Gender/Sexuality - phobia

Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
So, we were watching Masterchef this week, which included Kellie Maloney. Mrs Cat asked "Is that a man or a woman?" A woman. "Did she used to be a man?" I didn't know the answer.

Well she used to be Frank Maloney. I remembered the story, but didn't realise who it was.

The thing is, I didn't know, didn't care, was not interested in the fact she is trans. I don't care about peoples sexuality, gender definition, whatever (in that, I respect what they wish to be called, and have no real concern about their past or their private lives).

Mrs Cat always seems to ask these questions. Which I find uncomfortable, especially when I don't know the answer. On another discussion, someone didn't know Freddy Mercury was gay before he came out. I realised that I didn't KNOW he was gay, but I was not suprised at it.

So the question here is whether I have a very poor gayday/transdar/whatever, whetehr Mrs Cat is actually x-phobic, or what? What is the right approach, the right way?

This is not for discussion of sexuality/gender definition as such, but about what the right approach is to accepting people as they are. And please feel free to tell me I am in the wrong (like you need to be told).

Comments

  • For a moment there, I thought Mrs Cat was a presenter on the programme.
  • Wondering if someone is gay or trans is not the same thing as caring if they are. Gay people wonder if people are gay, despite not being homophobic.
  • I don't think either of you is in the wrong. You seem to be someone who just accepts what is in front of you, this is a person, I will treat them like a person, sort of thing. Mrs Cat seems to like to dig a bit deeper. Some people have a need to categorise things and people, not in a negative way, just because they like to have all the facts. Nothing wrong with either approach from my point of view. It can be tricky sometimes and I have found a wonderful little phrase 'what is their preferred pronoun?' which can be very helpful when you really don't know. As long as both approaches come from a place of wanting to treat the person as they would wish to be treated it's all fine, I think. YMMV
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    I noticed the cohorts for this series seemed to include one really old woman - Zandra Rhodes, Martha Reeves - so Kellie Maloney seemed to fit the bill. I'd never heard of her - but then I'd not heard of Frank Maloney either.

    The thing about old age, it dissolves us back to pre-pubertal asexuality - except with wrinkles.
  • [Thread moved from Purgatory to Epiphanies]
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    To clarify, I am also worried (slightly) that my approach is also wrong. When Vicky Beeching came out, my response was "yeah, so what?". Not to dismiss this, and not to dismiss those who have been significantly helped by her story.

    But it makes no difference to me. Maybe it should - maybe I should feel more positive response. I htink it is the difference in our responses that makes me wonder.
  • To clarify, I am also worried (slightly) that my approach is also wrong. When Vicky Beeching came out, my response was "yeah, so what?". Not to dismiss this, and not to dismiss those who have been significantly helped by her story.

    But it makes no difference to me. Maybe it should - maybe I should feel more positive response. I htink it is the difference in our responses that makes me wonder.
    I notice high profile people coming out because it makes a difference to the community. I care, in part, because of the difference it makes to the community. And I care because I know that it makes things more difficult for them, even still. For someone in her position, even more difficult than most.
  • I'm going to add this in here. I'm not sure it adds anything to the topic, but it's something that I've been uncomfortable with for some time. An acquantance in our road, K, who I often used to talk to at work when we were in the same building, lives with the woman who was her husband - as far as I am aware he was treated for something life-threateningly unpleasant with large doses of female hormones and having gone a fair part of the way through transition as a result decided that it had been so unpleasent that he wasn't going through it again the other way.

    I bump into K occasionally, not always with her partner, and chat, but I find myself feeling incredibly uncomfortable because I don't know what name her partner chooses to go by, and thus how to address them, and I don't feel that I can ask in case it's a sore subject. I'm sure it shows in my face that I'm feeling awkward as well.

    Am I just being stupidly British about the whole thing? I'm really not that bothered about where they identify, I'm tied in knots by not wanting to cause offense, and now feel stupid admitting it.

    AG
  • I am horrible with names. Takes ages to remember names of new people and often have trouble recalling names I actually do know. I just draw a temporary blank. As a consequence of being embarrassed by this failure, I do not make it a habit of addressing people by name. It is not perfect, therefore I also tell people that I do not remember names well and that I temporarily cannot recall them. Again, not perfect.
    In the LGBT+ community, partner is often used, so use that. As in "How is your partner doing?"
    Another strategy is to ask a neutral party. e.g., someone else in the neighbourhood.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    Names are difficult - especially if they change. You might need to ask (and yes, very unBritish! But might make a difference).

    And I do have support/concern for people like Vicky in their battles. It is not that I am unconcerned about her and her battle, or dismissing how important it was. It is just that she is still Vicky, and still amazing, and still the incredible person she alway was.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    I can find it interesting if a famous person is gay or trans, because I find it interesting to observe the effects of famous people coming out, being open about such things, whether it has a positive effect on society's attitude to such things, and to LGBT people's confidence in self-acceptance and coming out, etc. So I like to read articles where famous people talk about such things in their own life, and also if they come out about being mentally ill or autistic. I like it when things that used to be taboo and seen as shameful or 'other' are made more open - I really like it when famous people speak up about such things.

