Less Than I Would Have Thought, or What I See When I Walk Down the Street

In my travels this evening, I happened to come across a statistic that is actually quite startling, and I would like to bring it to your attention, because I think it is connected to a very important topic.

Some of you are probably aware that I am a transsexual woman. For those of you who are reading my Tumblr for the first time, I hope you were sitting down, and I’m sorry to have to break it to you so suddenly, but it’s true; I am what in our culture’s normative and ciscentric parlance is called a “male-to-female transgender/transsexual woman”.

People like me are fairly rare in our society, although we are less rare than you might think, given all the media hype that surrounds our lives. According to a study undertaken by the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles Law School and published in April of 2011, people like me in one way or another make up approximately 0.3% of the adult population of the United States. This means that there are, approximately, seven hundred thousand (700,000) adult people like me in this country, with a goodly number more who are still minors.

This same study also shows that approximately 3.5% of the adult population identifies as LGBT in one way or another. This compares with 8.2% who have engaged in homosexual activity, and 11% who admit to homosexual attraction. Those last two numbers are just points of interest, but I want to direct your attention to the fact that out of all the people in this country who identify themselves as LGBT, less than 1 in 10 of those people are transgender or transsexual people like me.

Knowing this, it should not then come as a surprise to you that trans people have a difficult time making progress in securing the equal protection under the law of our basic human rights, when we are competing for attention even within the LGBT community, where we are grossly outnumbered by cisgender/cissexual homosexual and bisexual people, whose interests often seem to take priority over our need for legal protection.

Recently, I came across a post here on Tumblr asking the LGBT community to do a better job of recognizing and accepting people of color in our community. An admirable call, to be sure, but there is something that I would like to say about this, as well.

New readers, I am sorry to have to do this to you again, but I must inform you that I am a person of color. Shocking, isn’t it? But that’s not all. I’m not your run-of-the-mill person of color. You see, I’m a special snowflake kind of person of color, if you will, because I am a person of mixed race. I will pause for a moment to allow you to catch your breath; I know that these are difficult concepts to swallow for a lot of people.

People of mixed race are often in a precarious position in our society. If we are not being exotified as “the best of both worlds”, or some other such nonsense, then our existence is often being outright ignored. The few role models we can find to admire often have their heritage erased, as well, such that they are viewed as being of one particular type of background, despite the reality of our lives. Such is an environment in which we hear endlessly that Barack Obama is “the first black President”, despite the fact that he is as much white as he is black. We see Tiger Woods held up as the first black man to dominate in professional golf, despite the fact that his racial background is one of the most diverse that can be found in this country.

It can be very difficult for people like us, because we are expected in an oppositional and racist society to be either fully one thing, or fully another. Our realities are often quite different, having been raised in simultaneous traditions, or living in isolation from one or more of our antecedent cultures. Because of our unusual heritage, we are often not fully accepted in any of those communities, and for those of us raised in isolation from our community of color, we often are left with no touchstones by which to discover our heritage. I have often said of my life that I found it difficult to find dates, because I am too Asian for the white girls, and too white for the Asian girls. I have been lucky to have eventually found a few women who were willing to look past the surface.

Oh dear, I’ve done it again. I’ve just outed myself as a lesbian woman, and an Asian one at that! Well, I should think that by now you ought to be used to these little surprises from me, dear readers. This new fact about me, however, has little to do with what I am trying to convey here, so rest easy for the nonce.

Even within the LGBT community, a community (or communities, if you prefer) which is far more accepting of diversity than the general population, when the issues of people of color are granted space, the needs of people of mixed race are inevitably forgotten.

The statistic I found earlier this evening, the one to which I was referring when I began this post, is that there are, apparently, according to a study originating at California State University, there were only approximately 727,000 people based on data from the 1990 and 2000 US Censuses as being of, like myself, European and Asian mixed descent. That number looks very familiar, doesn’t it?

Trans people are considered fairly rare in our country, but people like me, so-called “Eurasian” people, are just as rare. This makes the approximate prevalence of Eurasian trans people in the United States about 0.3% of 0.3%, or nine ten thousandths of one percent of the population. That’s 0.0009%, or 9 in every 1,000,000 people. Statistically, this means that there are only about 2100 people like me in the entire country. Well, of course, it’s now 2012, so maybe there’s 2700 of us now.

And here I was wondering why I sometimes feel so alone…

2700 out of 8 million LGBT people. 2700 out of 300+ million Usamericans. It’s a big country for people like me, with familiar faces few and far between. As far as I’m concerned, you should all feel lucky to know me. 😀

You know you love me…XOXO, Gemma

(originally posted on my Tumblr)