Humans, by nature, are imperfect. In fact, human is almost synonymous with imperfection. However, minorities are held to the idea of perfect. They must be poised, well-spoken, and perfect, down to their very person, at all times. They are expected to be willing to educate at a moments notice, willing to engage, and willing to explain. They must be a single example of the perfect model of who they and others like them can be. They must be able to be put on a pedestal for others to admire and aspire to. Of course, these ideals are always created and upheld by the majority.
I can only speak on this from a trans/cis perspective, however it seems to be something that is pervasive among other marginalized groups. However, I will not be speaking on this for obvious reasons. I will be focusing on standards and ideals imposed on trans people, trans lives, and trans narratives from here on out.
The moment a trans person walks out the door, they are expected to be fighting. A trans person cannot simply go shopping without expecting to be fighting transphobia and cissexism. We cannot go to the movies to simply enjoy a movie. Our every word and our every action is meant to be something that is working towards acceptance. We cannot vent. We cannot cry. We cannot express anger. These are things that ‘good’ people do not express. We are expected to be perfect, all day.
Our every action is scrutinized, as if our every action is meant to be an act fighting our oppression. Trying on clothing is meant to be something to validate our identities. We simply cannot exist. We simply cannot exist as people. While the very action of us waking up and being outside and visible is an act of rebellion and revolution, that is simply because we are told by society we don’t exist and if we do, we should be dead. This is not an open invitation to treat our existence as a constant fight. Just like all humans, we get tired. We experience fatigue. We want breaks. We want reprieve.
However, these things are so often deemed unacceptable. We are expected to live our lives as walking encyclopedias. We are expected to live our lives as a 24/7 struggle against everything. We are met with constant scrutiny. “If you didn’t do this”, “why don’t you do this?”, “why are you so mad?” are a few questions asked daily. Our lives are expected to be on audio book, on play for anyone to listen. We are expected to gush, tell, all at the whim for whoever will listen. Our existence is supposed to cater and attract whatever allies we can get, no matter how horrible they are at actually fulfilling that role.
These things are not expected of the majority. Their singular existence is not supposed to be representative of all people like themselves. Only the marginalized are expected to speak and act for thousands like themselves. They are not supposed to carry just their own weight, but the weight of everyone like them, everyone who may come with the same label they do. They must hold their own, while the weight of countless others piles on, as well as the weight of oppression and scrutiny. Cis people, especially cis white men, are not expected to speak for all like them. They are not expected to display perfection. In fact, they do not have a category labeled “like those OTHER people”.
For you see, it is almost as if our lives aren’t our own. Our lives, their stories, and their voices are for the majority. We are meant to attract those who will support us, but only in the ways they approve of. If not, they are to drop us like infested creatures in case they catch whatever disease called oppression we may face. Society places the burden of existence on our backs, placing the blame on us when we stumble, praising us when we conform, and chastising us when we fail. Cis people murder us for existing. Cis people pass laws about our bodies and how we can control them. Cis people even pass laws as to where we can use the bathroom. However, the burden of fighting, attracting, and changing is all placed on our backs. We are the ones who need to play the roles as they are given, no matter how many contradictions are given.
These people police our bodies. Then they police our voices. They police our expressions. They police our lives. They police our narratives. They police us down to the very ways we walk and talk. We are expected to accept this policing with praise and kindness. We are expected to let it be. We are not to dismantle or question it, or our very right to exist will be called into question. It is this system, this holding of accepting over our heads like we are dogs, that happens when allies expect us to be perfect. If we are imperfect, or as the case may go, simply human, away this acceptance and support goes. The rug is pulled from under our feet. We are expected to dance for whatever we can get.
There are these notions of what we should be and how we should act, even if these very notions create double standards that devalidate us while trying to validate our identities, as if our identities needed any outside validation but our own. We are expected to be a monolith, and not just any monolith, but one of perfection. We must conform. We must accept. We must bend to whatever whim cis people have of us, for they hold our lives in our hands. This is not figurative either. These are the people who grant us medical care, are our friends, family, our support structures. These are the people with whom most of us build our lives around because they are the majority. They are the people who hold our very humanity in their hands.
However they may see us, we are imperfect because we are human. This idea of perfection and the idea of the model example must die. We must be recognized for our humanity, which includes our imperfections and our flaws. They are what make us human. Sometimes going shopping is just going shopping. Sometimes venting is just venting. Our lives are not to be constantly viewed through a lens of activism nor through scrutiny. We exist because we are human. We exist for the very same reasons everyone else does. By holding this magnifying glass to us, you are frying us, like ants. This magnifying glass you hold to us is not magnifying our humanity, our diversity, as it should. It is inspection for whatever crack one can pry their fingers into. It is an inspection to make us seem less than human. However, if you truly look under your expectations, you will find that we are all imperfect because we are all human.