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What Trans People Want You To Know About ‘The Danish Girl’

Hello, a tiny bit about me before I start. I’m Rhi/Alex and have been out as trans for just over a year (yay) and have a lovely girlfriend who is also a trans woman. I have just started volunteering with Gendered Intelligence, a charity for young trans people and was lucky enough to go to the trans network youth conference this year. I say all this just to let you know I’ve met many trans people of different ages and background. And oh yes. I have heard every view , from cis people, about The Danish Girl. Your opinion of ‘it’s just a movie’, ‘it’s good exposure’ or ‘they cast the best actor for the part’ is not unique. BUT I’m going to stop being grumpy and tell you what transgender people (not all of us we’re not a hive mind) want you to know.

I’m probably going to go and see this movie, and a best enjoy it as a movie and at worst get super pissed off and tense at how badly it handles everything. It is possible to enjoy this movie as a story and thats cool. But when it starts to spread bad information, thats a problem. (There is also the problem of a man cast to play a trans woman but thats another kettle of fish, I have written a 3000 word essay on the subject).

I’ll give you an example of boy meets girl, which I enjoyed. However they used the wrong terminology (I think it was ‘biological woman’ and ‘used to be a man’). I heard my parent use ‘biological woman’ shortly after watching it. Channel 4 use this expression to and its an incorrect and offensive turn of phrase.

Chanel 4 also made a TV show called Girls To Men, and they guys in it seemed cool and nice but the narration was so inaccurate and hard to watch. Was it better that the world saw these great guys at the expense of correct information and promoting the view that trans guys ‘used to be girls’? I think no, I think most trans people think no. It’s ok if your an ally and watching it because you will know they messed up, or be informed of it. But the general public won’t.

This happens all the time. The only show I can think of that I have seen portray trans people in a non offensive way with no mess ups is made by My Genderation. It was the first time I ever saw a non-binary person on a mainstream platform. It was made by a company of trans people, including Fox Fisher who I was lucky enough to meet. So out of a lllll the stuff out there its one thing that has been ok (and the one thing that has been the project of trans people). After all of that we get a bit pissed about how we are portrayed. We get annoyed that we are some thing to gawk at to cis people, and that there obsessed with what gender we ‘used to be’, and our hormones and surgery.

I looked at my gf the other day as she was changing clothes (I have permission to say this) and i though ‘this is what all the fuss is about’ as i looked at her body. all the documentaries, the harassment, the mystery of transgender. She has a lovely body don’t get me wrong, but its just a person under there. And when stories like the danish girl are told incorrectly we get away from that message, that trans people, especially trans women who face so much violence, are people. That message gets lost under the fetisisation of being transgender that hollywood puts in its stories to sell tickets.

Some trans people are hostile towards movies like The Danish Girl, they feel how they do about it because of their every day experiences leading up to the exasperation of trans women’s stories being told wrong, again, for the profit of cis people. The public want to see a cool movie and learn something, and that would be ok, as long as they did some serious googling afterwards to find out the right info and terminology (which they won’t do). I’m probably going to watch the film, and take it like a bed time story, but I also ordered Lili Elbe’s autobiography.

What we really want is respect and being erased by cis actors is not respect, being told how to feel about our own stories is not respect, having poorly researched documentaries to the level that they are insulting as the only form of representation is not respect. I want to see the film because I love trans stories and i’m not going to let anything ruin them for me. But cis people/people without trans people close to them, won’t see the flaws in works like the danish girl, and will leave worse than they came in, creating more work for trans people and their allies, as they try and correct the misinformation.

 

LINKS
(Don’t use the expression ‘man into woman’ , or the terminology ‘sex change’ this book is from the 1930’s) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-into-Woman…/dp/0954707206

http://www.mygenderation.com

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Everyday Feminism’s Top Ten Questions About Being Genderqueer … My Answers!

Everyday Feminism published an article about being genderqueer and some of the frequently asked questions we get asked. I recommend reading the original first. Here are my answers.

1. So Are You a Boy Or a Girl?

boygirlno

2. No, But What Are You Really?

ummm Genderqueer. Non-Binary. I’m AFAB (assigned female at birth) but its not an excuse to treat me as female or as a woman. It’s unrelated to my gender. I have this way of thinking, If you wouldn’t treat a guy the way you treat me don’t treat me that way. If you would call a guy ‘love’ or ‘babe’ or hug them for a really long time then you can do that with me, and I know that differs from person to person. But I catch people using gendered ways to relate to me, that seem to be excused because what they are looking at looks like a woman sometimes. Another way of doing it which I also like is using both options. Like my partner will flip back and forward between calling me handsome and pretty. So do both, or do neither.

