steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Hoist by my own Lanyard

I find the sight of people wearing lanyards depressing, especially en masse. When I passed my son's old school at lunchtime today, and saw scores of pupils (and some staff) wandering out for a break, 90% of whom had lanyards dangling from their necks like so many cow bells, a huge distaste rose within me. I bless the child who took hers off and stuffed it in her pocket. She may have been doing it for safety reasons rather than to reclaim her individuality from the corporate Borg, but whatever the reason the gesture warmed my desiccated old heart.

At my old university, I saw the lanyard habit spread inexorably as the years passed, especially once cards became mandatory for swipe access at every door and floor, but I never considered keeping my own card anywhere but my pocket or purse, out of sight. There's something feudal about wearing your school's livery (or your employer's).

I'm reminded of an old Charlie Brown cartoon (I suppose they're all old by now) in which a neighbour explains that his father has renamed all his children with numbers. "Is it his way of protesting against the system?" asks Charlie Brown. "No, it's his way of giving in."

The truth is, my gut despises the lanyard wearers.

Before I run to Portmeirion shouting "I am not a number!", I should add that I realise my gut's reaction is over the top. It comes (as they say) from a very young place. I'm particularly suspicious of it because it feels much like the visceral resistance I used to have to having my fingerprints taken or retina scanned, which prevented me from going to the States for almost a decade. That dissipated like magic when I transitioned, and therein lies a big clue, I think. As a trans person in the climate of a small town in the '70s secrecy was instinctive, and it's easy now to forget how that secrecy dominated my first 44 years. So, perhaps my distaste for seeing people happily proclaiming their identities on lanyards has to do with that - it's a kind of retrospective jealousy dressed as individualism?

I still don't like them, though.
Tags: gender, real life
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