Positively Pissed-Off

I’m about to do something I never do: break my word. I committed to myself on Sunday to spend this week being, thinking, acting positively. This post breaks my streak…sort of. (I’ll try to show at the end how even this rant is a positive thing, for me.) Also, be warned: I’m feeling all the feelings just now, so this post may not be as polished & well edited as it could be.

I’ve been watching something amazing happen across various social media over the last several days. What started off as a Tweet by an understandably upset traveler, has bloomed into a full-on media roll. I’m talking about Butch On Tap‘s Tweets and blog posts, and now Huffington Post feature article, on why Butch Hates the TSA.

At first, after getting past the empathetic flashbacks of my own similar experiences, my sense of solidarity soared at how Butch was able to rally and give voice to the problem with an altogether positive, constructive tone and attitude. But then I read the comments on the Huff Post piece this morning, and some of the Twitter buzz about them, and am still shaking with the outrage. When I last looked at the HuffPo page,there were 317 separate comments. I was sickened by the end of the second page and stopped reading them.

Full of victim blaming* by self-proclaimed members of the LGBTQI so-called “community”**, the consensus of commenters seems to be that Butch invites such public humiliation by her very nature.

Gee, thanks guys, your support and solidarity is so overwhelming! [Yes, for those who didn’t tumble to it, that last sentence was dripping with scorn and sarcasm.]

So, let me make sure I get this right: because Butch lives authentically, dressing and acting true to herself and her gender identity, she is to blame for the ignorance,insensitivity and dismissiveness of those she encounters in the world?


News flash: butch women, effeminate men, androgynous persons of all ilk, and anyone who is even moderately gender non-conforming*** already know about our nonconformity. We know that our appearance and mannerims can be challenging. Look, we get it. We acknowledge the hegemonic, mainstream gender norm exists and that we’re swimming against it. Butch girls expect to get the occasional “Sir”. SO NOT THE POINT OF THE “WHY I HATE THE TSA” POST!!!

Not trying to speak for Butch about the intent of her article, but for me, a similarly situated reader, the point was about the dismissiveness, the insensitivity and hurtful ignorance of the TSA agent and the engineered false “norm” of a gender binary-based system.

The issue isn’t even exclusively about gender or presentation. Accidents happen and can happen to anyone, regardless of appearance, age, economic status, or any other differentiator. But this wasn’t an accident. This was humiliation wrought by lazy insensitivity and systemic ignorance. A reaction piece by a former TSA worker yesterday nailed it: there are so many easy ways to to avoid the soul-crushing embarrassment of the traveling public than basically blurting out a demand to know what someone has between their legs!

No one should have to endure public humiliation and the scorn of the already-agitated, tired, bored crowd of strangers in a security screening line when there are easy, non-intrusive, non-embarrassing means to the same end. But because the TSA permits (some would argue, encourages) blinkered, robotic, unthinking behavior in its agents, those who struggle every day to be seen and valued for who they are get trampled and further marginalized. That’s repugnant to my sense of justice.

But, as promised, I can see a glimmer of positivity in this very visceral reaction. I view this reaction, more specifically, my conscious choice to speak publicly about it and despite my positivity vow, as personal growth. I’ve lived all my life futilely trying to keep small not take up too much space, not appear to be the huge ogre I’m assumed to be based on my size and appearance. But I’ve had enough, today at least, of choking down my own outrage. I’m rocking the boat because I and everyone like me deserves to be treated with basic consideration, be recognized as humans with inherent worth.

I’m pissed off, but its a good kind of pissed.

* Don’t misunderstand that phrase. I don’t know if Butch Jaxon views herself as a victim in any sense, and I am not painting her as one. It’s a verbal short-cut to describe the behavior observed in the comments.

** I say ‘so- called community’, because in my view there is little communing, almost no commonality seeking, happening by people who preface their viewpoint with “I’m gay, too, but” and continue with a diatribe about how the person suffering brought it on themselves.

*** I despise the expression “non-conforming”. As if there’s a right way to exist and you’re doing it wrong. But, again, my otherwise wide and deep vocabulary fails me in trying to accurately describe how I and others like me fit into the spectrum.

9 comments so far

  1. MakingSpace on

    Howdy! Thanks for your comment on my blog, and here’s one back atcha!

    Be big. Trust me. We small folk are jealous, and have to shout to be heard. You be big. Love this post. Hard hard stuff, but there is definite positivity in reaching deep down and saying YES to who we are. (Wait. That means I have to say yes to being small. Drat. hehe) Go you.

    • Searching4Self2013 on

      Hey, MS! Thanks for the comment & follow! Yeah, owning my bigness isn’t my easiest task. But, I’m working on owning the (eww) feelings, trying not to squelch them so much. It’s all a work in progress. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  2. Butch Jaxon on

    Reblogged this on ButchOnTap and commented:
    Sudden Awareness honors me with a reaction post based on SA’s anger over some of the comments made to my TSA blog run by the Huffington Post. I can’t adequately express my appreciation for this reaction and the sincerity of SA’s support.

    • Searching4Self2013 on

      Hi, Butch. I’m honored to have you follow my blog! This whole thing has highlighted for me the systemic unfairness that I’ve just ignored or accepted for so long. But the utter nonsense of those comments finally brought it home, and I had to spew.

      Thanks for taking a stand, Butch.

  3. A Spare Mind on

  4. Jamie Ray on

    Butch Jaxon’s piece was right on! It isn’t that we mind being Sir’d, it is that we do not want to be humiliated in public by a bunch of insensitive bureaucrats. Thanks for writing your support response, and getting “Huffy” about it.

    • Searching4Self2013 on

      Hi! Thanks for reading & commenting. You’re right, nobody deserves humiliation.

  5. quixote on

    When did people forget that personal comments are just plain rude? I can’t easily imagine a more personal comment than, “Hey, do you have a dick or a hooha?” There’s all kinds of anatomical info on those scanners. Do the TSA-ites also sing out, “Is that plastic explosive or did you have a boob job?” “Oh, hey, we’ll have to examine the contents of your colostomy bag.”

    If they’ve been taught to handle other issues a bit more discreetly, why does it all fall apart when they’re having trouble with their gender binary?

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