Discourse And Intersectionality

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…]

“Ideal Bodies”

Beneath the mountains of words and ink and bile spilled over the past couple weeks over the conflict and controversy surrounding Julie Burchill and Susanne Moore’s statements in the British press, a single phrase is identifiable as the sort of keystone on which the entire mess hinges. That keystone is Moore’s petty remark about lacking a certain “ideal body shape”… that of “a Brazilian transexual”.

Lots of people have made the issue simply one of “offense” vs. “free speech”.

Lots of others have made it about the offensive nature of the term “transexual” as a noun.

Still more have discussed that this is just a bigoted, naive and lazy stereotype.

And one could also discuss the horrifying context in which the remark was made; that of Brazil having an epidemic of trans-misogynistic violence, with more trans women having been murdered there in 2012 than in the rest of the Western hemisphere combined.

That last point seems especially important and valid to me, at least far more so than “offense”, the (very obvious) dimension of stereotyping, and the question of terminology. But I’ve no desire to disrespect the deaths of the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of Brazilian trans women over the past years just for the sake of getting one-up on the TERFs. That would be crass, misleading, and unnecessary.

But what the existence of that violence, in exactly the context that generates the stereotype of the gorgeous, “ideal”, sexually irresistible trans woman, very disturbingly reveals is exactly how backwards the conceptualization of trans women’s bodies implicit to the statement is; a backwards conceptualization upon which the near entirety of the actual content of the arguments and hatred of Moore and her defenders rests. [Read more…]