Transphobia, seen from the outside

I just had an odd experience.

My boyfriend and I had gone down to Crown Way to post a couple of letters and buy some peppers and a card. There were a bunch of boys who must of been in their early teens at the very most hanging around outside, and we were treated to a somewhat confused barrage of abuse that shifted rapidly from homophobia to transphobia.

“Lesbian!”

“Lemon, lemon, lemon!”

“Dyke!”

“Are you a shemale?”

“Have you got a dildo?”

I haven’t experienced this kind of harassment for a long time, but at the same time I’m quite used to it. I’d kind of resigned myself to it when we left the shop again…only to realise when we ran the gauntlet again that they were exclusively addressing my boyfriend, who is a trans man.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”

“Have you got a dick?”

Transphobia is always uncomfortable and somewhat distressing, but this is the first time I’ve experienced it happening to someone else first-hand whilst knowing I’m not being targeted myself. It shows the powerful nature of “passing privilege”: if you’re assumed to be cis rather than trans, your gender identity is taken entirely for granted and upheld by people around you. Whereas the moment you’re percieved as trans, you’re instantly a potential victim.

I still don’t really know what to do in these situations either. I feel strongly that anyone who harasses someone else in the street for how they look or who they are should be confronted, but there’s so many dangerous ways in which situations like that can deteriorate. We didn’t feel particularly threatened by the children since they were so small and stupid, but what’s it going to be like for any gay couple or trans person they come across when they’re older?

Anyways, quote of the day goes to the woman behind the counter in the newsagents. She was complaining about the kids and then commented that she didn’t know what half of the things they were saying meant.

“What’s a dildo anyway?”

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