Sadly, very much needed to be said

  • Jun. 29th, 2010 at 10:37 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Queen Emily writes: You don’t get to out me.

You can expose trans people to violence. You could get them fired. You could make it impossible for them to find work–word of mouth travels quickly in small towns or closeknit industries. They could be harassed so much they need to quit their job, or to need to move, or all kinds of things. You don’t know, because you’ve never had to live with the consequences. Just because you know and trust someone, doesn’t mean that I can. It doesn’t mean that they won’t be hateful to me, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they will be respectful of my confidentiality.

For most people, “trans” erases the bit that comes after. This is why you never ever see a headline that says “transsexual woman” [blah blah blah]. No, it just says “transsexual” and is used as a noun rather than the adjective it is. It conjures the ever present “really a man” transphobic trope (quick mental test: see if you can describe a trans person without using it). For women like me, living our lives as a woman is constituted as untruthful. When most cis people become aware that I’m trans, they start treating me different. I can see the change immediately – when pronoun “slips” start “accidentally” happening, when I stop being counted with the right group. Because it’s ingrained, isn’t it? In a cissexist culture, only cissexuality (or a trans person’s ability to appear cissexual) is truly real, and any hint of anything else invalidates the whole.

One time, I inadvertently outed myself to a group of students. I’d been teaching a tremendously interesting media studies class to first years; that is, mostly 17 and 18 year olds. The first three weeks went pretty well. We talked video games and violence, Hollywood, what they actually did with media. The discussions were engaged, it was all going fine. Then, a month in, I came down with a cold. My voice suddenly dropped an octave, because I couldn’t vocalise at my usual pitch. And like that, you could see the lights go on in their eyes. They’d realised I was trans.

Now, as these things go, it wasn’t truly awful (how low my expectations have become on that score). The next week, we did adbuster style cut-ups to jam dominant media messages and several groups turned in transphobic assignments, giggling their arses off. They were laughing at me. Another student spent the lesson interrupting me, telling the class how everything I was saying was stupid. And of course, a number of students stopped attending my classes altogether, trying to get into classes in the same unit run by other teachers. I was losing control of my classes.. and I was still bloody sick.

The point is, the mere fact of their knowing that I am trans meant that they, 17 and 18 year olds with scant knowledge of the subject they were taking, suddenly felt entitled to talk over me, to mock me openly when previously they had been respectful. Of itself, being subjected to ungendering takes its toll, especially if it’s something you experience frequently.


An also... uhm, yeah. You are going to do some groundbreaking work. I know it's SO the first time I heard that one.

Mar. 29th, 2010

  • 9:16 PM
la_vie_noire: (Utena transformation)
gudbuytjane writes, The Angry Tranny: Tone Arguments and Trans Women.

While they can be applied to any dissenting voice, tone arguments contain deeply transmisogynist implications when used against trans women. They imply that trans women aren’t just angry, but dangerous, feeding cissexual fears of trans women being threatening. In a number of comments cis commenters expressed fear for expressing their thoughts on the subject. This fear of trans women expressing themselves, especially in feminist spaces, is based on seeing trans women as men, and then applying to them the cis person’s expectations (while denying the lived experience of the trans woman). To suggest that trans women are in a position of social privilege which can silence cis voices is ridiculous on its face, as it is to suggest I had – as an unknown trans activist and blogger – privilege over the literally thousands of cis voices disagreeing with me. Like most derails in oppression politics tone arguments are riddled with doublespeak and knee-jerk accusations of the same behavior being pointed out in the first place. The anger against threatening cis dominance is projected back on those trans people speaking up.

[...] Taking away the middle ground suggests unreasonableness by focusing only on the extremes of one’s position. One of the common responses to my critique of Lady Gaga was the sense I was comparing her video to violent transphobes. By willfully ignoring degrees of transphobic and transmisogynist behaviours this allows any criticism by trans people to be waved away as unrealistic or unreasonable. In a similar vein, one LGBT blog reported on my piece alongside a homophobic FOX News segment, and this was picked up on a few sites. The implication there was clear, dissenting trans voice = right wing homophobes. The well was poisoned, and although I hadn’t explicitly been called angry (well, the commenters did, but that always happens) the blog succeeded in making trans people seem unreasonable by association.


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