Emma Preston questions being proud to be Trans
The weekend of 22nd July saw Brighton host Trans Pride
Question - Are you ‘Proud to be Trans’?
Pride events date back many years. Across the world, communities of gay, lesbian and bi-folk have come together and publicly celebrated their sexuality. We all know the main reasons for this, though the drive to stand up and show ‘pride’ means different things to different people. Like many of the trans-community, I have lots of friends who are gay or lesbian and join in this celebration. Most of my gay and lesbian friends have attended or regularly attend Pride events. Each one of them feels that the struggle for acceptance, for understanding, the battle with section 28 and the challenges dealing with homophobic aggression is a ‘pride’ driver.
One of my dear friends who I asked for a quote to add to this said “Emz, it’s like this, I am proud to be gay, I’m different so why shouldn’t I stand up and say so”. I cannot argue with this point and indeed, I do not want to argue the point. I am standing up and being counted every time I write for the newsletter or go on television. My views about the whole umbrella of trans differs from many in the trans community and for some they will be so different as to be poles apart.
For the record: I am not proud to be trans. Nothing could be further from my personal viewpoint of my transgender position. Yes, I am proud of the journey I have made thus far. I am proud of my family, friends and colleagues and their unswerving support of me. I am proud of my help for others in the community. I am proud that I have stuck to my moral compass and put my wife and children before me in every decision I have made since starting my transition. Yes, I am proud of so many things but I am NOT proud to be trans. I am just trans – plain and simple. I’m certain I cannot be proud of that. It feels like being proud to breathe or eat - you just do it. Likewise, I am trans because I just am. I spoke to my son and asked “Are you proud to be a boy” - his answer was “Eh”?? On asking again and explaining why I was asking he said “Err, no. I’ve never thought about it”.
So one of my key points & question is this: If trans-society keep on promoting such things as Trans Pride, are we not perpetuating and self-fulfilling the issues that certain individuals suffer already? Many feel the difficulties of rejection, aggression, physical violence & transphobic behaviour of many parts of society who will not accept. I believe that the struggles for the trans-world is different to that of the LGB world. However I am glad we are all under the same LGBT umbrella.
In balance to this, it is worth saying that the LGB community in the early days of pride events will have seen all the phobic behaviour mentioned and have come out the other side. There is still a long running joke that we all hear of “I’ve never attended a Straight Pride” and this is actually ‘sort of’ where I am coming from.
What I love about Sparkle Weekend is the party life and the fun and the parochial behaviour of it. There is only one agenda - Gender. I can’t find the love for a Pride event like I do for Sparkle. I cannot see how a Pride event stands solely on the same level. So I ask “Can you be proud of your gender” or dare I say “Can you be proud to be a label”?
And this is my other key point: Many will often speak out and say that there is no room for labels. Why should there even be labels? Who decides on these labels? What right does anyone have to label me as trans? Well actually – we again are self-fulfilling this as we are now ‘Trans Pride’. We are labelling ourselves. It’s just like politics, once you openly show your approval for a political party, you have labelled yourself red or blue or green or.... So if you ascribe to being proud to be trans, you cannot complain about having a label slapped on your head.
Of course, no-one is forced to join in and no-one has forced me. I would never speak against going to an event like this. I am just asking a question “Are you proud to be trans”? Quite frankly I suspect that everyone who went probably had a super time. Certainly the social media I watched was very colourful and vibrant. My point is far from having fun, being interesting and colourful... it’s about the message being delivered. I fully support and endorse as many parties & opportunities to gather as a minority group as possible. All I struggle with is the word ‘Pride’ but I am pleased that all of us have a choice to decide.
I do not want to be accepted as a woman, I am not even bothered if I am accepted as a trans-woman. I just want to be accepted as me. I do not care how people look upon me. I am so comfortable with my position on this that I never give it a thought and I never feel victimised when someone challenges me. I cannot stand up and say I am part of a movement that is ‘Proud to be Trans’ because I am not. BUT I am eternally thankful that we all have a choice to decide for ourselves and for the record, I have two close trans-friends who did go and had a seriously lovely time
I am just proud to be me not proud to be transgender
Emma Jane Preston
Twitter - @EmmaJanePreston
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