Sharpen your pitchforks!

Now I’m in something of a quandary. Following my encounter with the transphobe bloke from Hell (or possibly Peterborough: the similarities are marked), the local Leisure Centre has been a difficult place for me.

First, because I have no idea of how much anger and angst my very existence has stirred up. Are the villagers out the back, sharpening up their pitchforks, just waiting for the opportunity to spring out, en masse, yelling “burn the tranny!”? Or is it that I have done no more than excite the prejudice of one lone threatened male, who has co-opted his family to his cause and now feels entitled to lecture me on the “discomfort” I cause to others?

And that’s the issue, I guess. The unknown. The fact that whatever is out there, in the way of prejudice, it has been turned on me and once turned on, its hard to turn off again. On the one hand, I fear still, albeit remotely, that some anonymous dickhead will step out of the shadows and bash my head in.

On the other, I hate the sense that I may actually be causing discomfort to others. And whilst that is ever the case – just being Jewish no doubt causes discomfort to your average White supremacist – that sense of othering is istill a source of discomfort to me. How to explain? We-ell, direct physical threat to me from a minority I get very well. It happens: I need to take care not to put myself in harm’s way.

But the sense that beneath the surface, some unspecified number of people – as the guy who confronted me implied – regard me with suspicion and disquiet. That turns the tables. It makes me fill ill at ease. Makes me feel less at home in places I thought I was safe, accepted.

So. After a minor follow-up incident about two weeks ago, I’ve tackled the Leisure Centre again – and again niente! Nada! Nothing! If women do resent my presence in the female changing rooms, none has the presence of mind to even inquire about it. Or rather, two individuals over the space of six months plus have asked whether I am entitled to be there and, being told I am, have made no further issue.

Still, I dislike the sense of things festering. The Leisure Centre agree and, in a week or two, I will be doing a public meeting at which the public can come to ask questions and check out the situation. I can see that going badly: but since most of those involved want to make it work, my hope is that it will be a genuine opportunity for someone both trans and fluent to do a bit of pubic education.

It helps that there will be someone from the Council’s diversity team there – and a PCSO, just in case things heat. But back to the quandary.

If I focus on my “rights” I risk alienating. Some bolshie tranny stood in front of a cis audience proclaiming her right to go where she wishes, do as she pleases is a sure fire recipe for raised hackles and putting backs up.

On the other hand, my other tack – one that I tend to favour emotionally – may give too much to the mob. That is, a chunk of this is about fear for the kids/fear of the unknown, the pervert. Simple. I just explain a bit about the hormones. Explain I couldn’t, much, present a threat if I wanted to and…

…you see the problem? Alienate them by being too bold: or put myself over as damaged, incapable. Not to be feared because I’m a miserable wretch who couldn’t hurt a fly.

No. Neither seems the right way to go. So any advice from anyone who has done this sort of thing before…would be very welcome.



7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Carka said,

    I’ve noticed a few times you using the word “tranny” to refer to yourself, and my curiosity is piqued. Are you intending to reclaim this word to apply it to those transsexed, rather than pejoratively to transvestites?

    (I ask because your paragraph:

    “Some bolshie tranny stood in front of a cis audience proclaiming her right to go where she wishes, do as she pleases is a sure fire recipe for raised hackles and putting backs up.”

    is obviously written from the POV of the audience, but I associate people using the word “tranny” to deny my gender identity; I expect those people to not use “she” as my pronoun, and so I’m interested as to the motivation behind your house style.)

    • 2

      janefae said,

      you think i have a house style!


      Nah. Nothing so advanced.

      Mostly, i just write as i feel. Personally, i like the word “tranny”, so long s it comes from a place of affection. When preceded by the f-word (as in a phrase like “fucking tranny”) or is just spat at me by some transphobe, its horrid. At home, with friends, with other trans men and women, so long as it doesn’t cause offence, i don’t mind it.

      I like the phrase “bolshie tranny” – because i suspect i am one.

      And the pr you reference…i guess i wasn’t quite consistent enough. I was seeing from the audience pov – and partly too from my own. So it came out mixed.

