I’m always happy to find and read stuff on the internet that makes me feel less alone. I mean, alone, in the way that you can sometimes believe you’re the only one in your whole town who gets upset about certain things. Like blatant sexist advertisement shown on big billboards at the busstop or overhearing a mom saying to her little boy that he can’t choose that because it’s a girls toy or seeing the awkwardness in the eyes of some women when I enter the ladies bath- or changingroom in my gym.
Reading similar stories of different people from all over the world has empowered me. Take the example of the changingroom, or the bathroom. I encountered so many times funny looks and remarks about me being in the wrong place, that I seriously started thinking about maybe wearing clothes that would make me look a bit more ‘feminine’. You know, maybe not my dark blue wolen men’s jacket, but something a bit less androgynous. I thought about that for a bit (1 minute) and then I threw the idea overboard. I got angry with myself even thinking about it. It took me at least 20 years to be proud of who I am and now I would change myself because of other peoples narrow mindedness? What the hell am I doing! Still frustrated I searched on the internet to get more inspiration about how to deal with this ‘the wrong bathroom’ scenario. And discovered that I was certainly not the only one encountering the gender police on a daily basis. That was a relief. As it always is when you find out you’re not alone… Weird in a way, knowing there are billions of people of the planet, and still being suprised. It made me feel better, a bit, because I still don’t like going into a changing room (preferably I go with my girl) and I still have to swallow before going into a ladies bathroom, especially on airports, they’re the worst kind. I honestly feel relieved when I discover there’s a bathroom meant for people with a disablility and I can go in there.
Gender policing is an awful thing. It hurts people. It hurts me. It makes people into someone they don’t want to be. It makes girls afraid they will be laughed at when they cut their hair short. It makes men afraid to admit they like ballet or romantic movies. Genderroles are being maintained by the genderpolice and we are, all of us, the genderpolice ourselves. Even I have to watch myself. Although being very aware of gendernorms and genderroles and genderexpactions, always fighing against them, refusing to fit in a box and on purpose confusing people with my ‘genderperformance’, I also grew up in this society and am not free of blame either. But to quote Leslie Feinberg’, I know for certain that “More exists among human beings than can be answered by the simplistic question I’m hit with every day of my life: “Are you a man or a woman?”