You know, if we just called it a “gearbox” from now on, that would solve a lot of problems…

So every day as a transwoman, you go through life thinking we’ve made great strides in aceptance by society, and then you get walloped back by reality, and what the status quo really is.

As some of you may know, I fiddle around with cars, so I am sometimes involved in car subcultures and go to car shows, talk shop, stuff like that.  And before you scream that this is somehow unladylike, sorry folks, its sorta in my blood, and I don’t feel its a hobby that is mutually exclusive to one gender.  Plus, what you drive also makes something of a difference, because there’s a world of difference between one car subculture and another.

Oh and by the way if you’re wondering where this all comes from, my dad was a mechanic, and a hoarder, and even if his collection was mostly junk, it was damn interesting junk.  And yes, I would kill for some of what he once had.  Tales of the $50 Auburn boat-tail Speedster that why oh why didn’t you just lock this in a barn so I could discover it now are pretty common, and I could fill a whole chapter in a book on my relationship with interesting cars, sadly nothing that nice has survived to my time.

My dad’s thing was air-cooled VW’s, and as I grew up I got into more interesting stuff as I found the bugs a little lacking.  I was more attracted to unloved, oddball cars.  My first car purchase was a 1970 Citroen DS, and then my first actual car (as in the first car I drove that I ever registered) was a ’72 Saab 99.  Actually, I still have it.


He’s gonna need a little TLC to get him back on the road.  But actually this isn’t about this car, well, it was another Saab that I’m driving, and well, it isn’t about cars at all.

So what I’m driving now is silver Saab 900 turbo from the 80’s, which was still interesting enough to bring it up to “Swedish Car Day”, up in Boston MA

Now when I go to these shows usually I have more knowledge about wwhatever car I  know about, than the average girl, so sometimes that gives me away as being trans.  And I’ve gotten to the point where I sorta don’t care anymore, though I get that whole “wow! a girl who knows how to fix cars! ” reaction from guys, to which I have a sheepish grin to that “there’s a reason, and they have no idea”, but actually, this story -which I will get to eventually- isn’t even about that.  In some car subcultures, I’m pretty out, in some I’m not.

I’m pretty active in the French car subculture, which is one of the most inclusive comminities to people who live alternative lifestyles.  Because when you have this car is in your collection, theres really very little crossover with the Mustang and Camaro guys.

Ironically, since I don’t know much about or care about muscle cars, I could probably blend in at those shows if I play the whole blonde bimbo look, you know, like this:


Which of course could be fun, but nah, I’m here to discuss the nuances of why the ’79 Saab 900 was pretty unique and why the 81’s sucked and why they didn’t get good again till like 1985 or whatever.

But this isn’t even about that.  It’s about sometimes the pitalls of blending in.

You see, I didn’t catch the beginning of this conversation that I heard about 20 feet away, but I’m going to guess that the word “tranny” was spoken.  Saabs have a unfortunate reputation for their transmissions being well,  fragile, but I can only guess that someone said “tranny” to this guy.  Anyway, all I hear and see is:

“Oh yeah, I’m a trans- gender, I used to be a woman!” (lots of laughs)

Now I suppose I can take a “trans” joke here and there, and almost expect cis people to make disparaging remarks about things they don’t understand.  But it was the way it was said, and the absolute certainty that this guy had in knowing that there weren’t any actual trans folk around.  And I’m pretty  sure that this joke didn’t come about because people knew there was a trans person in their midst.  You can crack jokes about this thing that you’ve seen on the TV, which you assume doesn’t really exist in the real world, right?  It’s like it’s just that Caitlyn Jenner thing in Hollyweird.

Let me describe it better to you this way.  If you’re a white personand you at a party with mostly white people and then some friend of yours drops the n-word bomb and goes off on some racist rant and your jaw hits the floor and you’re like I don’t know this person who the fuck invited them?  But hey, we’re all white, we all think the same, right?  What.  An Asshole.

So, this guy -who just so you know, was not actually a transman- just assumed he can crack a transphobic joke and everyone will laugh along with it because we’re all non LBGT people here I guess.  I’ve noticed that public jokes shaming queers pretty much don’t happen any more, because, you can’t really tell someone’s sexuality from looks- (though when I was growing up in the 80’s, limp wrists and wearing yellow on Thursday were dead giveaways!).  So obviously if there was a trans person within a mile, obviously it would look like Danny Devito in a chiffon dress, right?

I wanted to say something, oh I so had so many things on the tip of my tongue.   Or on the tip of my knuckles because I wanted so much to punch the asshole.  I really, really really kept it in.  The sane thing I wanted to say (but of course  you think of long after) would’ve been something like “Excuse me? Was that some sort of a dig at trans people? What, you think there aren’t trans people out there, you’ve probably had conversations with many of them and never even realized it.  You think it’s easy being like this, with assholes like you out there?”

