Our broad transgender tapestry

Rachel Saunders
5 min readAug 20, 2020

In the mists of time a surgeon died, his corpse revealing a gender secret kept close to his chest, and airing his assigned female at birth. His story floats amongst the many transgender narratives, ones that we have at the corners of our vision, but somehow lost in the many comings out and passionate narratives that filter through in the 2020s. We have always existed, always served, bled, and died for causes as varied as the American Civil War and simply our identities in the face of the Nazi regime. To say we are one voice is to disposes each of us, for we are a broad tapestry of lived experiences. Our narratives are as bold and bright as the noon day sun, yet just as quickly ushered into the shadows because we don’t quite fit any one simple idea of what gender binary transgression actually is. Ours is the fabric of time, the colourful thread of pain and ecstasy, woven together in a patchwork that tells a million lives. We use the shorthand of transgender because it is the label that simply ‘fits’ what society needs it to, yet we are so much more than that.

That we have been pathologised and medicalised, cut and sliced, sectioned in mental hospitals, and gassed in chambers hardens our steel. On the streets we walk, mace in hand, sharp to the ways that would bloody us into graves. Ours is the risk of honesty, daring to express our personal truths: we are women, men, non-binary. We transgress what is expected of us, we shiver in the long night of abuse, yet rise again in the warmth of the day. We face down the gun, the knife, the hand, the cutting word, hoping for relief, yet cut lip is sometimes the best of a very bad situation.

Ours is the glory of knowing who we are, knowing, but scared. We speak our personal truth in the best hope that you will accept who we are, accept that we are more than just the label assigned at birth. We put on that suit, wear that dress, cut our hair, shade our eyes, remoulding our form to better suit who we know we are. Ours is the tapestry cut from the fabrics you weave, sometimes ill-fitting even with the pronouns you are comfortable we. In the fullness of hope we wish and prey that you will show us the hand of acceptance, not fists raised in anger and spite. You see it in our eyes, hoping, pleading, please let me be me on my terms, not what you dictate.

In the allies we walk, keys in hand, hard lessons taught by those who came before. You broke the bodies, shattered their minds, locked them up for daring to speak. Those are the giants whose shoulders we stand on. Those are the candles we light in memory. They are weft upon which our tapestry is continued, soaked in blood, yet bathed in the light. Ours are lives passionate, full of boundless possibilities if you would just let us be, for we do not want to rip apart your ideals, just want to exist in our own spaces.

We, this word of us. It encompasses so much more than any one, yet is filled to the brim with tales of daring do and adventures that are never heard. We climbed Everest, flew alongside princes, spun your favourite tunes on the radio. We invented computers, won games world championships, and modelled for your favourite brands. In all our diversity we touch your lives, in light and in shadow. You may not know any trans people, but you have indirectly been touched by their work, you just don’t know it. In living our lives in hope we are greater than the sum of a label; we love, we cherish, we dream, and we enrich the world. In the pantheon of life we sit on the bus next to you, answer your queries, fight your wars. We serve, we bleed, we die. Just like you.

Our tapestry is woven by fated hands, entwined as it is with yours. In hues of pink, white, and blue we fly and soar, cut down in anger and hate. You may wish us gone, abominations before your lord, yet without us the world is such grey. Transgender is an all-encompassing word, scary to some, maybe to you. Yet, it has beauty in being. We are not the boggy people of dystopia, some mis-begotten spawn sent to tempt your child into a twilight existence. It is a twilight of your making, your rejection, your pain, for if you let us shine we are a radiant tapestry bold and true. You carve our crosses, foisting them onto our backs daily, yet when you let us put those burdens down we stand shoulder to shoulder with you.

When you smash our bodies is does not solve our identities, for what is there to solve? Just as water quenches your thirst our gender expression salves our core being. Hated and misinformation only serve to divide, while acceptance and embracing us enriches all our lives. We sit next to you on the train, write your newspaper columns, teach your children, prey to the same gods as you do, for we are part of the amazing human tapestry as you. Our tapestry is your tapestry, for us is truly everyone. By hating and wailing on trans folk you only harm what enriches us all. We are a broad community, yet each of us is a singular experience living fulfilling lives. In accepting this society becomes stronger and more vibrant, allowing trans folk to exist without fear or punishment.