Gender Policing: Just Stop

Most of us are used to gender policing in mainstream culture. The problems of “girl’s toys” v “boy’s toys” is especially acute at the moment. But it may come as a surprise to you that the problem extends into the trans community.

Over the vacation my friend Dru Marland was interviewed by a local magazine in Bristol. It was a pretty good interview, and the journalist tried hard to be respectful. Yet Dru got email from another trans person who was distraught that anyone could be so foolish as to openly admit to being trans, and claimed that Dru was causing her great damage by doing so. I quote:

… how you want to call yourself is up to you off course, but if any body calls or labels me “a trans person” then I’m disgusted and angry as any woman would be. How dare you suggest that I’m ugly or look like a man.

I’ll not link to the rest of it because after some discussion the person concerned calmed down a lot and hopefully that’s sorted, but it is fairly typical of the sort of attack that trans activists get from those who prefer to keep themselves very private. If you’d like to read the interview, it is here, on page 46.

I haven’t had any of that, but I have been complained at from the other end of the spectrum for being supposedly overly feminine. Well I’m sorry, but I refuse to grow a beard so that everyone can see that I’m trans (and yes, I have been told I have a moral duty to do that).

This sort of thing is sadly common in the trans community, but my jaw dropped earlier today when I read a blog post by Brit Mandelo about her anthology, Beyond Binary. One of the interesting things about the book is that it provided a whole spectrum of different ways of a challenging the gender binary. The book was a bit limited due to being a reprint collection, but I thought it did a fine job of providing a range of different views on gender. Imagine my surprise, therefore, to discover that Brit has come under attack from non-binary-identified people for Doing Non-Binary Wrong. (Her post is here, but it’s on LiveJournal so good luck actually getting it to load.)

Really, people, this is madness. There is nothing to be gained from abandoning one “one true way” approach to gender, only to adopt another that is often even more rigid. I wish people could see that.

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4 Responses to Gender Policing: Just Stop

  1. Martha says:

    LJ must like me. It took it’s time, but finally loaded, so I was able to read Brit’s very brave and well presented post. You know my position on these issues so I don’t think I need to repeat them.

    I found myself remembering the discussion in Tampere when we were positing that there are more than 2 or 3 or an undetermined number of possible genders. What you and your friends, and I hope that includes me, need to do, I think is to continue to insist on the right of all persons to define and express their gender in ways that meet their emotional needs. The bullies who would put you or me or anyone in narrowly defined little boxes cannot be allowed to get away with that.

    • Cheryl says:

      Bullies may be a bit strong. In many cases these are people who are desperate for their own identities to be validated, and think that the only way they can achieve validation is for every other trans person to be like them, or be shunned. They’ll also tend to skew their view of trans towards what they think will be acceptable to the social group they want validation from. The real bullies are the medical establishment and the radical feminists. These people are more like the slightly weird kids who pick on those more weird than themselves in the hope of deflecting the attention of the real bullies.

  2. I think this kind of thing calls for a “Gender: Ur Doin It Rong!” image macro. Of course, the least offensive idea I can come up with is the Pope in his pope dress and pope hat.

  3. Lisa Deutsch Harrigan says:

    I’m so straight it hurts, except I hate pink, look terrible in it. But I’ve always known my sex, and as comfortable as one can get.
    That said, I think people should do what makes THEM happy. I have a foster daughter who switched sexes, He’s much happier now. I know you are happiest female as you can get. Some people who I later find out they weren’t the sex they were born with, but are now happy they way they are.
    HAPPY. That is what matters.
    You are right, anyone who picks on someone else, is still a bully, no matter what their sexual orientation. You have enough problems with Society, who rejects you and finds you “wrong”, without getting picked on by others of your orientation. They need to figure out “Why am I NOT Happy”, rather than picking on everyone else. But the problem is they are reflecting Society’s cues and lashing out in pain, which doesn’t help anyone. Some hide behind the Bible (how many of the Highest Sin Screamers end up Sin Committers?), some hide behind ridiculous rules to justify their meddling. But it still doesn’t make it right.
    All I can offer is hugs. And an Attagirl for doing it right For You. You do have lots of friends out here who support you. You need to leave the haters behind in your dust.