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  • Topic: Just A Boy In A Skirt:

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    • February 18, 2012 9:06 PM GMT
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      After being misgendered* in class by my teacher earlier that morning, I had already spent a good five minutes hiding out and crying silent tears in a bathroom that most folks on campus would wrongly think I shouldn’t have access to. This day was headed for disaster from the start.

      Some people might make the false claim that Harper is a safe space for all – that there is no bullying or prejudice, and that all are welcome.

      As a transgender* persyn – more specifically, a genderqueer*, primarily butch* transwomyn – I live in a world that is inherently unsafe, uninviting, and unfortunately cruel if you do not conform to the rigid expectations of the gender binary*. It is not my responsibility to make sure that you are not a bigot, but I will give you a piece of my mind if you’re acting like one.

      But I digress. This is my story.

      I was sitting in the A building lunchroom, eating my lunch and doing a bit of homework. I casually looked around the room to see who’s who and what’s what. I was alone because I have one, perhaps two friends on campus, and I spend the majority of my days at school in isolation, for one reason or another.

      One conversation in particular seemed to catch my attention, not so much because it was truly interesting or that I thought I might join in (respectfully, at least) – no, it was more because it was so ridiculously offensive and invasive that I couldn’t help but listen and mentally drop my figurative jaw, picking apart how problematic every statement really was.

      Where to begin? Much of it was talk from the resident patriarch* at that particular table about how he’s alright with “bisexual chicks” but he just can’t be attracted to lesbians (as if dykes like me wanted anything to do with this scumbag), moving on to how he just love Asian women – because they’re all the same and fetishizing an entire group of people isn’t offensive, right? Choke on sarcasm here. He left for a brief moment, and upon his return, he asked if two of the womyn at the table had kissed yet. They said no, and he confirmed that he “hadn’t missed anything.”

      Now, all of this was horribly offensive, but at this point, none of it seemed directly targeted at people like me, so I said “fine… perhaps this isn’t my fight, even though I am a queer womyn and everything he’s saying is homophobic and totally sexist. I’ll walk away and let another patriarchal scumbag dominate a conversation and say tons of ****** up ****. I don’t have the backup for a confrontation.” I hung my head and went back to eating my lunch.

      Finally, the aforementioned misogynist worked up the nerve to start talking about a “shim” that he saw at Wal-Mart. What he means by “shim” is someone who looks like a “she” and a “him” at the same time – a slur typically directed at gender-nonconforming and transpeople. Perhaps androgynous, gender-variant, or genderqueer might be a better substitute? I’d pick an identity marker over a derogatory term any day.

      He started talking about how disgusted he is by these “men in skirts,” with their deep voices and their hairy legs. As if it is any of his damn business as a straight, cisgender* male to communicate his feelings about transpeople! Especially in such a negative, oppressive way. Thank Jesus Christ for American social norms! Oh, how I appreciate being shown and told time and again that I am a spectacle of amusement and/or an abomination!

      Finally, I worked up the courage – after listening to this endless, unchallenged hate speech – to tell him what I thought. I interrupted his phone conversation (as if he took a moment to be considerate to anyone) and told him the following:

      “I just need you to know that you are an ignorant, bigoted piece of junk, and you ought to consider yourself lucky that I’m just giving you a piece of my mind. You should really watch your mouth. The next transpersyn you piss off might not be so courteous as to meet you with only words.”

      He handed off the phone, rose from his chair and said “Excuse me Sir” – I cut him off abruptly with a middle finger in his face and said  I’m a womyn.” He formed a fist and said “alright, you’re about to get punched in the face.” I had no intention of turning the confrontation violent, seeing as it is illegal to meet oppression with appropriate resistance, and I detest and am terrified of the police. I turned and walked away, and said “**** you, no I’m not, you bigot.” He sat down and called me a “boy in a skirt,” which is something I am certainly not.

      Some might say that I am “hurting my cause” or holding back a movement by yelling at bigots with profanities, but I am not interested in building movements that allow this sort of hatred to be tolerated. I am subject to this treatment every day, whether it is in the form of public verbal assault, or the recitation of this sort of violent rhetoric, without a care for who is present. Actions that belittle trans people and those who do not conform to social standards erase people like me and perpetuate the notion that we are less than humyn, and I am sick of it.

      No space is safe.

      A Note on Language and Spelling:

      As a member of multiple marginalized and oppressed social groups, I am aware that folks from different identities and backgrounds may not understand my struggle or some of the terms I use to describe things that are so glaringly obvious to me. If you have privilege, it’s your responsibility to educate yourself, and it is not my responsibility to guide you. However, I feel comfortable providing a few explanations in writing.

       

      • To be transgender is to identify with any gender other than the one you were assigned at birth. For example: I was born with a body that led my parents and basically everyone else to treat me like I was a boy, but I now identify primarily as a girl. This does not mean I ever have to take hormones or receive any surgery unless those are things I desire, and my socially constructed gender does not match up with what most people would define as female.

