Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Walk in Our Shoes - A Blog for Suddenly Fem by CiCi Kytten


Not long ago, my friend Melissa gathered several years of confidence, summoned every bit of her inner strength, and came out to her parents as trans. When she boarded her plane from L.A. to the Midwest, she was full of optimism. After all, her openness and sunny personality had already won over countless friends, family members, and even total strangers here in Southern California.

But on this day, her luck ran out. Her parents reacted with rejection and disgust. And she was crushed. She fears that she may never see or talk to her parents again.

Not long after that, my buddy Amy, also confident and secure in her transition, was preparing to attend the funeral of a childhood friend. Sadly, as the event approached, Amy was informed that despite a lifetime of friendship and shared memories, she would not be welcome at the funeral. Simply because of who she is.

I could go on. Stories like these are commonplace in our community. Obviously, we’ve made great strides in the past few years. But social change takes time. And when the people in your life are behind the times, the effect on you can be devastating.

Do you really need to take a walk in our shoes to understand us?
Trans kids are still committing suicide, trans people are still being murdered at alarming rates, and nice people who have done absolutely nothing wrong (like my two friends above) experience damaging emotional tragedies on a fairly common basis.

And I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand.


I certainly understand the negative reaction to non-conformity. That’s been around since the beginning of time. Humans move to the middle. We embrace and protect the status quo. We are naturally suspicious of all that is different or strange or alien. 

I understand the hate and the fear. But I don’t understand the degree of the hatred. The depths of the distrust. What I don’t understand is the vehemence.

Melissa said that she had never heard such hateful words come out of her father’s mouth. And I can empathize with his feelings. The surprise of seeing his child in a whole new way. I can understand his shock.  But not his revulsion. 

Why so violent? Why so extreme?

I can see a situation in which if Melissa had confessed that she had committed a crime, cheated on a spouse, gambled away a fortune, or spent her children’s college tuition on crack – she would have been forgiven. Admonished perhaps. But still embraced by her family.  Still forgiven.

And I wonder. In the eyes of others, is being trans worse than being a criminal?

I would understand if we had done something awful. If we had hurt someone or killed someone or denounced our country. But we have done none of those things.

We’re not anti-family. Many of us are devoted fathers, mothers, husbands or wives. And many more of us aspire to be.

We’re certainly not anti-American. Many of us serve our country, patrol our streets, and administer to the ailing and the aged.

We’re not anti-religious. Many of us remain devout – even to churches that deny our right to exist.

But mainstream America doesn’t want to see this. As though we’ve broken some cardinal rule. Some unwritten 11th Commandment.

Thou shalt not make others uncomfortable.

Obviously, we’d like to change all of this. Families shouldn’t be torn apart. Parents shouldn’t reject wonderful children. Husbands and wives shouldn’t have to break up. And young people shouldn’t live under the near-constant threat of bullying, unemployment, underemployment, assault, insult, suicide or murder.

And everyone – particularly school children – should have a safe and comfortable place to pee.

Is that too much to ask?  And if it is too much, then what is the proper price to pay for the freedom to be oneself?

There’s a common saying that to better understand someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. And while I’m sure that would bring greater understanding and empathy to everyone in our community, I don’t think you need to walk a mile in my shoes to better understand me. 

To better understand me and my friends, all you need do is walk a mile in your shoes.

Try it. Take a nice long walk. Slip into your most comfortable shoes. You don’t need to take anything along. Just an open mind.  And as you walk, think of all that you wish for in your life. All that you cherish. And all that you hold dear.  Your family. Your friends. The fact that you have a roof over your head. You wish for good health and a bright future. A good job. A nice raise. A chance to provide more for your family. You wish for love. And romance.  And a good education. You want opportunities.  Equal opportunities for you and your loved ones.  You want your children to grow up happy. You want to keep them safe. And fed. And healthy. And proud.


Do you honestly think that I’m that different? That my wishes are so different from yours? That I don’t wish for all of those same things?

I’m not trying to convince anyone that they have to act like me or think like me or behave like me.  And neither are my friends. All we want is the chance to be ourselves. 
To be respected for who we are. Not disrespected for what we are.

My friend Melissa is strong. She’s not going to let anything get in her way -- not even her less-than-understanding parents.  Amy is strong too. I’m sure she will find another way to grieve for her friend. Another way to say good bye. In her own way. Isolated and alone.

The place where far too many of our dearest friends and family insist that we remain. 

To everyone out there. If you know a trans person. Particularly someone who has been ostracized or alienated or bullied or worse. Remember this:  the greatest gift that you can open this holiday season is your heart.


Take care out there.
Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy.

xoxo,
CiCi










Special thanks to my friends, Melissa and Amy, for allowing me to draw inspiration from their stories.  

12 comments:

Codille Benton said...

Dear Cici,

My Name is Codille Benton and I am part of an on-line CD/TG community and a member of the volunteer emotional positive support team. I have been following your articles on Suddenly Fem for several years and some have made me laugh and some cry but this is the first one that I feel I NEED to share. Out of courtesy to you, I would like to ask if I can post this message to one of our forums. I believe this kind of message, like many of yours in the past, that would do a great deal for the 10000 members and growing we have across our three web-channel, the main site, Facebook and Google+. I am one of the Ambassadors for the parent site, AKA I think all this meant at first was like you I am friendly, have been dressing albeit in the closet mostly for 30+ years and like talking to people and inspiring them as well as giving them support. Like I said I don't know what contractual issues if any there are to reblog an article, Good with people yes, Good with tech and tech regulations...not so much. Even if I can't move this over and post it as an article or forum topic I want to tell you it took me 28 years for me to accept that being a crossdresser is not a crime against man/woman, or God. It is just the slow glacial change of societies mindset and many of our own fears that stop us from letting us be how we are without shame. You are stepping out there publicly for us still in the dark and I admire and thank you for that.

