Jesse Trenton Thomson

December 1999

Allow me if you will to introduce myself. My name is Jesse Trenton Thomson, or at least it will be once I get all the paper work and court dates worked through. For me, just my name is a complicated issue. All of my close friends are just getting used to calling me Trent, though my family still calls me Jennifer. I am part of the very small number of people that are transgender and plan on going through the surgery and all it entails.

The past three months of my life have been pure hell. I have considered suicide more times that I can count even though I've never been overly suicidal before. It has driven my family away from me. It has caused complete strangers to chastise me with that all too familiar question, "Are you a boy or a girl?" They then question me no matter what answer I give. But of all of this, the saddest thing for me, the thing that makes me weep is the way that the gay community has treated me. Lesbians that have known me for years are uncomfortable around me now. I am an outsider to them. Gay men harass me, "But you're not really a man." Both see me as a traitor. After all, when all of this is done, I will be straight. That's really what I'm looking forward to, that's what I'm working for. So even though in my heart I feel wonderful, even though I am excited when I see how well my facial hair is coming in, and how well I pass, I know that almost no one is there to share in my joy, nor do they want to.

So now I stand at a pivotal place, a very lonely place. I'm not yet straight, and I don't still identify as gay. Before I came here, when I was still far away from it and seeing it as a future vantage point I thought that this would be the least of my problems. I assumed like most of us do that we had made great strides in this country towards accepting people. Now I realize how divided we can be and usually are. I realized that we categorize ourselves with so little notice to it. We're like lures in a box of fishing tackle, and even though some of us get along well with the people in other compartments, we still all ignore the bent, crooked and tangled in the bottom. We're just too much trouble to deal with and everyone would rather just ignore us or throw us away.

From where I stand I see a quiet revolution, where everyone thinks that we just have a little longer to go. But although we would like to think we are making great progress that is only because we aren't working for the right goals. We're working for the goals of the "normal" gays. You know, the ones that live with their "roommates", because we've been socialized to think that they are our best face, and that if we pretend they are our only face then we can fade back into the background and keep out of every breeder's way. And, oh yeah, maybe if we ask really nicely, they'll stop killing us too.

From where I stand I see a lot of bickering. The HRC has their agenda, to get gays in the military and gay marriage legalized, which I think I can safely say we all agree with. It is they way that they disregard and separate themselves from the rest, the "undesirables", of us to pass them through. I see Chastity Bono criticizing Ellen for being "too gay", I see Ellen criticizing Rosie O'Donnell for not being "gay enough", and I see that we have not yet learned to live up to the inside name we call ourselves: family.

Great men from Jesus to Abraham Lincoln have said at least one thing similar that needs to become our mantra. "A house torn asunder can not stand." So I embrace the man that is dying from AIDS due to too many visits to the bathhouse in his youth, because he is me. I love the woman who, although she claims to be a lesbian, still fantasizes about being with a man, because she is also me. I consider all of you, in every spectrum of gender and sexuality my family, and I ask you only to call me your brother because even though we all may do things that embarrass, shame or otherwise are not the same as what we may do, we can not let this come between any of us.

So if I haven't lost you so far on the whole concept then please keep reading, this may actually become important. What we have to do now is make our list of demands. It's simple really. Can we all agree that there should be a law passed to allow legalized gay marriages? Can we all agree that there should be a law protecting gays from violent hate crimes? Can we all agree that it should be as easy for a well-established gay couple, or even a single gay person, to adopt as anyone else? If we can all agree on things as obviously true as these, can we move on to more touchy subjects? Should the age of consent laws be changed? How about the anti-sodomy laws, should those go as well?

Call this a call to action if you will. First to decide what we need as a community. Second to make these demands known, and to force the government to listen to us, and give us a platform. Third, to keep organized. To write our senators consistently, to vote always, to never cease to demand our rights as one unified voice. We claim to be ten percent of the population, but we are so complacent, we are so meek that we are nothing to worry about to a politician, to the government, to the world. Until we change that, we will always be second-class citizens.


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