My boyfriend and I were long distance while I was in grad school. He is from Mexico but was doing a post-doc. He flew in to drive home with me for Christmas. On our way we stopped in a little ice cream shop off the beaten path in rural Kansas. The woman checking him out was so rude to him, correcting his pronunciation of “pecans,” which even native speakers say differently. She wouldn’t look him in the eye. She had a disgusted look on her face. A few minutes later I decided to buy chocolate for my grandma. This time, the same woman was kind and friendly. I was so upset, disgusted, and pissed off. He was, sadly, more used to it and said that it was probably because she didn’t know any better and had never been exposed to other cultures. Ignorance is not an excuse. Kansas has MANY Mexicans working there, many hidden from plain sight. He has gone from a Masters student who could speak little English to writing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in English, and now works every day to better protect our environment and wildlife in this country. He has lived in the U.S. legally for 14 years now, but the controversy and stereotypes created by immigration issues still follow him. He has a thick skin, but if we have kids and they are judged by their race it will break my heart. I hope our country moves forward in being open minded and accepting of every human being, seeing their soul and not judging by what they look like.
I have never had any form of discrimination or anything like that. My story isn’t heart wrenching or horrible just more of a pain in the ass. As a single mother going back to school I don’t make enough to afford insurance. Alabama did not take the Medicaid expansions so that doesn’t help either. Until I graduate and get a better job, I just try really hard not to get sick. A few years ago Alabama also decided to shut down the majority of Planned Parenthood clinics in the state. I think there might be one or two left but I’m not sure. That had been my only way of seeing anyone about gyn issues. Thanks to the state and the ever so lovely republicans running it, I haven’t seen a doctor in a good four or five years. Nothing bad has happened. I just keep hoping it stays that way.
On The Subject of Bathroom Bills
The Bathroom Bills sweeping the nation promote discrimination against gay, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, and intersex people. It catapults transgender people into the spotlight and forces their private lives into a very public dialogue.
We began seeing “passing” transgender people in Facebook memes, Instagram, Tumblr, and across the internet. This well-meaning narrative dictates that transgender people are not necessarily identifiable and “pass” as cisgender. It also paints an incomplete picture of the Trans community at large.
My name is Mac and I am transgender. I have been fighting for years to have the courage to say those words. I was born female and still use the pronouns she/her or they/them. I do not neatly fit into a box. I am covered in tattoos, have a shaved head and no breasts. I am a Transgender Masculine Female. Our current binary system does not have a place for me. I use the Women’s Restroom because it is where I feel the least threatened.
Until the recent laws came into play I usually went unnoticed in bathroom settings. What these laws have created is a standard for policing gender. We now have people paying very close attention to those who share a bathroom. They are looking, actively searching for those who stand out. I stand out. Lots of people under such scrutiny are standing out.
I am fortunate that I live in Asheville, NC. It is one of the few places that I feel I can be myself and not be criticized. When I travel for workshops and shows for my artwork I am much more guarded. I, like many others simply try not to use public facilities for fear of backlash. By avoiding such places I am more likely to suffer from kidney infections and urinary tract infections. Those of us who don’t fit the gender stereotypes are the most likely to be targeted.
Policing Gender is not a new trend. Since the 1950s when women could be arrested for not wearing at least three pieces of women’s clothing, people have been forced into narrow gender constrictions with little room for deviation. Those of us who are masculine females or feminine males are constantly criticized. We need to call these laws what they are, a license to discriminate.
I will not feel safe until our country makes space for us all to be the colorful gender-variant people that we are.