I get things wrong. So does everyone.
That’s why I prefer not to leap down the throat of people the first time they make a mistake: if its honest mistake, then a gentle explanation of how they got something wrong usuallly suffices.
If they repeat the “mistake”, then it starts to look like something else. Thoughtlessness… or deliberate provocation.
That’s one reason I got pissed off with the bloke today: I asked him very nicely, once, not to mis-gender. That got a sort of shrug and “whatever” – and a repetition, several times over, of “he” and “him”. And even after I said that the conversation stopped then and there if he did that again, he still managed one “him” in the middle of what followed.
But in reading responses today on using disabled facilities, it may be that I have got this one totally wrong. Early days, a good friend who is well versed in disability action and campaigning, as well as direct experience of trans issues, talked to me about issues associated with going to the loo.
As I quickly discovered, this is a sore point for those transitioning. You either learn to hold it. Take your life in your hands by running for the cover of the loo pertaining to your birth gender. Or take the plunge and use the facilities appropriate to hwo you identify.
The first felt impractical: there is no way I would ever have considered the second; and so very early on, at a time when such ideas were still quite terrifying, I decided I had to use the female facilities.
In the end, it was no big deal. I mean, you don’t actually SEE anything in there. On the whole, you get to use a much less smellier better kept facility…and the mirrors are decent. But its far less intimate than the thought itself.
Meanwhile, though, friend had suggested an alternative. A number of trans friends also suggested the same alternative. Which is to opt for the disabled loos when in dire need.
I admit: I did so on a couple of occasions. But I very quickly decided that was a bad idea. From a purely selfish point of view, it had nothing to do with transitioning.
It would have been like wearing female clothes the whole time – and just staying at home all day. So you can count my breach of protocol on that front on the fingers of one hand. Or fewer.
Today, therefore, when that suggestion came back up – briefly – from the centre manager in relation to changing, I thought about it for all of two seconds, and said no. Either the leisure centre can accommodate me as a woman or it can’t – and if it can’t, there’s a bloody great discrimination case hurtling down the tracks toward it.
At the same time, someone else in the trans community suggested that I reverse that view. That I politely suggest back to the leisure centre that if they really felt anyone needed segregating, it was those who feel uncomfortable, rather than myself.
Twas in that spirit – of seeing how they felt if the boot was on the other foot – that the suggestion was made. But still, it did open my eyes – or rather the comment I have had back from Rebecca and at least one other has opened my eyes.
I really don’t think I’d appreciated the issue in play here.
Possibly, though, other trans women haven’t either.
So…in genuine not-sureness…what do people think? Is there a general sense amongst the trasn community that disabled facilities are a second best fallback? And is that trampling over someone else’s space?
I suspect that I have got this wrong…or at least, I have been thoughtless in my own approach to this. So I’m interested in views.