08 March 2012

What Do They Want From Us?

It seems that the longer I am post-op and living as a woman, the more I find myself talking about race relations, especially with my students.

In one way, that makes sense, given that so many of my students are Afro-American or Afro-Caribbean.  What surprises me now is that no one ever says, "Well, what do you know about that."  They don't even have hostile or skeptical expressions when I get into the topic.

I won't claim to be any more accepting, or less racist, than anyone else.  However, if I do say so myself, I have come to understand a few things that I never would have otherwise.

The glib explanation is that I have been the object of bigotry.  When I look back, I realize that I experienced prejudice even long before I started my transition, when I still could be readily identified as male.  It had to do with the fact that even though I looked and acted the part in so many ways, more than a few people could see that something was "off", that I was not quite "one of the boys," if you will.

However, what I've learned goes deeper than that.  I have made black female friends in my new life.  It's not that I avoided making such friends before, or have sought them out in my new life.  I just find myself meeting and befriending them in the context of my own life.  And, very often, there is a significant, if not profound, understanding between us.

Much of that has to do with the sexual attitudes of many men.  In at least one previous post, I have mentioned some conversations I've had with those new friends.  One of their complaints is that men don't see any of them--who are intelligent, successful and attractive women--as actual or potential partners.  That is because men don't want to see them as intellectual or spiritual peers; they only want them for sex.  I have had similar experiences.

Sadly, they have experienced what I've just described from men of their race and in their communities, as well as ones they've met in dating services.  Likewise, I cannot say that straight cissexual men are the only ones who project their lurid fantasies onto me. Gay men have done the same thing, and I ended up in relationships with two of them. I've mentioned one on a previous post; the main difference between him and the other guy is the amount and degree of psychological abuse I would endure as a result of each of their inability to see me as a human being.

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