The question lesbian and gay people need to answer is not “Why are transgender issues suddenly demanding so much attention?” but rather “Why have we abandoned transgender people and their concerns in our rush for equality?”.
Trans* Men and the Erasure of Childhood Femininity
I wrote a thing. Even if you don’t like my thing, please check out the mag anyway - it’s an awesome place to publish (all kinds of) queer voices.
Gender identity is far more complex than what you wear or what hobbies you partake in. It is more complicated than how you wear your hair or the toys that you played with as a child. Many trans* men proudly proclaim that they never liked dresses, they always kept their hair short, they were a ‘tom boy’. They keep anything ‘feminine’ close to their chest, secret and hidden lest someone clutch it and hold it aloft as ‘proof’ that they are not trans* enough.
This is my confession: in many ways, I was not a typically masculine child. My parents granted me the freedom to express myself without fear or judgement. I loved the Power Rangers and Polly Pocketequally. I had long, flowing blond hair and perpetually scabby knees. I dabbled in make-up, played dress-up and skateboarded too fast down steep hills like I had some kind of death wish.
These things are not what make me a man. Equally, they do not make me less of one.
The hardest part of coming out, for me, was not pronouns or family or work. It was the pressure to disconnect myself from certain aspects of my childhood, the person that I had once been (and still am, in many ways). To edit myself – talk about my eighth birthday and leave out the fairy castle cake, paint my experiences in blue rather than pink or purple. It was the sudden revelation that I could not talk about my first boyfriend, or any boyfriend, without it feeling somehow socially unacceptable, without someone double-taking or their smile freezing on their face.
I felt ashamed of the ballet class I took when I was five, the dress I wore to my prom, the snapshots on the walls that damned me for my ‘girlhood’. Like somehow, if I was a ‘real man’, I wouldn’t have or shouldn’t have partaken in these things. I erased whole sections of my childhood, consciously locked them away and didn’t talk about them for fear of being judged. Of being told I wasn’t really trans*, that my interests or hobbies or the way I looked took away my credibility.
I would never tell a cis boy that he can’t do ballet, or play with make-up, or dress up in pink. I would never tell him that those things mean he’s not a ‘real’ boy. Yet I still felt the shame associated with that, and still judged myself by those arbitrary standards.
Many of us boast about hating dresses from an early age, or about wanting to be Spiderman for Halloween like that somehow validates our masculinity. Like we have to dress up our childhood as a stereotypical boyhood in order to be real, or to be taken seriously. But if we liked to knit, or our favourite colour was pink, or we went to prom in a dress, that’s okay. It doesn’t define us. We can talk about that without being less of a man. It doesn’t make us fake, it doesn’t invalidate our gender, and it isn’t shameful.
We are not born knowing that the colour pink is for girls and that the colour blue is for boys. Gender isn’t formed by what you wear, what you do, what you like or how you express yourself. Gender is what’s inside you, and no one can define that but yourself. No matter what you looked like or how you expressed yourself as a child. My name is Michael, and I am a man who had a fairy castle cake for my eighth birthday. And I’m okay with that.
This is lovely, thank.
I like cross-stitching and sewing. When I was a kid I liked to dress up as knights and princesses. I also went to prom in a dress; it was beautiful; my mother made it for me. I always liked the idea of wearing a dress and looking pretty in it but when I would put one on I felt uncomfortable and wrong because people read me as a girl. I liked lego and knex and miniature cars but I also liked organizing the furniture in my dollhouse and I collected beanie babies. I hated sports and most of my friends growing up were girls.
