Out of the Woodwork

Minnesota…ever a blue state.

We’ve doubled, it seems.  In 2011, the William Institute (UCLA School of Law) estimated that 3 out of every 1000 Americans–a total of 700,000–identified as transgender.  Now, their most recent study suggests that the actual figure is twice as high.  1.4 million, or 0.6%, of Americans identify as transgender.  The vivid blue color of my home state, above, indicates that Minnesota has the highest proportion of transgender residents in the midwest.1

I see this as very, very good news.  At this rate, we will take over the world in less than 40 years, well ahead of schedule.  Long live the transgender agenda!  Chill the champagne and check to see if Lady Gaga is busy in the summer of 2055…

Of course, it might just be possible that the doubled estimate has nothing whatsoever to do with an increase in transgender people.  More mice crawling out of the woodwork could owe to a bumper crop of pinkies,2 but it might also mean that the cat has gone on vacation.  Translation:  it is likely that more transgender people are being identified because they are less afraid to be out.

Being transgender in a small town can be a lonely business, but not everything is as it seems.  Before I came out (somewhat before the 2011) survey, I could have never imagined that there were 20 other trans people in my little hamlet.  If this were the case, why wouldn’t I have already met some?  Such is the ironic reasoning of the closeted individual.  Invisible at the time myself, I wondered that others were not more apparent.

Eventually3 I realized that I hadn’t met other transgender people because I had never tried, and I really wasn’t paying much attention.  Further, I came to grips with the fact that I was afraid to meet others like me.  What if I didn’t like them?

I got out more.  I tried a couple of support groups.  Most of all, I stepped out into the open myself.  There is simply no better way to meet transgender people than to be openly transgender4  Fairly quickly I discovered that belonged to a largish cohort of people that I had never even noticed before.

Additionally, I found that the skill of noticing gets better with practice.  Walking through my town festival last week, I spotted several transgender people in the crowd.  There is sort of a secret nod that increasingly happens.  In my medical practice, I meet upwards of 1000 people every year.  I suppose that my social interactions add a few hundred more.  The current research suggests that about 1 out of every 170 are trans.  I do directly experience that proportion, but I no longer doubt that it is the case.  Not everyone who is trans is noticeably so.  Some are not out at all and are performing their expected gender.  Others have the privilege of passing,5.  And, if I’m honest, most of the time I’m still not paying attention.

I still feel like a zebra among horses, but there really is a degree of strength in numbers.  Besides, one could do far worse than to be a zebra.

  1. But still lags behind “trans-powerhouse” states like Georgia and Texas.  Texas!  I’ll admit that this stings a little…
  2. Baby mice.  Now you know.  You’re welcome.
  3. And through counseling
  4. Or to hang out with someone who is.
  5. Including the majority of trans men.  Damn right I’m jealous guys!

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