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 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…]

“I Always Knew”

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. [Read more…]


Dear Sir,

You probably don’t remember me. There’s a reason for that, and it’s basically about power. Not, like, “oh, dude, you’re so powerful!”, but just the sort of basic, day to day power-differentials that exist, between all of us, in accordance with things completely beyond our control, that have nothing whatsoever really to do with us. Despite the extreme reaction you had to my momentary presence (or would you think “intrusion”?) in your day, and the fact that without this reaction I likely wouldn’t have noticed you at all, you had a lot more power to affect me than I ever had to affect you, no matter how expressive your response.

I was walking down West Broadway earlier this week, I think near the corner of Blenheim, on my way back home from running some errand or other. Although given who and what I am I never quite have the luxury of feeling unguarded, I wasn’t really feeling especially apprehensive about my surroundings, this being mid-afternoon in Kits on a sunny day, and there’s only so much attention a person can maintain in being prepared for harassment. You were walking towards me in the typical lazily-confident stride of entitled young men like yourself that seems precisely calibrated to say “I don’t give a fuck” but mostly just says “I really desperately give a fuck about giving the impression that I don’t give a fuck”, and were dressed in the typical shapeless t-shirt-and-cargo-shorts uniform that suggests exactly the same.

We were passing on the sidewalk, and you presumably read me for trans. You sneered, spat at me in contempt, and then after passing by and not having to deal with anything uncomfortable like “eye contact” or whatever, shouted a single word, twice, with increased volume and emphasis the second time.

That word was “disgusting”. [Read more…]

Being Welcome

My process of developing an understanding of privilege, power and the social dynamics that go along with them has been mostly guided by my lived experiences, and by conversation, marked largely by individual moments that led to individual insights, or shifts in perspective. [Read more…]

Defining Gender In Sport

Given that the dreaded Olympics have once again cast their dark cloud over us, raining fire and nationalism as the rivers run red with the blood of those who blaspheme the sanctity of LOCOG, I thought the timing was right to have a bit of a discussion about the issue of how gender and sex are determined and defined in relation to sports, and the segregation of athletes into female or male competitions. [Read more…]


There is a lot of me that genuinely cherishes who and what I am.

Often I find myself drawn back to the same, basic, long since tiresome and boring question… would I trade my life for a different one? Am I happy with the life I’ve been given? Am I okay with having been trans? Is that something I’d exchange for getting to have had the life of a cis woman?

The question is boring, yeah. It must have been asked uncountable times by now, even in this precise iteration, but beyond that, it’s a question that we all ask ourselves, over and over again, of the circumstances that have shaped who we are. We all have our burdens, or aspects of our histories that have shaped us in more obvious ways than others, and we all come back to the idea of whether this is something we’re simply living with and accepting because we have no choice, or something that we accept on a deeper level, something we can learn to love, all its hurt included. Probably because in so doing we can learn to love ourselves, the way genuine love embraces imperfection, understands it as inseparable from whatever makes someone… them. [Read more…]

Kind Of A Drag

Several weeks ago I became a bit mixed up in what had a lot of potential to become a hugely embarrassing misstep on the part of CFI Ontario in their efforts to present a queer-friendly image through participation in Toronto’s pride parade. As has been written about elsewhere, such as by Zinnia Jones, CFI Ontario had the plan of marching in drag as participants in the parade.

The initial proposal for this plan explicitly, and quite insultingly, presented the idea as being supportive of the trans community, an act of solidarity against transphobia, by asking cisgender CFI members and volunteers to “step outside their comfort zones”. After the initial wave of outrage reached CFI Ontario, their first response was to simply remove any reference to trans advocacy from their proposal, which had the unfortunate effect of suggesting the trans-positive message was never really genuine in the first place, and had simply been tacked on for the sake of publicity after the fact of someone, somewhere deciding that dressing up in drag would be fun. They also issued a rather patronizing notpology in which a whole lot of cissplaining was offered to teach us trans people what drag is really all about and how we ought to feel about it.

After a lot of discussion, however, an altogether positive result was reached in which the plan was scrapped and some much more genuine apologies were offered. Although clearly a great deal of work still needs to be done in terms of hetero/cis allies being more prepared to talk and, more importantly, listen to the queer communities on whose behalf they position themselves speaking and acting, it’s a nice change of pace to have been involved in actions that ultimately prevented something hurtful and insulting from occurring, rather than having to explain these things in the wake of their consequences, with the much more abstracted goal of someone maybe learning something from it, or perhaps achieving another millimeter of collective movement in what one hopes is the right direction.

However, this does end up illuminating some icky creepy things crawling around in the blind spots many cis people have in regards to what drag is, what it isn’t, and how it does and does not relate to the broader range of transgender identities. Even drag’s inclusion under the concept of transgenderism is not something I, personally, feel completely comfortable with, but do have to reluctantly accept in order for my current working definition to be consistent. At least it’s necessary in order to avoid  some really thorny territory about what is or isn’t not a significant variance from expectations about gender.

(I do kinda feel like revising my working definition, though) [Read more…]

Fourth Wave: Part Five

Recently, I was reading a little post over on Lousy Canuck in which Jason referred to the Fourth Wave concept. He made the assertion that, in his perspective, Fourth Wave is where we, as feminists, now are. Something about this didn’t sit well with me at all.

I don’t claim the right to define what feminism, or trans-feminism, or fourth-wave, or anything, is “supposed” to mean to anyone else. Even whatever ideas I myself present are no longer my own the second I click the publish button. At that point, those ideas belong to whomever may find them, to interpret in whatever ways they find useful. It’s only in allowing things that kind of breathing room to be interpreted and reinterpreted, collectively or individually, that they have the power to move conversations forward, or create new meaningful conversations. However, I feel like the idea of fourth wave as “where we are now”, and the way that feels not-quite-right to me, itself offers an opening for important conversations.

Fourth wave is, for me and for many of my colleagues, very fundamentally a work-in-progress. Something we’re trying to arrive at. It’s also, almost by definition, not where we, as vague or precise a “we” as you’d like, have just naturally ended up. The whole concept of a “fourth wave” is necessitated precisely because feminism has hit certain very difficult, very stubborn stumbling blocks. It’s necessitated because we’re not moving past certain things simply as part of the natural evolution of feminism thought. It’s necessitated because we need to make a very decisive and intentional split with certain concepts that are holding feminism back. If fourth wave were simply where feminism arrived of its own accord, there would be no real need for any such concept or action in the first place. [Read more…]