I wasn't going to post tonight, but I am paralyzed with fear. I am not usually a person who sees tragedy and immediately applies it to myself. I generally am saddened for the person who has suffered, and my own issues take a back burner to that. But the story I read today about Islan Nettles, a transgender woman who was murdered in New York, has me filled with dread and anxiety. Both my husband and my son are cross-dressers, and until now I have only thought of this in the context of their personalities...my son loves to wear pink pants and butterfly tops to school, where he has made many friends and where he enjoys a relatively stress-free existence. My husband cross-dresses in the privacy of our home, and while he never leaves the house dressed in his female clothing, and he insists that if he never does that's ok, I feel often as if he has an unmet wish to go out "someday."
But I never thought about the evil in the world. Well, that's not exactly true...I have thought of it, but it never occurred to me that it could impact me so deeply and so personally, or that it could be so real in this day and age. That is, until Islan Nettles. Islan was a transgendered woman who was attacked steps from an NYPD station house, for the simple fact of who she was. She was called every homophobic slur in the book, and she was beaten into a coma, where she later died. My heart hurts for her loved ones, and for her...but deeper inside me, deeper in my heart, is my more selfish fear. My fear for my son, my fear for my husband. Coffeeguy and Happyboy are not transgender...they are cross-dressers. They do not feel like women trapped in boys' bodies, but to a person ignorant of the difference between the two they could easily mistake them (I'm just clarifying.) My son is a child, 10 years old, and he has been cross-dressing since he was about 2 years old. It is a part of who he is, and how is it that anyone could see that as anything other than perfect? And what if my husband suddenly decided to try to go out in his female dress one night? Would there always be the risk that he could be attacked? My heart is racing, and I want to burst into tears. How can the world be like this? How can there be people who really feel like it's okay to hurt someone simply for being themselves?
Islan Nettles' story is not unique. Far from it, unfortunately. But while a few months ago I would have felt sad and outraged by what happened to her, now I feel afraid. I am paralyzed with it. I shouldn't be--I shouldn't ever let fear rule me. But I can't shake it tonight. The possibility of Coffeeguy going out in women's clothing wasn't even a consideration a few months ago, and now it is. I know that there are those who live with this every day...those who live a transgender life, a gay or lesbian life, an "out" cross-dresser's life. They conquer any fear they have every time they leave the house as themselves. But this is new to me...not so much with my son, who has worn unicorns and fairies forever, but Coffeeguy, who realized his desire to completely cross-dress somewhat later. I had been considering setting up a way for him to "safely" go out sometime this year--as sort of a 15 year anniversary gift...I see his cross-dressing as part of him, and I wanted to let him be totally free to express that...and now I am too frightened to even suggest it. I had an image of him wearing his feminine clothing and his wig and enjoying a night out with a few supportive friends. Now that image is fraught with "what-ifs." I had an image of Happyboy entering 5th grade, the "big kid" in the school and totally secure in his identity. I have a new respect for his courage,and for Coffeeguy's too, despite the fact that he has not left the house "dressed up"--yet. I have a new fear for their courage, too, and I don't know how to reconcile the two, and I don't like it.