Fairness and Fedoras

Alright straight white males, I’ve been giving you a hard time my peers, I’ve stood on the side of demographics I am not a part of and given you a written assault worthy of note but I do so because I care, for the minorities you oppress and for what the majority could be if it tried hard enough. You dominate the world fellow white men, you’re clearly capable and intelligent as a collective so grasping concepts like gender and racial equality shouldn’t be a push should it? Fear not though, whilst you might perceive me as betraying my heritage for ideals this time the two are combined, I’m standing with the straight white guys for a reason and it’s not quite what you expect.

Ok, so at this point my entire audience is nice and confused hmm? Good. Picture for me if you please, your typical MRA (Mens Rights Activist) and perhaps you’ll see where I’m going with this. Now, did you picture a fat white guy with a neckbeard, fedora and smells of Doritos, complains he never gets any whilst being repulsive and generally has skills limited to spewing sexist abuse and kicking ass at CoD? That shit right there is a problem. What you have pictured is a stereotype, a harmful one at that and whilst it might be fun to poke fun at it as a way of mocking the butthurt outrage of the entitled amongst us, it makes us seem spiteful and only adds to their anger. I might not have the right to say this as a white guy myself (and a lover of fedoras I might add, rather hesitantly) but the mockery of an anti-feminist as a fat nerd in a hat harms feminism more than it does meninism. Allow me to further explain, if you’re not too angry to listen by now, so I don’t give the wrong impression to both sides of this argument.

I understand that perhaps many MRAs do fall into this stereotypical image of a white guy with hygiene issues and a love of trolling but the problem of branding people as this is once you force a stereotype on someone, it becomes hard for them to escape from it, at least, as far as external validation is concerned. If you want to laugh at an MRA, laugh at their ridiculous views on why they think they’re entitled to sexual relations with their female friends or why they insist they’re a perfectly nice guy despite spending their hobby time scrounging around for nude pictures but if you dare laugh at them because they might be obese or hairy or lonely then what does that say about you? Personal appearances are not grounds to make a mockery of someone and in an argument as important as the fair treatment of all genders, it should not come down to “Yeah well you’re a fat geek living in a basement!” – it’s not constructive and it offends them just as much as feminists are offended by the image of a radical emotionally unstable mad woman burning underwear and demanding global castration. No stereotype is constructive, no stereotype is a force for good and no stereotype belongs in intelligent discussion.

Furthermore, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, you are having a heated debate with your stereotyped MRA sort – full on chubby greasy loner who can’t see why his best female friend hasn’t already agreed to sleep with him by now – what do you gain by calling him less of a human being for that? You do not convince him to change, you hurt him, you attack his feelings and his identity and he’s no more likely to be any different than a feminist would if a guy called them a bra-burning bitch, they won’t go “Oh, is that how people see me? Jeez okay… Sorry… I guess men are the superior sex, I apologise”. If your opponent is as you think, do you not think they would receive enough torment for that without you adding to it? I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t side myself with whoever made a fool of me for my character flaws – I’ll grant you I would perhaps need those flaws pointing out to me but constructively so I can work on them, not made into memetic jokes to circulate across the internet. We need to engage in arguments working towards winning the hearts and minds of those we argue with, not tearing them down, whilst anger has its place in an argument to fervently challenge misguided mindsets and abusive attitudes or behaviours, making an argument a personal attack on a basis of appearance or hobbies or hygiene, you go too far.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t criticise our opponents but it is a matter of what we criticise – our disapproval of them is at their outdated notions and degradation of others, it is not at unfair assumptions that they are repulsively smelly or coated in cheese dust. I understand the use of humour to disarm an opponent and as opponents go MRAs do a lot worthy of laughing at but I don’t agree to laughing at their dress sense and personal appearance. We object to the use of stereotypes when it affects us, it is no more excusable to use them against others.

