Asst. Opinions Editor
The New Yorker released a short documentary called “The Paint Wizard” on YouTube. Millie a native painter from Texas shares her story of coming out as a transgender woman at the age of 58. What’s touching in the way she lives her life, is the evident honesty she shares with herself. Despite Millie acknowledging that she doesn’t know much, there is a wisdom inherent to the things she says. The kind that is particular to people who have made the commitment to be their authentic selves, whatever the cost may be.
“I would not wish this on an enemy I hated so much I’d shoot them in the face with a .45”, Millie said while putting makeup on, “But I would not put the curse that I live with upon them... but it’s a curse I love too, I indulge it,” she resumes.
Millie lives in a motorhome, parking in front of the houses she paints, as she completes the job. Despite the visible hardships she goes through, there is something poetic about how she gets around and interacts with the world.
Dave Chapelle’s recently released a special "The Closer", where he tries to contextualize J.K. Rollings openly transphobic stance and concludes, around minute 53:52 that he is “team TERF” (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist). Between this and a Caroline Lowbridge BBC article that accuses trans women of being sexual predators, the last few weeks have discriminated against the trans community.
When Dave Chapelle and J.K. Rolling speak of gender, they forget the social roles we are assigned at birth. Yes, there is such a thing as a social standard for female and male assigned genitalia, but gender pervades more than just the genitals one is born with. It’s about an inner identity dichotomy that only transgender people can speak of, as they are the ones that feel it.
I agree that the intersectionality aspect brought up by Dave Chapelle is very relevant and white privilege should be acknowledged even among minorities. Yet, there is an amount of tactfulness that is required when talking about a community as marginalized as trans people. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 73% of the victims of violence hate homicides were trans women.
A study done by NORC and the Center for American Progress at the University of Chicago concluded that “Nearly 4 in 5 Black (trans)individuals (77 percent) reported moderate or significant impacts to their psychological well-being, while nearly two-thirds (65 percent) reported moderate or significant impacts to their physical well-being.” Pilled with the fact that, according to the NCAVP, trans people of color are six times more likely to experience police violence.
This is just in the US, in countries like Brazil, trans people are marginalized beyond the point of being able to find jobs. Digressing from the data, there are a lot of misconceptions about trans identity and acceptability. Insisting on taking radical stances that inflate the opinions of conservative groups trying to curtail trans rights is not the way to confront white privilege within this community.
The BBC article that came out on Oct. 26, denounces that trans women are forcing cis lesbian women to date and have sex with them. The article, consciously, admits that this is a minor issue that hasn’t had enough recurrence to be researched. But goes as far as interviewing a representative from an organization based in the UK called “Get the L out”, an openly TERF organization that doesn’t admit trans women to the capability of being lesbians. An open letter by the group Trans Activism UK, signed by 16,000 people, was also published days later trying to mitigate the negative effects it may have caused to the image of trans women.
A spokesman for the BBC defended the article saying, “It is important that journalism looks at issues - even where there are strongly held positions. The BBC is here to ensure debate and to make sure a wide range of voices are heard." While the article is self-aware of the scarce recurrence of these events, it only worsens the dangers that trans people go through on a daily basis by coming from a news source as credited as the BBC.
If some people like J.K. Rowling and Dave Chapelle gender is a fact, an even more palpable one is the violence against the trans community. The stonewall riots and the spectacularization of trans lives in sensationalist 90s daytime shows, manifested today and why people give credit to trans narratives like Millie's from “The Paint Wizard”. Transgender people are a group that deserves protection from general misinformation as they face an amount of public scrutiny that no cis person can grasp. I don’t think this is the time to split hairs on who has it better. It’s time to protect the more vulnerable communities on the front lines against hate and that includes trans women.