Friday, March 1, 2013

Which way to the Trans bathroom?

*DISCLAIMER - I'm not an expert on transgender politics. No offence is intended. You know, unless you're a douchebag.

Gender is in the brain. This is a hard concept for many to understand, as it goes against what most of us think we know about human gender. But more and more science is coming to understand that the important bit is in your head not your genitalia. For most of us, this is a moot point – I think I’m a girl, and you see a girl. I’m a girl. Easy. But what happens when the inner and outer don’t match? If you understand that your gender is inside your brain, then you should be able to see that given the vagaries of genetics sometimes someone will be born without a correctly matched set. Like sometimes people are born with the wrong number of toes, or two different coloured eyes. Things are not always the way we expect them to be, and transgender is no different – except that it’s invisible. And gets close to sex and sexuality, so it’s all icky and difficult. AND I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!

So before you go judging someone for an existence that you don't understand, take a step back and think about how it might feel to be that kind of different. The kind of different that 'normal' people are at a loss to understand at all. THERE IS NO NORMAL. Trust me, no matter how normal you think you are, someone out there thinks you're a freak.

*wandering off course for an example* I have a friend, who is deeply Christian (in that unbelievably annoying holier than thou kind of way) she's nice enough most of the time. Then she says things like "I just wish everyone was normal like me". And I'm forced to explain reality to her. She is a narrow minded bigot. Who actually believes that believing in God makes it all ok. For her, being a Christian is a licence to commit whatever douchebaggery takes her fancy, as long as she thinks God agrees with her. And telling her that her idea of God makes me glad I'm an atheist just makes her sad for my immortal soul. As the number of topics I simply will not discuss with her grows I spend less time bothering to find space for her in my life.

But it's not about sex. And it's REALLY not about sexuality. It's about how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. I have it pretty easy. I know I'm a girl on the inside, most people see a girl on the outside. But growing up it wasn't always like that. I was kind of a tomboy, I liked my hair short, I played rugby and I didn't like to hang around with the other girls. I hated skirts. I lived in shorts and T-shirts. It wasn't about sexuality at all. It was about me being comfortable. It wasn't anything to do with gender either, except the piece of me that saw that boys got to have sensible hair cut and wear comfortable clothes and I didn't see any reason why I shouldn't too. I guess I have it lucky there too, I don't really give a damn what anyone else thinks about my decisions. I can thank my father for that. Among other things.

But when I got older, it got a hell of a lot more obvious I was a girl no matter what I wore and no matter how short my hair was.

It's been shorter.

So I have it easy. I know who I am, and so do you. But for many it isn't that easy. I want you to try a little thought exercise: Imagine that tomorrow morning you wake up and you're Chinese. (I apologise for this arbitrary choice, I am aiming for a group whose culture and race are far different from my own - should Chinese be an inappropriate choice for you, please choose another.)

But it's more complicated than that. On the outside you're Chinese, but on the inside you're the same as you were yesterday. And you don't really understand Chinese. Your brain knows what all the words are but they just don't make proper sense to you. Worse and worse, no matter what you try to do about it people just keep treating you like you're Chinese. Uncomfortable yet? Of course you are, because NO ONE likes being treated like something they are not. Even when it's a pretty innocuous seeming thing like being expected to want to play with dolls when you like rugby.

Everyone is different. Sometimes a person’s difference is harder to understand but that is not even in the same ball park as being wrong. That way madness lies.

When I meet intolerance in my life, I try to meet it with understanding. I try to get people to look at their prejudice from a different direction. Because everyone has something that makes them uncomfortable. And nobody wants to be uncomfortable. Sometimes understanding your douchebaggery only comes when you understand how it might be applied to YOU.

So try stopping and imagining your opinion being applied to you before you go sticking your size twelves in. You are not obliged to agree with a persons lifestyle, but try not to be a dick about it.

Peace. Out.

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