(this post was originally intended for lj communities so ignore it if it doesn't sound me-ish. also, all of the people on my friends list who are going to be cunts and make stupid comments can seriously just delete me if they don't want to read this sort of stuff.)
About two years ago, I picked up a shirt at a local thrift store that had the fem symbol on the front left side, and "GIRLS '01" on the back. If you know me, you have probably seeen me wear it. Twice when I wore the shirt to the grocery store, someone asked me if I went to school with their daughters, because they had the same shirt I was wearing, from some sort of activity called the "Battle of the Sexes." I had no idea what any one was talking about, and I just continued to wear the shirt. Hey, it is a neat shirt and it actually fits me the way I'd like it to!
A friend of mine was talking about designing the dress he's going to wear for Gender Day next year. This sparked my interest. He mentioned that it was part of "Battle of the Sexes" week. Finally someone who could tell me what those women in the grocery store were talking about! At first, I was excited. I imagined Gender Day to be something GSA put together, a day full of informative assemblies, lunch room skits, genderbending, and various dealing with gender equality. I could practically hear the ASB president informing the students about transgender issues over the PA in the morning announcements! I was so ready to get involved when I went to the school full time. However, this is NOT the case.
Battle of the Sexes week is essentially a "spirit week" (for those who may not know, spirit week is generally the week before some sort of important sports game the highschool is competing in, and each day you dress up to a certain theme and on the last day you dress up in the colours of the school). This year the themes were: beach day, pajama day, backwards/inside out day, spirit day, and the week is concluded with Gender Day.
On Gender Day, all of the girls are supposed to wear pink/"girly" things and all of the boys are supposed to wear blue/"manly" things (and let me tell you, not participating in this school's spirit activities results in lots of people in each class harassing you over the fact that you are not participating, I have experienced this with other spirit days). They sell blue and pink shirts, and I have one of the ones from 2001. There is an assembly on Friday (Gender Day) where all of the boys are required sit on one side of the gym and all of the girls are required to sit on the other side of the gym. According to my friend, girls have tried to sit on the guy's side on a few occasions, only to be ordered by administrators to move back to "their" side. During the assembly, they have various competitions, like tug of war, relay races, obstacle courses, et cetera. Which ever team wins the most competitions, is declared the winner.
Okay, say it with me: WHAT. THE BLOODY HELL. ARE THEY THINKING?!?!
I cannot IMAGINE how the several genderqueer students at my school feel during this week. I feel alienated and unsafe attending this school now, and this is just from briefly discussing "gender day" with my pal! I haven't even had to go through 6 classes with everyone asking me where my battle of the sexes shirt is, and I haven't had to attend an assembly where I am forced into identifying with one of two genders someone ELSE assigns to me. There are just so many things wrong with this.
The school has NO RIGHT to divide the students into two different groups, two different GENDERS, and force them to adhere to them. They have NO RIGHT to throw around such anti-trans attitudes in the faces of students, especially in a school sponsored, school funded activity. I honestly do not know how GSA has allowed this to go on for so many years. My school and school district is constantly talking about how they embrace diversity and support equality, but their actions obviously do not back up their words.
I'm absolutely livid! I simply cannot allow for Gender Day to go on like this. Idealistically, I'd like to turn the current Gender Day into what I had initially imagined it being. This will obviously be difficult, but I think it is possible.
My friend was mentioning sewing a big fancy prom dress to wear on Gender Day, and having friends (including me!) dress in clothing not traditionally worn by the gender our school/society assigns them. Then, he was planning on setting up chairs in the middle of the gym, and sitting there for the duration of the assembly. However, I don't see this being an effective way to combat this issue. This is what will happen: they will assemble in the middle of the gym, and be asked to leave. When they don't, our bastard security officers will put them in handcuffs (if you don't believe me, just google "kent school district" and "handcuffs"), they will be suspended, and the majority of the school will think it was just some silly prank. After this, the students participating in the demonstration will be made fun of and probably called "fags" (sorry) by the anti-queer population.
My plan is to message the president of GSA on myspace and basically send her a slightly different version of this post, and ask to meet up with her to discuss this. I am worried she won't support me, though. Besides being the president of GSA, she's also prominent in ASB (associated student body), and she hasn't done anything that I or any of my friends know of to try change Gender Day. From there, I'm going to assemble a group of students (both current and former) and parents to write a letter to both the school administration and the school district's Superintendent. The letter will essentially explain the daily struggle trans people face in our society as well as brief issues of gender equality, address the problems of Battle of the Sexes Week/Gender Day, and propose an an alternative. It will close with signatures and short testimonials/I don't know what to call them of everyone who supports us.
THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN!
The majority of information that I know relating to trans issues I've picked up from internet discussions/zines/various events, not sources the school or skeptics would accept as reliable sources. I used to have a bunch of websites saved but my hard drive crashed and I lost them! So, I need as many website and book recommendations pertaining to transgender relations you have! Give me whatever you have, seriously! Also, if you know of other communities I could x-post this to, let me know.
I need suggestions on what things to include during an alternative gender day/week. I want to incorporate the "fun" elements currently featured with gender day, so people don't loose interest. These are my ideas:
- Continue to sell tshirts, only have them have a GLBTQ or transgender positive focus. Suggestions on phrases, images, and inexpensive ways to print these tshirts would be greatly appreciated.
- Tabling in the cafeteria/commons is very popular and effective at my school, so we'll probably set up one of those 3-fold poster board thingys with information, and hand out flyers educating on trans issues and gender equality.
- Kids at my school are really into bracelets/pins for various events. I'm sure we could get pins made (probably through mushycat! I love me some mushycat). Again, suggestions are welcome!
- Any ideas on what to include at the proposed assembly? I'm kind of at a loss here. I'm used to organizing pep assemblies. I'd like to have a speaker, and I'm sure if I did some digging I could find someone neat and nearby to come speak! If you live in Western Washington and want to help out, LET ME KNOW. (We’re in Covington, it’s near Kent.) What else could we include? Maybe some sort of short film? Games/other activities? Give me yr ideas, people.
Also, once the initial letter to the administration is written, I'll post it. If you'd like to sign it at that point (along with any form of short story/whatnot), I'll provide an email address so you can contribute.
In short, tell me whatever you think will help me and my peers get rid of this ridiculous day! Wish me luck, and all that junk.
x-posted to: _andshesays, feminist_rage, transfeminism, transgender, fem_activism