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Are you a man?!

  • Posted on February 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Hey! Mister Transvestite!
Are you a man?!

The small white car, the window wound,
the girlfriend to impress, observance
in the absence of sight or sense – all
wound into the tightness of a mind
so glazed it couldn’t see out of itself.

Not spoken, not enquired,
but shouted – all up the wide unpeopled
traffic-busy street, wounding open summer
windows – while my mind is unconcerned
to even air such self-evidential things.
His, too small to enclose the size of a reply.

The street received his words – so good
at collecting litter, dust, detritus – I thought
to turn and answer; but who? The girl –
does he always behave like this? The man –
yes, I suppose I am a man (if I’m a transvestite)
but a nice one; and you?

The T-word is not a word I like to use – reserved
for self-assurance over a glass, regretted afterwards
because it was said in expectation, in place of
a better term, more understanding, more
politically correct, accepting and descriptive –
but I shall use it. He was a twat.

And if anything hung there in my thoughts,
it was the girl, who saw me at the crossroads
looked again and told ‘her man’. I hoped
she saw two people as themselves: me and him –
saw one with quiet confidence, and another
with his certainties insultingly plain.

The small white car, its windows wound,
diminished having made no mark, except
inside. Two people were slightly changed
that sunny afternoon, after the jokes, the self-
congratulatory jibes, and the transvestite who
made their day – walked away, and defined a man.

2011 © Andie Davidson

From the new collection Realisations published by Bramley Press.

It’s your problem, not mine

  • Posted on February 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm

When I pull up the meditation cushions and feel myself in every detail resting on the earth, hands in my lap, eyes at rest, focusing on my breathing and being present, being in the now, I find peace. I don’t need any approval, I don’t need any definition or description, and I genuinely can cultivate loving-kindness within myself.

I am at peace with myself and the world: everything flows and belongs, and I know I can deal with anything in a spirit of wholeness. It’s real – not an illusion or separation from the world; I just know that I belong, that I need no approval or permission to be what or who I am. I leave my gender behind too, except that strangely I know I am female in this state. I lose awareness of all my male parts and feel the presence of female parts, and it is comforting, though not essential.

My fears dissipate too, as if I simply know that there is no harm ultimate enough to destroy my being, and that hurts faced well are not enduring harms. But no, I can’t yet live like this nearly enough of the time, and I don’t pull up my cushions often enough to improve things. But it does help.

A while ago I settled on this thought:

There is no hurt except that which we take to ourselves.

I still think it is true, and remember early days out in female trans mode, when perhaps I hadn’t developed finesse so well, or drew attention by being too self-aware. I did get some abuse, and one incident is memorable. A young ‘man’ with girlfriend beside him in his car, wound down his window as he launched out across a dual carriage way, and shouted up the street:

‘Are you a man?!’

‘Hey! Mister Transvestite! Are you a man?!’

Maybe there was more, but it was more a case of a duck’s back than an elephant’s hide. If he had not been in such a vulnerable position halfway across streams of traffic, I had every intention of walking back and responding with something like ‘Yes, I suppose I am to you, but I am a nice one. Are you a man? And (in the direction of his girlfriend perhaps) a nice one?’

I don’t mind explaining to anyone that I am transgender and what it means. Maybe it helps when others like me can’t handle being challenged. But the main thought was that this person had a problem, not me. He had some deep-seated need to impress his girlfriend with his bold manliness – to show he was the real man around here, that he was the clever, observant one who had ‘spotted the tranny’ (I hope she was more embarrassed than impressed, but maybe not). Why was it not just unusual to him to see me? Why was it not enough to just comment to his girlfriend that he thought he’d seen a trans person (like: Goodness, I’ve just seen a yellow pillarbox!) Why did he need to seek to expose and embarrass another person in public? Why did he need to impress?

I don’t have a problem, I’m just transgender. But him? Sadly I had to leave him with his problem.

And that takes me to recent Twitterings, comments left on news media online, Facebook trails etc., where an aggressive, loud and highly abusive ‘lad’ culture has repeatedly overstepped the bounds of not just politeness, common decency and tolerance, but has been illegal and menacing, representing rape as acceptable, all women as worthless except for use in aggressive sex, and loud young men as setting every agenda with no possibility of being challenged. And Tweets to transgender sites to say that all trans people should be killed. All blatantly homophobic, transphobic or misogynist.

Do we have a problem? Clearly they do, but whilst I could have been just nice back to the sad person in the car, what damage is this culture likely to do to wider society? In the case of the Unilad magazine online that carried the endorsements to rape (in reader comments), it was stopped. It was clearly illegal, and with astute screen captures of the online conversation as it went on, incontrovertible. It wasn’t argued with, it was dealt with. But reading a follow-up article by a university student in The Guardian decrying the culture, lo and behold the same laddish culture streamed out below the piece, protesting that this kind of abusive talk was just a joke – ‘Can’t you see the funny side?!’ And what I found just as disturbing was girls who agreed: ‘We trash boys in our humour too!’ So it’s just quid pro quo and the world goes on. I (we, society) have no need to worry, because they don’t have a problem. Karma is balanced.

Is it?

I was sorry that I didn’t speak with the young ‘man᾿ in the car and his girlfriend, because someone else would get his rudeness and he would not have moved on personally either. I am sorry that some girls share the laddish culture, because I think it does affect their sense of self-worth and self-esteem and right to take a lead. Why do they need to take the hurt by being hurtful? It is not acceptable! So why engage with the problems that these ‘lads’ have? I want them all to be better than this: to discover what it is to be a whole person, to be loving and to be kind.

So whilst it isn’t my problem, I shall draw theirs into my meditation so I am always well-prepared to respond when their culture overlaps mine, not to accept any hurt, and to address their problem with kindness and show it as it is, unacceptable, but just not necessary.

I am transgender, and I am kind and loving. What are you?