By Nandini Parikh
There is an uprising anti-transgender violence that is happening in society because gender is a construct, according to a gender non-conforming writer and performance artist.
“You have the power to write your own reality,” Alok Vaid-Menon said.
Vaid-Menon spoke on Oct. 20 on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s “Racing Toward Justice” series which raises awareness for racial and social injustices as part of UW-Eau Claire’s Center for Racial and Restorative Justice program.
Vaid-Menon seeks a world in which LGBTQ communities are not dismissed as unreal for differing from society’s gender stereotypes, they said.
They have first-handedly experienced this disproval from society by social media hate comments judging them for their self-expression through their body hair, as they said on their website note “I am trying very hard.”
The note describes the misjudgment they’ve encountered for wearing “feminine clothing” on their “masculine body,” they said.
Vaid-Menon says in their writing that they’re trying to continue their individualism by teaching society to break the dehumanizing gender constructs that cause LBGTQ communities to internalize their pride.
Anti-transgender violence isn’t existent because LBGTQ communities lack qualities; they’re attacked because they’re living (or celebrating their self-expression), they said. They said that LGTBQ objectors are bothered that transgender individuals escaped the confinements society has created regarding what’s considered feminine or masculine to have freedom.
Society has taught men to hide their feelings because openly expressing them is deemed unmanly as a social construct, they said.
Vaid-Menon explained that transgender individuals should prioritize their well-being over focusing on gender norms to grow into their individualities. This mindset shift builds happiness that is essential to living, they said. They mentioned they live their life to the fullest to ensure that they’ve always lived glamorously because the future is unpredictable.
They shared several tips to become an LGBTQ-friendly activist for individuals who are unaware of LGBTQ communities’ backgrounds to create a more inclusive world:
- Be accepting of unknowing, but also be accepting of reform.
- Be active in reaching out to others for help.
- Be surrounded with diverse people to learn from their differences.
Vaid-Menon shared a historical anecdote of individuals who were prejudiced for their cultural practices to explain racial gender inequalities. Indian individuals were mistreated for their physical appearances by the gender norms white supremacists created, they said. They said that white individuals misidentified Indian men as women for the long hair under their turbans and misidentified Indian women as men for their body hair.
This is a false representation of reality that white individuals projected onto those diverse groups, they said. They described that escaping that projection is shaping own realities that encompass individuality, like living life to the fullest.
They relate to this history because it gives them comfort to see others have previously gone through similar injustices within their race. It also channeled into their poetry work because it’s given them “self-authorship” over their identity, Vaid-Menon said.
“I’m not single. I’m in an intimacy with history,” they said.