We love it when a transgender person can not only shut down someone who discriminates against our community, but we love it even MORE when they take that opportunity to educate rather than lash out with anger.
Our friend Carla Lewis (who made this great statement) shared this story from one of our trans sisters, Emma Ruyle. Emma was approached by a stranger about the “dangers” of transgender people and questioned her ability to be a mother, or even a woman.
How Emma handled the situation was perfect. And it has a happy ending to boot.
I had an interesting conversation with a parent at the playground this afternoon while letting Braewyn and Stark play.
Her: Hey, your Braewyn’s uh…what are you again?
Me: I’m her mom.
Her: But that isn’t…you’re a man.
Me: I’m a trans woman. I’m not a man.
Her: Well then…I mean you CAN’T be her mom then right? So are you her step parent? Where is her ACTUAL mom.
Me: Ok, well look. I’m more than willing to have a nice conversation with you…but please don’t continue to insult me.
Her: But you shouldn’t really be here should you? I don’t know that I’m comfortable with you at the playground.
Me: /exasperated sigh. Why? Because I’m a “predator”? I’m “endangerin the wimmin and childrins?” (yes, I exaggerated it like that because I was being a bit passive aggressive at this point).
Her: Well, that’s what is said about your kind, yes…and I know that I’m uncomfortable with you here with all of these little kids.
Me: Oh for fuck sake. Listen, let me share with you…since I’m CLEARLY the only trans person that you have EVER met. First and foremost, if this is concerning all of the anti-trans legislation, just let me tell you that there has NEVER been a reported case of a transgender person assaulting someone in the bathroom. Ever.
Her: Yah, but you just wake up one day and decide you want to look at women in their private spaces and that we should let you.
Me: …no…I didn’t just “wake up one day and decide” that. I have known this since I was 3 years old. It is not a choice. Since I started transitioning, I have not lived a single day as a male. Not one.
Her: Then why would you want to do that? And what relation are you to Braewyn then?
Me: First, I’m her biological parent. Second, why do you act like a woman?
Her: Because I am one. You are just a man. I have breasts for god sakes.
Me: Well I do too…not that it’s any of your business, but I have B cups.
Her: Oh. Well I can give birth. You can’t.
Me: Nope, I can’t…but neither can a woman that’s had a hysterectomy. Is she not a woman?
Her: No…she’s a woman. But…
Me: But I’m not…why? Because I don’t have a vagina?
Her: YES! Thank you! You just proved my point!
Me: I’ll have one soon…then what? Is your argument as simple as body parts?
Her: Well I know I don’t want you showing your penis around to anyone in the bathroom.
Me: Do you often show your vagina around in the bathroom?
Me: Do you know ANY woman that goes in the restroom, yanks her underwear down and runs around showing them to the other women and children?
Her: …well…no…but men do that all the time! Especially you trans people.
Me: They do? Are you married?
Her: Of course I am!
Me: So I assume your husband runs around in such a manner all of the time? Does he regularly tell you stories of all the other men in the men’s room that do the same thing?
Her: He never does that!
Me: Ok, so “men” do it, ESPECIALLY us TRANS PEOPLE….but you’ve NEVER heard of such a thing EVER…until these bills started popping up. Ok then.
Her: Ok, so what do you DO in the bathroom then??
Me: Uhm…well..if I have to pee, I pee. If I have to poop, I poop. Then I wash my hands, touch up my makeup if I’m wearing any that day, and leave to continue my day.
Her: Oh…that’s what I do too.
Her: Well, when you get a vagina, I’ll feel better about you being around here.
Me: So, in your mind a vagina makes the woman then?
Her: Yah, cause you could rape me right now if you so wanted.
Me: No I can’t. Not that I want to anyways…
Her: Oh, you’re gay then?
Me: Yep…and I have a beautiful wife.
Her: No, I meant that you like men.
Me: That would make me heterosexual. You seem to still think I’m a man. I’m not. And the reason I don’t want to rape you is because I’m not a rapist…
Her: But you COULD if you wanted.
