My father, HelenRead Now
She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible.
She walked with the universe on her shoulders and made them look like a pair of wings.
- Ariana Dancu
There is no International Men’s Day, for good reason. It is not because men aren’t worth it, far from it. It is not because men haven’t gone through adversity, this too isn’t true. But as a gender in its entirety, men don’t experience suffering, adversity, inequality or harassment like women do. Chunks of men aren’t being paid less than they should, slabs of men don’t fear walking down the street, and men on the whole couldn’t fathom what it is to fear being scrutinized, harassed or discriminated against because of what was between their legs.
So on this day of all days we rise up to celebrate women of all kinds, and inclusivity. We celebrate the gift of life women offer every person on this planet; we celebrate women born as women (and of women); we celebrate those who became whole when they became women; we celebrate the feminine, the giving, the generous and the ones who carry strength as if they were invincible and bear their universe like a pair of wings.
You may ask about the sentence above - ‘women who became whole when they became women.’ Sounds like an odd thing to say. Want to know why? Let us tell a short story.
At nineteen, when most teenagers are experimenting with self, testing boundaries and expressing sexuality, Kate Speedy, found herself suppressing her sexuality as if her life depended on it. Why? Because she had found out that her father was embarking on life as woman and it threw her world into disarray, come what may.
Twenty years ago, Speedy had no benchmark to take in such news, no support, just isolation and shame. She had to learn to negotiate the emotional terrain that threatened to upend her life. In 1998 the word, ‘trannie’ was hissed at the statuesque, parodies of women-hood who’d frequent certain dim lit areas of any given city. Women with stilt like legs which were the envy of most other women; women who’s fake eyelashes were
so long they shadowed their perfectly tweezered brows; women with talon-like nails who weren’t afraid to use them, if just to survive a life of ridicule; and women with witty word plays for names.
Today we know this to be called gender dysmorphia. Yet increasingly it’s understood that gender is more fluid than this. It can’t be boxed into a medical term, nor pinned like a butterfly into a wooden display cabinet.
Gender exists on a spectrum, on a case-by- case basis and it should never be paired with shame.
There is much more acceptance for people struggling with gender dysmorphia in 2018, yet still today there is also much more work to be done.
That is why today, on the International Woman’s Day, 2018 we too #pressforprogress as we celebrate women-hood in all it’s incarnations, for not all are born women but become them. Inclusivity. We celebrate you Kate Speedy, for speaking about your experience, but we also celebrate your father, Helen and raise a glass to her on this day.
If you’d like to listen Kate Speedy describe her journey of discovery and her father’s transition to become Helen, click on the podcast link below.
If anything in this podcast challenges you or someone in your life go to:
And other great resources are in this blog post on our first show on gender diversity.
Since the recording of this interview, we acknowledge the these broadcasting guidelines regarding gender diversity language.
- Kimberley Lipschus
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