A problem with writing of any kind is that all too often, it is not the first piece that i write on a topic that works, but the second or third. It takes at least a version and a working out of ideas before i find myself actually getting to grips with what it is i want to say on a topic.
And so it was today with a piece for the Guardian comment pages in respect of the revelation of the very first child being born to a UK trans man.
No matter that the basic premise behind this story is just wrong: that this is far from being the first incident of its kind. It just so happens to be the first that the UK press has cottoned on to.
Still, i found myself fairly overwhelmed by things to say. First up was the problematic nature, according to comment after comment on a range of comment pages, of a man giving birth to a child.
Trans carry the can for cis misapprehension
Cue mix of outrage, with some pretty nasty comments in there, with sheer incredulity. Because, of course, what every fule kno is: “trans folk can’t wait to become real men and real women of the opposite gender after they’ve done their sex swapping”. So how can someone possibly claim to be a “man” whilst retaining the reproductive organs of a woman.
Er, yes. Herein is a whole forest worth of straw men, which is where i first began my deconstruction. The only people claiming that the above is what trans folk want is people who aren’t trans. It begins with an archaic and frankly quite barbaric imposition of the gender binary on trans men and women by clinicians…early days, even the requirement that you fit preconceived ideas of the gender binary before you get to receive any treatment.
It carries on through the repeated and wrong usage of “sex swap” and “sex change” by the tabloids. And of course it issues out in terms of public incomprehension at the current story.
What can i say? Its a myth. The public, mostly, haven’t a clue about the trans experience. They don’t understand the trans view of gender…even assuming it was a single view, which of course, it is not…and most of the spluttering in the right-wing rags is based on a total “not getting it”.
The intolerant Christians
i then moved on in my second version – the one which DOES appear in the Grauniad, to a deeper questioning of the mostly Christian rhetoric that is attacking this reported phenomenon.”Think of the children” is the cry – most explicitly from former MP Anne Widdecombe.
But actually this mostly sounds like an attempt to jump on the bandwagon provided by this story as a means to back the heteronormative family structure. Calls for ethical standards committees to get involved. A strong whiff of “ain’t it awful?”, accompanied by “something must be done”.
All of which, seemingly, deconstructs to one simple trope: that the writers, who are almost without exception drawn from Christian pressure groups, simply do not accept the validity of a trans man giving birth. Somewhere in there, i suspect, a certain amount of homophobia, too, because the same folk who have difficulty with this have never accepted gay and lesbian family arrangements either.
And a mixed bag of stuff
Other observations – stuff to sink my teeth into? What on earth is the role of the Beaumont Society in all this? Because it does look suspiciously like they outed the event, if not the person, for the sake of publicity.
Loads of absolutely bizarre stuff from people on comment threads worrying about the effect all this might have on the resulting child – without actually considering how the child’s history might ever get out there and into the open. Because unless exposed by well-meaning (or malicious) outsiders, the child will learn as much as is appropriate at the time of their parents’ choosing.
(It does leave me wondering about these parents: do they burden their own children with every little factlet about their own pregnancy irrespective of the child’s wishes or preparedness to hear it).
Still, that will be the Sun, today asking anyone with any idea who this is to shop the individual concerned, no doubt in exchange for a paltry thirty pieces and a slap on the back for services to their community.
It would appear that that rag has learned nothing at all from Leveson. Because while it MIGHT make some sort of sense to expose this story to the public gaze as an issue that is worthy of public debate, there can be no excuse for outing the specific individual concerned unless there is something very untoward going on in their personal life.
Enough. I’m back blogging again and will try and keep things going through this week.