Pulling it back together

Well, the police have been and gone. They were good. Positive. Stepped through the incident and very carefully teasd out the precise level of threat.

No: the guy didn’t touch me. No: he didn’t step menacingly toward me. Nor did he especially get in my face. It was verbal intimidation, with no real trading of insults. We managed to keep that part of things civilised.

Well, as civilised as it gets, with some creep calling you “he” and alluding to this as being all about the clothes. Bastard!

I did a little bit of law-checking immediately prior to the police arrival and it confirmed for me the degree of bureaucratic stupidity in the current legislative arena.

The officer attending had heard of the gender re-assignment Act and therefore of Gender re-assignment certificates. So he raised some questions in respect of that.

Except that my legal protection lies not in the GRA, but in the Equality Act, which makes gender re-assignment a protected characteristic, and counts you as transgender from the day you begin treatment…or possibly even from the day you commit to beginning treatment.

In other words, the GRA doesn’t helop much at all: if anything (as I will be writing further about next week) it muddies the waters further, by creating a secondary “test” around gender.

Anyway, I’m getting off the track. The police were good. Gave me a card (again) and suggested I call if I felt in any imminent danger. They intend to investigate further, but I think they understood that this was not the way to do stuff.

If the guy at the leisure centre had a prob, then it was for him to raise with the centre management, who could then have spoken to me. It was not for him to intervene directly: absolutely not for him to use words to the effect that if I entered a particular space, I would be thumped.

Even if “he didn’t mean it seriously”. Double bastard!

Six months of becoming confident in myself – and now I am fearful about going out. I will. I am no way going to stay inside my house. But I can map out exactly how its going to go. A half hour or an hour of intense jitteriness. I feel that now. Slightly hyper. Slightly nervous. Scared. Angry.

Then it will subside. Except that the streets won’t feel quite as safe as they have before. I’ll be looking over my shoulder a bit more. Checking people out.


As for the leisure centre. Where’s the logic? (And so far, I have no criticism whatsoever for them!). If his partner and his kids are made “uncomfortable”, then they can always use the disabled facility…

But what of the Saturday morning dads who bring their daughters to the pool? Where on earth do they get their kids changed? Oh. I guess they do so in the blokes’ changing area…which is far more open plan than the women’s. Fewer – if any – cubicles.

And, of course, they expose their young daughter to the gaze of “real men”: the testosterone fuelled variety. So, hey!

Having a tranny in a “women’s changing room” where most people change in cubicles anyway is more uncomfortable than undressing a six-year old girl in front of a room full of men?

Either a) he hasn’t thought this one out or b) he has some very strange ideas about safety.

Hmmm. It strikes me that there is probably a much deeper analysis that could be applied to this. Something about male territoriality and how its OK for proper men to view young girls but not for non-men to do so? Weird. Complicated.

But for now, I am calmer. Will report back when we see what the police do.



13 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Rebecca said,

    No, they can’t use the bloody disabled facility.

    Don’t stitch up other people while you’re struggling with your own stuff. There are limited enough accessible facilities as it is, and trying to change yourself and a profoundly disabled kid is plenty hard enough without having to stand around holding said kid (because poolside wheelchairs do not have enough support to be sat in safely) while you wait for some arsehole who doesn’t need it to finish up.

    • 2

      janefae said,

      slightly tongue in cheek, rebecca!

      the first thought on the part of many in authority is that _I_ should use the disabled facility. My comment is more in the spirit of: “if anyone should, it should be those with the issue”.

      But the point is taken and i’ll feed it back in the direction it came from.


  2. 3

    Faith said,

    My pool has a Changing Village and open plan showers AND closed showers… the venue’s way of saving money!

    Perhaps you could state this is your case?!?!

  3. 4

    Jennie Kermode said,

    I’m afraid that, ugly though this is, it will move you more quickly into the social experience of femaleness. The vast majority of women receive threats ad abuse from men they don’t know at some point in life and experience feelings like those you describe – a fear of meeting the assailant again, a desire to stay indoors where it feels safer, that sense of constantly looking over their shoulders when they do go out. Think of it as a condensed introduction to life in a stigmatised group, because it’s likely you’ll get more of it in he future even from men who haven’t the faintest inkling about your transness. You’ll learn to live with it and you’ll learn, odd though this may sound, not to take it too personally. It really isn’t about you.

