CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan travelled to Thailand to cover the story of Danica Rain, a Ontario transgender woman who underwent gender reassignment surgery at a clinic in Bangkok. CityNews had world-exclusive access inside the operating room as Ontario funded the surgery, for the first time, as it’s not available in this province.
I’m late to the Game of Thrones craze. Last weekend I spent a day binge watching and was struck by an incredible scene. If you’re a fan you’ll instantly know what I’m talking about.
Cersei, one of the main female characters, has to do a “walk of shame” through the city. Her hair is shorn, she is completely naked. Exposed. This actor walked nude through a jeering crowd of hundreds of people, I can’t imagine the bravery it must have taken for her to perform that scene.
And then I thought about Danica and I realized she did that and more in this series. She completely exposed the most private elements in her life, her hopes, fears and deepest vulnerabilities.
Few people have the courage to do that, even fewer will do it for all the world to see with such raw honesty.
And here is a small sample of some of the reaction she has received in return on our Facebook page:
“Why do people have to make a freak show out of this?”
“Even if it weren’t covered and trans people paid out of pocket, these people would still be complaining my god they never stop.”
“This person is not the first to have healthy organs mutilated in the quest to become something they’re not.”
“Lock her up in CAMH.”
“He will always be a he no matter what stop wasting my tax money on stupidity.”
“It’s still a man.”
Danica has seen these comments and more.
I asked her about them via Skype just a couple of hours before she got on a plane to make the long trip home. She wasn’t surprised by the backlash, she was expecting it, and actually, she’s used to it.
“The way I see it I’m not letting any of the negative feedback get to me because I believe I deserve this and I did not choose to be transgender. I was born this way.”
As I write this she is still in the air, full of dreams for her return, excited to come home. She tells me she feels “normal” now. She is thrilled with the surgery, she finally feels she is in the right body.
We sat and talked in her hospital room for hours while we were in Bangkok. She is a fascinating combination of pain and vulnerability, a person wounded by life — yet strong and determined at the same time, unbowing. It’s hard to fathom facing the condemnation she has endured on a regular basis.
“I’ve been laughed at, I’ve had gentlemen put me down, make fun of me, I’ve heard negative comments ‘tranny, a she male’…They hurt a lot.”
And yet she is full of optimism, she wants to get married to her fiancée, find a job, and become an advocate for transgender people.
Since her stories aired she has been contacted by others who are seeking a mentor. She wants to be one for them. I know she allowed me to come to Thailand to document her story in the hopes it would raise awareness and maybe, just maybe inspire understanding.
“We’re humans, we’re not freaks, we’re not weirdos, there’s nothing wrong with us. We just want to live our lives like everyone else, we’re not here to hurt anyone, change anyone’s opinion. We just want to have lives like everyone else.”
Judging from the Facebook comments I think there is still a long way to go.