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The Fragile Man (Part One – Masculinity and Women)

Let me level with you reader – basically, last night I put together a blog post called “The Fragile Man”, meant to address the subject of Masculinity So Fragile, a campaign to show the frailty of masculinity in how men feel the need to showboat to prove their worth, justify the purchase of ‘feminine’ products by buying male-focused alternatives and mock those who do not fit into the predefined standard, be they genderqueer or effeminate. However, the culture of masculinity, the standards it imposes and the effects on men, women and all identities beyond and between is so profound that it won’t fit into one post. I did try but I missed out heaps, I had it proofread to find I knew very little of the female viewpoint so after talking about it with a variable collective of female friends, I’ve split this post in two. Tonight, I want to discuss the effects of masculinity on women, using my own reading and the real-life experiences of women I know, as well as the experiences of a genderqueer friend of mine. Just a heads up, it gets dark later on, if you’re the sort who reads sensitive subjects and gets triggered, steer clear of my blog for the next few days – it’s about men and women and power and sexism and gender identity, I’m sure you can guess which tough topics will be brushed upon, namely abuse for starters.

So if we think of the opposing standards of masculine and feminine, going on purely polar ideals, notice the difference in the traits? Masculinity is strength, resourcefulness, wisdom, stoicism, charisma whilst femininity is chastity, elegance, beauty, obedience and gentleness? A tough woman isn’t feminine, a quiet man isn’t masculine. The masculine traits are aspirational though – strength and ambition are goals to strive for, how does one strive for chastity or beauty? You might say you can do many things to beautify yourself but then you’re accused of faking it, you could refuse sexual advances but then you’re called frigid and prude, masculinity expects feminine traits of women but challenges them if they adhere too closely to the rules. Women are expected to be virgin saints, yet sluts in the bedroom, be cutesy and adorable yet also mature and alluring, it’s an impossible demand that the perfect woman be an angel and devil rolled seamlessly into one bundle.

You might think, so how does this relate to masculinity and its effect on women? Well, the Masculinity So Fragile dawned the No Hymen, No Diamond, essentially saying that women who don’t adhere to the most sacred of sexist rules imposed on women, chastity until commitment, don’t deserve marriage. Men attacked because they felt they were attacked, even though the masculine culture damages them too, but more on that another time. The stunted emotional growth of my gender, and myself for a good period of my life, led to generations of bitter angry men understanding any emotional response as anger, the unknown or the confusing is a challenge and challenges are qualms about capability. Challenges are accepted with aggression, machismo, violence – the word ‘fragile’ was an affront to their strength so they sought to prove it, as men often do. Women, does this sound familiar – a man treating you differently in the presence of his male peers to how he does when he’s alone? The difference being, with people to observe him he seems to show off? Has the boyfriend/husband ever referred to you as the ball and chain? A term suggestive that he is a caged or trapped beast, hindered in his quest for freedom and power. Masculinity, in the sense we know it, demeans women as the weaker sex in so many ways, some of which I want to discuss here and now.

The idea of women as sexual objects, as owing men sex for their patience or commitment, as sandwich makers, as posers and whores for having confidence, as the ‘ball and chain’ restraining a man, all are indicative of how women suffer because of masculinity. If a woman is a threat to a man’s testosterone, either by taming his beast through commitment or by having traits associated with men like confidence or wit, she is demeaned, abused, called out as being less of a woman or by being a nuisance to a man. She’ll be called a dyke, her gender identity challenged because they feel challenged in their own, seeing those outside their peer group display the personae they spent lives building. I have a genderqueer friend, they’ll remain nameless because I didn’t ask to use their name so I won’t risk it, but when they present as a man, they’re told they’re not so by other men, even though this person has the male identity down to a t – dress sense, interests, even their living space looks like a true bachelor pad. The rules of masculinity are unyielding indeed.

Here’s where it gets darker though, beyond the ‘friend zone’ fedora brigade and sexist jokes is the really horrid side – men who won’t date women more successful than them, the use of rape jokes and rape as a power play dynamic (To rape is to assert dominance, to be raped is to be dominated and thus, pathetic. Notice how men talk about ‘raping’ or ‘getting raped’ in contexts that aren’t even sexual just as indicators of performance). I fear for women in situations where there is the need for the ‘man’ of the house to keep people in line, so he will say, using physical or verbal abuse to show he is in charge. Men who fail and lash out at those that are physically weaker than them, at those who won’t hit back – wives, girlfriends, children. Men that were taught don’t cry and don’t fail and in turn become heartless savages, unable to talk through their grievances and finding release only in rough-housing others. The impossible standard of never bending and breaking can make men snap and some take it out on themselves but some shift the blame, be it selfishly or for sanity’s sake but very rarely do they unload their frustration on those who can endure it without consequence, they want to inflict hurt because they are hurt. For women in such a place, it’s not easy and it is certainly not right.

