The Duality & Unity of being T
Transgender and Going Home for the Holidays or not
Happy Holidays or is it? Whether you’re ready or not it’s here. Unfortunately at this time of year we should remember those in the transgender community that can’t go home for the holidays. I remember living in Atlanta in the late nineties in midtown, where the neighborhood was well more than half lgbt. I moved from a small town in South Carolina called Hartsville and had never met anyone who was not close to their family. Whether they were gay, lesbian or transgender, most were always welcomed home for the holidays. Even if they were only just tolerated, they were still family.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and chosen one to go home. For Christmas I staid in Atlanta with all my Trans girlfriends. We would gather together, exchange presents, eat and do our performances in the gay clubs of midtown, then party the night away. It was a tradition for many reasons, some girls were estranged from their families. Some had run away from home years prior and had not seen families since. Others had been disowned by their families, all for similar reasons, they wanted to be themselves. Being transgender had left countless girls unable to love or be loved by family. For some of my friends in those days it was just simply too difficult to be around their family. They were still welcomed but the tension and arguments when they returned gave them little reasons to want to go back, so overtime they returned home less and less for family gatherings. For me in those days my main issue with family was respecting the chosen pronoun that fit my appearance. Other than that I can’t honestly say I did not enjoy seeing family even though sometimes frustrating. So thanksgiving was the time I did see them and had chosen to spend Christmas with my many friends that didn’t have a choice. I wasn’t the only one who chose to stay with friends many of my other girlfriends had chosen to spend christmas together also.
But Christmas week 1998 I’ll never forget. It was the day I met my first homeless transgender. It was a couple days before Christmas eve and I was doing what my mom and I always do before Christmas, a total cleaning of the house, laundry and then began cooking with friends our holiday dinner. It was an early Monday morning, cold and about two inches of snow was on the ground that year in Atlanta. Thankfully I only had a short distance from my apartment to the apartment laundry facility. I carried my little basket and ran across the courtyard and thru my clothes in the washer. When I turned to place my basket on the table I jumped. There lying on the floor was a girl I’ve seen at times in the neighborhood. I didn’t know her name but knew her face. I asked her, “what you doing there? You didn’t pass out drunk last night did you?” I’ll never forget her looking up from under that table, with one of those thin blue blankets you see your grandmother have that seem to date back to the 1970’s. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I didn’t have nowhere else to go girl.” My mouth dropped and I remember I was about to cry thinking for god’s sake it was Christmas time. I knew my roommate Coco wouldn’t mind either, so I told her, “girl get your but up from under there and come inside.” To this day I can’t remember her real name but my roommate and I at the time called her Zoe and every time to this day If I run into her , and sometimes I do still, she calls out hey momma.
Zoe staid with us for two weeks, working the clubs and streets tricking until she had enough money to get a weekly at a hotel. She was only 19, two years younger than me and had not seen her family since she was kicked out by her step father for dressing as a female when she was only fourteen. She had spent most of those years since living off and on the streets. As time went on in life, occasionally I’d meet another Zoe here, there or hear a friend tell me of a Zoe they had met. I’d like to think those days are gone and there’s not anymore Zoe’s out living on the streets, but that would be wishful thinking. These days I’m not surrounded by many of the dozens of Trans girlfriends I once had. Some have passed on due to Aids. Others would later be found murdered or missing to this day. A few lucky ones moved on to different cities like I did. A handful remained now, adult Tran’s females with their own careers, boyfriends and living life after sex reassignment surgery.
Hopefully for most trans-people this holiday season will be enjoyed with family or close friends. For some it maybe your first time going home as the new you. If you can go then go, you may have to remind a few people of the correct pronouns. You may have to tell that conservative bigoted uncle a piece of your mind, but it’s worth it. Christmas night you may even find yourself in bed, full of tears, because someone was very ugly to you. But if the overwhelming amount of your family is glad you came, it’s worth it. If it’s too much to bear to go home or you are one that hasn’t seen family in years, get with your group of friends and the new family you’ve made for yourself in life and enjoy them. Ignore the one that thinks she’s prettier than you even though you know she isn’t, give her especially, an extra hug. And let’s all remember how lucky we are even if we only have one person to spend the holidays with, know you are blessed. And while we are rejoicing think of the Zoes of the world, if you know of a Zoe in your neighborhood invite her to dinner, or take her a small gift, let her know while she may feel that she is alone in the world just trying to be herself that she’s not. This week so many transgender people will be alone, cold and hungry. Young and old that have found themselves alone in a hostile world. Even if you don’t see one, it doesn’t mean you can’t have them in your prayers this holiday season. It is for God’s sake, Christmas.
Sabrina Samone, TMP
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