Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Little Transvestite Etiquette, Please?

I'm talking about drawing a line in the sand. Past this line, you do not cross.

We live in a culture where the highest value is, ironically, one from the Bible: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." The only difference is that the Bible puts the statement in context, and from it we learn there are some things we should make judgements about, and some things that we shouldn't. But in our culture we glory in leaving this statement without any context. Yes yes, of course we all agree that it's wrong to steal (unless it's from a "big corporation" or someone richer than you), or that it's wrong to lie (unless that lie actually contributes to a greater truth, or an "emotional truth" as stated by my university lit teacher)--but the things that we reserve the right to pass judgment upon are being squeezed into an ever-narrowing circle.

That's why I'm drawing this line in the sand. Past this line, you do not cross.

This morning I sat down on the bus and in an adjacent seat was a thing. Hopefully you will see this is the kindest word I can use to describe this person. It took me a while to discern what was going on. Thing had woman hair, and I happened to be sitting very close, and it looked like scalp underneath (i.e. not a wig), so that was good. Thing had on a smashing banana yellow pants suit, so still, no problems. But then I tuned into thing speaking into its phone: thing sounded like twice the man I am.

I was boggled into full stare mode, which is rare for me. I reassessed the situation because I figured that I had figured wrong. Clearly this wasn't a woman. I scanned down and, you got it, a brown leather purse placed gingerly in thing's lap.

This is where I draw the line in the sand.

Look, I know there is a big to-do about how these people "present." And I suppose the polite thing to do is to treat them as what they are presenting as. That's fine with me. I don't think I am required to treat people in certain ways based upon their moral judgements. I mean, a lot goes into that, but as a rule I am going to be kind and cordial and friendly with anyone who isn't trying to kill or kick my ass.

But thing is asking too much of me. I'm sorry jack, but you've gotta go 100% on this thing if you don't want me to laugh at you. 100 years ago a man couldn't put on a dress and expect to pass through his day unscathed by social animosity. Today, rightly or wrongly, I think that is a fairly reasonable expectation, that you will have to take little to no crap for that "lifestyle choice." But I don't think half-assing it should be tolerated. The illusion needs to be completed, is it that hard to bump your voice up a couple of notches? In the world that we happen to live in there are only two choices on the menu, man or woman. We get to be one or the other. These days we even let you choose, but you gotta choose, thing--you can't keep your deep voice and your high heels, too.

I understand, thing, that you're pre-surgical or post-mental or bi-curious or cross-tran-un-sexual, but a little propriety would be nice. I'd even love for the two of us to set down and you could explain your whole process to me--but start sounding a little more like Marilyn Monroe than Michael Moore, or no dice.

1 comment:

Jessica DesLongchamp said...

Ok, well I laughed so hard that you came in here to see what was so funny --- so you know how hysterical I think this is.