I regularly pick up shows I never watched before, download the whole series, and binge watch it to completion. Recently, I picked up Seinfeld. Yup, I never watched this show before. I never even caught a single episode. Not sure why not.
I noticed something horrible watching Seinfeld, though: This show can, at times, be horrifically ableist! There are so many episodes mocking people with disabilities or refusing to believe others are disabled and fucking with them to find out if they’re honest about it (even stealing a guy’s hearing aid in one). This is truly repugnant!
I’m really sad that I’ve basically been enjoying the show only to find this vile secret buried into various episodes. Has anyone else noticed these moments?
Is this just something that Seinfeld himself believes? Has he mentioned this crap in stand up before? I’m just so baffled by this hateful stuff in such a popular show.
I don’t get why I still get messages about hating cis people. I haven’t even talked about cis people in a long, long time. Most of my posts are arguments regarding issues within the trans community. It’s come to a point where I probably delete a message a day about hating cis people almost daily.
I grew up in a society/culture that constantly insinuated that my existence is an abomination. That I was to be the punch line to the joke. That I wasn’t a living, breathing person, but someone mentally unstable that needed to be beaten and abused until I fit into the “correct path,” or as my grandmother loved to say “God’s planned path for you.” I could not escape this lingering concept that I was abnormal, that I shouldn’t exist. At home, it was drove in hard by the mocking I encountered. At school, it was reinforced through teachers, coaches and peers. I simply wanted a more feminine nickname once in Junior High, it lead to massive amounts of ridicule. Also in Junior High, I wanted to feel better about myself, so I shared some pictures of me in feminine demeanor to a friend. That friend shared them with someone else. I was then blackmailed into sexual activities. Allowing someone to rape me seemed like the safer option than allowing the school and my parents to find out that I was a girl. In high school, I hid it. I tried to erase it. I tried to tell myself I’d never think that way again. It didn’t work. It only hurt me more. And, despite that the punchlines were no longer about me specifically, the stigma against trans women was able to be felt hard in high school.
Home and school were unsafe. Television was also unsafe. Trans women are such a common punchline on television shows that it’s a trope. You can find it in any level of television; from The Simpsons, to Scooby Doo, to even Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Where else to escape? The movie theaters? Where trans women roles are filled by cis men, where we’re still treated as fetishists and abominations? Where people think a sex change is some kind of great joke (I’m looking at you 22 Jump Street)? As a kid, as a teenager, and still as an adult, these things hurt. It reminds me of all the things I’ve gone through in life; the abuse, the hatred, and it angers me. It angers me that even today, I am still the punchline to your joke.
I have lived for 23 years. 23 years of being society’s punchline. But, I did not grow up alone. There have been people before me. There are people after me. While I experienced these stigmas, these jokes, these hurtful words; you, the cis people in our lives, have too. But, you’ve taken them differently. You may have abuses in your lives, you may have dehumanization in your life, but being that you’re cis, you have not experienced the abuse and the dehumanization connected to being trans. Which means, that at the end of the day, you did not comprehend the stigma the ways I did. The ways that we do. You laugh at these jokes. You crack them yourselves. You invest in this media. You make them the most popular forms of entertainment around. Even the cis people most open minded to trans issues still partake in elements that see us as a punchline, and typically don’t realize it.
When I’m in public, and I need to use a restroom, I typically don’t. Why? Because I’m afraid. Panic starts in. "Is the person who’s going to kill me in there?" "Which one do I use…which one won’t get me killed?" "I can’t go in there. he [my rapist] is there." I would much rather piss myself than use a public bathroom. At least then, I’d still be alive. Someone can kill me for using the restroom, and get away with it. Someone can kill me for any reason and get away with it. In a world where there’s a defense called “Trans panic” that actually absolves people of murder, how can I trust you? In a world where two trans women are attacked and stripped on a train while onlookers laugh about it, how can I trust you? My whole life has taught me you’re not to be trusted. That your nice words are a ruse, trying to get me comfortable, right before you pull the punchline - my murder or my rape.
I’ve lived my life thinking I was a joke. It wasn’t until I was 18 and in high school that I started to be a bit more open about myself. I had decided I would ride out any femininity I had, and once it was gone, I would kill myself since there was no where else to go in my life. But, I met someone. Someone who was so beautiful and wonderful to me. We started dating and it was magical, I felt so at ease. When he told me he was a trans guy, I finally felt like I could trust a piece of this world. I squealed that I was a girl. I probably didn’t call myself a trans woman. Hell, I probably wasn’t even honest about it right away. it probably started as “I’m a crossdresser” or some shit like that, until I felt more at ease with myself to say it. Finally, after 18 years of my life, I didn’t feel like a joke, I felt good about myself.
It was a sweet, sweet validation that probably saved my life. And, it took another trans person to give it to me. Cis people have never given me validation on my identity. Cis people have never made me feel like a human. Cis people have never seen my sisters and I as more than a joke.
I don’t hate cis people. I fear cis people. I hate everything that the fear entails.
This is the goddamned truth.