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.