by Giselle Renarde
My girlfriend's mother didn't have a problem with queer people--it was our "politics" she objected to.
She liked gay people as individuals. Working in theatre as she did (and as my girlfriend does), she had many gay friends. She held genuine affection for them... she just didn't approve of them wanting legal rights and such.
My girlfriend never came out to her mother, either as trans or as a lesbian. I've mentioned before that Sweet isn't out with her family. She's genuinely afraid of losing them. The one family member who discovered she's trans hasn't spoken to her since.
She doesn't feel that would have happened with her mother. Her mother wouldn't have abandoned her--she simply wouldn't have understood what it means to be trans, or why Sweet would want to live as a woman. Their relationship would have changed, become less comfortable and more stilted. That's what my girlfriend believes.
Her mother died a few years ago so I guess we'll never know.
I can't help wondering how it's possible to "have no problem" with queer people, to have lifelong friends who are gay, and yet not want to be troubled by our politics--where "politics" indicates a want and need for human rights and legal protections.
I also can't help wondering if Sweet's mother would have changed her tune if my girlfriend had come out as trans and lesbian. This woman was a genuinely caring person. I can attest to that because I knew her. But she didn't know me as her daughter's girlfriend. Would she have treated me differently if she'd known me in a different context?
Would she have treated her son differently as a daughter?
Would she have found my girlfriend's gender identity too... political?
That's the thing about queer bodies--and trans bodies in particular. Our very existence is highly politicized, and that doesn't usually start with us. It's imposed on us. We're just living our lives... until we're told we don't have the right. That's when we choose: we give in or fight.
Do I want to be a political queer? Not particularly. I'm a quiet person who just wants to live a quiet life. But what happens when I get my census form and I'm given the choice of telling the government I'm male or female. I don't identify strongly with either of those choices. On the inside, I feel pretty non-binary, genderfucked, androgynous, questioning. My gender identity isn't perfectly pinned down.
How do I convey that sentiment to the government?
...without sounding "political"?