In a previous post I talked about some people whose behaviour is seriously not helping the cause of trans people. These are people whose antics and conduct are so unreasonable that they are creating a backlash of resentment which is making things worse for the rest of us.
Aaaaaand I've come across some others. The first person I've heard about lately is Jessica Yaniv, a 35-year old Canadian transwoman, described on her Wikipedia page as a "transgender activist". Yaniv has been causing all sorts of trouble in British Columbia.
The salons were all small businesses run by a single beautician, most of whom were immigrants to Canada. Yaniv sought damages of up to $15,000, alleging transphobic discrimination.
Yaniv hasn't had genital surgery, which is pertinent to this article in that the beauticians stated (very reasonably) that they didn't advertise waxing for male genitalia, that they hadn't been trained to perform it safely, and that they objected to working on male genitalia for personal or religious reasons. They all said they didn't refuse on account of Jessica's transgenderism.
So here's the thing. It's quite possible to find salons who will wax any part of you, no matter who you are. For a hilarious example from Scotland, you can read about Miss Twist's experiences here. It's just a matter of phoning around first, and asking politely. Speaking for myself, I get my legs and chest waxed regularly by a lovely woman called Lynne, and I've never had any trouble (mind you, I don't go for genital waxing).
Jessica Yaniv deliberately targeted small businesses (rather than the large beauty chains), run by women whom she knew would be uncomfortable with the request, and who would be unlikely to be in a strong position to mount a defence against legal action. In other words, her behaviour was predatory. The lawsuits were all dismissed, but the associated costs and inconvenience caused two of the beauticians to go out of business as a result, even though she was ordered to pay damages to them.
You might think that such a resounding legal defeat would deter Yaniv from further similar antics--but she's no quitter! The next thing which came to my attention was that she was protesting that a gynaecologist had refused to see her. Yaniv posts frequently on Twitter, and she wrote:
Yaniv: So a gynaecologist office that I got referred to literally told me today that 'we don't serve transgender patients', And me, being me, I'm shocked.. and confused... and hurt.
And my second comment is that she, being her, isn't shocked... or confused... or hurt, but delighted that she now has another excuse to play the despised victim, and kick up another ruckus.
But this time her comments came to the attention of comedian Ricky Gervais. I have never really enjoyed his comedy, although I came to view him in a new light as an actor. Like many comedians he can be quite vitriolic in his material, and lately he's been disappointingly transphobic very openly. In exactly the same vein, he lays into Jessica Yaniv via his Twitter account. Here's one example, but there are others.
It doesn't bother me if Jessica Yaniv annoys Ricky Gervais--but it does bother me when her antics are causing harm to the wider trans community, and they undoubtedly are. Canadian media say trans people have reported a sharp upturn in online hate toward them as a result of the publicity around Jessica Yaniv.
I find myself wondering what Jessica Yaniv gets out of all this controversy. I sense that she is using transgender rights as a shield, behind which she hides while lobbing rocks at everyone within reach. She craves attention, she craves publicity, and she enjoys exchanging Twitter insults with adversaries. I wonder what her next stunt will be--I'm sure we shall all hear about it in due course. But I'm prepared to predict that it seriously won't be helping.
Things seemed to develop when the New York Post reported it had followed Lemieux and discovered that she doesn't wear them all the time, and in fact usually presents as a man. Naturally, there is photographic evidence, and the testimony of a neighbour in further support.
I don't really think the New York Post represents the pinnacle of investigative reportage. Nonetheless, it seems pretty clear that Lemieux has been well and truly busted (geddit?). Lemieux has finally been suspended from her job (though without being sacked), and the New York Post is taking the credit.
|"Oh, that's not me!"--seriously??|
She insists those boobs aren't fake; that she is intersex, and has gigantomastia, although she admits she is "in transition" and has been on hormones. She also insists there's nothing wrong with the way she dresses, although there have been other complaints about her clothing, not just her boobs.
Lemieux: I don’t think there’s any problem with how I have dressed. It’s the personal opinion of other people. I don’t think I have dressed unprofessionally.
There's so much to discuss about Lemieux that I'm not quite sure where to begin!
First, let me state quite clearly that Lemieux's ginormous bazooms are plainly fake. Oversized breasts just don't have those prominent nipples. Second, large boobs are heavy, and women with very large boobs struggle with neck pain and back pain, and often have surgery to reduce their size. Only people who can take off their boobs at the end of a hard day can cope with boobs like those. (I'm also sure the man in the picture is Lemieux).
|Oh wait--that's an airship!|
Second, nobody (not even the New York Post) has reported that any of the complaints about Lemieux were because people objected to a transgender teacher; in the middle of all this, I think that's a positive thing to remark upon. If Lemieux just wanted to be a woman, and work as a teacher, she already had that: all she needed was to just wear what ordinary teachers wear, and buy a reasonable pair of boobs.
