I’ll start this by saying there are limitations to who it is safe for me to “not give a fuck” about. In principle, this includes people in positions of institutional authority (parents, legislators, police, schools, doctors, lawyers, judges, etc.) whose opinions can and do have a very real potential to impact me, to a much greater extent then someone who occupies none of those positions (i.e. a “peer”). Similarly, a peer can position themselves in a position of great impact by threatening violence against me, so even in the absence of institutional authority there can be contexts where I really do have to care about what someone says or thinks. Because, you know, violence.
I speak of the contradictory and impossible expectations thrust upon me: As a woman, as a trans woman, as a kinkster, you name it. This particular phenomenon isn’t actually unique to any given identity group, though minorities are disproportionately affected by it. It’s the Catch-22.
Imagine this: I am possessed by an episode of masochism and so attempt to dialogue with two sex-negative TERFs. I admit during this conversation that I enjoy BDSM. One TERF argues that my submission indicates a misguided belief in the supposed inferiority of women (having sought submission and womanhood at the same time); the other TERF argues that my dominance indicates that my gender identity is a ruse altogether cloaking misogynistic attitudes that insist on a woman’s “proper place.”
Here’s the trick: They’re the same TERF. That’s because people in this scenario have started with their conclusion and they’ll work their way backwards to ram their immediate surroundings into their construct. They start with “I’m dangerous” and will torture any circumstances presented to them to get a confession thereof. Without the slightest hint of irony they will predictably contradict themselves, sometimes within the same sentence.
(Setting aside the pseudo-Freudian bollocks altogether, I could write in detail about the nuances of my kink and I assure you it has nothing to do with either of the above scenarios.)
If I’m feminine, it’s obviously because I think womanhood is defined by sex-stereotypes. If I’m masculine or non-conforming, I’m obviously not “really” a woman and just doing the trans thing for attention.
If I’m attracted to women I’m “really” just a straight guy and if I’m attracted to men I’m “really” just a gay guy–“guy” being the foregone conclusion.
If I’m ambitious it’s because I had male socialization but if I’m content it’s because I’ve internalized the helplessness of womanhood.
If I’m stone cold, it’s because I have too much testosterone. If I’m emotional, it’s because I have too much estrogen.
It never stops!
For whatever reason, enough cisgender people think my gender expression–or any aspect of my personal, private being–is a matter of public spectacle. And on top of that, they think this is a fair one-on-one interaction. They don’t realize that they are voice number 1,232,104 offering unsolicited opinions about me and my morally neutral choices.
Ultimately this isn’t about communicating reasonable expectations. If it were reasonable, there might be a way to win.
As there isn’t, I’m not playing. That’s where “fuck off, I don’t care” comes in–at least with peers. That’s why absolutely none of my morally neutral choices are up for debate.
I don’t fucking care about what you think about the way I wear my hair. I don’t care what you think about my glasses. I don’t care what you think about my kink, my dating, my sexual practices, my job, my volunteer work. I Don’t. Fucking. Care.
Because pleasing you means pissing off someone else.
So remember that next time you offer up these sorts of opinions. Even if we accepted the premise that I require constant external validation, such a requirement would leave me mired in the quicksand of ignorance surrounding gender variance and the act of transitioning.