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Keeping abreast of gender issues

2 July, 2017

Last weekend I went to the Houston Pride Parade – partly because my bestie was heavily involved in organizing a contingent from my company to actually march in the parade and I wanted to provide moral support, but mostly because the current Administration seems intent on removing LGBT rights at an alarming pace, and in good conscience I can’t just sit idly by and say nothing (whereas standing idly by the parade route and clapping politely is a level of resistance I’m comfortable with…).

I dragged along my GF, my daughter and a friend of hers with some skin in the game (so to speak), and my youngest son, and they all seemed to have a pretty good time, taking in the sights, cheering the cause, and catching swag thrown into the crowd by the marchers – although the GF was not particularly happy about taking a handful of beads, thrown by one over-enthusiastic marcher, to the face (still, I’m sure there were plenty of people there who took far worse things to the face during the course of the evening, so, small mercies…). Most of the swag was branded merchandise from the various companies fielding a marching contingent: beads, bracelets, and glowsticks, plus the obligatory condoms that were handed out to all and sundry – even to my prepubescent youngest, who then insisted I explain how one was used, and upon being told proclaimed “that’s weird!”. My personal favorite was a sperm-shaped stress-ball thrown into the crowd by the Houston IVF Clinic – although I’m not sure I should necessarily admit to ‘catching sperm at the Pride Parade’…

Aside from supporting the cause, it was also fun to just take in the sights and people-watch. There was no shortage of interesting people – both on the floats and in the crowd – from dressed up (in full evening drag) to dressed down (in nothing more than a leopardskin banana-hammock) – although I’m sure the latter contingent were grateful for the heat of a Texas summer – otherwise there would have been a lot more ‘stuffing’ going on in order to save face!

Although there were plenty of topless guys, I have to say I was a bit taken aback to see a woman strolling through the crowd with her boobs out. Not topless per se – she did have a top on, but she’d pulled it down so that her ta-tas were clearly on display. Like, she’d gone to the parade with a top on, then at some point in the evening she’d suddenly thought to herself “Well, now seems like as good a time as any to get the puppies out!”. No pasties or strategically-placed beads, just her hooters hanging in the breeze. I was both taken aback and also a little conflicted. On the one hand, I grew up with the ’90s feminist movement, so I was determined not to objectify her and stare at them, but on the other hand…look! bewbs!

Plus, she was deliberately putting them out there – although her defiantly antagonistic expression made her exact motives a little hard to read. By pulling down her top and not just removing it entirely, she clearly wasn’t making a statement about the sexism of men being able to ‘go topless’ but not women. But she was obviously proud of them, and consciously putting them on display for all to see. I don’t know, maybe she’d had a boob job and wanted to get her money’s worth?

So what’s the appropriate response here? Should one avert one’s eyes and risk offending the owner by the implication that they really weren’t worth looking at? Or give them a good look over, and then give their owner an appreciative nod and eyebrow-raise? In the end I chose to just maintain eye contact and smile politely, hoping that it wouldn’t come across as a leer.

But then I remembered that this was effectively an LGBT event. Maybe she was previously he, and all (s)he was doing was exhibiting pride in their transition. Which would certainly be something to celebrate and put out there, and I for one wouldn’t want to burst their bubble(s) and tell them to put them away.

Of course, one could argue that having your milkers on display in a public place is never appropriate – regardless of the circumstances, but then there was no end of topless men with pierced nipples and perfectly-plucked areolas, so who’s to say what is really appropriate? And returning to my earlier point on the sexism of laws on going topless, this begs an interesting question: If it is OK for a guy to go topless in a public place, but it is public indecency if a woman does the same, what if a man who has transitioned to being a woman goes topless? Could – or should - they be charged with public indecency?

The easy answer is: Sure, it’s still boobs. But this is Texas, where they are trying to enact a ‘Bathroom Bill’ (SB8) that will make it law that people have to use the (gender-specific) public/school bathroom that aligns with their gender at birth. So let’s think about this. If someone was born male, but transitions to female and then goes topless in public, should they be held to the law as it applies to a male, or as it applies to a female? Using the Bathroom Bill as a precedent, surely they would not be in violation of public (in)decency laws any more than the fat (male) slobs who feel that the merest hint of sunshine is reason enough to subject the rest of us to the sight of their sweaty beer bellies and man-boobs, or the jocks who insist on making the rest of us feel inadequate by airing their six-packs and freshly-waxed pecs in public. The above logic dictates that there would be no crime, but I’m pretty sure the police and the courts would see it differently. (Although I’d be happy to hear from my lawyer friends on the subject…)

So I choose to believe that Chesty Larue flashing her fun-bags at the Pride Parade was indeed transgender, and was just being (politically) provocative in the hopes that law enforcement would pull her in, and she could then go to court and make this very argument, and expose Texas SB6 for the absurd, discriminatory law that it is.

And to show my support and solidarity whilst avoiding making assumptions about anyone’s gender, in future I’m going to greet every pair of breasts I see with a cheery “Nice tits!”. Just to let them know we’re all in this together…

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