When one is chosen or chooses to become a spokesperson for a group or a cause (or both), they come into the spotlight. They appear in the media, gain fame and notoriety (there’s always haters, sadly), and their words help inform the rest of the world about their group and cause. What makes this difficult, however, is that the spokesperson becomes familiar to the rest of the world as a trans individual. Often, these spokespeople are also celebrities who invested time, effort and lots of money to complete their transition- a challenging, often heart wrenching process full of sacrifice and conflict (with oneself and people around you). When the transition is complete, most people look so completely passable that they want to finally live as their new, true self. For example, a girl born in a boy’s body – once the transition is complete – may want to get a new legal name, new set of documents with F on them, make new friends who know her as a she, and live out the rest of her life just as a genetic female would. Look at Jenna Talackova, for example. This model got outed by the media as transgender and she was put in the spotlight and sort of had to become a trans spokesperson. Yes, she didn’t make this choice – true – but the effect this role had on her ability to live in society just as any genetic girl has been adversely affected by it to the point it may be beyond repair. Even if someone wanted in the heat of the moment to become a spokesperson, and later changed their mind – there’s no going back. This effect on the individual who just wants to do something for the trans community is significant and harsh; that is why I would recommend those of us who successfully completed their transitions to take this role lightly if it ever comes around in their lives.
Another important point is that trans spokespeople can cause serious issues for the trans community as well. For example, in case of trans girls, there is no single trans girl who can speak for all of us. The reason being is that we are divided into two major groups. One group would be those who are stuck in the transition process due to practical reasons (lack of money or support) or the desire to be visibly trans for the rest of their lives. The other group would be those of us who intend to fully complete the transition (or have already completed it), have the money and support, and a timeline in mind. The two groups don’t get along that well as they are diametrically opposed to each other. One group will be at some stage of transition for life, the other group does not believe in living that way and wants to join mainstream society after their transition is done. There is no one person who can represent both of these groups; depending on which group the person belongs to, those who follow that person will not know the whole story- just half of it. That, in itself, is not enough for the public to learn everything they need to know about the trans community and the diversity within it.
Now, dearest readers, you may wonder what the solution is for us living in North America, for both the trans community and the rest of the society. I think that the best solution would be to not rely heavily on local trans spokespeople; it would be a lot better if the trans community worked on raising awareness of how other, more trans friendly and trans inclusive countries understand trans people and include us into their societies. Thailand, for better or worse, would be a good example. I don’t think we can learn from ourselves in this case as well as we can learn from others. I leave it up to you to decide by looking up on YouTube how well transgender people integrate and live in other trans friendly countries, and spread that message as something that North America should emulate. This would allow our own trans people to rise not as trans spokespeople, but spokespeople in their areas of study, businesses and more. That’s preferable, isn’t it? Being recognized for your talents, achievements and expertise regardless of whether you’re male or female :)