Me: No I can’t.
Her: But you said that you have a penis still.
Me: Yup. Hormones have pretty much made it useless.
Her: Wait, so you can’t get it up?
Me: Are you wet?
Her: That’s none of your damn business.
Me: Exactly. That said…no, not really.
Her: So you have no sex life then…
Me: I have a sex life.
Me: How do you and your husband do it?
Her: That’s none…oh.
Her: So, ok…hmmm
Me: Ok, so you say that “people like me” are a danger to children. Do you support gun control?
Her: I most definitely do not! I carry by the way.
Me: Well, not that I care or needed a warning….Ok, so…how often do you hear about school shootings?
Her: All the time. But criminals don’t obey gun laws.
Me: Hmm…that’s a shame for the children isn’t it? That criminals don’t obey laws…but they’ll SURELY obey a law which discriminates against me when there are already laws on the books against sexual assault and rape. I guess I need to figure out how to be a gun…cause it seems they have more rights.
Me: You still haven’t answered me you know. What makes a woman? Is it a vagina? You’ve already conceded that I’ll be a woman once I have one…but seem confused on why having one changes anything from right now till the point which I have one.
Her: But you didn’t grow up as a girl. You have no idea what it was like to go through puberty as a girl.
Me: Well…I’m going through puberty right now…again. But that aside, are you saying that experience makes the woman a woman?
Me: Interesting how I have to always make your points for you isn’t it?
Her: That’s not nice.
Me: It’s nicer than you calling me a pervert simply because I’m taking a different path to womanhood than you.
Her: Oh…uhm…well sorry about that.
Me: I’m used to it by now…but it doesn’t make it ok. Look, no, I didn’t get to grow up as a little girl, or go through a female puberty as a teen. That said, I wanted to. I couldn’t. It was denied to me, by people like you, that thought doing so was perverted and wrong. You want an experience? How about being beat until you are bloody for asking for help to become a girl when you are 7. You want experience? How about crying yourself to sleep when all the girls in your classes are developing hips and boobs and your voice is cracking and deepening. You want experience? How about going to school and hiding basically everything about yourself so that you can fit in and not be bullied because you don’t want to be beat again. Those were MY experiences. Now, I get to experience people like you, constantly questioning my validity, rightfulness as a parent to my children, and calling me a predator or a pervert on a regular basis. Those are my experiences…all the while having to deal with looking at this face in the mirror daily…wondering if I can style my hair better so that it looks more pretty for my wife…trying to figure out which foundation goes with my skin while covering my freaking beard hair while not making me look like a drag queen. Getting judged because I look masculine and I WISH I had a figure like yours. Those are my experiences…What makes any of those experiences less valid than any of yours?
Her: I didn’t know any of that…but wow…you really are a woman…you act just like one…
Her: I’m really sorry I judged you. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I really am sorry.
Me: It’s ok…
Her: Well I’m going to go now..
Me: Yah, me too. Have a good one.
Her: You too.
I’ll leave it at that….
Update: I saw the same woman this morning at the school. It turns out that her daughter is in my daughters class! I just about dropped my favorite mug when I saw her.
She apologized again for the exchange yesterday, which I accepted. She said that I’d given her a lot to think about and that when she woke up this morning she was thinking to herself about what a good mom I was, because I’m always here with my kids in the morning and I pick them up every day. (She clearly knew who I was, even though I’d never seen her before yesterday.) Her daughter is always telling her stories of Braewyn’s two moms and how cool they are and that Braewyn is all that her daughter ever talks about. It’s all Braewyn, All the time.
I laughed, stating that I hear that CONSTANTLY. That apparently Braewyn is all the rage! She apologized again after that.
I thanked her. She joked that she needed some coffee this morning as well. I chuckled in that it was my first cup and that I’m barely awake myself.
In the end, it had a good ending. Apparently I changed an opinion about the trans community with the exchange, and that’s a good thing.