Demonstrating at Denver’s first Trans Pride March on Aug. 9, 2020. Photo Courtesy of Diane Jones.
by Diane Jones
There is a pounding at the front door. My spouse opens the door just a crack, and asks, “May I help you?”
The stranger at the door replies in a stern voice, “Is this the home of (insert dead name here)?” My spouse replies, “I don’t know you, and it’s none of your business.” The stranger then continues, “Well, we know what’s going on here, and you need to get the hell out of the neighborhood!” The stranger storms off and speeds away in his car.
At the next table in a restaurant, two young men are dining. As I go to pick up our order, one says to the other, “That makes me sick. Look at that, who does he think he’s fooling? We should kick the s**t out of him when he leaves!”
This is what it is like to be a transgender woman in Fort Collins, Colorado. Don’t get me wrong, I love our town, and have lived here most of my life. But I never realized just how many prejudices there are in our town, until I became part of an underrepresented group myself.
Now I know a lot of you may jump on me about this and say, “But you are white, aren’t you? How can you possibly understand prejudice in our town?” Yes, that is true, I cannot know what it is like to be a person of color. However I do understand what it is like to suddenly stand out in a crowd, and be ostracized for who I am.
You see, when you are trans, there is nowhere to hide. Not that I want to hide, I am out and proud, but a large part of the status quo does not agree with it or understand it. I get pointed at, stared at, laughed at, whispered about, or just plain ignored. I hear comments like, “You see her over there? That’s a dude!” or simply a head shaking “Damn!”
Misgendering hurts me the most, although it seldom happens anymore. I try to not let these things bother me, and after a while I wear it like a badge of honor. Bigotry is not my fault, it is the fault of the person who possesses it. They are the ones with the problem, and I can hold my head high, be the better person, and be proud that I have the courage to be my true self.
It isn’t all bad, though. Our town is more than the discrimination and bigotry I mentioned before; it is also a town full of love and acceptance. I was able to come out on the job to an amazing majority of acceptance. I have met new and wonderful friends that have accepted me with open arms. There hasn’t been any violence towards me, and I generally feel safe anywhere I go. This town has a great LGBTQ+ community and is very supportive of one another. The Pride marches are filled with mostly acceptance and support, and I see people openly expressing their identities wherever I go.
We must all aspire to let go of our prejudices and try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. I do have the unique insight of going from a privileged white male to a discriminated-against transgender woman, which has opened my eyes to the hatred some people possess. If only everyone could experience life from both sides like I have, perhaps they would love and accept one another more. I know I sure do.
I guess you could say I have transitioned.
Diane Jones (she/her/hers) is a middle-aged transgender woman who has lived in Fort Collins for nearly 40 years. She transitioned in 2019 and has been living happily as her true self ever since.
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