I have seen two items from social media today which encapsulate the world of the transgender person.
The first is the good news. In north east France a town has elected its first transgender mayor The new mayor had run on a platform of ecological sustainability and building and it was that programme that got her elected. When speaking later to the media she told them that she was not an activist and that she wanted to focus on municipal politics The mayor said “They did not elect me because I was or was not transgender, they elected a programme. That’s what’s interesting, when things become normal you don’t get singled out”.
Exactly as it should be. One’s gender is simply one’s gender and is no more or less than that. It will be amazing when this can be truly the norm. In my work life I have continued carrying on largely as normal.
I have the benefit of being self-employed so I have the advantage that I am not going to lose my job. The risk to me was whether I would be able to continue dealing with the same people in the same way. I too it steadily. I first came out to a small group of personal friends and to the medical profession as I needed their support. When that had been accomplished and I knew I had gone full time and mentally transitioned it became increasingly difficult to manage working in my former presentation. The suits and ties had long gone. The reality was that I was presenting as an androgynous mess which probably caused more questions than answers.
The next step was to tell the professionals who I instructed through my business, solicitors, accountants, architects informing them of my name change etc. Without exception they have behaved impeccably using my new name and continuing completely unfazed. I expected there to be times when my “deadname” would be used out of habit. I was prepared not to take exception as it is a big change to get right on every occasion but this has not been the case.
As with the Mayor, I am being treated by the majority, as the same person simply carrying out my business as before irrespective of my gender. There are a couple of people with who I had ongoing contracts who have found it difficult. Again, however, there is no open hostility. With them I no longer have a name. The don’t use any name, neither my old name or my new name!
Reported on the same media was the other side of the coin. In Paris a transwoman was trying to get into the Metro station to be confronted by a crowd who were demonstrating against Algeria’s ailing President. Nothing at all to do with gender rights. Three men targeted her saying “you are a man you are not coming past surrounded her, kicked punched and generally humiliated her, threw beer over her, and one exposed himself to her while she tried to get through the crowd only being ultimately protected by some gendarmes who were monitoring the demonstration. I worry what the outcome might have been if they had not been there, The woman said afterwards “she had never experienced anything like it”. Sadly, even the police that came to her rescue called her “Monsieur “ and told her “not to dress like that”.
It would seem this is an extreme case. It does highlight the constant fear which is ever present when being in crowded places. I fear being on my own in a crowded situation where there is a possibility of ignorant and bigoted people will egg each other on. Although, I have not encountered any aggression in public it remains a constant fear that at any time a completely unprovoked attack could happen and certainly has an effect on where and what I do. I have discussed this with cis women friends and it is clear their behaviour too takes into account being conscious of situation in relation to their safety though I suspect there are specifics which are different as for instance with the use of single sex loos!
I can only hope that transphobia will become a thing of the past. So much progress has been made in the last few years it does seem that acceptance will be only a matter of time.