October 23, 2008
A few great videos:
First, from Julia Serano:
On that note, remember intersectionality?–
“Remember Santina Gibbs? She’s actually Darnell Nash.” –transsexuality = false presentation, femininity = artificial/untrustworthy, blackness = criminality, black transsexual femininity = voter fraud. Action News’s advocacy for voter suppression depends on the construction of the deceptive, fraudulent trans black woman as a representative of moral decay that must be stopped. It’s important to note that she is a figure used precisely because her right to vote, like her rights to sexuality and to live, is seen as optional/unimportant compared to cis anxieties about her deception.
Then there are two MSNBC videos Monica Roberts posted yesterday:
I don’t have too much in the way of comments about these two, other than that I’m not used to news coverage being either as decent politically or as in depth as what I see from Maddow and Olbermann. I keep expecting it to be some kind of spoof.
October 21, 2008
With respect to my last post, Battybattybats writes:
But it is worth taking this further, because in much of the world to obtain basic rights and essential services as a transgender person that cis folk always enjoy one must be steralised.
It’s all well and good for those who choose to undergo procedures that render them sterile. Its their right to make that decision for themselves and everyone should support their right to do so. But to mandate it in exchange for basic rights and access to essential services is a human-rights abuse plain and simple.
If there is a genetic cause or factor involved in being Transgender then forced sterilisation is clear and direct biological Genocide.
It is Eugenics!
Transgender people do not automatically lose their reproductive rights! They may choose to waive them but should never be forced to waive them.
Those who do go through treatment that renders them sterile should be able to preserve reproductive material where possible and to use that later in life if they so choose. [though fine in the US, it can disqualify one for government document change elsewhere, notably Japan.–me]
Where there are state-based health systems these should provide for this service for those that are covered by them.(link)
In this context, but without the governmental authority, at least one US medical practitioner, Jamie Feldman, has made a hysterectomy a precondition for testosterone treatments for a trans man married to a cis man. (with WPATH’s approval–she operates out of the same building)
(you might also want to read Antiseptic Stings in reference to this whole mess.)
October 20, 2008
It’s a strong word. A frightening word. A word that seems far too terrible, far too extreme for what an especially transphobic journalist or filmmaker advocates–even when you consider the existence of multiple forms of genocide, cultural genocide as well as genocide based in mass murder. That seems far too extreme for describing actions of Dr Zucker, [cis] gay historians, [straight][cis] historians, previous gatekeepers in the medical establishment.
But when Zucker’s method of therapy is to isolate and terrorize, to create PTSD in response to gender-variant behavior in order to stop it, when he says that our way of life is so depraved that it’s preferable for us to end up alcoholic and self-injuring—
when Janice Raymond’s “solution” to transsexuality is to “morally mandate it out of existence“[emphasis mine]
when historians hide every shred of knowledge we have about our cultural ancestors,
when other historians find that knowledge and deliberately erase the gender aspects, appropriating those figures for their own, entirely apart from us–thereby cutting us off from our history and our ancestors,
when gender clinics made silence about our existence a condition for treatment, did everything they could to isolate us, kept us from talking to each other in a common language, kept us from finding each other, only treated those of us who will be in no way distinctively trans in appearance, action, or speech,
when doctors “treating” intersex children not only mutilated their genitals, but deliberately kept the knowledge of their intersexuality from them, taking great pains to ensure that intersex people would not reach out and find each other, their common ground, share their stories–
Amongst all that, how are we to take this:
I chose the title, “Sex change surgery is unnecessary mutilation”. … Are we right to support sex change surgery, and is it right to apply a surgical solution to what I believe is a psychological problem? (link)
But a leading feminist campaigner claims that sex reassignment surgery is based on unscientific ideas – and could be doing more harm than good. (link)
To use Sarah Brown’s words, “her core message [is] that she wants to open a “dialogue” about why trans people shouldn’t be allowed medical transition.” And by nominating her for journalist of the year, Stonewall UK, at minimum, agrees to that ‘dialogue’.
