When I was a preteen, I dressed like a boy, just because boys’ clothes were more comfortable, and I was at the time exploring my own personal concepts of gender and identity. I faced some really terrifying and nasty confrontations in ladies’ toilets as a result. I was, and still am, a tiny, slight and fragile figure, and I behaved myself, minding my own business, but was verbally harassed by adult women, belittled and even shouted at. It was extremely traumatic. At the same time, I would see mothers bring their preteen sons into ladies’ toilets, badly behaved boys, and nobody said a word. I now realise that the abuse I encountered was less because they thought I was in the wrong toilet, but more probably because I just did not fit people’s physical-visual stereotypes, and they were somehow taking out their prejudicial rage on me. They identified me as ‘weirdo’ and unleashed their bigotted fears upon a hapless child because they were cowards, and too afraid to look into the mirror of their own unhappy anomalies.
This post by Alex not only resonates in the context of gender / identity, but also contains reverberations in many more dimensions – wherever there is stubborn ignorance and prejudice, wherever people use subtle subversive tactics to belittle what and who they do not know, and do not wish to find out about.
I’m lucky, I guess. When I am out and about I usually get gendered correctly. Shop staff call me madam, a dad called “Mind out for that lady” to his young children who were running about as I walked past, colleagues at work use the correct pronouns to refer to me. I still feel happy when I hear it although the degree of pleasure has diminished as it has become my normal experience.
I realize this experience is not typical for a trans woman. A big factor in my favor is that I don’t pay much attention to people around me: I have no idea if people are looking at me and rarely will I notice if they are talking about me. It’s a facet of my autism; I’ve never been particularly aware of other people unless I’m interacting with them and I can hardly begin to guess at how…
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