Once upon a time, there was a kingdom in trouble because the kings needed a male heir to the throne but couldn’t have a child. Then a miracle happened, and a chlild was born, but it was a girl. What to do? The kings decided to announce that a boy had been born. They raised princess Sapphire as a boy, and everyone instead knew her as “Prince Sapphire”. She learned how to pass as a boy and was the bravest knight in the kingdom of Silverland.
I´m talking about The Princess Knight, a cartoon in the 70s that made me understand when I was four that I was Sapphire, a girl forced to pass as a boy, and that I love tomboys because I fell in love with Sapphire. The real story, however, was that God had given her a pink heart, but her mischievous guardian angel had given her a blue one too, so she was born with both… God was furious when he found out!
That cartoon was an exception that dealt with the topic in a healthy way because it was either avoided altogether or was referred to in the most negative ways back then. Nowadays, haters are still publishing negative stuff hoping to hurt the trans community, but are facing a new resistance that is more difficult to overcome: evidence.
It was easier to lie about what it means to be trans when nobody dared speak about it, and there wasn’t much research; in fact, the medical profession considered being trans a mental illness until June 2018, when scientific research showed it was blatantly false. But the mind has biases, and often even the most powerful evidence is ignored if it goes against a person’s long-established beliefs, even if it’s true…
That’s why it meant nothing to my family when I showed them this is something that starts with biology, hoping they’d understand. What can we do as a community if people don’t even care about scientific studies? How do we change these harmful ideas and end all the aggression that targets our community?
People react to external pressure by acting defensively, either pushing back or not listening. But there is an irresistible pressure – the one coming from within. If I tell you, “Hey, read this study that proves you wrong,” it’s no surprise if you act defensively, but if you see the evidence without anyone pressuring you, it makes you question what you’ve been taught.
The stereotype of a trans person that almost everyone has goes like this: “A man who wants to dress and behave as a woman, works as a prostitute, and thinks about sex all the time. They are untrustworthy, pedophiles, mentally ill and sad characters who will burn in hell”.
But now, with so many trans persons living happy, productive lives, they destroy that stereotype simply by walking through their day authentically. This sends a powerful message that there´s nothing wrong with being trans and that we can also be an example of everything good in life.
Looking at trans people being awesome creates internal pressure for some people, and if they´re honest, they can start questioning their own beliefs, not because we pushed them to do so, but because of the incongruence they feel inside.
The AWARENESS we create for positive trans people gives us a different position to be listened to: We start by minding our own business and not asking people with anti-trans beliefs for anything, but our positivity will catch their attention, making them reflect. Then we can speak about inaccurate stereotypes and how they result in all kinds of aggression against our community.
We are now seeing trans people in all areas of life. The latest studies demonstrate that the percentage of trans people in any given population appears much higher than we ever thought, in fact for people between ages 18-29 it is 5.1% (Source: Pew Research Center survey 2022). This means more people will knowingly come in contact with trans people. Therefore, by being openly trans, we´re raising awareness with a powerful message: WE´RE NOT WHAT YOU THINK: BEING TRANS IS JUST ANOTHER OF THE MANY VARIATIONS OF NATURE, AND WE DESERVE RESPECT.
I´ve seen people who were against the community change in a matter of hours when they feel this internal pressure. For example, a friend of mine, a trans man who is an excellent speaker and HR expert, was training the staff of an important company where they didn’t ‘t know he was trans. The training was terrific, and he got all the well-deserved credit as an expert. However, one staff member mentioned during the training that his long-held beliefs make him avoid dealing with LGBT+ people in any way.
My friend is generally stealthy (isn’t out about his identity), but that day he made an exception and disclosed to the audience that he was a trans man. What? They couldn’t believe it! In an act of honesty, the opposer approached my friend, recognizing that he had a lot to think about once his beliefs had gone down the drain, and asked my friend if he could hug him…
That´s the importance of TRANS AWARENESS.