I hope it’s clear that Bindel conflates SRS with medical transition as a whole (because she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, surprise).
So let me translate this one step further:
She wants to wipe transsexual bodies from the face of the earth. She wants to make trans bodies cease to exist.
There’s a word for that.
Two observations, about: ‘Determining the boundaries of our own group’ and ‘Privilege before transition’
October 18, 2008
OK, both these have a lot to do with analogies. Problematic. Yep.
1)”WBW have the right to determine their own space!” or “Women have the right to decide the boundaries of that group!”
First, let’s table the rather obvious “well trans women thereby are an equal part of that rulemaking authority” objection (see Beyond Inclusion). Cissexualist [white][temporarily abled][etc] radical feminists make an analogy to WOC getting to have separate space, to which others respond by inverting the metaphor and saying ‘no, the correct analogy is to a white-woman-only space.’
But can we even take it outside the realm of privilege? Like, does this analysis really hold any water, ever?
—Does a Christian church get to ban queer and trans Christians from the premises and claim that it’s not discrimination, because they’re just defining what a Christian is and Christians have the right to decide that?
And I think I would argue that this example is much closer to not being discrimination than [cis] woman only space.
2)We’re so fond of saying that trans women have male privilege because they were perceived as such before transition/were socialized as such. Do we say that CLBG folks have straight privilege because they were perceived as such/socialized as such? Hell, do we even say that closeted CLBG folks have straight privilege while they’re closeted?
[This is an example of why the distinction between __ privilege and passing-as-___-privilege is salient.]
“We’re sorry, this is a lesbian only group. … You were in an arranged marriage* to a man, yes? … You divorced him? Whatever, your straight privilege from all those many many years of living with a man would make the space unsafe for all us gold star lesbians.”
*Our pre-transition genders were not things we consented to.
October 15, 2008
When I read Whipping Girl, I didn’t think that “transwoman” (without the space) was insulting/ungendering/whatever, but she’d asked for folks to stop, to put a space in between and make it two words, and so I did.
Now, I’m amazed that I *ever* thought it was ok.
There are two basic problems.
1)Asymmetry and [cis] as unspecified default
The first problem lies primarily in the asymmetry in usage of “trans(wo)man” and “cis(wo)man”–the fact that whenever women who are transsexual are being spoken of, that ‘trans’ must always be specified even when it might seem clear from context–whereas in speaking of women who are cissexual, there’s no need to say ‘cis’ unless we are talking in a trans context–even if we specifically mean cis women. …That is to say, were we to accept the one-word terminology, there would be “transwomen” who are almost always referred to as “transwomen”, but “ciswomen” are generally referred to as “women” and occasionally as “ciswomen”.
Listen around you. Even in the trans community, neither men nor women are ever free of the ‘trans-‘ prefix / adjective, except when it’s being spoken by someone who is intentionally making hir speech jarring. It’s like you always have to keep reminding everyone–she’s not a [real] woman, she’s trans. Try referring to us as men and women, and leave out the trans part. If you feel weird, uncomfortable, or like you’re communicating something other than what you mean, that’s internalized cissexualist bullshit, because we are every bit as much ‘men’ and ‘women’ as cis folks are–unless we define ourselves as otherwise gendered. When someone calls a specific person a ‘man,’ hir audience can safely impute ‘cis’–because if the speaker was not positioning that man as cissexual, ze would be sure to specify ‘trans.’ Practically the only time I’ve really ever heard a trans woman referred to by ‘woman’ standing alone from ‘trans’ is in the sentence ‘trans women are women.’ In contrast, trans women are referred to as trans[ ]people/folks/etc all the time.
