Sunday, 12 June 2016

And now, a smidgen more about us transgender folk!


Allo Allo, Lincoln calling!

I've felt for a few years now that certain elements of the sometimes frankly quite ludicrous sham of an "inclusive" modern society we have in the UK need to start understanding that the transgender people they may see on their TV set or meet at the checkout after the drudgery of a weekly shop at ASDA aren't some homogeneous group to be gawped at and patronised about on a "whenever they feel like it" basis. There are still a sizeable majority of folks who willingly refuse to comprehend the nature of there being people who wish to live in a different gender or between genders, or to give it its psychological lexical casement "gender dysphoria." They don't want to do any research on the issue, even though it has become more widely known about over the past decade, peaking with the highly publicised coming out of Caitlyn Jenner whose endearing story came to prominence during filming of The Kardashians and explored further in her series I am Cait and that all famous burlesque themed Vanity Fair front cover!

So, starting in a suitably yet ironically patronising vein, just in case any of my blog readers do actually deny ontological existence of transgender beings, trumpeting the age old patriarchal Judeo-Christian "there is only man and woman" Genesis Chapter 1:27 spiel, let me define it for you as I see it:

Transgender: "denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender".

What does it mean to have a non-conforming ambitious transgender self-identity? Well, not every transgender person would accept my denotation of what it means to be transgender in the first place. I can only write comprehensively about my own experiences, but still it is empowering to hear from a wide range of transvoices to see what kind of consensus can be built based on current definitions without trying to denigrate some in the process. Being self-deprecating whilst trying to make a serious point is no bad thing though! As the great intellectual Wyndham Lewis noted in his autobiographical book Rude Assignment (1950) : "Whenever there is objective truth, there is satire".
 
Therefore I feel I can point to some suggestions and maybe debunk a few myths, which I try to do in the "not every transperson" paragraphs listed below:
Not every transperson is white European or North American and living in an urbanised centre; it seems an obvious point to many but I keep hearing from some Conservative Justice Warriors or CJWs that trans issues will only matter to a "metropolitan whitewashed elite" but only those based in overpriced, ground floor tiddly one room flats down Islington way-i.e. "champagne socialists". It's quite ironic that CJWs want to focus on Establishment politics and yet bemoan this traditional line of trans focalisation (to adulterate renowned narratologist Gerald Genette's term) where the narrative can only be about those having a privileged slice of the UK economic pie. I'd have thought they were quite pleased to keep the conversation centred in their sphere of influence so they could spin it to their own advantage! Luckily, we bloggers are beginning to hear more trans stories coming out from around the world, both metropolitan and rurally based through the improvement of ICT facilities and skills and this can only be welcomed and celebrated with joyful merriment!
 
Thursday night be my Saturday night
Not every transperson needs to have umpteen amounts of hormone injections or an operation to "correct" their gender; some are happy in their own skin; happy to have qualities and traits which are generally perceived by friends or society as being androgynous in nature. Some transpeople want to be seen as men or women to the point where strangers cannot tell the difference between them and the same sex friendship groups they may choose to hang out with. There are cases where transwomen have had speech therapy to heighten their pitch, and transmen sometimes make the point of hanging round with "the lads down the pub" necking pints of Guinness like it's going out of fashion! I probably want to be seen as a woman but I'm not deluded enough to think most people would see me as thus, even if drunken young men in a seedy Thursday night student Lincoln nightclub might automatically address me as one without thinking about what they see in their beergoggled rose-tinted state! Not quite the level of flattery I'm going for thanking you kindly!

Not every transperson stays silent when they experience rape, but many do find it hard to report incidents of rape without being demonised for not conforming properly to the "expectations" of their "chosen" gender. I was oral raped by a stranger walking back alone from Ziggy's nightclub in York in December 2009, but I was so traumatised by the experience I shut myself off from my friends, colleagues and family for a few days, then carried on as if nothing had happened and never talked about it openly with anyone until July of last year when I decided to tell my Mum. This was after seeing the increase in Jimmy Savile victims coming forward. Even when I did mention it I had an elderly (bitter) family relation say it was "my own fault" for going out unaccompanied in "inappropriate dress", but I don't think a metallic t-shirt and leggings is that inappropriate as I was not showing off my flesh and it was a nightclub environment! RAPE IS RAPE, no matter who perpetrated it and no matter how you were dressed or how you were perceived to be acting at the time and I wish I'd had the strength to report it at that time. Nowadays I'm in awe of those transpeople who do report rape crime and sexual harassment crime (hopefully a blog post on these issues will be forthcoming in the near future as my work with Just Lincolnshire and our local hate crime support team comes to fruition.)

