With soaring immigration movements of Asians to the U.S., up to 25.4% of Asian immigrants and Asian Americans have chosen to marry other ethnic groups. Also, a great number of researches and studies has done to discuses dynamics of transnational relationships in the U.S, aiming to address whiteness and English hegemony in their relationship outcomes. However, LGBTQ persons and their “lived experience” have been left out of the circle.
Today is a very special day for me. The date as I write this article is March 31st, 2020. As an LGBTQ+ person, there is a lot of purport in those numbers—but in my case it is not necessarily what you’d think. Yes, today is Transgender Day of Visibility. And yes, that plot point is relevant here. But the full story begins three vast years ago, in the early hours of March 31st, 2017…
Being gay in your teens is hard. Being gay in your 20s is complex. So, myself ten years ago thought that when I reached 30, my life would get kinda sorted much, much better. You would have time to hang out with a bunch of close friends; you go out and drink socially, listening to old bros’ predictable lame jokes. Life, in essence, would get simpler.
“Now class, let’s talk about LGBT rights,” Mr. Brady announces. He opens a PowerPoint presentation with a photo of Ellen DeGeneres waving a pride flag on the first slide. Whispers and murmurs erupt from the back of the room. “Would you care to tell us what’s so amusing?” Mr. Brady glares at a group of boys huddled around a single desk. They turn towards him and shake their heads. “Okay then. Shall we continue?” The boys nod and remain silent.
Four years ago a story of mine featured in Queer Stories called, “Coming Out. Not As Simple As It Seems.” In that story I held some punches, tried to describe my journey up to that point, and overall wanted to depict how coming out is not always self-actualising. However, time stops for no one, and as you get older you grow, your reflections become clearer — even if your eyesight doesn’t! I’d like to take an opportunity to elaborate on my story, show some resolutions, and express some reflections that I have gained in the four years since.
I have always had exposure to the LGBTQ+ community. I have LGBTQ+ friends and family members, my school does not discriminate against anyone from coming to learn and is openly supportive, and my parents did not shy away from making me aware that people could change their gender or love anyone they chose. However, in my first year of middle school, when I finally began to question if I was entirely straight, I found myself totally alone.
I was raised as a female until I came out to my family as transgender when I was a teenager, and although my parents instilled in my siblings and I a strong sense of agency, society instilled in me the belief that my pain was not to be taken seriously. Any outburst of emotion was to be seen as merely hysteria, and if something were to happen to me, the first question should be what did she do to deserve it? This was reinforced by comments such as “That’s the kind of outfit girls get raped in,” made by my grandfather in reference to a high school girl, and questions like “Are you on your period?” or “Have you taken your medication?” whenever I expressed strong emotions.