CN: transitioning, binding, Dr’s assessments, transphobia, periods.
Recently I have seen news reports and debates about transgender athletes. A heated discussion on a Sunday morning TV had me screaming at a guest who suggested, albeit in a roundabout way, that allowing trans women to compete as women in athletic events would somehow lead to a hoard of male competitors pretending to be women and winning medals. I mean….WHAT?! (I hope you all exclaimed there with me).
What’s so wrong with it I hear a multitude of people asking? Well, the statement essentially promotes the idea that trans* is a choice, and trans* people are dressing up. It plays into the common narrative of our day that says trans* people wake up one day and decide they will be a man/woman/neither.
The notion that a trans* person would be playing dress up is obscene…That is the narrative that causes us (trans* people) to become invisible. Our stories and our realities are ignored and cast aside to be replaced by what people think they should be, by stories that are easier to digest. It is easier to suggest and believe that trans* people are acting the part of their chosen gender because then society doesn’t have to face the notion that gender is chosen, that gender is complex, and that they have some learning to do in order to understand it.
Gender, gender identity, gender expression, designated gender…it’s a complex maze and grappling with the questions it throws up forces people to question their paradigm…the way they view the world. But that is not a reason not to educate yourself. In fact, I’d say it’s a damn good reason TO educate yourself. If you think that trans* is a choice, it’s time to educate yourself. Read on…
[[ Imagine this: You are a man. You have always been a man. You knew you were a boy when you were younger. You liked to climb trees and collect bugs, you played tag with the other boys and girls. You grew up a bit and realised, not all boys are like you. And you are not like all boys. You realise that everyone else thinks you’re a girl, you have a girl’s name and you have to play sports with the girls at high school. You are a tomboy. You still like climbing trees, and collecting bugs…you want to play rugby but “you’re a girl” so you can’t. You hit puberty. You get your first period, it’s terrifying. Your breasts start to grow. You hate them. You are a man, you are a man with breasts, you are a man with periods, you are a man who is called Miss. You are a man. You realise you will not grow up to be a man unless you tell people who you are and ask for help. No one else has to do this, they are boys and grow into men. How does a girl grow into a man? You say it out loud “I AM A MAN”. You wait 3 years to see 2 doctors who confirm you are actually a man, you knew this but they wouldn’t listen to you, apparently you’re not qualified to know this. You have tests, blood tests, psych tests, the do a full physical examination as you close your eyes, mortified. You continue on, binding your chest tightly, being followed into the toilet and asked to leave “the ladies is downstairs miss”. You sigh, “I know, I’m a guy”. They look you up and down, judging the lack of beard growth, the curve of hip and breast. You go on holiday and hide yourself because your identity might get you arrested, or killed. You have to take photo ID to get your hire car….and this means outing yourself to another office full of people as they scrutinise your driving licence and passport and name change deedpoll. Every day you fight against societies norms that exclude you. Every day you fight to be seen. ]]
Does that sound like an overnight decision? A grown up playing dress-up to win some gold medals? Being trans* is not the easy option. It is not a choice. It is not a ruse to infiltrate your ranks. It is reality, and a tough one at that. Transgender people have enough of a fight on their hands just to be seen and heard, to have their identity and pronouns taken seriously. And that, dear readers, is in 2016. In a so-called civilised western country-Great Britain. If you believe in human rights, you believe in trans* rights…and as Desmond Tutu said:
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
– Desmond Tutu
So which side are you on?