Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
by Tara Cavanaugh
Julie H. Lynch is the author of http://gendersense.com. Lynch, a 30-year-old transgender woman from Ypsilanti, is currently seeking a second bachelor’s degree in nursing from Eastern Michigan University. Her first bachelor’s degree from EMU is in philosophy.
1. What prompted you to start a blog about transgender issues?
I could never have guessed that coming out as transgender to people on social networking sites would have led me to start a blog, but it did. Initially, I expected passive aggressive insults, a missing “friend” here or there, or maybe some outright transphobia thrown my way. Imagine my surprise when even the most socially conservative acquaintances gave their support. Everything went uncomfortably smoothly for a time, but then the ugliness of some of my most trusted friends began to show. Of course I was shocked but, more importantly, I was catapulted into long and engaging arguments. During these exchanges, it dawned on me that the people who were the most hostile toward me were the most ignorant of gender identity issues and privilege in general. I wanted to reach them — all of them — and help them understand.
2. What have been some of the hardest issues to write about?
I think it’s always most difficult writing about privilege. Though people may support marriage equality or engage in activism, trying to get them to understand their privilege and work against it is nearly impossible. I think this is so because it challenges not only their errant beliefs of how social equality is achieved, but also because it challenges their very identity. I know too many people who go around thinking that everyone has the same life opportunities as everyone else by simply being a member of society. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Oppression is still very strong in America and anyone who is a member of an oppressed group knows this intimately.
3. Do you find writing on your blog to be therapeutic – that it helps you cope with problems?
Honestly, no. Some trans people are strong supporters of the community and its efforts, only to completely abandon it after they have transitioned. For this reason, the transgender community is unique in its lack of a cohesive identity. If the community is just a revolving door, how can we ever expect to get anywhere? I can understand that there are not always enough participants in local community sharing and activism to keep transgender programs going, so many turn to the Internet for their sole source of support. That’s how my blog is therapeutic. What I get out of writing my blog is the belief that I am helping others, whether or not they are transgender. I want to be one more source of support and understanding so others have a less hard time getting through their day, as reading other blogs definitely helps me get through mine.
4. Who do you hope your blog benefits?
As much as I want to help other trans people through my blog, I tend to focus more on helping cis people understand transgender issues. Very little can be done without the support of the majority. Laws cannot be passed and social beliefs cannot be changed without engaging those in the greater community. I also believe that intelligent people can only maintain a prejudice against others if they are untouched by them. The purpose of my blog is that cis people will read it, realize that I am more than valid in my gender identity, and are made aware of what social equality for trans people should look like and how to achieve it. I know this is the case for family members who have come across my blog. Some of them had never known a transgender person, so it was a complete overhaul of their beliefs concerning us. I’ve found this to be a positive experience for them more so than not.
5. Why is it important for transgender people to talk about their experiences?
This is where statistics come into play. It’s important for us as a society to recognize where entire groups of people are being subjected to violence, prejudice, and discrimination and to change that. The statistics show that transgender people are disproportionally subject to job and housing discrimination, violence, suicide attempts and murder. It’s easy for most people who are completely removed from the daily horrors facing trans people to read these statistics and think nothing of them. Only when the voices of our people are heard will others realize that action is well overdue. Instead of merely being an “other” to the greater cis community, when we talk about our experiences, we are people made flesh. Blogs are an integral part of this. The more trans blogs written with different perspectives and voices, the more diverse our efforts become. The more diverse our efforts become, the more diverse an audience we can reach. I think this is key in social equality for transgender people.