Thursday, January 22, 2009

Laughing At Ourselves

We transwomen on a daily basis face so many serious issues and threats to our simple right to exist. We have people that fear us, that refuse to understand what we deal with in our lives, hate us to the point that they want to kill us, keep us unemployed, or even deny us the opportunity to go to the gender appropriate bathroom.

But just as my peeps have learned over the centuries to take dire situations and turn them into humor, transwomen for the sake of our own sanity either have or will need to learn how to do the same thing.

Like the Playboy transgender themed cartoons that are part of this post, while they are examples of some serious moments in transgender people's lives, I look at them and take a moment to chuckle. It helps remind me to stand down just for a few moments from the Defcon 1 life-or-death game face I have to put on sometimes just to live my life in a world that can be hostile to transgender people.

At times I think back to some of the more embarrassing moments I went through early in my transition that make me laugh now, but were mortifying events at the time they happened. I forgot to lock the bathroom door while non revving home during a 1999 San Francisco-Houston flight and fortunately I was in a sitting position when the door popped open. I got teased about it at work for a month and Lisa Bronte, the first class flight attendant who witnessed it, needled me about it for a year.

I take time to find humor in my situation and allow it into my life because even though I'm committed to seeing transgender rights laws become a reality and do my small part to make it happen, it can be depression inducing and frustrating work. But even out of some of those journeys to lobby have come humorous moments that I treasure to this day.

There have been times when I've gone to conventions and been one of the few African-Americans in the room, but have observed or experienced things that made me double over in laughter.

I still have fond memories of the first time I showed up at a planning meeting for my 20th high school reunion. While some of my high school classmates had heard I'd transitioned, others hadn't. The joke I cracked for the next year and a half leading up to that October 2000 reunion weekend was, "Well, we know who has a lock on the 'Most Changed Award' for this reunion."

I know we are tackling some serious and seemingly intractable problems, especially as transpeople of color. But just as we need to stop, take a look around and thank God for the blessings that we have in our lives such as good friends, good health and allies who get it, we should at the same time try to find ways to inject more humor in our lives as well.

TransGriot Note: cartoons were transgender themed recaptions by Lorna Samuels


Unknown said...

That first cartoon is so apropos (my Dad still calls me "son"); the third one cracked me up!

Monica Roberts said...

Galling Galla.
I liked these recaps of the cartoons by Lorna.

They did remind me of dffferent parts of my transition journey.

Emily S said...

I've done the 'haven't we met before' scene a couple of times and it is funny, especially watching their faces! :)

As for forgetting to lock the toilet: Yup... Done that, too and luckily I was also sitting down when the door was opened by a colleague!

There are some really funny aspects to transition and it is nice to be able to laugh about them.

Flrarginergarivb said...

Gods, yes. Watching peoples face when they realize our shared history is one of the few things that I really enjoy. I figure that I need to indulge in those things that don't hurt anyone and make my life better... goodness knows you get enough negative about being trans from everyone.

I've got my 10th high school reunion coming up this year. It'll be .. interesting. I don't know if I should be quivering in fear or cackling evilly about it though.

Monica Roberts said...

Best advice I can give you about the reunion is have fun, enjoy it, be prepared for varying reactions from your classmates from total acceptance to shunning you and have a witty line ready for accepting the 'Most Changed Award' that you're probably going to win.

The funniest 'haven't I met you' moments have been at my HS reunions.