My adult understanding of my childhood with my father doesn’t erase the effects of his policing. I felt his gaze always following me, making me feel isolated as I quietly grappled with my identity. The loneliness and self-consciousness from these exchanges made me vulnerable in a way I wasn’t able to recognize until decades later.
— Janet Mock, Redefining Realness
I like that this video critiques media portrayals of trans folk.
Here’s the thing: People fucking despise trans women. Often the nicest thing they can thing of to say to trans woman is “gosh, you are so little like a trans woman!” Being trans is something to avoid, to exclude, to escape, at worst to nobly bare up under.
But I’m done with it. You can be trans or cis. You can be super femme, you can be ultra butch. You can be straight or queer. You can have people saying you’re a transcendent beauty who just stepped off a Renaissance canvas, you can have people saying you’re a stomach turning monster. You can be a light in the world who every person you meet loves and devotes themselves to, you can be an awkward storm cloud who drives everyone away.
— Vivian Taylor, I’m A Trans Woman And I’m Not Interested In Being One of the “Good Ones”
Never having passed as female as I’d grown older I’d finally given up trying. Besides, it seemed somehow counter-revolutionary, as the new transgender politics is increasingly built around exactly the kind prominent social visibility and defiant non-passing that my doctors at the Cleveland Clinic assured me would signal the failure of my gender transition surgery.
In fact, my political identity for 30 years has been built on the foundation of my being visibly transgender, from the day I donned a Transsexual Menace NYC t-shirt and flew to the Brandon Teena murder trial in Falls City, Nebraska.
With adolescents increasingly taking androgen blockers with the support of a generation of more protective, nurturing parents, public transsexuality is fading out. And I don’t mean only that in a generation or two we may become invisible in the public space. I mean rather that in 10 years, the entire experience we understand today as constituting transgender—along with the political advocacy, support groups, literature, theory and books that have come to define it since transgender burst from its closet in the early 1990s to become part of the LGB-and-now-T movement — all that may be vanishing right in front of us. In 50 years it might be as if we never existed. Our memories, our accomplishments, our political movement, will all seem to only be historic. Feeling transgender will not so much become more acceptable, as gayness is now doing, but logically impossible.
In other words, I may be a gender dinosaur.
— Riki Wilchins, “Transgender Dinosaurs and the Rise of the Genderqueers” The Advocate
I think Wilchins is raising some interesting points, but I think that her conception of ‘we’ is a bit narrow: she’s talking about an American (and perhaps as broad as North American and European) middle- and upper-class.
Interesting… We’ll see where this goes.
Antinomy, I learned from Spider Robinson, is the contradiction between two opposing principles or conclusions that are equally held. Robinson’s example was the devout Catholic who learns that his fiancée wants to become a nun. At the same time, as a devout Catholic, he should feel good about someone entering a life of service, but as a jilted partner, probably feels devastated. I confess that I’ve always found that to be a somewhat cerebral example — perhaps because I’ve never really met that kind of Catholic.
But a much more visceral example, for me, is the example of famous trans people. I’m thinking, at this moment, about Lana Wachowski; I just watched a video of her speech at the HRC and I’m fascinated that she’s trying to tackle, head on, the antinomy of visibility. There’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to point out her speech: I hate how trans lives have to be so public, and when you couple that with fame, even more so. You can’t be a normal person, and be openly, publicly trans. Part of me acutely perceives what she’s given up: she’s gone from “One of the directors of The Matrix” to “That trans director.” And I have never wanted to exacerbate that, so I’ve mostly avoided talking about her.
One set of criticism of Liar that I did not anticipate and therefore did nothing to address was that Liar depicts a trans character who is a liar, mentally unstable, and identifies with animals and that therefore Liar is transphobic. There is a long history of trans characters being depicted as psycho killers. A famous example is Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge.
This reading concludes that Micah is a trans character because early on in the book she pretends to be a boy. She does this because she is mistaken for a boy and thinks why not go with it? Within two days she’s found out and she only lasts that long because she stays out of most people’s way. After she’s found to be a girl—again because she’s not good at passing—she claims to be an hermaphrodite.
I intended both lies to be opportunist, plucked-from-the-air lies. As is her next lie that her father is an arms dealer. Micah gets more pleasure from people believing fantastical lies than from relatively easy lies.
Notice, of course, that I’m talking about what I intended. Readers are not privy to my intentions. They’re not mindreaders. They’re coming to my work with their own life experiences.
As someone who is not trans, and has known very few trans people in my life, and none of them particularly well, it did not cross my mind that anyone would read Micah as trans. My cisgendered privilege made me completely unable to see that reading of my novel until it was pointed out. I could see only what I intended.
– Justine Larbalestier, “Racism in the Books We Write”
I haven’t read Liar. I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy because of all the conversation around the cover a few years ago.
Toronto police say they are working to improve their relationship with the city’s transgender community, even as some transgender people say they’re being targeted by officers.
“The policy itself requires that interactions with transgender-transsexual people will take full account of their human rights,” said Alok Mukerjee, the chair of the Toronto Police Services Board. “And give them the same respectful treatment as anybody else.”
In turn, people in the transgender community say they’re still stigmatized and often mistaken for prostitutes.
The comments from both sides come in the midst of the city’s huge annual Pride celebrations, and just weeks after Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to protect the rights of transgender people.
Police began tracking the number of times officers search or detain people who identify themselves as transgender in 2010. That year, it happened 186 times. In 2011, that number rose to 244.
My LJ-friend, Morgan Page, is quoted in the article.