Friday, 25 December 2009

A Very Merry Cismas

It was a good christmas, on the whole. Sure, the shop where I work closed and I lost my job, and, sure, I still have a massive wodge of glue on my head from having to have a gash in it patched up after I decided to fight a metal fire escape last week, but on the whole things are good. I found out I've lost four inches off my waist. I found this out because my parents bought me new jeans which actually fit. My ex-wife got me a bottle of Jack Daniels and a Dylan Moran DVD which I'm watching now; I had enough money to buy myself a bottle of Barolo which I'm drinking now; and my folks went to the trouble of getting in nachos and dip which I'm munching my way through now. I shouldn't be, really: my gran came over and we all had a ridiculously massive dinner, with turkey and pork and sausagemeat and stuffing and parsnips and yorkshire puddings and carrots and pigs in blankets (oh my!), and really I probably ought not to eat for a week, but fuck it, it's christmas! If you can't enjoy yourself at this time of year, when can you?

Of course, there are people who find it hard to enjoy themselves at this time of year.

One of the major advances in my writing this year came when I had to prepare for the Plinth in Trafalgar Square, and I realised the frequency and intensity with which gender issues come up in my work. Practically all the time in what I write I find myself obsessing with issues of what it means to be a man, or a woman, what behaviour marks you out as such, and why I just plain prefer doing things the gender binary says I shouldn't. I like wearing make-up, I like acting femme, and I'm attracted, usually, to girls who don't. It comes up again and again in my work, it's something I think about a lot; but because I'm so frakking dense, I never realised how damn genderqueer I was until the facts were there in front of me, when I looked at everything I'd written up to this October and thought, wow, I kinda think about this shit a lot.

And so, because I'm a regular Willow Rosenberg, I began researching. I mined the internet for facts. I read whatever I could find in the local library which seemed, to me, to be relevant (which wasn't much, to be honest, in a hick town in the North East of England). Through the agency of the fine authors and twitterers Poppy Z Brite and Caitlin R Kiernan (who really are two of the best writers on the planet, and whose work you ought to read whatever you think you may be), I began to become acquainted with the trans community on Twitter, in the course of which I temporarily became a satirist , but, more importantly, I learned a fucking lot. And one of the things I learned is that I'm a fucking lucky bastard.

And I'm lucky because, as queer as I am, I'm not trans and, more specifically, I'm not a trans woman. I've written before about the disgraceful murder statistics for trans women, and I want to draw your attention - your and my privileged attention - to the fact that while we're all basking in the love of our families and material bounty which would, a century ago, have marked us out as some kind of tribal potentate, for many women who had the misfortune to be born into the wrong kind of body, and the courage to do something about that, Christmas is anything but a happy time. And rather than get on my guilty white liberal high horse and preach, I'd prefer it if you followed, and read, these links to important, informative, and moving posts from the blogs of gudbuytjane and Helen at Bird of Paradise.

I'm lucky and, if you're reading this blog, the chances are that you're lucky too. And that's fine. We won't change the world by wearing a hair shirt and flagellating ourselves (you might have fun if you do that but, y'know, your thing is your thing...), but we might change just a little bit if we remain conscious of the fact that we are so lucky, and that our 'luck' in fact represents a widespread system of kyriarchal prejudice which functions to keep certain people at the bottom of the heap, and that we might create a world in which those people can have the same 'luck' we have if we change our own attitudes to those people and give them space to speak...give them space to speak? No. That's not right. Respect their goddam right to speak and help spread and publicise the things they have to say so that the people who would deny them their rights feel like the shamefaced idiots they are and step aside.

Helen, and Jane, and every other trans woman who has been rejected by their family and friends, deserve to not feel sad and traumatised at a time when the rest of us are stuffing our faces with doritos and drinking Italian wine. The fact that they can't experience the same happy winter festival as the rest of us is what is wrong with our society, and it is wrong because of people like us. And we can change that, and we should. So. Y'know. Let's.

And yes, it is Joshua ben Joseph's alleged birthday and here I am blogging about gender issues and the kyriarchy. I do indeed have no life. But I do have Barolo, doritos, DVDs, the freedom to express who and what I am, family that loves me and a safe roof over my head. And I'm off to enjoy those things now, because I'm privileged enough to have them. Good night.

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