International Women’s Day

Today (March 8th) was International Women’s Day. In efforts to stay on track and on schedule, here’s the

related news clipping from GLAAD Blog

where “the Transgender Law Center shares a story about Dawn, a transgender women, and her struggles of working in a male-dominated field.”

Why should we take a day to celebrate half the population? Why should we take an entire day to make a distinction between genders? The reality is, however, that women do have vastly different experiences from men purely by nothing other than being women, and unfortunately most of those differences are on the negative side of the balance. Consider reading the letter in the news article. So yes, it’s important to highlight, and celebrate, our differences, especially from a group of people who has been historically oppressed.

Women in the Workplace

In honor of Women’s Day, a coworker brought each woman in the office a flower and a little bottle of vodka (forgive him, he’s Russian). Needless to say, I got a flower, which I unabashedly re-gifted to my girlfriend.

My field of work is male-dominated for sure. When they first hired me we could finally say there was a woman on the team, although half of the time we were referencing the guy with long hair. Despite these jokes, I got the flower, and not him. I was offended, but I didn’t take it personal. Bringing flowers is as nice a gesture as you can get, chivalrous even. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to thank him. It’s probably my passive-aggressive way of indicating my non-femaleness. For now, it’s all I can muster.

Responsibilities

Although I’ve hinted several times that “I’m not a girl,” or we keep poking fun at who has the title of “manliest girl” (guy with long hair) and “girliest man” (me), I’ve never actually asserted to my co-workers that “hey, I’m trans” or “please don’t call me a girl.” Hints can only get you so far. Consequently, I cannot and do not expect other people to guess who I am without telling them. It’s my responsibility assert my identity, to let others know what I expect from them.

In general, others don’t question gender, and it’s not their obligation to do so. Did you ever question, or even care, whether the Earth was round, until someone told you about it? Unless of course, you are an astronomer or a physicist, in which case it becomes something of a personal matter, and suddenly you do care. While we live on Earth most, if not all, of our lives, we aren’t ever truly conscious of its spherical properties. Similarly, society is drenched in gender, yet most people spend their whole lives without ever giving it a second thought. While my friend’s flower was not exactly welcome, I’ve given him no concrete reason to suggest I’d be uncomfortable. And until I do, I can only hold myself responsible.

Back to Work

Now we’ve gone on to hire three women, and I’m guessing they were all happy with the beautiful flower they received today. One of those women is trans. If you are into statistics, we defy all odds: 3 queers out of 10 people, 2 of which are transgender. Ironically, she was the first woman engineer we hired, as I don’t really count myself. (On top of that we met on the last day before I left for two weeks for my surgery. Strange coincidence?)

Both she and I defy the stereotypes in our work field. Like us there are many others who unfortunately remain invisible, or are frowned upon, or kicked around, just for being different. So even though I’m not a woman, there are those who are; others need to know that they exist, and that they matter. Let International Women’s Day serve as a reminder, so that at least people can take a moment to acknowledge that there are different genders, and gender differences. And those are reasons enough to celebrate.

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