I stand in the breakfast bar of a hotel in Philadelphia, on display all around me is the magnificent variety of human experience. The annual Trans Health Conference in this city draws in excess of 4000 attendees, all of whom have a unique perspective on what constitutes gender and the way it affects the way they make their way in the world. What I feel instantly is a sense of belonging, the knowing smiles on the faces as they catch my eye, the recognition of a soul on the same journey.
I spoke to a friend one time about the community in which I find myself, how after a lifetime of searching it seemed almost inconceivable that this is where I would experience the sense of belonging that I had craved for so long. His comment has stuck with me and describes my situation perfectly.
He said,” They are your tribe”
They are my tribe, this rainbow collection of gender non conforming souls. Whatever their life experience or the spot on the gender continuum that they have claimed for their own, they are my family. This year is different than last. Last year I had to come, it was important for my survival., it was for me a life changing experience and a time of tremendous growth in the person I was becoming. This year I am another year older but in the life of a trans person that year has seemed like a lifetime, The ease in the way I make I make my way in the world is partially the result of these people, the ones that have lived it, figured it out, blazed the trail.
I accused a trans friend of being jaded because he had transitioned so long ago. He corrected me later, the look on his face he said was that he was fighting back tears. When asked, he explained that they were tears of joy at how much progress has been made in the almost 30 years since his transition. The resources that are available now, the support that is available and the early age at which it can begin moved him tremendously as he recalled his own struggle so long ago.
While still in the process of a transition of it’s own, I believe that society’s growing acceptance of transgender people as human, deserving of respect and equal rights bodes well for our future. I think I’ll go join my tribe now.