my first post on Cisnormativity got greeted with a pretty serious firestorm of criticism on Reddit’s r/transgender and though the prime hater deleted most of her commentary, the accusation that my life requires a “trigger warning” still stands. at one point the poster famously compared me to “racist white trash” for…well, even i’m not sure. i guess for pointing out that the empress had no clothes…
i know we consider it de rigueur to tear each other down in the “trans community”, a subset of yesterday’s post, given how much it always feels to me a lot like the tearing-down is modeled on a media stereotype of how women writ large behave. the difference, you see, is that i am very familiar with the workings and operation of generalized female jealousy…we tear each other down about little things (sense of fashion, smells like cat pee, saggy butt) and though i am not saying it’s okay or rationalizing it, i know how to deal with it because i grew up with it. we also often are bitchy behind each other’s backs but make nice and get along in public, because, after all, we don’t want people calling us “bitches”, now do we?
i don’t like generalized Western female-sphere cattiness, but like much of the things we do to each other as women, it preserves the hegemony’s grip on us as much as it seems like a good “outlet” for how we feel about something. i don’t willingly play the game, but sometimes subconsciously i get clowned when talking about someone with my co-workers or friends and get sucked in. i dislike myself for a few days afterwards, but oftentimes rationalize it with how i feel about that person, their actions, their gossipyness…in other words, i’m part of the problem, and for better or for worse i realize i’m part of the problem.
tea break: Gala Darling has some things to say about this, and i really think what she has to say is a useful interlude before we go any further. plus, i’m seriously making tea, so the flow of the post will change. go take a gander at “Jealousy is the killer of GIRL LOVE” …it ain’t perfect but Gala usually says some pretty valuable stuff.
before i change the tenor here to talk about the trans “community” and jealousy, i want to interject what one of my friends had to say about current love/hate object Zooey Deschanel, an American actress/musician who has pretty much made a career for the past decade out of behaving like many of us do, basically being a little bit erratic, awkward, and quirky but unlike the rest of us, being gorgeous. said friend’s mantra is that “Zooey Deschanel just makes us jealous and that’s why we hate her, not because she’s a bad person.” (pop culture has been particularly cruel to Ms. Deschanel recently…i’m sure the timing is coincidental and has nothing to do with that her getting divorced has been big “news”, which means that sexist jerks like TMZ and Page Six start policing you for being a rogue woman. so, yeah, hands off Zooey. let her be adorable and quirky if she wants to but let’s not buy into the idea that we should be a jerk to her for being like you or i but more popular and beautiful…hell, we should be happy for her.
the method of tearing down in the “trans community” just feels different to me. i think it’s that there’s often this attitude of competitiveness about being a woman, and…i don’t know how to be competitive at that. i mean, i’ll kick your butt in tennis and i am a formidable goalie in field hockey…but i just don’t know how to compete at being a woman. i mean, aren’t we all already women? i don’t really want to hear comparisons being done using statistics to prove who is or isn’t better; stats have a place and a time, and a value-neutral arena in which to share ones that matter would be great, but much like people who argue about whose SRS surgeon is better, all i really can do in these discussions is sit there and blink vacantly.
this is why jealousy is so hard on me when sprayed in the direction of people i care about. we are whole people, and when you’re jealous of little aspects of our lives, you’re reducing that person to that aspect. it’s cruel, it’s othering, and it often comes with a number of fantasies and values that get projected onto that person. in other words, knock it the fuck off. because we are whole people it’s unfair to let one aspect control your entire perception of a person. there are things which carry enough of a taint (Anne Lawrence being a rapist, say) but small details of a person’s life really shouldn’t. plus, it completely ignores that there might be ways that the person you’re “jealous” of is full of their own differences and insecurities.
it also fails to take into account that we are all different. i am awkward, weird, and quirky, too. i’m superstitious, very shy around people i don’t trust (and probably too loud around people who i do trust) and i’m eternally scared that i’m not good enough, not smart enough, not (whatever) enough. i’m terrified of new social situations when they matter, and blasé when they don’t, and as a result i often end up impressing random jerks but don’t really excel in situations where there are new people i care to have in my life, and this terror often makes me make even dumber decisions because i’m so scared of screwing up. when someone focuses on one aspect of a person and steamrolls everything else, all these concerns and realities go away and are replaced with their fantasy version of that person. i’m sure fantasy erica is probably way better than real erica, but there’s one little problem: real erica actually exists, and i inhabit her policed body, damaged mind, hand-me-down clothes, and far-too-small checking account. in other words, i can’t live up to those fantasies because they’re an unfair bar.
we have to learn to see the whole person rather than judging over small aspects of a person’s life. after all, it is part of letting go of our hatred for ourselves and our selves as much as it’s about letting go of our hatred of each other, and this, my dear readers, is powerful. respect your inner quirky person, and remember that once we get away from competition, we’re healing ourselves as a community, which in turn helps more of us heal our selves.