Gender 102

I feel like we primarily talk about our genders in baby-talk. That is, simplified, reductive terminology designed to be understood by cis people who may have never even heard the word “transgender” before, much less “non-binary” or “genderqueer”.

I feel like we’re doing ourselves a disservice. When we only ever talk about ourselves and our genders in flat, two-dimensional ways, when we only ever speak gender 101, even amongst ourselves, I feel like we lose or never develop the ability to describe/experience our genders in more complex ways.

I would say that 90% of what I see on the Internet when I’m reading stuff tagged as, or pulled up by, the search terms “trans/transgender/genderqueer/non-binary” is introductory information. That was part of the reason I created this blog over a year ago. I got on the Internet to find accounts of personal experiences written by non-binary trans* people, but all I could find were websites devoted in their entirety to Gender 101. I was like, “I already know all this stuff already, I  knew it long before I started obsessively trawling the Internet for non-binary trans* stuff. Is this seriously all the Internet has to offer me?”. It seemed like there were very few resources by us exclusively for us. As in, those of us who already knew we were non-binary trans* people and wanted to explore that a little bit further than, “Hi, my name is __________ and I’m Genderqueer that means I’m neither male nor female! my preferred pronouns are ____, ____, and ____.” Like, I’m sorry, my gender has put me through a lot of trouble and I’d like to go a little bit further than picking out a nifty label, new pronouns and a cool new name and calling it a day.

I’m not saying theres anything wrong with gender 101  or that its not important I’m just saying that theres no reason the conversation should end there (or that we should be catering to cis people as our target audience). What I’m trying to say is that I think there should be an equal number of introductory, 101 style education resources and resources that are pushing us to examine, explore and articulate our genders further amongst ourselves.

“I Always Knew”

Reblogged from Sincerely, Natalie Reed

It often strikes me that one of the most central means by which transgender identity, and the whole transgender mythos, as it exists for our culture, is held together is through narrative, “our stories”. The very concept itself seems hinged in a narrative progression, a story told in miniature even through the terms we use: “Male to female”, “female to male”, “assigned male at birth”, etc. Even the prefix trans, in defining us, places us forever in the action, the crossing. What we are being defined by a story of how we became… or, as the terms would have it, how we’re becoming, locked forever in the story arc, the transition, the transgression… male to female.

One of the more overt ways in which the idea of trans people, what we are and what we mean, is held together in the cultural imagination through the iteration and reiteration of the transgender narrative can be seen in the endless documentaries, human interest stories, TV specials, and so on, wherein we’re approached over and over again by journalists who ask to tell our stories, to “represent us” through those stories… all of which are, of course, asked to either conform to the standardized narrative or edited to it. This version of the narrative in turn is used to reinforce a whole universe of cultural beliefs, assumptions and values about gender and sexuality, with the same recognizable motifs, themes and tropes employed to some degree in almost every instance. The Before/After shot. The putting on make-up scene. The moment you finally felt like a “real” (wo)man. Etc.

And savvy trans folks learn quickly to recognize and laugh at the absurdity of all these predictable, recurring elements of the Trans Story, no matter how sexist, othering, dehumanizing, reductionist or inaccurate they may seem.

Outside of the culture industry this process occurs repeatedly on a smaller, individual scale. Cisgender friends or strangers or partners or people you run into on the internet, on learning of one’s transgender status, will frequently approach asking for the story, asking for the narrative to be performed again, this time with a living, breathing trans person there to tell the story hirself. A lot could be said about the spooky way in which trans bodies suddenly become treated or approached as public property, available to public scrutiny, with people seeing nothing wrong, for example, with directly inquiring about our genitals or breasts, but less noticed is how our private histories and narratives are claimed in a similarly audacious manner. I’ve even had clerks at convenience stores, after seeing my ID and realizing I’m trans, feel entitled to casually ask about my relationship to my parents and whether or not I’d been disowned. Smiling. As though asking where I got my jacket, or what kind of TV shows I like.

And savvy trans folks, again, we learn to recognize these patterns, and we chuckle amongst ourselves and swap funny stories about the most ridiculous questions we were ever asked. Though with a tad less awareness of how interconnected this aspect is with the cultural concept of transsexuality, and the construct of the trans narrative. Which is perhaps connected to a far more interesting oversight we make.

