Hey everyone. If there is one thing I can’t stand it is the assertion that transwomen are not real women. This line seems to be perpetuated in the press and media and is extremely harmful and insulting to both the trans community and indeed to all women. I make this point as I believe by demeaning transwomen it under values the role we can play in helping to share a better, fairer, more equal society and whether some of the more conservative minded like it or not the inescapable fact is this those who undermine transwomen are undermining all woman.
To me it is important that transwomen ourselves recognise the role we can play within the wider women’s movement and in particular within the LGBTI women’s movement. This cannot be just a social role. Indeed I would argue that it is essential that our role be both cultural and educational. I say this in the respect that we have much to contribute to the wider debate and we should and must make our voices heard in debates on equal pay and ask why women are disadvantaged in the workplace. As far as I am concerned one woman’s fight is every woman’s fight and transwoman are women no matter what some sections of the press might say.
The fact that we face prejudice and discrimination is not just an equality issue it is a gender equality issue. From toilets to pension rights transwoman can and do face artificially constructed social and cultural barriers in our right to equal treatment. For example I was told for months in various venues after transitioning that I would have to use either male or the disabled person’s toilet which I naturally refused to accept.
On questioning this, one staff member at a particular venue which I used to attend informed me that she couldn’t let me use the ladies room as the women who used the venue would object and wanted me to use the male toilet. I told her not to be so petty and said that this would create more problems that it would solve. I was then offered the disabled person’s toilet but I said I was a women and I had to the right to use the ladies and not be harassed in to accepting second class treatment. I was then told the venue concerned had lost a valued customer who just happened to be male saying he refused to frequent a place that allowed a ‘tranny’ as a customer Needless to say. I was informed that I should be grateful they stuck up for me. I don’t think they were best pleased when I told them that it was there legal duty to do so whether they wanted to or not. So as I refused to accept such a transphobic attitude I walked out the door and have never returned again This to me is a deliberate case of trans misgendering pure and simple and the fact that it came from a woman made it even more annoying.
With regards to the pension issue. I was informed that because was born in a biological sex which is different to the gender in which I now live, that I cannot access my state pension till the male age of 65 rather than the female age of 60. Granted this is a few years off either 7 or 12 to be precise but that is irrelevant, this is discrimination based on biological stereotyping and takes no account of the world in which I live. Personally I believe this sexism whether intentional or otherwise.
It is my opinion that all woman must speak out against this kind of sexist attitude. For far too long we have been guilty of paying lip service to and this gives it a veneer of respectability and can often lead to misogyny which still prevails in British society in to far greater extent than many people would have us believe. The fact this can and does happen in so many ways is in my opinion absolutely frightening.
Be it from pensions, or from the comedy of Dapper Laughs, Jim Davidson and Roy Chubby Brown to the political opportunism of people like Nigel Farage and his unionist running mate Jim Murphy this reactionary conservative attitude alive and well and living in Scotland today even amongst so-called left wing types.
Mr Murphy is a classic example of this type of reactionary. This is a man who twice ran away from facing up to Alex Salmond who now thinks he can beat the SNP because we have a woman leader. Oh, it’s never been said but I can read Mr Murphy like a book and god knows there isn’t much of a story to it, however I think he could be in for a very nasty shock. This is all the more true when you considering the woman he is facing in his quest to become the all powerful dictator of North Britain is our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who like Mr Murphy went to University but unlike Mr Murphy knows North Britain doesn’t exist outside of the BBC and the branch office of the Loyal British Labour And Unionist Party. It also has to be said that she managed to do something he never could. Nicola actually graduated with honours.
Murphy’s attitude and that of his friends in the right wing press and media is sexism and misogyny pure and simple. These people infer or even worse blatantly state that women’s opinions are not worth being taken seriously by those and such as those within the political and cultural elites. This attitude of women being somehow inferior to men belongs in the dark ages and has no place in a civilised society and yet in Scotland and Britain 2015, 100 years from the days when Mary Barbour lead the Govan Rent Strike this kind of behaviour is still all too prevalent in our country.
Too many times I have heard bright articulate intelligent women tell me that there opinions are not valued. As recently as Sunday afternoon I was talking to a young women about the dangers of inappropriate labelling and stereotyping. During our discussion she said that when people come in to the bar which in which she works looking for the manager they always assume they are looking for a man. This annoys her and it would certainly annoy me in fact I would be outraged.
The fact that this sort of behaviour still happens in the 21st century is a total disgrace and a transwoman I’ve had to take my share of abuse for the team. Unfortunately and I mean unfortunately for those who dish it out I have this rather annoying habit of giving as good or better than I get and trust me there have been more than a few men reduced to status of boys by the time I’ve finished my rants. Trust me if there is one thing no sane man or woman should ever do it is take on a hormonal trans woman when she’s having ‘a bad day’ or even worse when she’s having what I refer to as my mini moments. This is potentially lethal, particularly if I’m having stomach cramps or flushes which as every woman knows can cause severe discomfort. There are some times when people would be well advised to remember the old saying hell hath no fury rather make the fatal mistake of finding it out by mistake or stupidity.
That said the vast majority of people treat me as a female and most of the time they do so with dignity, equality, and respect. There have however been some occasions when this has led to me being stereotyped as ‘a typical woman’ though in truth I have yet to find out what a typical woman or for that matter a typical trans woman actually is. The press and media seem to forget that just like men we come in all shapes and sizes.
The fact that many men cannot seem to grasp the fact is not my problem nor any other women’s. It is their problem and they really need to get over it fast. So what if I’ll never be Kylie it strikes me that most of the men who moan about the fact would never be a member of the dreamboys but you don’t hear me complaining about there faults and flaws. Well I’ve always found it better to accept them and move on and anyway we girls know how to fantasise. God knows we have to do it often enough.
The fact I and other transwomen have the confidence to be who we are is one area where I think we have a slight advantage over a lot of women. My reason for making this rather bold pronouncement is because we have no choice but to be who we are so sometimes we have to wear a mask of confidence whilst inside we may be turning to jelly. This is something other women can gain from trans friends. Believe me faking confidence or not pretending not to give a damn is actually an art and when you’ve mastered that art you know you can hold your up in any company.
During the course of my somewhat eventful life I have fought many battles with varying degrees of success. I am and always will be at the heart of the fight for women’s equality, the way I see it is that women’s rights are human rights and that is the end of the matter. Not to fight for gender equality would I believe be a gross abdication of my duties and responsibilities both as a transwoman and as a woman. Whether it is for the right for women in Scottish politics to shatter the glass ceiling that can hold back careers, or the right of women poets to have our voices heard, whether its to stop female genital mutilation for cultural or religious reasons, or the right of girls to have to the right to education in every country on earth, participate in sport at the highest level. gain equal pay for equal work, or any fight I will stand beside them and fight for those rights. Perhaps that’s the reason why of all the campaigns and groups I’ve ever been involved in, I’m most proud of Women for Independence. Well if Woman For Independence is about anything it is about Independence For Women in all areas of our lives
You know, my friend Emma who is young enough to be my daughter recently told me that everybody loves me and I’m like every’s emergency mother. Whilst I was and will always be very flattered to be given this complement, Emma as much as anyone knows that I’m a fighter and I’m fiercely protective of my younger friends, I think it’s my maternal instinct kicking in. I have to say though being a transwoman isn’t all sunshine and roses and there’s so much to it than being an emergency mother. Don’t get me wrong no-one is prouder than I am to be thought of in such a way but this mum fights for all her daughters and the fact I’m fighting for a fairer future makes me want to win the glittering prize of a more equal world for my girls.
Love And Best Wishes