This is a long ass post about trans issues and identity. If you have the time and the spoons I hope you can read it and tell me what you think.
Trigger Warning for potential transmisogyny, cissexism, cissupremacist statements.
I recently reblogged a post by the tumblr “Truths89” titled “The Trans Trend”
My understanding of what was written is that the author is primarily concerned about FAAB men and how their gender expression is a result of internalized misogyny and the effects of a patriarchal society on women.
I found the whole thing rather cissexist. I wrote this email an attempt to explain why it was problematic. (I’m posting it here because as a cisgender male I hardly think I’m the most qualified to express all of this, and I hope tumblr will call me out on any problematic statements I’ve made, and I want to know what my followers think of the whole thing.
You asked why your post was awful. I’ll try to explain why I took issue with it.
However, I do identify as a cisgender male. So my male privilege and my cisprivilege does temper this response. So obviously I cannot speak for any trans person or woman, only repeat and repost what has beenvehemently explained to me. I’ll provide links where I can.
First issue: the title. “The Trans Trend.” The most obvious problem is calling a person’s identity a trend. Trans identity is not drag, it is not simply dressing up, it is something that is deeply felt and defining. It is an IDENTITY. “A staggering 41 percent of transgender people in the United States have attempted to commit suicide, according to a new survey. About 19 percent of transgender people report being refused medical care because of their gender-nonconforming status, and a shocking 2 percent have been violently assaulted in a doctor’s office.” There is nothing trendy about being trans, it’s not about being cool, it’s not about making a statement, it’s about owning one’s identity.
Second Issue: Being trans does not reenforce a gender binary. Men exist. Women Exist. This is a fact. People who identify as neither exist. Gender is not a binary or even a spectrum but a myriad of various complex and often overlapping identities and ways of being. For example, there are trans men who identify as femme, there are cisgender women who embrace masculinity and are butch without rejecting their womanhood.
“I am hurt when the declaration for male pronouns is requested with such harshness and a hint of victimization”
That harshness and victimization is because day in and day out trans people are discriminated against and denied their very identity. On an institutional level, on a personal level. Of course they request it with harshness and a hint of victimization. For you to misgender a person is an act of violence. For you not to understand that is you not examining your cisprivilege. Trans people are policed by society at every turn, from what they wear, to who they date, to the pronouns they choose, right down to the NAME they use. This is a personal attack on every single level. You are hurt when a trans person demands you don’t misgender them? The notion of that is absurd. There is so much privilege inherent in that statement. It’s not about you. You don’t live every day of your life with people questioning your whole being.
“Can we remove the veil of political correctness and dissect why this trend has come to be?”
Here’s what we can say about political correctness: http://othemts.tumblr.com/post/4453769634/tr-as-its-commonly-used-pc-is-a-deliberately
“I can’t help but feel that it is a symptomatic expression of a tampered psyche. ”
This is probably one of the worst statements in your piece. It’s ableist first of all, to even imply that there is something wrong with being neuroatypical, and then worse by extension to imply that trans people have something wrong with them in their head.
“Please understand that I know the medical industry performs genital mutilation onintersexed babies, and that there are a host of other reasons why people feel they were assigned the wrong body.”
While many trans people do experience body dysphoria not all do. Not all trans people feel they were assigned the wrong body. And the point is, gender isn’t defined by the body, it’s defined by the mind. Not all trans people want to or even feel the need to transition. That is their prerogative and their right.
and for the people that DO experience body dysphoria:
“But I am curious, why must women alter their bodies to express their masculinity? There is nothing wrong with the body, it is a blank canvas that we can adorn with all forms of gendered expressions. It’s that gender binary that gets our souls in a rut. ”
I’ll respond with a quote from this link: http://angerisjustified.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/dear-transphobic-radical-feminists/
“Stop calling trans men brainwashed women. Trans men are not women. They are men. They are not butch women brainwashed by the patriarchy’s narrow ideals of femininity. They are not mutilating their ‘beautiful female bodies’. They are making their bodies habitable for themselves. You know the idea of ‘my body, my choice’? Well, it applies to trans folks too.”
“I respect this; however, there seems to be quite a wave of transmen who are coming to shore.”
The shore of what? your own personal reality? So because you suddenly become aware of an identity it is a trend? For some, it’s not suddenly quite a wave. It has been their entire existence.
Here is a series of links that explain better than I ever could what needs to be said. I hope you do take the time to read them all.
As I ask you to check your privilege, I also ask that you call me out where you are willing and able on my privilege.
This is the email I got back
I appreciate your response. I respect where you are coming from but
people’s survival/movements are co-opted in this
capitalist/materialistic/consumerist world. What is all this
“privilege” talk???? seriously, while in the academy it felt like an
easy way to shut people up.
there is a lot of victim play in this world, and there are a lot of
people who are truly victimized. i cannot speak to the statistics you
mentioned because i know they are true. i am speaking to a fad of
transmen…i am from nyc…went to an all women’s college… even went
to idapalooza…and i see it everywhere. the binding is out of this
world….i am not a feminist…but i love for people to love
themselves and i can’t help but feel that cutting one’s breast off and
injecting hormones for the rest of one’s life is something we have to
talk about. the words may not be gentle, but they have to come out. i
have been watching for many years and i have been politically correct
for much too long….
ironically, while at idapalooza [a “radical queer gathering” in TN] i
had the “privilege” of speaking with a gender queer woman who felt
pressured to transition. she understood it as a path of stud/butch
queerness. the next step, you know. and he voiced how much she did not
what to cut her breast off and take hormones. he identified as he/she
and ze/their.. etc etc and i loved her for her honesty and for his
ability to not conform.
i’m only asking why we render the body the problem. period.
i am presently very content with what i’ve said and I stand by it.
At this point I really don’t feel like writing back. I don’t really have anything more to say that wasn’t expressed in the links. I feel like the email back was awful too