We don’t tend to notice how we perform the narrative to one another, and for ourselves. And we certainly don’t notice the patterns, motifs, themes and cliches to that version of the Trans Story, abundant as they are, nor tend to talk much about what they mean and why they’re there.

There are many different reasons that human beings tell stories to one another, and many different kinds of stories. There’s a pretty impressive amount of thought and writing and conversation placed into deconstructing the media and pop-cultural interpretations of the trans narrative, and how that narrative is represented. There are lots of very interesting theories and ideas and stuff about why they take the form that they do, and what cultural needs are being fulfilled for a cis-centric (and patriarchal) culture to repeatedly perform that story in those ways. What’s generally missing, however, is analysis of our version of the story. We haven’t been talking much about what needs of our own we fulfill in how we perform our narratives to one another.

And we certainly do perform them, with almost the same fervor and obsessiveness with the narrative of how we came to be trans that the cis world approaches us. Yes, there is an entire niche industry built around the publication of trans memoirs (very few of which are worth reading, and fewer of which are noticeably discernible from the rest, despite the degree to which the larger trans community adores this particular sub-sub-genre of literature and admires its writers), but more tellingly is the structures that emerge in our support groups and web forums and so on, in which our stories are told and retold to one another, all with their own recognizable patterns (almost as consistent as the Before/After shot, the soft focus lens, the butterfly motif, the tears and the putting-on-make-up shot in the cis media’s versions of the narrative), and likely not without reasons for those patterns.

I imagine that a great deal of why and how we perform our stories like this to one another is relatively benign, harmless and understandable. We want validation, for instance, and we absolutely want the chance to recognize ourselves in someone else, given the intense loneliness and isolation that often accompanies our lives. We reach out to one another through the stories, and we find moments of recognition, and that makes us feel less alone, more connected, more human, more like we actually exist and matter in the world, more like there’s a chance we can indeed be understood. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and of course patterns would emerge along the lines through which we can attain that sense of recognition and belonging.

But I don’t believe this process is entirely benign or entirely harmless, both due to some of the problematic aspects of trans communities and how we relate to one another when we’re together, and due to some of the problematic aspects of storytelling and narrative memory itself.

Storytelling and narrative are intricately connected to memory and how we perceive and interpret causality. Telling and retelling a story, of an event or an aspect of a life or a chain of events or a memory or whatever, that has been shown to have a huge impact on our capacity to recall those memories later, and also is (perhaps obviously) connected to how we come to understand how events relate to each other, how certain things can lead to certain kinds of consequences. We build an ENORMOUS amount of our understanding of ourselves, our lives, the world, and our relationship to the world, through the stories we tell about them. Unfortunately, however, human memory is extremely fallible, and the world is NOT composed like a novel. It’s not a narrative, and it doesn’t have a tidy plot arc. It is incomprehensibly complex and chaotic, with things that seem to be connected having no relationship to one another, things sometimes happening for reasons we would never have imagined, and things sometimes happening for reasons that are completely arbitrary or beyond the control of those they affect. Rather than a well-written narrative, the world is a crappy, free-verse, avante-garde poem written by an underslept, overconfident MFA student.

Due to this disparity between the world as it really is and the narratives through which we try to remember and understand it, the stories we tell about ourselves and events and such are just as likely to result in magical-thinking and other mistaken apprehensions of causality (“I was in the bathroom when we scored that last goal, so if I get up to pee again, we’ll score again and tie the game”), or in distortions of how we remember things. This latter effect is especially true (and indeed is a well observed and studied phenomenon) when the stories are shared and told amongst multiple people. People’s own recollections of an event can often end up not simply being distrusted by the initial observer, but actually changed to conform to the story of that event as its being told by others, even if those dominant stories are actually false or mistaken.

The stories we tell ourselves, especially about emotionally powerful issues… like, say, transition … or about things with enormous social and cultural weight …like, say, transition … should be approached with care. And we probably shouldn’t hesitate to analyze the motifs that recur in shared narratives, and to think about what those motifs might be offering us, or how they relate to the community’s own heirarchies and other social pressures.

For instance, something that often bothers me is the “I always knew” motif, the related stories trans women (maybe trans guys too, I’m not sure) will tell about the early childhood “signs” that they were already “really” their identified gender, and the reflective “ooohhh, NOW that makes sense!” moments of supposed revelation in regards to some expression or act of gender non-conformativity in childhood.

