I was listening to a colleague, ‘C’, talk about how COVID19 had affected their daily life within their village community. Social activities were on hold, people talked at a distance across the lane, and folk were extra careful in the smaller shops.
One item that caught my interest was about C’s friend, who for health reasons cannot wear a mask. Whatever that condition is, C didn’t specify and I didn’t press as it felt rude. The line that jumped out was C saying how frequently her friend was stated at, side eyed, and judged for not wearing a mask. It seems the Sunflower Campaign has not reached all parts of the country.
I felt empathy for the person in question and my mind wandered back to an interview with a women of colour. She said how much she felt of an outsider by people staring. Again another interview with two married guys who couldn’t hold hands on holiday as it wasn’t safe to do so. Comments from female friends on the long gaze of people making them feel unsafe.
While my part time nature means I have CisHet privilege, there are rare times when I’m out about about, and I have a brief view of the world as a trans woman. Mostly I have no trouble, but there’s a minority of folk who stare or who study me in a way that makes me uncomfortable.
Coming back to the conversation with C, I heard myself say “I know what you mean,” and I hope that one day, with enough education and polite challenge, we’ll move beyond the looks and the leers.
Until then, we will have to put on our big kid pants, take a breath, and face a not always kind world that pursues with judgement rather than kindness and gentle curiosity.