I often find myself asking if I would pay attention to a world-renowned weather man who was telling me I should invest my life savings in a certain oil company.
First, I’d find out with what authority I could trust this person’s advice on the stock market. If I’m told he has none, his opinion is not one I plan on taking as informed.
And so it is with the people we have coming out telling transgender people what they are and what they are not.
These strangers, after all, who’ve never had to ponder what it might be like when your brain and body are constantly at war with themselves because they don’t agree, at all, on what bits should be there, know more about us transgender peeps than we do ourselves.
It doesn’t matter that you might have spent decades searching for an explanation as to why you feel the way you do.
You’ve probably explored your childhood, your school, you partners, your family, your mentality, outlook on life, job, school, church, that one time you decided to play football instead of playing with a doll.
Surely there was *something* that could explain why you couldn’t bear to look at yourself in the mirror, let alone have a partner (or anyone else) see you naked.
If you could only find the answer, then you’d be able to ‘fix it,’ to make the incessant noise, that dominates every area of your life and makes you feel unworthy of your place here on this planet, quiet.
Then, perhaps, after thousands of pounds in therapy you realised what it was – you’re transgender!
You have gender dysphoria, a real life thing that has a medical name and has been studied by experts for decades.
You see empirical proof that transitioning alleviates the worst cases of dysphoria and you make the decision to put your personal safety at risk to come out and start your journey towards the place where your body and your brain finally find some sort of congruence.
While you do this, you go to regular therapy sessions where you are monitored. What you say, how you act, the decisions you make in every area of your life are open for scrutiny and debate. You will be challenged on every aspect of your decision by the people who know you and love you.
If you’re lucky.
If you’re not, you’ll be disowned, or perhaps even raped and murdered.
Then there’s the strangers who think nothing of asking the most inappropriate questions they wouldn’t dare ask any one else, the offence you cause when you just want to be called by your new name, not your dead one .
Why do you go through all this?
Because you know that a person with a penis is not necessarily a man. That a person with a vagina is not automatically a woman.
You know it because you have lived and breathed that reality since you were born.
It is you, it is your experience, and you know it to your core.
People like Ian McEwan, know nothing but their own experience, and that is one in which a person with a penis is a man, because McEwan is a person with a penis and he feels like a man.
‘Call me old-fashioned,’ he said, ‘but I tend to think of people with penises as men.
‘But I know they enter a difficult world when they become transsexuals and they tell us they are women, they become women, but it’s interesting when you hear the conflict between feminists now and people in this group.
‘It’s quite a bitter conflict. Spaces are put aside, women are wanting to put spaces aside like colleges or changing rooms, and find from another side a radical discussion coming their way saying men who want to feel like it can come in there too. I think it’s really difficult.’
That’s what McEwan can talk about and have people listen to – on having a penis and feeling like a man. He is an authority.
On transgender people, he is the weather man giving advice on stocks
As for his ‘men who want to feel like it can come in there too’ comment, all that does is reduce the transgender struggle to a discussion about a handful of perverts who aren’t even transgender, completely ignoring the fact that it is the transgender person who is more likely to be assaulted in the public bathroom than the individual who has a problem with them.
And don’t even get me started on the total invisibility of trans men, once again, from any sort of transgender discussion in the mainstream media.
Maybe if they realised we existed too, they might also start to realise that being transgender is about a hell of a lot more than penises in women’s bathrooms.
There’s also a hell of a lot more danger to it, too.