05/02/17, My Personal Trial
Note: this post was originally intended as a review of an opera I went to watch at the King's Theatre the previous night, 'Kafka's The Trial' adapted by Philip Glass. But given how the evening ultimately made me feel, I think it works better as a diary posting.
The trial. It certainly was, in terms of trying to find disabled toilets in the King's Theatre. I found none on my 'upper circle' floor, or the floor below, and some staff on a stall didn't know where the toilets were either. For the first time ever, I felt frustrated that I had no toilets that catered to my own, 'non-binary' identity. At Edinburgh University, you have nice big disabled toilets on every floor; I know it's not strictly speaking for 'non-binary' people, but I count it as.
It became my own personal trial, therefore, during the intermission of this so-so opera of Kafka's paranoid story, to find the disabled toilets. Eventually, a seller of programmes pointed me in the direction of disabled toilets on the ground floor. And there it was. Nice and big.
My toilet trial asks some bigger, searching questions: am I a man, a woman or neither? Why didn't I go to the women's? I had a nice black and white flared skirt, black top and long black cardigan, black opaque tights and boots, a favourite look and ideal for dystopian opera; I wasn't garishly dressed. Smartly relaxed and tasteful, I would say. But I worry about making women uncomfortable with my 1.81m presence. And I definitely wouldn't use the men's.
I met someone the other day, at an LGBT networking conference, and she spoke about her campaign to have non-binary toilets inserted at Napier University in Edinburgh. I didn't think too much about this, since it hadn't been a problem for me at UoE. But my experience at the King's Theatre has made me think again. Should we have toilets in public buildings for 'non-binary'?
Am I non-binary? I thought I was trans. I thought I was transitioning into womanhood.
Lately I've wondered if I'll ever make it to 'woman,' like a crap computer-game player stuck on level 1. Maybe I'll always be trans to everyone, and therefore this is the identity I have to accept. I pass men in the street and I think that they think I'm female. But when I pass a woman, I can tell they can tell that I'm not. I'm not one of them. I'm one of me, my kind, the intermediary kind that exist awkwardly in between. And because this is how 'they' see me, this is how I see myself. Perhaps if I were thicker skinned, I'd be more self-assuredly 'woman,' but my skin is too thin and lovely and allows the searching glances and critical thoughts in through my pores.
Is this transition, then, or how my life will be forever? Neither man, woman, but non-binary. Not because this is what I want, but because it's the reality, not least to the public, and what identity is more reliant on public perception than being transgender? You want people to see you as the other gender. I've failed. At the same time, there's no going back, I don't want to go back. I love the way I look, whatever it is I'm supposed to look like. I love my thick brown hair and dark mascara eyes. I love my flared skirt and opaque tights and boots-with-heels. I wish I had those central characteristics of a woman's body; I would love one day, sooner rather than later and after all the surgery, to meet the right person and in the darkness of the bedroom, strip and have their hands on my body, the one I want it to be. The person standing in the dark with me might not think me a woman; they might think me post-op trans or non-binary or the most advanced kind of cyborg. It won't matter, as long as they love me. I know how I want to look to that person, what I want them to see. It's why I'll wait until after the operations before I start looking for love.
Anyway, to the verdict of my personal trial at the King's Theatre. I have become neither one thing nor the other. I don't identify as male anymore, but in certain sensitive areas – okay, in public toilets – I don't feel female either. Perhaps I never will? The number of people like me is growing. Perhaps we should have non-binary toilets for everyone. On every floor.
So ends this post, except to say: the opera was nothing special, but for different reasons, I'm glad I went.