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Transgender identity and intersex

Being invisible

As a transgender/transsexual male to female, I have felt the pain of being "invisible." I have lived as a female for about 16 years now, but situations still occur when I feel the pain of invisibility. The pain can sometimes come from those you want to feel close to.

I love my mother, my sister and my brother. Dad has passed on, but he accepted me more and more and had become one of my strongest allies. Unfortunately, the rest of my family seems to have a conditional type of love for me.

Dad suddenly understood my "pain of invisibility" when we talked about going to my aunt's funeral. Dad said that perhaps I should not come because I might be a distraction from the family paying final respect to my aunt. I told my father that I understood and that he didn't have to worry. I also told him that when he becomes old and ill, I won't embarrass him in front of his friends by coming to visit him in the hospital or by going to his funeral. Then I said, "goodbye" and hung up the phone. Dad called me right back and apologized repeatedly. From then on, he was vocal in introducing me to his friends, praising me for being the best teacher, and even introducing my lesbian partner to his friends with a smile.

Dad has been gone for almost five years now, but mom reminded me of my "painful invisibility" a few days ago. Mom needed a ride to a country location, which meant a round trip of about three to four hours. When we arrived, a large number of my mom's friends were gathered around, happily saying hello to her. Suddenly, the familiar feeling came back. I had glances from individuals, a few whom I had known, but several I had never met. Mom did not introduce me to anyone and neither did any of her friends.

Why is that painful? Mom treated me as though I were invisible, which was comfortable for her. It didn't matter that I had been a successful teacher for a few decades. It didn't matter that I was in graduate school at university. It didn?t matter that I had taken half a day to treat my mother with love and respect. I was "invisible" because it was more comfortable for mother that way.

Being a trans person has many moments of pain. Unfortunately, being invisible is just another one of those all-too-familiar moments.

About this article:

The above article is reprinted with the author's permission.

Carol Allan has taught with Edmonton Public Schools (EPS) for 27 years. She has experience in elementary, junior high, and adult upgrading. During a sabbatical in 2003/04, Carol completed a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology at the University of Alberta. Carol is transsexual/transgendered, male to female. She taught for 12 years as a male and for 15 years as a female.

Similar articles and publications are available from the Alberta Teachers' Association web site on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Readers may also wish to order a copy of the special double issue of Canadian Woman Studies (Volume 24, Numbers 2,3). The issue is a great reference on LGBTQ issues in Canadian and other contexts across a variety of topics.

Transgender identity and intersex


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