By Latrice Williams
Dear Hateful Members of Society,
Why do you not respect my presence? I am human. I breathe, sleep and eat just like you do.
When you see me walk in a room, instead of cracking jokes or bringing unwanted attention to me, let’s have lunch, or a conversation. I can promise if you take the time to get to know me, you will see I am worth knowing.
Oh! So you’re worried about the wall I have up! That’s nothing. It is because on the way in here, there were a few people I came across who made me feel a little uncomfortable. When getting to know me, you will see I have a more interesting side you may find more appealing than the defense mechanism I had to create in an early part of my life. You have not made it easy for me to express myself.
I was taught in the fifth grade America offers us the freedom to express ourselves. I think when the forefathers wrote about our freedoms, it had its limitations – especially for people of color – but I tried to learn how to exist. I am not me because I am looking for attention. To be honest, I would rather be treated like everyone else. I work and pay taxes, just like you. The only difference is I cannot enjoy the fruits of my labor.
When I do something as simple as going to a fast food restaurant, you make me feel as if you are not accepting me. I can tell you’re not, by the way you look at me.
I have to be honest: Trans people, including trans women of color, are a part of this world whether you like it or not. So instead of always butting heads, or merely making each other uncomfortable, let’s just agree to disagree, and carry on.
Oh, and to those who say I am just trying to be like them, I know that could make you feel defeated, but that is not the case here.
I have Gender Identity Disorder, which causes my inner self and my outer self to be in conflict, and my inner self won. If you want to talk further about this topic, I am an open book, so lets have coffee or tea or something. I know sometimes it may seem I am uncomfortable in my skin; it is only because you are making a big fuss about me. I am OK and I obviously knew what I was dealing with when I woke up this morning.
I am starting to feel it is the lack of communication here. I have attempted to show you and educate you about my community and life, but something is not registering. So if you do not mind, I like to get to stage two.
All I ask is for you to stop the small attacks on me and others like me, like the bathroom issue. Do you actually think it would be in everyone’s best interest to put a woman like me, who is tall and curvaceous and has some of the same things your boyfriend has, in the bathroom with your husbands or boyfriends? I will let you ponder on that for a moment, so you could get a mental picture of what a situation like that could bring.
I do have to mention the one thing that bothers me: I could end up beaten or maybe even killed by those who have mental problems, or by someone who is Trans-phobic, so could we really talk about this a while? I really feel that we should have the rights to our private lives, and making laws about what bathroom I am or am not allowed to use only makes things worse for everyone.
What is there underneath my clothes that interests you so much? That is freakish to me. When I look at you, I only want to know your personality, or what it would be like for us to be friends. I know we possess some characteristics that would make you uncomfortable, but so do members of your own community.
Every one of us deserves to be treated equally. We have children and families, just like you do. All we want is for you to respect our family’s lives.
This is not a personal attack, and I am not trying to be hostile in any way. This is my way of having a conversation with those who have different life paths than I do. We can coexist if both sides are willing to try and respect each other.
I can respect your beliefs, as I have all my life. Could you just attempt to do the same for me?
I also believe in God, and He is a big part of my life. I am law-abiding, and I am all for a safer society. The passion I am presenting is because every time I look up, there is someone like me who is being beaten, killed or mistreated. We just want to live our lives, like you do.
So let’s get together and discuss how it could be better for us to get along. I will show up with an open mind. Will you?