What gets missed

August 29, 2008

Radfem recants transphobia, transphobic radfems plus one very confused and hateful person come in and attack, all the comments are about arguing with them and the legitimacy of trans people, period, and the OP never gets questioned for her remaining transphobia. (ok, she does once)

But Maia is still being really transphobic! She still sets up good transwoman [sic] bad transwoman, she still uses “woman” in opposition to “transwoman” [sic] as if we weren’t women who are trans but some other gender, she still frames woman only space as us/them, she still claims that [cis women] “we” get to “draw the line” about who enters, to “keep out the dangerous elements”, says this is SO HARD, fails to ask how other __ only spaces keep themselves safe, still engages with the notion of the over-privileged trans woman without interrogating the difference between entitlement and external privilege–and in particular says that the trans women who are most vocal about protesting our exclusion “give transfolk a bad name”, and on and on. I am especially fond of She said very little – she was attending a workshop / discussion about what it means to be a woman, and she was there to listen, not to speak.

Why doesn’t she get called on it? Because the first commenter is a class-a-asshat, that’s why.

No, that’s not why. It’s because the first commenter is a class-a-asshat, and Maia let him post, and keep posting–even after he claimed that he’d been raped by a comment.

I don’t think Maia did it intentionally, but it’s hard not to see her inaction as self-protection. The same goes for other cis feminists.

I don’t think Maia is a horrific bigot, but the fact remains that she is trans misogynistic. Prejudice + power and all.

Even more importantly, the ideas and questions she brings up–how do we do this, make women’s space that works? –they go unanswered (for the most part). We *need* to work on that shit, and almost all space for it gets eaten by trolls. And for a trans female spectrum person to participate in a discussion of how to do those things, who wanted to take her at face value, ze/she would have to pick through pages and pages of attacks for any kind of *relevant* discussion.

To the extent that consistent internet access is class privilege, as is the time to sort through bullshit, to the extent that being able to stomach that shit is correlated to privilege (ability, cis privilege, male privilege) and to be able to speak and remain confident and be taken seriously in a “debate” setting is also privilege, we keep out trans women’s voices, and the more disadvantaged the more kept out. And thus, to the extent that there *were* any discussion about moving forward, it’s still institutionally transphobic/trans misogynistic, racist, classist, etc.

Transphobic cissexual radfems know they can’t convince us, and I don’t really think they think they can convince our allies. What they can do is paralyze us, what they can do is make feminism such an unsafe and scary place that they won’t have to deal with us even if we *are* “allowed in”, what they can do is make it seem like it is “so hard” and “a huge issue” when it’s just not. It’s not hard, in fact it’s a non-issue if you’re willing to treat it like one. and actually most cissexual feminists aren’t like Heart or dirtywhiteboi or Polly Styrene. (I refuse to label Rich any kind of feminist.)

“Most” cissexual feminists are more likely to complain that people are boycotting Le Tigre when they’re a feminist band–as if they couldn’t say, on stage, that they disagreed with the not-policy.* As if it was ok to say “trans women’s participation in feminism is a negotiable issue, but one I’m in favor of” and still call yourself an ally. That’s not ok, and they need to get schooled. But, they’re the ones that could be educated, and aren’t.

*(We can leave aside the question of attending or playing there at all; accessing and funding a resource that supports trans misogyny [while speaking out against it, educating people inside, changing the culture] is a stickier issue than publicly supporting and bankrolling that institution and remaining silent, and really it depends on the situation whether it’s appropriate or not.)

Before you go saying we can’t “censor”, consider two things: 1)questioning transgender claims to be shut down and unable to speak, not because they actually can’t but in order to prevent anyone from saying “not here”. They know full well that they can say what they goddamn please and get away with it, and they want to make sure it stays that way. 2)the editors of the blog that I linked to in bypassing authority and trolls edited a friend of mine’s essay in their upcoming anthology to prevent her from calling out second-wave feminists (as “divisive”). Granted a book is a different medium, but it stands that there is “censorship” happening–and it all comes down in favor of cissexualist feminists.

