Losing Sara

In the Times’ “Booming” series, a famous concert pianist writes about her transition – being forced to fly to Thailand for the surgery she needed (and having that surgery botched), seeing her career opportunities dry up, facing legal housing discrimination. A move to Canada opens up more opportunities, but her home country — the United States — rejects her, then shifts a bit, but still doesn’t open its arms. And she’s “lucky” — she’s educated and talented and class-privileged. Her life isn’t tragic; she’s fine, and talented, and married to the woman she loves. But because her existence troubles some people, she can’t get gigs, can’t get an apartment, can’t get a job. So we lose her to other places that are more open. We lose trans women and men in worse ways — to violence, to hiding, to death. And for what, exactly?

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10 comments for “Losing Sara

  1. dc
    February 4, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    (Glad to see this will be reading fully later….thanks.)

  2. dc
    February 4, 2013 at 12:49 pm
  3. EG
    February 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I don’t know; I’m not crazy about framing this as “our” (cis Americans’) loss. Being so stymied in your life that you actually have to pick up and move to another country is mind-bogglingly difficult, and I can only imagine the sense of loss involved. I understand the purpose of framing this as the US’s loss, and it certainly is all of our loss but I think we can acknowledge without playing into a narrative of the tragic life that the primary victims of transphobia are trans people.

    • karak
      February 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      I’m not trying to be nitpicky, but did you mean, “the primary victims of transphobia are cis people”?

      • EG
        February 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm

        I did not. “We can acknowledge, without playing into the narrative of the tragic life, that the primary victims of transphobia are trans people.”

      • karak
        February 4, 2013 at 5:00 pm

        Oh, my mind put a “not” at the beginning of the sentence, so I read as you saying the primary victims of transphobia were not trans individuals and I was like, “that makes no sense” but apparently it was a simple lack of reading comprehension.

        Carry on.

  4. Hrovitnir
    February 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Aaaaand the first comment I read was transphobic bullshit. Surprise? -_-

    • February 5, 2013 at 9:22 am

      I’m just surprised that the majority of ones after the first comment aren’t. It’s mostly well-wishes after that.

  5. Donna L
    February 4, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Transphobia in the comments to the New York Times as well as the Guardian today? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    EG, the idea that it’s necessary to argue that transphobia hurts cis people bothers me too, and I find it somewhat depressing. As if the incredibly harmful effects of transphobia on trans people aren’t sufficient to persuade people that trans people are worth supporting and transphobia worth opposing. It’s sort of like the purely utilitarian argument that people make all the time in support of laws and corporate policies prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination in general — that homophobia is bad for business because it drives away talented LGBT people from particular companies and localities. True I’m sure, but still not what I think should be the primary reason for such laws and policies.

    I’m glad that Ms. Buechner was able to find a surgeon in New York City ten years ago to perform corrective surgery to fix her bad outcome. Especially since there are no reputable surgeons in New York City (so far as I know) who perform GRS in the first place; the nearest such surgeons are in Philadelphia to the south and Montreal to the north. There used to be one up at Montefiore in the Bronx (I saw him around the same time for something else, so it may well have been the same guy), but I’m sure he’s long since retired, and he’d stopped doing GRS by then anyway. I think sometimes about maybe having the surgeon in Philadelphia take a look at my own less than optimal surgical results from 2009 to see if anything can be done, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to focus on it mentally; it makes me too depressed and pessimistic. It’s easier just never even to look at my results; I haven’t in a year or two.

  6. AMM
    February 5, 2013 at 11:46 am

    And for what, exactly?

    My best approximation of an answer so far:

    So that these people (the ones who are rejecting the ones who don’t fit) can continue to have a nice, simple view of the world.

    I’ve found that for some people, there is nothing more important than having a mental model of the world that is simple enough for them to understand and which “explains” everything. Things which don’t fit or which might require that they change their mental model in order to continue to be able to “explain” everything are very threatening to them, and many times, they react as if their lives were in danger. “As it was, is, and ever shall be, world without end, amen” is their mantra.

    It’s why science is so threatening to some people: it’s full of things we don’t understand (BTW, that’s what makes it attractive to scientists and science geeks) and “what we know” keeps changing.

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