First, there was Trump.
Then I went to the doctor’s.
Since I’m a new patient, I decided to tell my PCP that my partner is transgender and I identify as queer. She smiled warmly and said, “Is he biologically female?” Wow. I was stumped. I wanted to ask, What’s that got to do with it? But instead, I explained where Jake was and wasn’t in terms of testosterone, body type, and so forth, without referring to what was going on inside his pants.
I mean, why did she need to know that?
“Right,” she said, making a few mental leaps. “So in terms of a pap smear, you’re not a high risk.”
Here, it turned out, after further chit-chat, she was assuming that what we do in the bedroom doesn’t involve a six inch cock. Which, given the range of accessories on the market, not to mention the fact that I’ve carefully avoided discussing my partner’s genitals, is a big guess indeed.
She’s a nice woman, my new doctor. Really. She wasn’t hard to come out to. She also dealt sensitively with me when I told her I was an abuse survivor. But like many folks I’ve met, say the word “trans” and she chooses to focus on the physical. I’d be more understanding if she was Jake’s doctor. It wouldn’t be a sensitive way of broaching the topic, but I’d get it — she’s focused on biological stuff. That’s a huge part of her job.
But hell, you might as well ask whether my partner has a pierced foreskin. Or a butt tattoo of a naked angel. Or, you know, wood.
Of course, a lot of the world is obsessed with what trans folks have in their pants. Which means they’re obsessed with what all of us have in our pants. When they look at me, they think, “She has a pussy.” And even though they might actually be wrong, that makes them feel safe. The fact that one in 1500-2000 kids are born intersex seems to evade them, as does the notion that I might be trans, and, more to the point, that humans invented gender — it’s a social construct. We built it from scratch. And it’s different to biological sex. That’s why our dog, Lilly, has a biological sex, but doesn’t know which restroom to use, can’t apply lipstick, and would eat any skirt you handed her.
It also explains why she doesn’t care when she drops her food all over the floor.
But I digress.
Let me share what we’re watching on TV, right now. Suspects is a very gripping British TV drama. But when Detective Inspector Martha Jones and her team started referring to a guy who’d gone missing as being “a pre-op transsexual” because he appeared to be taking testosterone, it became decidedly less gripping. (Unless you think of ‘gripping’ as being characterized by the gnashing teeth of an angry werewolf.) “Did you know that your daughter is a pre-op transsexual who is taking testosterone?” is a terrible thing to say, Martha Jones and team. Check out your language, for starters. Quite frankly, it’s all very triggering stuff. Advice to TV detectives and their creators:
- Get your gender markers right. If they’re taking T, they’re less likely to be going by “she” pronouns. Have the decency to use “they” before you make any more assumptions.
- “Transgender” and “transsexual” mean different things. Check it out, screenwriters.
- Once you’ve discovered he is actually a transgender man, use his male name, goddammit. The name he used before now really isn’t relevant and is probably highly triggering for him.
- Don’t assume that when Mum finds out her son is transgender, it will be “a bombshell.”
- Remember, directors and screenwriters — I can’t stress this enough — that your audience likely comprises of both cisgender and transgender folks who all deserve respect.
- Could we please have a crime situation where transgender characters are involved in an investigation but don’t actually kick, maim, or murder anyone? That would be really nice, especially in a society that is so determined to be judgmental towards trans folks — one where, I might add, trans people are being attacked on a daily basis rather than doing the attacking.
- It’s okay to make mistakes. I’m sure I make ’em myself all the time. But when you make twenty of them in the same TV show, enough is enough. Research, research, research!
Now, rant done, this brings me back to the Trump thing. I mean, let’s face it, he got in. My spouse is trans and relies on receiving a vial of testosterone each month in order to survive. (Yes, it is a matter of survival. You’ve seen how we are about gender — we’ve made it a life and death issue.) Will someone try to take that away? That is my big fear. My God.
The Trump thing also scares me because I am an immigrant. Fortunately for me, I’m a privileged Brit with white skin and a certain kind of accent. I’m one of the lucky ones. My heart goes out to those less fortunate than me. But I’m still scared. For myself. For my partner. For all of us.
Please God, keep my family together.
Please God, let my partner be safe.
You know what I expected my doctor to say when I told her my partner started transitioning over a year ago? I thought she’d say, “How’s it going? Is he doing all right? Are you doing all right? Do you both feel safe right now? Have you both got support? Have you been okay since the election?”
Instead, she essentially asked about his crotch.
Thank you, gender. This is where we are.
Pic courtesy of Miss Fit Academy, with thanks.
This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest run by the delightful and talented August McGlaughlin. Check out the official blogfest page to read other posts and enter to win some fabulous prizes. Picture credit: “Watercolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon.”
Why do I wear a mustache during sex? Because I’m playing with gender. Because I’m being me. And because I’m also being Steve-O Bing.
When my partner Jacob came out as transgender last year, I didn’t realize how deeply it would affect my own identity — I was simply too focused on helping him live his truth. But my own gender identity started to shift, and it continues to do so. As our therapist so wisely told us, “Coming out as trans can queer the whole family.”