Some of us seem to collect and show-off these assertions, memories and stories like so many pink, sparkly pogs, tokens of the legitimacy of one’s gender. Of course, it’s impossible to claim any given trait or memory or experience adds to the legitimacy of gender without structuring a heirarchy of gender, without participating in the “transier-than-thou” culture by which some trans women are REALLY women and others are merely… something else. Something less.

For instance, there’s the very very VERY clear implication in this performance that the earlier one’s expressions of a non-assigned gender, the more valid and legitimate they are, the less likely to be… “fake”, I guess. And special privilege is given to the stories and moments of “knowing” that precede adolescence, as though somehow, despite the fact that that’s when MOST people acquire enough understanding of themselves and their body in relation to sex, sexuality and gender, and enough understanding of the world and the existence of transition, to articulate such a desire to themselves, any story of understanding occurring after this point is treated as less pure, more corrupted by sexuality, more likely to make you someone who “just” had some kind of sexual perversion or paraphilia or something that made you merely “think” you’re trans.

Though I’ve yet to see anyone adequately explain how there could be any difference between being trans and just thinking you’re trans. Because to me they honestly seem to kinda be the exact same thing. Being trans IS mostly about how you think of and understand yourself, and what, in relationship to that, makes you feel comfortable, genuine, happy and actualized in embodying and expressing that understanding.

Of course, there ARE people who transition in childhood or adolescence (I kind of dislike the term “early transitioner”, given how it plays into the all-too-pervasive notion that there’s never actually a right time to transition. Which is technically true, but only when placed alongside the corresponding understanding that there’s never a wrong time, either. Just the time that works). I wouldn’t want to invalidate their identities or exclude them from the conversation surrounding trans experiences. However, those who transitioned young are already excluded from the standardized Trans Narrative. What occurs in these stories isn’t a valorization of younger transitioners (these are often the very same people likely to suggest that someone shouldn’t transition until “absolutely sure” and “old enough to choose”, after all), this is mostly people suggesting that they could have, or would have, transitioned in childhood, but waited until it was necessary. That’s the expected standard.

More often than being genuinely salient instances of childhood gender non-conformativity, these stories often center around things that are in fact fairly commonplace actions children take in their process of defining and understanding themselves in relation to gender. Whatever neurobiological traits may be a part of what we express and understand as our gender, the way they manifest, the gender that appears, even in early childhood, is already being mediated and articulated in relation to social and cultural cues, including those picked up on from parents (that can begin in infancy!). There’s no structure in the brain that genders pink and glitter as feminine, for instance. All children gradually come to understand the cultural codes of gender and gradually come to understand how they fit themselves into those codes. It doesn’t happen immediately. All of us- cisgender, transgender, male, female, binary-identified, non-binary, etc.- have memories of negotiating that landscape, and instances that, if we felt the need, we could interpret in our understanding of our lived experience as “early signs” of being whatever gender we want to see there.

But it’s not real, and we could just as readily find “early signs” to delegitimize said gender. In our moments of denial and refusal to accept the necessity of transition, or at the hands of the most ardent gatekeepers, that can and does happen… when a trans woman is desperate to believe she isn’t trans, she’ll find the stories of her childhood that read “male”, and when she’s desperate to validate her transition and belong to the narrative, she’ll find the stories of her childhood that read “female” .

It’s a bit like how astrology works, to be honest. We edit what details of our personality we recall and consider salient in order to fit the sort of vague archetype we’re being told represents our real self. We see, from a vague set to be found in a hugely broad collection of memories, what we’re coaxed to see. Under the demands and pressures of the trans community, with its explicit heirarchies, we see how we “always knew”… or at least the “early signs”.

“OOOOHHH! That’s why my first merit badge in Cub Scouts was for sewing! Now it all makes sense!”

Having played with dolls at the age of 6 doesn’t make you any more female than someone who wanted to play with dolls but hid that desire in response to social cues, and that person isn’t any more female than someone who never felt any interest in dolls whatsoever. What makes us female is the definition of ourselves as such, at any point in our lives… the moment of realizing or declaring that this is the concept of gender that most resonates with us, through which we feel our self is best expressed, realized or embodied. Dolls and pink and childhood development, or Tori Amos and eyeliner and adolescent rebellion, or feminist butch dykedom and 20-something restlessness, or a sudden epiphany with no history of “signs” at all, discovered in middle-age… all of it is exactly as valid as it is felt to be.

