I have a friend who is, by all accounts, rather less than conventional. My friend has many wonderful defining qualities (generous, a great cook, fun, intelligent) but what stands out about my friend to most people, and puts them squarely in the “unconventional” pigeon hole, is that my friend is a transvestite.
I have never questioned anything about my friend, other than the chaos in the kitchen that produces restaurant-worthy cuisine and at the same time, possibly E-coli, but what shocks and alarms me about many people, is that upon hearing one of my friends is, for wont of a better word, a tranny, they ask me why – “why do you have a tranny for a friend?!”. This question always catches me off guard, not because I don’t expect the gender bending persuasion of my chum to amuse and titillate them, but because it should cause them to question the worth of this person as a friend.
It would cause these same people a great deal of horror to be labelled homophobic, misogynistic, racist or any other nasty-ist, but it seems that the playground attitude of segregating those that are “different” is still very much alive and pulling pigtails in today’s urban jungle gym. If you have to ask why someone is worthy of being a friend, just because you don’t subscribe to their particular brand of lifestyle, I have to ask if you are worthy of having any friends at all.
If, when you look at someone, all you think about are the clothes they wear, the colour of their skin or the business tucked away in their hosiery, then you really are going to be left with a limited social sphere. Not only are you going to miss out on some wonderful experiences with some marvellous people, you also need to take a good long hard look in a mirror. And then have your face smashed repeatedly into it.
There’s something in every single one of us, no matter how hard we try to hide it, that qualifies us as “different” and would have had us dragged round the back of the boys locker room for a good kicking if we were still 14. I’d hate to think that having shed the awkward skin of a gawky teenager, someone would still judge me to be an unworthy human, not fit to share their air space, just because my physical or behavioural quirks didn’t quite fit with someone else’s expectations of normalcy. I certainly wouldn’t expect my friends to be challenged on why they entertain the notion of my companionship.
Once people have finished quizzing me on the “why” of my tranny-pallyness, they start grilling me on the particular preferences and behaviours of this person. They want to know whether her (yes, her) sexual preference is for men or women, they want to know what she does in bed, they want to know how she goes to the toilet. I bet a few of you are wondering those very same things. Well, let me turn this around on you: What kinky stuff do YOU do in bed? Do you wee standing or sitting? Have you, like Katy boggle-eyed Perry, ever kissed a girl and liked it? Have you ever shoved something up your bottom and what underwear do you wear to the office?
It’s all rather personal, isn’t it? Not entirely appropriate social chit chat and certainly not knowledge most of us have about the majority of our acquaintances, so why, just because my friend is a little bit unusual, is she expected to divulge every gritty, grimy, saucy little bit of personal info to all and sundry? Even if I did have all the answers to these questions, are they in any way relevant to who she is or what she’s like as a person? I’d like to think I’m defined by more than just what underwear I leave on my floor at night.
I fully appreciate that there is a certain novelty and a fascination surrounding those of, as some of them put it, the third gender, but I think people need to remember that no matter what body this person is in, no matter what clothing or make-up they wear, the person I am friends with is just that – a person and a friend. So, I can tell you why I am friends with a transvestite; it has nothing to do with sharing fashion tips or make-up, it has nothing to do with wanting to carry out a real life Priscilla Queen of The Desert style road trip and it has nothing to do with wanting to see if she goes into the ladies or the gents. It’s for the same Hallmark greetings card-worthy reason I have other wonderful friends; because they enrich my life.
So the next time you come across someone with a friend who could be classed as different, how about, instead of asking why, you start by asking their name.