The T is No Longer Silent!
The English language is one of the most difficult to learn. There are numerous rules of grammar, spelling, and pronunciation, with just as many exceptions to those rules. There are some words that have a silent “T”: listen, castle, soften, often, and fasten. Try pronouncing these words with an emphasis on the “T.” No, really, go ahead and try to pronounce the “T.” Awkward, isn’t it?
It has become apparent that it is just as awkward for the LGB community to pronounce the T that usually accompanies it. The T is usually silent, either by default or design. This can no longer be the case here in Rehoboth Beach.
Friday evening, March 27 brought a surprisingly packed house to CAMP Rehoboth. There was a Transgender Day of Remembrance and Awareness. This is normally recognized on November 20 of each year. March 27 was the date here, because this service was conducted in conjunction with the Delaware Division of Public Health, and in recognition of LGBT Health Awareness Week. It was a very moving ceremony, reading and recognizing the names of so many transgender men and women who were killed over the last year. All died as a result of acts of violence. As each name was read, their state, town and country of residence mentioned, it kept driving home the point that these were real people who died too early in their lives.
Among those who drove a distance to attend this ceremony were trans-friends from Delaware Renaissance, based in Newark, DE. Amanda Jean White is the Outreach Coordinator from this group, and she is particularly interested in establishing an accepted, recognized, and publicized transgender support group in Rehoboth Beach.
While reviewing the website for Delaware Renaissance (delren.org), I came across a picture of Dr. Michelle Angello. She is a psychotherapist in the King of Prussia area of Pennsylvania, who specializes in transgender patient counseling. Michelle was instrumental in helping me come to an understanding and acceptance of my daughter’s transition. She is a true professional, and serves as a resource in many venues. She has taught workshops at the Keystone Conference in Harrisburg, PA, among others.
The “takeaway” that I received from this Remembrance service is that at CAMP Rehoboth, when we talk and plan for LGBT outreach and events, the “T” will no longer be silent. For those transmen and transwomen who attended this service, it was evident that this change was welcome. As difficult as it is to pronounce the silent T, it is time to do so. There are no apologies to the LGB community if Trans-issues make them uncomfortable.
There are many aspects in the life of a transgender person that are uncomfortable. Try using a public restroom, and being the object of many hard stares, or outright confrontation, as you use the bathroom of the gender with whom you identify, rather than the gender to which you were born. This is not a situation where male perverts or male sexual predators wait for their next prey in the women’s restroom. This is a situation where those who identify as female want to use their facilities. Then try to go to work as your identifying gender. If your co-workers have known you as Steve for the last seven years, and one day you show up as Amy, how will you be received? If you live in many of the states in the U.S., you could be outright fired, with no recourse.
I know many gays and lesbians who have had great difficulty coming out to their immediate family. How much greater, do you imagine, is that struggle when you come out to your family as a transgender? I know firsthand that the news of gender transition can be a roadblock to family ties. When my (then) son told me that he was going to become my daughter, I was horrified. I was aghast. I was speechless. I had no point of reference for this information, and it took me a good three to four months to understand and accept my daughter’s decision. That period of time would have been much longer had I not educated myself in trans-issues, and immersed myself in the local trans-culture. This is when I met Dr. Michelle Angello, and she became my angel, as her name indicates. She gave me such insight and acceptance that I was almost embarrassed to have had any doubts in the first place.
So, we come back to the premise of this article. The T is not silent anymore. You will see and hear more from the trans-community in Rehoboth Beach over the coming year. Be ready for it, accept it, open your hearts and minds to the possibility of it. Any disenfranchised part of our community should be welcomed into the fold. This promise comes from the straight father of a beautiful trans-daughter.