In telling and retelling those stories of our childhood, clinging to and exaggerating those “legitimizing” moments that are no more likely to be the memories of a trans woman than of a cis man, we rewrite ourselves, and distort our own memories. We build a childhood we never had. The heartbreaking part, though, is that we end up sacrificing what our histories really were, the actual complexity and multifaceted nature of our narratives, in order to allow ourselves to feel valid within what is ultimately a cissexist, patriarchal, invalidating conception of what is required to be “legitimately” one gender or another. We don’t just rewrite our own histories in order to find a sense of comfort. We also allow the cissexist narrative of gender to rewrite all of us, collectively, and erase the actual complex (and perhaps beautiful) story of human gender itself, participate in and become complicit with that rewritten conception of what we are and the larger cis-patriarchal structures it supports… and punish those who remember.

I have my own stories of my childhood transgressions in gender. But I’ve tried my best to recall these in terms of what they mean to me now, in terms of how my sense developed of which ways of expressing myself felt permitted or forbidden, and how the performance of my masculinity was gradually created. They weren’t signs of a female self bleeding through a mask. They were points in the process of my gender being constructed… in relation to my feelings and desires and sense of self, yes, but also in relation to the people and culture around me. I know the moment that I first “knew”, and it came much later. I was 14. But I could have been 7, or 25, or 60 for all the difference it would have made in terms of its legitimacy.

Though the funny thing is that I know even my own version of my own story, accepting all that, probably isn’t entirely accurate. It’s distorted by my own needs, emotions, biases, perspective, and negotiated in relation to who I am now. That’s okay, I can’t really help it, that’s just how human memory works, but… I need to try to be aware of how and why I may have edited things.

And we certainly need to take care in observing the templates we collectively build and respond to. Trans people should understand that we ourselves are every bit participants in and enforcers of our oppression, and aggressive editors of our own narratives. Lives are lived, not written, so when you notice a genre, it’s kind of not a bad idea to ask what it’s doing there.

Few amongst us always knew, and the stories of having discovered or explored or carefully negotiated or fluidly shifted are just as worthwhile to tell, and just as much a part of what transgender lives can be.

This is why I’ve avoided writing about my childhood in relation to my gender identity, I don’t trust myself not to unintentionally cherry-pick and edit in order to present a narrative that can be used to support my the validity of my gender. I think its really important not only that my gender be able to stand on its own with out justification, but that my childhood remain intact and unedited. But there’s definitely this internal emotional pressure to “tell my story”, to prove that I’m trans* enough (especially because I’m non-binary and to so many people, even other trans* people we’re “just making it up”), that I’m not lying or pretending.

Privilege and the Assumption of Objectivity or “Reasons Why Cis People Should Shut the Fuck Up About Trans* Kids”

I want to preface this by saying Josie seems like an awesome girl and her parents, especially her mom seem like wonderful, incredibly supportive people. I don’t want anyone to think that my criticism of this video has anything to do with Josie, her family or anything they said or did, because it doesn’t.

The people in this video that infuriate me are the the interviewer and the “experts” weighing in on the ethics  of giving a trans kid hormones. One of the very first things Hoda Kotb (the interviewer) asks Josie is, “When you were little, did you feel like you were trapped in the wrong body?”

This cis woman just straight up fed this child the mainstream media’s Universal Trans* Narrative™ with her incredibly leading question. And maybe that really is how Josie feels, but why not let her tell people in her own words?

Then, when they get to the real meat of the story, Josie’s attempt to get puberty blockers and hormones, they devote large chunks of time to interviewing a cisgender doctor and a cisgender bio-ethicist.

The changes are irreversible...” says Hoda Kotb’s disembodied voice, referring to the effects of taking exogenous hormones. Yes, they are and do you know what else is irreversible, Hoda? the effects of so called “male puberty”.

Its so mindbogglingly cissexist to assume that just because “male puberty” is the “natural” course for Josie’s body its effects do not have equal or greater potential to be massively life-altering and incredibly harmful (or “psychologically devastating” as Hoda puts it in the video) for this child. This is cis privilege at its finest, allowing these cisgender doctors to see themselves as neutral parties weighing the ethics of the situation when they are far from neutral. They talk over and over again about the possibility of regret, but the only kind of regret I hear about from other trans* folks is the regret that they didn’t/couldn’t transition when they were younger, that puberty blockers weren’t a possibility for them. These positions are never presented or considered, no adult trans* people are interviewed, we have only the opinions of cisgender medical experts who have “looked at the data” and therefore clearly know more about what is best for trans* people than we do ourselves.

