Trans-On-Trans Oppression Is Still A Cis Problem

The Trans Community is not a healthy thing.

I’ve taken to capitalizing it as such, because there isn’t, exactly, one single monolithic trans community. There are many, many trans communities, some as small as just circles of friends who happen to share that particular aspect of gender together. But The Trans Community is something else. The Trans Community is the dominant culture that has emerged from the shared identity “trans”. It is the support groups, the published memoirs available at big-box bookstores, the “how-to” websites that pop up when someone young and confused first googles what “getting a sex change” actually entails, the most prominent web forums, the most visible branches of trans activism, the vocal “leaders” who are consulted and interviewed by the mainstream media, the organizations to which people are referred by their doctors for help and information when first exploring medical transition, the organizations to which doctors are referred for information, the people who put together Transgender Day of Remembrance events, the consultants for Hollywood, the people who issue the press releases that state how “the trans community” feels about any given issue, the people who control the publishing, the websites, the organizations, the media, the books, who control the information and discourse, the people who, more or less, get to define what “trans” means for the mainstream culture, the people who get to speak for us, collectively… and all of us caught up in this, and our relationship to it. That’s The Trans Community.

And it’s a broken thing. [Read more...]

The Personal Politics of SRS

I’m afraid I have to collapse the wave function on the whole Schroedinger’s Genitals thing I had going for awhile: I’ve not had lower surgery.

Hopefully, that won’t encourage any creepy love-letters (yes, something I’ve actually dealt with. More than once).

The reason I’m mentioning that very personal, and very uncomfortable-to-mention, information is that it’s important for the context in which I’ve been navigating a lot of complex issues lately. A few weeks ago, I was contacted very unexpectedly and out-of-blue-ishly by the people who handle the assessment process for those in the Vancouver/Victoria area of British Columbia who are pursuing vaginoplasty (aka SRS, GCS, lower surgery, bottom surgery, etc.), and they were asking to set up an appointment for the in-person interview part of the assessment. [Read more...]

The Eunuch, The Rapist, The Whore And The Child Who Simply Knew

(trigger warning for transphobic slurs)

A few days ago I woke up to read an almost hilariously transphobic article on tv.com reviewing a recent episode of the HBO (or Showtime or AMC or whatever… one of those channels adored by critics and people who shop at Whole Foods) series Sons of Anarchy that prominently featured a transsexual (or transvestite? Or drag queen? It really wasn’t very clear) character in a comedic tilt. The review was painful, shocking and strangely distancing in just how overt and aggressive the transphobia therein was. The writer had absolutely no compunctions about addressing the character almost exclusively by slurs (“shemale” was even in the title), and made no effort whatsoever to conceal just how hilarious and zany and wacky and kinky he found the very concept of a trans woman.

This was mostly just the usual kind of depressing bigotry and ignorance I find whenever I engage our culture, but shortly later there was something that occurred to me I found interesting, and allowed me an opportunity to reexamine some mistaken assumptions I’d made about the way trans women’s sexuality is policed, erased or subjugated in cis-patriarchy. Mistaken assumptions about the basic roles we’re forced into in cis perceptions. The character was being simultaneously positioned within both the “tranny rapist” AND “tranny whore” roles. And she wasn’t simply being swapped from one of those pre-packaged concepts to another, but occupying both in the same liminal space.

What interested me about this was how I’d previously regarded the various roles we occupy (analogous to the “maddonna”/”whore”/”virgin” dynamic forced onto women) as being discrete concepts. Discrete means by which a given trans character or archetype is constructed, and discretely simplified, fantasy identities projected onto the complexity of actual trans human beings. That was a mistake. [Read more...]

Bizarro World

“If the catacombs were good enough for the early Christians, then I can survive Obama’s America”

An increasingly common narrative amongst the contemporary American evangelical movement is that of the persecuted Christians. Good men and women whose religious rights are increasingly trampled by a dominant secular, atheist, liberal majority who are trying to bend and subvert their beliefs to their amoral godlessness. The questions of gay marriage or birth control or abortion aren’t matters of protecting the human rights of those with same-sex attractions or the reproductive rights of women, but instead an instance of violating the religious rights of Christians, one of which is apparently the “right” to impose one’s own moral doctrine on everyone else, and to force one’s particular religious ethics into public space and law. [Read more...]