I feel as though I might be about to spend the next few weeks on this blog talking about…yes you have guessed it…; ‘my transsexual summer’.
Well I am really growing to love this bunch of individuals; they are all just lovely and so committed to being a source of support for one another.
However I was flabbergasted by the behaviour of the women who interviewed Drew in the wedding shop. I was angry and gutted for Drew by their behaviour once she explained she had been having difficulties finding a job because she is trans.
I acknowledge and know intellectually that the two sisters who own the business were obviously decent, friendly people, who seemed as though they are most likely good employers. I know that they had probably not had much exposure to anyone trans, and therefore their conversation and questions to Drew were probably unchartered territory. So I was curious by my reaction.
I seem to become indignant on other people’s behalf, because when I am in a situation in public where I came across someone reacting the way they were, I am happy to discuss the issues and answer questions. I know I wouldn’t feel the way I did when watching remotely, a trans person in an agonisingly uncomfortable situation.
It is good to challenge your own reactions to things, and why you feel the way you do. After speaking to Princess I realised that the women interviewing Drew are exactly the target audience that I am trying to reach with my book, and so I now feel a little like water has been poured over my smouldering fire, and rightly so, I should be ashamed!
It is no good going through life guns blazing, waiting to pounce on the next poor unfortunate person, who having not been exposed to a subject should be forgiven for needing a positive approach to help them understand the issues. It is worthwhile those of us in the trans community remembering this when it is close to home. I know many of you who write to me have someone in your lives who is struggling with understanding the issues around trans, and I guess everyone needs time and patience to take it in.
I think there is a silver lining for Drew though, as they showed a clip from next week’s programme. If I have guessed correctly, and I think I have, Drew looks like she is starting a job at café Nero. I am a coffee lover and Nero has always been my favourite. Don’t get me started on Starbucks, that’s a whole other rant.
If you missed it here’s a link, save you searching for it.
I wouldn’t feel bad for being angry at the two owners. They did not behave decently or fairly or show any consideration to Drew’s feelings. People (especially those approaching middle-age) should already know that others can be hurt by what they say. I was shocked when, in front of Drew, one of the women expressed openly amused disbelief that her sister couldn’t instantly tell that Drew was trans, and then explained her shock by pointing out that Drew’s Adam’s apple was an immediate giveaway for her, and then spitefully and happily stating that Drew will ‘always have it.’ That was one of the rudest encounters I’ve witnessed in a long time and just comes down to a plain nasty streak in the woman’s character – many children would know better. If she genuinely didn’t realise how offensive she was being it can only be because she’s habitually used to not considering others feelings at all – which is no better, and means that either way she doesn’t care.
The owners then essentially made it clear that they wouldn’t hire Drew because she is trans. They were not ashamed of their open discrimination towards a young person who has struggled to find work for years.
To justify their discrimination they conjectured about possible responses from imagined customers, conveniently shifting the blame from themselves onto others – as if such neurotic and intolerant responses from possible customers (even if they did ever occur) would justify their decision not to hire Drew. If they thought they might have some possible racist customers would they use this as an excuse not to hire a black person? The whole argument was in fact largely bogus – most women wouldn’t even mind being assisted by an openly gay man (look how many women respond to Gok Wan), so how many women are likely to panic at being assisted with a dress by a transwoman? But the owners felt happy to speculate this would happen and speculated that hiring Drew could lead to difficult situations – with the clear implication being that Drew could not really be a genuine woman and would be fraudulently presenting herself as such to customers, resulting in sexually-inappropriate situations and trouble for their business. In front of Drew, they mustered sympathy for an imagined customer who would not want to be served by her but ‘wouldn’t feel able to say’, but strangely they could muster no sympathy for the actual real person sat rightin front of them being subjected to their grim speculations.
To top it all off, the less horrible of the two sisters then compounded the whole horrific episode by gibbering about how everyone dreams of a lovely wedding but no-one dreams of being trans. This was a clear reflection of her understanding of being transgendered as something alien, marginal and perverse, which she contrasts to the wholesome mainstream of ‘every girl’s fantasy’ of a white wedding. As if being less common must also mean being excluded? As if a transwoman might not also want to get married? As if some children clearly do grow up wishing to be a different sex?
