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Transgender – Richard O’Brien and Germaine Greer

The Rocky Horror Show Opens In Sydney - Arrivals

(Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)

 

Well… wow. What do you make of this? Richard O’Brien responding to Germaine Greer’s comments on transgenderism.

I agree with Germaine Greer and Barry Humphries. You can’t be a woman. You can be an idea of a woman. You’re in the middle and there’s nothing wrong with that. I certainly wouldn’t have the wedding tackle taken off. That is a huge jump and I have all the sympathy in the world for anyone who does it but you aren’t a woman.”

~~ Richard O’Brien

My opinion on this is that I think Germaine Greer is a fairly abhorrent person with regards to her views on transgenderism, but I think Richard O’Brien is kind of making a fair point, although it comes across rather badly.

As a “third gender” person myself I can see what he is saying – if I had surgery then it wouldn’t alter the person I am inside, it would only affect my outward appearance.

Your gender identiy is a state of being – an internal state of mind – and physical genitalia have little bearing on that. The difference between him and Greer is that he appears to suggest that he thinks it is possible to be a woman even if you weren’t born one genetically, and she emphatically does not.

I don’t understand how she can campaign for equality, acceptance and inclusion, and then say that transwomen are not women but are men trying to usurp and subvert feminism. What an abhorrent thing to say!

By contrast, Richard seems to be saying that you can be a woman inside and no matter what you do (or don’t) to your genitals, who you are remains. As in, still a woman. And I can totally accept that.

If that’s not what he meant, and instead he really is in agreement with Germaine Greer’s bigotry, then obviously I don’t endorse that. However, what *I* am saying is that who you are inside is what is important and your physical attributes less so.

That isn’t to say that gender reassignment surgery is wrong, or unnecessary; it’s perfectly natural to want your physical appearance to match your gender identity should you genuinely need to transition. But by the same token, no matter how much surgery you have you will never reach the nirvana of being exactly the same as if you had been born differently. And, further, there is immense pressure on transgender people to transition from one society-endorsed gender binary to the other, and as I’ve observed many times in this blog, there are more options and states of being than that.

So, in conclusion, my interpretation of what Richard O’Brien is saying is that he is advocating finding contentment in being yourself rather than feeling pressured into transitioning. And that is a world away from agreeing with Germaine Greer.

 

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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in In the News, Opinion, Transgender

 

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More than a woman

The BBC published a very good article on transgenderism on the News Magazine area of their website entitled Richard O’Brien: ‘I’m 70% man’

Credit: BBC / Tommy Candler

The article, written by Jo Fidgen, quotes Richard O’Brien (of Rocky Horror fame) as talking about the gender spectrum, and how he sees himself as maybe 70% male and 30% female.

However, one part of the article really surprised and struck me. It said:
“O’Brien’s idea of a gender spectrum may sound far-fetched to many, but there is scientific research that backs up his position.”

I’m really surprised that in this day and age, where people readily acknowledge the concept of bisexuality, that the idea of a gender spectrum could be considered ‘far-fetched’. Certainly the idea of a sexuality spectrum is well established, encompassing gay, straight and bisexual. And even then, bisexual doesn’t automatically mean you fancy men and women equally. Surely then, the idea of a gender spectrum can come as no real surprise and is equally logical? One only has to look at the concept of a girl being a tomboy, or describing herself as “not a girly girl”, to see that it is so. And, despite being less socially acceptable to say it, the same is true of men too. However, men have far more pressure (in Western society at least) to conform to a gender stereotype.

Having said that, I read on the news today of Maria Toorpakai; The Pakistani squash star who had to pretend to be a boy. In the area of Pakistan that she lives, it is completely socially unacceptable for a girl to play such sports, or wear shorts, or be a tomboy. She was forced to pretend to be a boy (with her father’s consent and support) and won several tournaments before being ‘outed’. Since then she and her father have had death threats and persecution, just because she doesn’t conform to a gender expectation. I’m both heartened by her and her father’s courage, and dismayed by the actions of their persecutors.


(Please note that the links in this article are to the BBC website and may not be available to you if you are outside of the UK)

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in Opinion, Transgender

 

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