Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Yes to ALL of This": A (Not So) New Perspective on Consent

This morning, as I processed the events of last night, I had a rather surprising (to me at least) epiphany.  For those who aren't well-versed in my personal life (and sorry if you really don't care), perhaps some background is in order.

Last semester I went to the Jug alone and started hooking up with this guy, R.  We were going at it on the dance floor for like an hour before we decided to go back to his place.  When we got there, instead of hooking up he went to the bathroom to vom, so I just waited awkwardly in the living room with his roommates to make sure he was okay.  Now, whether or not R could tell my identity at the time, we'll never know, but his roommates clearly could.  It was hella tense, and when R came out of the bathroom and passed out on the couch, I took that as my cue to leave and booked it out of there.  I heard later from a friend that he was blackout and didn't know what was going on, and that everyone in his toho refused to talk about it.

Last night, I went to the Jug with a friend of mine and we found a bunch of our gurlfraands and had a good time.  Suddenly, these two guys come up to us, and one of them, A, introduces himself to me (which is precedent-breaking in itself for me at the Jug) and asks if I want to dance.  We start dancing together, and then we're making out, when his friends come over.  They're patting him on the back and making cat-calls, and I'm starting to feel a little like a slab of meat.  One of A's friends, Red Plaid Boy, then gets in front of me and starts grinding with me on the other side.  He stops and goes around to A and tries to pull him off of me, saying "that's a man..."  I hear this and panic, grabbing my friend and fleeing from the Jug.

Now, at the time, I thought of it only from my perspective.  I ran like hell because I didn't want to get beaten up, which a lifetime in rural Pennsylvania has taught me is a distinct possibility.  I thought, what the fuck?  Why was it any of RPB's business how I was born?  And worse, I was upset because I didn't really have the chance to justify myself, or to educate them that, no I'm not a man.  I wasn't born female, but that doesn't make me a man.  And it made me very depressed, because it feels like everytime I get close to a guy, my gender identity gets in the way.  As I transition and I'm able more and more to pass, it gets harder and harder to explain my identity, and the stakes get higher and higher.

And it occurred to me this morning that part of the problem was that I had stumbled into a realm of dubious consent.  If we look at the Colgate Sexual Harassment Policy (apologies if I haven't quite precisely named it), there is a section that says that hooking up with someone without disclosing any STDs you have violates consent.  I am NOT comparing transsexuality to an STD, but I am taking the spirit of that clause to mean what we call in the social sciences "informed consent".  If your partner doesn't have all the possibly relevant information, ze may consent, but it's not very informed consent.  There could be a piece of information withheld that had ze known it to be true, ze would not have consented.  STDs are one example.  And it occurred to me that perhaps my identity is another example.  If R or A had known from the get-go that I was born male-bodied, would they have hooked up with me?  To what extent do I conform to the popular conception of the entrapping Shemale?  The gender outlaw in me thinks that that's bullshit, and that it shouldn't matter what's between my legs; if you're attracted to me, you're attracted to me, get over it.  But, I have to recognize the fact that for some guys, that is a hang-up, and not giving them the chance to provide informed consent, or run away screaming, is not fair.

The hook-up culture is not designed for me, and it's certainly not designed for consent.  As a senior (shudder), I think it's time I grew up and started looking for a guy that isn't only saying yes to what he sees, but who takes the time to get to know me and says, "yes, yes to ALL of this".

Xavia Publius

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