When trans women are mocked and made into jokes in the media, I get very upset, and I am often told “Kay, you can’t go through life getting offended every time someone makes a joke.” And I sputter and object but they don’t hear me. So I want to be clear for once, about why the jokes make me angry.
I learned to hate myself for being transgender before I knew I was transgender. I laughed at the jokes in stand up comedy routines, and prime time sitcoms, and animated comedy shows, and in the movies, and in books, and in games, laughing at trans women for existing, about “men in dresses”, about people who “got their dicks chopped off”, and I learned to think that was worthy of ridicule.
And then a day came when I felt a pang of envy at what my female classmates were wearing and I repressed it, and felt guilty, and a day where I felt incomplete because I had no breasts and I repressed it and I felt disgusting
And a day when I realized the only images of romance that made me feel anything showed two women together and I repressed it and I felt like a monster
And a day when I realized I felt sick when I looked at myself in the mirror after every shower before work and couldn’t bear to look at my own face, and I hated myself.
And then there came a day when I hated myself so much, and I thought I could never understand why, and so I just wanted it all to end. And it was just a miracle that I swerved my car back into my lane in time.
And all of it started with a joke that I heard on TV, and then kept hearing from all the voices from the ether, over and over and over, worming an idea into my mind before I was old enough to realize I was absorbing it, the idea that a man in a dress is funny, and that changing your body parts makes you a freak, and that women who have penises instead of vaginas are liars and hurt men. And they’re still making these jokes. And somewhere out there right now, just like all those years ago, there is a little girl in a t-shirt and cargo shorts with buzzed off hair watching the TV, hearing that joke and absorbing it without knowing it, who will someday have to pry herself apart to tear it out of her head, just like I did.
That is, if she doesn’t kill herself first.