    Having said that, I have no gay-dar or trans-dar (though I have a pretty good autism-dar), and when someone comes out as gay and everyone is saying 'Oh, I knew it!' I'm just thinking 'It never even occurred to me to wonder.' I don't see this as good or bad - just how it is. I'm asexual (always have been - not an age-related thing with me) and often forget that most people are sexual beings with sexual orientations, so it rarely occurs to me to see people in those terms. Similar with gender identity, as I'm agender, though I actually find trans issues more interesting, because I'm fascinated by the idea of gender identity, and very curious what it feels like. I have no such curiosity about sexual attractions - I don't know why. I am interested, however, in the experience of being different and marginalised, which applies to both being gay and being trans, as this is what I have experienced in different ways.

    I'm not sure it's helpful to try to categorise our automatic internal reactions to things as good or bad. They tend to be simply a result of our own experience. It's how we externalise them that we need to be mindful of - it would be inappropriate and intrusive, for instance, if I were to ask someone if they were trans just because it occurred to me to wonder. But expressing the question about this person in private to someone close to me wouldn't be inappropriate, I don't think. If that person didn't like the question, that would be more about that person being different from me than about either of us being right or wrong.
  • fineline wrote: »
    I'm not sure it's helpful to try to categorise our automatic internal reactions to things as good or bad. They tend to be simply a result of our own experience. It's how we externalise them that we need to be mindful of - it would be inappropriate and intrusive, for instance, if I were to ask someone if they were trans just because it occurred to me to wonder. But expressing the question about this person in private to someone close to me wouldn't be inappropriate, I don't think. If that person didn't like the question, that would be more about that person being different from me than about either of us being right or wrong.

    I think it is, or at least can be, helpful to view out automatic internal reactions with judgement. It is part of the problem with racism, transphobia, etc that people think their internal reaction has not effect on external actions. If I have a horrible thought, I think I should explore why. If I am uncomfortable around certain people, this needs exploring as well. Why am I uncomfortable and what are the ramifications of that? It extends towards everything. The why of the thought is at least as important as the thought.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    fineline wrote: »
    I'm not sure it's helpful to try to categorise our automatic internal reactions to things as good or bad. They tend to be simply a result of our own experience. It's how we externalise them that we need to be mindful of - it would be inappropriate and intrusive, for instance, if I were to ask someone if they were trans just because it occurred to me to wonder. But expressing the question about this person in private to someone close to me wouldn't be inappropriate, I don't think. If that person didn't like the question, that would be more about that person being different from me than about either of us being right or wrong.

    I think it is, or at least can be, helpful to view out automatic internal reactions with judgement. It is part of the problem with racism, transphobia, etc that people think their internal reaction has not effect on external actions. If I have a horrible thought, I think I should explore why. If I am uncomfortable around certain people, this needs exploring as well. Why am I uncomfortable and what are the ramifications of that? It extends towards everything. The why of the thought is at least as important as the thought.

    I agree, and that is what I was saying about not automatically acting on your internal reaction. What I meant was not to see yourself as a bad person because of it, or to see the feelings themselves as inherently wrong. Feelings are feelings. Question the reasons behind the feelings and the reaction, and acknowledge the reasons you uncover, and accept that you currently have this gut reaction, and that you don't have to act on it or accept it as based on reality.

    I remember an older RE teacher at school telling us that he had been brought up with the attitude that black people are inferior to white people, and that whenever he saw a black person, he instantly had the automatic reaction that they were inferior to him. He knew intellectually that it was wrong, that they were not inferior, and he wouldn't act on that reaction, but he found he couldn't stop this internal reaction. I had respect for his honesty in being able to acknowledge this, and I don't think it would have been helpful for him to judge himself as a bad person for this automatic internal reaction that he was conditioned to have. Anyone can be conditioned to have such a reaction, and it doesn't easily go away

    Similarly, it's a common thing that people who grew up with parents who abused them will see themselves as inferior and worthy of abuse. Even though as adults they can intellectually acknowledge that their parents shouldn't have abused them and that it wasn't their fault as children that their parents did this, there is often still a deep, gut feeling that they are inferior, that they were to blame for the abuse. Such reactions run deep, and can't be easily changed, and while it's of course good to be aware and challenge them intellectually, I think to judge ourselves as bad/good people because of them really isn't helpful.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    'Past 30 you can't blame your parents' we used to say, as a corrective to adolescent angst. But of course your upbringing stays with you your entire life. But past a certain age you are capable of critiquing it and acting differently.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    Firenze - yes, exactly. I am talking about how the automatic, instinctive, emotional reaction may remain, and how the important thing is awareness and choice of action, rather than judging oneself for an instinctive reaction. So I see nothing inherently wrong in being curious - or incurious - about someone's gender or sexuality, and expressing this privately to people close to you. The important thing is how you treat the individuals concerned. People are often curious about me, for instance, because I don't fit such norms, and I'm not bothered by this. I'm also curious about all sorts of things, and I don't think it's healthy to suppress natural curiosity. What is important is how they treat me - whether they are being considerate of me as a human being, and filtering what they say to me accordingly.

    I suppose with parental abuse it can be more complicated, as the instinctive self-hatred and cPTSD that tends to result in adulthood can lead to self-harm, despite a person's intellectual understanding being more advanced and accurate than their instinctive reaction. I think in that case, compassion is more helpful than blame, because blaming a person who already hates and blames themselves only perpetuates the cycle.
Sign In or Register to comment.