so, I was working in the drop-in when this guy came in. now, this is a place that’s for women–but it’s this weird kind of parallel universe where you don’t really have to actually have been raised female, look female, act female or talk female in order to be considered female. never mind that the gender training you received well into adulthood was to be a man–you can just sashay in there and say, “yea. i’m a woman. I got a piece of paper from this doctor who says i’m female.” or not. whatever. makes me wanna set my fuckin’ hair on fire. So…here we are, a big man with a goatee, track pants, big belly, deep voice, “I was born female”, he says, “i don’t understand what your issue is, I’m a woman and I should be here.”
yea, I think, I’m a fucking dolphin and they still make me pay to go to the aquarium, and then i never get to swim with my people…suck it up, princess…
My co-worker says, “i can’t even talk to him, i’m so angry–that’s not a woman’s beard, that’s landscaped.”
another co-worker came in at the same time as upon our man, and was the first to speak to him. whew. i don’t like it when it’s me, ’cause there’s been a ‘draft’ policy for years that kinda changes all the time, and I’m the most outspoken proponent of having the place be “women only”, so i fear that people think I hate trannies, which is not the case, I just…dammit, I just want there to be some place around that’s for women only. please?
Anyhow…so my co-worker, you know, we’ve all been in these fights about being essentialist and exclusionary and bigoted and oh my god transphobic , and she doesn’t want to do the wrong thing, and she wants to be inclusive and good–so she does the wrong thing. lets him walk through the women’s centre to get a coffee, the crowded women’s centre–and promises that we will bring him lunch outside.
give ’em an inch…
As he walks, there’s a ripple of murmur and grumble in his wake. I hear women say, “they shouldn’t let it in here”. Which, you know, is true–except for the “it” part. He’s human, he deserves dignity, respect–even if he does not offer it. He’s damaged, he can’t–letting him walk through the centre was no favour to him or to the women who are there. he gets his coffee, ambles back to the door, leaves. but hangs out close to the door, looking in whenever a woman opens the door to come in or go out.
i go out to ask him to please move to the back door, where my co-worker will give him a lunch. he asks why he can’t come in. I say because your right to self-identify does not trump the womens right to a safe place. i wanted to say, ‘if you are, as you claim, a woman, you would understand immediately what the problem is, and take care of the women around you’. If he were a butch woman, he would not have behaved with such entitlement and belligerence. No way. Even the women who become constructed men, ‘transmen’, and want to still use women’s spaces–they (because, hey, they’re women) will ask in advance if they can come in. They will call a meeting or something–and they’ll back off if told ‘no’. They won’t shout and holler and call in the lawyers. Not in my experience, anyhow.
I suspect, too, that transmen don’t have any trouble getting into all-male space because men don’t gather together to protect each other, to figure out what it is to be male in a world dominated by women–they do it to protect unearned privilege and power–they are not under siege. Unless they are Aboriginal men or refugees or African-Canadian or in some category of “other”. And I don’t know about the intent or structures of those groups. I suspect they need women in them, though, to help them be human.Plus, men don’t really see women, unless they’re, you know, ‘girl from ipanema-ish’. So women can ‘pass’ for the most part, seems to me.
anyhow. so. buddy ate his lunch outside. He pouted. We ignored him. He left. i have no doubt he’ll be back. There are more and more men who come in there. They do not all live “as women” outside, they say they are women when it suits them. Some are consistent, they go around claiming to be women and accessing women’s spaces and we make room for them because, oh, you know, it’s so hard for them (and perhaps we are afraid of them…as we are afraid of men, as a class–isn’t that so? hell hath no fury, I tell ya…). Yea. they do have it hard, but maybe they feel bad because they know, whatever it was that drove them to get all hacked off and tucked in and implanted is still there, they’re still not who they want to be, but there they are now, among women, and they still don’t fit, and how uncomfortable is that? and because they’re men, they get all weird and entitled and defensive.
and dangerous, as well. nothing worse than a damaged man powerless in the world and cornered. yikes. And the women in the women’s center, they know all about the harm that damaged and angry men can do. Even here, in a place that’s supposed to be for women, they are not safe from the rage of men. good lord. The centre has had to ban some of these guys because they’ve harassed women outside, gained access to them inside…not all of them, for sure, but c’mon. Not ONE woman has been found to be a danger to the rest of the women as a whole like some of the men (trannies) have been. What does that tell ya?
ach. apparently there are ongoing discussions in staff meetings about what to do about the men. this is a divisive and troubled discussion here at the drop-in, as these discussions are at every space that women have carved out. once again, men getting in between women’s relationships with each other, sucking up resources we could be directing toward women’s liberation (or at the very least, a little solace in captivity).
argh. see? all this energy on a post about men. i’m gonna write a paper about prostitution and harm reduction now. and go to the gym. Squats, Deadlifts–Core strengthening for the glorious revolution. I’ll tell ya about the two memorials i went to this week, too–some time, i promise. later.