3. But What About Biology?

I really don’t want to talk about my … biology.

4. Which Bathroom Do You Use?

Woman’s/Female. Sometimes I will use the disabled if it’s a viable option. I hate having to use the woman’s bathroom but I feel even more uncomfortable with the idea of using the men’s. Ideally I would use a neutral one.

5. Are You Gonna Get ‘The Surgery’?

Next question. They say this in the article but really, don’t ask people this. They’ll volunteer the information themselves if they are keen to talk about it.

6. ‘They’ for a Singular Person Is Grammatically Incorrect!

  1. No it isn’t.
  2. You use it all the time when you don’t know the gender of someone. Example – ‘I have a meeting with my new boss today. I haven’t met them before, I’m a bit nervous, I hope they’re friendly’.
  3. I don’t care, please just respect my pronoun choice.
  4. You are not the first person to inform me of this opinion, I have done my arguing about this. So forgive me if I’m short with you but it’s a discussion I’m done with having.

7. Why Do You Have Boobs One Day and a Flat Chest Another?

Because I own one binder (because they are expensive) and the cut doesn’t go with all the clothes I own.

Because they are very hot.

And most importantly because some days I want to have a flat chest and others I don’t.

8. Are You Dysphoric?

Yes.

9. Am I Gay If I Think You’re Hot?

Well, I would say if your a man and your attracted to my male-ness or a woman and attracted to my female-ness, you might have some pansexual/bisexual feelings going on. But really , no. You can be straight and find one person of the same gender you like and still identify as straight if you want to, you just like that ONE person (same with gay people). Technically because I’m not of a gender you can be opposite to you can’t be binary and be straight/gay with me. But it’s not a term I get picky about. I’m in a relationship with a woman and sometimes we say we are lesbians and it’s not a huge issue to me. I call it a ‘queer relationship’ most of the time.

10. What Kind of Sex Do You Have?

Sexy sex.

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Queer Life/I Am A Genderqueer Balloon

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/12/15/a-9-year-old-girl-gave-this-hearfelt-letter-to-her-teacher-after-he-came-out-as-gay/

I recommend reading the entire article for context. I think its interesting because when I was a kid, if some one asked me if I thought people who ‘were gay or lesbian were bad or wrong in some way’ I would have probably said yes, but if you asked me why I wouldn’t have known (bear in mind section 28 was repealed in 2003 and I was at junior school between 1994 – 2005 so school wasn’t going to tell me jack all). I sort of never thought about it much until when I was older and just sort of realised its all fine (which is bloody lucky!)

Kids don’t really think about it, thats why they are so accepting, but on the flip side, they don’t think about it much so they believe anything they are told from family, other children, the media ect … Parents need to talk about these things to their kids, or it will be left to playground insults of calling each other gay to shape there perception of sexuality. I think if I had been educated a bit earlier about this (or at all actually) I would have know more about myself. I never knew I had the feelings I did because I never thought it was something I could have. Of course I knew about LGBTQ people but I never thought that could be ME.

Over the years everything became more confusing and it wasn’t until I went to university that I even started to really engaged in what it meant to be bi-sexual (a label I no longer identify with), I had the attraction but I never spoke about it much unless in flippant terms, or got involved in the LGBTQ community. My life has changed because of engaging with these people, not just because I’ve made a lot of friends, but because I started to learn about things. The more I knew there were names and explanations for how I felt, something many other people felt, the more I felt them. Maybe thats sounds odd but it was like I was being given permission to be me.

I found out the label ‘Queer’ was a thing and looked into it’s meaning and took it as my own. I felt bi-sexual wasn’t really accurate and although queer can refer to a number of things I find it better to be vague then explain than use a term that isn’t quite right and have people assume the wrong thing.

Back to about feeling like I was being given permission to be me. At some point I realised I really started missing wearing jeans. I think I was watching some of Arielle’s videos, and looking at her style and jokes about how lesbians dress and I was like ‘I wouldn’t mind trying that’. I had owned a shirt for a while and loved wearing it but never thought to buy any more. I got more. And more. And irritated when I didn’t have any to wear, like I used to feel when I had to wear school uniform. At the same time my undercut expanded and my hair got ‘accidentally’ cut short. I thought about how when I talked about ‘women’ in contexts like feminism I never really felt like I was talking about me, but some other group. I never worried I was manly, I never have been and never will be. I have traits some might consider male, but I don’t really by that way of thinking.

