Category Archives: Gender

Does Feminism Need a Rebrand?

Straight off the bat, fist in the air and hollering like a macaque, I am a feminist. Of course I am a feminist. Gender equality is something we should be ashamed that we haven’t reached. As a species we have put twelve men on the moon, observed distant galaxies, cured diseases that were once thought fatal, and created ABBA, yet equal pay, equal corporate and political representation, and even not hacking a girl’s lady bits to pieces in some parts of the world STILL prove elusive.

“BLAH BLAH Patriarchy, BLAH BLAH Pay gap, BLAH BLAH Glass ceiling.”

That is what people are conditioned to hear whenever issues of equality and prejudice are brought up. The words “I am a Feminist” to many people is just giving them permission to tune you out, talk over you or repeat some ‘witty banter’ about women not knowing their place.

Indeed it is seemingly acceptable to sneer and ridicule, as if holding said beliefs are an open and aggressive challenge to the sneering party. There are three groups of people who it is deemed totally okay to heap scorn upon with no ‘legitimate’ objections.

Feminists – Environmentalists – Vegans

Yup, even we much scorned and oft mocked Transfolk are starting to get ‘normal’ people fighting our corner (keep it up guys, you’re stars!).

Now, I could bang on about how those big three labels are consciously and constantly discredited by a patriarchal, fossil fuel loving, steak chomping cabal of wealthy (mostly) men, who use their assets to influence media and politicians, but all people are conditioned to hear is:

“BLAH BLAH Patriarchy, BLAH BLAH Pay gap, BLAH BLAH Glass ceiling.”

Since when were universal human equality, environmental preservation or just not eating animal products considered to be bizarre, far out political extremism?

“BLAH BLAH Patriarchy, BLAH BLAH Pay gap, BLAH BLAH Glass ceiling.”

Okay, okay I’ve lost a lot of the readership by this point, so I won’t labour it.

The actual core message of Feminism in particular, is one that even most naysayers would agree with, but the word has been toxified. A grotesque stereotype has been carefully crafted and bandied about as if it were cold, hard fact. When a negative portrayal of something is so crafted for so long, it begins to self-perpetuate and those who spun it can sit back in their gentleman’s clubs, joke about all the women they have groped and then run for President.

We live in a world of brands, slogans and logos. If something cannot be summed up by a simple image or a brief tagline, it fails.

Conditioned Public: “Why do we have this problem?”

Brand A: “There are numerous causes for our current situation, not least of all is…

Conditioned Public: “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

Conditioned Public: “Why do we have this problem?”

Brand B: *Shrugs* Brown people.

Conditioned Public “YAAAAAY!”

Ye get me bro?

Now, Feminists can be massive pricks. Believing in women’s equality does not automatically prevent you from being rude, aggressive, divisive, cruel or elitist. In the Venn diagram of “Pricks and Feminists” there is a little bit of a crossover.

feminist pricks

Yes, there are several high profile Feminists that seem to get an awful lot of media time because they outright despise Trans people (so much for your genitals not dictating your destiny eh?). There are those who would rather fight against the women that don’t adhere to their own narrow views of what is, and is not acceptable for a Feminist to be.

But what of the rest of the Feminists who stand in solidarity with their Trans kin, who embrace a woman’s right to choose her own form of self-expression, set her own standards of beauty and fashion… those who argue that it is no less oppressive to ban an item of women’s clothing, than it is to enforce its wearing? Because that is most of us, isn’t it?

Of course that pesky old hyper-male governed media only give coverage the to the divisive and hypocritical…

BLAH BLAH Patriarchy, BLAH BLAH Pay gap, BLAH BLAH Glass ceiling.”

Okay, so we can’t go in with the complex ideas off the bat. It also doesn’t help that the letters ‘F.E.M’ get a whole other heap of scorn all to themselves when placed in that order. They have been made to mean ‘weak’, ‘contradictory’, ‘stupid’, ‘less than’… The whole language of being female, or even feminine has been toxified. Men suffer as a result of this too. The pressure to be emotionally distant, repressed, stoic, insensitive and unaffectionate creates an ‘ideal’ that one would have to be a narcissistic sociopath to live up to… and yes guys, since you’ve always been told that everything is really about you when it isn’t, this actually is, at least in part. I am glad that so many guys nowadays actually get this and proudly label themselves as feminists, but the status quo as ever pushes back against challenges with increased vigour and severity. Let’s push forward together.

I am no marketing genius of course (I couldn’t sell shit to a Dung Beetle), and I never sought to offer a solution to the whole ‘rebranding’ option, but in a world where short answers trump correct ones, I feel it is inevitable that we must come up with some way of approaching our argument that cannot be toxified and filtered out of debate.

Or, in other words…

BLAH BLAH Patriarchy, BLAH BLAH Pay gap, BLAH BLAH Glass ceiling.”

Oh, just a side note. I spent waaaaay too long looking for an easy to use Venn Diagram generator online that didn’t require some kind of coding or payment for use so I gave up and did it in MS-Paint like a techno-illiterate from the late eighties (which I am). I’m not sure the gag was worth it, except that I really REALLY can’t stand Germaine Greer.

