As I continue my journey toward being the best possible advocate for anyone with a marginalized identity, I’ve been more and more intrigued by the journey travelled by those who are transgender. The T in LGBTQ (I, A, etc.) stands for transgender and the generally accepted definition of that term is anyone who may have an internal self-identity that doesn’t necessarily correlate with the gender they were assigned at birth.
Folks who are transgender, I’ve learned, often experience constant confusion about why they feel this way and once they come to accept their personally-defined gender role, they can develop means of trying to live a more authentic life, not conforming necessarily to what society has defined them as. It’s the definition of a struggle.
I relate to that struggle in (what I think is) a strange way, as my I’ve had conflicts all my life with my body not necessarily always performing or doing what I would prefer it to do as a person with a physical disability (paraplegia).
As an advocate, I’ve learned over the years that the best thing you can do for someone is simply be present as a support system for them. That’s why I’ve spent time reading more and more and therefore learning more and more about the challenges that people who are transgender face, so that I can be a better advocate and support in those situations for people that I know and love.
One of the most direct influences and exposures I’ve had through this journey is easily Jazz Jennings, a young girl who is a well-known trans activist, too. I’ve watched both seasons of her show that comes on TLC (I Am Jazz), which chronicles her successes, struggles, and interactions with everyday life as a growing teenager who also happens to be trans. I ended up on her YouTube channel and discovered the video below, and wanted to share it with you all. The narrative is inspiring.
“Painting Leah: A Short Film by Jazz Jennings” depicts a young artist who comes out to his mother using his passion and talents as a painter. It’s moving to watch. From the creation of the painting, to the dramatic journey down the stairs to where he knows his mother is waiting, he eventually comes out to her as trans, with his trans name being “Leah,” hence the title.
Take 3 or 4 minutes to check out the video. If you understand the narrative behind it and have compassion for those who are a part of the trans community, I can almost guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.