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Tag Archives: transphobia

“Biologically…”

“Do you want to see my f**king dick, mate?” I replied, grabbing my crotch.

This was quite out of character for me, so let me explain myself.

I like Pokemon. Bloody love it, in fact. I was playing in a card tournament near my home when I overheard my opponent call me “she”.

I was confused. I tend not to move in circles in which I get misgendered these days.

“He,” I corrected. “I’m a guy.”

My opponent frowned.

“But… are you… biologically male?”

After a pause to process what I just heard with my own ears, I saw red.

“Do you want to see my f**king dick, mate?” I replied, grabbing my crotch.

After another second, I gathered myself. “Yes,” I corrected. “I know, but just because I’m 24 and can’t grow a beard…”

He apologised. I think he realised just how awkward he’d made that for me.

But you know what sticks in my craw? He wouldn’t have understood my hurt if he’d thought I was trans.

Because he wasn’t asking about my biology. Not really. He’s not my gynaecologist, my lover, my sexual health nurse. What he was asking was this:

“But are you really a man?”

Biologically, I am A negative, with Morton’s toe. Biologically, I have hypermobile joints. Biologically, I am a huge catalogue of things that are just as irrelevant as whatever criteria you’re judging my “true” sex to be.

My brain is part of my body. My brain is male. That’s what anyone else should care about.

The cis fixation on trans bodies is revolting. I just want a normal life. I’m not asking for special treatment. I want to feel comfortable. I want to play cards in a shop without it getting weird.

If you’re cis, and you don’t know why this is offensive, please comment. In an utterly non-confrontational way, I would love to know why this is an apparently acceptable question to ask.

It frightened me. I went for a piss afterwards, and I was afraid he would look under the stall door, see I was sitting, or hear that I wasn’t using a cock to pee through. Questions like that are terrifying, because of how personal they go.

I know it wasn’t meant. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t awful.

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Pretty Ugly

When I first arrived in Norway, I didn’t know what was wrong. I was going to stay for a week with some old friends of my mum’s, along with my mum and my brother. A nice family holiday, somewhere I’d never been before and always wanted to go.

Kjetel met us at the airport. He wanted to take us around a few caves before we got to the flat. While there, he asked me why I’d changed my name.

I frowned.

“Because it was a female name.”

I had thought it would be obvious.

Later, we got to the flat, and it became clearer.

“The girls can sleep in there,” Marianne said.

For a start a) my mother is a grown woman and not a girl and b) I am a grown man and absolutely definitely not a girl.

My mum hadn’t told them. It wasn’t so much a punch to the gut as a hand closing tight about my neck. She was ashamed of me. And now I was stuck, thousands of miles from home, with people who possibly wouldn’t want people like me living under their roof and eating their food.

My mum cannot possibly understand. She can’t see what it is like to be hated. Because there are people out there who were my friends up until the moment I told them, and then turned on me faster than a bottle of milk on a sunny day.

So I lived the next few days how I have made it my life’s mission to never have to life- in silent shame. Being politely dismissive about comments I should grow my hair. Sitting through the showing of old photographs with a tight smile on my face. Swallowing every poisonous “she”, “her”, and “sister”.

Things reached a head once I was, with very little explanation, bundled into a car and taken to a cabin without internet for an entire weekend.

I’m not lamenting the loss of Youtube, or Tumblr, or any of the other “trivial” millennial shit Kjetel had made it his purpose to demean and deride all the time I was there (Pokemon Go being his favourite target). What I missed was someone I could speak to who understood the absolute hell I was going through.

I was alone. Completely alone.

My brother is fifteen, a selfish creature who has too much of his own nonsense going on with puberty and his dickhead father to care about anyone else. My mum spent all her time talking to him or Marianne and Kjetel, and had no time for me.

By the second day, I wasn’t eating. I tried to sleep all day because that was the only way I could stop crying.

My mum found me staring out of the window and shaking. I asked if she was ashamed of me. She said no, that she’d told them the day we arrived. Which meant they’d been willfully misgendering me for days, and she hadn’t corrected them- and I had just sat there and taken it.

This is incredibly painful for me to write about. If it has not already become clear.

That night I made a point of correcting people. I am here and I refuse to lie down and play dead. Which of course gave Kjetel recourse to attack me.

“You’re not gay.”

“Er, yes I am. I would know. I spent a long time thinking I should like women, but I just don’t. I like men. I’m gay.”

“But your boyfriend, is he gay?”

“He doesn’t identify as gay. But he loves me for who I am. When he was at school, his friends always said he would be gay. I think it’s kind of funny.

“I think he is straight,” Kjetel nodded knowledgeably.

That wasn’t the only bit of wonderfulness.

He tried to tell me I was “really” a woman- but I cut him off. I gave him the most impassioned speech on women and the respect I have for them and the ultimate knowledge that only I can have that I am not and have never been one. He laughed. My mother said nothing.

He also condescended to tell me I would be pregnant within the year.

I can feel the bile rising in my throat as I write all this. To me, the last bit was the worst. Because it’s toxic in so many ways. Firstly, that my getting pregnant has anything to do with my gender identity. It doesn’t. Shall I tell you why most men don’t get pregnant? It’s because they physically can’t.