I worked so hard to erase all those experiences when talking to medical professionals and it made me feel sick and disingenuous and I am done pretending that I was always 100% rough and masculine because that is a goddamn lie.
this is good and i like it. i gotta mention: i used to be one of those that rejected femininity. i was scared of it; scared that any ‘feminine’ thing about me will be used to discredit my identity. i felt this way long before i knew i was a man. and of course i was right! as hard as i tried, there was still plenty for people to pick at to try and disprove my maleness - that i cry sometimes, that i don’t look in people’s eyes when they speak to me, what i’ve slept with men.
because of ridiculous cis ideals of what a man should be, i spent so many years rejecting a vital part of myself to the point of being a huge gross misogynist.
my name is mihail and i threw out all the makeup relatives who didn’t know me got for my birthdays when i was younger. i had a closet full of fashionable clothes that my parents spent a ridiculous amount of money on that i never wore, instead stealing my dad’s shirts and my ex’s pants. i waited twenty years before trying nail polish, even though i wanted to do it earlier. i missed out on many potential friends because i couldn’t stand the thought of associating with women for years. i missed out on many potential partners because i refused to admit i was attracted to men.
much of this was done because of my dysphoria but it is not even close to an excuse for my misogyny, and the internalized homophobia that came from it.
i rejected anything society labeled as feminine and in doing that i hurt myself and i hurt others. so i’m done with that shit. i am making up for a wasted childhood. i love nailpolish and floral prints and cooking is cool and boys are cute when they’re not awful and women are powerful and wonderful and awesome and i am so lucky to have them in my life. and that’s more than ok. it’s great.
lord jesus fuck, there are tears, this (OP and commentary) is kind of exactly what i needed to read today.
i was going to make some kind of heartfelt commentary but all i can muster is:
my name is Grim and i love dresses and flowers and i sure as hell get a fairy castle cake for my birthday some day.
The Butt of the Joke: Frustration Around Queer Representation
Do you want to know something painfully sad? Something so pathetic and tragic that it irks me every time it happens? I’m totally weak to queer baiting. Like not just a little bit, but a TON…. Like if queer baiting is chum, I’m a shark that just HAS TO FUCKING BE THERE TO EAT IT ALL UP. And I’m not just talking Johnlock, Avengers, Deanstiel, and Sterek nonsense either. I’m talking nameless side characters that exist for the sheer purpose of an off color, erasive, and probably downright hurtful gay joke.
The other day, I’m watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch (I’m rewatching the entire series) and Sabrina helps Harvey out with something, and then while his back is turned she scampers away to do something else and one of his teammates sits down where Sabrina just was. Harvey turns to thank Sabrina with a kiss on the cheek and ends up kissing his teammate instead (OMG) the teammate looks up and asks “Hey, do you want to get a coffee sometime?” and Harvey just sort of smiles weakly and turns back around (with a laugh track playing in the background). I lost it, it was kind of adorable how the little nameless queer felt like that little accident could be something significant. But the point of the laugh track is to represent the general audience (and a dorky, love struck, lonely, queer boy is not general in this case) and the joke is that “LOL, that guy is queer for Harvey! LOOK AT HIS SILLY QUEER FEELS. THEY SO SILLY CAUSE HARVEY NOT QUEER.” The joke isn’t for us, it’s about us.
This is what is the hardest thing about queer baiting. This shit has us so messed up we can’t even identify when we are being made fun of. We are so desperate for attention and gratification and visibility we see any mention of queerness as something to be treasured regardless of the intention. We will read it into contexts when it may not even be a writer’s intention in some desperate and depressing hunt for something real (sometimes more despicable writers will leave a trail of queer bread crumbs that lead to a big nasty nothing. Moffat basically is laughing at us as he walks to the bank, that bastard*.)
We do this shit in even in media where we are supposed to be the protagonists! “Will and Grace”, in common discussion a “revolutionary” sitcom for the Gay Assimilationist Movement, is basically just one of these long running “Hey gays, aren’t we silly and benign and so stupid?” We do it to ourselves as much as everyone else does.**
But I will keep consuming this media, because I’m so fucking lonely. Because I want to see something that makes me feel warm and fuzzy and not alone. I want to tell Harvey’s teammate that I’ll go to coffee with him. I want slash pairings to sometimes be the canon ones. I want to be reminded that I’m not alone by my media. But this is the best we can do in these mediums. Desperate queers pining for a love we just can’t find. Because we are scared that if we aren’t the butt of the joke, if we aren’t just subtext, if we don’t assimilate and accept the roles handed to us, that we won’t be visible at all. I need the lie to survive the harshness of the reality I live in. That it is very possible I will end up alone. A lot of hetero folk talk about the “fairytale” that they were handed and they were disappointed wasn’t real when they entered real life. Queer folks, particularly lonely Queer folks, have to write their own fairytales just to lessen the edge of the harsh reality that queer isolation isn’t just possible, it’s likely. It will happen tomorrow when I go into work, or the bar, or hang out with my friends. I will be constantly reminded that I’m alone in Queer town. Population me.
