I’ve just had some very clear proof that homophobia is alive and well in the community where I work–for more info on that, notice the comments on the following…
However, as if that wasn’t enough to make one’s blood boil, there are some other things that I’ve heard about recently that don’t exactly make me happy about the state of the world, either–and, it’s a part of the world that I would tend to expect far better from.
When I was hanging out with Aine Llewellyn the other day, we got to talking about various matters having to do with gender, transgender, metagender, and other gender alternatives–when one gets people of these various other possible genders together, such talk inevitably results. ;) However, part of the discussion, I’m sad to say, had to do with the ways, both small and large, that people of alternative genders get treated by others, and often get disrespected in the process.
While I won’t name names of the groups or individuals discussed, I have to say that the reports on the behavior of such individuals and groups I received has me quite frankly appalled, to the point that I will no longer be associating with the named entities if at all possible. If the people who might be indicted by the matters to be detailed below would like to apologize here in this public forum–whether they were the original ones I was told about, or might be others who have realized the error of their ways–I’d be happy for them to do so, in the effort of taking responsibility for one’s actions, apologizing, and moving forward in a more informed and respectful manner. The opportunity for public catharsis on such matters can be inestimably effective, I think…
So, here’s some of the things that can happen, and that have happened:
1) One’s chosen name (perhaps a name that accords with one’s preferred gender) is put in quotation marks, as if it is somehow false or assumed or in some other way “not really real,” which thus indicates that the person referrign to another in such a fashion doesn’t take their conversation partner’s gender as really real or serious either.
2) Someone is told that, for whatever reason, they don’t “pass” as whatever their preferred gender is, and therefore the person who is of that opinion doesn’t have to treat them like their preferred gender, or consider them their preferred gender, and therefore they also don’t need to refer to them as their preferred gender.
3) Once one explains one’s preferred gender to another, and tells them about their preferred pronouns, they get told “Well, that’s just too hard to do” or “that’s too new of a concept, I can’t really adapt to it.” No–the problem is that person doesn’t want to adapt to it and refuses to do so; we learn new concepts, words, names, and such things all the time, and even if it takes a bit of trial and error to use them or say them correctly, one eventually is able to do it, with effort and willingness to do so.
4) Various other iterations of gender-‘splaining, including follow-ons from #2-3 above that involve the person saying, “Well, to me you look like/seem like/act like a man/woman/whatever, therefore I’m going to keep referring to you and treating you like that.” This would be equivalent to being told, after revealing that you’re a Buddhist, that someone says “Well, you act pretty Christian as far as I’m concerned, so I’m just going to continue asserting that you’re Christian and treating you as such.”
Now, don’t get me wrong: I realize these are larger societal problems primarily, and that their reflection in the various pagan and polytheist communities is just a matter of those communities not being as different or separate from the wider culture to the extent they often think they are. HOWEVER, because paganism in general has said that it is far more accepting of these things than other communities, subcultures, and religions, it really ought to do better on these matters, lest it be just as hypocritical as other religions that it often derides for their hypocrisy.
The fact is, even being a gender-atypical individual myself, I’ve made some mistakes in these directions over the years–not with MTF or FTM trans individuals, but with people who are more genderqueer or in other ways not binary gendered. I have not usually done this “to the face” of those considered, but in my own thoughts and perceptions and estimations I have done so, just because it isn’t always as easy to conceptualize such individuals as more gender binary categories (including MTF and FTM trans) are. And, as a metagender person, that is an egregious error, and one that I’m not in any way proud of, and one that I am now doing everything possible to eradicate from my thoughts and feelings. As a devotee of Panprosdexia, whose name means “All-Acceptance,” I can do no less, and will try to do no less for the remainder of my life.
So, let’s try and do better, shall we?