But that was not to be.  Later on I paid more attention to him, noticed the ‘MERICAN FLAG t-shirt he was wearing, and caught snippets of conversation between him and the people he was with (judging from their ages, likely his son and wife or daughter and husband).  There was “blah blah blah, I can’t believe so and so voted for Obama”, and then something about Hillary and the email scandal and it’s going to be big, blah blah, all this time, never making any eye contact with him, but I was giving him the hairy eyeball.  It was pretty clear this guy got all his news from Fox News, and sadly those people are beyond help.

And I’m just thinking, you know, if I ever thought of not being a liberal, file that under never gonna happen.  Later on I pretty much figured out why guys like this are so transphobic.  Mostly its because to them, women are seen as mostly things for fucking, not actual people, and God forbid that his wee wee twitch when seeing a pretty girl and Oh! SNAP!  Thats not a real girl!  You HOMO!!  You’ve just been Punk’D!!  HAR HAR HAR!

Well, at least that’s my best guess as to why cis-normative people are transphobic.  Fuck these guys.  And in the next car show?  Well I was actually thinking of sending out a hint by wearing a low cut t-shirt with a iron-on of a car transmission, with the label “GEARBOX”.

So, we got a long long way to go.  And this happened in nice liberal Massachusetts. These types are the 30% minoritiy here, in other parts of the US, they’re the majority and people like us get killed by people like him.  What would you have done?

-Tara

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8 Responses to You know, if we just called it a “gearbox” from now on, that would solve a lot of problems…

  1. Tim says:

    This is well articulated. I had a very good friend in Toronto who dealt with the same slights and predudishes it was brutal. Not so much the blatant things but the subtle insults and just plain ignorance.

  2. Biandy40 says:

    Unfortunately the sort of guy you are describing is not capable of being informed by someone who knows more about the situation than they do.

    It doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to get away with their views and often if they are not capable of being swayed by a reasoned point of view that challenges their views, one can only hope that others in their presence might realise their faults and perhaps distance themselves from them.

    I am still intrigued by your links to the British Isles and here share a link to the front page of one of todays front pages in a National Tabloid Newspaper.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/meet-six-year-old-twin-6427411

    Perhaps attitudes to transgender issues here in Blighty are changing.

  3. George Walton says:

    Don’t let the morons get you down Tara. They are an endangered species but unfortunately we will have to wait for the current generation to die off. The thing that drives me crazy about them (“conservatives”) is that they go on and on about personal liberty but they don’t hesitate to trample on other people’s liberties as long as they get their own way.

  4. Caricar says:

    Racism, sex age skin colour culture, any racism. I think it`s no generation question, and whatever is the reason, any violence is not solution. It was good, Tara, you didn`t punch that asshole. When empathy is missing, asshole can`t watch more longer than own nose (or asshole). What would I do? Cannot really say, punch because self defence, anyway?

    Thanks Tara, this SAAB 99 history was very interesting. Seem to be 1,85 engine, front lamps were different form in my dad`s SAAB -74, engine was same size. My SAAB was 2 L engine model -82. Long story short. When I got driving licence, I first drove that -74. Perhaps too powerless, but it felt then very good to drive. Please, take good care that green one, and I know you will, and take good care yourself.

    If you don`t mind, I wanna say few words about Steampunk Valkyrie here. Respect to your work of this outfit is huge, and photographer skills you have. Well, if you have strength take pix you self, please do it. Nobody else can`t do it like you do. And pink line is always fine. Have I said it already?

  5. manonfire says:

    As an African American Male in the South, I see and hear more homophobia than I care to admit. This country has a long way to go towards gender equality or a basic understanding and respect for others. Best wishes Tara

  6. quirkycars says:

    I follow your blog and you’ve got quite the eclectic collection of cars! What year is your 2CV? I’m not overly versed in them, but square headlights is fairly late in production isn’t it? I have a friend with one (imported 425cc car) that he keeps teasing me with the idea of selling. Is yours a 602? Really cool 99 as well, and I saw in an earlier post you’ve got a 245. I actually just got rid of my 245 5speed. Anyway, I know this blog is to promote your website, but I love the car content and would love to see more of your collection!

    • tara says:

      1986 It was a gray market car that they imported in ’85. It was used for a few years than i think someone banged up the front (they probably hit a rabbit), then it wasn’t used for a long time. So when I got it it only had 6000km on it. Put it on a new chassis and it’s been pretty much reliable as pants (well, there’s only like 4 moving parts to the whole car).

      Well, I also did the paint and various other issues that have popped up.

      I just got the Jag xj6 going and it does drive, even though it smokes more than my Aunt Agnes

  7. Meretrix says:

    30 years ago i owned 2 of the cult 2CV. Must say i loved them, but sad enough both got killed in crashs.

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