Although Paula's Place started out very much as a "Trans" Blog I have been trying to get it to reflect the fullness of all aspects of my life and interests, but I can't always resist the need to convey to "civilians" some of what it means to be trans. I had a couple of interesting exchanges over the weekend that brought this particularly to mind.
|"Cross the Line" Jazz/blues band|
I was playing with my fabulous blues band, supporting a charitable craft faire, a few people were working very hard to raise some funds for a worthy cause, so we helped ~ it's what we do!
I was wearing lace up high heel knee boots, black leggings and a black roll neck sweater, with "Christmas" earrings and my usual (pretty and very feminine) rings, so when I was called a gentleman I didn't react too well ~ I told the woman concerned that she was not being polite but incredibly rude and explained that if she wanted to be that archaic then the term should be lady! There were difficulties getting our gear onto the stage, so I will admit I was distracted and not in a particularly good mood. There was somebody else there who I have known for nearly 30 years, I see her occasionally, and has chosen to totally ignore me, to not even acknowledge my presence. Of these two I'm not sure which is the most offensive. I suppose that the miss gendering could be considered an error, but the blanking is a deliberate choice to insult!
A little later I was told off for being a bit harsh ~ WOW I wasn't sure how to react to that! In consequence I'm not sure how coherent my reply was, so here goes with a more considered reaction, it may help others understand why we can be sensitive.
- Do not blame the victim of abuse for defending themselves! Remember who the injured party is, victim blaming happens all the time, from the victim of rape being told that it's her fault for wearing a short skirt, to the knifing victim being told they looked like they might be in a gang. Civilised people understand they shouldn't do this, but very often our civilisation is only a veneer and we make mistakes.
- Do not make light of the hurt caused! If we deflect with a joke or other light hearted response we are denying that we have been abused. If we are hurt we have to acknowledge the hurt, we have to show that the behaviour causing that hurt is not acceptable. If we are not honest about that hurt and tell the abuser how they have hurt us but make light of it we risk them not understanding what they have done, and therefore leaving them free to do it again, or they might misunderstand our response as a direct insult. Replying to an insult with an insult is conflict, and can lead to worse. Correcting and showing the hurt is more constructive, if unpleasant.
- To misgender somebody, to use the wrong pronouns, or to dead name them (use the name they were known by before transition) is to tell them that their entire identity is wrong, that you know who they are better than they do themselves, that they are invalid.
- To simply ignore somebody is just rude!
- Try to understand why this is abuse! this is the harder bit, and I'm about to go on an extended ramble about what it means to be trans and what we go through ~ well in this case me anyway.