Here’s the thing: nothing I write is original.
A few weeks ago, someone wrote to me on twitter asking about my failure to recognize the prior work of Monica Maldonado on the subject of radical-feminism’s relationship to trans-misogynistic violence, in my Complicity Vs. Cause post. My initial reaction was defensive. I felt like I was being accused of plagiarising a colleague and friend, and of being unaware of the way my privilege affects the degree of recognition and praise I receive for ideas that are often ignored, or reacted to with hostility, when expressed by trans women of colour, or trans-feminists who don’t class-pass, and “sound smart”, the way I do. Additionally, I had made no secret on my twitter of the intense debt the evolution of my trans-feminism and ideas owes to my friends and colleagues, many of whom are trans women of colour, non-binary trans people, or otherwise in a position of less privilege, and less mainstream “palatability”, than myself. And consequently don’t receive nearly as much recognition and respect as they deserve, in contrast to myself.
But being aware of those issues of privilege doesn’t absolve me of accountability or responsibility in relation to them, and having been explicit about how much I owe to my friends and colleagues on my twitter (which is a big jumbly mess of whatever pops into my head whenever) is not the same thing as overtly and purposefully owning up to that here, in my “official” writing. I did fuck-up.
Maybe there’s been some subconscious vanity going on. Maybe on some level, I knew that I’d be jeopardizing the recognition I receive for my writing if I directly acknowledged the manner in which my ideas develop. Maybe I, like everyone, was allowing myself to buy into the idea of the solitary intellectual, generating Great Ideas out of nowhere with which they change the world. And worse, maybe I was allowing myself to play along a little bit with the trans community’s dangerous reliance upon Community Leaders and Role Models.
All of which is in direct contradiction not only of my actual process, but what I believe trans-feminist discourse needs. What intersectional feminism needs. My collaborative, discursive process of trans-feminism isn’t chosen because I’m lazy, or leaning upon the ideas of greater minds (my friends and colleagues aren’t Solitary Intellectual Geniuses either…we share with and learn from eachother). It’s chosen because I feel it’s what trans-feminism needs to be. At least if it’s to be healthy and intersectional in nature. [Read more…]