London Pride 2011
July 4, 2011 § 5 Comments
So, it was London Pride this weekend. I did not, in fact, march without my shirt. But I did get to gad about in the ocean in only my board-shorts for Barcelona Pride the weekend before. I didn’t get any ice-cream – but there were cold beers. So far, so good.
The unfortunate twist? The number of cis LGB people who seem to have forgotten that the “T” actually stands for something. Also, basic decency.
Not that there weren’t many, many out and proud trans people on the march and in the crowd. I did a lot of grinning, and a lot of clumsy waving. And I’m more than willing to accept a level of polite confusion around my gender identity – a sissy androgyne in a crowd of handsome butches? Just ask nicely which pronouns I prefer and it’ll be fine. But there were moments of misgendering that crossed the line – taking it from ‘Oh sorry, I thought…’ to the more aggressive ‘so what are you, then?’ – the tight mouth, and glare – the close study of my chest and, from one drunken lesbian, a half-punch/half-slap to my…nether regions. I don’t know if she was aiming for a more playful slap on the arse (still not acceptable) – but it hurt.
Speaking to my trans friends afterwards – nearly all of us had the same story – through varying degrees of severity. It didn’t ruin my day. It won’t stop me from going next year. But I am sick and tired of it. And the whole attitude, that we could loosely describe as transphobic – from outright hostility and physical intimidation to a lack of any kind of trans awareness and open-mindedness – it’s shameful, that it would be so openly displayed, in 2011, in London.
Trans activists will keep fighting the good fight, obviously. That’s our job. But it’s here that the magic of intersectionality and the strength of being an ally comes into its own. You’re unlikely to be reading this blog if you don’t have some degree of sympathy for the cause of trans people – and my presence as an openly trans person means that my beliefs are often thought to be ‘tainted’ by self-interest. Sometimes an ally can educate where we can’t. So men calling out misogyny. People without visible disabilities teaching about ableism. Atheists protesting anti-Semitism. And on, and on.
So, my request for Pride this year? As a lovely present to make up for the crap? If you’re cis, and you care about the trans people in your life, or in the world around you – educate yourself, and educate others. Which doesn’t mean preaching. But it does mean calling out the problematic use of the word ‘tranny’. It does mean supporting the inclusion of trans LGB people in LGB spaces. It does mean examining your own prejudices, and those of your cis friends and family. And it means being, as Melissa McEwan so rightly says, “all in”.
Thanking you kindly in advance. The gloriously gay song below is for you. And happy Pride, everyone.
Ah, Patti Lupone. Sigh.