Written by Hallam students Jess Brown
*trigger warning for trans people, people with gender dysphoria and mental health issues*
Gender is complicated. I feel like if I explain mine it may give you better context to the point of this article. Mine used to be set as a boy, although to be quite honest I was never too certain on that. I didn’t really vibe with any boys in the typical “boy way”. I was different, like something caught in between. Emotionally intelligent and sensitive but also in tune with girls in a way that not even the most feminine of boys are. Around two years ago I got diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The pain I’ve had of not fitting in suddenly had a focal point. It was magnified and explained to me in simplified terms of me not feeling right in a boy’s body. But what do you do with that information? When you are already dealing with another serious mental illness and general life stuff, how do you juggle that? How do you cope?
I coped by adapting which isn’t what everyone gets to do so I count myself very lucky. I didn’t get over it but being on a waiting list that could potentially be up to five years, made me impatient. Something had to happen or change, I don’t stay in cocoons for that long. So my mind, being the tricky little thing it is, managed to pull a wonder off for me and make me relatively content with not being physically a girl but somewhat spiritually one. I don’t know what I am now. Gender doesn’t really matter to me anymore. I’m just, Jess. That’s what matters. My actions and how I influence the world matter. If I can output positivity then I will be happy. But it’s more difficult for some and it’s important to be mindful of that.
I use this argument when it comes to defending the existence of mental health issues, invisible disabilities or racism, “just because your house isn’t on fire it doesn’t mean someone else’s isn’t”. The same applies to people who are trans. You can’t discredit them by simply pretending they don’t have an issue with the gender they were born in. You can’t just pretend it doesn’t exist because it’s not happening to you. Gender dysphoria does exist. I was going to do a list of things not to say to trans people but that’s been covered by BBC 3
So I think I’ll make the point of this to be about fighting Transphobia. Transphobia can take form in many shapes. It can be little jokes or harmful jokes. It can be denying that someone exists or that they aren’t a man or a woman if they aren’t originally born one. Lots of other things that make people small minded and ignorant to the actual reality around them. It’s a priviledge of anyone born into the right body to not have to experience the pain of feeling like you are in the wrong skin. Of feeling like your body doesn’t work or fit right. It’s a pain I have never felt before and one that feels so inescapable. Again, just because you don’t have it it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
There are lots of stereotypes around gender. Let me put on a small minded persona for a second, please meet Old Man Jenkins; *in a gruff deep cockney voice* “Boys play football, like cars, have beards, like beer, chase birds. Nuff said. And only gay boys like girly things. Girly things are you know... pink stuff. Cocktails. Flowers. Gay stuff. Rainbows. Dolls. Makeup. Only lesbians like boy stuff”. Ahem. This attitude is clearly wrong and is dying out thankfully due to our generation’s open minded approach to both gender and sexuality. Also sexuality doesn’t really effect someone’s gender. I’m bi and I would be bi if I one day do go through a change. These kinda myths should be dispelled. Gender is slowly dissolving in society it’s more becoming a biological term than a societal one which is for the better. If girls can play sports and videogames and boys can wear makeup and dresses in peace there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn't hurt anyone apart from people brainwashed by constructs of society that mean nothing.
Everyone deserves their right to be comfortable in their own skin. Trans day of remembrance is about remembering those who have lost their lives due to transphobia. I think if we all do our part to remember these people by battling transphobia that'll be a good way of paying respect.