Yesterday, I attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony at the Hampton Convention Center. It was a huge venue for a relatively small turnout. The speakers invited to the ceremony were all fantastic in my opinion, although some of my friends that I attended with might disagree. A lot of what I felt while I was there was simply a profound sense of dissonance. A lot of what I had expected didn’t quite fit with what I got.
I suppose that some of that dissonance has to do with my own relative unfamiliarity and discomfort with the transgender community. The event memorialized 26 transgendered people that have been murdered this year. I don’t think I even really know (very well) half that many transgendered or genderqueer people. In spite of this very somber premise, the first speaker was very focused on herself and very upbeat. I thought it a good counterpoint to the sadness, but my companions didn’t agree with me. Also, for such an expensive space, the quality of the ceremony surrounding the event felt a bit unpolished. If this event was truly a memorial, I felt it deserved a bit more attention to detail.
Finally, the last speaker, Kristin Beck, had a message that I wasn’t entirely sure resonated with me. Kristin openly talked about loving everyone (not the part I have a problem with) and how we were all really the same. As a rule, I reject the idea of sameness among people. I am not the same as Kristin, in my opinion. Kristin has been a Navy SEAL, and participated in a level of idealized hypermasculinity that I am unsure I could ever achieve even if I wanted to. She has also made the transition into womanhood, which is also a journey I have no interest in taking. The insistence that she and I are the same rang hollow in my ears.
I do not mean to say that this difference makes it impossible for Kristin and I to share a community. I only mean to say that our love for one another need not be predicated on any concept of sameness. The wish to be just like everyone else is a dream held by adolescents; it is an aspiration that is misguided and impossible to achieve. I don’t think that attitudes of acceptance can really flourish if they are based in this way of thinking.