Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Feminine Differential – Vulnerability

Those of us that are transgender have a rare exposure to femininity. It is easy to think in this time of enlightenment, equal rights and androgyny that the two genders are converging. However, nothing has highlighted this differential more so than the Harvey Weinstein scandal. 

Many are calling it a “scandal” like Watergate or election tampering, however it goes much deeper. It is a tragedy. Females seeking nothing more than career advancement were abused by a powerful man; A systemic problem, which begs for justice and change.

Many are coming forward shining a light on Weinstein, a serial sexual predator. Even our president has been accused of this callous disrespect of females. There is a tape and in my opinion, you do not brag without means, motive and opportunity. Yes, sexual assault; a crime. According to USA TODAY, “Institutional blindness has allowed Harvey Weinstein to harass, to bully, to allegedly assault his way to the top of the Hollywood elite. The behavior we would otherwise find deranged and intolerable”.

Is this susceptibility limited to only females?  Mostly but not always. In my youth, I had a brush with a sexual predator and can tell you that it was frightening. I was aware of my surroundings and acted quickly; nothing happened. He was a medical specialist and prayed on teen boys. He eventually left the small town and I hope that myself and others coming forward, hastened that.  

There have been other times as a female that I have felt the sting of vulnerability. I had a job phone interview as Rhonda and it was said that I had a "sexy voice". Next he wanted me to come late in the afternoon for a “casual interview”. He mentioned he would be at home, by the pool and would leave the door open - just come in. To make sure the intent was clear, he mentioned, “if you like, bring your toothbrush”. I declined the interview.  

Even leaving a mall as Rhonda at times has cause for trepidation. Although I have always thought that the element of surprise could be in my favor, sill an uneasiness occurs. Having a dinner alone in a restaurant on several occasion has brought unsolicited attention. Motives may have been innocent, still I felt vulnerable. If I accept, is there an expectation for conversation; more?  

Let us all understand what has happened with Weinstein. Finally, another social wrong has come out of the closet. Let us all understand that this is not acceptable behavior. If you are in a position of power over someone, do not use it to unfair advantage. On the other side, know that as a feminine person there are situations where saying “NO” is your escape word. Use it quickly and with resolve.   

Sara M. McDonald in an article “What we can learn...“ stated this good advice: “Let’s follow Hollywood’s lead of offering support to victims, standing beside them while they come forward and encouraging those who need to come forward to do so.”

Seeing both sides of any situation is a rare privilege. We have a unique perspective.


  1. Me, too! Sexual assault is a violent crime perpetrated by violent criminals. The stereotype of the victim as a young woman in revealing clothes is wholly inadequate and incorrect. I have been harassed as Abby (catcalls and crude comments) but I have been assaulted in drab. Like you, I had a similar frightening brush with a middle school swimming instructor. I found ways to avoid him, but the experience had a lot to do with my failure to learn to swim until I was in the Army several years later.

    After a half century of relative peace, I have been sexually assaulted three times this year. The first was in April when a department chairman of another dept in my college approached me and started rubbing my head, neck, and back. I am slow on the uptake, but the second time he tried it, I figured it out and quickly got up and left. He tried it with our best candidate for a new professor position. She complained to the college's Chief Operating Officer. Hers was the last and most persistent of a growing chorus before he was forced out for sexual predation. He will eventually be fired but it will take awhile to fire a tenured full professor.

    The other two sexual assaults were by TSA officers. In April at DCA, I was dragged into a filthy broom closet for "mandatory private screening". There a lone TSA officer grabbed me and fondled my crotch three times before I was able to get his supervisor to rescue me. I complained but the investigator's response was "it's how we are doing screenings now...get used to it!" A search of the Internet indicates that the federal government received over a thousand complaints about assaults like this last year without taking any apparent action. At DIA (Denver), the government did fire a small bunch of TSA officers who organized to sexually assault male passengers. My other incident was at Spokane, Washington, where a TSA inspector punched me in the groin as part of an unusually rough pat down even for the TSA. I called it a punch down in my complaint. Again, nothing resulted from complaining. I did soon thereafter pay my money to get precheck status but I have not flown since June. (I usually fly about once a month, but the sexual assaults slowed me down to the point that my livelihood is suffering.) Eventually, I will have to see I'd precheck helps any. It does not take long on the Internet to get the impression that there is a protected subculture within the TSA (DCA being the apparent worst of it) that sexually assaults people, many of the victims being men. For the record, I am a sixty something bloke!

    1. Thanks Abby - Very well said. Please comment again!