Jen Joins the LGB Alliance
Part 5 : The Last Stage of Emo
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We make our way into the lecture hall, but I am stopped at the doors by a security woman. “ID please” she says sternly. Why am I the only person being ID’d? Does she know I’m trans and is enforcing an even harsher, twisted law that not only stops us entering toilets but now also lecture theatres? She clearly sees the confusion in my face, and suddenly her grimace turns to a smile. “Just kidding!” she laughs as she lets me pass by with everyone else. I am put on the back foot by this encounter. Could this just be a coincidence, or am I being toyed with here?
Riggs and I enter the lecture hall. There are multiple, large broadcast cameras lined up at the back of the busy, bustling room. The press is here, and I remember that this event is a big deal for the organisers. It’s the first of it’s kind, after-all. Now a registered charity, the LGB Alliance is gaining authenticity more and more every day. Boris Johnson has spoken positively about it (and he’s the prime minister!).
We take our seats on the left side of the room, about mid-way. I don’t want to appear shy, or give any indication whatsoever that I shouldn’t be here. We still have our stickers on, and our lanyards around our necks. I look beside me - there are two middle aged women, both dressed in supporting apparel, clutching their brochures in anticipation. The mood is electric - the people here seem genuinely excited by what is about to happen. I look behind me at an older couple, also chatting enthusiastically with one another. I turn to Riggs and whisper “this is fucking weird”. He agrees, and we laugh nervously.
I notice out of the corner of my eye a roaming member of the press. I cannot see what organisation he is with, but he is taking photographs of the bustling crowds. For a second, I worry that he will take a photo of me wearing the lanyard and LGB Alliance sticker - and it will end up in the public eye and ruin my reputation. Then, I realise that that would be really funny - so I give him a little smile and sure enough, he starts to take my picture. I ham it up a little bit, and do a sassy wave. Ok, I’m starting to get into it now. I’m a tiger. A gender-critical tiger. Rawr!
Like before, I recognise lots of faces. Some I know from the internet, such as founding member Bev Jackson, Mr. Menno or disgraced MPs. It’s a veritable who’s who of shits. But others I can’t quite place where I know them from, exactly.
Suddenly, speakers start to mount the stage. The audience roars into life - bursting into applause and cheers. I don’t know all their names, but I do recognise each one of the speakers from some different little dank squat of the internet. For a second, I contemplate also standing up to applaud, so as not to stand out, but ultimately it feels like a step beyond. Even I have my limits. It reminds me of when I used to be a support worker for adults with learning difficulties, and sometimes I’d accompany them to church on a Sunday. The congregation of the church knew the clients, but didn’t know me. Even so, they still treated me like one of their flock - hugging and wishing peace upon me. I always felt like an interloper, because yes, I was there. But I wasn’t really there.
The talk begins, and it’s extremely boring. It shouldn’t be too surprising - because most talks are. There is a lot of ritual self-congratulation at the start. “Isn’t it great to be here, among like minded others…” sort of vibes. But it doesn’t take long before the conversation turns to trans people. Every subject seems to come back to trans people in some way, and this one is specifically focused on how trans identity corrupts the youth, and apparently discourages homosexuality. This is, apparently, based in deep homophobia. There are, apparently, endless examples of parents who are so terrified their child might be gay or lesbian, that they would instead prefer to set them on a course of forced gender-transition. It’s not a shock to me that these people believe these things, but what is a bit of a shock is how open they now are with their own ignorance. It’s not just “wilful ignorance”, it’s “forceful ignorance”.
There is a doctor on the stage, also. I do not know his name, but I believe he was bald(ing?). His shtick was - he used to treat trans people. According to him, he was first fascinated with “transsexualism” because from a medical, transformative point of view it seemed magical. He goes on to say though, that eventually after getting to know more of them - he realised that a “sex change” was not really possible, and instead… blah blah blah autogynephilia, blah blah blah just disfigured males, blah blah blah I’m bald, blah blah blah.
Sorry if that seems immature, but after hearing these things so many times - it starts to all just blend into one low hum of biologically essentialist drivel. One thing he said that did stand out to me though, was when he started to discuss his own teenage years…
…the bald doctor begins to discuss his own childhood, and how he went through his own “goth phase”. The audience giggles in delight at the idea of this bald man having hair and wearing makeup. He goes on to say that young people are naturally drawn towards social groups, and go through these phases. He then goes on to explain his personal theory on “trans identity” and comes to the conclusion that among all the music-based, fashionable teenage sub-groups (goth, emo etc) that “trans identity” is just another one of these. He laughs, and says that if you think about it - trans identity is just the “last stage of emo”. The crowd are loving it. The bald doctor is a rock star right now. He’s KISS. He’s Manson. He’s living his teenage dream. He’s one anti-trans sentiment away from being crowd surfed.
This analogy catches my attention, because I can relate to it to some degree. Like this bald doctor, I too was part of a teenage clique. We were “Grungers”. We had long hair, and listened to heavy metal music. Sometimes we’d paint our nails, or wear eye liner. We bonded on liking some of the same things, and eventually I did grow out of it.
The only difference is, before all that, during that entire time and for many years afterwards - I also harboured deep, complicated feelings of self loathing, depression, suicidal ideation and disconnect with my gender. This was a constant throughout my entire childhood, teenage years and even now to some extent. So, as someone who has experienced both an “emo phase” (love Funeral For A Friend) and a “trans phase”, I can categorically say that it would have saved me an awful lot of pain to have grown out of the latter. But it never happened.
This is the final straw for me. Riggs and I quietly agree that the panel are all boring fucking idiots, and decide to go back out into the main stall area - also, after some pretty decent complimentary coffee I do need another wee.
We make our way out, and a young man in a pink shirt passes us by. Again, I instantly recognise him - but from where? Then I realise - that’s the controversial, fascistic American journalist Andy Ngo. A friend had texted me earlier that morning, informing me there was a rumour he would be in attendance, and could I get a photograph of him if I saw him?
Caught up in the moment, I decided I’d do one better - and get a photo with him. I made my way towards Andy Ngo, and put out my hand to introduce myself. Weeing could wait, for now.
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