What to make of this T-shirt? I saw one several years ago with 'gay' instead of 'trans,' then saw this T-shirt during the Edinburgh Festival. First thing's first: Stonewall are a civil rights group that have championed the rights of LGBT people since their creation in 1989, and deserve credit for their courage as well as helping to make the UK a more tolerant place. They've been major players in the repeal of the UK's Section 28 (legislation against the promotion of homosexuality in UK schools) and in the right of gay couples to adopt children, among other pro-LGBT legislation.
The T-shirt, though, I'm not so sure I want to champion. It makes me ambivalent, if not uncomfortable. Perhaps it's the assumption, automatically formed when read, that any reader has a problem with people being trans. And that they need to get over it. Two things: first of all, this hasn't been my experience in Edinburgh. People ignore me, or glance or stare but no more than they would at anyone else. Secondly, being trans, I just want to blend in. This T-shirt is not about blending in, so I would never wear it. With its bold red and black colours, its imperative order and the exclamation mark, it's about making an eye-catching statement, aggressively catching your attention before saying: 'You've got a problem with me? It's your problem!' Again, we come back to the assumption of it. Whoever reads it is being addressed in a way that assumes they're guilty of being transphobic.
Perhaps I'm being too timid about trans rights? Too weak, too over-concerned with hurting the feelings of others? Be bolder, stronger, less shy. But couldn't it be more polite? 'Some people are trans. And some people aren't. Hey ho.' I think that would better indicate what I've experienced here in Edinburgh, and probably reflects UK attitudes overall (thanks in no small part to the political activism of Stonewall). Most people don't seem to care, and politely ignore you, unless you're JK Rowling, in which case it's difficult not to stare. I saw her passing through at the Edinburgh Festival and tried not to stare. I think I stared for a second more than I would have at anyone else. It might not even have been her, but I think it was, on George Square, walking briskly through the crowd. Now there is a person who deserves a T-shirt. 'Yes, I'm JK Rowling. Get over it.'