Twitter got weird this morning. Weirder than usual. I got my first death threat on the back of a months old tweet about everybody’s favourite Irish Senator and then managed to embroil myself in an argument about trans identity and bathrooms. Some people think that people who identify themselves as trans ( I hope I’m wording that right) are deluded, mistaken, disordered or even “fashionable”. Obviously the opinions of wilfully unkind and ignorant hate-mongers mean nothing next to the lived experience of trans men and women but I still got angry and engaged with the trolls. Trip trap and all that. However it did get me to thinking about my “identity” and how it shapes our world view and those of the haters.
I’m a white, Irish, cis woman. I’m heterosexual but definitely have girl crushes. Big ones. I used to be a Catholic but I don’t feel like one anymore. I still like hymns and I pray sometimes but I’m not fussy as to who is listening. I collect rocks because they make me feel safe and I have been known to worship them in a slightly religious way. I talk to a magpie I’ve made friends with when I go running and I have conversations with my Grandad about life at Barrington’s Pier. He passed away in 1996 but he listens and has on occasion answered me back. I suffer from depression, anxiety and bulimia. I can’t drive because I’m too scared and I think music makes most things feel better. As long as it isn’t Bryan Adams. I drink a lot of tea and eat too much toast. I wear sunglasses all year round because they hide my face. That’s my identity. Am I deluded?
I’m married to a white, straight male Irish man. He doesn’t understand twitter. He’s from Tipperary but is glad he doesn’t live there anymore. He’s relatively normal compared to me. He knows nothing about sport and likes atrocious Heavy Metal music. He says he’s a Catholic but he wouldn’t know when to sit down or stand up at Mass. He loves engines and thinks he will one day own a HUGE motorbike (I have news for him). He can fix anything or try. As much as any of us can, he knows who he is. Is he deluded?
I have 3 Irish children. During the census discussions at home, my oldest child said she wanted to tick “no religion” but she felt that category didn’t really represent who she is either because culturally she is a Catholic and she doesn’t believe in nothing. She loves drama, rock music and her phone. She’s forming her own identity. My younger children believe in all sorts. They like hymns and Green Day and One Direction. One wants to be an artist when she grows up and plant all the flowers she can possibly plant. The other one thinks she’d like to be a waitress. Or a computer engineer. I don’t know yet if they will be gay or straight. They seem straight. However that would seem. All three of them go to school with people I would never have encountered in my youth. A quick list of the countries their friends are from would include : Kenya, Somalia, South Africa, Liberia, Belgium, Canada, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia, China, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, USA. Oh and Cork. They know that some of their friends pray to the Buddha, some believe in Mohammed and some have no religion at all. This gives them no cause at all for concern. They accept it as part of their friends’ identities and go back to their skipping games ( not the Teen on that one, but you get me).
The point I’m trying to make is that my identity is as valid as yours. I own my own personality and what’s made me who I am. This is as true for the trans woman in a public bathroom in this country or North Carolina as it is for the haters in the media, social or otherwise. I have never questioned my gender or my sexuality because I have been sure of them always. Other aspects of myself have not been as kind to me. But again I am what I am. People who love me accept me. Or put up with me. I’m not always sure which. The hate just saddens me and then makes me very mad. Incredible Hulk level mad. What part of the typical troll identity makes them more right and more worthy of rights than those of us with a slightly different life experience. We are not all the same. But we are equal. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful friend who is trans. She is one of the kindest, sanest and most genuinely decent people I have ever encountered. I’ve learned a lot from her about lots of things. She inspires me. Her identity is bloody wonderful and if you want to hate her you’ll have to take me and all the rest of her crazy friends on too.
Rant over #LetUsPee
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