I recently became aware that it is Transgender Week of Awareness in Canada, which takes place during the week of November 13-19 this year.
Transgender Awareness Week brings trans people and their allies together to learn more about advancing advocacy.
I am committed to being an ally, and educating myself about how to do so in the best way, to any group that is seeking equality and facing oppression. This is not limited to being a trans ally. But this topic is near and dear to my heart, because one of my favourite people is a transgender woman. I was 22 when Jordan was born and she was one of the first babies I spent a lot of time with as an adult. Jordan gave me the nickname “Auntie Uh-Uh” because I sang Barney’s “if all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops, oh what a rain it would be”, and then you stick your tongue and sing “uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh”. Jordan liked to do my hair and play along with the children’s TV show Comfy Couch.
It has been a privilege to watch Jordan grow up and discover her true identity. She has always been an old soul and we have always had a special bond. When she told me that she is a transgender woman when she was 19, it did not come as a surprise to me. I believe I said something to the effect of “you are Jordan and I love you”. And then she told me more about her self-discovery process.
Jordan is now 26 and she is more inspiring than ever. I have watched, with admiration, as she has taken steps to become more comfortable in her body. She has done so with grace, determination and maturity beyond her years. I also know that it has not always been easy. I am sadly aware of the discrimination she can face, on occasion, from people who do not understand, or who “other” people they do not understand. In this respect, my instinct is to make sure she is OK and support her. I also feel it is partly my responsibility to help educate other people, when they are willing to learn, about the transgender experience. I would like to help people understand that transgender people are just like your friends and family members who you have known your whole life and who are the same people inside, regardless of how they express their gender. There is nothing frightening or strange about it if you take the time to understand. If nothing else, I hope people can learn to lead with kindness when facing something they do not understand and respect the wishes of the people involved who are asking for respect.
When I thought about writing something about Transgender Week of Awareness, for this blog, naturally I thought of Jordan, but also that the post should relate to the topic of the blog, which of course is feminist fitness and wellness. The gym is not always a comfortable or safe place for the trans community. This is an issue that has inspired many gyms across North America to create LGBTQ2-positive spaces. Alistair wrote about fitness as a trans man, for the blog, earlier today.
I asked Jordan questions about her experience at the gym and also if there is anything she would like to say about Transgender Week of Awareness. She graciously answered my questions below.
Nicole: How has your experience been at the gym?
Jordan: As a transgender woman going to the gym, my experience hasn’t always been easy…It has taken me years (four to be exact) to get to a place where I felt comfortable as well as familiar with my surroundings. At first it was really hard, because I wasn’t on hormones, I was a little more aware of my body, the gym clothes I could wear in comparison to other girls, and the right amount of makeup that I felt I needed to wear to feel passible while still appropriate for the gym. Over the years, since I have started on hormones, I can wear less face makeup and also have become a bit more familiar with my surroundings, so the novelty of being there and being transgender has faded. I like to keep to myself mostly at the gym, but I have acquired a few acquaintances in the changeroom – women who wave and we chat about our lives briefly – none of them caring about the news of my transgender-ness , just happy to see a familiar face – as it should be.
Nicole: Are there thoughts you would like to share about Trans Week of Awareness?
Jordan: Its great that Trans Week of Awareness exists, to help educate and shine light on the needs of the community. I am happy to live in a world where I am seeing change – slowly but surely – through lived experience as well as though the media. We have come so far as a group of people and a culture, being visible and accessible. However, there is a lot of work to be done still in the world.
I thank Jordan for sharing her thoughts for the blog.
If people are interested, here is a link to some great resources from The519 about being a trans ally: https://www.the519.org/education-training/training-resources/our-resources/creating-authentic-spaces/being-an-effective-trans-ally.