Fighting any battle can be terribly exhausting to all parties involved. Even those who are not active participants, but exposed to the fight for prolonged periods can be wearied to the point of giving up, separating themselves from the view of the battlefield and blocking out any information about the progress of the ensuing conflict. Such seems to be the case with transgender issues today. Yet some of us continue to press our battle continually, for years at a time. Why? Why do we continue to fight? Why, when we are knocked down, do we repeatedly rise with more determination than before to prevail? Sarah McBride, National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, summed it up nicely in a Tweet. “When you ask trans people to be patient while society has a conversation, you’re asking us to watch our *one* life pass by without respect,” she said.
Simply stated, our motivation is life. For some, it is about the right to live, quite literally. For others, it is quality of life that we seek. If we have but one life to live, we want to live it, not merely survive the passing of time for “x” number of years. Like all people, we desire to realize our full potential as human beings. It is as natural as some people’s desire to avoid conflict and confrontation.
It does not require much thought or insight to see how transgender individuals have learned to master avoidance. From the time we were told to stop behaving in a way that contradicted the social stereotype of our natal sex designation, until the day we determined that we were going to embrace our true gender no matter the cost, avoidance and concealment were our only viable refuge. Just because we are capable of conforming to rigid expectations, however, does not mean that we are going to continue doing so. We want to maximize this experience called life. Our aim is to realize or full potential, which means we must be at liberty to live honest, open, genuine, authentic lives.
We know that changing society is not going to happen overnight. It takes a great deal of time to see the error in thinking that has dominated the history of mankind, and to recognize the untold potential that has been lost in generations past, and which is still being lost today. Perhaps it will take more years than any of us have left to live. But that is why the work must be started now. This only highlights the need to linger no longer on the sidelines while advocates for the status quo debate the legitimacy of our lives. We can hardly remain idle while our worth, dignity, and humanity are marginalized.
Our hope is to see real change, lasting change, and justice in our lifetime – to understand first-hand what it’s like to achieve all that we are capable of achieving, rather than foundering under the iron hand of archaic societal subjugation. But we also realize that such may not be our lot in life. And so, we muster all that is in us, and press forward into the fray for those who follow behind, demonstrating strength of character and the courage of our conviction.