    • 5

      janefae said,

      hmmm…i think i am almost finding some very dark humour in this…although i seem to have made similar comment some months back: when i found myself responding very ambivalently to being patronised and talked to in a sexist way.

      On the one hand, as a woman, i should have been offended and bitten back. On t’other, it meant i was being seen as female. Yay!

      At the time, i got feedback from quite a few cis women who reported similar experience and similar feelings of guilt about how they found it perversely empowering to be treated in a patronising or objectified way by blokes.

      so yes: i get your point absolutely. I am also in no illusions that i have had things fairly easy so far – and hope i continue to do so (who wouldn’t?). But i will also write about and document that experience as it happens, because that, too, needs doing.

      I am not in the least special in terms of what i am going thru. Many, many trans women get it far worse. Sadly, i suspect the effect is in some way correlated with youth and attractiveness: i am but a sad middle-aged lady, 😦

      The only difference is that i am quick on the keyboard and passably good at communicating. So we’ll see where this latest episode takes me.

      Hopefully on to new positives.

      (ever the optimist)


  4. 6

    Stace said,

    Thought this through? You think he was thinking?

    I hope that you managed to go out without any issues.


  5. 7

    Disabled Person said,

    In all the months of reading your transition blog, I now feel cross. Why are you suggesting this guy should use the disabled facilities if he feels uncomfortable? If you refuse, rightly, to use them it’s 10 times worse to suggest this man should – they are for DISABLED people. Yes, disabled. They are not meant for able-bodied people any more than they are meant for transgendered people.

    If they get used by someone who doesn’t need them they are depriving someone who does of their use. It’s bad enough that I get looks or even remarks when I use my Radar key to access a disabled loo because I’m not in a wheelchair because I “look” normal. But at least I have a disability and a genuine need for the space.

    I’m quite shocked that you, who have argued so eloquently for months for your rights to use the appropriate space should now be arguing that others who need theirs might be deprived of it so that someone who doesn’t need it can use it.

    Shame on you.

    • 8

      janefae said,

      message heard and understood. As i said in my reply to Rebecca: i wasn’t so much advocating it as putting it forward as a counter to the suggestion that _I_ should use the disabled facility – which i actually objected to.

      In other words, if anyone had to change their behaviour, it shouldn’t me.

      That said, we live and learn. I tend to let people get away with making mistakes in dealing with me, because there is so much stuff that people don’t get unless they live an experience, that it is unfair to expect them to get it right first time.

      But that’s how it goes: i let people make a mistake once and i point that out to them. After that, it isn’t a mistake – its at best thoughtlessness, at worst deliberately provocative.

      The reason i see the disabled facility in this light is because a good friend who is well versed in trans issues AND a campaigner on disability suggested, very early on, that if i felt threatened in using the usual facilities, i should make use of the disabled.

      Given who it was who told me this…i’ll let them come along and post if they feel it appropriate…i never really challenged that, although, over the last few months…over the year, really, i quickly realised that it wasn’t a solution.

      i don’t personally use disabled spaces, because i take the somewhat bolshie view that i am a trans woman and should use female spaces. i can’t really remember when i last made use of anywhere that might be categorised as a disabled space…and would object strenuously to someone trying to push me into one.

      However…that was a suggestion briefly made by the centre manager this mornign. i don’t think SHE had thought it through: but i can see how tempting it might be if one is looking for an instant compromise that would smooth ruffled feathers. There’s one of me. More than one of the people feeling “uncomfortable”: would it be any great thing if i used the disabled facilities.

      To which my response was an unequivocal YES: at this moment i see my way forward as continuing to assert my rights to use the facilities that are there for women – and if the leisure centre objects, then i will bring on the Equality Commission.

      It was in relation to that particular suggestion that i countered with the suggestion that it would be “as appropriate” for the person complaining to use the disabled facility. But having said that: no, i wasn’t aware of how much of an imposition you and Rebecca would consider that.

