Celebrating the beauty of being Trans

Our Senior Consultant, Matheus Carvalho, contemplates the unfair treatment of the trans community and how so many in the trans and non-binary communities have courageously chosen authenticity over the pressure to conform.

There is a moment in the recent Elliot Page interview hosted by Oprah where the presenter asks the actor “What is it like to walk in that space of you”, referring to Page’s recent experience of transitioning. Page breaks into a smile, his face lights up, and he answers “Well, it is this interesting dichotomy in a way where in some level it just feels like the most miraculous, amazing thing. And then also it is sort of the experience of… ‘Oh, there I am! Oh, there I am!’.”

In an interview filled with beautiful and emotive moments, this may be the one that stayed with me the most. The beauty of seeing someone’s joy at finding their true self. The admiration of looking at someone who is ready to embrace who they truly are. The joy of seeing someone experiencing the happiness of looking in the mirror and seeing someone who represents their real identity, and who is on a journey of understanding who they really are.

And that is absolutely beautiful.

The experiences of the trans community

Feeling amazing. Feeling authentic. Feeling real. Aren’t these feelings that any of us wish to experience ourselves? Aren’t these feelings that any of us would wish for those that we love and care for? And yet, why does punishment come again and again to a community who goes through an experience that, unfortunately, many people out there do not give themselves the opportunity to have. I am talking about the experience of holding a mirror in front of you and asking yourself: who am I? Who do I truly represent when I look at myself in the mirror or interact with others? Is this who I truly am, or is this a version of myself that has been shaped by the expectations of others?

These are some of the themes I see coming up again and again when I speak to or hear from the Trans community. This is deep stuff. And it is also complex. And it can be painful. The experience of finding oneself is not always an easy one for anyone out there. And despite all the pain, many Trans people out there have chosen the path of courage: the path of living life as their true selves, of embracing who they really are. Like Elliot Page, the experience of looking at oneself in the mirror and being able to say ‘Oh, there I am!’.

Being a trans and non-binary ally

As a trans and non-binary ally, I am in total awe of this courage. Growing up a gay boy in a very conservative part of Brazil, I am very aware that, in order to survive, much less thrive, I have felt the need to conform to gender norms and gender expectations: ways of behaving, ways of dressing, ways of being. I felt the need to buy into the heteronormal dream, the nonsense of dolls for girls, action figures for boys, pink for girls, blue for boys, dance and gymnastics for girls, football for boys. I felt this never represented me. And yet as a survival mechanism, many times I conformed and let my persona be shaped by society’s expectations on who I should be. And I see this happening to so many of us in the LGBTQ+ community – subconsciously and consciously being forced to conform and assimilate to gender and societal norms that do not represent our true essence.

And now as an adult man I look at my friends and familia in the Trans and Non-Binary communities – so many who chose not to conform to what they were told was better for them. So many people who chose courage and authenticity over conformity, often at the cost of relationships with family and friends. Many people who give themselves the opportunity to ask themselves: “what’s the real and authentic version of me?”.

Questions and reflections that all of us would benefit immensely from asking ourselves on a regular basis. However, society still fears people and communities who choose to be real, who choose to be authentic. And that forces us to conform. The maturity required to understand oneself, the courage needed to embrace who you truly are in spite of all odds, the beauty of being the real you and not another person’s version of you. Instead of serving as fodder for prosecution, aren’t these qualities we should be celebrating?

It is clear we still have much to learn from the Trans and Non-Binary communities.

If you would like further advice on how your organisation can support your trans, non-binary and all LGBTQ+ colleagues, please get in touch.

You can read Inclusive Employer’s Statement for Trans Inclusion here.