Staff Reporter: Shay Murphy
What am I other than Transgender?
This question has haunted me throughout my involvement in the local art and music community. At times I feel as if I am some collectible acquaintance, used to complete the “look how progressive I am” friend group of an individual. I find myself wondering a lot of the time: If I wasn’t transgender would people even talk to me? What characteristics and personal traits, other than being transgender, do I possess? In my personal
experience, this has been the most damaging thought for me as a transgender woman in our local community. It shadows every encounter, it determines every action, it validates all thoughts of distrust. On top of all that it damages transgender individuals’ self-confidence.
Now to understand how these thoughts can be so damaging to a transgender’s persons self- confidence, you need to have some basic understanding of what it’s like to socialize as transgender. Social engagements can be an absolute nightmare for the transgender
community. To start, they are riddled with situations that can cause overwhelming amounts of stress and self-doubt. On top of that, every action needs to be thought out; how you walk, how you speak, your posture. A lot of these eventually become second nature for someone who is transgender, but that takes time and you are always fearful you may slip. So much time and effort go into just appearing and blending into your true gender, things like personality and individualism can be forgotten or overlooked.
Let’s say you are at a social gathering, and a transgender person arrives. They walk in and are this shining light that radiates courage, conventional and unconventional beauty all at once. Nine out of ten times it’s applauded and met with genuine praise, at least in my experience with the local music community. As a transgender woman, I can say it feels amazing! …Until you
dive deeper into the applause and praise, and you realize how superficial it all is. Take away the makeup, the clothes, my starlet demeanor, and there is nothing left to applaud or praise. No talent that has been showcased and nothing overwhelming that makes me an individual.
My existence has been defined as “that trans girl I know.”
This is the thought that many transgender people get to go to sleep to.
I recently appeared on Set Life Productions’ new show The New Normal, Hosted by Cody Smith. We spoke on many of these issues; I’ve always had these thoughts but never has anyone asked how do I feel as a transgender person in the community. At the beginning of the interview, Cody asked: “what does trans visibility mean to you?” I fumbled to find an answer during the interview. Mostly because I don’t see trans visibility as an issue, I’m pretty hard to miss. So here is my honest thought out answer, Prison! A life resigned to always being defined by one aspect of myself, that I am unable to escape. It’s horrid to feel as though you are just a token minority
there to make a group appear diverse. If we are to achieve true genuine inclusion among the transgender community, let’s stop talking about trans visibility and let us shift our thoughts to Trans-virtuosity.
What is Trans-virtuosity you may be wondering?
At least you should be, I made the word up. Virtuosity means great skill in music or another artistic pursuit. So Trans-virtuosity is a transgender person with great skill in music or another artistic pursuit. In our community how many Transgender artists are there? How many transgender people are members of a band? I feel to achieve inclusion in our community we need to encourage people from all walks of life
to showcase their talents. Let’s encourage our Transgender friends and family in our community who have talents and dreams, to not only support the local music and art community but to be a part of its growth.
In my experience, we do have an extremely inclusive and supportive local art and music community. Hence why I don’t feel trans visibility is an issue. I love that we are always trying to better ourselves; these are my thoughts on one way to accomplish just that. I want to thank our local community for being so supportive, and Set Life Productions for giving me a voice in this community. A special thank you to Cody Smith, host of the new show The New Normal, for allowing me an opportunity to explore this topic.p