Linda La Hughes speaks the truth!
Not every transperson wants to have sex; in fact I've not had anal sex and never will. It's not because I've been brainwashed to believe it's "contrary to biological (dodgy) design"; it's my preference and it doesn't mean that I don't fancy men! If I fully transition, would I have vaginal sex? Equally doubtful! The thought of all that mega pressure down there puts me off my Ebay amethyst sterling silver jewellery shopping (something I do a lot of!)

Not every transperson is gay or bi or heterosexual and not every transperson stays constant sexuality wise as their realisation process gathers momentum. Gender and sexuality are both very fluid, yet inherently separate constructs. You get asexual, pansexual, Jedisexual (probably) etc. Before I realised I was trans I would be seen and saw myself as an effeminate (but not camp) gay man, and it's quite mindboggling getting my head round the fact that I should now see myself as being straight! Mind you my experience of dating gay guys has been very mixed, as I shall divulge in great detail in later blog posts! All my boyfriends have classified themselves as bi so far, even though I was gay! However, I haven't dated a guy since 2013, so I am a little rusty! Blame Joan Barfoot for my conversion to sustained abstinence so far in Gaining Ground (1979). The main character, Abra, decided to give up her family life, job and house to go and live by herself out in the woods in a very basic cabin and it made her feel the strongest she had ever been in her life! (Will blog about this little known Canadian feminist masterpiece in the near future). Suffice to say for now that there are transpeople of all different sexualities and each is valid!

Slideshare making it all look a doddle!

My ideal man (even Heida Reed knows)

Not every transperson wants to have a "loving cup" partner or wants to be in some "super duper groovy puppy love" kind of love. Rational love in my opinion means there having to be an element of give and take, but on an intellectual or spiritual basis; if a guy can't stomach the fact I love talking about Jack Farthing's portrayal of George Warleggan in Poldark and hate watching England " slaughter" Russia in some weird bouncy ball game which I understand but can never enjoy, I fear that relationship might not last more than 10 seconds!

Not every transperson wants to have or adopt a hoard of children! I don't have a maternal bone in my body, but I respect those who feel the desire to have a carbon copy little mini-me following them about a teddy bear ridden house and spilling coffee on their latest draft of a BDSM themed play that needs to be submitted momentarily to the Theatre Royal Lincoln! However I am passionate about education and improving the life chances of working class children with special learning difficulties, or as I like to call them learning differences (SpLDs) and LGBT students. I even did an online course with Futurelearn on how to teach dyslexic students a foreign language and I found it very illuminating! You'll see more of my views on this as my blog continues!

Not every transman is under 30 and not every transwoman is over 30! The amount of attention shown in the media towards this binarism is frankly at "dummkopf level" and I feel must be addressed in future! That's not to say I don't admire the work that's already been done to highlight trans related issues, especially in the Arts! I loved the BBC's first trans related romcom, "Boy Meets Girl" with the irrepressibly charming Rebecca Root airing in 2015 and EastEnders introducing their first major trans character with Riley Carter Millington, of a"Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" ilk was amazeballs for me to behold! Notwithstanding this, a lot more has to be done to introduce a range of trans characters, both historical and current through innovative programming, and the BBC has to be brave enough to commission them, even when held to random by a guilt ridden, penny pinching austerity biased Tory government! I, for my part, am in the process of writing both trans and non trans related scripts within the satirical sphere and shall see where it takes me in the future! It's looking bright nonetheless!

Thanks Austen for this cool drawing :D
Not every transperson hates God, Allah or Jehovah or any form of organised religion, and not every transperson is an atheist. I'm a proud Evangelical Norwegian Lutheran come Anglican, (despite the Genesis binary division hating mentioned earlier) and I know my God loves me because I choose to live an authentic, principled existence. Not to say my religious belief is incompatible with my love for Simone De Beauvoir's existentialist, feminist principles; for example, in The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947), de Beauvoir developed a form of ethics that condemned the "spirit of seriousness", where individuals identify with certain abstract concepts at the expense of their individual freedom and responsibility. She says "to will oneself moral and to will oneself free are one and the same decision." De Beauvoir had a profound effect on my feminist credentials whilst I studied Philosophy at the University of York, so I hope to do an entire series of blog posts to show how her work (and Christian teaching too) can relate to a trans audience. All I shall say for now is that I try and take control of my life and refuse to stop fighting against those who want to limit my influence in an irrational way!

