It appears few people read beyond the headline. The point I was making – achieved in an even more spectacular fashion than I’d anticipated – was how offensive it’s usually considered simply to draw attention to another person’s genitals. I didn’t actually say anything about the configuration, size, state, attractiveness or not of this particular person’s genitals. I merely used the word ‘genitals’ in combination with someone’s name. The result was outcry and opprobrium from some quarters. Had I been a person of significance, it might have been classed as a storm brewing…
Why, therefore, do certain people feel so uninhibited when discussing (in detail) the genitals of those who happen to be transsexual? What business is it of theirs? What subjective experience do they have of another person’s genitals? What gives them the right?
Luckily, I can laugh at such nonsense, but what did get to me is that someone I respect, Johann Hari, branded my blog ‘disgusting’ and has now blocked me from following him on Twitter. I really admire Johann. Just listen to him take on Richard Littlejohn – or maybe try this podcast which asks: Why is it wrong to protect gay kids? It has some interesting parallels with what I have to say.
And this is definitely worth a read. Extract below:
“Claire’s is a typical story. The transphobic parts of the media – step forward, the Daily Mail – says that all transsexuals are miserable, and surgery only leaves them “even more unhappy, but now with mutilated genitalia to make it even worse.” In fact, the vast majority of Britain’s 5000 transsexuals have found that surgery has made their lives bearable for the first time. Only 2% of transsexuals decide to reverse their surgery, an almost unparalleled success rate; over 90% describe themselves as “much happier” ten years after the transition.”
I think we’d agree on quite a lot if we were to sit down and have a cup of tea. But then even my incredibly trans-friendly/aware/on-the-ball editor at DIVA, Jane Czyzelska, was also slightly confused why I’d written something which seemed so personal. Jane and Johann’s reactions led to the blog you’re currently reading.
Trans people are the subject of abuse and bullying from childhood onwards, and for me this was both violent and sustained. This can lead to depression, despair and low self-esteem. The oldest and most despicable tool of the transphobe (just as with the homophobe) is to claim that, because of this, trans people are innately miserable and incapable of knowing their own minds – despite decades of evidence to the contrary.
It’s been an interesting experience to be tarred with this brush, to be misgendered and abused by some people with very curious ideas lurking somewhere behind pseudonyms. All I can say to them is this: mind your own business, and genitals. Or don’t expect people not to mind yours.