I need to start advertising Beyond Inclusion: Trans Women as Equal Partners in Feminism more now that Hypatia has said they don’t want it, because discussions like this one are really hard for me to deal with, but I can’t spend the time to write out that essay all over again to explain why.

But, in a couple words:

1)Whose safety? Which women’s safety? Who is most likely to be assaulted, harassed, or abused in “women’s” space? Oh right. Which survivors? Who is most likely to be a survivor of (sexual or other) violence? Oh right. (who’s most likely to not survive it?)

2)It ain’t women’s space if trans women aren’t allowed. What the fuck is this “allowing” business anyway, who gets to do it and why?

3)A space isn’t trans woman inclusive just because we get to walk in the door–not unless it takes our concerns seriously. Or WOC inclusive unless it takes their concerns seriously–which Koyama talks about in a much less oppressive essay than “The Transfeminist Manifesto” or “The Unspoken Racism of the Trans Inclusion Debate,” the ones generally cited… Disloyal to Feminism is a really good essay that takes trans women seriously while being focused on a larger issue which includes us/them.  …And it isn’t women’s space at all if we’re not all equal co-determiners, y’all. (it’s [white] [cis] [able] [upper/middle-class] [etc] women’s space)

4)The theoretical presence of 1-5% of participants having penises–not even visibly so–is triggering, but walking in your daily life with around 49% people with penises? …Is what? …Again, “triggering” for who?

All these and more in previously mentioned essay, plus: “male privilege”! $5 plus postage. (heh)

Hopefully I’ll be getting to writing new posts/material soon. I originally wrote in in 2006, (an earlier version is included as text in the Being and Loving Me project) but didn’t really perform it in a group setting until CT ’08, with a couple changes. So–

Trans Fat

To a country concerned about consuming trans fat–
“Will it block up our arteries,
belabor our hearts,
befoul our blood?”
To a nation with a notion to nullify trans fat–
Wanting clear credentials proclaiming:
“Completely chemically natural;
To keep your conscience clean.”
To a people panicked by trans fat pollution–
From the ballgame burger bun,
To the Michigan music margarine,
To the dyke’s dozen doughnuts.

Like your worst nightmare:
Merely to gaze on these fatty mounds
Will invite all the worst of heart disease,
And any who’ve tasted these curves refuse
Your resistant abstinent insistence
Point blank.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hi CT folks and Femme Con folks! This is the long piece I performed at Camp Trans; I thought y’all might want to read it. Trans Fat and the other (as yet untitled) one I’ll put up soon, so check back.

So Shut Up

“You have male privilege.
You dominate conversations.
You profited economically from your time as a man.
So shut up.

“Nobody talks about trans men.
If you’re talking about trans women specifically, its because you’re sexist.
We’re the invisible ones.
So shut up.

“You’re fixated on hormones and surgery.
You reinscribe Patriarchial gender norms.
You’re obsessed with passing and being a 50’s housewife.
You did this to fit in and be gender conforming.
You’re just trying to fit in because transgressing gender norms is too hard
So shut up.
Read the rest of this entry »


You call me sick
You try to tell me I am a man before you punch me
–Just under my left cheekbone–
And you yell, outraged, that the freak you trapped against the wall spit in your face.

Because, you might catch it. I hope you do.
Because transsexualism is a disease
It threatens you
It mocks you
It tempts you
It is a dis-ease in the truest sense of the word,
With doctors armed and ready to defend us all from infection and contain the contagion
Researchers at the Clarke are searching frantically for a cure to end this epidemic
–As if the cops and the courts weren’t doing a good enough job–
vaccinating our children with violence and self-hate
If we’ve got it, we can’t go to school till we’re ‘cured’
And it hardly looks good to show up sick to a job interview.
They can give us drugs to “alleviate discomfort,”
But they can’t make it go away.