       

      • If you are cisgender, you identify with the gender that you were assigned at birth. Some might say that cis can be used to describe those whose gender matches up with their physical sex, but I think that point of view often reinforces the idea that there is only one sort of female or male body, and essentializes gender to an extreme. It is crucial to realize that we can define our genders and parts as we see fit, and it is no one else’s place to do such a thing for us.

       

      • Genderqueer is a term that many folks identify with who are not boys or girls. A genderqueer persyn may be either a boy or a girl at any given time, both at once, or neither (something else altogether). To understand this, you must realize that gender has to do with identity and expression, not what sort of body you were born with and what the doctor called you before they slapped your butt and handed you off to your parents.

       

      • The Gender Binary is the oppressive social force that says there are only two genders, and that anyone who doesn’t conform to popular gender standards either doesn’t exist or is just living in a fantasy world. The gender binary is what dictates that you have to be a man or a womyn – that there is no outside or inbetween. It is also what tells me that I need a hairless face to be a womyn.
      • To be misgendered is to have someone refer to you or treat you in a way that is not appropriate to your gender. For example, I am a girl and identify with lady pronouns (she, her, hers), but people often refer to me with the pronoun “he,” or punch me in the chest non-consensually, because that is how they treat boys.

       

      • Butch is a term that contrasts with femme (though the two can certainly be mixed at once). Butch usually refers to more masculine traits, while femme refers to more feminine characteristics. For example, I love wearing dresses, but I also love my dirty overalls. Sometimes I wear tight black dresses with shorts underneath, plus glittery makeup, nail polish, lipstick, a backwards hat and a pair of dirty boots. Some might call that genderfuck!

       

      • I spell words like “persyn” and “womyn” differently than they are traditionally written to detach them from male supremacy. I alter the spelling of the objective “persyn” from its’ masculine ending and neutralize and essentially degender the term, and I change the spelling of the term “womyn” to destroy the notion that the womyn is the variation from the man, or that is in some way secondary. The English words we use were created by straight cisgender men, who have, as a group, dominated society for centuries; it is time for us to define and mold the world and the language we use in a more egalitarian way.

       

      • I understand some might find some of the profanities used in this article offensive, but I wanted to capture my thoughts and words accurately, with the emotion that I felt at the time they were spoken and thought of. I also feel that the language used by the oppressive straight, cisgender man in the lunch room was far more offensive than any combination of “swear words” could ever be.
    • February 19, 2012 3:22 AM GMT
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      Reading your post I found myself feeling all kinds of emotions, yet no way to describe them, but I feel like I wish I could wrap my arms around you and hug you. I know the world can be a very ugly place but all that anger girl, where does it get you. I am with you when it comes to bigots, they are the one thing on this earth that I can say I have overflowing hate for, but engaging them sucks the life out of you especially when you already know what the outcome will be. We both know, you can't fix stupid. I don't know much about you, tried looking at your profile. You may feel content in your life but it saddens me to see your pain. Big hug, Bri
    • February 20, 2012 5:01 AM GMT
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      Nexy,
      Whenever people try to define something that is different from themselves, they only succeed in showing the rest of the world how insecure they are about their own situation and sense of self-worth.
      Their own identity is like a "glass house" ...very brittle!
      Hugs Nexy
    • February 23, 2012 9:17 AM GMT
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      I thought this was something that needed to be shared. As this is what happens everyday. Here in the USA. To loads of people.
    • January 9, 2013 9:15 AM GMT
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      Melissa,
      I just want you to know that I use to have many friends that had this bigotted point of view. Since I have shown them my feminine side, most, if not all of my friends have changed this point of view. I think we need to start with the people who mean the most to us, our friends and loved ones and hope that they will find peace and acceptance with us an hopefully, at some point, the biggots will become a small minority. I thank you for sharing your story because we all need to understand the hatred and non-acceptance that exists for people who are different from 'the norm'. I wanrt you to know that not only do I accept you for who you are, but I think you are truly a beautiful person.
      Hugs Ronni
    • January 30, 2013 10:18 PM GMT
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      Briana Lynn said:
      Reading your post I found myself feeling all kinds of emotions, yet no way to describe them, but I feel like I wish I could wrap my arms around you and hug you. I know the world can be a very ugly place but all that anger girl, where does it get you. I am with you when it comes to bigots, they are the one thing on this earth that I can say I have overflowing hate for, but engaging them sucks the life out of you especially when you already know what the outcome will be. We both know, you can't fix stupid. I don't know much about you, tried looking at your profile. You may feel content in your life but it saddens me to see your pain. Big hug, Bri

      I so agree with you girl! I just ignore people like that. Some people will not change so why waste your time you know? I'd rather go shopping! lol

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