Microaggressions and resiliency are two big, huge SAT words that basically mean, people are going to be mean, but the only way you’ll survive is if you keep chugging along.
Wikipedia, the ultimate source of truth, accuracy, and integrity in our strange, little world, defines microaggressions as “a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.” While their definition is comprehensive and scholarly, it’s kind of difficult to read without one’s eyes glazing over.
Let’s think about microaggressions in a different way: for folx in the trans community, this might mean instances of misgendering, asking inappropriate questions about a person’s genitals, objectification, fetishization, wary looks, and/or comments mumbled under the breath. Any little jab an antagonist takes at a trans or gender non-conforming person for being queer is considered a microaggression. Microaggressions can be committed intentionally or unintentionally, by loved-ones, complete strangers, and everyone in between.
For folx who belong to other marginalized communities, microaggressions could manifest in the form of ableist language, racist jokes, xenophobic comments, and a myriad of other hurtful actions.
Why are Microaggressions Important?
Microaggressions may not seem like a big deal to those committing them, but for trans and GNC people, these little digs hurt. As we mentioned in the Pronouns tab, misgendering a trans or GNC person is an act of violence—regardless of the person’s intentions. If enough of these repeated acts of violence, or microaggressions, pile up on top of each other, there could be serious consequences for the mental health of the person in question.
Queer Battle Fatigue is an idea that is new to academia, and describes one of the leading causes of suicide and self-harm among LGBTQIA+ people. The term is derived from work done by scholars of color on Racial Battle Fatigue, and describes how the build up of microaggressions over time can lead to the detriment of a trans or GNC person’s mental health, and if left untreated or unacknowledged, possibly suicide.
It’s literally a matter of life and death.
Essentially, being trans or GNC in our transphobic, racist, homophobic, ableist society is HARD. When life is too hard for too long, people throw their hands in the air, and say “I quit.” It’s heartbreaking to think about how many adolescents and even children as young as four feel this way.
Google, another divine master of knowledge and truth, defines resiliency as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” If not for resiliency, our community wouldn’t be able to put up with all of the balderdash and hullabaloo that this world throws at us.
Consider the following: 30% to 51% of transgender and gender non-conforming youth attempt suicide in their lifetimes. We are two to three times as likely to attempt suicide as our cisgender peers, and 61% of trans youth said they experienced suicidal ideation in their lifetime. Unfortunately, we think those statistics are low, and that far more trans and GNC folx struggle with suicide and self-harm.
In addition, 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, even though they only make up 10% of the overall adolescent population.
Being trans and GNC is HARD, and unfortunately resiliency isn’t a silver bullet to make all of the struggles go away. It’s an acknowledgement that as queer folx, we have to take care of ourselves and find strength wherever we can—even if it involves sobbing in the fetal position for an hour.
While one of the goals of Out of Yer Shell is to change the way society perceives and treats trans and GNC youth, we acknowledge that it is a lofty aspiration. Instead of working to change other people’s minds, we hope that the resources on our website can provide trans and GNC kids with the community, information, and language they need to be happy, healthy, and safe and develop enough resiliency to combat microaggressions and Queer Battle Fatigue.
To our trans and GNC babies, never forget that you are loved and lovely, and we’re so stinking proud of you.