Archive for July, 2012

July 9, 2012

someday i’ll be positively bloody revolutionary, too…

hi, reader! so a few of you have asked after my absence, briefly allayed over the weekend… rest assured (or annoyed) i’ll definitely be back making more regular posts in early August, and here’s a little about what’s coming, a little about the message this blog is supposed to be carrying, and…a little bit of an email i sent to the partner of a friend who is just beginning transition.

first off: please rest assured, the reason for my absence is not bad, i am fine…i’m physically healthy and as mentally intact as i’m gonna get. i got a bit of concern about this and i really must clarify this. i’m okay, seriously.

second: i have some exciting stuff coming up when i come back from break!

i’m intending to review Rachel Gold’s Being Emily, a YA book about a trans girl published by Bella Books, the spiritual successor to Naiad Press, notable for publishing a bunch of wonderful lesbian smuttastic erotica and/or books that got close to erotica…i’m lookin’ at you, Karin Kallmaker aka Laura Adams…but also notable for resisting transphobia when it was extremely stylish in the dyke community. i’m excited to read Being Emily once i have time/money, as i’ve heard good things, and i really kind of want to read a book that Gets it Right or comes close enough.

also i’m looking to write about the impact of administrative law and procedure on trans people and also to delve into why our lives are so controlled and legislated and what this is intended to accomplish and how sometimes well-meaning procedures and policies hurt us unnecessarily, and how to make procedures the right way.

finally, i’d like to try to figure out how to open up discussion about the intersectionality of mental disability and the “trans community” and “queer community” alike. i have a few proposals and ideas but i think this is definitely my first thing to really bring up in terms of that whole building an inclusive trans community framework that i’ve invited comment on, because some aspects of the “queer community” relate really well to disability and almost no aspect of the “trans community” does and maybe we need to learn from each other.

third, since i’ve been told my “blog has no message”, i think maybe we need to talk about the thrust of the whole thing, it’s on my About page and it was my first post (FIRST POST!!!! OMG!!!!1!) way back when, so maybe it’s best reiterated and explained with some more words after them.

i want us all to be strong and free.
i think this is pretty easy: “strong and free” means that we aren’t oppressed by government and that we are able to state that we are trans without fear or significant loss. basically, being trans shouldn’t be more of an issue than your natural hair color and it shouldn’t subject you to governmental harassment, it shouldn’t make you less of a citizen, it shouldn’t make you inherently suspect, and it shouldn’t make you anything that you aren’t nor take away anything that you are. “strong” is about more than what you can lift, it’s about being able to be. when we are many, and we are cooperative, then we become strong. like your organic food co-op or your credit union, we work best when we work together.

no cis policing of our identities
again this one is pretty simple, that no person should ever have the right or believe they have the right to define you as who or what you are. cis people impose their expectations on us every day, some intentionally and some unintentionally, some positively and some negatively, but cis people have no right to police who, what, or why we are. being trans isn’t a contingent thing based on a set of ordered criteria, it’s something that you are because you are…anything else and we get into the dangerous pattern of “trans enough” and “trans enough” is a bad, bad road to go down, as i’ll discuss below. cis people don’t get to decide whose gender is or is not valid.

no trans/genderqueer-on-trans/genderqueer policing of our identities
being trans, genderqueer, or any similarly situated group does not give you a right to decide who is or is not trans and/or genderqueer. in other words, if Sylphi says they’re X, then they’re X, and you don’t get to pontificate on X because you’re trans. if Damiana says they’re Y, then they’re Y, and you don’t get to police their identity because you think they’re not trans enough or genderqueer enough. this is part of how our community keeps itself weak and reifies a very narrow group of people: identity policing, “transsexual vs. transgender”, transsexual separatists, transfundamentalists…this is all potholes on our path, and how you drive over or around a pothole makes all the difference. you don’t always have to hit it full speed and then express disappointment the pothole is there, but how we handle it as a community is what matters, and the policing that’s going on is a theme i keep touching on: it’s doing the oppressor’s work for the oppressor. we need to stop trying to decide the identities of other trans/genderqueer people for them.

