Ask Matt: The Problem With a ‘Women and Trans’ Night

Matt Kailey's Tranifesto

Question MarkA reader writes: “Early in the spring a friend of mine who facilitated a ‘Women and Transfolk’ night at a local community shop took a job out of town and asked if I would take over for her while she was gone. I volunteer there, so of course I said sure. Things were going really well until last night.

“A transgender man came in. He asked what the ‘Women and Transfolk’ night was. I answered that it was for women and people who identify as women. This is an answer I’ve heard given by other people at the shop. I guess I never thought about it.

“He asked something along the lines of where he fit in and I said, ‘You’re a woman.’ Honestly, I had no idea they were transgender. I see a lot of different people at the shop because it’s such a welcoming environment. I just thought…

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New Car Fever

This might seem a little different than a lot of things I write about but, trust me, I’ll swing a little gender stuff in here for you.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what vehicle I might like to get next.  I don’t really need a new car.  Mine are both paid off and run like champs.  I think it’s good to be prepared for when the day comes though.

My personal vehicle looks like this, mostly, except the color:

avalanche

My other vehicle is a van for making deliveries for work:

minivan

What I want to get:

red mustang

My problem is that I feel guilty driving my truck because of the horrible gas mileage and I hate driving the minivan.  We barely ever use the van anymore for work so it’s sort of a waste to even own it except that it does do better on gas and comes in handy as a spare when our other cars need servicing.  We bought the truck to tow one of these:

camper

But, it freaks me out to tow such a huge thing and I usually either don’t use it or make poor Candace drive it.  I’m not sure which makes me more nervous; being the passenger or driving the thing myself.  Either way, it’s stressful.

Last week I took a trip up to Philly for the Trans Health Conference and that gave me lots of time to look at cars, trucks and SUVs as well as think.  I like the ability to tow stuff but I don’t know that I need to be able to tow a big camper in the future, and gas mileage is a concern, so I was looking at smaller SUVs and trucks.  I tried picturing myself driving different vehicles and I found myself thinking judgmental stuff about them.  Mostly, I’d find myself thinking that certain cars are just too “girly” or boring, nerdy, ugly.  Too big, too small, too expensive, etc.  One of the things I hate about the minivan I own is how I get treated when I’m driving it.  I get NO respect on the road in that thing.  People pass me even if I’m going 85 (which I never do :-)) simply because they don’t want to be behind a soccer mom.  And, I’ve actually had people assume I’m a mom with a bunch of kids while driving it around town.  Ugg.  If it wasn’t a work vehicle I would put a bumper sticker on it that said something like: “This is not your mom’s van”  or “MAN VAN” or maybe “What happens in the Man Van stays in the Man Van”.

Part of the thing that made me think about gender and cars was that I took this car up to Philly:

cruiser

Isn’t it cute?  Yeah, but I felt kind of silly driving it and couldn’t shake the feeling.  It’s Candace’s spare for work and is actually fun to drive but it’s just not me.

I’ve always been attracted to the Subaru Outback since it came out and I admire the company for how they’ve marketed to the gay and lesbian population over the years:

subaru

How could I not love Subaru?

How could I not love Subaru?

I like the ruggedness and versatility of the Toyota 4Runner too: 4runner

In my mind, the manliest vehicle is a truck and I own one of those.  2nd manliest is a sports car which I want.  Everything else is just a vehicle for getting around.  What we drive says a lot about us, I think.  What they say is dependent on what is important to us at the time.  Maybe we want to show the world that we’re important, or smart, or conservative, or economical, or climate-conscious, or family-oriented, or adventurous, or sporty or just don’t care about what we drive.

Sometimes our cars reflect our hobbies and interests: adventure

Maybe we want to look pretty driving around town:  beetle

Or we want to show the world that we’re a bad ass:  badass

Or the fastest: fastest

Maybe we want to channel our inner Batman: batman

Perhaps we just need a safe, economical commuter car: prius

Or maybe we want to flaunt our wonderful family for all to see: stick figures

Or our religious beliefs:  thor  many fish  Christian+Car

You get the idea.

Maybe it’s an American thing, but, even though the main reason to own a vehicle is for transportation, what we drive and how we deck it out says something about us as individuals.  When I think about buying a Mustang I wonder if it’s going to scream “Warning: Mid-life Crisis!!!  Middle aged dude who was a loser in high school!!!”  Haha, that would actually be funny since I was neither a dude or a loser in high school and my mid-life crisis is over.  I just love Mustangs, particularly the new ones.  I want the Mustang because I want it, not because I need it and that makes it hard to justify in my mind.  Well, I also need to replace the soccer mom van with something smaller that I can easily park up in the city since I find myself there more than I like.  Might as well enjoy the trip and look cool too, right?

You can probably tell that I like pretty much anything on 4 wheels and spend way too much time thinking about them.  I used to play a game with myself at night while driving to see if I could guess what make and model vehicle was behind me just based on their head lamps.  I still play that game but it’s a lot harder these days since they change the look of cars so frequently now.  I used to be accurate a lot of the time.  I have theories about how the way someone drives tells you a lot about their personality.  And, of course, as I discussed here, what they drive says a lot about them as well.  But sometimes that is limited by finances and responsibilities, so it’s not so accurate.  I love bumper stickers.  I like to read them, that is.  I’m very selective about any sticker I put on my bumper and rarely do.  I’m more a fan of magnets now since they don’t mess up your paint as much.  If you don’t like cars than you probably haven’t read this far and I lost you after a couple of sentences.  If you do love them I’d love to hear your thoughts about your dream car or favorite vehicle.

I have to throw this last one in here just for kicks.

I can’t resist a food joint with a cool truck that just happens to have a BBQ on it:mission