I’m going to be a dad, and no narrow-minded fuckhead is going to stand in my way.

Secondly, the thought that I would be so fucking stupid as to get pregnant deliberately. My mum’s Catholic. It would devastate her to have grandkids out of wedlock. I’m poor. If I can, I want to do better for my children than a basement flat, casual income and an unstable home.

Just because I have ovaries, doesn’t mean I’m a fucking moron.

Thirdly, that my getting pregnant would in some way quash my notions of being trans.

Let me tell you, if pregnancy is so impacting on a person as to make them forget who they actually are, I want no part of it. Being trans is an essential component of the powerful, headstrong person I am today. Nothing short of evil would take that away from me.

I wonder what his childless wife, Marianne, would make of his equating womanhood to pregnancy. At a guess, not an awful lot, but I suppose a lot of what I saw in Norway disappointed me.

If you go, stick to the cities. Stick to the cruise boats. Don’t eat the food and don’t talk to the locals. What I found was a beautiful country inhabited by ugly attitudes- about immigration, the environment, the EU, women. It is a country in decline.

As for Kjetel, I will never see him again for as long as I live. Nobody gets to make me feel as awful as he made me feel. Since returning from Norway, my dysphoria has gotten significantly worse. I bind and pack a lot more than I did before I went out. I shake and cry a lot more too.

I have shivered naked and ashamed in Sunshine’s arms, crying, “I never wanted to be like this.”

How low does a person have to be to do that to someone? I wish I could show this to my mum, to Marianne, to Sunshine and to ignorant, bigoted Kjetel. But I’m not that cruel.

I am trans, and it has made me stronger.

November 20th, 2015

November 20th, 2015

I will find myself some
Garage-forecourt flowers
Lay them down at some
Arbitrary wayside shrine.
Much easier than
Bringing myself to dwell on
The murder and suicide and
Burying under a false name.

And Rosa, just as sweet,
Lies six feet short of
Being treated like a human,
Wig askew on a caved-in skull.

Back on Track: An Attempt

So, the last anyone heard of me, I was moving to Manchester to train as a teacher. That was over four months ago now, and I should really explain why I went from posting daily to simply dropping off the face of the Earth.

It’s going to take a lot of doing. Things have, unsurprisingly, changed. I did move to Manchester to begin my PGCE (a teacher training qualification). I moved into a flat in the centre of the city with an old school friend. We had no internet for a month and a half.

By the time we had rejoined the 21st century, I was commuting daily to a school in Stockport. I was up at 4am every morning and in bed at 10pm. By the end, I was so tired I no longer knew how to cry.

My writing has suffered. By which I mean I have, utterly against my will, stopped writing. I never noticed it happening, but then it did. First went the novel, then the blog, then the poems, then the idle notes on throwaway scraps. I had no words left.

To say I was anything other than miserable would be a lie. But I remember why I’m doing it.

I’m doing it for the child who came back from three consecutive suspensions and never gave me a bad lesson.
I’m doing it for the quiet child who had struggled, but found the confidence to teach the rest of the class about something she finally understood.
I’m doing it for the child who struggled to trust new adults, and who ran away from my lessons, who eventually managed to look me in the eye and smile.
I’m doing it for the lowest attaining child in a top set, who managed to impress an inspector so much they thought he was Gifted and Talented.
I’m doing it for the child who was kept separate in primary school Numeracy lessons, who got into a number of fights from the ages of 11 to 14, who was so disruptive in Science lessons that from the ages of 11 to 16 they were either excluded from them or able to leave as they wished– who went on to get a degree in Physics.

Yes, that last one was me. Because no matter how much some teachers (Hanley, Smith, McKenzie) neglected to veil their disgust in me, there were others (Sanders, Bell, Pothecary) who were actually the making of me.

I’ve already made an impact on some students. I’m not even a good teacher. But I was there when one boy, who’d just calmed down after becoming distraught said, “I don’t know if they’ve told you about me; I’m autistic.” I was there to smile and say, “me too,” and watch the grin on his face as he got to see an actual adult who could do things and have AS.

Representation, as we know, matters. If I’d known that real, functioning, happy people could have AS, I might not have been so frightened. If I’d known that boring people like me could be transgender, that might have saved a lot of stress as well.

I’m not out at work. Mostly because, as it’s not “work”, I don’t have any rights. I’m not going to tell anyone older than 11 that I have AS either (though considering how stressed I’ve been lately, it’s frankly been obvious). The UK is still transphobic, homophobic and ableist and there’s no point in denying it.

I went for a job interview while still living in Liverpool where I admitted to being transgender. I didn’t much care for the job in the long-term, and thought it would be a good idea to try and see what attitudes were like.

She frowned at me and asked me to explain further. She got me to stand up, smooth down my shirt so she could see my body better, see what I had done to it. Asked me to turn around. Frowned, said she would have to speak to her business partner, “to see if it would be alright”.

I never heard from her again- nor did I want to.

I was humiliated.

So, in the classroom, I endure being called “Miss”, and fail to notice when they call me “Sir”. They’re kids, and they’ve been told to behave a certain way on pain of detention. It’s all fine.

Grown adults, meanwhile, should learn to find out someone’s name.

But there’s another reason why going back into the closet (again) doesn’t hurt so much.

I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.