I’ve belatedly realised that the time when the media really wants to talk to trans people – the “baby trans” phase when they’ve just come out – is both the easiest and the worst possible time to talk to them.
That’s certainly true in my own case. I was interviewed by a few different people when I first came out, and I was so pleased of the attention that I didn’t bother to check whether I was spouting a load of nonsense. With hindsight, I was.
Everything I knew about trans people was based largely on the opinions of non-trans people and a handful of unrepresentative but visible people I’d encountered on the internet. I’d spent many years being told that a handful of extremists and idiots were representative of all trans people, and when I came out I was keen to distance myself from them.
Please like me! I’m not like those other ones! I’m Audrey Hepburn, not Waynetta Slob!
In the many months since I did those interviews I’ve come to realise that when I talked about anybody who wasn’t me, I was talking out of my arse.
As I’ve read more and listened more I’ve discovered how distorted a picture I’d been seeing and how few voices I’d been hearing. My opinions weren’t based on hearing the experiences of trans people; they were based on the opinions of the people who wrote about trans people in newspapers and magazines or talked about them on radio and TV.
As I’ve since discovered, many of those people are biased or even bigoted against trans people; others just don’t do their homework and regurgitate long-discredited arguments. And some just have bad opinions for money.
I thought I knew it all, but now I realise I didn’t know a damn thing.