Then there are these lovely gems:

“The few studies that do exist suggest that young kids with gender identity problems often grow out of them.” says Hoda, followed by this sparkling bit of wisdom from the bioethics professor:

 “A lot of those kids that start out as children who are saying I’m in the wrong body end up finding out by the time they’re middle adolescents that they’re actually fairly comfortable with their own gender.” – Dr. Margaret Moon, Pediatrician, bioethics professor and cis woman.

I feel like this is a really problematic and potentially harmful statement, particularly because so many parents are already going to be really resistant to accepting their trans* children and because a lot of kids don’t grow out of it, they learn to lie, to hide it and to pass as cisgender people of their assigned gender only to come out and transition later. Not to mention these psuedo-factoids are included solely for the purpose of  destabilizing Josie’s identity for the sake of dramatic story telling and giving us permission to doubt her and trans* people in general.

“these things are missing in the data…” says Josie’s doctor, Dr. Johanna Olson, referring to indicators that would allow doctors to know for sure who is “truly transgender”.

Yeah, how about you stop fucking collecting data and start having honest conversations with trans people, or stop talking so goddamn much about your “expert opinion” and listen a little or reading the shit WE write about OURselves and OUR lives instead of stuff written about us by other cis people. Any of the above would be more sincerely  useful and informative then “the data” that has been collected,, reviewed and interpreted by cis people, because cis people always get it wrong or use us to support their own beliefs and opinions about gender.

like this guy for example…

fucking cis people

Also, are doctors not aware of how often they are lied to by trans* people? Trans* people lie to their doctors all the time to get access to the medical treatments we want/need.  Which, ya know, we might stop feeling the need to do if doctors weren’t so obsessed with figuring out who’s “truly transgender” and denying treatment to anyone who doesn’t meet their criteria or tell the right story. Your data will always be fucking flawed because you assume that your faulty conception of gender and trans*ness is a fair, balanced, and objective one and trans* people are too afraid of being denied access to medical care to tell you the truth.

Portraits of Transgender People Tell a Different Story

Reblogged from LGBT Weekly (click the link to see some of the photos)

By Andrew Printer

San Diego will help rewrite the way stories about transgender people are told thanks to Visible Bodies an exciting exhibit of more than 30 portraits of people in the local transgender community.

Visible Bodies, a photography series highlighting transgender and genderqueer individuals will be exhibited the entire month of May at Art of Pride in North Park. Through captions written by participants and a close collaboration between subject and photographer, the photographs on display in this exhibition empower transgender people, giving them the space to express what their gender means to them. The exhibit is part of a fledgling movement of transgender people telling their own stories, in contrast to the biased and overly simple narratives told about them in the media.

Started as a legacy project by Ph.D. candidate Scott Duane to document and empower transgender students at the University of California San Diego, Visible Bodies quickly grew to encompass the larger transgender community. “San Diego trans people are excited to see accurate, positive representations of themselves in this project,” says Duane. “The response has been so overwhelming; we’ve actually had to turn down several potential participants. On the other side of the coin, non-trans people find Visible Bodies educational and enlightening.”

Historically, and still today, the narratives of transgender people have been written by people who are not themselves trans. In mainstream media, trans people are almost always characterized as one-dimensional. The focus of these stories is narrow, typically only discussing the trans person’s tragic childhood and the events leading up to their transition.

Sensationalizing gender-confirming surgery and hormone therapy, using incorrect gender pronouns, emphasizing before-and-after pictures, birth names and genitalia are all common media practices. A less reductive and more nuanced narrative showing trans people as people with careers, partners, children, hobbies and interests outside of their own gender identities and transitions are rare.

Additionally, there is almost no mainstream media coverage of gender-variant and genderqueer people. According to Liat Wexler, founder of Genderqueer San Diego, “Virtually no mainstream media discusses people whose genders are fluid, are genderqueer and do not fall in one of the two recognized binary genders (man or woman), or those who have no gender (neutrois or agender.)” One of the unique aspects of Visible Bodies is its broad representation of gender expressions and identities.

