I’m somewhat reeling from an experience that occurred earlier today…so please, bear with me as I try to work through it, partially using the present post as a strategy to do so.
I teach a particular interesting multi-disciplinary course at my college, which I helped to pioneer as a faculty member back in ’13, and then have taught since ’14 (so this is the third time). One of the class periods is devoted to gender, and I’ve been the designated person who has given that part of the course since its inception, because gender is part of culture (and culture is also something I have covered in the course since the beginning). Today was no different than the past four years, thus, except I was dreading it more for some reason. (It didn’t help that I had a poor night of sleep going into it, and that all sorts of other things are going on that are stressful at present…but part of the reason I had a bad night of sleep is because of anxiety, I think.)
I did divination last night to find out if the Tetrad++ wanted me to wear my wig to class, if not for the full thing, then for at least part of it/later on after the interval or something. I got TETRAX; when I asked for more clarification, I got TETRAX again. Thinking that this perhaps meant “in time” (meaning later in the class) rather than “at some future point in the class/perhaps not this year,” I went to bed with some trepidation. When I woke up this morning, after my morning devotions, I asked again–after not feeling well–if the Tetrad++ would be upset with me if I didn’t wear the wig and properly present myself gender-wise, and I got ASKION, i.e. abso-fucking-lutely not (which is to say, They++ would not be upset with me). I took that as a hint, and didn’t bring the wig, and while I’m glad I didn’t, at the same time, the class itself went so poorly that I think that suggestion was more for my own protection than anything.
I’m trying to look at the whole thing as some sort of learning experience…but, that’s often the last resort when things do not go well in any given situation. I’ve learned how short-sighted bigotry is, definitely, and how without sympathy it often is, if nothing else.
While there were a few good moments for the visibility of asexuals and bisexuals, and a few clarifications were able to be made about certain issues within the wider queer umbrella, at the same time, the amount of hostility, ignorance (of the willful rather than the innocent sort), refusal to acknowledge facts, non-existent listening, and poor arguments and such was astonishing. Among the things I heard were the following (slightly paraphrased), which you’ll see in bold followed by my commentary, given either then or now [and for those who aren’t feeling pretty stable and confident in their gender identities, I’d advise skipping a good way down or not reading further]:
“But aren’t these other biological sexes just genetic defects?” This was in relation to intersexed individuals, who are apparently a disease and a defect rather than actual human beings…>>Gods.<<
“If ‘sex’ is biological and ‘gender’ is social, but excretion is a biological function, then shouldn’t whether or not someone has a penis be the reason that he has to go in the men’s restroom only since it’s a biological matter?” Yes, seriously, someone asked that…!?! Every “biological” thing about humans has been subject to socialization and culturalization, and thus factors of gender cannot be removed from the equation. The mention that even some cis het men might prefer to sit down to urinate was met with universal disbelief and no small amount of tittering and outrage…>>Gods Gods Gods.<<
“Why can’t [the existence of trans/queer/etc. people] just be stated and then be left at that? Why do we have to keep getting bludgeoned with these things over and over? Most people don’t care, and I don’t care; but, if you keep saying ‘Are you mad?’ every five seconds, I’m going to get mad in about five minutes. You can’t say there isn’t visibility of these things… (etc.)” I replied that while there may have been excesses in some cases, there was a presumption operating in this statement that a steep learning curve is in effect for everyone, and that people will get it the first time they hear of these issues…which many individuals’ repeated experiences–even/especially in class today–shows they have not and do not get it.
“But [trans/gender-variant people] shouldn’t get mad if I don’t think to correct my pronouns or use their new name…why don’t they just shut up and not complain or shove their identities down our throats? I don’t see why it matters to anyone but them whether or not I get their pronouns or gender or name right…” The two males in class who said that got a variation of the following response from me: “I think what Susan just said is right, and we should totally take what she said to heart, and what a good girl she is for having said it…Does it bother you that I called you that or referred to you that way? Is it all right that you know what gender you are and it shouldn’t matter what anyone else calls you?” That got some grudging acknowledgement from the individuals involved…but only after they overcame their outrage that I would do such a thing. (And one of them said “I assume you’re a guy,” and when I corrected him, he didn’t acknowledge his error or apologize, and instead explained to me why I was wrong and his perception was correct…!?!)
And, I had to point out that there are exactly ZERO cases of trans individuals abusing/accosting/etc. cisgender heterosexuals in public restrooms about four times after various individuals kept repeating that fears about such were justified in terms of recent laws, and “Won’t you think of the children!” was actually used as an argument twice as well in relation to this, too.
I make every attempt to create classroom environments that are welcoming and affirming of everyone, and that are safe for anyone. Today, that got me the odd position of not feeling safe in my own damn class since I was looking out for the feelings of people who are, basically, “Yes, but” people–those who might say “I get they want acknowledgement, BUT” or “I do respect everyone and treat them equally, BUT,” and so forth. One of them repeatedly hit us over the head with the fact that she’s Christian and loves and accepts everyone, BUT…and then she absolutely blew up when I mentioned some statistics about trans people being more likely to be murdered, commit suicide, be assaulted and discriminated against, and being homeless, because–it turned out–she had been homeless, but pulled herself up by her bootstraps, got over it, and doesn’t make a big deal of it, so why should anyone else get to make a big deal of it? Lovely Christian compassion there–nicely done. >>Gods Gods Oh My Fucking Gods.<<
So, lest we forget some of those statistics, I direct your attention to an article about Alesha (in Iran), Mercedes Successful, Keyonna Blakeney, and Shante Thompson, all of whom lost their lives this year, and all of whom were Black trans women. They should all be Sanctae, but I’m not sure how that works now…your thoughts on this would be appreciated.
In nicer news, who’d have imagined that a trans beauty pageant in Israel would be a good way for Christians, Jews, and Muslims to be at peace with one another? It can’t make up for the death of Shira Banki last year (another Sancta candidate?), but it’s a nicer thing to hear, certainly.
Anyway, just the random Friday evening thoughts of a pissed-off metagender who is trying to figure out how best to address (or not address) these matters when I get back to class after the holiday weekend…it’s the only class I have on Friday and on Tuesday, so I’m essentially going from that class today back to it on Tuesday with no other college things in between. Whoopee. This certainly isn’t how I wanted to start my weekend…