Being pastel in a blue and pink world

Hi,

As the cold hail subsided, the Ever Lovely Mrs J shook the ice from her hood and smiled to me. “It’s good to be out in nature,” she chuckled. We had walked around the park’s lake, pausing for either doggo to sniff, or indeed, ‘update’ Dog Social Media, conversation had drifted around family, home, work, and the news.

Mrs J expressed her anger at the continued attack by some on trans identities. That and the platforming of such voices by usually reliable sources. Now, there’s a background level of hate that bubbles and spits. The usual it’s an excuse for pervs to get in or the claptrap from unqualified/inexperienced strangers, thinking that they understand a trans teen’s needs, etc. Mrs J added that in her and her friends’ experiences, dodgy men will grope or sexually harass you openly, they don’t need to disguise themselves as women to do so. I offered that having been on the receiving end of toxic male behaviour, I’d like to see the end of it as well.

Perhaps, she added, we should do something about that behaviour in the street, clubs, and workplaces, as it would make the biggest difference. But then, what would bigots reference to exclude trans people from spaces in which they’re welcome socially and legally?

With our children now teenagers, longer walks are regular and there’s no worry we’re walking the kids’ legs off – or worse – boring them. 🙂 It was always a balancing act around play parks and walks when they were younger.

That got me thinking to my experiences as a parent with a pushchair. That really opened my eyes to the accessibility issues in shops, public places, and other buildings. With Granny J’s mobility issues that also drives home the experiences for many folk who can’t get around easily.

I don’t know what it must be like to be disabled and I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman. Yet, I wonder if finding myself stuck outside a building with Granny J, walking the long way round to find a buggy friendly lift, or not behind able to find a dad & baby loo, that my eyes are a little more open than the rentagob talking heads we hear too much of.

Likewise, to walk down the street appearing female (at least at a distance), that gave me a look into a world I rarely see as a man. To find people walk in front of me, stare, and indeed talk over me. Am I a woman? No, but while trans women are women, I’m not transitioning, so my time in that world is very much as a visitor. If that’s a look into a woman’s world or, more accurately, a trans woman’s world, I’m not sure. But, in either case, I don’t have the same safety and privilege as I do as a bloke. For someone who’d like more equality, how women and other minorities are treated bothers me.

Blue, pink, and white.

I am not subject to Everyday Sexism, but I see it (and try to challenge if I can). However the constant tide of cess that’s open discrimination of transphobia to people like me, is draining. How people of colour, disabled folk, and many women don’t lose their sh** at this constant drip feed of negativity I don’t know. Maybe they have stronger hearts or souls, or greater patience and wisdom.

When the hail receded, the sky turned from dark to blue. There are moments of blue skies from allies and in the media. Keep going, please. It makes a difference. Every story you share about thriving as someone outside the gender binary; every trans & non binary actor you platform; each person who comes forward to live as they need to be; when you challenge bigotry with your own experience (this means you, allies and parents ❤️): all of this breaks holes in the storm clouds.

L x

6 Comments

  1. The insight that comes from presenting outside of the gender norms is life changing.
    You express it so well Lynne.
    I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman but I now have a better idea of some of the difficulties they face since walking on a street “dressed”.
    I think the insight was realising how vulnerable a woman could be if someone decided to make life difficult for her.
    And that makes me aware of two things; most importantly, as a bloke, I don’t know everything about everything, and secondly, I should just listen to what everyone says about what life is like for them. Because they might just know.
    So the insight that can come from cross-dressing reaches way beyond gender to every situation in life. It may not ensure I know how any person or group feels, but it reminds me that I don’t know and thus the need to listen.
    Now if we want to extend this line of thinking, let’s extend it to the so called haters.
    We can dismiss them as f****** morons, or we can listen to their arguments and try an work out what causes their fears of trans or black or whatever people.
    Eventually we must address their fears, their world view and bring them to realise that they are part of the broader community.
    Difficult? You bet.
    Impossible? I hope not.
    Because, legislation can get us so far but not all the way.
    Anyway, good post Lynne.
    Geraldine

    1. Thanks Geraldine. I think curiosity and kindness can go a long way.

      In terms of bigotry, I feel it’s much more complex. I feel there’s a grey area between listening with curiosity, debate, and platforming.

      If, hypothetically, a conversation was had at work about the question.”What’s your gender?”, I would politely press for male, female, prefer not to say, and an “other” option, that allows people to use a phrase or term that works for them.

