I had an interesting conversation with a friend earlier. I needed to talk about some things and I am extremely grateful to her for listening and offering her advice. The thing that made me think enough to write here though was incidental to our conversation.
She invited me to a local womens group meeting. Which sounded rather interesting. However she cautioned me that as a trans person pre transition I'd be thrown out if I turned up without presenting female. Fair enough I thought, it's not as if presenting female isn't something I want to do.
On my walk back home though I was thinking about the exchange. I have to admit I found myself not entirely comfortable with it. Both the exclusionary nature of the space, and the implied threat of what might happen were I not to meet some imaginary standard of femininity. It was not the intention of my friend who is a very nice person indeed to present the meeting in a bad light, but thinking about it I decided on my walk that perhaps it wasn't for me. There is something ever-so-slightly ridiculous about the idea that to a trans-inclusive gathering I am acceptable wearing a bit of lipstick, some not very large breastforms and a pair of slightly better-cut jeans while I'm not acceptable without the makeup or forms, and wearing some baggier jeans. Because after years of mild anti-androgens, beard lasering and hairstyling that's really the sum of the differences left between the two versions of me. I'm afraid even at my scruffiest I'm not what you'd call a blokey bloke any more.
I appreciate that writing about this conclusion in a public space might not win me any friends. I hope it doesn't lose me my friend mentioned above, should she happen to read it. And I'll probably get a few angry comments from people who will maybe bring their preconceptions to the table without necessarily reading what I've written. It's not as though they shouldn't have a women-only space and it's certainly not as though I'd dream of trying to crash any meeting that wouldn't have me in a particular form. But I feel a space that wishes to be trans-inclusive should spend a while thinking what "trans-inclusive" really means, rather than saying "We'll include you if we think you look like we want you to".
Maybe it's just me but I think only accepting people who look a certain way has been used to justify too many bad things over the years, so count me out.