Doing the gender change

I worked as a roster clerk with the Sydney train company between 1984 and 2000. A lot of the time was involved in fending off extraordinarily intense homophobia. A bloke who led the charge for instance pinned on a noticeboard a photo of some monkeys clutching each other, one of them saying “don’t call my mate queer”.

One of the train drivers, the youngest in a family of blokes who worked at the job decided finally that he wanted to change gender from male to female. The response of some of his work mates was to raffle his virginity once he had the operation. Before that, I remember the day he wore more colourful clothes than usual, plus lippy and mascara; the women train drivers of course wore denim uniforms and certainly were not made up. Having made this extraordinarily brave affirmation of his identity, he lost courage at the sign on area and shrank away from the scrutiny of his mates.

Had I the courage, I should have donned the lippy & mascara as a gesture of solidarity; it was after all the era of Glam Rock; at home I listened to Depeche Mode and The Cure, who looked like that all the time. But the patriarchy divides and keeps us conquered. I remember on a more relaxed occasion I was on duty together with the first woman supervisor, a lesbian. Her radio was playing, suddenly it delivered The Supremes’ Love Child, kind of a gay & lesbian national anthem. We two sang along in unison with appropriate hand movements, to the complete puzzlement of our str8 colleagues.


About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
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