300 transsexuals have been murdered around the world so far this year. Hate crimes against this minority group continue to increase. Currently, the waiting time to have a gender confirmation surgery is four years in Spain. Being transgender is still considered an illness. Transphobia’s problem starts with the limited social concern for these issues, and it continues in the rejection and the discrimination which transsexuals suffer every day. Mel Gómez Capel knows this fight well out of necessity, since it is hers.
“Imagine a machine that passes some fruit on a conveyor belt and it is classified as apples and pears. First comes a red apple, and it falls in the apples basket. But later, a green apple appears and it falls in the pears basket just because of its color, and the same thing happens with the red strawberry, which goes to the apples basket. This is what society does when it imposes our gender according to our genitals. Since we are born, we are told that you are a girl if you have a vagina and a boy if you have a penis. That is a social construction that introduces a problem through the implicit roles it assigns: girls are kind, submissive, patient, mature, and delicate; and boys are strong, curious, impatient, confident and domineering. Not everybody fits into this dualism, which does not mean that because of that you are trans, but it is an influencing factor.
There are many kinds of genders: Men and women, demigirl, which means that you are partially a girl, demiguy, partially a boy, agender which indicates that you do not identify with any gender, neutral gender, which is a midpoint between man and woman, gender-fluid if your gender varies over time, and there are many more that I know.”
TO FIND YOURSELF
“I could not say the exact moment in which I knew I was trans. I didn’t know what being one of them was, but I knew that there was something going wrong with me. I was different; I didn’t fit in with the girls or act like them, and I didn’t want to either. I wanted to be a super heroine and to play videogames with my cousins who were boys, while my girl cousins made me play with dolls. These kinds of behaviors are instilled in us and they end up really influencing us.
I was very confused because I liked to do “boy-things”, but I did not feel like one of my guy friends. I assumed that I was just a strange girl who wanted to have a penis and I decided to downplay it, but when I started to educate myself in feminism and transfeminism, it opened my eyes to reality. I accepted myself as Trans when I was 20. I was not alone; there were lot of people like me, and to be trans was not something weird or bad. I changed my name to Mel and now I feel really comfortable with myself, but it took me a long time.
My father has always said very offensive comments about the LGBT community, so I have grown up in a homophobic and transphobic environment, and society does not help. I think I rejected myself because I was afraid of disappointing him, or maybe because I was also a little homophobic and transphobic or maybe a little of both; I don’t know what it was.”
“I wasn’t really accepted; being trans made me lose many relationships. To those who do not know anything about being transgender or transsexual, it’s nonsense to get attention, and you are a weirdo. My family does not accept me; my sisters don’t call me Mel, and they still use the female pronoun with me. I remember that a while ago, my older sister drove me to meet some friends, and I told her that I was late. She said that it didn’t matter because girls make people wait on them; I told her that I was not a girl, and she answered that of course I was. I’d like to think that they do not know how much they hurt me, but I have to put up with it for now.
People continuously mock me, and make fun of my neutral pronoun; this is something that is not easily accepted without some kind of training; some of the comments were aggressive, for example: ‘you are sick, fucking transsexual!’, ‘What have you got between your legs?’, ‘If you aren’t a woman or a boy, what are you? Are you a chair?’. There are some worse comments that I’d prefer not to say. Furthermore, we are clichés for the media, and Spanish cinema and television have a backward idea of us, but you learn to ignore these kind of things and to rely on those who understand you and defend you when it is necessary. I have never received help from a psychologist, nor would I ask for it because I’m afraid of transphobic and cissexist attitudes.”
“During my adolescence, I tried not to draw attention to myself; I never said anything about who I was. I specifically remember when a classmate asked me if I was a lesbian. I said no, but I felt as if I were partly lying. I am bisexual, although then I had no idea about the way in which I was attracted to boys. When I began to explore my body, let’s call it that, I used to imagine heterosexual relationships, but I was the person who had the penis, despite the fact I refused to admit to myself that I was trans. The first person to whom you come out of the closet is yourself because it is very difficult to accept what you already know, even when it is about you.
I developed body dysphoria when I realized I liked girls, I could not accept having a relationship with one of them without being a cis man. Our society is designed for heterosexual people, so I could not imagine dating a girl being one myself, until I was 16. Nowadays I do not have a partner, I have affectionate relationships, but I do not want to label them. I have never suffered homophobic attacks because I don’t like public displays of affection; I am uncomfortable with them.”
“Not every transsexual suffers the same; things are worse for women. They are exposed to greater violence because they are never accepted as real women.
My appearance is still feminine, so I am exposed to everything any women suffers on a societal level, plus missgendering, which is to be treated with a pronoun that is not yours and consequently, the associated dysphoria. Leaving home is a daily challenge because I am aware that people see a girl when they look at me, and that causes me a lot of anxiety.
A NORMAL LIFE
“I want to believe I have a normal life. I participate in activism every day; it becomes adictive, and I have been able to surround myself with people who have the same ideas as me or similar ones, and they accept me and support me. I am more comfortable and happy with the person I have become, and I have self-esteem I never thought I could have. The transsexual fight is not easy because we are invisible as human beings, but we are very visible as a joke. Despite that, I try to be optimistic, but sometimes it is hard.”
MEL GÓMEZ CAPEL was born in Huercal, Almeria. Mel is 23 years old and self-identifies as gender-fluid, between demigirl and agender. As a feminist, transfeminist and anti-speciesist activist, Mel loves theater, music and all types of art, as well as traveling. On her trips, Mel tries to meet those people who have supported her on social networks.
Her family, with whom she lives, is made up of Manuel, her father, Blasa Maria and Desire, her sisters, and Jacky, their dog. Mel is a high school graduate and occasionally works in a family restaurant, but would like to leave, being a person who doesn’t feel comfortable doing work interacting with the public. Mel would like to study Law at university.
Years of fighting for transexual rights and feminism have given Mel self-esteem and a strong personality. Mel is an unstoppable earthquake defending the value every human being has and the right to feel free to be ze (oneself). •