no more minimizing other trans/genderqueer people for being different from you
when y’all keep making comments about your assumptions about my looks or gender presentation, you’re doing just this. when trans women decry trans men because “why would anyone want to be a man” (seriously, don’t fucking do this, it’s super gross when you do), same thing. when trans men traffic in the stereotype that trans women are icky or police our femininity, lack thereof, or “too much” of it, same thing. when trans people pick on genderqueers, same thing. all this is just, again, a smoke screen. we are different people. Erica is not Savannah, and Savannah is not Erica…i’m sure she’s pretty grateful she isn’t me, and i’m pretty grateful not to be anyone else! i like being me, i don’t ever want to be anyone else. our diversity is diversity, it’s not a threat to your identity.

my body, my rules, my life.
what’s good for you is good for you. what’s good for me is good for me. if you want facial surgery, and you have the means to get it because it will make you feel better…go for it. shop around, be a smart consumer, tell your surgeon what you want and not accept what they want, but…go for it. if you think having genital surgery will make you feel better and you have the means…same thing. see also any other gender-related surgery. however, you need to respect the wishes of people who don’t want such surgeries, and you need to respect that people deserve accurate documentation regardless of surgical status. the idea that you “need” to get genital surgery to get your birth certificate to reflect who you are in most US states and Canadian provinces is actually something a lot of trans people, generally transfundamentalist trans women, support. the problem: it’s a discriminatory policy. it hurts trans guys wholesale as a class, as their options for lower surgery are presently limited and horribly expensive. it hurts people who can’t afford surgery…remember, money doesn’t make you better, and it hurts people who can’t clear the ridiculous weight/ability/age/funding in public health systems/mental health/HIV status standards for surgery. in other words, it’s defending the transfundamentalist orthodoxy and making you a pawn in your own oppression to defend this kind of thing.

and, like…my documentation says exactly what i want it to. i know this is privilege. i know that when i go to cross the border nobody’s going to call me names or impugn me, and i know that if i move to a state with paranoid driver licensing policies which require ridiculous amounts of paperwork to “prove” you’re in the US legally that i won’t have a problem. i believe everyone deserves this, not just me because my crotch has certain characteristics and the people i share that status with. nobody and no body deserves to suffer for the choices we make about our gender.

fourth, of my friends asked me to send her partner, who just came out to her as being trans, an email about what she should know “in 300 words or less” and i really liked the email i dashed off half-asleep, so i’m going to share my advice here…because as we’ve discussed, this is an Ericaocracy, not a democracy, and frankly this is the one place i can speak as freely as i want. plus, i’m trying pretty hard to live up to some of this…

Don’t listen to the naysayers. Don’t believe that there’s one way to be a woman or a girl, or that any specific person is more valid than another. Don’t read the comments. Don’t believe that there is an age you had to know by. Don’t believe you’re too old or too young. Don’t believe what one person says about your face, your body, or how much surgery you “need”, as that’s entirely your choice if you have the means and desire. Don’t make decisions for other people to placate them around your gender identity, expression, or presentation. Don’t be afraid to fail but learn from what happens when you do. Don’t believe your voice is hopeless, or for that matter perfect. Don’t believe you are hopeless, for you are not, but don’t believe you are perfect, for nobody ever is or will be.

Don’t be afraid of yourself or your self. Smile at people. Don’t believe anyone who tells you who you should or shouldn’t be attracted to. Don’t be afraid to cry your eyes out to Adele’s “Someone Like You”. Don’t let the darkness get you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but be specific so people can actually help you. Be the person you want to be at all times, even when you’re covering pre-transition or when you’re not really sure during that awkward phase when you’re not really sure what you’re going for. Insist on being respected by your family and friends, and remember that names and pronouns are part of that respect. Get it right this time and you’ve got the rest of your years in front of you and don’t waste time beating yourself up over the past 26 years that you can’t change. And, well, don’t forget to be awesome.

To love yourself is radical enough in this world, but to love yourself when you’re trans is positively bloody revolutionary.

…now if only i could figure out how to live this, that’d be great. one step at a time, dear reader, one step at a time. and i shall end this post and vanish back into the aether for a while, apologetic for my overuse of italics in one post.