My personal burden and reason for staying closeted for a little while longer, like most my kids (though I think all three know), my in-laws (very accepting people but the what if after 25 years with my wife and her knowing is scary if they don't accept me for me) and the biggest, my almost 100 year old grandfather who would not understand what crossdressing is let alone why I would want to and be unfortunately verbally abused about me from my extended family, and I am one of the few people in my family who truly love and care for him. He and my grandmother raised me to be a good, loving, caring, God loving individual. At he is not going to be with us much longer, to protect him is to give him one of the few gifts I can, the gift of love and compassion until the end of his days. I have been in the closet now this long but have mentally come to terms and balanced the female and male parts of my brain that there is nothing wrong for being a guy who likes both mens and womens clothing to wear, it's just clothing people. LOL. I have an amazing wife and small support group, slowly getting larger. Am I scared about my kids and in-laws accepting me, YES. Is that going to stop me from coming out and telling them, NO. Do I really care what the rest of my friends and family think yes, but there only 5 people that don't know Codille that really matter, the rest of the world is going to make their own judgments, and there is little I can do but educate them and hope they still see me for the person I am. In the long run they are going to have to make up their own mind.

Continue to inspire!!!

With much admiration,


Codille Benton

Sheela Wolfe said...

Thanks CiCi, Melissa and Amy...I had the pleasure of meeting CiCi and Melissa recently and was honored and enjoyed your company. I especially enjoyed reading your "Own It" story CiCi. I'm lucky to not have had any problems "coming out" to my family, but my parents were both deceased before I did...and my siblings knew I was "different" anyway...always a black sheep (or wolf). CiCi, I'm sharing this article with a good friend of mine and yours, Cyndi Kirke...she is/was going through what Melissa is and maybe it will help her and them...and hopefully many others...can't wait to see you again at Wildside next year...love to meet Amy too. Kisses and hugs, Sheela Wolfe

CiCi said...

Codille,
Please feel free to share. I'm very flattered. And i wish you the best on your journey. It is never easy. And every step forward is a victory!
Sheela,
So happy to have met you too, Sheela. I've been fairly lucky too. But no one has it easy. I'm proud of all my sisters who have had the courage to live their personal truth. It's the hardest thing in the world.
xoxo,
CiCi

Rhonda Sheer said...

CiCi, The reason people act with hatred and yell and scream at "us" is because they can not control the situation. That's where anger comes from....when people feel helpless because they fathom that they, the angered person realizes that the something they want is beyond their control. I learned this many years ago in my professional occupation and once I understood this, I was able to change my outlook and as a result, I WAS able to understand and accept that situation. This is precisely why your friend's father reacted like he did. "We" need to understand this and feel compassion for "them" and using logic, may be able to alleviate the situation, if not immediately then perhaps some time in the future. Maybe I'm a Pollyana but there is good in all peoples and I truly believe that eventually they could come around and accept things if we can remain cool and calm ourselves so that we can explain why we are this way.

Rhonda Sheer

Peter Elphick said...

Kitten I don't understand how come some trans don't get on with there parents.Mum is very supportive she wasn't at first and so were others but now they want me to be as girly as I can.For many years the doctors and my parents wanted me to be as manly as possible which I did but it broke my bones and that was the old way.Being more like a girl means my girly bones don't break.I named my poodle Amy too because she is very thoughtful.Better eye site too being a girl silly y chromosome deletion.

Robyn Jasmine a.k.a. RJ said...

When I read stories like this, it reminds me of how truly lucky I am. My name is Robyn (actual, given name with single-letter adjustment), and I'm a 31-year-old trans woman. I've only been on hormones since April, 2015, so my body has a lot of work to go yet.

I came out in September of '07, and my parents couldn't have been more disgusted. They still feel the same now. Yet they still love me (even if only as the son they still see), and still drive two hours from Milwaukee, WI to Appleton, WI every month to visit me. My eldest brother couldn't be more neutral. My other brother (also older), however, already calls me "sis" :) The surrogate family with which I live (three roommates plus my son) couldn't be more supportive.

Yes, I do realize how truly lucky I am. I also realize that most are not so lucky. My heart goes out to all my fellow trans brothers and sisters who have it worse; my ear is open, should anyone care to use it.

My email is germanwulf40@gmail.com

Unknown said...

Hi again, this is PennyAnn. I'd like very much to talk about what I've been through since I came out, but I really can't go into too much detail until the book is finished - provided I make it through.
Suffice it to say it has been hell, with a capitol HELL. Yet, I know in my heart who I am, And I won't back down or pretend to be everyone else any longer.
This truly touched me in a way that nothing has in quite a while, and I will keep you all in my prayers.
I wish I could say more right now, but I can barely see...

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Thanks CiCi for the primer on Stonewall as well as sharing your personal thoughts from your visit.
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