Tuesday, January 15, 2008

keep away from small children

I heard this from a friend the other day, while the friend was describing reasons that their recent ex had given as to why the ex didn't think they could be together long term: "And then he said...and don't take this personally...that he didn't want to raise a family with someone who has a transgender best friend."

I didn't really mind the "don't take this personally" bit from my friend, because I know how hard it is to think clearly when one is in the midst of heartbreak. One is entirely liable to say things that amount to "my ex-boyfriend wouldn't want his children exposed to you, but don't take it personally." When you are in love with someone, it is possible and even easy to overlook or forgive or even not clearly hear what they're saying when they come out with such a an astonishingly ignorant and offensive statement.

What I do mind is that this is a guy whom I shook hands with, spent a bit of time with, invited into my house on more than one occasion, and generally considered an all right guy. And now to hear that he wouldn't want me around his children? I can't figure out if I'm more appalled that I was friendly to someone who has such thoughts, or that there even ARE reasonable, intelligent people in this world who even HAVE such thoughts.

It's such an alien concept to me. I mean, I get that there are plenty of people who think I'm fucked up. I get that I'm blessed to live in relative peace, with an entirely loving and supportive network of family and friends. There is no one with whom I am truly close who responded to my explanation of my (trans)masculinity with anything worse than confusion or (relatively gentle) questions about whether I knew what I was talking about.

I know that there are people (plenty of 'em!) in the world who think I'm anything from wrong to confused to sick to laughable. I believe that it's mostly due to confusion and lack of knowledge on their own part. Sure, trans people are unusual. We're not common, we're not like most people, we are a minority. We are not, technically speaking, normal. But I don't think it should take all that much common sense to grasp the concept, with a bit of education, that just because we're not just like you doesn't mean we are WRONG. I mean, this is elementary, right?

It's the people who can't get over that, and persist in turning their confusion into fear and then into belligerence or aggressiveness or hateful/hurtful sentiments that I just don't really understand. Just like the anti-gay marriage folks, with all their "hate the sinner, love the sin" crap. I think that's pathetic. You can't parse me into little bits like that, it's a ridiculous game of semantics, and it's even MORE ridiculous to classify some of those bits as "wrong" because they're unfamiliar and thus scary. You really don't have anything better to do than worry about how my sex life is going to ruin your marriage? Really?

So ditto to the transphobes. Am I too optimistic by nature when I believe that the bigotry is just stemming from lack of knowledge and exposure? I guess I'm just not used to discovering that people with whom I have normal, totally pleasant interactions are (apparently secretly) harboring such hurtful, awful opinions about me. Because I would think that a reasonable, educated person, when meeting and interacting with a reasonable, pleasant transsexual person, who is held in close esteem by his partner, might revise his previous opinions about not letting the scary transsexuals near his children.


trent said...

that's so lame. i'd much prefer to believe that i could dismiss closeminded types by sight -- it's really disheartening to find out when (smart! pleasant! liberal-minded! etc!) folks have just been 'playing nice'.

the old 'not in front of the kids' line is so bogus, too. seems more a sneaky way for adults to dodge responsibility for their own fears and prejudices -- by making it out to be the kids' sensitivities, not theirs.

Eli said...

for real! it's hard to realize that people can be so duplicitous, though I suppose some would call it just being polite.

at first blink it's hard to decide whether i'd rather have someone be outright nasty to me, or cover it up and at least be polite. i think for short interactions, i guess i'd rather deal with politeness than vitriol. but for anything long-term, I can't stand the thought of investing positive energy into someone who is thinking about my in such terms.

I smell yarn. said...

Hey, Eli, I just started reading this blog.
If I have kids, I hope you can spend time with them and teach them to bake and tie a tie, since I can do neither. Love, Huelo

Anonymous said...

i think that you may have unintentionally misquoted conservative christians who "love the sinner and hate the sin" (thereby loving the person, but not necessarily loving what they do). however, your turn of the phrase sheds some interesting light on my take on ----phobics, who generally do hate the "sinner," often because, secretly, they would like to indulge in the "sin." am i making sense?

Eli said...

Aw, Huelo, that sounds awesome! I can't wait to be Crazy Uncle Eli!

Eli said...

Ro, you're totally right, flipped it. Typo! Clearly, you figured out what I mean. But I like your new interpretation, too...

Anonymous said...

Eli- I was just recently introduced to your blog by a friend of mine, and you are come across as exactly the sort of person I would want around my sons. You come across in your writing as intelligent, thoughtful, quirky and caring- those are just the sorts of qualities I would want any man who they encountered as a potential role model to have. Any child would be fortunate to have crazy uncle Eli in the picture as a part of their trusted adult community. Bah to the bigots!