All are welcome to the artist reception Saturday, May 11 6:30-8:30 p.m. Art of Pride is a curated gallery in the San Diego LGBT Pride building located at 3620 30th Street.

This project sounds really cool, but my primary reason for reposting this is the commentary on the mainstream media’s portrayal of trans* people and how important it is for us to tell our own stories. Awesome, concise and spot on!

Kill All Men

Reblogged from Another Angry Woman

Well, well, well. It seems the latest thing feminism is fighting about is the phrase “kill all men”.

So, before I launch into this defence, let me point out that nobody is actually planning to kill all men. Not even some men. It’s just a phrase, an expression of rage, a rejection of a system which is riddled with violence.

“Kill all men” is a shorthand war cry, much the same as “ACAB” or “tremble hetero swine” or “die cis scum”. It represents a structural critique, presented in a provocative fashion. While my focus here is on “kill all men”, and therefore in relation to sexist oppression specifically, these points are applicable for all oppressors and all victims of oppression who dare to feel angry.

Patriarchy harms men, it’s true, but it oppresses the fuck out of women, and there are few, if any men who are not complicit in this oppression.  Most men are not rapists or abusers, but many are complicit in perpetuating this violence by spreading rape apologist myths, by failing to stand against violence against women and girls, and by simply not nailing their colours to the mast and acting as allies.

I remember once being at a reading group where we were discussing the SCUM Manifesto. It was a mixed group, and we had loads to chat about. If you haven’t read SCUM, I’d well recommend it, as while its conception of gender is kind of rooted in its time, there’s a very astute analysis of how patriarchy and capitalism interact to produce a system which oppresses women. There’s also some very clever satire of the thinking of the time, flipped and reversed on its head to present a biological argument as to why men are inferior. In fact, the whole thing just inverts this system in which violence against women and girls is endemic, and exaggerates the problem to its logical conclusion. It’s really a very good text, whether or not its author truly believed what she’d written.

Part of the power of SCUM is the effect it has on men. At my reading group, the men present were allies, and I remember vividly one saying “I don’t think she went far enough at the end, letting some of the men live and act as the Men’s Auxilliary”. All of the other men nodded along. They got that this idea is just fantasy, just a satire.

On the other hand, it’s pretty difficult to mention SCUM (or indeed just cry “kill all men”) without the misogynists crawling in, crying misandry.

And this is because misogynists completely fail to understand how power works. They miss the fact that in this society, violence against women and girls is rife, that it is an everyday occurrence which is seen to at best utterly unremarkable and at worst funny or aspirational. Saying “kill all men” and violence against women and girls are completely different. There is no serious threat of the women rising up and actually killing all men, all the while the hum of background noise of another women raped, murdered or beaten by a man. That this culture of violence is gendered, and the system is set up in favour of keeping things that way.

So is it any wonder that sometimes women are angry enough to express a wish to see their oppressors dead? And that this violent revenge fantasy remains just that–a revenge fantasy?

I suppose it is hardly surprising that utterances of killing all men draw such ire, even from feminists. Under patriarchy, violence is the domain of men. It is no coincidence that when women fight back, it is seen as disgusting: it allows the system to thrive. This is why more column inches are given to women who kill their partners who have abused them every day; this is why we see such sexualised depictions of women being violent in films, defanging the raw aggression; why patriarchy freaks the fuck out over Rihanna or Christina Aguilera singing about vengeance. And it’s why even merely uttering “kill all men” is seen as so shocking: we’ve internalised this sentiment, and the idea that women are not violent or angry. It is unthinkable that we can think violent thoughts.

So no, we’re not actually advocating killing all men, but what we need is for men to understand why we might. A secondary function of this powerful little phrase is to seek out allies. Some men simply cannot fathom that we might be this furious. And they cannot help us as allies, as we need.

And of course, all men are not deserving of death. In fact, most of them aren’t. I can think of a fair few I do wish painful, violent death on, although this remains but a fantasy. Patriarchy would destroy me were I to ever touch a hair on their head. Patriarchy already tries to punish me for merely expressing these thoughts, because they are unbecoming of a woman.

Remember, we are born and socialised into a culture of violence. Is it any wonder we may entertain violent fantasies against our oppressors at times?

