In a week when newspapers were awash with fears that a ten-year old starting to transition might be bullied by her fellow pupils, it is oddly ironic that i should find myself on the receiving end of stick from a bunch of mouthy pre-pubescent girls.
“This is for girls only”
Its the Leisure Centre again, naturally. At a time when, touch wood, rudery about me and my appearance is receding ever further and being “Sir”‘d is increasingly a thing of the past i’ve just had an earful from the girls in the local Swim Club.
As usual, i took the boy in to swim at 9: took him into the Women’s changing area; and as usual got a load of hmmphed shoulders and “Really!” from three or four girls by the door. However, today it seems to be spreading since, going past the shower area, i also got a chorus of “this is the girls’ changing room” from a foursome in the showers.
Contempt breeds ignorance
That is, possibly, an attitude changer. Hitherto, i’ve been tolerant, calculating that in a world where children are warned in ever more lurid tones of stranger danger, i should at least make allowances for girls possibly feeling wary or intimidated by my presence. But actually, they aren’t. This is not worry, so much as pack hunting…and its unpleasant.
Intersting, too, that it happens at 9 – when the Swim Club is in (mostly consisting of girls unaccompanied in the changing area) – and not at 9.30, when i share the area with a load of Mum’s who mostly interact very pleasantly with me.
So what’s up? And what to do?
The local Swim Club
The Swim Club thing is appallingly unfinished business. Months back, my last major bit of transphobic threat came from an “adult” member of that organisation, who threatened to hit me if i returned to the changing area. After words with the Centre Management and with the police, that went away and no more was heard on that front.
Still, i felt it would be helpful to offer an olive branch. I offered to do a talk for the community and, along the way, the Swim Club were invited. Possibly a mistake, since their committee instantly started to act as though they “owned” my talk, expressed shock and horror that a tranny was using the Women’s Area, and started laying down thoughts about how the talk should happen.
Huh? Control freaks, too!
In the end i said “no”: i put on the talk, about a week pre-op, invited the local community and, with the full support of the Leisure Centre management, a very good night appears to have been had by all.
The swim club didn’t turn up. Not a single member. Not a sausage. Like…they are collectively so concerned by the “threat” this lone trans woman poses to their kids that not one of them could find time on a weekday evening to come and find out more.
I wouldn’t, at this stage, describe them as a bunch of loud-mouthed bigots: but the temptation is growing.
Desperately seeking resolution
And that brings me back to the 9 am catcalling. It is hurtful. Also, difficult. If they were adlts, i’d take them on. Kids, in today’s culture? Nah.
I’m not saying its the FAULT of the parents. But i am beginning to think it is. It cannot be that all these girls go home, having been traumatised by my presence, and not one of them mentions it to their mum or dad.
At which point, what? Do their parents go: ah yes, but some boys grow up to be girsl, and vice-versa. Or do they, like the closet bigots quoted in this week’s tabloids, weasel their way round this by saying that they don’t have any problem with trans folk, but it stands to reason that there is going to be concern.
For that, loud and clear, is the message that many parents in Worcester were putting out this week. We’re not encouraging bullying or violence. But we understand it…
Much as in the States, when teachers and pupils effectively condoned the murder of student Scott King by sugesting that they could see “tensions on campus rising after King began coming to school dressed in makeup and girl’s boots”.
Hmmm. I am starting to recognise the whiff of bigotry at long distance. Most will never express it directly: they’ll just “worry” about how other folk (never them!) will react. And in the process, they will tacitly condone it.
What then to do? I won’t take the girls on directly. I will speak (again) to the Centre management. And i’ll chat to the local cpso: there has to be a resolution to this short of confrontation and nastiness.
Except, sadly, by their actions, it begins to look as though this is the only language the swim club understands…