Trans community

There is no trans community, and I feel that is a shame. We could benefit from supporting each other, in person not just on line. Trans readers, I need your help: how to create trans groups in real life?

Léne wants to start supportive groups, and also work with local services to ensure they meet trans folk’s needs. She used to be a social worker, now works in a school, and has contacts with the local council, which pays at least lip service to equality, diversity and the special needs of particular communities. She is holding a launch for the service next month. She also wants to open support groups for trans folk. Her interest is that her daughter transitioned recently.

Léne was in a pub recently with a cis friend and a trans friend, having a drink and a chat, when a man came over to ask if the trans woman was a man or a woman. They told him to go away, but he insisted, and grasped the trans woman’s upper arm. She went last night to report this to the police as a hate crime. The woman who interviewed her did not seem sympathetic, asking her why she thought the incident was motivated by transphobia. Well, taking someone by the arm is asserting power over them, the right to challenge their presentation, and saying they are not welcome. Léne’s parents were “Cape Coloured” from South Africa, and she says “Trans is the new Black”- no-one in a pub would say something like that to her, though they might have, in the 1980s. She is fifty. The racist would be challenged by someone else in the bar, and in the end the bar staff ejected the transphobe, who said he was only asking a question, and would not let it go.

Léne, short for Marléne, has been badgering the council for two years to consider trans people, and eventually wrote to my MP. He put her in touch with the appropriate council person, who said it was on the council’s website- so well buried that Léne could not find it. She has talked to the police, social services and housing, but had less success with trans people. She wanted to have three meetings in different towns this week, half-term, and had to cancel two for lack of interest. Two people had said they were interested but then messaged her to say they could not come. At another meeting, only I turned up. I looked at her draft website. It started, “statistics show”. That would appeal to a government worker, interested in measurable outcomes, but not necessarily to trans folk. Human stories interest me. I thought I could help bridge the gap: Léne could talk to service providers, I could approach service users. We have common goals, the desire for things to go smoothly with satisfaction on all sides.

So we had a lovely chat. We really hit it off. I feel I have made a friend. And there is no “trans community”. Some people get together for political activism. We don’t have the motive of the gay and lesbian communities, and several things to put us off: when two or more trans folk are gathered together, we are more likely to be clocked by cis people. Other trans folk remind us of the difficulties of transition, which we want to put behind us. And we don’t always like each other: we have this important thing in common, but otherwise are diverse as any other human group. The bits we cannot accept in ourselves we despise in each other.

When I transitioned I decided I would make my community in normal society. I left the Northern Concord and the Sibyls behind, but more recently when I have spent time with trans folk I have relaxed. I am with my kind. It’s a good feeling. Sharing experiences might strengthen us and give us tips.

Trans people- where have you found trans community? And would you like to spend time with other trans folk?

4 thoughts on “Trans community

  1. Online community for trans people is always going to be a lot easier to get involved in that a group that meets up somewhere. Getting to a venue for some people is a challenge. I know of one group for trans people that meets up monthly for coffee and a chat in a coffee shop, but that is an hour and a half drive away for me to get to and a three hour round trip doesn’t appeal to me.
    I also know of a Beaumont society group that meets monthly and they are a half an hour drive away but after going along once I didn’t feel a part of the group.
    Having been discharged from the GIC nearly two years now I have other communities that I’m part of, ones that don’t necessary have a lot of trans people. I’m doing a photography course so there is the other students to get to know in real life and not just online. I have our local burlesque community and my friends who are in that and I’ve just joined the local triathlon club so there’s that community as well.
    There is a need for real life groups though and in this area of South Somerset we really could do with something starting up as there are a number of trans people living in the area and having somewhere for them and their family to get together and meet others going through similar experiences would be good. There was a hope that our voice therapy group would result in a support group being formed, but that’s not happened yet. One of our local schools has started a Pride Club and some of the youngsters going to that are trans.
    It would be easy to try and walk away from the trans community now I’m not under the GIC but life isn’t that simple and I’ve found that through everyday life, and also work, I know enough trans people that I’m going to be part of the community, whether through face-to-face interactions or online , for a very long time.
    If you have any suggestions for getting real life groups up and running I’d be glad to hear them.

    Jenna

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    • Welcome, and thank you for commenting.

      Three hours is a long round trip. People who are transitioning gain fellow feeling and tips around things like hormones, hair removal and surgery. After discharge the gain is more nebulous. What I want is reassurance. Possibly two people, who built a friendship and had enthusiasm for meeting would be enough to bring others in.

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  2. I’m a transwoman and live in a rural area three hours from the nearest big city. But even if I lived there, where there are trans people, I don’t think I would socialize much with them. I find the transcommunity difficult – too much anger, judgement and snarky putdowns. And I haven’t met any trans people that I have anything in common with except our trans status. I wish things were different, but that’s my experience.

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    • It is lovely to have you here.

      We are not at ease. We are uncomfortable in ourselves- I generalise from my own experience and indications from others- so relaxing is difficult. Trans is a huge thing to have in common. Why would it not bring us together by itself? Perhaps because we are uncomfortable with it.

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