However, of the masculine image, the women I spoke to said that they liked a man who wasn’t so much masculine as secure. A confidence backed by substance and a self-acceptance, self-acceptance being the most attractive trait we seek in others, perhaps because we seek it so badly in ourselves. A remember a friend once told me “If you need to prove you have power, you have none at all”. Likewise, when I was a rough and tumble violent headcase, that wasn’t what got me noticed, it wasn’t fighting my way up to alpha male that got people to respect me, those who did respected traits I showed that were those of aspirational standards we can all seek – being self-assured, breaking the mold, expression of inner self. Masculinity and femininity are not inherently bad things, adhering to one like the law is, a truly good individual can feel comfortable in who they are whatever the label might be.

So you want a true man? A true man isn’t always the strong one, the smart one, the funniest or sharpest wit or possibly not all that practical but a true man has a strength all their own to use for good. A true man, as the standard should have it, is one who will stick up for those that can’t stick up for themselves, will go without because others need it more, will endure trial and hardship to win the day. However, a true man has tears, a true man has a heart that can love and lose, a penchant for pink he needn’t turn his nose up at and he needn’t see the world as stage to this contest that isn’t happening. In that, there can be a true man in us all and women are not less womanly because they strive for ambition and competition, nor are men less manly for wanting to wear mascara and bake cakes and above all, a man is no greater a man if he must achieve his greatness through the exploitation or abuse of others. We are equals, we are mankind.

Pulled The Trigger

Before we begin, I just want to let people know in advance I am not promising this new wave of material means a long-awaited permanent return of Old Man Wolfe. A promise made is a promise that can be broken, until I am mentally, socially and financially stable, my creativity levels are prone to sudden rises and falls more often a Dragon Ball Z character. That said, here is something so without further ado, let’s dig in.

An observant reader might notice a missing Trigger Warning section at the beginning of blog posts. Granted, you might think a rambling discussion of why Jeremy Corbyn is not the Anti-Christ didn’t merit one but you might also wonder does this mean I’ve stopped bothering? I’ve previously defended them, I see no harm in pre-warning readers that the content they are agreeing to read might unnerve, upset or disturb and that a little heads up before things get heavy is fair, rather than an apology at the end. However, there’s a point between being cautious and playing Nanny to my readers that I want to work on and I’ll open the issue to debate and discussion, provided that said discussion is constructive and not just “Don’t bother with those prissy SJWs” or “Refusing to put them is evil, you cishet bigot!”

Trigger Warnings, for those somehow unaware of them despite their appearance across Tumblr and this very blog, are basically disclaimers saying that the content ahead contains something disturbing, be it related to some form of abuse, originally surfacing as a way of warning rape survivors that the article of a blog was related to an experience to one they survived. Makes sense, female bloggers tended to start the trend, warning their own that this was about something graphic, something they might relate to and not in a way they’d like to. As such, an easy little warning like that stops the emotionally vulnerable wandering into a darker corner of the internet and giving themselves a vivid flashback. Noble intention but when anything catches on, there’s a chance it can be warped. Trigger Warnings exist for many kinds of content – be it sexual (abuse or just the discussion of sex), racism, body-image, self-harm, suicide, death, vomit/bodily fluids etc. – basically anything anyone could reasonably have an issue with, and some things you might think there’s no way people could be upset by. Has the idea of a pre-warning now expanded into less a hand on the shoulder and more a bouncer at the door?

Truth is, if TWs came about to help those with PTSD, we have to remember that PTSD is incredibly complex as a condition, the triggers for such vary from person to person. One person might remember an incident by reading about something similar, one might remember by location or smell or seeing someone who resembles a figure of the past, some even just the wrong phrase in the wrong place. With such a complex array of triggers, it is impossible to put up a barrier on a blog that accounts for every single of them. Obviously, measures can be put in place to deal with the more common triggers and I will do so, that’s only fair and I can’t guarantee all my readers are of sound judgment without a warning. However, I must address a downside to the trigger warnings now and their relation to reality.

