner companies that we have a relationship with. But if to the above mentioned qualities, I change the white characteristic for black, I find an increase of difficulty of more than 70% to make an inclusion in some job opportunity.
If the person besides being trans is black, the situation becomes even more difficult. I believe that it is exactly these obstacles that society itself poses, which make black trans people more and more creative.To exist in a political body, that is, a body that just by its presence already brings various possible readings of resistance and victory, makes creativity a matter of survival. Real examples of this are the Black Money and the Ballroom Movements (about the latter check out more at https://integradiversidade.com.br/2020/01/28/a-cor-da-visibilidade-trans-no-mercado-de-trabalho/) .
The trans fight is a fight of ALL!
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