This is why queer baiting is so scathing and cruel. Because it kicks when we are down. It gives us a false hope. It’s the lie we must tell ourselves to survive. But we can’t ALWAYS believe the lie, and some days, like today are harder than others. Some days, queer baiting doesn’t bother me at all. Some days I enjoy it even (omg a queer kiss/reference *squee!*) but other days, it cuts me deep. It reminds me that our representation isn’t real and that we are just tools to bring “spice, sass, and excitement” to the lives of cis hetero folk. And that’s true for real life, as well as media on many a day.
*The fact that Moffat wrote even one line of dialogue for Captain Jack Harkness (easily my fave queer character of all time) makes me sick to my stomach.
**Do not worry, I will be doing a post on the crappiness of “Gay” media in the near future.
So far we’ve been invited to
- UC LA
- UC Riverside
- UC Irvine
- Claremont Colleges
- A conference in Long Beach
- A conference in Sacramento
- Rocio’s high school in socal
- An organization in San Francisco
Who else wants in? I want to make this a thing!
Reblog if you want us to come in your area (on the west coast) to talk about trans* and queer focused sex ed, normalizing consent and negotiation, navigating dysphoria, exploring what feels better in sex, ways to be intimate that aren’t sexual, different kinds of relationships, deconstructing traditional relationship narratives, dealing with the cycle of abuse in our communities, the difference between intersex and trans* people, and any other questions that come up.
I am really grateful for how well the workshop went this weekend with people asking questions and sharing experiences. We were asked a lot of really good questions that showed where people need information and want to give the talk more so it can evolve and improve!
Please signal boost this, I really want it to be a thing!
(bold by me uff)
here’s to all the quiet queers.
all the queers who eat micro-agressions and secretly cry themselves to sleep.
the queers who dress the way their cis mothers told them to.
the queers who think about killing cis fucks every half hour, but never say a word more radical than “sorry.”
the queers who sip tea at their friend’s house while considering suicide, since that’s just about all they can think about.
the queers who are living double lives.
the queers who put on makeup at 2 a.m. in a hand mirror, making sure to wipe it off before school the next morning.
the queers who go to work dead and come home to see the world.
the queers who fuck, and suck, and kiss with the same hands and lips they use to eat dinner with their well-meaning shitty-acting parents
the queers who are ugly to you, too fat for you, running from you with lips sewn shut
here’s to the quiet queers, since it’s about fucking time we stopped shaming them.
Why do some folks feel that transgender people need to disclose their history and their genitalia and non transgender people do not? When you first meet someone and they are clothed, you never know exactly what that person looks like. And when you first meet someone, you never know that person’s full history. Why do only some people have to describe themselves in detail—and others do not? Why are some nondisclosures seen as actions and others utterly invisible? Actions. Gwen Araujo was being herself, openly and honestly. No, she did not wear a sign on her forehead that said “I am transgender, this is what my genitalia look like.” But her killers didn’t wear a sign on their foreheads saying, “We might look like nice high school boys, but really, we are transphobic and are planning to kill you.” That would have been a helpful disclosure.
Reblog if you are part of the LGBT community and Autistic!
I want to feel less alone, because if I read about Autism, there is hardly anyone who mentions being Autistic and LBGT.
Welllll…as long as you’re not into erasing the B in LGBT, then I count.
I’m trans, gay, and autistic woooo~ ◡‿◡♡
So ya know those trans men who say being trans is ONLY a medical condition and not an identity?