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Filed under Activism, Body Image, equality, feminism, Gender, gender roles, Inequality, trans community, trans issues, Transender, Transsexual

#Transgender – The story of how I died

First off, many apologies for the long absence. I have had some pretty nasty health issues these past few weeks that have kept me free of the blogosphere, for want of a better buzzword (If you have ever prolapsed a disc in your back you will know my pain). I sit here, Handel’s Sarabande Suite playing, its melancholy tones fitting the reflective mood I am in. Of all the times to return to my blog, this seemed the most fitting.

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There was someone many people knew; someone who knew such sadness wiithin themselves and could never see their future. They had a name but tomorrow begins their final journey. They are about to be erased.

Tomorrow begins the legal process of getting my GRC (Gender Recognition Certificate). It is a majorly positive thing and a huge milestone, but there is that tinge of sadness to the thought of erasing the person I used to be… It was that person that met many of you, became your friend and, for some strange reason, was even loved by some of you. There are also those that hated who I was too, those who couldn’t handle the unpredictability, the self-destructiveness…and there were those that I loved who walked away from me, and those I had to let go.

I need it to be known that every time I held your hand, gave you a sympathetic ear, or my shoulder to cry on was real. Every hug, kiss and friendship was utterly me. The face may have not been me, the name didn’t truly belong to me, the voice didn’t sound like mine, but the place all that love came from is the same as where it comes from now. I did good things, and I did bad things; I said ‘I love you’ and meant it in absolute earnestness, and I have said it and not meant a word of it. I am not looking to offload my mistakes onto a construct of someone else.

Tomorrow I will start the process to officially erase that identity. There are those who have told me that the person I was felt dead to them and had been replaced with a stranger. I have looked into the eyes of people grieving my death, and suffered their resentment for it. I have been mourned in vilified in the same moment, but what you have instead of a mask, is the truth of me. The name, the face, the voice… they have had their time. My face was the lie, but my heart was the truth.

I grieve for those whom I loved, but who never got to see the real me. From beloved relatives, to friends taken too soon. I am wracked with guilt that whilst I got the best of them, I never felt I could be honest enough to give them the best of me.

In my darkest days there was one friend who was always there, and without him I would not have made it this far. To be given the news he had been killed in accident before getting to know the real me was like being shot in the heart. I firmly believe that when you love a person, it is unique; you never love someone the same way as you love anyone else, and I deeply loved him. His absence from this world leaves a gaping hole that nothing could ever fill.

This process I am going through is not optional for me, but I do not want to forget the good things that old version of me had, and not just the things I have lost. On the days when the Dysphoria is bad, when the brain turns on itself and torments me, it is hard to remain positive, which is why it is all the more important to fight. Many friendships have ended, but others have grown these past years. The best lesson I have learned is, perhaps, to know who to embrace and who needs to be let go, however close.

As for that name, that face, that voice… although they are dead to me, the beautiful times and the love that was shared in that time has not gone anywhere… and some of them were truly, truly beautiful.

I called this piece ‘The Story of How I Died’. As a writer, I feel that there are many forms of death… the kind that fundamentally change you, the ones that grow new life, and the ones that just end everything. I have never been so full of life as I am now. So many deaths in our community are of the kind that just end, but if we all tell our stories, we may help towards making that number go down.

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Filed under Gender, GRC, LGBT, Transgender, transition, Transsexual

Cis-Privilege is a thing

Cis Privilege is…

Not being abused in the street for your gender presentation

Not being refused housing by a Landlord because of your gender presentation

Not being turned down for a job because of your gender presentation

Not being refused access to changing rooms because of your gender presentation

Not being refused access to the bathroom that corresponds with your gender presentation

Not being refused medical assistance because of your gender presentation

Not being refused emergency shelter because of your gender presentation

Not being harassed by law enforcement because of your gender presentation

Not being portrayed as less than human by the media because of your gender presentation

Not having your legal rights ignored because of your gender presentation

Not having your abilities as a parent called in to question because of your gender presentation

Not being considered a threat to children because of your gender presentation

Not having your legal protections constantly challenged by people who profess the invalidity of your gender presentation

Not having your children grow up without you in their lives because of your gender presentation

Not having your family being told you were killed because of your gender presentationn

Denying that Cis-Privilege exists only hurts the vulnerable… those at risk from violence, homelessness and abuse. Those who deny Male-Privilege, White-Privilege, Class-Privilege, Straight-Privilege etc. are dismissed as bigoted, ill-educated, ignorant or toxic. How can it be denied that Cis-Privilege exists when someone’s Trans status puts us at a distinct disadvantage in the world?

If there is a place where cis-people live in constant fear of being physically assaulted, beaten or murdered every time they step out on the street for their gender presentation, I am deeply unaware of it.

Denying it says to the world that everything listed above is an acceptable way to treat Transpeople. Those actions only serve to excuse, or in many cases, deliberately incite harm to a vulnerable section of society. Like those who opposed women’s liberation, racial equality and same-sex marriage, you are on the wrong side of history, and the wrong side of humanity.

