Sunday, 31 July 2011

On respect

    It troubles me at times as I observe the more fractious among our wider community in the real world, on forums, and in the blogosphere, that I am witnessing behaviour that can only be damaging. I've been through several stages in my reaction to the squabbles of others, through annoyance and depression and back to annoyance again, but now I am just sad to witness disparate factions tearing themselves apart. It doesn't have to be this way.
    You may well have seen last week's T-Central poll. It was a course of action we decided upon in response to some very personal invective directed at one of our number, and it concerned our deletion policy. It was interesting to read some of the responses to it from other bloggers. I posted fairly similar explanatory comments in my usual (I hope) reasoned style on the blogs criticising our action and was rather unsurprised when some of them weren't published. Now who's the censor.
    A few people said they would have done things differently. Someone suggested splitting up the T-Central list into categories. I don't think that would work, not enough space on the page and a nightmare alphabet soup of definitions to contend with. With my wicked sense of humour I wondered whether three categories would suffice, The Trannies, The Definitely-Not-Trannies, and The Trannier-Than-Thou. But that, though mildly amusing, would not be appropriate. It would put me firmly among those who prompted the poll, because it would make me guilty of a lack of respect.

    Important word, respect. Sometimes I think we don't see enough of it hereabouts.

    Respect is about separating who someone is from what they are. Simple, isn't it. The what concerns identity and path, the who concerns personality and actions. By all means attack someone for their who, but leave their what out of it. Because who concerns the individual while what concerns everyone else like them. Insult a whole group in your attack on an individual, and respect has long departed from the equation.
    Might I propose a rule of thumb in this sphere?

    If you wouldn't go somewhere in the context of a natal man or woman, don't do so in the context of a trans man, woman, genderqueer, androgyne or other identity. Whatever they are. People are different, get over it.

    If I meet a natal man or woman in the street or at work, I do not metaphorically peer into their underwear to speculate on their genitals. Even though there is an extremely wide variation in naturally occurring genitalia of both varieties. I don't question their gender identity, they are presenting as male or female therefore I accept them as such. Though I may sometimes privately question their sartorial choices I don't attack their appearance either. Some natal women are ugly, have hairy arms, or big feet.
    And similarly if I meet a trans man or woman I don't attack their paths. I don't misgender them and I don't get inside their underwear. It matters not to me what they get up to in the bedroom or whether or not they have forgone the ability to write their names in the snow. I would prefer people didn't behave this way towards me, so why should I think I can do it to someone else? We are all different in this sphere, and while I often see paths which I think are unwise I express my reservations privately. Identities are myriad and personal, and are not to be turned into pejoratives.
    If however I meet someone who is an arsehole, I will treat them accordingly. Because being an arsehole is about the who, not the what. I will respect them to the extent that the language you will see me using here will be lucid and not profane, but I have no worries about attacking them on the basis of being an arsehole. Being an arsehole is independent of identity.
    Part of me feels rather sad that I feel I have to write this piece. To enumerate what should be self-evident, particularly within a minority all of whose members are likely to have experienced such a lack of respect from outsiders.
    But then again I guess there are arseholes everywhere. I'm sure none of you would wish to be among them though, would you.


  1. Much in this world is self evident though you would hardly know it from what some people write.

    I vote for this post!

  2. We need someone who can enumerate the self-evident every now and then it seems.

    To finally be able to understand a pain felt for so long is wonderful Jenny. You have hit the nail squarely; someone peering into my underwear when they could have been listening to my soul has me feeling violated. I don't feel quite as crazy this morning thanks to this fine (and yes, sad) post.

  3. Jenny. With all due respect...and believe me, I DO have a great deal of respect for you and almost everybody involved on this and other forums. There are exceptions but no need to go into that here. What matters is this.

    What we are dealing with here are people and just because they happen to be "trans"-whatever...DOES NOT MAKE THEM SPECIAL OR EXCEPTIONALLY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PEOPLE. You will find he usual distribution of smart people and not smart, nice people and not so nice.

    Personally I see absolutely NOTHING wrong with the three catagories you suggest. It seems that it is only in he USA that people are offended by those terms.

    I think those are brilliant suggestions and at least allows people to self-define as many of your self identified heterosexual cross-dressers do.

  4. Anne brought up a valid point regarding no-one being special or exceptional. We are dealing with other human beings here and the vast variances in identity, attitude, intelligence, sexuality and numerous other traits that each of us has. Yes Jenny, even arseholes! They are in every walk of life aren't they? The point is this NO-ONE IS SPECIAL! Everybody thinks that everyone else should be like them in how they feel, what they like or dislike, what they believe or not believe, a whole host of things. Just as you say Jenny, we are all different and people should get over the fact! The saying goes, 'You have to earn respect' and I think that is true. If we want the respect of others we should first demonstrate that respect toward others!
    As a side, I couldn't see anything wrong in your three categories either Jenny! How many categories would it take to satisfy everyone? Probably millions!

    Shirley Anne xxx

  5. An entertaining post, Jenny! Funny, but says a lot.

    Just wondering if those who are "trannier-than-thou" could possibly fall into the "arsehole" category. Would that simplify things?

  6. I am reminded of a scene from Life of Brian. A crowd chants "We're all individuals", and an individual says "I'm not!"

    I couldn't possibly comment on anyone's categorisation. 'Cept my own of course, angry tranny, me.