This thought process started with the kind of observation that could easily sustain a whole column in a Sunday supplement (Lifestyle section) by a humourist, sharing with us their sideways look at life. To help with this, their picture has them in profile but eyes towards us, a knowing smirk playing on the lips.
Mrs BC said to me yesterday that when I talk about teenage high jinks/escapades I still, mostly, find them funny. She told me about how, as a high schooler, she had a careers session with a train driver and how her and a friend decided to fully engage in the exercise, really ratcheting up enthusiasm and asking him dozens of excited questions about trains as if he was a pop star. She cringes with embarrassment at this, whereas I find it hilarious. I wondered if this is a gender difference? That is to say, men find this stuff funny forever and women grow up and regret their actions – but I’m sure that’s not true. This is bad news for the content-hungry, sideways-looking columnist I referred to some moments ago.
In the days of jumpers for goalposts and Spangles ferrus tea, there was at least one child in every school who was clearly growing up within the “wrong” gender group. On reflection it was the brave ones that openly did that – the ones who knew they would be bullied and mocked but couldn’t be something they were not. I’d like to say I was one of the more enlightened kids from the live-and-let-live camp, but I wasn’t because there was no such group to align with. I didn’t get it either, but it didn’t anger me that they were different. My contribution was to not join in with the bullying and name calling and keep out of it, which, on reflection, was not enough.
So what am I on about? That’s a very good question. As the father of several teenagers now, this is openly talked about and those that choose to live in a different gender group or, in a non-gender specific way, are no longer one-in-1000 quirks of nature, but are relatively common. Most of the time, a trans person isn’t someone who is aching to perform as an outrageous drag queen in full make up and a sparkly dress. This perception is changing fast.
If you think this now means that we are all in a peace-loving utopia of tolerance for all, then unfortunately you’d be wrong. Here be dragons, particularly in the world of sport. I know that JK Rowling isn’t universally loved anymore and the turn against her has been particularly vicious. From the perspective of a child who has grown up loving the HP films, this is quite a stance to take. Those of us that adored everything that Morrissey did and said in the 80s are going through a mild form of this turmoil, I guess.
This is why I am not a professional “is it just me?” columnist because I find that my post is now trundling redundantly into the mud. I don’t have a snappy pay-off line to round things off. As the a reader of this blog, surely you can understand that in this relay, you’re lucky that I make it round the track at all. I’m sorry, I dropped the baton over there – you’ll have to go and get it.