Certainly the situation was made worse by the owners’ stupidity (who would knowingly present themselves so badly on television?), but at heart the problems resided with the owners’ characters – not caring about being rude, having a complete lack of interest in fairness, and holding to worldview that places those they hold to be marginal under suspicion as strange and potential threats. These are relatively fixed personality traits which education will not change – apart from on a superficial level where they might learn to hide their true thoughts better.
So feel free to be angry. You should – it wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair and it was the owners’ fault. I’m not trans and I don’t even know anyone who is but it certainly angered me to see it. When you’re confronted with injustice sometimes you can’t help but be angered and you shouldn’t seek to intellectualise it away. You felt mad because you knew it was wrong.
This is how I felt at first, but then I calmed down and realised it is simply ignorance. You could feel sorry for them. It simply served to show how phenomenal Drew is as a person, to deal with that situation in the way that she did, keeping her head held high.
Thanks for the comment though, it is great to hear someone else as passionate as me. I am also interested that you say you are not trans or know anyone trans and yet you are reading my blog. Many thanks for that, hope you continue to enjoy.
Thanks for your reply. Reading my post back and having had a day to reflect/digest (I only first saw the episode when it was repeated yesterday), I do agree with you that adopting a more balanced outlook on the owner’s behaviour is best. And I was ranting a bit, lol. I think what got me so worked up was how calmly Drew took it during the ‘interview’, which had the effect of getting me mad on her behalf! But as you say, that speaks to what a great person she is. I still think you’re both probably more forgiving by myself.
As for reading your blog, I think I have a rather a magpie brain, and my attention is grabbed by all sorts of interesting things. For a living, I’m actually a publisher for academic psychology research and personally I’m interested in questions around identity. Plus you have a better writing style than most bloggers out there! Keep up the good work.
When I was angry, it was precisely on Drew’s behalf.
What’s that you say, your a publisher, now you’re talking my language. I don’t know how much of the blog you have read, but I have a book I am trying to get published. Its my story of my relationship with Princess.
Well I hope you enjoy reading.
Yes, I’m a Publisher. I work for an academic publisher called Elsevier (if you search Sam Hodder on Linked-in you’ll find a brief bio of my publishing experience to-date). I’m afraid that I work in academic journals rather than books however. I manage a portfolio of psychology journals which psychologists submit their research articles to – the subscribers are mostly universities. So it’s psychologists reading other psychologists research in order to stay up-to-date with the field.
I would be interested in hearing more about your book plans however. Is it a separate enterprise from this blog or intended more as a compilation of it? Will it be a biography/life writing book about personal experience? I understand that it focusses on your relationship with Princess, but I also see from your blog that much of what you write about is not strictly personal but also a consideration of society’s relationship to gender identity and sexuality (especially media representations) and I can see your wish to help educate. Who do you see as your hoped-for audience/readership for the book? I ask because I do have contacts/friends in different areas of publishing, through my work and also through an MA in Publishing degree I completed. When our class graduated we sort of spread out across the publishing world! So possibly I might be able to help point you in a useful direction. And I do enjoy your blog!
I started writing a book when there was nothing else on the market by any other women in a relationship with someone transgender, except Helen Boyds two books (which didn’t resonate with me). Often when Princess and I are out, people say that it is me that fascinates them. I started the blog because I knew that the book would be a project likely to take a good few years and wanted to give people something to read immediately.
I am pitching it as a relationship book/memoir. It is written in my style, so same as my blog. I guess I do talk about identity to some degree. I talk about the importance of being yourself, not loosing sight of your real self within a relationship. That a healthy relationship should be one in which you both encourage the other to live their life to the full, follow your dreams and support one another – not achieving them for them or equally not fixing the other persons problems, but being there for them while they work through them.
Isn’t the world ironic. I have just finished a basic/beginners theory in person -centered counselling course. I enjoyed it and so am looking to study further and seriously starting to wonder if it could be a complete career change for me.
I do have a finished book proposal and if you have been reading the blog this week, you’ll know I have a finished draft which is with a proof reader. I also have the slight challenge of being Dyslexic – but I have never let that me stop me achieving anything either before I was diagnosed at the age of 27, or since – it just made me more determined (some might say stubborn). So if you think anyone you know would be interested I can send them by proposal to start with.
Nice chatting to you.
Laura Newman A pioneer for transgender relationships Author of Angel and Princess angelandprincess.wordpress.com