“Survived by his husband…”

I read an obituary today that was sad and awful but finally was the way it should be. The man was only 71, which caused a sliver in my chest that for the first time made me realize I’m only by chance in the first half of my life or well into the second, but also, it lead with his accomplishments and rolls, and finished up with a simple sentence “he is survived by his husband.” The word “gay” never appeared once in the top three paragraphs.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of more than a handful, less than a bushel of times in my life where being gay meant something. When we tell someone who has asked that we’re not sisters or “business partners” whatever that means when you’re out on a social event, we’re more likely to get some variant of “how wonderful” like we just said we’ve won the lottery. It is wonderful, to us. It’s a bit strange that that’s wonderful to you, but I get that we haven’t found a social response that isn’t, “Oh. Let me update my mental filofax that reminds me to ask after your wife and not your husband.” I still get asked about him, though. I have had the occasional telemarketer call and ask for Mr. or Mrs. Elisabeth’s last name and I tell them, no, they live in Calgary and hang up.

But it’s getting there. I watched a youtube video and it was a young woman ranting about how when she says “Black is beautiful” she is not saying that white isn’t beautiful too, but we celebrate white beauty everywhere and black people are only traditionally only beautiful if their skin is very light and they have European features. It’s still an act of defiance to say black is beautiful without any qualifiers.

So now that gay marriage is here, those of us fortunate enough to be middle class home owners who were either lucky enough to already have been married or will be married soon. We probably will have jobs where we’re out to our colleagues or when we do come out, the response will be some version of ‘how wonderful’ are just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much injustice left in this world. Some people can still be fired for who they are. They can be kicked out of their homes if they come out to the wrong families or out of their apartments if they rent from the wrong landlord. Teenage suicide is still too high for gay kids who still hear what they are to the core of their being bandied about as though it’s a synonym for stupid or idiotic. If they aren’t white, racism is still alive, well and terrible And most of all, if they aren’t cis well…think about how awful it was that society held all the cruel misconceptions of gay people since ever and realize that most people just transferred all their hatred onto the T of the LBGT. Imagine every single time you have to go to deal with the public, from walking on the street to a public bathroom to your job, your life might be in danger because the wrong person doesn’t like the way you are being yourself.

Just like being gay, it shouldn’t matter if there are genetic reasons or not. No one is able to tell the doctor that they guessed wrong when they assign a sex at birth and they picked the wrong gender. If we could take all the passion that changed people’s mind that got gay people married in my lifetime and aim that at getting society to understand that people is the important word in trans people. That space is important. A trans woman is a woman who is trans just like a short woman is a woman who is short. I don’t understand people who complain that a woman isn’t a woman unless she has been socialized to be one. I had two sisters who were properly socialized to be women and I zagged every time they zigged and yet no one questions my gender identity.

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