The movie cliché of a dream sequence traditionally begins with a watery wash. Still images become fluid and then form again in a new time and/or place.
Fluidity has become a term much-adopted by academics and gender commentators recently. The Wiki definition has it thus:
having an overlap of, or indefinite lines between, gender identity; having two or more genders (being bigender, trigender, or pangender); having no gender(being agender, nongendered, genderless, genderfree or neutrois); moving between genders or having a fluctuating gender identity (genderfluid); or.
There are those who don’t want their gender fixed. They revel in being difficult to define and ironically draw their identity from not identifying with either gender.
I should say early on, I’m fine with that. I’m fine with most forms of expression, provided they don’t impact negatively upon the lives of others.
To digress ever so slightly; I once had a meeting with Boris Johnson. At the time, he was my member of parliament and a part-time TV personality. He was regarded as an intellectual heavyweight trapped in the body of Billy Bunter. We later learned in his roles as Mayor of London and Foreign Secretary (for goodness sake!), that he was actually a boorish nationalist in the body of a buffoon. Still, the Gender Recognition Bill was making its way through the UK parliament, and I was doing my bit to lobby in its cause. I needed The Boris to vote in the correct lobby so that I might be recognised as a regular person. When I’d finished making my point, Mr Johnson leaned back in his chair, ruffled his ridiculous thatch of hair and said, “Well, I don’t see what the problem is. I shall vote in favour. I think we should all just let it all hang out.”
Historically of course, things did ‘all hang out’ – much to the credit of UK society as a whole. Part of the reason the bill succeeded I feel, is that it was pretty simple to understand. The concept of binary genders – some members of which need to switch sides – can be grasped within a single sentence.
I’m not sure too many people foresaw the concept of gender fluidity back then. In 2017, we are what we say we are – and the rest of the world needs to get with the program. Apparently.
I heard a BBC interview with Caitlyn Jenner this week. I knew it would make me cross at some point – and of course, it did. My ire was raised when the interviewer enquired as to the current status of the Jenner genitalia. The query was greeted as though it were a step too personal. This from a person with a ‘reality’ TV career, several ‘tell-all’ ghost-written books, a stream of celebrity interviews and an apparent ambition to single-handedly keep magazine airbrushers in business. The answer given, was that it didn’t matter what was between legs; it was what was between ears mattered most. A laudible sentiment in principal, but the qualification damned near cost me my cup of coffee. Both mind and body mattered to me. These were never mutually exclusive – they were locked together in conflict. It always matters – and surely if one is making a living from transition, there has to actually be transit from one place to another.
Neither I, nor ‘Interloper’s’ central character ever aimed for ‘gender fluidity’. I set off to change my societal gender from male to female. It was Boris-Johnson-simple. The instinct that drove me wasn’t fluid – it wasn’t even nuanced; it was definitive.
I’m not against anyone who wants to exist somewhere between binary genders, but I am concerned that too much fluid might somewhat dilute the strength of spirit. For years, the concept of transsexuality as it once was, proved almost totally inaccessible to broader society. How could something so remote be understood? Well now the transgendered have become less remote. We have profile now. We have rights. I’m concerned that having achieved so much, our place now becomes less clear, simply because it melts back again, beyond definition.
I do believe in live and let live. If the former frontperson of Antony & The Johnsons (the layers of irony in that name!), is able to simply require all around to see the inner ‘her’ upon request, then that’s fine, I guess. If it works for the person concerned, then that’s all that matters for them. But I don’t want a society that understood and passed the likes of what we affectionately called the GeRBill, to misunderstand. I didn’t make my journey only for it to not really matter after all. Every cell of my being moved me to transition. I couldn’t stay as I was any more than all of those poor souls who felt they had no option than to end their lives entirely.
The still relatively new term of ‘transgender’ may have been designed to catch-all, but those of us who simply sought to find our way home to the sex we always knew ourselves to be, were on definite path. There was no confusion about where we were headed, or why. I was never ‘fluid’ about any of it – I was always clear and single-minded. I had to be.