Happy Singles Awareness Day, better known as Valentine’s Day!
I’ll just give this a quick introduction because it is somewhat off-topic for this blog but it is about me and my personal thoughts so it is, in some part, on-topic.
It is true; this post is related to Valentine’s Day, but not in the traditional way. Instead it is about my most recent blunders and a horrible introduction into how difficult card buying for the non cis-gendered individual can be.
I’m 22-years old, I’m between sexualities and I’m transmasculine: why has it taken me so long to realise how hard buying something as simple as a card can be? I majored in Lesbian Literature and Gender Studies for crying out loud!
I will let the letter speak for itself:
Dear Clinton Cards/Hallmark,
I am spending you this letter today because I thought it would be relevant given than it is Valentine’s Day; Happy Valentines to whoever is reading this!
Every year I make a point to send at least one card to a friend, we share this day as one where all love is celebrated, both the platonic kind and relationships with more than that, and while over the year I have been able to find at least one card to suit my needs; usually something either blank or something simply wishing a “Happy Valentines” only, I have been finding it harder and harder to find something to suit my needs, especially this year.
Over the past week I have been searching for “That Perfect Card” which, sadly, is very hard.
I have found someone very special and while we are not “going out” yet, I still wanted to send her a card, something simple that just said she was in my thoughts this year as more than a friend but not yet a significant other. In part this is my fault, I have never lied or made a point to hide how many issues I have, both with trust but also with empathy, which is why appropriate cards and the right words are so important to me; these cards allow me to say things I cannot actually articulate which s why I take them so seriously.
It might sound ridiculous to rely on mass produced bits of glossy paper, but they are sometimes the best I have and it is not always possible to sit down and make a card by hand, much less is it appropriate now that I am an adult. It isn’t exactly easy to find independent card makers either, which is why I rely on well-known brands and am usually so willing to spend the extra money on That Perfect Card.
I went to various locations and spent a good half hour to an hour each time looking for something that suited this special person, but also that felt appropriate and dealt with a very, very large issue for both of us.
You see, I have had so much trouble because neither of us have a gender identity that matches our biological bodies. That is to say that neither of us appreciate a card with “girlfriend” on it because neither of us describe ourselves as typically “female”, but nor are we “boyfriends” because of the very obvious fact neither of us are men biologically.
In part it was also mentioned that the “girlfriend/boyfriend” titles also felt juvenile as well as inaccurate to both your identities and current relationship status.
What also distressed me this year was that even cards with no titles, just as simple “To My Valentines” were also inherently gendered; even a set of knitted peas that I picked up were very obviously male and female (the male pea was plain but the female pea had big red lips and a pink bow) which meant that that card was no good either. It goes further though; so many cards are full of pink and floral/cute animals that they can be nothing but aimed towards a female recipient, while “masculine” cards are patterned with cars or very obvious male-pursuits.
I understand that there are some gender neutral cards, but I struggled to find anything that fit; what I did find were crude and altogether too humorous, making me feel like my sexuality and gender identity were becoming a bit of a running gag.
It is not easy to live in the wrong body, and it is not easy to find someone who can understand that and accept that some days I will mourn for something I never lost, so finding a card to express how I feel in very, very important to me. It is especially important to find one that matches our need for gender neutral cards that say everything a girlfriend/boyfriend does but without the titles – or use of the word partners in this instance, because we are not as such yet – or the very obvious male/female figures and images.
Eventually I did manage to find something that said what I wanted – though it was still very, very pink – but it used stick figures with no obvious skirts or short hair for either in sight, but it took near a week of searching to find it.
I just wanted to email you to raise this issue and to say that yes, people like me – lesbian, gay, transsexual, transgendered, queer, demi and pansexual, asexual and bisexual – still have the same emotions and want to express it, but our card choices are limited unless we want to travel all the way into The Village, which in itself says a lot about the value and acceptance level of those with unique gender identities in a heteronormative society.
I was just hoping that an email like this might help you consider diversifying you card ranges to include people like me, and not give us a “gay section” in each store, but just put our gender neutral cards in with the others; our love it not an occasion that can been divided outside of the “heterosexual sections” and put between “birthdays” and “Christmas”, but equally we need and would like to be able to access and give something as simple as a card without getting so frustrated we leave stores in near-tears.
Thank you for the time in reading this,
If you would like to get back into contact with me, please don’t hesitate,
So far I’ve got the below confirmation from Hallmark at least – they have received my “comment” and will supposedly reply soon. I’ll keep this blog up-to-date under the categories of “email” and “letters”, failing that try the tags “Hallmark” and “Clintons”.
Thank you for contacting Hallmark! This is an automated message to confirm receipt of your e-mail.
Our goal is to respond to your inquiry within 1 – 2 business days.
Please note our hours of operation:
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CT, M-F
Closed Saturday and Sunday
The Hallmark Team”