No, we’re quitting this quarantine
And we will spread our sickness around the world like the plague that it is–
A plague on coercion,
A plague on state control,
A plague on sexism and gender roles,
A plague on your categories and naming,
But most of all, a plague on your authority.

This is tangentially in response to this shit about Michfest but it could be in response to just about any iteration of this cis feminist conversation, so I’m not really going to link to more. You get the point. I’m thinking more about how the way Michfest’s not-policy is being discussed currently is counterproductive–LV & co have given up in all but name, and the folx defending it are little more than trolls. (if there was a (I’m-not-a-)troll bingo card, I’m sure Corey would send more than one person to bingo) While I like how the OP repositions it from controversy to discrimination in name, I feel like it’s not actually being treated that way any discussions I’ve seen, including this one. If it’s discrimination, shouldn’t our efforts be more focused on helping / encouraging / supporting the women who break that line, who enter when LV doesn’t want us/them to but isn’t going to stop us/them?

I guess what I mean is–there comes a point when the fact that there are folx who defend discrimination need not hold us back from living our lives. I feel like there’s a level of this-has-to-be-fought-until-the-jerks-agree, which in the case of Michfest is completely untrue. The battle to get in the door is won. Camp Trans sent, eight trans women that I can think of to the land this year, entirely without incident. Some Festies even *donated money,* *unasked* so that trans women could attend. A CT/Fest cooperation plans to create a shared workshop space next year. So really, it just doesn’t matter.

…and you don’t do your best educating work talking to trolls. See how much energy Corey took up? It’s dumb, it’s pointless. Say ‘That’s not ok, you’re out of touch with reality, educate yourself and come back later when you have half a clue what trans folx’s lives are actually like.’ There are folx you can educate, and you can work on creating accountability in the spaces you control. And, frankly, even if you aren’t in control of a shelter/rape crisis center/etc, you can affect the culture, provide services to trans women and other trans folx, and create accountability there without being in charge. Why are we acting on this as if the people in charge are actually the people in charge–a notion that’s deeply classist anyways? If we’re acting on this official-change level, then 1)the actual lives of trans women aren’t being improved, [cis] feminism’s image/karma is being improved and our lives incidentally, and 2)we’re waiting for the people statistically most likely to want to exclude to change (i.e. middle-class, middle-aged, white, vanilla, radfem womyn) before we take our place. Support trans women entering those spaces, support folks providing services they’re “not supposed to”. Make pressure about accepting trans staff and volunteers–something the folx in charge can actually control… Support civil disobedience when staffers are asked to kick a trans person out or if a trans person is asked to leave. create response teams, create groups of folx to advocate for trans women et al when we try to access services, create support buffers for all these times and in particular if we choose to access spaces involving “unavoidable public nudity” (one of the places the “inclusive” ENDA says it’s ok to discriminate against us)…

Promote our writing, our music, our workshops; fund our activism; educate shelter staffers, boards, volunteers; educate or become doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, clerks at public institutions such as courts, DMV’s, etc; do prison and/or police accountabilty work, check in with the trans women who access spaces you do and see what they (or, in particular, their friends that don’t access them) need. Write about the ways that trans misogyny reinforces misogynistic-not-otherwise-specified gender roles–and in particular, how it enforces them; how transphobia justifies rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, how the trans misogynistic appropriation of the term woman-born-woman has erased an important concept from the feminist lexicon, and similarly the term woman-identified-woman… write about how explicitly trans misogynistic trolls serve to eliminate accountability for more subtle transphobia, and create that accountability. Do outreach to trans women’s communities for activism you’re doing and spaces you’re creating–not just attending but also organizing and planning. Consider how and if your work improves the lives of trans folx and trans women in particular (trans women of color experiencing homelessness in particular)–and how to make it do that better. Draw the pretty-fucking-obvious connections between the radfem policing of trans bodies, makeup/heels/femininity, and BDSM/sex. etc etc.

And, you know, blog about our murders and shit. But, really, don’t make us another pawn in the 2nd wave / 3rd wave wars, erasing our own perspectives; don’t make us tokens.