Shaming

Taking my mother to the doctor, a woman had parked across three handicap spaces, blocking access to both spaces and the landing zone between them.

We found another space, I got my mother into her chair, and rolled her to the door.

As we passed the woman, I said “Taking all the spaces!”

That was wrong, I was quickly told by my mother and my sister as we passed into the building, their sour faces showing disapproval.

My comment was counter-productive, because in my sister’s experience people just shut off those comments.

My comment was rude, because she was just one woman trying to get something done.

My comment was just wrong.

I should feel ashamed of making it, according to them, because obviously they were ashamed of me for speaking up.

They didn’t want to start by understanding the point I was making, and then help me find a way to make the comment that would be more productive. No, they wanted me to understand I had crossed the boundaries, and they were embarrassed by my actions.

Yeah, I get that. The drama, the engagement, the speaking up is something that makes them uncomfortable, something they want to avoid, something they want me to avoid as I might drag them in. It’s a lesson I learned very early, a lesson I am retaught very often.

The problem is, though, that simply to walk in the world as a proud trans woman is inherently to be in-your-face to some people, and inherently requires to ignore the shaming that some others feel entitled to dish out.

And to support a proud trans woman, you can’t allow yourself to feel ashamed by her standing up against the stigma, standing up with voice and presence.

They want to shame me for mildly calling out a woman who rudely took up spaces others needed, then I need to expect they also want to shame me for calling out my own truth as it disquiets others.

How do I play small so not as to push their buttons and play big enough to lift my own head with pride?

How do I not engage their own internalized shaming?