No, I haven't seen the movie Dallas Buyer's Club and don't plan to.

It's my wallet that decides what I do these days!


Jared Leto as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. Anne Marie Fox — Focus Features

But in the mean time, I have been reading the on-going negative commentary about the portrayal of the transgender character "Rayon" from the perspective of the trans* community. 

What needs to be taken into consideration is that there is today a generational divide in the trans* community that needs to be understood. For us who are over 55, our experience is vastly different from those in their thirties and forties. And a universe away from those who are in their youth and into their twenties.

I suspect that all the clamor is coming from the younger sets who have not lived through the painful years when we did not have the nomenclature to make sense of our lives. 

In 1980 I was thirty. I had been married for six years and was terrified. I didn't know what I was. That year I came out to my wife. All I could tell her was that I felt inadequate as a man, that I felt feminine and confessed to my secret guilt-ridden cross-dressing episodes and how I needed her to help me fight Satan. Yes, those where my words and that was my mind set. I saw it as a spiritual attack on me as a person and as an attack on a couple of young parents. 

It would be another ten years before I learned that there was a word for this cursed condition. But it would take another ten years for me to be able to apply that label to myself. To have considered myself transgender would have been akin to admitting defeat to the devil. I wanted this to go away. 

Earlier I said I was terrified; let me tell you why: I had no role models and the only "transgender" persons I had seen—from a distance—were the pathetic Rayons. It was them and the drag queens in the media that provided perspective for me and both of these characterizations offered no hope for me. If I was transgender, I was going to be either a joke and a laughing stock, or someone who would be relegated to the margins of society. I preferred death. 

I agree with what Capelinia Addams says, in today's trans* community there is an "elitist hypocrisy" that wants to erase these negative portrayals and reminders of what it was like for our pioneers (italics my words). They were braver than me and it is because of the path they helped to clear that I can speak now from a relative secure position of privilege. I had access to services and help that were not there even twenty years ago. 

While I am uncomfortable with portrayals that depict trans* persons and less than, in this case, the historical perspective needs to be appreciated.

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