Main Entry: role model
: a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others
The first time I heard those words attributed to me was back in 1999. I was listening to 'After Hours' late one night back home and Sarah and Jimmy during one part of the show started talking about people in the Houston GLBT community that they considered leaders and role models. Vanessa Edwards Foster's and my name came up in the conversation, and after being in shock for a moment, I began to think about the gravity of what they just said on a 100,000 watt FM radio station.
Damn, I'm a role model now. There are times when I wonder if any one's even reading some of the stuff I post here on TransGriot or on the Bilerico Project.
When I look at my blog's hit counter I get my answer. I get my answer from the people who are moved enough to leave comments on the posts (hint, hint)
Sometimes those posted comments from transpeople and allies all over our planet tell me the same thing that Sarah, Jimmy and others have said over the last nine years, that they consider me a role model as well. While it's potentially head-swelling stuff and I'm honored that people think of me that way, I still keep it in perspective when I read it. I put my pantyhose on one leg at a time just like everybody else.
When it's not too damned hot to wear pantyhose, that is ;)
But there are times I hear it and burst into tears. Lola's comment kind of took me back to the time when I was in my late teens, a college student struggling with this issue.
Like many young transpeople, she's dealing with the transgender issues now and not allowing them to fester because they never go away. If you do that, before you know it ten years has passed and you have a spouse, kids and a career to factor into the transition equation.
There are times when I wonder if I'd had the type of information and positive role models available now like a Dr. Marisa Richmond when I was trying to transition, where I would be in my development path as a transwoman?
But I have to deal with the context of the times I grew up in in the 60's and 70's. While the information on transpeople was sketchy at best, there's a lot of positives connected with growing up in that time period as well.
It's that combination of influences plus the willingness to adapt and listen to the enlightened viewpoints of people who are wiser and sometimes younger than me that makes me at this particular point in time in August 2008 the person I am.
You have to concede that young people nowdays are a hell of a lot smarter than we were at that age. They grew up immersed in information thanks to the Internet, and sometimes they may have a better approach or a fresh way of thinking about an issue than their elders. But sometimes your elders have valuabe lessons they learned that you can incorporate into your own knowledge base as well. They are your elders and in your life for a reason, and they need to be treated as the historical resources they are so you don't repeat mistakes.
All I can do is strive to be the best person I can be, and if in the process of my own personal evolution it inspires some of you to do the same, then it's a win-win situation for us and the community as well.