Further reading: Red Terror and #killallmen (Riotstarz)- An absolutely brilliant series of tweets on the topic. Why can’t we kill all men? (Fearlessknits)- An alternative take, well articulated.

reblogging this because the right of non-male people to express shit like this needs to be defended. Unlike with “ACAB” “Kill Whitey” and “Die Cis Scum” I’ve seen a surprising amount of whining/blacklash against “Kill all men” specifically from white, radical leftist and anarchist men. The premier argument is “that’s fucked up because some men are people of color.”

Newsflash: some cis people are people of color, some cis people are women, some cis people are disabled. All of these classes of people are people who are oppressed, discriminated against and frequently have violence perpetrated against them. But no one ever pointed to “Die Cis Scum” and said “your hyperbolic expression of rage and a desire for violent self-liberation from oppression is fucked up because intersectionality.” Most of the radical white dudes who I’ve heard complain about feminists saying “kill all men” are the same ones who have supported me and my right to say “Die Cis Scum” and support the right of people of color to say “kill whitey”, and who think “Eat the Rich” is perfectly fine too.

So why is it that “kill all men” is less okay than “kill whitey”or “die cis scum”? Because realistically they all present the same problem when viewed through the lense of intersectionality: some people who have privilege on an axis which you do not may not have on an axis which you do. In other words, we are not just our privilege or our oppression, because most of us have a mixture of both in our lives.

I think the obvious answer to why these white radical men are more bothered by “kill all men” than any of the many other hyperbolically violent expressions is because they refuse to check their male privilege and treat sexism and misogyny as equally valid and important oppressions to be fought.  End of story. They had no difficulty understanding the hyperbole in any of its other forms, so why here?

To be perfectly clear, I’m not suggesting that any of these phrases should be removed from our collective vocabularies because of the questions they present in light of intersectionality. To me, it is vitally important that they stay, alive, well and in frequent use. As people of varying oppressions who acknowledge intersectionality and respect each others experiences I think its important that we give each other space for venting our rage and frustration with our oppressors even when the person venting is sometimes both your oppressor and the victim of an oppression you perpetuate.

For Example:  if you’re a cis man of color screaming, “kill whitey”, I (a white, female-percieved trans* person) am not gonna be like, “hold up, I’m trans* and thats fucked up because cis people like you have perpetrated a lot of violence against trans* people like me.” No. fuck that. I need to shut the fuck up and realize that its not about me, its not about MY oppression for once, its about someone elses, and if the context of the conversation is “white privilege and fucked up things white people do to POC.” Then I should just keep my goddamn mouth shut, respect this other persons experiences with oppression and not make it all about me.

I have to be able to see my whiteness just as clearly as I see my trans*ness. I don’t get to just be trans* because thats more comfortable. We don’t get to just be the oppressed parts of ourselves because that’s easier. Fighting oppression demands that we look with equal energy and focus at the privileged aspects of our identities, that we acknowledge those parts of ourselves (and the ways in which they can be harmful to others) just as much as the parts of ourselves that are oppressed. People forget that, or ignore it, becuase confronting our own privilege is a lot more uncomfortable than confronting someone else about theirs.

If we cannot even for a moment stop focusing so goddamn hard on our own oppressions and respect the fact that other people have other oppressions which we might be complicit in perpetuating then we need to go the fuck home.

So My Questions are: Why the hell do men seem to have such a hard time doing this (not making it about them and their oppressions) when the conversation is “sexism, misogyny and fucked up things men do to women and other non-male people”? Why is male privilege so much harder to check than other types of privilege? or more precisely, why is checking male privilege less important than checking other types of privilege? Why do men think they get to have a voice in critiquing feminists/feminism when we seem to have taught white people that they don’t get to critique Critical Race Theory, straight people that they don’t get to critique Queer Theory, and the wealthy that we don’t give a shit what they think about our class analysis?

your are not just your oppression, you are also your privilege and its time men had to own that just like the rest of us.

Thoughts on Trans* Bodies

So much of the mainstream trans* narrative focuses on our bodies. Specifically, the ways our bodies deny us or are used to deny us our genders. This can be especially hard for non-binary people who’s bodies, to most eyes, will never be non-binary.  I’m fascinated by the ways and moments in which our bodies affirm our genders. I love the moments where our bodies can be true embodiments of the totality of our genders and I wish that I could capture them in such a way that even cis people could see what I see. I’d really like to work on a photo project (or partner with someone who knows their way around a camera) to take pictures of pre-op/non-op, pre/no hormones trans* people  (with a focus on non-binary people) that capture these moments.