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Phoque Yeah! #1: Transgendering

June 2, 2010

Within the LGBTQ community, trans issues are accruing more and more of the focus they deserve. There’s a reason there’s a ‘T’ in there. However, identifying as transgender or genderqueer is still rarely discussed in the public domain. There is still a level of taboo surrounding it, as though people are afraid to talk about it. And by ‘afraid’, I don’t mean homo- or trans-phobic. The fear to which I refer is more a byproduct (at least among my generation) of Political Correctness. This wholly 21st century invention is taking over our lives, and on the surface, that’s a good thing. But ‘politically correct’ no longer implies respect and equality. People are so terrified of causing offence that they don’t ask questions. The P.C. craze now has human beings afraid to speak to one another, and how can we cultivate respect or equality if we can’t even open a dialogue?

I have two friends at different stages of the transitioning process. Both are female-to-male, and one of them has just had surgery on his torso – a major step towards transitioning fully. Though both these friends are quite open about their trans identities, I’ve been quizzed by a couple of people on how transitioning ‘works’, and I’ve honestly replied that I don’t have the answers. I understand why people might feel uncomfortable broaching the subject, but if it’s understood from the outset that a person is transgender, why is everyone so reticent? If someone is even the least bit curious about trans issues, then the person to ask is the person with first-hand experience. The sooner we start talking about it, the sooner we can stop referring to it as an ‘issue’.

Not that recent years haven’t seen revolutions in the trans community. Admittedly, my viewpoint is limited to the female-to-male side of things, purely because I have yet to to meet a male-to-female transperson. (It’d be hypocritical of me to advise people to speak to the experienced and then bluster on about what I don’t know.)

of The Cliks

Lucas Silveira. Phwoar.

This wasn’t particularly big news, I’ll admit, but it was a pretty big deal for the LGBTQ media. Lucas Silveira is lead singer of The Cliks, a gutsy Canadian alt-rock band, and openly transgendered. A few months ago now, Silveira was awared the ‘Sexiest Male’ award by top Canadian music magazine Chart Attack. The band are pretty damn good, too. For more in-depth coverage of this particular story, see this article on AfterEllen.  The point is that Silveira was not only recognised unquestioningly as a man, but he was elevated to the status of sex symbol by the mainstream music press. Forget all those rumours about Lady Gaga being a hermaphrodite right now – this was where the real music news was at. Sadly, however, this is the exception rather than the rule and this trans breakthrough failed to make the news outside the LGBTQ community.

I should point out at this stage that the F-M transgender community is an active and thriving one. Falling underneath the average straight person’s radar does not mean trans people are a hidden underground movement spoken only of in whispers. Gay whispers. Websites like XX Boys are proof that it’s not only Lucas Silveira who takes pride in his transgender status…it’s just that he gets more airtime. So while radio silence on the part of Joe Public and trans-phobia are still major problems (even within the gay community; I’ve met conservative gays who’ve said vicious things about transgendering), let’s hope that Silveira and his peers will blaze a trail for other transpeople to follow. Maybe within my lifetime being born into the wrong sex will invite no fear or persecution, and we’ll all be sex symbols one day.


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