I grew up in a small town in Northern Indiana. My high school graduating class was about 200, most of who were the sons and daughters of farmers that intended on continuing their family farm. In school there were hardly any openly gay students, and if there were, they lived a hard high school life. I can’t even imagine if there was a trans student at my school, what they would go through if they were open about it. My location has a lot to do with how people would see trans people. The old fashion values of the parents and grandparents of teenagers in my hometown surely affected how they saw gay people let alone trans people.
Now being in Bloomington, a much more accepting town, definitely changes how people view transgendered people. Just having the opportunity to learn about issues affecting this group of people is the result of our location. In the essay, A Politics of Locations by Adrienne Rich she writes, “You could see your own house as a tiny fleck on an ever-widening landscape, or as the center of it all from which the circles expanded into the infinite unknown.” I think this is important to think about. I know that because I was from such a small conservative town, the issue of transness wasn’t explored and I had hardly any knowledge of it because of it.
Another interesting thing Rich writes is, “I was defined as white before I was defined as female. The politics of location. Even to being with my body I have no say that from the outset that body had more than one identity.” She also states, “It means recognizing this white skin, the place it has taken me, the places it has not let me go.” This reminds me of a conversation I just had in my G101 class. We were talking about privilege, and how everyone carries a privilege and oppression at the same time. We were talking about different forms of privilege, like class, race, sex. I think it’s interesting that Rich talks about being white and where this has led her. When I think about my own life, because I am white I don’t know what it’s like to be a person of color. Also, because I am a straight woman, I have no idea what it is like to live in this world gay or transgendered. Rich also talks about how being in the U.S. shapes our ideas. She writes, “It was in the writings but also the actions and speeches and sermons of Black United States citizens that I began to experience the meaning of my whiteness as apart of location for which I need to take responsibility. It was in reading poems by contemporary Cuban women that I began to experience the meaning of North America as a location which had shaped my ways of seeing and my ideas of who, what was important, a location for which I was also responsible.” I think this is why we know what we know about trans people. Living in the U.S. changes the way we view things, if we lived in a country more accepting of trans people, I think knowledge would be more readily available. My hometown as a location has affected the way I view things. Living in the U.S. has affected the way I see human rights, and discrimination. The politics of locations.