Tuesday, 28 June 2011

And now for something completely different...

Yes, I am a fan of Monty Python.

Anyway, a quote I read today made me think. A genderqueer performer, CN Lester, who identifies as neither male nor female, and seems to have something to do with opera, did an interview with the Pink Paper, about talked about transphobia and descrimination they'd experienced. This follows on:
"It’s enough to keep you indoors…

Well…. I think we’re so f**king hard on ourselves anyway. I don’t know a single trans person who doesn’t spend every single day sort of going: “Am I OK, am I allowed to go out into the outside world, Oh God, Oh God, it’s all so tragic!” I sometimes even wonder what will happen if I’m in a terrible accident."

This is why I stopped - I just can't be arsed with all of that crap. I used to think that "matching the inside with the outside", ie. presenting in the way that I identify (whatever that may be) was a big deal. I got over it. Now I feel like what's on the inside is not really anybody's business but the people I choose to share it with, and that the outside doesn't matter all that much anyway. I'm still of queer/alternative/non-binary/whatever the hell I don't know and I don't care gender, I'm just not as loud about it. It's not a big deal any more, and that makes my life so much easier. I never got the kind of harassment that CN Lester describes (maybe they do a better job of presenting how they want to than I ever did) but I'm definitely less paranoid now. I have no desire to be the centre of attention, and now that I'm not obviously "gender freak" I'm not, or at least I don't feel I am. Unless I want to be, which would be around friends, and often my presentation could change then anyway.

I think my deciding it wasn't a big deal tied in with having bigger deals to deal with: being ill and having surgery, and actually paying attention to being ill - I think gender provided a great distraction from my health when I was getting sicker in London (in retrospect, distraction/denial didn't work out great, but maybe needs must, coping mechanisms etc); being in Germany, a new country where my language wasn't great. It was a lot better than my partner's, so I had to communicate for the two of us for a while. Finding my feet in a thoroughly new job, working out how to fit in and understand Germans (not the language, the people). And, other than the other half, being totally independent. Bigger deals.

I'm happy enough, but I still feel like I miss queer stuff, queer spaces, and it's been over two years since I was last at NUS LGBT which, despite its bitchiness and cliqueyness, had wonderful people and felt like home. Bar Wotever, places where nobody cared - I miss that.
Stay Beautiful, a club night for beautiful people of every gender (I don't know if that's their tagline, but it fits) is coming near us soon so we'll get glammed up/transed up and try not to care what we look like and have fun. I love make-up, in a performative way. Like Michael Stipe (out of off of REM).

However, here's a quote with a different perspective, a comment from an American article about transphobia:
"In the mean time, a very few of us try to combat transphobia by being publicly gender-transgressive while yet maintaining acceptance by friends, family, and colleagues. It's an awkward balancing act that few find personally satisfying."
I do sort of feel, occasionally, like I'm letting the side down. By being so fitting-in, by no longer making my gender a statement. I long for the world to change, yet I'm not really helping. I do other things: I can educate, and next time I'm at the GUM clinic (I'm on GUM/HIV/Infectious Diseases currently) I want to talk about why the clinic is so gender segregated and why that works for everyone.
When I was challenging stereotypes, and more than that challenging general gender perceptions, I guess it was something I was little bit proud of. In a "look, I'm doing my own little bit to help change the world, broaden people's experiences of people, and make things slightly better for the future".

But as the quote says, few find it personally satisfying. I know some who do, and good for them. They've got bags more confidence than I'll ever have. Maybe I'll get back to playing my part and not letting the side down a little more in the future, when I'm more settled and more confident, and less trying to fit in.
Hospitals and medical school definitely don't encourage being different. It's like being the odd one out, and I'm clearly that already, particularly in my year where I know very few people (ok, I know 1/6 of the year. Not much). Maybe it's just that I feel an odd one out, and that's a harder thing to get out of your system.

Anyway, enough waffle. Reasons to be, and not to be, openly, actively and obviously of queer gender. And why I'm not, but sometimes wish I was. My identity isn't a whole lot different, I just don't spend time thinking about it - it still confuses me. I think it always will. No big deal - I've got bigger deals to focus on.

I've just read another quote that fits in to this quite nicely. It's from a trans awareness article, linked to by the previous article:
"she belives that transgender people should have the right to "exist without definition". The only thing I do know is the fact that I don't know," she says. "I live my life not knowing, but that's OK"."
Oh look, I'm not the only one. Always nice.

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