Where next?

September 6, 2008

So, I’ve been pontificating enough here, I want to shift gears a bit and go into facilitator mode.

there are times when I’ve responded to trolls for my own sanity, knowing they won’t listen. But that’s because I felt cornered, unsupported, etc, and in order to prevent damage within my head I have to argue/fight back–which is the real problem, right? The problem is that our ‘allies’ leave us out to dry when the shit hits the fan. (an entirely different context, and to mix metaphors, but still). The problem is that we don’t have the confidence to not do that–for good reason. [link]

What do we need, as trans female spectrum folks, as trans folks, and as cis allies, to not do that?
What do we need to feel secure?
What do we need for our activism to be sustainable?
What do we need in order to devote our energy to change rather than our own emotional survival?
What do we need for “fighting with cissexual feminists” to mean alongside not against?
What do we need to celebrate all of our (consensual) sexualities–no exceptions?
—while calling out the abuse of power, fetishization, objectification, disempowerment and ‘degrading’ evident in cissexual men’s porn featuring (but not about) trans women, and the s-word archetype as created for the pleasure of cis straight men?
—while simultaneously supporting those of us who identify with the s-word or reclaim it, or who depend on that system for survival?
—and calling out the appropriation, erasure, and just plain cluelessness re: trans misogyny that’s central to trans men’s porn projects, while supporting everyone’s efforts to produce positive images of their sexualities.

What do we need from our allies, and from each other?

Then, when we’ve got that, let’s go to feministing and demand it.
Let’s go to Feministe and feminist and demand it.
Let’s go to transgender and Alternet and demand it. Demand it of AlexTM, too. (hint: holding you accountable is not “hitting” you)
Let’s go to Gender Odyssey, FORGE Forward, and Philadelphia Trans Health Conference and demand it.
Let’s go to WPATH and demand it, or failing that doctors and therapists in our communities.

But let’s figure it out, first.


7 Responses to “Where next?”

  1. gallinggalla said

    Wow, these are great questions, Cedar, and bless your heart for moving the focus to making some real progress / change rather than fighting the same fights over and over again.

    I’m finding that my answers are getting too long to post as a comment, so I’ll continue to work on this today and tomorrow and post my responses to LJ and link to that in a comment here.

  2. I’ve been hitting this point too…which I hope that my August posts have shown. Pretty much everything I’ve written has left me asking “So now what?” where before I felt like there was still a point to pushing through and deconstructing all the hate.

  3. well–since you did address cis allies also:

    I’ll just say for me that I hope I usually get it wrt not leaving people out to dry; for me, I do know that I tend to get snagged by my own drama addiction, so that the pleasure of being combative for its own sake sometimes overshadows the actual productive work, or the needs of the people purportedly being fought over. that said, it’s a difficult balance, because i know that sometimes, well, the snark and outrage is appreciated in a solidarity sort of way, and it’s what i’m good at, you know?

    after which i’m mostly just following your lead here. I do think that getting at least to roughly the same point where cis queers are, at least within purported “progressive” communities, is -probably- mostly a matter of continued speaking out and being visible; a lot of people are simply ignorant, I think, in a way in which they aren’t even for a lot of other shit for which they still could use a fuck of a lot of education. but i do believe that in general, familiarity breeds the opposite of contempt, at least for the 80% or so of people who are neither saints nor total fuckwits, just sort of lazy and timid and self-interested and unthinking.

    for the hardcore bigots within feminism specifically, though…

    it’s just such an odd thing. on the one hand they themselves are such a fringey little pocket of fringey people; on the other hand, a) zealots in any large movement tend to control the mike unless people make a concerted effort to take it back b) they cause the dual harm of feeding into mainstream prejudices and driving basically sane and decent people away. so, as with the fundamentalists in any movement, they end up wielding influence beyond their numbers.

    I am interested in this, both for its own sake and because I think figuring this out might even be a good lesson for going on to tackle larger and more powerful flavors of “fringe” fundamentalists.

  4. and when I say that wrt comparing to cis queers (and yeah, there is also the question of transphobia within mainstream gay/lesbian organizations, of course), that’s probably a bit flip; I’m just thinking, for your average clueless American Jane or Joe, while there’s a shitload of baggage wrt gender and bodies and so on, no shit, there’s also a fairly strong strain of “hey, what you do with your own self is your own business and none of mine, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else.”

    In some ways I think there are bits of the left and feminist communities that are -worse- because of the (mostly half-baked, frankly) rhetoric vaguely and selectively condemning individualism. i.e. what you do with your body/identity/personal relationships DOES affect me, or well no not ME exactly but, you know, WOMEN (here substituting for “traditional family values). I mean, otherwise well-meaning people tend to knit their brow and nod to a lot of horseshit when it rings enough familiar rhetorical bells. That’s -one- thing.

    eh, lost the plot again, more later, if you like.

  5. but, assuming that “framing” really makes that much of a difference–which it does with -some- people–for feminists, for me I’d just keep hammering, over and over and over again:

    look, “my body belongs to me” does not stop with reproductive rights. This is why you should care even beyond the basic “oh yeah, and also some few but really destructive people are being horrible gratuitous bigots and you really might want to say something at this point.”

  6. …and after reading the business with Bilerico (argh) at Lisa’s with the whole “educate me! I’ve never SEEN one of You People before! take me to your leader!” thing, I realize…eh, throw a bunch of that shit I just said out the window and start again.

  7. […] Where next? Cedar at Taking Up Too Much Space asks many important questions, including “What do [trans […]

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