Representations of Transgender People That I Experienced Growing Up.

A lot of people are surprised by the fact that I didn’t realise I was transgender until I was 18-years-old. I think when Caitlyn Jenner came out, I, as well as a lot of other people who were questioning their gender identity, finally began to understand myself that little bit more. With Caitlyn putting the spotlight on transgender issues, it meant that there were a lot more voices being heard around gender identity. Which really was a blessing, because up until then, the representation (as far as I could see it) was really less than stellar.

“Unless they had a sex change.” 

When I was a child one of the recurring jokes in my household was the expression “unless they had a sex change.” The joke would go like this: My young self would be sitting in the car and I’d spot another car that was green, like my grandmother’s, or red, like my neighbour’s. I’d point it out to my parents and ask whether it was the person. If it happened to be a member of the opposite sex to who I was asking about, I always got the response “unless they had a sex change.”

At this interval, my family would all laugh and I’d laugh too but I don’t think I ever got what it meant. Having a sex change was never explained to me so I was just copying everyone else. In a way, it’s kind of funny because myself and my family were laughing at the seemingly ridiculous idea of someone we know having a sex change. It’s amazing the difference a few years can make.

If you happen to be judging my family for these jokes, please refrain from doing so. We were a very sarcastic family who made jokes about a range of different things and didn’t realise that we were being offensive. Since the early 2000’s, we’ve obviously grown an awful lot and I don’t bother wasting time holding grudges over such things.

Chandler’s Dad. 

Remember Chandler’s Dad on Friends? It was never made very clear whether she (I think) was a gay male or a transgender woman, but whenever we saw her on the screen, she presented as a woman. I was obsessed with Friends as a teenager so it was always on in our household. I’ve probably seen every episode a number of times, meaning I repeatedly heard the huge amount of jokes that were made at the expense of Chandler’s Dad. That could not have been good for my poor, confused head when it came to my gender.

If you’re wondering why I’m referring to this character as Chandler’s Dad, but also using female pronouns, it’s because even when she was a woman, she still called herself Chandler’s Dad. The beautiful thing about today’s world is that you may have a father who’s female and a mother who’s male. That’s something we should all respect.

Lady Gaga’s dick: 

That video, which in retrospect was probably a very clever publicity stunt, of Lady Gaga stepping off a bike and appearing to pull a dress down over her penis was widely discussed amongst my peers. “She’s a man!” people would exclaim even though she clearly wasn’t. Unfortunately, back then we all believed that the possession of certain genitals decided what gender we were.

Trinny: 

One of the things that my Mam is almost infamous for is her flock of chickens. When I was younger, I also used to love these chickens, so you can’t imagine the excitement I felt when one of our hens began to prepare to hatch a set of chicks. When they were born, we struggled to come up with names for them. I think it’s almost impossible to know the sex of a chick when it’s born. We called a pair of ours Trinny and Susannah (yes, we thought it was hilarious), but it wasn’t long before Trinny started to look a little different from the others. Then one day, she surprised us all by letting out a rooster’s crow. When we realised that we’d assigned her the wrong sex, there was a bit of sniggering going on amongst the adults. Trinny was then branded “Trinny the Tranny” and we all began to refer to her as such, myself included.

Jesus we were awful really.

Crocodile Dundee:

Crocodile Dundee is always on isn’t it? I cannot flick through the sky menus without seeing one of the fucking Crocodile Dundee movies playing for the 789,654,194th time. The scene from the first one (I think) that always sticks in my mind is the one with the “man” who flirts with Crocodile Dundee. Actually is Crocodile Dundee his name? You know what I mean.

Basically, Crocodile Dundee is sitting in a bar and he gets chatting to a beautiful woman. It’s clear that there’s something of a spark between them and because of this, another man in the bar comes up to warn him that the woman he’s talking to is actually a “man.” Dundee responds to this in a very civilised manner. He walks up to the woman and grabs her by her genitals, before storming off in a huff. Of course, when I was younger, this was the height of comedy for me, but looking back now I’m so disturbed at my mindless laughter at such a thing.

Because let’s be real. This scene only perpetuates the stereotype that trans people aren’t people at all. If you think you’re being “targeted” by a trans woman who’s merely speaking to you then why not go up and grab her by the genitals? Why not treat her body as a playground for your own fucking curiosity. But of course people don’t stop there. Trans people are raped, beaten, murdered by men who think they have a right to do so. This “comedic” scene in Crocodile Dundee definitely couldn’t have helped that culture.

The pussycat dolls: 

Myself and my sisters loved the pussycat dolls! We even went to one of their concerts when we were young. I don’t know if you ever heard the rumour that one of them, the red haired one I think, was a “man.” For a while, whenever their videos would appear on the music channels, someone would point out the “man” in their mist. I remember being confused by this. They all looked like women to me? But it definitely taught me a lesson. No matter how much they makes themselves look like a woman, people are still going to see a biological male as a man.

Iggy Azalea.

I remember when the video for Work by Iggy came out I was about fifteen year’s old. Myself and some of my friends were hanging out in a sitting room watching TV and one of the disgusting boys that I used to hang out with turned to us all and informed us that he would fuck Iggy Azalea. He said she had tiny tits, but her ass made up for it. I think I made some joke about how I had no tits and asked him was I his type, which I of course got a flat out “no” to.

A couple of months later, a friend of mine told me about how Iggy Azalea was actually born a male and had transitioned (another rumour by the way). At this point I was pretty close to realising my own gender identity and the first thing I thought when I heard this was that my friend had said he’d fuck her.

I was delighted at this news. “Oh my God,” I thought, “she was born a boy but she’s also fuckable?” As I’m sure you’ve realised, I’m nothing like I used to be in terms of this mindset. Later that day, when we were sitting with our male friends, I brought up the topic again. I turned to the boy and asked “didn’t you say you’d fuck her?” He snorted and declared “NO!” that little bit too quickly. “She had no tits,” he declared as if we were all supposed to nod our heads and agree. Although saying that, the topic was changed and that was the end of it. She was born a boy, which meant none of the boys would have sex with her. Nothing more needed to be said about that.

As you can see, I was never really exposed to many narratives that would have been similar to my own gender identity, hence the lack of knowledge when I was growing up. Now that more and more rhetorics are in the media and the public eye around gender, my only hope is that it will be made all the easier for gender non-conforming people to realise their inner selves and to identify with the world around them.


Read I’m Transgender, Not Unreasonable here.


Listen to my poem Hi, I’m Transgender below:


One thought on “Representations of Transgender People That I Experienced Growing Up.

  1. Even the Crying Game is guilty of this since at first , Fergus cant see past Dil’s genitals.

    and I’m also guilty since I once wrote a story in which I used a trans woman as a cheap last act plot twist. It was about a future society in which anyone could have an instant sex change if they wished. I would certainly be more sensitive and considerate if I wrote it now.

    Like

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