I’m getting married on Saturday and in almost every aspect of the wedding planning, my fiancé and I had to think about the fact that we’re both transgender. For anyone who’s ever been married or helped plan a wedding then you know how stressful it can be.
There’s a lot to consider – venue, food, guest list, the clothes, and more. During the wedding planning process, there was fear concerning our identity. What if the venue location doesn’t treat us right because we’re transgender? What if the caterers overcharge us because they don’t agree with our “lifestyle?” The first time Sebastian tried on wedding dresses, I went with her. I didn’t want to see her wedding dress, but I worried the employees wouldn’t treat her right and I thought my presence might lessen any negative impact she could face if she went alone. Luckily almost all of our fears were unfounded, but it’s still a valid feeling. One only has to look at the Masterpiece Cakeshop case to see that. I guess wanting our business trumped prejudice in our case.
Not only did we fear being mistreated, but we also wanted to make conscience efforts to support LGBT-owned and LGBT-friendly businesses. There were few businesses we knew of that went out of their way to show support to the LGBT community. Most businesses seem to be neutral concerning LGBT issues, not making a stand one way or the other. But especially in the Trump era, silence is to stand on the side of the oppressor. We chose cupcakes over a traditional cake and we chose the cupcake company that has also supported my place of employment – an LGBT nonprofit.
Not only did we find it difficult to find and then support LGBT-owned and – friendly businesses, but there was also the issue of finances. People who are transgender are twice as likely to be living in poverty as the general U.S. population. I know trans people who want to have a wedding but are putting it off because they simply can’t afford it. Most young trans people I know are barely paying their expenses, much less saving for a wedding or homeownership.
My fiancé and I are both privileged in so many ways. We both work full-time in careers we enjoy. Despite that we’re still living on a tight budget, and weddings can be expensive. In the end, the wedding is taking place in my parent’s backyard in Lancaster, PA, another privilege many trans people can’t claim – familial acceptance.
When it came time to consider honeymoon locations, there are so many places we had to rule out. We wanted to visit somewhere politically stable, safe and accepting of LGBT people, and relatively inexpensive. We chose to honeymoon in Prague in the Czech Republic. Prague hosts one of the largest Pride festivals in the world, boasting 85,000 visitors in 2017. Despite the acceptance of the LGBT community and the political and economic stability in Prague, we’re still doing our homework. We’ve registered with the U.S. Embassy in Prague, we’ve read safety tips and tricks, and we’ve made copies of our important documents.
Worryi about being mistreated and safety while traveling isn’t just an issue of the trans community. A lot of people face these same fears. The difference is that for the cisgender (non-trans) community, being transgender isn’t a factor making one’s life more difficult.
The most amazing thing about getting married is that two trans people found love. Being trans in this world is incredibly difficult – we face higher rates of poverty, HIV, violence, harassment, bullying, being fired or denied a promotion, serious psychological distress and suicide attempts, fear of going to a doctor, and so many more harrowing statistics.
For any trans person to accept themselves, have the courage to come out, to be authentic, knowing they could be murdered, literally murdered, for who they are, takes a lot of courage. My fiancé and I have each had our fair share of hardships and I’m sure we will continue to, but the fact that we somehow learned to love ourselves enough to then turn that love outward to each other still amazes me.
To all the other trans people out there with the courage to love yourself, take a moment to be proud of yourself. You deserve to be loved, accepted, and respected.
Atticus Ranck is the Health Programs & Supportive Services Manager for Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA. Previously, he was the Director of Transgender Services at SunServe in Wilton Manors. Atticus is a trans man who advocates for the LGBT community through his work, trainings, presentations, and everyday encounters.