I was walking down the main asile at the store when someone pushed a shopping cart out in front of me, coming out a side asile without looking at who they would run into.
I stood stock still while she pushed her cart in front of me, gabbing with the woman pushing the cart behind her in a language I didn't understand. Arabic, maybe?
The moment that the second woman, her cart and her child were clear of my lane, I moved rapidly to continue walking.
That's when the jabber was split by a powerful high pitched shriek aimed directly at my left ear. It was very long and very loud and very painful, leaving my ear ringing.
As I walked, seeing three clerks in the shoe department peering with quizzical looks to see what had caused the woman to scream, I tried to understand what happened.
The only thing I could guess was that the woman was so in her own world that my movement startled her, so she shrieked directly into my ear. She was blind to me and my simple continuing down the path she and her friend had blocked without consideration for my right-of-way was enough to shatter her expectations.
My simple movement broke her comfort, and my ear is ringing because she didn't have the grace to see what was right in front of her.
Is that something she would want someone to do to her and her child?
One problem in this country is that because suburban living has eroded community standards, people feel free to do what they want rather than doing the right thing. Because community is exploded and mobile, self-interest is valued over standing, and many focus on their own comfort rather than not doing unto others what would be hateful to them.
The local school district is part of the national Character Counts coalition. That means that they like to go around and tell kids that no matter what everyone else is doing, you need to do the right thing.
The reason they feel such a need to say that is simple: this society is too surface, so they don't believe that characters count. They have a big regional school that homogenizes kids to a smooth suburban blend, and while that pulp may come in a few flavours — nerd, jock, hippie and so on — it's all the same mix.
Being too different is just a problem. So instead of encouraging characters to develop their own unique expression, standing against the crowd, they just tell the kids to remember that character counts and hope that the kids will go against social pressure when the time comes.
In the end, of course, most of them don't. They blend in, go along with the drill, follow the rules, and come out the other end like product. You can't have character counting unless you respect characters, empowering people to be hardcore themselves rather than expecting them to look like the rest of the people.
Trannys want what everyone wants, to be able to just blend in, do a nice mediocre job and have a nice mediocre life. Bella Abzug was clear that the point of the women's movement wasn't to have a female Einstein regognized as a male Einstein would be, but rather to have a female schlemiel to have the same opportunities as a male schlemiel.
In other words, while we want the same option to be a special, unique and visible character that others have, we don't want to have to be a special unique and visible character just to be ourselves in the world.
Unfortunately, that's an option that escapes most of us. For us, at least the ones of us born male, to be out is to be visible as different. We don't just have the obligations of character, we have the obligations to be a character, visible, identifiable, and easily characterized, for good or bad.
It's kind of like the Roman Catholic position on celibacy. Priests can choose to be celibate, but those with homosexual orientation have the obligation of celibacy thrust onto them, no choice. Of course, they can't also choose to be a priest either, at least not offically. Any wonder that sexuality gone unexplored leads to dark places, that the choice to deny can be devastating?
Culture rationalizes this obligation of trannys to be a character, usually a cartoon character or clown, by the chain of thought that assumes if they were to dress up funny they would be doing it to amuse or entertain, or at least to garner some attention, so trannys who dress up must be doing that too.
In other words, trannys dress up to provoke, so they deserve whatever they get.
This leads trannys to a weird choice. We can either seek to become invisible, so we don't provoke anyone, in any way, that might be linked to transness, or we can seek to become comically visible, making clear our expression is a costume for play. Choosing to be mature and take power in a reasonable & respectful way while still being visibly tranny is very difficult, because there are so many people who expect us to manage their fear, discomfort, amusment or curiosity about our expression.
This happens with others too, like little people, but in our case the acts seem volitional; we choose what to wear in the morning.
In fact, gender is all about choices, even if we don't often recognize them as such, because our gendered expression is always made up of choices that are designed to make us blend in or stand out, to express our similarity & connection or our indviduality & separation, choices to excite or calm people, choices to convince them of our respectability or our thrilling nature and so on.
I know lots of tranny people who speak proudly of their choice to stand out as a character, to be different and visible, to be themselves.
As a devout iconoclast, I understand this pride. I was the kid voted class indvidualist in my yearbook. I have always walked alone.
But as a transwoman, well, I know that a tranny born male who stands alone remains a man, even if a man in a dress. My history is to keep the tender parts of me hidden behind the facade, not to turn them into some cartoon exterior that leaves me even more isolated.
Sandra Cole once hesitantly told me that she saw me even more femme in boy clothes and I laughed. I get that, because in boy clothes I am not exposed in the same way I am when people see me as a guy-in-a-dress, and I don't have to keep up the same defenses. For me, trans has always been something very personal and very internal, something needing protection, not something that averts eyes.
How do I open my introvert heart to a society that doesn't have the grace to see and respect characters? They now have to try to instill character with external methods, but until their is a respect for other people, rather than an ignorance of them so determined it ends in shreiks when they move, how does character triumph?
I mean, heck, Reader's Digest doesn't even offer My Most Memorable Character anymore.
I get the idea that the only way for trannys to survive in society is to stand out as characters.
I just don't see how a society that doesn't value the unique, challenging, iconoclastic voices of true characters will ever really value character, no matter how many Republicans they elect.