The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, May 06, 2007


After writing up my thoughts for Take Back the Blog Day, I've been thinking about how much worse it seems to be online for those who were XY and are now XX. Specifically I've been astounded with the abuse and bile spewed whenever Georgina Beyer is mentioned on some blogs.

Beyond her contribution to the Civil Union debate, which I think was at times courageous and also of strategic importance to the Forces for Good, I don't know that Beyer has achieved much in the way of legislation passed, statutory change made. But what she has done by having the guts to run, first for the mayoralty chains and later for the House, has been of wider social importance. She has stood up and shown that transsexuals are people too, in one of the hardest and most publicly scrutinised working environments around.

But some people just don't seem to be able to deal with it. They make really Not Funny jibes about her gender, and quickly descend into a sewer lined with dick jokes. A few even harp on and on claiming she is a he and refuse to accept Beyer's own decision about her gender.

What's so threatening about a woman who used to be a man? Sure, argue her competence as a politician (a job she's no longer doing), or criticise the policies she has espoused, but let's keep it all above the belt shall we?

(Pic Via)


che tibby said...

i couldn't agree more. back in the day i remember friends from masterton talking about how they'd met her as mayor of carterton, and what a great sort she was.

and these weren't the most sophisticated of guys saying it. lion brown drinking stoners to a man.

the link you've indicated just once again shows how tacky the talkback radio side of the nzl blogsphere really is.

Violet said...

I wonder whether they're all guys who're disgusted because she's a guy who actually decided he'd rather be a she. Which would be even worse than if she were just a natural-born woman.

che tibby said...

most talkback guys don't seem to much like women, full stop.

Span said...

I've often wondered if it's a rejection thing. That because Beyer has identified as a woman, and changed her gender, this translated as rejecting being a man, and thus rejecting men, and for some reason all of the rejections some men have suffered - from birth onwards - are personified in her?

Or maybe I'm projecting ;-)

che tibby said...

i'm not at all conviced it's as sophisticated as you suggest span.

most of these guys are just... dicks.

there's also an ingrained distrust of gender-change that's, dare i say it, normal to males.

Ghet said...

Her defining moment for me wasn't civil unions, it was prostitution law reform. To have someone actually be able to stand up and speak from experience as a sex worker was invaluable.

And yeah, I have friends who live in what was her electorate, and she had support there from people you would've considered dyed in the wool National voters: socially-conservative farmers, who would say things like, Yeah we knew her back when she was little George, she's all right.

Span said...

Well it wouldn't be the first time I've overanalysed the underlying motivations of others ;-)

I think though that fear is part of it - fear of something not often encountered and not understood. I admit myself I cannot imagine wanting to be a man, and when I was younger I was scared of those different from myself. And as we all know from Star Wars (the Crap Episodes) "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."

Who said George Lucas can't write good dialogue? [/sarcasm]

One thing that bothers me though is why people are dicks. If they are just dicks and that's it, then there is nothing we can ever do about it, and that doesn't reflect the fact that social change can and does happen. Have you ever read any Sheri S Tepper? She has a fine trilogy which (to my mind anyway) looks at fundamentalism (of several different kinds, it's sci-fi so not fundamentalism in the context of Christianity, Islam, etc) and whether it is hard- or soft-wired. I think she concludes that in most people it is soft-wired and thus changeable, but in a small core of fundamentalists (racists, sexists, homophobes, etc) it will be unchangeable.

Span said...

Excellent point Ghet, I had forgotten about prostitution law reform, it feels for me like it happened a decade ago already. It must have been pretty hard, as someone already a target in Parliament and talkback for your sexuality and past to then stand up and talk about what it was like in the sex industry and how it needs to change.

Lucyna said...

Span, I'd rephrase your question,

"What's so threatening about a woman who used to be a man?,


"What's so threatening about a man pretending to be a woman?"

If you see the difference, then maybe you'll get the "threat".

Span said...

Lucyna, I guess this is possibly another one of those things where you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree.

1. I don't think Beyer is a man pretending to be a woman.

2. I don't find men who dress as women particularly threatening anyway.

Care to explain a bit more about your comment?