Tag Archive for trans issues

New Narratives

“Could the doctors have made a mistake? Could I have accidentally been born a girl? I should’ve been born a boy. Can that happen?”

Jo describes this pivotal moment as “terrifying.”

“‘I have to be honest. I can’t lie.’ That’s what went through my head,” she tells me.

Jo’s reply to her child’s pressing question was simple: “Yes, that can happen.”

Her emotions were not so simple.

“That was the hardest part, trying to be supportive to your child and act like it’s no big deal and inside you’re exploding,” she says.

There’s a lengthy pause and then Jo says: “I’m sorry. I’m trying not to cry just talking about it now.”

Reflecting on that crucial conversation with Sophie, Jo says she was both “terrified for my child” and “very sad.”

“Back then I knew nothing about having a transgender child.

“I didn’t know where I was going to go from here, what was going to happen, what sort of life my child would have.

“Also, the idea of losing my only daughter, as well, was quite sad. I really wanted a daughter and all of a sudden I was going to have two sons,” Jo explains.

‘Mum, could the doctor have made a mistake?’

I suppose I understand that it’s considered a sign of progress that we’ve moved from “My child is a freak; I’m kicking the kid out!” to “I’m grieving to learn that my child isn’t cisgender. Oh, woe, for my shattered expectations.” But I’m already pretty tired of the new narrative.

Thought for the Day

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”

Thought for the Day

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.

Toronto Police: Kinda Douchecanoes

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.