It is so very easy to get caught up in our own concerns, to be exhausted with suffering “the slings and arrows” as the bard put it, that we are ready to lash out at the first person that moves wrong in our presence. Anything can be taken out of context and if we don’t take a minute to wonder how a statement was intended we can easily take it as a slight. Such is the case with the brouhaha over a post by Dannielle Owens-Reid, most famous now for Everyone is Gay, on Tumblr.
At first blush I was willing to give the aggrieved parties a lot of slack. Then I read it more carefully, while chatting with Dannielle (very, very chill person, btw, despite the fact she was kinda stung by the remarks) and realized that really, all either she and Kristin Russo ever suggested was examining the gender binary. No they did not use those exact terms, but really, if you are paying attention, they are not suggesting “abolishing gender” as they have been accused of.
Dannielle is just acknowledging a fact: “Gender makes things so complicated.” In the worst case scenario she deserves a “Thank You Captain Obvious” award.”Kristin does not even deserve that. She points out that gender as we recognize it messes things up. That is so obviously not a call to abolish gender, but to critically reflect on it.
I still cut everyone (and I need to include myself at that, b/c even though I was much kinder about it, my reaction was still knee-jerk) a little slack. I’ve mentioned before how we have taken a lot of garbage from the rest of the LGBTQ community, in particular gay, white males (I have been blessed with those I know, just to put my friends at ease.) We have been told we need to stand on our own in regards to our specific issues, even though we have been there for them ever since Stonewall. It is never fun being left in the cold, and when you get even the slightest impression it might be happening again, whether it really is, you are ready to jump on the one you think is doing that.
As much as we might think these ideas are negating to us, though, we might want to think of how our reactions might be negating to others. Yes, our gender expression, and therefore gender itself, is important to us. Reacting with rage to the idea of examining gender, however, leaves other groups in the cold. We transmen and transwomen do not like the erasure foisted on us by some potential allies, but how negating is our grasping hard on to the gender binary for those who identify as gender queer, or those who are intersex?
There is nothing wrong with asking our would-be allies to check themselves, but we need to make sure they actually need to, and accept that occasionally, we need to check ourselves as well. It’s not easy. No one likes admitting they were wrong. You get embarrassed and you question your own intelligence, but really, examining why you feel and think the way you do is the smartest course of action and if you give yourself the chance to, you will realize it.