I was at a seminar about gender correction yesterday at the Swedish organization for equality for HBT-persons. They hold seminars every Tuesday and I’m pretty interested in discrimination issues and genus debates. The woman holding the seminar was a MTF who underwent corrective surgery in 2006. It was interesting, but most of my questions were unfortunately misinterpreted.

For example, the speaker said she didn’t have many issues growing up; As a boy, she wore girl’s underwear, but the boys in her class never really made fun of her for it. She said that today’s school kids are probably more aware about what’s considered male and female, but that as long as you’re open and honest about your differences, people will probably accept you. I asked whether she was popular in school, and whether she believed that she would’ve been less accepted for her differences, had she been less popular or even bullied (albeit for a different reason than the trans-genderism). She interpreted the question as if she was popular at the school were she, in her adult life, had been working as a teacher… I would have asked again, but she was very talkative and I’m not good at interrupting people.

Anyway, later into the seminar I asked her wether she felt somewhat offended or annoyed by the queer ideology, since it states that gender is merely a social construct. I’ve always wondered what transgendered people think about this, since most of them feel very strongly that they were born in the wrong gender, and does not consider it was an identity that grew on them as they grew up. I can imagine that some trans people might have opinions about this as it relates to an important part of their life and identity.

Sadly she didn’t really know what the queer ideology was, and I don’t think I did a good job either posing the question or explaning the queer theory. I think she more or less interpreted it as “How much do you think childhood and society affects our gender identity?”. When the seminar co-ordinator helped me out by giving a more clear definition of the queer theory by saying “so they believe we grow into our genders, but we’re born genderless.” “But we’re not!” exclaimed the speaker, but didn’t really elaborate beyond that.

It was still an interesting seminar. I was a bit disappointed that the two other MTF women who were there didn’t get to say much; granted, they weren’t listed as speakers, but they seemed to have a lot to tell that we didn’t get to hear because the speaker kept interrupting them. I’m not gonna lie, I have an issue with people who interrupt others and take up a lot of social space just because they don’t want to share the attention, especially when the people being interrupted seem sort of shy and uncertain to begin with. I admit that it’s mostly because I sympathize with the interrupted persons, it happens to me quite a lot and it makes me uncertain and a bit offended. I get that you have to interrupt people sometimes, and I do it myself at times, but there’s just moments when you feel like peopel are blindly running over you with a steamroller in a conversation. It’s disrespectful.

Anyhow, that’s a bit beside the topic. One thing that I found really interesting was how my brain was wired to always think “he” about the speaker. I’m usually the one who advocates for people to call transgendered people by whatever gender they identify with; a few months back for example, some classmates were talking about a guy in another class, who it turns out is a pre-op FTM. There’s been a lot of talk about this guy because he’s very aggressive, says socially unaccepted things, and yells/screams at teachers during seminars. The girls who were telling me this said “well, he, she, or whatever I should call him or her”, and I started arguing that if he identified himself as such, why would we want to put a different label on him? It’s none of our buisness. That’s never been an issue for me.

The speaker however was a bit different. I really tried to force my mind to think “she she she”, but she really looked so very, very male, that it was very difficult. By that, I mean that she looked like a Drag Queen. She had a too tight pink top over a protuding belly, a tight skirt and a long, platinum blonde wig. No make-up. Big nose and in general a very masculine face. It looked like someone’s weird uncle had dressed up to make fun of drag queens. She also had a very deep voice. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think these traits make her any less of a woman, but it made me think a bit.

There are obviously biologically born women who dress in a similar way (the word “white trash” comes to mind); it’s not a way I’d choose to dress, but I wouldn’t say that these women are doing a half-assed attempt at mimicking a drag king or a female stereotype. If anything, I’d say most people would think they were trying to highlight their femininity. If I saw a biologically born woman wear a platinum blond wig, I’d think “that’s kind of tacky” but I wouldn’t think “hmm, is that a man or a woman?”. So I’m trying to reprogram myself to become blind to that.

On a conciouss level, I don’t have any problems accepting that a MTF woman with strong traditionally masculine features is a woman. I don’t think gender really matters anyway, and I’d be fine calling someone for whatever if they asked me to. On a subconsciouss level, we’re all programmed to categorize words with different properties, and that’s why I think a lot of people (like my classmates) have an issue calling a pre-op FTM for a man. They categorize based on our plumbing systems, I categorize based on mostly facial features and demanour. I read about it in school, it’s called semantic fields and is a part of the PTO-system, which is a system in the brain that connects words with different properties… so according to that theory even the most hardcore queer ideologist does pretty much the same thing. I’m trying to think of a metaphor to make this easier to understand, but I can’t think of one that couldn’t be interpreted as offensive. Anyhow, I don’t see how this would be a big issue in my case since I don’t really give a damn what gender people are anyway.

God, I’m tired. It’s midnight now. Shit, this post got too long, and I don’t think my spellcheck is working. Eh, whatever. Next Tuesday there’s a seminar about “Joyful sex”, but I think I’m going to have to miss that one, because I have a huge exam the following day. The seminar after that one is “Fetishism” so you can expect an update about that. I’m definately going to that one. 🙂
Good night.

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