The Philosophy of “Oooh”
There’s almost nothing I won’t discuss with people about my transition. There’s a couple of things that are a bit too private but not much. I’ve never done the two-lives thing where I presented one way in certain situations and another way in other situations. I don’t hide the changes to my body, ever. If someone calls me a faggot, I correct them by telling them that I’m actually a dyke. I mean, if you’re going to use a schoolyard taunt, use the right one. I then watch their heads explode.
I call this the Philosophy of “Oooh.” The name comes from the sound that many make when they realize I’m trans, “O-o-oh.” It’s more of an elongated “oh” like “oh, shit” than “ooh” like “ooh, baby baby.” It’s the sound of realization, of confirmation and sometimes of approbation and sometimes of condemnation. It’s not always verbal. Often, it’s a look in the eyes when someone finally gets close enough to make out the details of my appearance.
I tend to think of this as an anagram for “Out, Open, Obvious and Honest.” (It should probably be “The Philosophy of O-O-OH” then.) I’m out. Everyone who knows me, friends, family, coworkers, my bartender and barista, all know that I’m trans. I’m open. Like I said above, I’m willing to answer just about any question about being trans or my transition. I’m obvious. I never try to disguise my trans status. Frankly, it’s not like I could with that face. And I’m honest, not only about myself but the way people relate to me and the way I’m treated by society. It makes people uncomfortable sometimes but I believe it’s necessary for our society to move forward.
Why do I do this? Because I can and so many others can’t. There are trans people in this country and around the world who have to conceal themselves. They live double lives because they will face discrimination and possibly be attacked for being trans. They have to cover up when their chests develop or shave uncomfortably close and wear makeup when their beards start to come in. If they wear the clothes that our culture says a person of their gender identity should wear, it’s as good as painting a target on their backs. They have to deny allegations that they are who they are because being who they are will get them beaten in certain company.
They never do this because they want to be deceitful. They’re never trying to pull the wool over your eyes so that they can benefit from you, trick you. They do it because of fear, the fear of cis people.
In the United States, trans people are twice as likely to be unemployed because there are few laws protecting them from being fired for no other reason than being trans. Trans people of color are four times as likely to be unemployed than cisgender people. In 2014, LGBTQ people became the group most likely to be the victims of a hate crime, more likely than Jews, Muslims or black people. Seventy-two percent of anti-LGBT violence is directed at trans women. Seventy-eight percent of trans kids report being bullied in school. Fifteen percent of them report the bullying comes from teachers. Forty percent of the homeless population are members of the LGBTQ community. They are there because their families bully them to the point that they feel they have to leave or their families outrightly throw them out of their homes if they find out that they are queer.
I haven’t had to deal with any of that. I’m out to my family and while they may not be totally happy about it, they are trying to accept me. I work in an accepting environment and the university has gone out of its way to make my transition easy from the employment and insurance side of things. My friends accept me. In fact, I’ve had many offers to go bra shopping or to do my makeup. (I think they’re trying to tell me something.)
In short, I am in a privileged position in the trans community. I can live my day to day life with less danger than many others. Don’t get me wrong, I still worry about being randomly attacked on the street or in a bar. That’s why I don’t go out that much. Compared to others, though, I’m living the high life.
I think it’s the responsibility of those who can live an open and obvious life to do so, to follow the Philosophy of Oooh. The lives of trans people aren’t going to get better until we start normalizing what it is to be trans. I live openly and obviously because I’m rather boring. I want people to see that I’m rather boring, rather normal. Maybe if a few people get used to me and others living openly, then the lives of those who can’t be open will get a bit better.