But what, moreover, must be noted is that this newest set of inductees into the gender-fluid hall of fame is void of larger, disabled, or transfemme bodies. And you’re not seeing it in this cultural moment of pop gender renaissance because we aren’t afforded the same freedom to exist and thrive in public by audiences and the media.
There is a politic of desire at play when certain bodies and experiences are centered and others aren’t. Meaning, it’s only those who are deemed attractive and sexy and fuckable that are given the headline or allowed to walk the runway, or to simply live. (That’s not to say bodies more like mine aren’t desired, but rather the desire directed at us is saved for curtain-pulled bedrooms and the deepest, most dehumanizing fantasies in some of our potential sex partners’ minds. But never in public.)
I was going through my Blog Roll and I found out that Steve, on SOOOTHISISME posted about somebody at his job transitioning (MTF, I believe) and the response of one of his coworkers to the ensuing brouhaha. And I decided to add my two cents to that discussion.
We all know that there's a definite bent towards the palatable when it comes to gender transgressions. People will always go for the more 'mainstream' and more 'acceptable' when it comes to serving gender fluidity. And that's where I don't agree with people. Not like I try to, mind you. Everybody has an opinion when it concerns other people’s gender expression and that’s a big no-no right there.
And I’m telling you this because I have a friend who has gone against the grain and has declared independence from the gender binary. My friend Abandon is gender-fluid. They can present very fem if they feel like it and they can present typically masculine if they are in the mood. And I think that's awesome. I have applauded and supported their decision every step of the way. And I’ve known them since college. But I didn’t get to this enlightened place overnight.
The first time I met someone who did not conform to gender rules I was very uncomfortable. I was in my teens I had no idea how to react. And I guess that’s a reaction many of us can have when we meet someone who is either Trans or does not follow society’s gender rules. We are so used to the binary and what constitutes masculine or feminine that when someone presents in a way that transgresses the binary we don’t know how to react and/or have a knee jerk reaction.
It has taken me some time to get over my own bias and prejudices. It’s taken me gender studies courses, having friends transition and professional development courses to get where I am. It was not overnight. We tend to put our ideas of the world and impose our vision and bias on others almost by inertia. So the reaction of Steve’s older workmate of ‘I have enough on my plate to worry about that person’s issues’ was refreshing and it gives me hope.
It gives me hope because even though I don’t know if they do professional development at Steve’s workplace or if people have gone though diversity training that was a great teaching moment. The fact that someone older was well, wise enough to stop the motorcade of gossip and ignorance from starting with such insightful words was awesome. Age does give us insight into the nature of humans, after all.
We have enough in our plates to try and figure out other people’s motivations, delve into the details of their personal little miseries or tear them apart because we don’t understand them. They will come to us if they need us, and there’s where we practice measure and try to be helpful. I know, I know. It’s hard. But I have learned to not ask questions. If someone wants me to know something about them and wants my advice. They’ll ask.
And when in doubt, practice the golden rule. It ALWAYS works. It’s worked for me. Trust me on that one.
P.S. and here's on of my favorite popular philosophers imparting her wisdom: