This is my beautiful girlfriend. Lately, I’ve been getting increasingly distressing texts from her about the many times she’s been mis-gendered at work, school, and the gym. Today, she said, “enough is enough” and wrote this piece on gender representation and body image positivity. Please take the time to read this, and encourage kindness and acceptance. We grow up in gender enforced spaces. We know where we’re supposed to go and where we “supposedly” belong. It would mean a lot to us if you would also reblog this and help get the word out. I have a feeling she is not alone in the way she feels and that people you know, or you, may also relate to her experience. Thank you. Her letter is below:
To the employee in the women’s locker room at the gym who felt it was appropriate to walk past me four times to leer and have a good long quintuple take in assessing my gender…. Seriously in what world is that remotely appropriate? Leering at any paying customer in a change room? I don’t care that my gender presentation may not be 100% obvious to you; it is not your business to leer at me. Especially when I make eye contact with you the second time you walk by to indicate I have noticed your assessment of me and I am unhappy that you’ve chosen to police my presence in a gendered space. Upon your fourth trip past on the head-to-toe assessment of the person tying their shoes getting ready for their work-out, I stared back at you again and asked “if I could help you with something?” because you are not conducting yourself within socially acceptable norms for locker room behaviour, you had nothing but a shrug in response. I guess the pitch of my voice was the missing link for you to determine that apparently I belong in this space that I have been told my entire life I am supposed to use (female gendered washrooms and change rooms). Let me be clear, when going to the gym I wear soccer shorts and a unisex t-shirt, if my hair is a disaster when I wake up I wear a ball-cap to tame the bed head. I do not do anything to accentuate my gender but that is because I do not go to the gym to perform gender (not that I really do anything to perform gender…). I go to the gym because exercise is important to me and I find the clothing I choose is conducive to the regime I have created for myself. I do not buy into the lululemon female form accentuating fitness apparel. I think if I chose to wear such clothing I would spend my entire work-out feeling self-conscious and wondering exactly how much of my butt and breasts are on display to everyone in my general vicinity. Also according to the gym’s modesty policy no one is supposed to wear tank-tops anyway, so really, what I choose to wear should not be a cause of concern to anyone as it does not violate policy and is reasonable athletic attire. I should mention I’ve grown quite accustomed to these looks now, I’ve been getting them for about 6 months, and I know exactly what they mean. I receive them at work, at the gym and most recently even at school. Entering gender spaces frequently is an inherent part of my job. It is impossible for me to go to the gym and not enter a gendered space if I have any desire to lock-up and safe guard my personal possessions. I have also been blessed with a small bladder which means it is practically impossible for me to get through a 4 hour day at school without using a bathroom at least once (oh look another gendered space). I am not about to give up any of these things because individuals feel uncomfortable or confused. My question is: why must you stare so penetratingly as if I am less of a human being because you can’t tell what is included in my genitalia on first glance? Doesn’t that make you less of a human being because you treat me as less than human because I don’t fit right into your quaint and antiquated gender binary? I have news for you, the binary is bullshit. I use the women’s washroom/change-room/dressing room because according to my sex at birth that is where I belong, and I have been raised to abide by the norms of that space. I am not a man, society dictates that I do not belong in exclusively men’s spaces and for that reason I feel very unsafe encroaching on them. So tell me, if I don’t ‘belong’ in the space that society has told me is the one I am permitted to access, where is it that I should be going? In addition to all of this and most importantly, I really like the way I look, I am blessed with positive body image (a truly rare thing in women these days) and I am not about to change it to please a bunch of strangers who judge too quickly and stare too long. So maybe if the general population could learn some common courtesy that I (and most other people I know) do not want to be leered at when I am minding my own business going about my day that would be truly great… I guess this makes me androgynous?