Thursday, August 02, 2007

1st August (2)
One piece of business in New York was to see Wagner's RING cycle at the Met.
People can disagree about Wagner, but one thing is indisputable: committing to seeing the RING involves many visits to the loo.
And because there's no escaping this, and the whole giant theatre was full, that means queues.
Or, to translate into approximate American, lines at the men's, lines at the women's.
And I didn't know, I never know, which line to join.
At home I can generally avoid the issue by making for the disabled.
The disabled, apparently, have no gender.
When I was younger, the one thing that caused me the most misery was trying to pass as a man. Trying to pretend to be just one ordinary bloke among all the others.
And I still feel unhappy about having to pretend to be a woman.
Or pass, as they say.
If I was a hardline transsexual I maybe wouldn't have such a problem with this: I would know, deep in my heart, I was a woman.
Instead of which I know, deep in my heart, I'm a transsexual.
And although there I was with a woman's passport, the general smartness in the women's queue intimidated me somewhat.
I thought, I may have a woman's passport but I still have a prick.
So in the brutal reality of the loo queue, I'd better join the men's.
And did.
And felt wretched.
And in the second interval of the second night, a man kindly said "Aren't you in the wrong line?"
And I said, "Well, maybe not but to be honest I'm not altogether sure" and as soon as he heard my voice he had me clocked as a man and started to apologise.
Men tend to get deeply, unbelievably embarrassed when they take me for a woman because, in this misogynist world, there is no greater insult you can offer a man.
I thought, "this is ridiculous" and so the next night I decided to ask.
So Iasked. "I'm a pre-op transsexual", I said, "it's difficult for me to be in either queue. Is there any where that's gender neutral?"
Of course I was charming.
You learn to be.
The first two didn't know. They didn't want to know.
The third person said: "Maybe you just have to choose".
(And perhaps I have to)
And then she said; "I think there is a place. I'll make a call."
And she did.
I had to go down tohe lowest floor, talk to the Safety Officer.
Who took me through a door marked No Admittance and down a backstage corridor to the Nurse's room.
Which was locked.
Only he (and I guess the nurse) had the key: and he unlocked it.
And at the back of the office was a loo.
In this huge theatre, the only gender neutral loo in the building.
And so every interval, I went down to the basement asked for the safety officer, got myself escorted to the loo.
It struck me as a kind of metaphor for the problems we face: even in the simplest things.
Perhaps too for the kind of threat we apparently pose.
I got through two safety officers; who were grumpy but professional.
And then on the last night, at the end of Act One of THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS or rather the end of the world, I met a third.Who plainly knew about me; but who refused to let me through.
"There's a doctor usung the room", he said.
I knew he was lying: but he wouldn't budge.
I felt humiliated to the core of my being.
I cried through act two.
And went back to the line at the men's.
Knowing for absolute sure (as if I really needed reminding) that it's not where I belong.

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