I knew a few people who didn’t identify with gender, and the more I thought about who they were, the more I saw that was who I was.

So no I have to leave past tense behind. I’ve felt this way for a few months but didn’t want to say. I know there are harder things to share with the world. But I’m still scared. I’m worried that people won’t get it, will ask me to explain constantly. What do I say to strangers who mis-gender me? What if I realise in a years time of whatever this is not the case and have to go ‘sorry guys I’m not actually genderqueer’. What if men or queer women don’t like me in a romantic way because they don’t see me as a woman?

But thats what I’m trying to say now in this really round about way. That I don’t identify as a man or a woman. I’m just this floating thing. Like a balloon. A genderqueer balloon. This started as a Facebook status and after about 200 words I knew now was the time just to bloody get it out there.

I like girly stuff, I do love a good skirt and heals. And I like shirts, and guys hats. And it’s not all about aesthetic. I wonder why I didn’t know sooner, but then I look about my red, vaguely gendered bedroom thats been this way since I was 13 and think maybe it was pretty obvious I just had no words.

And that brings me back to the point I made at the beginning. Educate young people so they have the words, so if they have these feelings they know what they are and don’t have to wait as long as I did to figure out who they are.

Some days I’ll look girly, some days I won’t. Some days i’ll pull a face at heavily gendered things and others I’ll love them. I don’t know, I just take each day at a time.

So would you mind they/them for me as a pro-noun?

I can’t keep just doing it my head anymore, its a real thing of me now, it seems so silly to keep it inside.

And I totally reserve the right to realise I was incorrect, although I can’t see that really happening.

Thanks.

10405585_10152795823851265_3973017913607460474_n

First picture I took of me in my newly expanded non-binary gender wardrobe.

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Youtube conversation about feminism part 2 – (In which I become the closest I ever have to being rude to someone online)

 Previous youtube conversation continued, what an actually feminist says about feminism. I tried to be as patient, rational and civil as I could. 

person 1 – Ok answer this if they don’t believe in being above men and they want total equality why do they only mention the issues that “favour men” and none ever mention issues that favour women such as women getting lesser sentences than men for the same crimes, women having a higher chance of getting custody of children, women being able to go into some night clubs for free, women getting wined and dined by men. I could go on 

me – ok this is really the last time I am going to say this. Feminism can, depending on who you are talking to and what kind of activism they focus on, primarily focus on issues to do with the oppression of women, as feminism can focus on women, not much does and this is something important that does. However, an example of feminism fighting something that actually shows women in a negative light can be given in this example. I was watching a video of what would you do (you can find it on youtube) a man getting angry and physical with his girlfriend in a park, many people stopped to protect her. The reverse people did not stop or cheered assuming the guy deserved it. This is due to the perception of gender projected by society. If women were not seen as weak, and violence and abuse from them would be seen as just as much as a threat as it would be from men, and this sort of thing would not happen. Feminisim wants to break down gender roles and stop women being seen as weak. If this happened women abusing men would be taken more seriously, as it should. I really can’t stress anymore what this movement is about and I don’t want to spend anymore time on it as it is research you could easily do yourself. 

Person 1 – Women are not seen as weak, they are weak compared to men that is. Just accept that and move on. A guy is more likely to inflict pain or knock another guy out than a woman is likely to do it to a man. So yes women are weak. You feminists just wish you could be as strong as men don’t you, well sorry nothing you do about that 

me – you really can’t have it both ways. while women don’t have the same physical strength of course they have the same capacity to harm and abuse men, which should be stopped and would be helped by female violence not being diminished, which is down to gender roles. I’m unfollowing this discussion now, because as fun as debate and trying to inform people is , and trying to see another point of view, your not trying to understand what i’m saying, not trying to research any of it or debate it with actual fact as opposed to opinions. I hope that you are a young man, because as you grow you will learn more about women and have more women impact your life, and maybe listen to older men who support the women in there lives. If you are an older man who isn’t intellectual enough to consider the thoughts and realities of a very large movement and accept there are injustices to women with out ALWAYS having to hit back saying ‘but men have …’ then i’m afraid its probably to late to change your views, which as the world changes will end up with you being that person who says  something inappropriate at a party and no one knowing what to say or wanting to invite you back.