adrienmundi: (Default)
(specifically, Alchemy, but more generally Pre-Heat and Transformus, too)

Radical Inclusion

This is great, in theory, but in practice, at least on the non-normative gender side, it kind of fails. This isn't really anyone's fault, but as a trans person, it sucks and is very alienating. People expect the world to fall neatly into two groups, men and women. Even if all other rules and expectations are suspended, given even the tiniest prod, people will organize themselves and others into groups of men and women.

Case in point: labeled showers. They're preexisting, facilities provided by the site itself, and clearly split and labeled Women and Men. It doesn't much matter that the unspoken event perspective is that those signs carry no meaning; in practice, people followed the rules as put forth by the labeling on the doors. Sure, there were stories of occasional girls in the boys' side, but I didn't hear tale once of any perceived boys in the girls' side. And sure, there were open, outdoor showers, but they only worked intermittently. When they were down, the choices were to attempt to fit myself into the one size fits most categories, or do without (Clothed, I'm largely viewed as a boy, unclothed as maybe something else, and personally, I don't identify as either). Again, no ones fault specifically, but alienating from a transgendered perspective, to be faced with the bifurcated choices staring you in the face, and feeling powerless to do anything about it.

Another case in point: language. It's probably some part of burn culture (maybe a carry over from forerunner hippie culture) to try to include everyone (but in particular, perceived men) with the salutation of “brother”. (Curiously, I never heard sister used for anyone; maybe the presumption of fraternal bonds means something particular and unspoken.) I get that it's intended to be warm, if generic, to symbolize some sort of bond or potential bond, but I'm no one's brother (no one's sister, either, but again, that was not in use). In a way, it makes it worse that it's well meant, because it comes to a painful choice; accept the mislabeling and misperception with the warm intentions,or keep them both at arm's reach to prevent the persistent assault on my sense of self. I suppose there's a third choice, to try and engage each speaker in an ad hoc Trans 101, but the burden of being a teaching moment at the drop of a hat, of grounding people's probably unconscious assumptions about sex and gender, is a lot to ask, and I am not up for that kind of duty, particularly at a place which purports to include and allow quite a lot.

This isn't anyone's fault, really. I can't stress that enough. Not everyone has a trans friend or loved one, and most everyone is raised in a culture where sex and gender are expected to match and are generally clearly visible at all times. But, statistically speaking, odds are I wasn't the only transgendered person present. But even if I was, really, the question comes down to this: how inclusive do you/they want to be? The decision was made to allow children, to have wheelchair accessible toilets, so there are signs it's important, and I think that's good. But in an environment where so many suppositions and premises of dominant culture are upended, suspended or examined, the places where mainstream, unspoken ideas of sex and gender are still in play stand out as extra noteworthy, and at least in my case, extra painful. I don't know how to fix this. Maybe it can't be fixed. But it does seriously make me reconsider if there's a place for me at events like this, if it's worth the risk and the heartbreak. So far, the jury's still out. Call me an optimist, maybe a masochist, but I haven't thrown in the towel yet.

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