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August 15, 2013

Podcasts And Long Term Effects Of Activism

By Marci Hawkins

I came to terms with my transsexuality around 2007/2008. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when I caught a late night TV show by the name of Sex Change Hospital; it was fascinating to see people just like me. While it was great that I finally knew what was going on thanks to the show, I felt helpless. How could a 17 year old transition when they felt alone, apart from a couple of distant people on a TV screen? Podcasts introduced me to a world where trans people led average lives, where being trans could become something of a backseat thought later in life, after transition.

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Recently, I remembered the two podcasts I listened to back then. They were SRS-Online (Susan’s Radio Show Online) and The Talking Tranny, both hosted by the same trans woman. The Talking Tranny was about her personal life, and SRS-Online for interviews with figures from the community, like Marci Bowers.

Sadly, the shows had just ended when I started listening to them. Thankfully there were lots of past episodes to listen to. It was great to be able to put them on an MP3 player and listen to them whenever I wanted; a reminder that I could make this journey, for when I needed reminding of that fact.

The host of podcasts like Susans’ are always activists. Activists are the backbone of any rights movement. Yes, we shouldn’t need activists as we should have the same rights as everyone else anyway, but they drive progress forward. The only problem with activism is that it requires you to be out and open about being transsexual. That may be fine now, but there may come a time where you want to work towards life goals and your trans status gets in the way. This has happened to Susan.

I did some googling to see how the host had got on over the years since I last listened to her shows. I found a forum thread talking about one of her podcasts and where it had gone. Amazingly, the host of the show had replied and told everyone what had happened.

I felt being out-and-proud was a very good grassroots political action. And I still think it is, but it has a burden to it too.

When I applied for graduate school, I worried that my being out could effect my acceptance into the program. Also, I worried that having all my personal info out there could effect my ability to get a license to practice therapy later on.”

The problem is the widespread transphobia in society. From the public, to the law makers; I won’t even begin to talk about the recent “equal” marriage bill in the UK. A minority group being able to live their lives mostly hassle free can take generations. Sure, there will always be transphobes, just as there are still racists and homophobes, but what happens to an activist who wants more privacy to be able to pursue their life goals without extra hassle, when they have large amounts of personal information within reach of anyone with an internet connection?

The internet is now getting to an age where a generation of people have grown up with it, which makes them more likely to share personal details on it. I’ve not done a big scientific study, but it would be a safe bet that younger people share more personal information online than those who did not grow up with the internet. But the internet never forgets.

That photo you posted years ago, which you now regret, can be found by someone looking to harass you. There needs to be more care into what we, as activists, put online, especially when you want more privacy later in life or move away from frontline activism.

I guess this is just a reminder to check your privacy settings on all of your online accounts. We could all take steps to protect ourselves. Especially that transphobe who wears and “uses” adult diapers… Awkward.

4 Comments

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  4. My friend Vicki Estrada was the one in the first episode of Sex Change Hospital. She’s a wonderful person, but at the same time I understand the socioeconomic privilege she had to afford genital reconstruction surgery.

    I relate to her as my friend and as a peer community activist/advocate, but sometimes it’s difficult to realize I’m not nearly as socioeconomically advantaged as she is.

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