Today’s free Metro featured an article on transexuality and transpeople, or more accurately, transmen; girls who want to be boys.
This sparked off a series of discussions amongst some of my students, and we have had a day full of debates on what it means to be a transperson and what the differences are between gender, identity and sexuality.
Not surprisingly, one of my female learners came to me later, in private and asked me the million dollar question, “how do you know if you might be one of these transpeople?”
“K” as we’ll call her, is what you would class as a tomboy, she could easily be mistaken for a boy and does readily confess to being a lesbian. She dresses in a non gender specific manner and has non of the more feminine nuances that you would normally see in an 17 year old girl. I gave her the article to read, especially the interviews with the three transmen that the paper featured and then gave her a print out of my post dated 1st August, which had comments from transmen.
I don’t profess to be an expert on gender studies or sexuality or anything to do with transsexuality, I suppose being gay I have a little insight into the issues surrounding acceptance of anything outside of what some people class as “the norm”. I did feel a little out of my depth answering questions but after a little reasearch on the internet, found some numbers and organisations that “K” could phone to get help and advice.
The article itself (click on the thumbnail to see the full article) wasn’t really an indepth look at transmen, it was a short sound bite that didn’t really offer anything; no real insights as to what it feels like for a girl, there’s a song in there somewhere, that feels she ought to be a man.
I feel angry sometimes that papers like this trivialise and try to offer to the general public a condensed version of what is a very complex and intricate set of emotions and issues for those whom it affects. Some things cannot be summarised without them being damaged and in my view this is one of them. Exposure doesn’t always lead to common acceptance and understanding, it nearly always leads to ill informed ignorance and a general population who think they now know something about an issue that they really don’t. I know there are those who say that some knowledge is better than none, but on the otherside of the scales, a little knowledge can also be dangerous.