Last but by no means least (and soon I will have to shift into a more general political analysis of all this) is what I have learnt about transphobia – and some of the worst tricks it has up its sleeve.
Its been an eye-opener, with me learning something new and important just when I thought I now knew it all.
A couple of years back – I’ve mentioned this before – I wrote about the trans world from the outside. Always intrigued, attracted: but also bemused at how so many could get so worked up about what seemed to be such trivial things.
Then I crossed over…and irony of ironies…I found myself living the same issues I had previously not understood.
And then there was this thing that people mentioned: its called “loss of privilege”. Hey! I can cope with that. It means people saying rude things about you in the street: finding it less safe to walk home at night; having people stand closer when they talk and…former colleagues patting your bum at social events.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Hmmm…and maybe tick! (there were four things on that list). I’ve now experienced them all and am rapidly adapting to them. They’re a pain but – apart from the threat of real violence – they’re pretty dealable with.
So I know what “loss of privilege” means?
Loss of privilege is what happened on Friday. It is also what today’s church friend told me about in her workplace. And it is about the experience of women, whose cases I am gradually collecting for future write-up.
It is about this: the blatant and absolute negation of you as an individual and the sheer arrogant presumption on the part of another that they get to define who or what you are.
Sure: it happens to blokes; and I have no doubt that women in positions of power do it to other women – and men too. But by and large it feels like something inflicted by a male establishment on anyone and everyone outside.
It’s the surgeon telling one woman who lost all sexual function following an operation that there was nothing wrong and that maybe she needed counselling. Its another surgeon insisting to a woman in pain and emotionally hurt following another botched operation that all was normal and she had just got it wrong.
Its doctors operating on intersex babies in order to ensure they have a “normal” female upbringing. And its charlatans (ooops…I mean, psychiatrists!) categorising as abnormal and “disordered” homosexuals, transsexuals – or any other sexuality they can’t quite get their head around.
Yep, its those charlatans again locking women up in asylums because they got a bit hysterical…and its those selfsame charlatans telling women that masturbation was a sign of mental illness.
And its an unfeeling, unempathic professional telling a trans woman – me – that he will condescend to “refer to me” as Jane for the duration of an interview. Not acknowledging me as a person: not accepting that I have any existence or validity in any way other than as he sees fit to grant me.
That’s loss of privilege…and on Friday, I think I finally discovered what it feels like.