...I have accepted some norms and questioned others.
Throughout my childhood I remember several occasions when I pondered what it meant to be a boy or a girl. I was very clearly pronounced to be a boy and I played happily with many boys and girls – one of those girls becoming my best friend, a girl-friend.
I also remember, now just through a photograph, a scene of me dressed as a girl, sheepishly holding my sister’s hand, knowing that she really wanted me to be a sister – not a cis-ter.
I somehow knew then, that I could not be what she wanted, but as time went by I also questioned whether I could be the male that everyone else seemed to want me to be…I slowly accepted maleness because it was easy, perhaps my dominant side, and allowed me to join the better-off club. By aged fourteen I could clearly tell that boys had a much easier life than girls, and yet I longed to get back to that world where my girl-friend, Jane, and I could play trains, and all sorts of games, indoor and outdoor, kiss on the swing, and for it to be completely unimportant what society, or our genitalia said we should be…
When I moved to Aylesbury, aged sixteen, and wanted desperately to fit in to a new school, I was so grateful when Adrian Needs asked if I wanted to go to the Friars club the next Saturday. I had no idea what this club was, or what music act the 80 pence would allow me to see, but I was in “the club”, with “the hip boys” from school.
To say that seeing David Bowie was life changing would be an understatement. It was not just me that felt the ground shift, most of my new friends at the Sir Henry Floyd School also appeared to be a bit liberated by this charismatic star who was delightfully crossing the gender boundaries and powerfully OK about it. We were all immediate members of the unofficial Bowie fan club.
Fast forward past the years of film business work, (& more Bowie gigs), the separation from gender-fluidity as an ideal that developed from work in the film business, and we get to the subsequent brushes with the issues of sexuality and fluidity that sometimes seemed to fill the social work training course.
One woman, Jacqui Jabloui, the director of Cardiff MIND, opened (or reopened) the eyes of many of us with her tutorial group course on the nature of sexuality. I realised when we we were asked to stand on an imaginary line, between the poles of being 100% straight all my lifetime, and 100% gay all my lifetime… that I was nearer the pole of 100% straight than to the centre line, but that I had moved up and down between those two points ever since I was a baby.
This set in motion a determination that my children (then less than 1 year and unborn) would never be forced by us as parents to be one way or another…
Now I sit in my room, having read the debates about male/female/other – Germaine Greer’s frightened feminist arguments, that trans people apparently threaten to spoil…
I am not “found”,
I have not “completed a journey”
and I am not trans, being quite comfortable in my male skin after all these 60 years…
what I am is fascinated
and determined to support the idea that a genderqueer world would be the best world.
When CN Lester was on Newsnight and told “…you were born a woman..”
and replied, “No, I was born a baby”, my heart soared with recognition.
That is what I was born, what we are all born.
I have no desire to force people into being of a different gender identity to that which they own, but…
does it not strike you as possible, that we do not need to separate people by these gender definitions?
The feeling I get, of a glimpse of human unity, when discussing any topic with people who describe themselves as somewhere in the movement for gender fluidity and trans liberation, is such a good one.
I can sympathise with women like Germaine Greer who have fought a long hard battle for a more solid defence of female status. It has often been the case that equality battles have foundered on race/culture, other oppressed group’s overlapping political issues, but I cannot go along with the notion that it is equality that is under threat from trans people lobbying about being able to choose unisex toileting facilities.
There was a private club in Newport, the Speakeasy, which was in the basement from the Stowaway club, where I took my best punk band photographs back in the late 70s. The owners always invited me and the bands down for a drink after the gig had finished and the Punk punters were all leaving. It was notable that Siouxsie Sioux was one of the few band visitors who was instantly at home down there.
The club was a gay club, yes, but among the transvestites and all others (all of us using the one, unisex toilet), I got to know a couple who had been together for 8 years, 4 of these as a gay male couple, and now as a straight couple, (their words),
but unable to get married – because Julie’s sex change operation did not allow her legal recognition as a woman.
I joked that since this was a gay club they shouldn’t even be members any more.
What a ridiculous idea…