We all have those songs that we keep getting stuck in our heads over and over throughout the years. Not Uptown Funk or Blurred Lines, catchy songs which are or were played everywhere. I mean more like the Jingle from Inside Out. If you haven’t seen it, there’s a scene where they show how the girl in the film has a particular jingle which her brain keeps bringing back up all the time.
One of those songs for me is I Wanna Be Like You from The Jungle Book. What makes it worse is that despite the fact I have been hearing it off and on in my brain for the last 10 years, I still don’t know the lyrics very well.
I’m the king of the swingers.
Oh, the jungle VIP
I’ve reached the top and had to stop. And that’s what botherin’ me.
I wanna be a man, mancub.
And stroll right into town… something something, man’s red flower,
I’m humming through this part..
I wanna be like you -ooh -ooh
(Shoo be dobwee dowaa)
Walk like you, talk like you, be like you, -ooh -ooh
I got it stuck in my head earlier this week. I was a little bit annoyed, but then I realised it worked as a great segue into a topic I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while, so that’s what today’s post will be about.
Part of the charm of I Wanna Be Like You is seeing King Louie trying to act a human, and actually thinking he could become a man just by learning how to make fire.
It’s similar the whole “that animal thinks it’s people!” thing that makes us love everything from little puppies swaddled in a bed like a child, or cats wearing bowties.
It’s funny because they are so obviously not people, and its amusing seeing something so incongruous as an animal at a computer or playing an instrument.
This gag works even with things that aren’t alive. Melodicas look so bizarre because we aren’t used to seeing a small keyboard, and the fact that it’s a wind instrument just feels bizarre.
Ukuleles are ‘little guitars’, and aren’t taken seriously as a musical instrument by some people because of that.
It even extends to people.
Tell someone you’re a man even though you were born with female genitals, and they might look at you with amusement too. In fact, they’re more likely than not to see you the same way you would a little kid playing dress-up.
Sure, a few of them might pretend to take you seriously, but the way they talk to you or look at you is the incredibly condescending equivalent of patting a child on the head.
“Haha silly girl, thinking she can be a man.”
It very much happens the other way, too. Sometimes I feel like I have to prove a point, like I need to be The Ultimate Woman, or people won’t believe my transition.
Luckily, I happen to mostly fit those preconceived ideas; I’m attracted to men, I enjoy shopping, wearing makeup, etc. There are other trans women who aren’t quite so lucky. They’re tomboys, or don’t quite ‘look the part’ according to the arbitrary expectations others set for them, and so they have an even tougher time of it.
Even fitting neatly (for the most part) into the little box people have labelled “Women,” I still have to ignore people seeing me as the personal equivalent of an ukulele; something to be looked at with amused condescension, but simply not taken seriously.
Quick aside: I feel the need to clarify that I feel nearly as frustrated about people not taking ukes seriously, and that I do not in any way feel the ukulele is anything less than a wonderful musical instrument.
People have this thing about sodas. Some people won’t ever drink anything but Pepsi, others won’t drink anything but Coca-Cola. It’s fascinating and genuinely surprising how strongly they feel about it.
However, I think even those people would agree that if you’re drinking flat soda, it doesn’t make much difference whether you’re drinking something that used to be Coke or a bottle of what was once Pepsi; it’s going to taste terrible anyways.
I have had people straight up tell me I’m never going to be a woman, that no matter what I do, I am what they say I am.
That feels awful, obviously. Like I wrote last Tuesday, it is disrespectful and incredibly arrogant for someone else try to define you with their words and with their names, rather than the ones you have found for yourself.
However, it really isn’t much better to have people claim to accept and respect your identity, but deep down see you the same way they would see a monkey in a suit.
I’ve long ago lost count of how many times I’ve posted a picture of myself only to see comments going “you look 100% like a girl to me” or “Ugh no fair, you look even better than me!”
What’s annoying about it is how surprised people sound. They seemingly have this idea in their heads of what a transgender person looks like; either a man in a dress or a pretty woman trying to look tough like a man.
Sure, it feeds my ego to be told I look nice, and my vanity loves to surprise people with how attractive I apparently look to them.
However, people are still seeing me as less than a woman. They consider me as anything from a man playing at being a woman, or some sort of lesser, wannabe half-woman. You aren’t surprised at seeing a person driving a car, it’s only a big deal when it’s a dog behind the wheel.
Sweet as the ego-boost is, that soda is still flat, and doesn’t really taste that much better than the first.
I know it’s difficult to let go of prejudice. I have trouble letting go of similar ideas about different groups of people.
Even so, I ask you to at least be aware of when you’re looking at someone through a condescending eye. Please try to see trans women as just women, and trans men as just men. No caricatures, no assumptions, no expectations for them to fit your definition of who they should be. Just… see us as people, with no qualifiers attached to us.
As always, if you have anything you want to say about today’s post, please leave a comment below 🙂