A few years ago, before I started living fulltime as myself, I was at a club in North Hollywood with some friends. We were watching the showgirls perform, and my friend, being the dedicated photo-taking-whore that she is, left my side to capture the performance on her camera. ^_^
As soon as I was standing by myself, the men in the club lit up their eyes.
I knew what was about to happen next. That train is never late.
An individual seized the opportunity and approached me, and began to flirt with me. He asked me the typical flirty questions, and I chatted with him politely. I was definitely not interested in him, but I was classy with my interactions.
The conversation went on nonchalantly until he suddenly asked me, “So do you have a boyfriend?”
And despite being bisexual my entire life, I told him “I’m not interested in men, so no, I don’t have a boyfriend,” hoping he would get the hint and leave me alone.
He then proceeded to say something incredibly offensive towards me; a statement that should be considered offensive to anyone who is gender non-conforming in any way shape or form:
“So why the fuck do you dress like a woman then? If you aren’t into guys, why do it? Are you just fucking with us?”
I proceeded to tell him off, and lectured him on getting his facts straight, and notified him promptly that if he was planning on chasing after transgender girls, that he’d better learn some respect and learn why we do what we do, and the reason why we present as we do. Of course I also mentioned to him that I dress the way I dress because I AM A WOMAN after all. *Fucking Moron* ~while rolling eyes
This individual was clearly unaware that gender identity and sexual orientation are two separate categories, completely independent of one another.
It’s a shame that even the majority of men who “admire” and “chase” after us are generally unaware of the complexity of who we are as transgender people. They are typically completely unaware of the psychological, emotional, hormonal, and physical struggles that we go through, at length, to repeatedly strive to be ourselves. All they want is their fix, and to see a woman dressed flawlessly feminine to satisfy their fetishistic needs.
It’s a complete shame, and I wish the transgender community would take a stand, for ourselves, for our community, individually and collectively. We typically shortchange ourselves when it comes to intimacy and dating, and this shortchanging can also occasionally seep into other areas of our lives as well. We rationalize, in our head, that individuals who show us interest are immediately of good stature due to their “acceptance” of who we are, when in reality that’s far from the case. We are so oppressed as a minority group, that our mentality is to thank someone and look up to them graciously, even though, in mainstream society, they would have been frowned upon by the general populace due to their questionable behavior and character.
It’s time to elevate our stature as a community. The “franchise” of transgender people needs a new mascot, a new look, and we, just like Cher, Madonna, and the countless other divas that have graced the entertainment world, need to reinvent our image if we are to expect respect.
And the only way to do that is to respect ourselves, and to respect each other in the transgender community. Each time we compromise our self esteem by acquiescing to the demands and gestures of a disingenuous gentleman, we chisel at the fabric of our social dignity individually and collectively.
The same goes for interactions outside of the club or dating spectrum, ranging from doctors, mechanics, waiters, and any other service we need performed. If we are being treated like shit for presenting ourselves as who we are, then that needs to be addressed. And sometimes we can’t make an immediate difference at a place where we are treated poorly or discriminated against, but we have to do our best within the confines of proper conduct and legal recourse. And we ALWAYS have the option to walk away and keep our dignity.
We shouldn’t ever have to feel second best, and feel overwhelmingly grateful when we are being treated in equal fashion compared to how any human being ought to be treated. That should be a given, and we shouldn’t act as if it’s special privilege when it’s to be expected, rightfully, just by being human. We shouldn’t classify ourselves as second rate citizens, grateful for an opportunity for some common conversation and interaction with our fellow citizens who are cisgendered. We should EXPECT and DEMAND common decency as a prerequisite, and nothing less. Differences in who we are should be accepted and cherished, and used as a portal to educate and inspire people to embrace change and diversity; not, instead, to be used as leverage to treat our community in poor or substandard fashion.
We should expect equal treatment in all areas, from the civil rights arena all the way down to the nightclubs.
And we should expect nothing less.