What does it mean to be Transgender? For each person, it has an individual and emotional meaning. For me, to be transgender is to be beautiful. It is to be truthful, and it is to be self-aware. As a young transgender woman, I grew up often with a disconnect between my brain and my body. Something wasn’t right with the way I presented. I struggled to form friendships and meaningful connections. I wasn’t my true self. Through much introspection, and with the help of my friends and family, I figured out who I was. I was able to make a connection with how I presented, with my name and with my identity. To me, to do this despite societal pressures, despite the negative media coverage the trans community receives, is an act of self-love and courage. Behind each transgender and non-binary person is a story of how they came to understand themselves. How they overcame the pressures and pursued a life dedicated to being happy.
One of the most difficult parts of being transgender is the act of ‘coming out’. Deciding who to come out to, and when, can often involve mental gymnastics and anxiety. For some, coming out means losing friends, family, and jobs. It means facing ostracism from society and rejection from those around you. To lose anyone in our life is difficult and is damaging to our mental health. However, to lose someone due to our identity and due to our need to be ourselves, well that is a blow no one should have to face. The courage of trans people to come out despite the risk of losing loved ones is something we must never forget. No one should lose anyone for being themselves, whether it is because of their sexuality, gender, race, or anything else. But, in this day and age that isn’t realistic despite how far we have come as a society.
Once someone has come out, they are met with looks and thoughts from wider society. Having your appearance, your pronouns, and your name publicly debated by Prime Ministers, Presidents, news anchors and so-called ‘gender critics’ is a horrible thing to endure. To have your very identity trampled on each day has its toll. The mental health of transgender people is very low. Self-harming rates, suicide rates, and depression and anxiety rates continue to rise, this is only exacerbated when your very existence is rejected by those around you. This is not a life people choose. To be yourself, to be true to you, is to ignore the threats to your life. It is to ignore the hardship you will face, and it is to continue anyway.
This week we pay tribute to the life of Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old trans woman who was murdered in England on Sunday the 12th of February. Described by those around her as someone who spread joy, her life was cut short, and for this, we mourn her. She was a member of the trans community. A young woman who knew who she was and lived her life as such. Although we do not yet know the circumstances which lead to this tragedy, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t take this time to highlight the constant threat to the physical safety of trans women. Brianna Ghey was a young woman who had courage and inspired those around her, whose only crime was to be herself.
Despite all of this, to be trans is still to be beautiful. It is still to be authentic. The trans community is a small community. We are a group of people who want to live our lives as ourselves. We dress how we want. We do what makes us comfortable. In a time of media hysteria, it is important to remember what trans people go through just to be authentic. It is important to remember the mental anguish they face if they don’t go through their transition. Finally, it is important to remember that each trans person deserves to be loved. They deserve to be treated with respect. They deserve to be themselves. Trans people are beautiful and, like everyone else, they deserve the chance to live a long and full life.
Edinburgh Vigil for Brianna Ghey
- Friday 12 pm at Bristo Square
- Open to all
- Banner-making workshop Thursday 7-9 pm – Teviot Underground