Monday, July 19, 2010

Thoughts on transgender persons spurred by Governor McDonnell's ex-brother-in-law . . .

Anita Kumar (incidentally, a guest today on WMRA's Virginia Insight)  wrote about it Friday in The Washington Post. Governor Bob McDonnell's ex brother-in-law, Bob Deane, now Robyn Deane, has finally spoken out to promote the rights of gay and transgender state workers.
"I am father to three of the present governor's nephews and nieces," she announced to the more than 100 people trying to shield themselves from the rain.
"Whoa," someone muttered.
"I'm also uncle to five of his children, so that puts me kind of close," Deane continued. "He is my former brother-in-law. . . . He witnessed the impact that all of this coming out can have on one's life. He had a front-row-center seat."
Ms. Deane had gone public about her relationship with Governor McDonnell last April, but Friday was her first attempt to advocate a softening of his conservative position on gay, lesbian and transgender rights in the Commonwealth of Virginia. According to Ms. Kumar,
Deane said she decided to announce her relationship to McDonnell on April 21 because she feels that her situation hardened some of his views on sexual orientation. The governor opposes same-sex marriage and has not backed measures that protect gay state workers from discrimination.
As far as I can tell, Governor McDonnell has made no public comment on Robyn Deane's activism except to say, through a spokesperson, that he wishes Robyn the very best, and that their relationship is a personal matter.

Ms. Deane's situation is hardly an anomaly. According to Paisley Currah, Richard. M. Juang, and Shannon Price Minter, authors of Transgender Rights, 
. . .the American Psychological Association notes that data from European countries with access to total population statistics suggest that roughly 1 per 30,000 adults transition from male-to-female and 1 per 100,000 adults transition from female-to-male. Over time, however, the gap between these two groups appears to be closing as more female-bodied people seek out treatment for sex-reassignment. In addition, these numbers include only people who seek out medical treatment. There are many more people who cannot afford to access medical care, who live as the other gender without any medical treatment, or who are gender non-conforming but do not wish to be the other gender.      
I think it is naive to say that a transgender person is someone to whom we static-gender persons give the same thoughtless acceptance we give a prom queen or a plumber. If we look deep down into our politically correct guts, choosing to change sexes does seem a tad strange. But that feeling really is our problem, don't you think? It's a matter of not having enough guts to truly accept other people the way they really are.

Years ago, a transgender woman who was undergoing surgery at UVa came into the boutique at the Sweet Briar College Bookstore where I happened to be working. She was depressed, she said. The surgery was taking so long. And she needed some new clothes that would give her confidence. She couldn't shop in Charlottesville because people made fun of her.

I will never forget how Kleo, the boutique manager, took that woman in hand, selecting outfit after outfit for her to try on. "No, no," I heard her say, "that's not for you. Try the red one." There were make-up tips, hair tips, more kinds of tips than I, a biological woman, was aware women needed. It was one of the kindest acts I've ever witnessed, in that it was one person giving another person the help and support they needed.

Kindness rocks, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. That is a very touching story (about the boutique) and is exactly the kind of story we need to share. My son's best friend in kindergarten had a father who was transgendered. It's not easy for any family member to in some cases, understand and in others to accept. I'm so disappointed that people in Charlottesville made fun of the woman who was trying to shop. We're all human regardless of our parts.