I want this blog to be a pleasant read most of the time but more than that, I want my readers to think and feel. I use humour to break the ice but the core messages of my articles are important to me and should be acknowledged, not just for my sake but because those messages need to be heard. I have discussed slut-shaming, I have discussed racism, class-war, politics both in the UK and the US and I’ve even addressed matters relating to crises across the world. Such matters are ugly, they are dark and unforgiving and they come without warning. Nobody warned the Syrian public a civil war was coming, nobody told a girl what she was in for that day and where to avoid, nobody foretold the deaths related to benefit cuts and even if they did, nobody knew the exact figures or which individuals would die in poverty for being ‘lazy’. Life fucks you over without a warning and trigger warnings for every little thing offer us the ability to look past that and for my readers to look past content they don’t want to admit is important. I am here to make you laugh but sometimes I have to be serious, I have to take you to the edge of the cliff and show you that there is a fucking huge drop and people keep falling off it, walking away from me doesn’t mean those that fall grow wings. Our world is not just, life doesn’t have a plan for everyone and things don’t always work out, sometimes we have to see that things are wrong and ugly and awful and it has to be us that says no more. You have the right to walk away, of course, but I cannot shut down discussions for fear I might cause ripples in the water, there have to be some or these things can never proceed.

I will continue to put warnings on my articles, albeit it will read more simply that the following article may contain content that could quite possibly disturb certain readers. I will not, at least for now, highlight every sort of person that could be upset by my article because there is a chance I could miss one particular group and cause panic. I am trusting you, my readers, to know what you can and cannot face up to and I hope you will trust me in that when I open the door to reveal something hideous, you will know that I am doing so for our own good, to highlight an issue we as a people must overcome, a demon we must band together and vanquish. If you are uncertain of what is going to upset you, the topic of most of my articles is revealed one or two paragraphs in, you can read that far and decide whether or not to read on but if you read, you are agreeing you can face it, you cannot then blame me if I upset you. I will upset you reader, I will make you uncomfortable at least once in your lifetime, the world is a cruel place and I have to expose that so that you feel that anger too and do what you can in your life to fix the issue as I will try to in mine.

Reader, I will be your tour guide through Hell, I will point out the stops but I will not hug you and protect you from all the beasts that dwell here, I know that if you can sign up for this, you can fight those beasts yourself. I don’t want you thinking this means all doom and gloom, I want to put some fun articles up here too, nonsense about video games and movies and personal experiences you might think sorta goofy but I’m not going to back away from the big issues when they get me as riled up as they do so I can’t promise big safe cuddles any more, just a sign at the door saying “Enter If You Dare”.

Catcall An End To It

Trigger Warnings – Misogyny, strong language throughout

You know sometimes the inspiration for a blog post can from anywhere actually, I usually use the news or my feelings about personal issues but today I happened upon a Facebook status about a friend of mine seeking advice on what to do in regards to cat-callers. Now, I’ll say this first, said friend is an attractive individual and is no stranger to getting attention but said friend is also a human being and does not want the pressure of being a 24/7 gawking subject and whilst they can adopt an attitude of empowerment and resilience, sometimes they’re not up to it, sometimes they just want to walk down the road like a normal person and not get strangers making suggestions about what they should do with their body bits. I made a joking remark that they should respond to the calls by telling these men that their kink is bludgeoning men in the balls with hammers and the comment section of that status spiralled down into madness and hilarity from that point on but it got me thinking about cat-calling as a whole and my feelings toward it.

Firstly, I’m an introvert, I think I’ve said that enough times for it to sink in but still, I can’t even imagine shouting “Nice tits!” at a total stranger, I can barely even say “Hello” to one so to skip getting to know them and jumping straight to the sex talk is a thought that terrifies me, even my basest lewd part of me would be gob-smacked if I shouted at a stranger. Cat-calling is an odd social ritual for the male kind, feeling the need to comment on every passing woman like a child with their face to the car window shouting “Cows! Moo! Mummy look!”, it’s that same logic but instead it’s a group of horny vultures going “Boobs! Nice! Dave, look!”. So well done fellas, you’ve not moved on beyond the age of five, good for you. I acknowledge that not every man in the world does this but it’s still a big issue and enough men do it that we’ve seen a stream of YouTube and Upworthy posts on the subject. I have all sorts of thoughts about people that pass me by but being a considerate person, I keep them to myself and it’s a social lubricant every person on the planet should use really – don’t comment on every single fucking thing you see in the world. Big boobs? Ok, move on, that’s a thing, well done. Someone in a wheelchair? Yes, magical, next? Oh, a gay couple? You know what, leave it, unless you actually spot a bright yellow unicorn in a leather jacket strutting along the street, you don’t really need to say anything do you?

