Transmission – Pride-What is It?
Pride · noun 1 a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from achievements, qualities, or possessions. 2 a cause or source of such a feeling. 3 consciousness of one’s own dignity. 4 the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself. 5 a group of lions forming a social group. – Compact Oxford English Dictionary.
As we celebrate Pride, many of us seem forget why we celebrate and just use these events as an excuse to drink too much overpriced beer. If you do drink during Pride, please have a plan to get home safely, whether it’s a designated driver, taxi, bus, or staying at a nearby hotel.
My dictionary has five definitions for “pride” and I prefer the third one–“consciousness of one’s own dignity.” We have a dignity within ourselves and the Pride festival does give us a chance to celebrate that dignity.
Unfortunately, in our community there are many ways in which that dignity is undermined. Some within the LGBT community have sacrificed their personal dignity to be exploited in abusive relationships. If you are in such a relationship, please remember that you do not have to take abuse from a partner and that there are many resources to help you leave an abusive relationship.
Some of us are bothered by being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. A lot of these feelings are caused by years of socialization in a heterosexual oriented world. Realistic portrayals of positive lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender role models in the mass media is a fairly recent phenomenon. Before, LGBT characters in television and movies were often portrayed as not fitting into the “normal” society or as comic relief.
For many transgender people, having a sense of pride can be very difficult. Not only do we have to fight the perceptions caused by guests on Jerry Springer, we also have to deal with the gender expectations of others. Many of us have had to struggle with trying to conform to the expectations of our birth gender. For example, many of us male-to-female transgender people go through a period of intensely masculine behaviors, trying to prove to ourselves and others that we are “real” men. In high school, college, and throughout most of my 20s, I could often out-drink most of my friends. I know of some transgender women who were in various Special Forces units in the military. Many of us participated in contact sports in high school, like football and wrestling.
I often tend to look at the flipside of pride: not being ashamed of who or what you are. If asked, many transgender people feel forced to tell others that they are not a transgender person – often for reasons of personal safety. Each November, the transgender community remembers those people who were murdered during the previous twelve months. It’s a fairly common feeling that if people know that you’re a transgender person, you put yourself at risk of becoming one of the names that are remembered on the next November 20th.
As we attempt to become more a part of the society at large, we cannot afford to be ashamed of what we are. If we remain ashamed of how we are, who we are, or what we are, we become more willing to be victimized and considered to not be a part of the rest of our society. We have, or at least should have, the same rights as any other human being in our society. Whether you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, you are still a human being and deserve the same treatment and respect that every other human being should be afforded.
The more willing members of the transgender community are to be a part of the rest of the society and the more willing we are to talk with others openly and honestly, the greater the hope that we will be treated as equals and not as some rarity that can only be discussed on the Discovery Health Channel.
We should not be ashamed of who we are. If we are aware of our dignity—the same dignity that every human being should be afforded—we can and will be treated as equal members of society. We don’t have to remain closeted, and that’s one of the purposes of Pride celebrations. We are not alone in the world, even if many of us do feel like that from time to time.
Since this is for Camp’s Pride Issue and will be handed out to many people, I do hope that many of the area’s politicians do read this column. We shouldn’t be treated as an issue to ignore until the political climate seems safe enough. In 2004, members of Transgender Kansas City collected about 1,000 signatures during the Pride event to include gender identity and expression in Kansas City’s Civil Rights Ordinance. Two years later, many local politicians are saying to wait until after the next election. My question for them is: If you were in a similar situation, would you want to wait for legal protection until it is considered politically safe while some people that you know are in danger of losing their jobs, if they haven’t already?
One of the things that having a sense of pride should afford is the willingness to stand up and express your thoughts and beliefs, especially when others wish you would wait until the timing seems to be better. Their idea of timing, that is.
Having a sense of pride means that we should demand equal protections under the law and not wait until other people think it is safe to allow those protections to be put into effect, locally, nationally, or state-wide.