Against the binary: finding home in my intergenerational queer family
Home is no longer simply a physical place for me, but a roaming space of intergenerational love, connection and healing.
28 Feb 2023
Welcome back to gal-dem’s monthly gender column ‘Against the binary’, bringing you Yas Necati’s latest reflections on finding gentleness, home and joy as a trans person.
Content warning: this article contains mention of suicide and transphobia.
February is the anniversary of a distant friend’s death. We campaigned together as teenagers but lost touch in our adult lives, aside from the odd interaction on Facebook. She was the first other trans person I ever knew. When she died, I spent a lot of time listening to her music – she was an incredible musician as well as community organiser and fierce advocate for trans women. I’m angry at the structures that failed her. And I’m grateful for the people who held her – a whole queer family and a non-biological mother who loved her across oceans. It makes me mad that transphobia and the too-much-ness of the world that took her life from her.
There’s a scene in season three of The L Word: Generation Q where a family member of one of the younger characters is being queerphobic, and an older lesbian steps in and says, “I think it’s time for you to go.” I know a trashy queer TV show seems like a weird place to find comfort in times like these, but I turn to a place where I see folks like me (sort of) and families like mine (ish), to feel something. When Carrie defends Finlay, I dream of a Carrie moment. I think about the Carries in my life and I feel relief and deeply overwhelmed at being loved so transparently, without having to hide parts of myself.
“I feel relief and deeply overwhelmed at being loved so transparently, without having to hide parts of myself”
I am trying to find home. And, with each year that passes, I’m more certain that being trans makes me a traveller, and that my only true home is in the love of others and myself. I can’t pin it to a physical location because the risk of transphobia is everywhere, sadly. I want home to be Cyprus – and I do feel connected to the land, but even there I am scared because people everywhere struggle with my gender. So I seek home on my friends’ sofas, in my partners’ smiles, in my own reflection when I feel gender euphoria, or in a song that makes me remember a time when I felt connected.
I know this column is supposed to be about joy – but sometimes it’s a real journey to try to connect with that emotion. I am trying as I know joy is what I want for myself. I’m in this constant battle with transphobia – trying not to let it take my joy away.
“I’m in this constant battle with transphobia – trying not to let it take my joy away”
The end of last year was rough in many ways, and I fell into the arms of a queer auntie, who took me to a cosy winter gathering of older lesbians. At one point one of them said, “Is that all you’re having for dinner? You don’t eat very much do you?” And I knew I was amongst family, being softly noticed by an auntie with good intentions.
My queer auntie who I travelled with, the one whose cat I sit and who gives me a space on her sofa, corrected people when they got my pronouns wrong. I’m not asking or expecting anyone to be perfect with my gender stuff, I just hope that folks will want to try.
Despite what transphobes might say, I’ve never met an older lesbian who doesn’t want to try. There is some solidarity, some unspoken bond between us. We don’t have to understand everything about each other to want the other person to know we see them as they are – or we will try our damn hardest to do so.
“It frustrates me when people talk about age being a barrier to connection and understanding”
This is why it frustrates me when people talk about age being a barrier to connection and understanding. There are literally grandmas helping their grandkids into drag. I hope my youngers keep teaching me as I grow and age – and I intend to continue to try my best to see folks as they wish to be seen. The older folks who make the effort to show up for me and celebrate me have transformed my life for the better.
I feel like intergenerational love, connection and healing can often get lost nowadays. Something I’ve always enjoyed about Cypriot culture is the regular and intentional coming together of generations. I was sad to potentially lose that because of my transness, but my queer elders have been here to scoop me up. To my elders, I am forever grateful. To my elders, I am forever learning from you. To my elders, I am forever in love with your love.
Life is hard. Tending to our pain is a practice we can cultivate regularly in community – not only as a crisis response. Here are some groups, organisations and resources that centre justice in their frameworks of healing:
In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or you can email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org
Text SHOUT to 85258 from anywhere in the UK, anytime 24/7, about any type of crisis, including suicidality.
In the US, TrevorLifeline, TrevorChat, and TrevorText provide LGBTQ+ crisis support. If you are thinking about suicide and in need of immediate support, please call the TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386 or select TrevorChat below to connect with a counsellor.