At first blush, this doesn’t seem any different than the problem of unspecified whiteness, temporarily-able-bodied-ness, straightness, etc. It’s important to evaluate whether one’s claim is about “women” as a whole, or specifically cis ones or trans ones, to be intentional about including/omitting information about a person or group’s cis/trans status, self-reflective about why it’s relevant or irrelevant, and to use language to undermine cis*-as-default.
But at another level, it’s not.
2)The Gender Quaternary and “Trans” as “not really”
Combining “trans”/”cis” and “(wo)man” into one word create a 4-gender system: ‘transmen’/[cis]’men’/’transwomen’/[cis]’women’–as opposed to the two binaries of gender “man”/”woman” and gender status “cis”/”trans”.
(yes, I’m aware that both quaternary and binary are fucked up & there are other options, I take said other options, I’m 1)talking about a discourse that does this so my commentary kind of has to, and 2)the point I’m driving at here is mostly relevant to the right of equal claim to binary categories.)
Within the quaternary, women who are trans can never share a category with who are not–and since, in our society, cis women’s womanhood is the gold standard, trans women’s womanhood is always lesser in this scheme. Whereas, in the interlocking binary, you can have two women of different gender statuses–gender statuses which are no more (or less) relevant/formative/foundational/essential to that (wo)man’s (wo)manhood than her/his race, age, hair color, etc.
I don’t know how well I’ve explained it. But start putting the space in, decide to follow it, and it’ll pop out at you.
So put a fucking space in–and do it in your speech too.
Sorry everyone for my absence–it’ll be a couple more days before I’m really “back, ” but I thought I’d give y’all update by editing a piece I wrote in April (before this blog was created
October 3, 2008
“Typical biological (fe)male”
No. Just, no. Don’t do it.
No really. Don’t. I don’t care if your trans friend uses it. I don’t care if you’re trans. Don’t.
I don’t actually have to explain it. Think for a minute or two. Read a few of my other posts, particularly this one. You have the resources and intellect to figure this one out on your own. Really. I trust you. You can do it.
Don’t click the “more” button if you haven’t already figured it out or at least tried for 5 minutes. The point of what follows isn’t about educating you about why not to say it. That’s stupid. It’s about 1)giving you talking points to explain to other people, and 2)exploring the faulty logic that goes into the usage.
Read the rest of this entry »
October 2, 2008
So, there are two standard definitions of transgender:
1)A person who violates gender norms
2)A person who identifies as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
#2 is also one definition of transsexual, which has another standard definition:
3)A person who transitions, particularly a person who modifies hir body in ways related to transition (both medical body mod & other).
All three of these have their ups and downs. I’m no longer interested (as I used to be), in having one, monolithic definition of these terms. There are different things we mean by them, different things to illuminate.
But, I need to add another pair of definitions:
4)transgender: a person whose self-determination of hir gender is regularly invalidated/undermined by hir society.
(cisgender: a person whose self-determination of hir gender is generally validated and upheld by hir society.)
5)transsexual: a person whose self-determination of hir sex is invalidated/undermined by legal, political, scientific, medical, & religious institutions (et al). (and through which society & individuals at large)
(Cissexual: a person whose self-determination of hir sex is validated and upheld by legal, political, scientific, medical, and religious institutions.)
In a world where my self-determined gender and sex were totally validated by my society I can no longer imagine transgender and transsexual being meaningful terms anymore; I’d still be a transitioner, I’d still use this technology, but almost all of my current experiences as a trans person would be gone. If I’d never been coercively gendered/sexed at all, my use of estrogen & spiro might not even be about transition, because there’d’ve been no “male” to transition from–and ‘transition’ itself would become vastly different.
So, yes, in one sense trans people wouldn’t exist in my utopia. But in another sense, it’s the distinction between trans and cis, the rigid wall that would be torn down and no longer exist. Gender coercion would no longer exist, and with it would go subversive gender, gender deviance, ‘gender variance’ (to be replaced by genders 3-400+), transphobia, misogyny, etc etc.