When I was twelve years old I sat dripping tears onto my homework and whispered, “I wish I were a boy” I thank God that I did not grow up nowadays, when some woke guidance counselor would have taken me under her wing, helped me “become a boy,” and ruined my life.
I wanted to be a boy because I perceived boys had more opportunities–because something was wrong with society, not because something was wrong with my body. That suffering children today are being politicized and sterilized appalls me. I do not support the labeling of gender non-conforming behavior in kids as something that needs chemical or surgical treatment.
Also as a queer woman who experiences primarily same-sex attraction, I agree with Rowling that erasing the significance of biological sex erases the reality of same-sex attraction. That the LGB community is willfully, collectively turning a blind eye to this stuns me.
So far I have done little, out of fear. This February, a trans-woman coworker wrote a threatening open letter in my company’s internal newsletter, saying that “harmful and transphobic” reading material had been left in the break room, and that this would be dealt with as harassment if the person was found out. It turned out the material was only an article about a Pagan women’s ritual, and said nothing about transgenderism. I was deeply unsettled by this event on the heels of the ruling against Maya, and sobbed in the shower over fear of job security.
Around that time I discovered and reached out to the LGB Alliance based in Britain. I went on a silent meditation retreat specifically to receive wisdom of what to do, both at work and in my personal life, with the culture wars having taken the turn they have. When I came back I felt the courage to write a letter to my (very SJA) manager expressing my concern about the coworker’s threats.
She told me I cannot be fired for my views, though she also said something vague about how everyone must be “comfortable” at work. HR asked her to serve as oversight for the internal newsletter so that false claims of what constitutes harrassment do not find their way into it again. So that is a small win.
I have made one social media post defending J.K. Rowling–not her views, openly, but just her character and her right to speak. The response was that she may hold her views in good faith, but they are still “appalling,” “hurtful,” and comparable to racism.
Summer 2017 I worked as program manager at an Episcopal camp. It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my adult life. The first week someone on staff brought up gender theory, I made a couple comments of courteous critique, and was met with extreme suspicion. I quickly came to understand that if I were honest with others about my views, I would be fired; a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was in place. As I was dependent on this job for housing as well and had no savings, I would have literally been on the street. Some of my subordinates came to recognize my economic dependency and gender-critical views, and used the combination to flout my authority. They took to being very disrespectful in meetings, knowing that if I called them out, they had “blackmail.” After that experience, instead of facing my predicament honestly—that I can’t make myself believe in much of gender theory, and therefore have to become strong enough to be despised—I buried it and numbed. I shrunk from life and didn’t let anyone get too close to me. I didn’t date because of this gender chaos, even though one of my biggest goals in life is to marry and have a family.
It all started coming to a head when I found out last fall about Maya Forstater’s case. I empathized with Maya being fired for her views on gender, as I knew the same would have happened to me. I donated $20 to her legal campaign. So the negative consequences for me the past three years have largely been stagnation and a sense of self-betrayal for NOT speaking up. When I do, I will probably lose most people in my life–my liberal church, my academic friends, my Facebook groups. And I’m not sure what I’ll build upon the rubble, as it’s hard for a feminist queer woman to just run across the street to the Right. But as a wise person said, “If you want to be loved, you must be willing to be hated.” I’m getting there. I don’t want to live like this for much longer.
E.J., who is very glad there was no one to help me “become a boy” when I was a confused, gender-nonconforming queer girl, USA