I've been cross-dressing since i was very young, maybe 11 or 12. Of course, in those days it was purely fetishistic I'd snag a pair of Mum's undies and masturbate.
Michael A. Gilbert,aka Miqqi Alicia Gilbert
The moment I finished, I'd stuff the evidence of my sexual misadventure back into the hamper and feel the rush of guilt that always followed. This pattern did not change for many years, and the guilt accompanied the pleasure until I was just about in my 30s.
Twenty years of guilty pleasure; 20 years of feeling shame and self-deprecation. And you're really not sure you even understand why you feel so guilty. All you know is, it's wrong.
Of course, it all comes down to gender and the gender rules. There are none so rigid. These begin with what we wear but quickly move on to how we speak, stand, sit and relate to others. Gender rules determine what names we are given, what careers are open to us, whom we will marry, who will be a mommy and who a daddy.
The most pernicious thing is how early these rules are taught. That's why the guilt comes so early. I well knew by the age I began my nasty habit that it was wrong and I'd better be careful not to say anything to anybody or, perish the thought, get caught. Yet even before my sexual exploits began, I had regular fantasies about being a girl.
The girl world seemed much more enticing to me: when girls cried they got cuddled; when boys cried they got ridiculed; and girls didn't really have to be able to catch a ball. They had it easy, or at least that's how it seemed back then, well before I had a feminist consciousness.
Transgender people are not the only ones oppressed by the gender rules, but they pose the greatest threat to the reign of bigenderism and therefore suffer the most, even within the gay community. Just ask any drag queen what life is like off the stage.
The frustration for all T folk is the inability to understand just what the big deal is. Okay, we're breaking the rule about not having our genitals match our gender presentation, but so what? Unless you want to go to bed with me, why care? And if you do want to go to bed with me, then get over it.
We all know women who have masculine characters and men who are more nurturing than lots of women. Why can't we go by character? Why can't we choose the role that suits our personality rather than the one some doctor declared after a glance between our legs at the moment of birth? Who gave her that power over my life?
Of course, as a cross-dresser and not a transsexual, I want to be able to change. I want to be able to be a guy one day and a gal another. Or maybe change at lunch. Or every hour. Why should anyone care?
Recently, I was profiled by the CBC Sunday News for a cross-dressing professor thing. Interesting, the feedback on the CBC website was overwhelmingly supportive, except of course, for the bathroom thing. "Why did he use the women's washroom? That's not right."
Well, first of all, since I'm fully dressed as a woman skirt, makeup, bosoms, where would they have me go? I'd certainly look (and feel) far more out of place in the men's room.
Secondly, what do they fear I'm going to do in there? Whatever their imaginations are running rampant with, they're wrong. All I want is to have a peaceful pee and go on my way.
The life of a trans person is not an easy one. Aside from crossover parties or Halloween, no one decides to become the opposite gender for fun. You spend your entire life looking over your shoulder worrying if you've been read, and if being read is going to get you bashed.
I'm old enough and experienced enough at this point in my life that, personal safety aside, I don't care if I pass or not. I've learned that stores want my business, and whether I'm presenting as a woman or a man, I'll just go and try on that skirt, thank you very much.
But, goodness, it's taken me a long time and lots of personal struggle and angst to get to that place. It should not be that hard.
I like to believe things are getting better. There is more awareness and accommodation of young transsexuals and families. Organizations like PFLAG and Transparent Canada are doing what they can to raise the level of tolerance. The Ontario Human Rights Commission protects transgender rights, and many large companies have HR departments that support employees in transition. But it's still far, far from easy.
So on Pride Day, or any day, when you get the chance, hug a tranny and do your bit to defeat the limiting behemoth that is bigenderism.
Michael A. Gilbert, aka MiqqiAlicia Gilbert, is a professor ofphilosophy at York University.Hir website is yorku.ca/gilbert.