Cat-calling is disguised as compliments but it becomes abuse very fast if the woman doesn’t respond, what starts off as “Hey dollface, I like the way you’re looking tonight babe, come gimme som sugar!” then changes to “Hey, hey, why ain’t you talking to me? Am I ugly to you babe?” and then that becomes “Oh fuck you bitch, you fucking dyke” and so on and so on, it’s disgusting and crude. Do these guys respond to every denial in their life that way? Is shrugging off women that reject them as prude or gay the only way they can protect their precious egos from being as small as their brains? I suppose we live in a world just coming out of the stage in which men were entitled to everything they want, including women on demand, and that’s still a thing for the most part but feminism is teaching the world that women have a purpose beyond being vaginas that can make sandwiches and there are a collective of scorned souls pouting “Grr, we liked it when they only used their mouths for pleasing a fella…”. Well, tough, it is not a human right to be entitled to a sex slave and housemaid but it is a human right to be entitled to walking out in public without judgement or harassment, a human right so many still go without.

Sure, some women can take it in their stride or accept the compliment, some might seem to play along but those that do often do so to pander to these aggressors? What kind of world is it in which women have to fake a smile and thank a guy for saying he’d ruin her ass just so she can go to lunch without being called a tart? Not a world I want to live in, that’s what. Kudos to the women who can take these things and let it empower them, they’re bold women but not every woman in the world can do that and no woman should have to.

Ok so what should you do when you’re being catcalled? Well, here’s a few ideas I gathered together from a look around at the best responses female comedians and general women with social media could come up with:

1. If he says you have big boobs/a cute ass, look at them/it and scream in horror as if you’ve never noticed them to freak him out

2. If he pays you a ‘compliment’, accept it in the weirdest way possible. A good one I found was ‘Oh at last, a gentleman of a high enough calibre to take me to the ball, how splendid! Thank you good sir, you may take my handkerchief as a token of my gratitude’ – Fucking go full Jane Austen on their asses

3. If he calls you a bitch, bark at him like a dog and show him what a bitch really is

4. If he goes with something along the line of “Hey babe, how you doin’?”, you could try “Well, my IBS is a nightmare, I think I have piles and I’ve got this weird rash all over my chest, how are you?”. Gross? Yes, but you know you don’t have those things (Hopefully) and he’s just a stranger, what does it matter?

5. If he asks “Why don’t you try playing with my cock?”, try “I dunno, you play with it alone so much, I think it’s more a single player game really”

6. If he says he’s just trying to tell you you’re beautiful, respond with “I have a mirror/boyfriend/girlfriend for that”

Now, these are jokey suggestions, they’re great if you want to cut down the culprit’s ego a bit but just as a side note – don’t use these if you’re at risk, men can be aggressive cunts when kicked in their pride so if you say this to a group of lads in a dark alley, it will not end well unless you have a really big can of Mace handy. If you are cat-called, remember, you aren’t to blame, there’s no fault on you for being attractive and you are not obliged to satisfy a total stranger and if you feel bad about it then talk to someone. If you observe cat-calling happening, be a good sport, step in and say something ok? You can either be direct and tell the guys to shove it or do something a little less confrontational, approach the victim and pretend to be someone who was looking for them “Ah Sue, there you are, come on, we’ve got that party to go to!” – Be sure to make a subtle signal to the victim or you will confuse the fuck out of them. You can of course point out the culprits to a local authority figure or if they’re in a work environment, find their superior. Afterwards, be sure to ask if the victim is ok, it’s often just enough to feel validated afterwards and be treated like a person, not a slab of meat.

