Friday, 29 August 2014

A little bit of binary busting

As a trans/gender diverse (and increasingly BGILQT) trainer/educator, I love what I do. I say that after a session I walk out on air 30 cm above the ground.

Increasingly, there are days when I walk out 40...or 50... or...60 cm above the ground. How so, you ask?

It's when I have a "two-way street" experience. That's where someone comes up with (in the words of Daffy Duck) "a little wrinkle that I've never thought of." I have to stretch myself and I learn something new.

So I thought I'd share an example of such an experience from about 3 months ago.

I was talking with a group of young people. They mentioned that some vaccinations at primary school differ for "boys" and "girls" or for our more precise way of thinking, those born with male bodies and female bodies. and the process is "boys line up in one queue, girls line up in another (urk)."
So what happens when there is a young person, (for example) born with male body who has affirmed a female identity very early? They would still need the "male body" vaccination - but obviously to stand in the "male" queue might out them unfairly, maybe put them at risk of prejudice, bullying etc
Damn good question. I candidly admit I hadn't thought about it. And in the moment it wasn't possible to give the "right" answer directly off the bat. So we teased it out a bit, I then went away and consult with colleagues etc, work it out and come back via email afterwards.
For what it's worth, a possible answer is to have lines where anyone can queue and the person giving the vaccination asks "which do you require?" They accept the student's response without question. Also, the people coming in to do the vaccination could be informed discretely beforehand "we have a trans/gender diverse student at our school. So if someone who appears to be female asks for a male vaccination, please be prepared for that and give what is requested without suprise or questioning." There could also be screens of some sort separating the queues so no-one else sees or hears what is going for any other student, thereby protecting privacy.
But to me, it's almost not about the answer - it's about the deeper process that's happening. That people are thinking about this - or once they realise the binary is only an assumption that can be questioned and they then start thinking and questioning - means that by putting trans and gender knowledge together with someone else's knowledge - in this case knowledge of school life (which is deep and forgotten in my memory cells :) ) we have done a 2 + 2 = 5 and put a sledge-hammer blow in the gender binary rock. We've got into the deeply-rooted binary thinking and uprooted one binary plant. We've created alliances together and they spread. And particularly that young people are challenging this is strong reason to believe, even more than hope, there is true generational and long-term change happening.
YAY! #binarybusters

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyable reading thanks Sally.
    Agree the fact that people are thinking about this is fab. More thoughtful people-that's what we need... and bendy non linear queues!