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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Brief Word on Basic Human Courtesy

Sit down and be quiet; Auntie Erin is going to lay some wisdom on you.

Let's say your name is Bob. You introduce yourself to someone as "Hi, I'm Bob." That person says, "Nice to meet you, Juliet."

You say, "Um, no. My name isn't Juliet. It's Bob. I'm a man."

That person goes "Whatever you say, Julie, you're still going to be a girl to me. Have you thought about wearing more makeup, though? Your face looks terrible. You'll never attract a husband that way."

By now, you'd be getting upset right?  "Look, I told you. My name is Bob. I am a man. I am not interested in wearing makeup or attracting a husband. I have a girlfriend and I'm quite happily heterosexual."

And that person says "No matter what you say, I'm still going to treat you like a woman because that's what you are. You're just deluding yourself if you think otherwise. Maybe you need a real man to straighten you out, eh?"

Gentle readers, if you were in this situation, I would fully support you if you decided to punch that asshole right in the face. It is, to use the vernacular, fucking rude, yo, to disagree with someone as to what name they have and what gender they are.

Are we all in agreement on this?  Good. Now we can get to the "why" of this post.

This is Christopher Todd Beck. He is a SEAL with over 20 years of experience. He's been deployed seven times, and has earned (among other awards) a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with Valor. He is braver than 90% of us will ever be.

This is Kristin Beck. She used to be Chris Beck. She served her country valiantly, and when she retired from the Navy, she decided to transition to the woman she knew that she always was. She still earned all those medals, and she is still braver than 90% of us ever will be.

Do you get what I am saying here?  Let me spell it out for you, just in case: You are entitled to have an opinion about this, but by God, you will call this woman by her proper name. This isn't PC-ness; this is basic, entry-level human courtesy.

If you're one of those people who says "I don't care what he does to himself, he's still a man" -- well, I'm glad you have an opinion. I will even defend your right to say it aloud. But I, and a bunch of other folks, will take you to task for your rudeness, and if someone gets punched in the face for being a jerk... well, you had it coming.

Want to support this lady?  Buy her book. 

Lesson over.


  1. This is going to seem ruder than I intend but:

    The crucial difference between those two situation that you're
    overlooking is: my gender isn't make believe. What's rude is expecting
    the whole world to cater to your weird psychosis and treating anyone who
    doesn't like a Nazi.

  2. Tell me, guest, at what age did you decide to be heterosexual? At what age did you decide you were [whatever gender you are]?

  3. Oh, and there's a HUGE difference between "catering to a psychosis" and "I happen to be an otherwise normal human being who happens to dress differently. I am not breaking any laws. I am attempting to integrate into society. Why do you feel compelled to shun me and treat me like a freak?"

  4. Make believe? What if after leaving the service a troop decided to change her name and start talking about how if they follow the words of a great teacher that they can find salvation and bliss?

    Hey if you want to go with something that is a decision and is non-verifiable AND can dramatically change your life.

    And even if you were to subscribe to gender identity or sexuality as being a choice. That changes things.... how? It's still a free choice. And there's still a lack of respect for basic human interaction.

    Anyway I'm glad Kristen Beck wrote this book and I hope the DoD doesn't hassle her with it, as a lot of her comrades have when they published their works.

  5. It's common damn courtesy to address someone who's merely changed their name by their new name. Ms Beck has made a far larger adjustment.

    It sucks that she was born wired for girl even though she got a Y chromosome. Present tech does't let us change the wiring, but the physical parts can be. Stuck with the wiring, make lemonade.

    It would be a shit-ton easier for her if the wiring were plastic enough to be made to match the Y-chrome body it was born into and to let her be the he she looked like. But it's impossible and you work with what you can.

    To stop pretending she is something she is not is fucking Brave.

    You go girl!

  6. I have heard many gay and transgendered people complain about the same argument being made to them namely "Maybe you need a real [gender] to straighten you out?" Personally I think it's horse**** to try and change someone. and it shouldn't matter if it's a choice or they way they are wired. They are hurting no one with their lifestyle so you can either choose to actively support them or leave them to go about their lives without being harassed or discriminated against. This nation was founded on the principle that you should be free to live your life as you see fit so long as you do not harm others and yes IMO that does include GLBT people even if they would have been ostracized in Colonial times.

