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intervention and gender

On one episode of the Tyra Banks show they discussed public intervention in situations of need. One section of the show dealt with the different attitudes shown towards couples of various gender combinations. Couples (male and female here refer to their presentation) – one male/female, one male/male and one female/female – staged an argument where one partner was clearly more powerful and more threatening than the other.  The results indicated that:

The male/male couple were largely left alone. The conclusion many came to was that a guy can look after himself and that a domestic violence situation between them was basically a victimless crime. This was in spite of the fact that one man was significantly more burly and threatening than the other. No-one intervened.

The female/female couple was treated like a sideshow and many passersby found the angry and violent exchange (threats/pushing) funny.  The conclusion reached after the comments were analysed was that this reaction had something to do with lesbian couples being sexually objectified and therefore seen as less a real couple. It also may have had to do a with a perception that a woman would not really harm another woman (something that statistics show to be untrue). Again, no-one intervened.

The male/female couple attracted the most attention from passersby. This was the only scenario where someone (a NYC firefighter) stopped and clearly told the male that he had to stop what he was doing immediately. However, when a few police cars arrived on the scene it became clear that others had called 911 after seeing the exchange.

I’m curious to know the opinion of transgender people on this issue. You may have had the opportunity to see both sides of this scenario, particularly in terms of the expectations of other people on you, depending on whether you were presenting as male or female. Did (or do) you see a shift in how you are perceived in terms of your power and whether or not you need to be defended or aided? Did your expectation of assistance or support from others (particularly in situations of conflict) change when you transitioned?