I’m several days behind on most of my news and blog feeds at the moment, but this post at TransGriot caught my eye.
Rohit Singh, a young trans woman, was browsing wedding dresses at a bridal shop in Saskatoon for her upcoming nuptials. When she asked to try one on, she was refused, being told, “I’m sorry, we don’t allow men to wear dresses here.”
There are a few problems to unpack here, the most obvious being the blatant bigotry involved.
When contacted Thursday by CBC News, the bridal shop owner, Jenny Correia, said she stands by her decision.
“To me it doesn’t matter,” Correia said. “He looked like a man. There was quite a few brides in the store. If you see a man trying on dresses, you’re going to feel uncomfortable.”
One of the other problems is the protests in the comments at the original CBC source. I know, I keep saying, over and over, “don’t read the bottom half of the internet”. But that’s where I get a sense for the ways in which people are misreading a situation repeatedly, and where I start to develop hypotheses about why those misreads might happen with such regularity.
In this case, the commenters defending Singh by saying “she doesn’t look like a man to me”, or that she’s quite (heteronormatively) attractive, are missing the point. While a few had the good sense to say “how you read that person doesn’t matter”, even some of those undercut their own sentiment by declaring that Singh read as female to them. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether she reads as female to you — if she identifies as female, and you misidentify her, you say “my mistake”, you apologize sincerely, and you try not to make said mistake again. Your opinion on how they read is a grain of sand next to the mountain that is how they self-identify.
In fact, as a general rule, if someone’s trying to engage in something that isn’t normative to what you expect people might do, you let them be as long as nobody’s being directly impacted by them doing that thing. You leave them the fuck alone, you mind your own business, and you do not attempt to police gender, because gender ain’t laws.
I had a very brief passing encounter this evening with a mother, and her young girl who upon spotting a white one-shouldered dress with some sparkly sequins on a mannequin declared “I want a dress like that”. Her mother said “I don’t know why. It’s so ugly.” It’s policing of another sort, but I could only imagine what kind of response a boy might have gotten instead. Either way, it strikes me as the same sort of curmudgeonly repressive-of-others attitude that only comes with having a sense of entitlement to force others to be like you, to like what you want, to do what you expect, to conform.
There’s almost a justification in that my encounter was with the girl’s parent, and she needs to assert certain rules to prevent the kid from accidentally killing themselves, but when you extend it to forcing them to stop liking the things they like, to stop being the things they are, to enforce arbitrary delineations of what’s appropriate and what’s not when there’s no actual justification for those delineations, no moral imperative that says that someone else might be being actively hurt by your wanting a pretty-to-you dress, that gets under my skin. And it’s the same sort of arbitrary delineation that Correia tried to pull on Singh.
Fuck people like that.