The fact that all that wasn't enough makes me think that there is something else going on with Kayla Lemieux. If she only presents as a woman when working at a high school, then there must be something about that which tickles her pickle, so to speak. And the parents (and staff, and school board) of the Oakville Trafalgar High School must really think so too. How did she get the job in the first place? If she was already employed, and then transitioned, it would be obvious that the boobs didn't grow gradually. If she wasn't already employed, whose idea was it to give her a job?
And if Kayla Lemieux is the only trans teacher in her locale, how much harder is she making it for the next trans teacher who comes along? If Lemieux is the only example of a trans teacher they have come across, who is going to want another?
Like Lemieux, I only present as a woman sometimes. But the difference between me and Kayla Lemieux is that I'm always very conscious of the scrutiny that I receive from other people, and I'm aware that I may be the first trans person they've encountered close up, which makes me a sort of ambassador for trans people in the cis world. And my goals are to look fabulous, feel wonderful, and enjoy the company of friends. It definitely seems that Lemieux has some other goals. I don't know what they are, but they are seriously not helping.
It will be interesting to see how things unfold with Kayla Lemieux, although I don't see those colossal melons appearing in a woodworking classroom again any time soon.
If you come across any other people out there whose antics are seriously not helping, please drop me a comment below!
The reality is that human behaviour is so malleable that it is easy to lump some of it as being representative of an entire group in order to discredit. The right uses this tactic by trotting out the most aberrant examples to paint trans people as being mentally ill and predatory when in fact most of us lead fairly ordinary lives in every other respect.ReplyDelete
Examples like these also exist among the cis population and yet are not used as archetypes for the rest.
I know! Using one or two bad apples to justify marginalisation of everyone else is a terrible idea, but it happens all. the. time.Delete
To add to Joanna's comment, if I may, I guess it seems that whatever circle in the Venn Diagram of society and life, at some point, you'll bump into folk who don't represent your views or behaviour.ReplyDelete
For humanists, Dawkins has said a few things that have made me think "that's not okay". As a (former) metalhead, when I heard about the allegations of abuse by Marilyn Manson, I shook my head, angry that someone might do such things.
For the UK, just recently there's been a criminal incident of some exposing themselves while dressing in women's clothes. There is also the recent case in Scotland of the convicted rapist who identifies as female.
Now, if the above two people are trans or not, those who wish us harm will certainly capitalise on the detail that both people are criminals and they were gender nonconforming.
It takes all sorts to make a world. The crucial thing, as I see it, is that we all interact civilly and respectfully (online, as well as in real life!).Delete
I must say I don't pay any more attention to Richard Dawkins. Although I have drifted away from religion, his views do not attract me, and I see that he and I have little in common. I didn't know about Marilyn Manson (before a quick Google search), but I've never particularly been a devotee.
But I do know about the criminals who have been hiding behind gender transformation, and I'm definitely going to be blogging about them soon. You're right: they are absolutely doing us harm: the perception (among Joe and Joanne Public) is that Isla Bryson has changed gender as a means of trying to mitigate what the justice system plans to do to her. And they may be right!
You are both right and in the end I have decided that I can only control my own life and behaviour so that people will see a well adjusted person who just happens to be trans and isn't defined exclusively on that basis. The misinformation and the agendas will continue unabashedly but at least I will do my own little part to counteract them.ReplyDelete
There is a lot of behaviour in this community I do not favor just as in the cis population, but then it takes all kinds to make a village:)
Thanks Joanna. I agree completely.Delete
At the end of the day trans people are just like everybody else, in as much as we are all different. We are musicians, plumbers, electricians, bankers, teachers and everything else as well. Inevitably some will be preditory grifters, some will be dishonest, some will be ~ well, odd.ReplyDelete
The problem arises when we are all assumed to be the same and these out lyers are held up as typical.
Thanks Paula. I do believe that trans people are in every walk of life, although some walks of life are more hospitable to trans people than others!Delete
But you're right: the extreme outliers shouldn't be used as representative of the rest of us.
You're welcome Vivienne:)Delete
I have been concerned for a while about some in the gender variant community who fetishize femininity giving the trans community a black eye. Without trying to be prejudicial, this distinction is quite important and it's hard to chastize transsexuals in the past for wanting to distance themselves from it.