Transgender identity and intersex
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
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.