I was at a party on Thursday night (Friday morning, actually) when a guy I’d met a few years before started talking into someone’s ear, while glancing over at me. Yes, that crafty old trick.
Well, I asked the person whose ear had been spoken into – a friend of mine – and they confirmed that the gossip-queen had, surprise-surprise, been chatting my business. Or, rather, one very boring piece of information which, nevertheless, other people seem to be continually obsessed about, without having any real understanding or insight into what it actually means. I’ll let you, reader, work out what the topic of discussion might have been.
I took him to one side and made it clear that he was bang out of order. He apologised and we moved on but, as we were both intoxicated, I felt I needed to follow up when we were both sober.
Here’s the message I just sent him on Facebook. There was a time I’d have gone home and maybe had a little cry, so I hope that anyone else experiencing this will find my response useful. Sometimes people just need to be told.
I’d like to say it was nice to see you again last Thursday – and it would have been, had you not then gone on to make me feel incredibly uncomfortable.
Though I did make myself quite clear at the time, in the hope that you would stop talking about my transsexual status, I really want to impress upon you just how unacceptable your behaviour was.
I take transphobia as seriously as racism and any other form of ignorance-based bigotry. I like to think there would be less of it about if people were more educated.
I have gender dysphoria – a mismatch between the brain sex and the external genitalia at birth. It is an internationally recognised medical condition and, as such, is treated on the NHS.
My private medical history has nothing to do with you. I repeat: nothing.
What I have/don’t have/used to have/will have between my legs is none of your business.
You wouldn’t tell someone you’d just met at a party whether or not someone else at that party had had an abortion, an STD, a circumcision, or a hysterectomy – and nor should you discuss private details about my private parts. In the end, that’s what it boils down to.
My driving license says I am female. My passport says I am female. I can legally marry a man – and I do not mean in a civil partnership. Legally, medically and from a psychological perspective, I am a woman. You have no right to go around suggesting anything otherwise.
Even if I just “cross-dressed” for fun, it still wouldn’t be any of your business. I’m telling you this because I believe you have the potential to be a better person.
When was the last time that you were enjoying yourself, among friends, and someone made you feel awkward – genuinely uncomfortable – about the colour of your skin?
The person you told is a good friend of mine. Have you considered what might have happened if you told someone who had a real problem with that information? Would you have liked to have made everybody at the party feel uncomfortable? As it happens, it was limited to two people, three including you. Thankfully, it didn’t spoil our whole night.
It may come as a surprise to you, but there are some people who simply aren’t interested in your gossip. My other friend, who I arrived with, also knows about my situation, as does my boyfriend, who is also straight, and various other straight male friends I have. Mature ones.
In the kitchen, you kept going on about how I did not like you when we first met. I couldn’t really remember. Maybe our first meeting stuck in your mind because you find me interesting? Clearly you do. I’m now thinking that any negative vibes you may have got from me that first night is because I picked up on the fact that you had an issue with me. Again, clearly you do, and I’m not stupid and I will detect that.
The reason I turned up so late at the party is because I always feel quite anxious and insecure about partying with Carmel’s friends. You see, when I go out alone, or with my friends, people respond to me as a girl. When I mix with Carmel’s friends, I can, sometimes, get a rather different response. Sometimes I am rudely gossiped about.
A few years ago, before I was as happy and confident as I am today, I probably would have left after catching you say those things. Luckily, I managed to feel OK enough to stay.
But I would be less inclined to go to another party if I knew you were there. However, I probably would, because I see no reason why I should let people like you stop me from enjoying life, just because of who I happen to be. But, I’d still have that feeling of uneasiness.
I’m not saying you should never talk about it. I was on telly a few months ago, talking about transgender stuff. It’s not a secret. So, if you were talking about me being on television and somebody asked you what it was about, it would be appropriate to tell them. But you could say that in front of me. Anything you have to whisper into someone’s ear is probably best kept bottled up.
So, in summary: me being transgender = none of your business.