In 2010 I attended the 2nd Asia Pacific Outgames Human Rights Conference in Wellington, New Zealand. I was privileged to attend a two-day trans hui/gathering where I met more sex and gender diverse people from around the world. At the time I was more of a trans activist, scared of ‘coming out’ as genderqueer and not really sure where I fit in the ‘Am I Trans Enough?’ question I found myself asking. I attended all the trans-related workshops and met some familiar faces from the 1st Asia Pacific Outgames in Melbourne (Australia) and the Health In Difference conference in Sydney. Despite all of this there was a very big misunderstanding that has been hanging around me until now.
Over the course of the conference I met a trans-man who presented at one of the workshops I attended, however at the time I didn’t know he was trans. He stood in-front of me as a friendly beard male and someone who, in my eyes, ‘passes’ as a man without question. After this particular workshop I ended up walking beside him and mentioned that I had no idea of his trans status. He spoke about his experiences and his amazement that I didn’t know he was a trans man. I explained that I had met so many trans individuals wanting to relinquish their ‘trans’ identity and simply be seen as ‘male’ or ‘female’, to become stealth and pass. It was so refreshing to meet someone who was proud of who they were, someone who was able to talk about it openly. I went away from that conversation feeling curious about our own trans community in Melbourne and Australia, wanting to meet other people who were proud of being trans. The few days afterwards I was so busy with other workshops I didn’t see the storm clouds approaching…
On the last day of the Human Rights conference the trans-man stood up in-front of the closing ceremony, a room packed full of participants and volunteers, and decided to talk about a conversation he had had with a young lesbian. The person he was speaking of, I thought, was me and how he had been made to feel invisible because I’d mentioned that I had no idea he was trans. He was planning on talking about something else but felt this was more pertinent. As I shrunk down in my seat members of the audience stood up and said their name along with “I am trans and am not invisible”. At that moment I was so upset at the public story, of not being heard as a genderqueer, for the misunderstanding and for the lack of courage to say something to the trans man afterwards. I was so embarrassed and humiliated, thinking everyone will know it is me, all the trans guys I met will think I am such a stupid little lesbian, that I left the conference venue quickly and returned to the YHA in almost shock.
It is almost two-years later and I accidentaly found his name on Facebook and thought this is my opportunity. I don’t care if I get a reply, that is not what I need, but what I want is for this person to understand that it was a misunderstanding, and perhaps the opportunity to hear my story as a genderqueer who is often invisible:
“Dear [insert name]
I’ve come across your Facebook Profile quite by accident.
I wanted to say thank you for your story and courage to stand up in-front of everyone at the 2nd Asia Pacific Outgames Human Rights Conference and talk about feeling invisible as a trans-man. It was quite an emotional and powerful moment. I would also like to say sorry if I made you feel invisible in any way, it was never my intention and I believe there might have been a misunderstanding if I was the person you mentioned in your speech.
Hope this finds you well.