      So i have rethunk. I get that that is a much worse suggestion than i thought it was…so i won’t be suggesting it again.


      • 9

        Disabled Person said,

        But you made no mention in your OP of anyone suggesting you use the disabled facilities. Nor did you write that this man using the disabled facilities would be “as appropriate”. You stated very unequivocally:

        “If his partner and his kids are made “uncomfortable”, then they can always use the disabled facility…”

        That’s what angered me, that in your attempt to find a solution to your own difficult situation you propose one that causes problems for another minority that has also had to fight very hard for its own space.

        To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.

        And Andrea seems to have missed the point too – it’s not about whether a space earmarked for disabled people is empty 95% of the time. What if someone who needs that space turns up in the other 5% of the time to use the pools only to find they can’t get into the earmarked and adapted changing area because some selfish person who doesn’t need it is using it? Saying “ach get over it” is a disgusting attitude to disabled people although it doesn’t surprise me – this is the sort of shit we disabled have to put up with on a daily basis. (And again, you made the assumption we are all in wheelchairs.) If you want people to have empathy with Jane’s situation then start showing some for other minorities. Nice to see your own prejudices coming out…

      • 10

        janefae said,

        Yep. There’s loads of things i don’t put down as i write this blog…because they either don’t seem important at the time, or i run out of space.

        But as i explain here – and at greater length in a post specifically on this issue – there was a context to my remark, both at the time and in terms of what i had been given to understand by others involved in both trans and disability activism..

        I think that in the context of the suggestion made, my riposte was reasonable: but in the broader scheme of things, i have said once, twice maybe, that i suspect i have got this issue wrong: i need to listen to people involved; and then i probably need to change my approach. End of.

        I’m really not too interested in debating the nuances of a particular phrase or utterance. As far as i am concerned, the real world goes: I say something; you pull me up on it; and i expand/explain the circumstances to what i said.

        My initial remark didn’t give enough detail. I’ve added to it now. So it would make sense to engage with what my actual position is, rather than us get tangled in playing games around phraseology.

        It is also possibly not too helpful to conflate my and andrea’s views on this topic. Let us say, simply, that we discussed it last night and didn’t agree: her views and mine may not exactly be diametrically opposed, but they are pretty different.


    • 11

      andrea said,

      ach get over it.

      its a small rural town with a low density of minorites of any flavour…I’m pretty sure if the local comprehensive can manage without a lift and the disabled bays are almost always 95% empty the local pool can cope with opening up the disabled changing room once a week to avoid a nasty a confrontation between the local bigots and trannies without getting a build up of angry wheelchair users banging on the door.

  6. 12

    spirifer said,

    Are you “middle-aged”?! When does middle age begin??

    Even if you are, technically, you’re certainly not “sad”, lovely Jane!

  7. 13

    Dennis Queen said,

    I do think trans people should be entitled to use the accessible facilities if THEY wish to for their own personal reasons. As far as I am concerned, going by the social model of disability, trans people count as disabled people if they wish to.

    I certainly do NOT think that trans people should be expected or obliged to use the accessible facilities, ever. I think trans people should change where they feel best to change, not where OTHERS feel they should change. Trans women of course, should be welcome in the women’s changing space – as should trans men in the men’s space.

    Anyone who is not willing to share public changing spaces with other members of the public should stay home where they can control who uses the bathroom.

    I think the point has been made that signposting bigots to the accessible toilet is not helpful. I’d be far less kind to them personally (see above).

    In general – re gender status and re disability status, none of us ought not be trying to vet who uses which facility as we do not know and nor are we entitled to know anyone elses private business, health or trans status or anything else. We don’t know who needs it or why nor should we. There are also of course, a good number of trans people who are disabled people anyway. I think people should hesitate carefully before making comments about people using them who ‘don’t need’ them – who are we to judge?

    The accessible provisions are allowed to be engaged, and in use, just as other facilities can and do. The reason they are there is because they are more accessible, not so they are empty when a crip needs a piss or a change.

    Dennis (the disabled friend & activist referenced earlier by Jane) x x x

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