Man or woman?

That was the question asked by two gay guys coming to get a closer look at me last weekend, as I queued outside a nightclub. “Ladyboy”. Better than man, I suppose. Clearly prejudice and hate can come from any section of society, including LGBT. Trans-people often encounter open questioning of what exactly we are – something that Olympic hopeful Caster Semenya and chart-rocker Lady Gaga can well sympathise with this week. Genitalia-based-suspicions emerged regarding both this week, despite each identifying as female. My complaint about the BBC’s coverage of Caster’s ordeal on The One Show (20/08/09) was dismissed by Ofcom as it had been ‘widely publicised’ that she had been asked to undergo a ‘gender verification test’.

Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya

Sorry – I was under the impression that Caster was being asked to undergo a ‘sex test’ to determine any biological advantage over rivals. Whether or not she has internal male sexual organs or chromosomal/hormonal irregularities, her gender is clear. She was brought up as and identifies as female. Every news outlet referring to ‘gender testing’ or ‘gender row’ contributes to widespread ignorance surrounding transgender issues – and must be challenged. Such ideology places biology over self-identification as the means for defining gender, and that is damaging to all of us. Some of the Caster coverage attacked trans outright – without provocation. Just like real life then. Germaine Greer’s view of MtF’s as delusional ‘ghastly parodies’ of women (too much eye shadow apparently) won’t shock those familiar with her polemics, but its publication in The Guardian (21/08/09) may. What a ghastly parody of a serious feminist critic – and that’s aside from her stint on Celebrity Big Brother…

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Reading the is-she-isn’t-he?-Gaga-Saga this week one might be forgiven for believing that (a) transgender people do not exist or that (b) ‘transgender’ is an horrendous insult. Why are some of Gaga’s defenders dismissing the ‘tranny’ accusations as ‘sick’ and ‘completely unbelievable’ in forums? One website says: “Lady Gaga isn’t a man because she has all the feminine features and she is hot.” Hmm… clearly all the sexy TG boys and girls out there are just too convincing! Maybe it’s time to pass on ‘passing’, and flaunt it – if you’ve got it.

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Members of the National Trans Police Association On a positive note, TheMailOnline this week covered the Trans Police Association’s attempts at encouraging trans to report hate crimes. Predictably, the article’s comment-section bulges with ‘what is the world coming to’ remarks – fuelled by the papers suggestions of a waste of tax-payers money. Surely the serious matter of hate-crime and trans-violence was the real story? The very formation of a Trans Police Association suggests internal transphobia, but personally I feel optimistic. We may be a long way off from equality, but society is transitioning too – and that can be a long and hard process.

Paris Lees.

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The views expressed within this blog belong to the author and are not neccessarily the same as those of The Gender Trust.

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