The medicalization of trans identities is most harmful towards trans women. So isn’t it kind of really fucked up for the most privileged of trans people, white trans men, to claim that non-binaries/trans folk who don’t experience the exact same kind of dysphoria/etc are wrong because being trans is a medical condition and nothing else? Because constantly screaming ‘it’s a medical condition!!!’ is probably all well and good when you’ve not had medical journals published claiming you’re only trans because you get off on dressing ‘like a woman’ and it’s not really going to do you any personal harm by saying such things, but jesus christ, can people seriously not see what is wrong with claiming being trans can only be ONE thing while completely ignoring all the shit trans women (esp twoc) have had to go through because of people believing being trans can only be that ONE thing?
Actually, I know the answer to that question. Most of them probably CAN see the harm but choose to carry on calling every trans person with different experiences a transtrender because they have no problem whatsoever with causing such harm. Fucking over trans women is practically a sport for such people.
I feel like a lot of white trans men forget that we’re still white and, in many ways, also forget that we’re still men. I’ve… kind of lost count of how many white trans guys I’ve met who really, truly believed that they didn’t have male privilege. Like it seemed impossible to convince them that male privilege, cis privilege, and passing privilege were all different things.
(Also a lot of them spent all this time trying to tell other trans guys how to “dress and act like a real men” and thought every trans* person must absolutely wish they were cis
and got really offended and flung all this bullshit at me if I told them about liking the parts I had and vaginal sex and whatnot.)
Transgender Day of Remembrance
November 20th, 2012
Map of Trans* related violence from TransRespect-Transphobia.
(from TransRespect) The update shows reports of murdered or killed trans people in 29 countries in the last 12 months, with the majority from Brazil (126), Mexico (48), and the USA (15), followed by Venezuela (9), Honduras (8), Colombia (6), Uruguay (6) and Guatemala (5). In Asia most reported cases have been found in India (6), Pakistan (5) and the Philippines (4), and in Europe in Turkey (5).
List of NAMES/Information of those attacked HERE.
For more information, visit GLAAD.
(First photo from GLAAD.org)
Attraction – or lack thereof – to trans people
As many continue to argue about the appropriateness of sexual preferences that exclude trans people, the ground being debated often shifts or slides so that we are not all talking about the same thing. For anyone continuing to defend a pattern of excluding trans people as potential partners as natural and free from social influence and internalized transphobia, I won’t tell you to stop arguing your case, but do so understanding these two points.
1 – No one wants to coerce or force you to date trans people.
When it is argued that a refusal to date trans people is influenced by internalized transphobic messages and other bigoted assumptions, it does not follow that the solution would be to date the people they hold bigoted assumptions and prejudices about. That would be a horrible experience for any trans person they date. The solution being suggested is to examine your romantic/sexual behavior for prejudicial influence and respond to what you find there the same way we already encourage doing so for all other areas of life.
2 – We’re not just talking about lack of attraction, but about holding attraction that you choose not to act upon.
In many cases trans status is not the first thing a person learns about someone else. By the time they do learn that person’s trans status, attraction - or lack thereof - is often already established. If they were never attracted to the person to begin with, then the person’s trans status had nothing to do with it. If they were attracted to the person up until discovering that they are trans, then “I’m not attracted to trans people” is clearly a convenient lie to hide the truth: that they are attracted to trans people, but for one reason or another they suppress those attractions. The fact that they can’t even acknowledge the attraction that was once there and feel the need to cover it up with this lie suggests that internalized shame and disgust for the attraction they held for a trans person plays a significant role in this dynamic.
Bottom line, please feel free to approach the conversation with:
“There are some trans folks I’ve been attracted to and strongly desired, but I just can’t go there because x, y, z.” Or with,
“It just so happens that I haven’t been attracted to any of the trans people I’ve met so far, of course I have no clue about the folks I never knew were trans.” (For added clarity, mention the number of trans folks you’ve gotten to know well. Is it 5? 12? 50? 250?)
But please stop with the “I’m just naturally not attracted to trans folks, stop telling me I have to date folks I’m not attracted to.” That’s just not how it works and you’re being intellectually dishonest with yourself and with others.
Ugh yes, this.
Stop throwing around the “BUT EVERYONE HAS PREFERENCES” whine to avoid talking about transphobia. It’s… not cute.