      Hope that explains – or at least lessens the confusion.


  2. 3

    Circadian said,

    Tried (and failed) three times to get my thoughts into words, but nothing worthwhile came out. I am just going to have to wish you the best with this, and hope that maybe a new day may bring new words that can express what I want to say.

    • 4

      Circadian said,

      Right – I give up. I still can’t really find a way to express what I mean, but this is as close as I have managed to get.

      A lot of talks resemble lectures – a person talking down from “on high” giving the information to be imparted. I don’t think this is the best way forward in this case. I feel that the best way forward is to engineer a very informal atmosphere, as a bunch of people getting together for a chat. If the venue is small enough (and a small number of expected attendees), could see if tea and cakes/biscuits could be put on, and arrange it as closer to being a “get together” type atmosphere if possible, maybe even giving the talk wandering among the “guests”.
      If it’s a larger gathering, I’d still be tempted to try to keep it as informal as possible – if there is a stage (maybe also a lectern), I’d be tempted to avoid standing there, and if possible sit at the edge of the raised area (so you are closer to the audience’s height – less the “educator” and more like them). And stay from behind any lecterns!
      It’s also important to try to get the audience on your side. If you can get them to laugh *with* you, I think all sorts of important stuff can be added in (as long as it’s not dry information).
      Admittedly, all these suggestions are assuming a mostly neutral/positive audience. If there are a number of hostile individuals, then the above may need to be changed to a more formal feel – then use the height of any available platform to bring more authority to bear.

      I suppose I am really trying to use body language mostly in the above – try to show it’s all “us”, and not “I” am giving talk to educate “them”. As it is all about living in the community, I feel it is best to try to give a feel of community within the talk.

      It may seem inappropriate to mention within such a serious subject, but it may be worth watching how stand-up comedians (preferably the tale-tellers) control an audience. They have to gauge an audience’s mood and sometimes adjust their delivery to match what is going on in the crowd below.

      I hope the above makes sense. It still feels raw, and doesn’t really convey what I hope to express, but I’ve given up trying to get it any better.

  3. 5

    Romola Des Loups said,

    I can’t claim to have been where you are but acting ‘as if’ has always to be the guide, hasn’t it? It’s the only proper test of when you are oppressed or discriminated against. Some criticise it as an approach because it means you ignore pressures that are purely social. If you can do what you would do as a free and equal person without having actual obstacles put in your way, you do it. It seems to me that you are simply doing what anyone else could expect to do without objection. If you had researched transphobic leisure centres and travelled 150 miles to use one of those in order to make a point, , that wouldn’t be acting ‘as if’, it would be looking for a fight; using a local public facility is something you should have a reasonable expectation to be able to do. One to make a stand over.

  4. 6

    Christina Steel said,


    This isn’t about what you cause other people to feel. This is about what THEY feel. You’re nothing more than todays focus for these bullies & bigots. What about how they make you feel? The reality of your existance gives these puerile people permission to indulge in the most debased thought – their thoughts.

    This is about is your right to live your life, your right to live your life in a manner of your choosing, your right to be comfortable. These people demand their right to get drunk & expose themselves in public, watch the most degrading pornography, or be violent. Who’s imposing their perversion on who.

    My life has taught me that most people are only interested knowing you are a decent living person, a good neighbour and quietly being a member of your community. The rest don’t matter. It was Jesus who taught that, when we’re not made welcomed, shake the dust off your sandals & continue on your journey.

    AS for the word tranny. Please, do not ever use that word in reference to me. I’m a woman. Where I’ve come from is of no consequence. It’s about how I live my life. Words like tranny, transgender etc re-inforce the view that “I really am”. No, I never was. I’m female. I’m a woman. This isn’t play with words, or denial. It an affirmation of who I am.

    Only when I know & believe I am a woman will I actually be a woman

  5. 7

    Faith said,

    I will come and hold you hand, or bounce the biggus gittus out of the building if need be… Doing that ‘positive handling’ course really DOES come in handy…

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