This article was a bit longer than anticipated but hey, it’s an important issue, even now. Ladies of the world, just take pride in yourself and walk on, do not feel dirty for their comments because it’s nothing but the inane barking of horny dogs. Use your wits or use long strides and walk away, it’s a sad reality of the world but hopefully we’ll move past this childish flaw of our society in a few years – the tunes these guys sing changes when other lads try it on with their sisters or daughters, we just have to teach them to be better and that’s a job for feminism but for you in your day to day life, I hope I gave you some ideas for some witty comebacks and helped you respond to the situation better as a victim or an observer. If you’re a culprit reading this somehow, grow up, you won’t ever establish a meaningful relationship by shouting at strangers, that’s the kind of behaviour that usually lands someone in a mental health ward, we just don’t seem to do it if you shout “Nice tits” instead of “I am the dark lord of raisin bread” even though both of those comments are stupid things to shout out loud to the world.

Secret Scars Revealed

Trigger Warnings – Domestic abuse, death, violence

News of the day, at least in the UK, is the talk of Theresa May’s efforts to crack down on paedophilia, terrorism and domestic abuse. The first two, they’re a whole other blog post, maybe tomorrow as a two part special but I don’t know, we shall see, but the third topic is the one that interests me because if these proposed plans come into place, we might see faith in the system be restored for victims across the country

For those of you unaware of these plans, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced she wants emotional and psychological domestic abuse, as well as coercive control over a spouse or partner, to be considered just as serious as physical assault so abusive spouses could just as easily face fourteen years in prison for shouting at their partner as well as actually hitting them. For the first time in this country, it will be a criminal offence to control or manipulate a partner through verbal abuse as well as physical abuse. The idea for this came about after the research carried out by Women’s Aid that revealed most victims do not contact the police until after thirty incidents of abuse. Yes, you read that correctly, thirty, something has to be done and this might well be step one

Women’s Aid made a big contribution to the efforts of the Home Secretary, mostly in research, such as revealing one incident is reported every thirty seconds but less than 7% of those reports actually result in the perpetrator being convicted. Roughly 1.2 million women are victims of domestic abuse each year but they suffer in silence and this is believed to be because many victims have little faith in the power of the police to actually do something. Obviously, this is not the only reason, I’m aware, there’s conditioning and a desperate hope things will resolve themselves and of course a fear of escalation but this is a valid reason nonetheless and if we can fix this problem, it’s one less problem for people in that situation.

A common issue is police often only deal with the incident they were called to resolve and either neglect past incidents or are unable to do anything with a lack of evidence. The new bill, expected to pass through in the new year, will allow police officers to do more to help and will expand the meaning of the phrase ‘domestic violence’ to mean more than hitting a spouse or partner, it will mean controlling them, insulting them, doing anything to them that makes them feel trapped or powerless, and this is important. The US already has similar bills in place and the results were astonishing – a 50% rise in reported incidents as more victims summoned the courage to seek help. With every reported incident, there is usually a history of unreported incidents so maybe now victims will be able to discuss more of their past with those handling their case

I’m fully behind this, I’ve had friends in abusive relationships and seen them unfold, sometimes first-hand, and the physical stuff only scratches the surface. A black eye, a bruise, it heals, it goes away – but controlling them, making them feel like they DESERVE to be objectified and abused, that sticks, it warps their perception of who they are as people. Psychological scars can’t be fixed up with the passage of time, it takes extensive therapy and consolation and I’m pretty sure the after-effects of such relationships stick with some of the people I know even now. As for financial control, well, to have anyone control your money is to be at their beck and call, it’s a flaw in our society as a whole but to have someone who is supposed to love and trust you do it? I can’t even imagine how that must sting

I hope to see this bill passed next year, so far it has received nothing but support from charities and other politicians so all seems well to get this the green light – any form of mistreating another human being is wrong and should be treated as such, breaking someone’s spirit is just as horrid a crime as breaking their arm or their leg. Here’s hoping we continue to make strides in getting those responsible what they deserve and those in trouble into a safe environment, to think less than 7% of those reported actually feel the consequences, well, that’s just upsetting. With the bill in effect, we may even see the government take less money out of the funding for public services to deal with the rising reports, that can only be a plus. I really do hope this will be the step forward we are dreaming of it being and that justice will come to those in need