    I'll stop here before a real rant gets going.

  7. Can you accept that it is hard to deal with for some of us? I don't dispute anything you say, but it's a difficult thing for me to deal with. I don't even know why.

    You've spoken in the past about having difficulty with how you look. That's something I also can't understand/relate to. Both of these things make me want to "make it all better," but I can't. This is frustrating.

    To me it is an automatic assumption that you are what you look like. I couldn't begin to understand how it couldn't be that way. I'll support her decision, but I can never understand it. I only hope you can accept me that way. It is an experience that is completely foreign to me, so I can't even find a place to fit it in my world view.

  8. I think you have a good attitude, Sean. Of course it's hard for some people to deal with; we are visual creatures and when we see something that looks male we think "man".

    What matters, at least to me, is that you is that you said "HER decision." You're being polite.

    Again, my problem isn't with people who struggle with these things, but with the assholes who say "Nope, that's a man, and I'm going to keep calling him that!"

  9. I for one am all for people figuring out their own
    sexuality and gender identity. I'm happy being a heterosexual male, but
    it's not my place to do anything but support an individual's right to
    choose how they perceive themselves and how they want society to
    perceive them.

    I say good luck to Ms Beck and thank her for her service to our country. She's done more than enough to earn my respect, and admiration. Undergoing these changes and then publicizing them just shows that courage is an internal quality and isn't based on plumbing or chromosomes. Kudos to her.

  10. Minstrel ThatOtherGuyJune 4, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    Holy crap balls! Women are make believe???

    This is going to seem more rude than I intend, no, this isn't going to be rude enough;

    If you want to speak about psychoses then you have to start with the one that says humans are genetically coded to mate for life and seal that life mating with a ceremonial rite and a piece of paper.

    Who you are is who you choose to be.

    People who lambaste those who make life changing decisions should also do the same for any individual who gets gastric bypass or cuts their hair, or has facial reconstruction after a horrific accident. There is no difference than this woman finally becoming who she is and any other person changing their appearance to suit who they feel they are.

  11. Warrior Princess — I love it! This lady rocks.So do her former colleagues, who have so far apparently been overwhelmingly supportive. I expected far worse for her.

  12. there's a bearded lady joke in here somewhere

  13. Which would be a shitty rude thing to do. So don't do that.

  14. I've been having long and good talks with several people in the LGBT community for about 5 years now, and transgendered people often have quite severe problems with the discrepancy between body and soul. Treating the resulting depressions et al doesn't solve anything, living the soul's gender does, and if that requires hormone therapy and body modification, then that's what needs to be done.

  15. As far as I'm concerned, if you call someone by the name they choose and use their preferred pronouns, you're fine. Whatever is left is a small portion, mostly technicalities and trivialities.

  16. The legal hurdles here in Germany are quite extensive, complete with requirements for other lengthy procedures like psychoanalysis before the process of name changes, hormone therapy and operations can even begin.

    However, when someone is in the wrong body with the wrong genitalia, passes all the hurdles and goes through all procedures and processes to modify their body to suit their own self-image, they've spent at least a couple of years, usually more than five.

    The transgendered people I know don't take the "supposed to behave and look" approach; that is usually the approach of transident people, who follow their own self-image without suffering from the discrepancy between body and soul, and therefore without the need for the whole lengthy process.

    The "on a day to day basis" is more at home with the crossdressers who take a more playful approach depending on their current mood.

    However, as a bisexual member of the LGBTI community I've become accustomed to respecting others' choices as long as that respect is mutual.

    Saying someone "believes" to be in the wrong body is like saying someone "believes" to be paralysed - we're talking major depression, self-mutilation and worse, sometimes for years or even decades, until that person can finally get that discrepancy resolved. Even then there can be aftereffects.
    I haven't read Kristin Beck's book (yet), but I salute her courage and thank her for taking part in helping others find themselves.

  17. Well said Erin.

  18. I think I'll go buy a book because she IS braver than me.


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