on monday night, a bunch of people at my college painted our “free speech board” in honor of the transgender day of remembrance. less than twelve hours later, a cisgender gay man chose to repaint the board with an advertisement for the college’s “spirit week,” a week of events to boost sarah lawrence’s school spirit. he felt that the “spirit week” ad should have been up there for a longer period of time—admittedly, it had only been up for about eight hours before the queer organizers came along and painted up the tdor stuff—something the queer organizers weren’t aware of until the same cisgender gay man approached them aggressively as they were painting the board. before that, another ad for “spirit week” had been up on the board for more than a week.
the people organizing spirit week also have access to a global email, another advertising space on the yoko (a big structure in the middle of campus outside one of the main eateries), the other “free speech board” (outside one of the main dormitories), and general campus flyering. they have significant numbers with which to accomplish this (all the members of at least three two to three person subcommittees). they have significant institutional support. they have funding. most of their events recur and are well-known campus institutions. attendance at their events is reliable.
tdor happens some years, some not, depending on how active our transgender identity group is, and is not a well-known campus institution. they do not have many people with the time and resources necessary to promote the event widely. attendance at tdor is usually limited to people who frequent trans action and similar groups, which is a small number.
I just had a talk with the cisgender gay man who chose to repaint the board. I pointed out that in his apology, posted to facebook and viewable only by his friends, he apologized only for “how it was received.” I told him he needed to tell people that his actions had been wrong. he said, “I have a problem with that.” then he said he had no intention of making another apology. then I told him that the first time I lost someone to transphobia I was fourteen, and that I had no way of changing his mind but that a different public apology would be necessary, and that he should never make any kind of contact with me again unless and until he chooses to make a different public apology, and then I left.
if I hadn’t left I would probably have started to cry in front of him or lost my temper at him, neither of which is an acceptable outcome for me. my friend ella called what this guy did “a soulless thing to do.” I don’t know what to do with all the despair, because it comes on just as badly whenever anything like this happens, and I do not get used to it, and I do not want to get used to it. I don’t know what to do.
on a hopeful note:
one of my good friends (who isn’t trans, but certainly isn’t gender conforming) recently started chilling with this guy a bunch, since they both do student gov’t and need someone to process that stuff with
so I started hanging out with them together and
this guy and I have since hung out a bunch together, seen things in one another that we really like, come to enjoy one another’s company, and found some pretty genuine fag on fag fellowship, especially as both fags of faith
so that’s a totally unexpected out of left field happy thing
people learn, people change, the world just keeps getting better