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Why it might as well be me who fights for equality in my rural community

Why it might as well be me who fights for equality in my rural community

I’m a bi trans-masculine person living in the rural United States, North Carolina specifically.

It’s very easy for me to say that the community needs improvement and that’s coming from a county in the state that’s actually pretty liberal.

Half of my family is fine with me, though they don’t totally understand. My mom is supportive, her boyfriend is trying his best, my sister gets it, and my cousins have known longer than I have, especially my older one. My aunt and grandma have a little bit of trouble, but they don’t do it to be mean.

However, my dad’s side of the family? They don’t know, and I’m not sure if they ever will.

My problem with my dad’s side is the same problem that I have with most of the community where I live: we are very isolated.

This means we aren’t diverse in any sense of the word, and most people don’t know any better.

You say ‘bi’ and people assume you mean ‘gay’, which is different from them, and so it’s not good.

They don’t know what trans-masculine is. They know one trans person, Caitlyn Jenner, and they still call her by her old name and don’t take her seriously.

And since I live somewhere so isolated, change always comes painfully slowly.

Caitlyn Jenner
Caitlyn Jenner | Photo: YouTube/This Morning

‘Things come to this area slowly’

Some people didn’t have indoor plumbing here until the 1960s or 70s. We didn’t have any internet until I was about five, in 2003. Things come to this area slowly, and that includes new ideas, despite the fact that there’s a university nearby.

The locals think that the university is its own thing – a symbol of people who think they’re better than them.

I get this to an extent, seeing as how a good number of locals still don’t put much stock in education, but it causes problems. If they don’t like education, they don’t like to learn, which only makes them more bitter and ignorant, and the cycle continues.

Now, I can’t say I’ve been attacked physically for my sexuality, or my gender, if people know about it. But I have put up with my fair share.

In high school, strangers couldn’t tell if they should call me ‘fag’ or ‘dyke’, and sometimes they did both.

This didn’t really bother me, since I knew what I looked like and I didn’t know exactly what I was yet. I didn’t like it, especially since I’d been in the Gay-Straight Alliance since I started school, but I could put up with it.

A Gay-Straight Alliance school bus at Seattle Pride
A Gay-Straight Alliance school bus at Seattle Pride | Photo: Flickr / jglsongs Flickr / jglsongs

‘I’m going to have to be an educator’

I always tried my best to be positive, since I knew that if I was the only different person that people might see in the day, I didn’t want their first impressions to be that I was hateful. In a way, I was representing an entire community almost by myself. At least, that’s how it felt.

I was friends with any other queer kids I knew of, but as far as I could tell, and still can, I was the only one who wasn’t their assigned gender.

For a bit in my last year of high school, there were two other people who identified as trans masculine. As it turns out, they are both now happy as women, having figured it out within a year that they were just themselves. I’m happy for them both, since they’re living their lives.

But, now I’m back to being the only masculine queer person I know.

It’s not so bad, since I get along OK with the help of friends I’ve met online.

The only thing that really scares me now is that I’m going to have to be an educator.

If anyone is going to make the acceptance movement go faster in my community, it might as well be me. I doubt it will be the next Stonewall, but it won’t be for nothing. I work with kids and they deserve an accepting future.

Stonewall 50 Voices

The author wished to remain anonymous.

Gay Star News is commemorating 2019 as the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Riots. Our Stonewall 50 Voices series will bring you 50 guest writers from all around the world, with a focus on the diversity of our global LGBTI community. They will be discussing the past, present and future of our struggle for love and liberation.

See also

There is hope for the non-binary community

The Stonewall riots prove you can change the world over night