      If a colleague asked why I’d suggested those options or asked why couldn’t we have male and female, I would say that some people don’t want their gender recording and some have terms that mean a great deal to them about their sense of identity. I might throw in some personal experience of feedback I’ve had about such questions from non-binary people. Provided the discussion is polite and moving towards being inclusive, I’m okay with that.

      If a colleague started on a rant about trans people, I’d state that that community’s existence is not up for debate within the meeting.

      I think it depends on how strong a person’s beliefs are in how much they hate. Perhaps there’s a difference between ignorance and anger as motivation. For example, someone fearing a gay man because they’ve been told they’ll be touched up. With that nonsense in their head, they may now want exclusions – which may ring a bell if you grew up in the 80s. Then there’s the extremists who, well, frankly have got issues and their hatred for another group defines them.

      This may be of interest. It’s one person’s experiences and views on how they’ve found things: https://www.newstatesman.com/comment/2022/02/feminism-has-been-reduced-to-the-transgender-debate

      What I do find interesting are people who have changed their views. There was an interview with someone who’d fallen down the anti-trans rabbit hole. When someone in their social circle came out as trans, the interviewee found the things they’d read were inaccurate or even false. They did double down for a time, but in doing so, actually more discrepancies came in. After some thought, they decided that there wasn’t any evidence and their friend’s lived experience didn’t match up with it either.

  2. Media outlets that provide space for people to declaim opinions on subjects they have little experience of or do not understand, all in the name of balance and debate, are becoming increasingly the norm. This is what bothers me most in the issues you’ve raised.

    I am disabled and I do see myself as a woman – a trans woman, it’s true – who has sometimes to disguise as male to survive, which is more in terms of coping with judgment from bigots such as the family I come from. Disability doesn’t help and people often don’t understand you are disabled if you’re not in a wheelchair. I have upper limb disorder, which means my thumbs don’t work properly and it can be hard to grip things like coins or paper. It helps if you explain you’re struggling with something and then people know you need some assistance. Most people have an instinct to help others in need. When I was on crutches a few years ago, both friends and strangers were spontaneously kind.

    As for womanhood, I’ve not perceived so much disadvantage, merely difference. At the upper echelons of management there may still be prejudice, but not so much in everyday life, I have felt. Yes, I have instinctively avoided poorly lit places at night, but I have had more spontaneous abuse in the street when presenting male than female and have at times felt more threatened. This may come as a surprise. People are far more likely to ask me for directions or help (with e.g. ticket machines and the like) as a woman than as a man. So I have found life different, but not worse, and there are disadvantages in being a cishet male in that you are always expected to be a high-performance human, which may not be your instinct at all. That’s what I hate most about classified as male. Privilege can be a lonely, artificial place.

    Sue x

    1. To mix some phrasing, ‘passing as able bodied’ comes with the issues you point out. I remember a friend saying that they didn’t want to have to ‘come out’ about their Parkinson’s to get short rest periods in their office job. They said that they didn’t feel comfortable being open about their illness and didn’t want people to go into ‘sympathy mode’ and think they were incapable of work: mental or physical. FWIW, the breaks they wanted were less than what folk used to take for smoking outside back in the day.

      Good to hear you’ve not had much bother and that folk feel you approachable and trustworthy. I seem to have been involved in different conversations when out in Lynn mode.

      As to male baggage, when both kids were smaller, there were times when I was the only parent in the play park. Kids would come up to you asking for help and I was so conscious of being seen as a dodgy stranger. I didn’t hear the same thing from female friends who were parents. Make of that what you will.

  3. I tried to comment via phone on Friday, but my phone was having none of it.

    So, late, I will simply say that this was a thought-provoking post and I enjoyed reading it. I had cause to think about many things over the last weekend and I was struck most of all about how different women are in the company of other women than when not. And struck anew by how welcome I have always felt among femme-folk generally. Hardly an insight, but something I thought worth sharing.

    1. Technology, it be the work of Old Nick, I tells you 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words and FWIW, I thought your comment was insightful. On rare times I’ve done outreach work with just women in the room, the vibe is different. There’s still some ego and power on show, because people are people. However, the mood seems less combative, less me-me-me, and more welcoming, curious, and kind too.

      Or, TL DR: macho BS, my arse! 😋

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