Tamz

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Filed under Cis, Gender, LGBT, Radfem, Radical Feminism, Trans, Trans abuse, trans issues, Trasngender

#Transgender – Ten Things I Never ‘Got’ About Being a ‘Guy’

My last few posts have been pretty heavy, so I’m going for something lighter.

Before I started my transition, I gave my biology a bloody good chance to prove itself tolerable. It did not, even though male biology is relatively straightforward. So what chance did I have for the cultural aspect of being male? None whatsoever! Typical societal expectations for masculine behavior have thrown up some strange anomalies that even a lot of men I know don’t get. I’m sure they click with the prototypical male on some level of nature but they are just baffling to me. Even being ‘part of the club’ for those unhappy years, left me none the wiser as to the merits of the following behavioral trends.

1) Trousers: Or more accurately the exclusivity of trousers (my Celtic brethren excluded). With the ill-thought out design of the male equipment, wouldn’t skirts make for a more comfortable option (speaking from my experience, yes it would)? Whilst trousers are practical for manual working or exercise, I didn’t understand the practicalities of having to tuck oneself down one leg or the other. It’s just uncomfortable! Seam on seam is enough to get anyone cranky. Wearing skirts as a fashion option would just be far more chilled out.

2) Machismo: All this puffing up and having to be the alpha male. It’s just exhausting and stressful. I never understood what it achieved. It’s not like it gives feeding priority or first mating choices any more.

3) War fantasies: What’s with all this getting hard over mass death and destruction? Seriously?

4) Standing to pee: If those war fantasies have taught you nothing else, it’s that the further away from the target you are, the less likely you are to hit it. If you’re peeing in the wild, wind allowing, it makes little difference, but when sharing a bathroom why not be considerate and just sit down? You may not think you miss, but seriously, you miss.

“You keep leaving the seat up!”
“I don’t wanna get piss on it!”
“You STILL get piss on it!”

5) Sex: Seeing sex from a typically male perspective to me always felt kind of impersonal, like an itch that needed scratching. Sensitivity and attention to a partner’s needs were always seen as ‘poofy’ in the typical male mindset, yet great umbridge tended to be taken if the direct ‘jackhammer’ approach left their partner disappointed and unsatisfied.

“You must have enjoyed it, you’re walking funny!”
“No, I think you just compacted my spine!”
“You’re just frigid!”

6) Short hair: Personal choice, all well and good, but like trousers it’s the compulsory nature of it. A guy grows his hair long and it stunts his chances at job interviews, and draws the ridicule of fellow male. In a world where a hairy chest is the pinnacle of masculinity, why are guys so obsessed with keeping the hair on their head so short? Oh, and then, they have a breakdown when it starts to fall out. It always baffled me to see guys with half an inch of hair, taking an hour to ‘style’ it with all sorts of gels and creams when the only effect it really has is to make people ask them if it’s still raining outside. I used to wash and condition my waist length blonde hair, brush it and blow dry it in about half that time and them spend the whole evening out having girls coming up and wanting to play with it, all the time getting called a ‘poof’ by the Brylcream brigade.

7) FOOOOOOTBAAAAAALLL!!!!!: Nope, just don’t get it. At all. I understand the game, but the appeal is utterly lost on me. It’s the culture around it, more than the game, that I don’t like. It’s crass, homophobic, misogynistic and corrupt as hell. Like UKIP but a sport.

I know there are women who like football, but there’s not the same expectation to. Too complicated for the tiny female brain to understand you see!

8) Nicknames: You don’t often get people putting their female friends in their phone under names like ‘Bellend Kev’, ‘John Gutrot’ or ‘Herpes Pete’.

“Why’s he called ‘Herpes’ Pete?”

“He had a spot on his lip once!”

“How does he feel about that name?”

“Oh, even his mum calls him it!”

9) Penis power: “BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL… I HAVE THE PENIS!!!!”

It’s ugly, ungainly, gets caught in things and is never where it needs to be, yet it is the key to majority representation in parliament, entitlement to talk over people without one and, according to a lot of guys, the most important part of their body.

“I’d rather die than have MY dick cut off!”
“Well severing the brainstem is usually fatal…”

10) Homophobia: We’re not talking about severe homophobia here (That’s a different, far more serious matter) but casual homophobia (which actually buoys up the more serious incarnation of said attitudes). It’s the casual dismissal of something or someone as ‘poofy’ or ‘gay’ like it’s the worst thing ever. Hello? It’s okay to fantasise about killing people, have disregard for a woman’s sexual gratification and piss on the toilet rim/seat/floor, but a little man-on-man affection is the grossest thing ever?

“Gays disgust me, Gutrot!”
“Yeah, Fuckin’ gays! Disgusting Bellend!”
“…Lesbians are alright thought!”
“Yeah Lesbians are fucking cool. I’d fuck a lesbian!”

I guess I just never really understood why society hung on to these things as ‘masculine’ traits. They’re not inherently male things, they just encourage nice guys to act like dicks. Hats off to all you chaps who haven’t bowed to the modern tragedy of gender norms. I see your numbers are increasing. Good show!

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Filed under Female, Gender, gender dysphoria, gender identity, Gender transition, Lad culture, Male, Trans, trans issues, Transgender, Transsexual