The Undermining of Understanding

Its odd, but when I think about writing a blog entry, I usually have an idea in my mind what I want to write but have to spend ages thinking of a catchy title for it. Usually alliterative, I try and think up a title that’ll give the reader a clue as to what the entry is about. This time, though, its the other way around. The title came to me in a flash after spending some time perusing Twitter and Facebook but the content, which I had in my mind, disappeared. So, I decided to start writing anyway. Maybe it would come back, maybe it wouldn’t and I would end up with a load of drivel that I would spend ages editing to make it look like I’d actually thought about what I’d written. We shall see how it goes…



Looking back on my school days, I realise that, for the most part, I enjoyed them. Yes, I was incessantly bullied; yes, I would wake up fearing that journey into the school grounds knowing what awaited me and yes, I couldn’t wait to leave and scurry home, hoping that the bigger kids and bullies that lined my path home would decide I wasn’t worth picking on that day, (believe me, those days were rare). Some of you may ask why I bothered going through that evey day, why I didn’t try to stay at home, and bunk off school? The reason is: I wanted to learn. I like learning. There was something about the feeling of sudden comprehension of a subject, the warm glow of the light going on, illuminating the mind. The fear of the unknown being driven from me by knowledge. This was why I braved the tirades of insults and abuse, both physical and psychological, why I scuttled to and from school like a frightened mouse.

As an adult, I look back on those days with some fondness, but I’ve never lost the love of learning, the fun and joy of having knowledge imparted to me by others and now, in turn, giving the gift of that knowledge to others. I’ve often been told that I should have gone into teaching but my life took a different path, and that path is part of the reason why I’m writing this.

Next to experience, knowledge is the best way to understand something or someone. Unfortunately, being trans is something that cannot be experienced except by those who are trans. So that just leaves knowledge, and therein lies the problem.

To be taught, to learn, you must first have an open mind. One willing to accept new ideas and new concepts. To be willing to unlearn incorrect knowledge and replace it with correct knowledge, with the understanding that, in time, this too may possibly be proven incorrect and have to be relearned. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of people in this world who, when it comes to trans women and men, have closed minds. They seem to have a fixed idea of what a trans woman is and seemingly no amount of education to the contrary changes this.

Sometimes this unwillingness to learn stems from an unfortunate fear of the unknown, the unwillingness to change because it causes discomfort, knowing that something one believed was wrong all along. Other times, it goes hand-in-hand with hatred of something or someone different, a form of xenophobia perhaps. Often, its purely because new sources of information are not trusted unless absolute proof is provided.

The worst culprit, though, can be blind faith or extremism. This type of faith can be so strong that it can blind people to the realities of the world around them, giving them such a narrow worldview that leaves no possibility for change. Anyone (or even anything) that challenges this belief is to be considered dangerous and to be destroyed, converted or otherwise changed to fit within that narrow worldview. If none of this can be accomplished then they are deemed to be an enemy and will be dealt with by a higher power. Two such groups, (and probably the most dangerous in the Western World to trans people), are Right Wing Conservative Christians and TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists).

Fear can be conquered and change can happen. Its just getting that initial look, that first little bite of knowledge, proving that there is nothing to fear. Hate, with the right conditions, can be changed, maybe not into love, (I’m not going down that mushy, well trodden road), but into understanding, tolerance and maybe acceptance. It can happen. I’ve seen it happen, twice. As for absolute proof? Well, the medical establishment can provide proof of our existance. While not absolute, with nearly a hundred years of experience and knowledge, it comes pretty bloody close.

So we, trans women and trans men, have plenty to fear, many to mourn, (too many), a lot to be wary of and in some cases, plenty of hiding to do but, we also have a lot to look forward to, a lot to hope for and much to be happy about. Things are changing, abeit slowly, but they are changing for the better.

As for the Right Wing Conservative Christians and the TERFs? Anyone got any ideas?