PS – If you are a victim and need help, here are some contact details

UK (Female) – Women’s Aid – 0808 2000 247

UK (Male) – ManKind Initiative – 01823 334244

US/Canada – DAHMW – 888-743-5754

Tragedy and Equality – TDOR Special

Trigger Warnings – Death, suicide

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. No, this is not a day in which war veterans dress in women’s clothing, this is a day in which we remember those who were killed or driven to suicide by violence against them for not identifying with their birth gender. I am sad when I think that we live in a world in which people die for being themselves, for daring to want something for themselves outside of the status quo and whilst I personally have never questioned my gender identity, I’m lucky to be so comfortable and self-discovery is a difficult process only made harder by stigma and stereotyping

Transgender Day of Remembrance, shortened to TDOR, began in 1998 and was the idea of an advocate for the Trans* community, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, to honour Rita Hester, a transgender woman who killed herself in that year. Using the 20th November as the annual date, she said we need to take a day of the year to just think about all those who have died because they simply wanted to exist in a different way to the way society expected them to, because who they said they were was not defined by what they had in their pants. The transgender community is under a constant threat, a threat of violence, bigotry, ‘correction’ and eradication, often in brutal and twisted manners. I mean, it’s appalling to think anyone should have to die for who they are and it is still a big issue for many communities seen as being immoral or subversive when they’re actually just normal people like you or me

I didn’t take part this year, I’ll say that now, I didn’t even know it was a thing, I bet many of you didn’t either but the good thing is that this is the same time every year and if you google TDOR followed by the year number, you can soon find venues across the USA, UK, and some venues in Canada, Australia and New Zealand where people are doing services to honour those who passed away for their gender identity and you can make donations to charities working with people who need help in understanding themselves and who they want to be. I feel bad for not knowing this was a thing so to make up for it, I’m getting the word out here, pass it on, make a note of it for next year and if you believe people have the right to be whatever the fuck they want to be, do something small to show some support and maybe attend a local TDOR event next year

Now, I sense an argument brewing with some of you, a ‘special snowflake’ deal along the lines of “Ugh, trans people get an ENTIRE DAY for them? When is it Straight People Day? Or Cisgender Day? Why don’t we get special events?”. Why? Because not once have I ever been oppressed or discriminated against for being a straight cisgender man, I’ve never been bullied for liking girls or wearing trousers and having a beard. We cisgender straight people are not a minority, we don’t need positive representations because we are the social norm at the moment, we are what people are ‘supposed’ to be and these events are to help change our attitude from “A normal person is someone who is straight, cisgender and upholds the status quo” to “A normal person is a human being that breathes, eats, shits, thinks like all the other ones do, their genitalia, sexual partners and dress code are irrelevant”. I’m not against my own gender or sexual orientation, I know I have a go at you but let’s face it, we’re lucky that the system favours us and in a modern world, maybe favouritism should be a thing of the past so that anyone, be they gay, trans, pan, asexual, aromantic, genderfluid, agender – can be just that without being prodded at or mocked or called sinners or anything hateful.

I know it might be hard for some of you to accept but if you’re happy with who you are in terms of knowing which bathroom facilities are for you, knowing what clothes you can wear without being laughed at or called a tranny or if you just know you’re a guy or a girl because heck, you’ve got those bits, why not, then you’re a lucky person. You grew up happy in the stereotype and don’t get me wrong, if that’s you, that’s you, I’m not saying all men should wear a dress sometime or don’t bash homosexuality without trying it, that’s silly, but some people grow up questioning themselves, asking why they just can’t fit in, why the world doesn’t make sense for them in a way it does for everyone else. I can’t begin to empathise, I’ve always been happy in my own skin in that regard but I do know something – human beings should not be attacked or driven to suicide because they want to be themselves, imagine how you would feel if people thought you were a freak of nature because you were white, or straight, or for what you wore, imagine if it made you a victim of violence or people called you by the wrong pronouns all the time or changed your name so as to call you Henrietta instead of Henry or Dave instead of Davina. It’s not on, it’s not fair and so I think at the very least, the absolute minimum we can do is set aside a day of the year to stop and think about these people and how they must feel when we treat them the way we do. Who knows, maybe one day we will live in a society in which we stop intruding on people’s genitals and sex lives and men can wear make-up without getting punched in the teeth and kicked into pulp? That’d be nice