Privileged trans – I beg trans people to be open, to speak up

It is very rare to meet a trans man like Buck Angel who rejected bottom surgery and is proud of having a vagina. After his documentary, I asked him if he would do bottom surgery if there was a way of getting a fully functional penis. He said that he likes his vagina in front of the whole audience and that he wouldn't. 

 Something happened inside me when he said that he likes his body as it is and continued answering questions from the audience. He was so open about his latest heartbreak that my eyes started to tear up. My throat was hurting, partially because it was so freaking cold outside where we were seated here in Sweden. My sister sat behind me and I wore a hood that allowed my tears to pass by unnoticed. My sister put her head against my shoulder and started to caress me. I realized that she didn't know I was crying, but I sensed that she too was touched by the vulnerability that this man shared. It really touched my heart and inspired the whole community. 

I transitioned at 17 years old and had surgery at 20. I lived my life in stealth after my surgery, meaning almost nobody knew I was transgender. Therefore, I understand trans people that aren’t eager to be open about their transgender past. It can cause conflict in your romantic relationship, your job and basically every aspect of your life. But at some point, I realized that I never was going to have a normal life and that I was wasting energy avoiding the inevitable.  

 My past always seemed to catch up with me somehow, no matter how much I passed as a woman. I couldn't live my life hiding, always avoiding subjects and situations. After the last time my heart was broken by rejection, because of me being a trans woman, I decided that I wanted the whole world to know. 

 It all comes down to self-acceptance and loving oneself. But how can someone love themselves if you live in a system that constantly beats you down? How could they be proud when you feel such shame and hatred towards yourself and your body? How could they expose themselves to that hate and negativity, by their own free will? Of course they would want to hide their past! It never served them any good!

 At Söderhamn Pride, I met lots of people with courage. Many refugees came from places in the world where they had no legal rights, risked imprisonment, torture and sexual abuse, just for being who they are. Many didn't have that choice that many have to be in the closet. Many are fighting because they have to. So, if you are in the closet and living your own life in loneliness and peace from harassment, violence and prejudice in a country where you have legal rights like in Sweden, you have an incredible opportunity to unburden people from a fight that favours us all. Please, don't be a passive bystander when you can be an ally to the same people that are fighting for your rights. Please step out of the closet and be visible. The total sum of energy it takes to hide is the same as the energy it takes to be open and visible and doing something about our situation. 

 Thank you, Buck, for encouraging us to like our bodies as they are, for giving us the strength to fight for human rights and for reminding us about what it is to be authentic to oneself and the world.

 Love, Vanessa