Being transgender has recently become trendy and as Caitlyn Jenner, Jazz Jennings, and many others enjoy the huge surge in popularity, you have to wonder how this is translating at the non-celebrity transgender level. Once you put aside the famous trendy transgender people you very quickly realize that perhaps they are a fake inflation and the transgender community may be in some serious trouble. With record murders and a still very high suicide rate, we are not benefiting as much as the general public believes us to be. In fact, in many areas we are suffering worse than ever before and the gap between passing privilege and non-passing privilege is not disappearing but widening.
Many people at this point will be thinking that transgender people are getting more rights than ever before and in some places this is true. However, a right granted because it is trendy is perhaps not really a right at all. We are fighting for acceptance by changing people and educating them. The education should hopefully guide them into a different viewpoint that includes acceptance and equality. Without the education and natural social change that comes from it, there can be serious social consequences.
If the public is told they have to treat transgender people a certain way, they will out of respect or fear of the law. They will not really be accepting of transgender people and anyway they can show us or their friends that, they will. Passive hate can be quite brutal and can exert a lot of negative pressure which in severe cases lead to self harm or even suicide. In some cases a trendy law can make things worse if it is not preceded by understanding and real social change. When a law is not for the sake of being trendy and is endorsed by a truly enlightened public, it can be something to be very proud of.
There are many levels of this effect and one of the examples I like to use, on a smaller scale, is the trendy transgender ally. This is a person who is front and center when it come to supporting the transgender person they know and will tell them they got their back and all of the normal supportive rhetoric. They in many cases will go to bat for their transgender ‘friend.’ However, this same person will not hang out with the same transgender person or offer them real friendship outside the support venue where they are demonstrating their support. The transgender person becomes more of an accessory to demonstrate how politically suave the person is. Sadly, this trendy transgender ally will desert even that cause if it no longer remains trendy.
The big things these people can often completely not understand is that they generally can hurt us a lot more than the people who make no effort to hide that they hate us. These trendy transgender allies provide us with false hope that we could actually have friends and the fake inflation only leads to a huge hurt when we recognize the situation for what it is. Personally, I come in expecting the fake inflation and am seldom surprised when I run into it. Every so often someone surprises me with real understanding and those are the surprises that I like.
The effects I have talked about are much worse for the non-passing privileged and often a lot of support efforts go out of their way to highlight those with passing privilege. It is slowly getting better but there is still a huge divide between the two groups.There can even be transgender people with passing privilege that distant themselves from those who do not have it. This has also improved a lot though there is still work to be done. With time and continued education we will improve public attitude and make the world a safer place for everyone.