Wednesday, May 2, 2012

More on the Murre theme.

Saturday night, at my usual steampunk/neovictorian event (unnamed this time because it occurred to me I don't want to appear on a Google search for that), I was talking with one of the vendors for a while.  She was telling me about some performance in Boston she attended where they ripped up a Bible, with the obvious expectation I would approve.

Next morning in church I was telling my pastor how I go to a regular costume event where people wear neovictorian clothing, and he was telling me how weird I was.  But, he said, it's what makes me me, so it's OK.  Later I was arguing with one of my Christian friends about referring to a trans woman as she when she's not there to hear it, me taking the "call her what she wants" approach and him taking the "wrong genitals" approach.

Sometimes I really do feel like an alien everywhere.  As a Christian though, I should be expecting that.  In the end, this world is not my home.

To be fair, I spend most of Saturday night hanging out with two pleasant, nice, beautiful, (married,) belly dancers, one of whom is an Christian.  So that was a very nice evening, and I expect we will continue being friends in the future.  And Sunday, another of my Christian friends was agreeing with me about the use the pronoun the person referred to prefers.  I really shouldn't complain.  It just seems like there have been a whole lot of these episodes recently, like every time I go to a steampunk event.

Also a confession: Saturday night, the vendor had a cold and packed up early, but when she packed up I was enjoying myself chatting with the belly-dancers and it didn't even occur to me that I should have offered to help her schlep her stuff to her car.  It probably would have if I were feeling warmer towards her, which I would have been if not for the Bible-ripping comment.


  1. The "wrong genitals" argument always confuses me because

    a) How do you know what kind of genitals a random person has? I don't go around making people take off their pants so I can see what pronoun I ought to refer to them as.
    b) A lot of trans men Do Not Want the surgery to change their genitals, because it can reduce sensation and other bad shit. It seems a bit rude not to call them male just because of the vicissitudes of SCIENCE!
    c) What the fuck kind of genitalia would I have to have to be referred to as my preferred pronoun, zie?

  2. a) Yeah, I brought that one up. Didn't do the Crocodile Dundee check of the women in question.

    b) Didn't bring that up because, basically, the point is that the genitals aren't the point.

    c) I did suggest zie as an alternative and got looked at like I was using totally made-up words, which I have to admit, basically I was. In terms of the natural evolution of language it looks like it's going to be they used as a singular.

  3. I feel like an alien in most places, too; neither monogamous nor poly, not quite straight but not definitely able to say that I'm bi either, kinky but mostly nonpracticing, etc.

    Thank you for the anecdote about your pastor being more accepting and open-minded than that one freaky steampunk friend - it's nice to see stories of Christians actually doing it right. :) And thank you for being an awesome ally to trans people (I agree with Ozy - how can you ever really know what someone's genitals look like without having seen them? Subquestion: if that woman had had the "bottom surgery" then would your acquaintance have decided that she deserved female pronouns? (I doubt it, so obviously his thinking is all bias and no logic at all)).

  4. I'm afraid the anecdote about my pastor isn't really a good one; he was more humoring me than accepting me.

    The Christian bellydancer is a better anecdote. She introduced me to a couple of people who turned out to be the transgendered band Radium Angels. Or my friend who was agreeing with me the next morning, I wasn't the only one arguing to call trans women 'she/her'. The breakdown was 2 Christians and 1 Jew for she, 1 Christian for pronouns with some kind of biological basis, and 1 Christian who didn't contribute to that discussion.

    Note that the disagreement was only over how to refer to transgendered people when they are not there; my friend who was arguing would still use their preferred pronoun around them.

    I guess it's really mainly about using one's pronoun to refer to gender as a construct rather than as some kind of biological absolute.

    Thanks, but I don't really think I'm an awesome ally to trans people, I'm just someone who's trying to be nice to them like everyone else. And I think treating trans women like other women is a particularly easy way to be nice.

  5. I am confused. Did you felt guilty for not helping her because you suppose that all men should be chivalrous, or because you want to practice Jesus-like love of thy neighbours and fellow humans? Because I understand that choosing to help others is a legitimate choice. But _as a man_ you do not _have to_ help any women you happen to meet, just because chivalry. :/ [I am a woman, btw]

    1. I like to think I would have helped a man who had a cold and didn't say something to make me feel distant. But the chivalry element does enter in. I can't entirely disentangle the two. I'm sure I'm more likely to help a woman.