The Struggle to Live as a Transgender Woman in Michigan

POST BY Tina Seitz Transgender activist

Being a transgender woman in society today is a difficult road to navigate. As gains are made in recognition of the huge degree of discrimination we face as a community, a huge backlash is also gaining momentum. Some people feel that giving transgender people the same rights as everyone else somehow diminishes society as a whole.

I have lived as a transgender woman for almost a decade now. My goals are to live my life, go shopping, cook, clean house, and all the other things traditional families do. For me to do this, however, is a daily exercise in trying to guess who will try to force their lack of knowledge or bigotry upon me. While I am able to get through most days without confrontation, the threat is always there. There is always a high level of anxiety whenever I need to produce ID since the state of Michigan has determined that they need to brand me by declaring I am a male, despite my appearance and true gender identity.

Another issue that I deal with is people who vocalize their lack of knowledge by insisting that transgender people (specifically transgender women) are actually perverts trying to prey on women and children in restrooms. When transgender persons go to the bathroom, we just want to do our business and get out just like all people. For me to see images such as those used by extremists recently in Houston to overthrow a nondiscrimination law are despicable and extremely hurtful. Similar ads usually pop up whenever nondiscrimination laws are proposed to incite fear and cause people to mobilize against the proposed ordinance.

Ads such as these take a tremendous toll on my psyche. To see images where people like me, born with a gender identity that doesn't match our bodies, are vilified and made out to be perverts destroys my self-worth. Imagine what it would be like if such tactics where used to vilify someone like yourself. Not only seeing such a noxious, fearmongering portrayal, but seeing it all over town and even reported on the news. These images make everyday life difficult for me because I never know who will challenge me whenever I need to use a restroom. The fearmongering makes it so that it interferes with my ability to just walk out in public.

I am aware of the tremendous amount of violence that occurs against transgender people and I am aware that at any time, I can face this violence just for being who I am. Almost every year, transgender people are murdered in the Detroit and other major cities just because of who they are. I just want to live a life at peace without fear of violence on a daily basis. I don't think I should have to hide who I am just to do that.

I can face this violence just for being who I am.