Not every transperson wants to engage in the transgender political debate, and not every transperson will have any strong political affiliation for left or right, Labour or Tory! It's good to be undecided as it indicates that you have an independent mindset and I feel you're more likely to debate the issues rigorously before marking that X on the ballot paper!

Not every transperson sits around contemplating how unfair the working world is; some want to challenge people's perceptions just by attending job interviews in their chosen dress code and can often work in professional environments that would otherwise be deemed " unsuitable" for them; e.g. financial services trading in the City of London or fixing an electrical station outage in the Lincolnshire countryside. Transgender people often want the financial security needed to have a roof over their head. I'm an exception to the rule but then most creative arty types are; we want to express ourselves at any cost (supposedly to the taxpayer!)

Transpeople should chant this before beddy-byes!
Not every transperson is as "mentally incapable" as a 60 year old useless washing dolly as some may wish to label us; I'm proud of my academic history, having studied English and Philosophy at York and gained a 2:1, followed by years of studying Accountancy and HR. I've heard about the struggle for transgender people to be accepted onto some PhD courses despite their level of academic merit and this is clearly an unacceptable example of bigotry and bias within our education system! At the same time we hope that we can be accepted onto the course on the strength of our academic record alone, and not as part of some useless, blanket ticketytickboxing exercise!

Not every transwomen wants to wear a glitter dress and prance around singing "I'm Coming Out" the first time they allow themselves to dress in supposed "women's clothing"! Not every transman wants to be a Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalike spornosexual! Now I love a bit of sparkle myself but I'm a self confessed magpie; I'll wear anything that glitters if it's not stuck down with industrial glue and costs under £100! Therefore you're more likely to find me rummaging for dresses down my local branch of Age Concern than you are at some overpriced fancy Londoncentric boutique which tries to pass itself off as always being bang on trend!

Not every transperson wants to be adored and admired as an objective " thing of beauty". I hardly ever take selfies and I don't need to take them to validate my sense of beauty! Like Muhammad Ali "I am pretty" and stuff anyone else who doesn't say I am! Believe it or not, not every transwoman has dreams of being Miss England/UK/ World/Universal/Pervy old men of Planet Nutula! If I can be as half as good as French and Saunders, Miranda Hart or Kathy Burke I'll be chuffed as a prized Yellowbelly (Lincolnshire) chaffinch!

Even Paul McCartney's a sassinspiration!
Not every transgender person is looking to be co-opted into mainstream society (whatever mainstream society is- ich hab' keine Ahnung!) Some of us love being rebellious! The whole point of being a transsatirist is to blur the lines between acceptability and rejection! Why should everyone have to know when we're being serious and when we're telling a crack a lickingly good joke? It brings to my mind a famous quote that I often go back to when I'm feeling low and blue: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend the right to the death your right to say it". Funny to think that this previously Voltaire attributed quote was actually written by his female biographer, Beatrice Evelyn Hall in her 1906 book The Friends of Voltaire! Bea must be delighted to know how many philosophers, politicians and ordinary bloggers like myself that have been inspired by that quote without ever being aware of her brilliance! (Please see the wonderful blog post by Victoria McNally at http://www.themarysue.com/voltaire-beatrice-evelyn-hall).

So, dear readers of the (homo) sapien world and beyond, you now have a basic idea about my transgender self identity and why the battle for transrights is multifaceted. If you've read my post and decided that there is nothing special about transpeople, congratulations you've seen the light! Transpeople don't want to be seen as any better or any worse than anyone else! However, if you still conclude that transpeople don't exist, or are an "abomination", please realise that we are here to stay, we are going to express ourselves and we are going to continue advocating for better rights and recognition in the UK and beyond. Regardless of your personal views, I hope you see how my blog will continue to progress; a bangin' sassy mix of undeniably self-righteous rigamarole on key issues and events as they happen, with occasional dashes of satirical dalliances and pastiches whenever appropriate (seems to be almost all of the time these days). Now I shall sashay off into the twilight and think about glad tidings of joy and abandonment of earthly worries (i.e. do my much needed food budgeting for the week)! Farvel!



Proud flag faghag; got dress and earrings to match!