Definition of cissexism/binarism

Posted: November 2, 2010 in Bodies, Damned binaries, Gender, Personal, Relationships
Tags: , , , , ,

Trigger warning for cissexism/binarism. If you are looking for actual definitions of the two words, please click here; I did a post defining both.

I’ve been thinking about safe spaces.

I don’t have folks like me around me. Mainly because there’s very few of us. This means that people who have known me for a long time, including before I found the words for who I am, are having to be my ‘safe space.’ They’re people I love and trust, and would find it very difficult to cut out of my life. But they’re having trouble ‘getting’ it. And I know that yeah, I don’t make much sense to them. I’m not asking much. I just want them not to insist I’m my assigned gender, and to call me by my chosen name.

Maybe they feel it is rough on them, but frankly it’s rougher on me. My identity is not me making myself unhappy by trying to be different. My identity is me finally finding something that doesn’t make me want to scream and punch my way out. I don’t care what the world thinks – I want to be human in the eyes of the world, but if the world thinks I’m something I’m not I’ll stick a finger up in its face. It hurts, hearing people tell me I’m something I’m not.

And the subtext to their insistence that I’m something I’m not is them saying, I feel entitled to dictate to you who and what you are, and you don’t have any say in the matter. I was accused of guilt-tripping when I said that by refusing to acknowledge my lack of gender my friend was saying that I, as I am, don’t exist, and betraying a lack of respect for me. That’s not a guilt trip, that’s saying the exact goddamn truth. If you say my lack of gender doesn’t exist, you are saying that I don’t exist. And I’m sitting right in front of you, patently existing. If you are saying these things, you are displaying utterly unchecked cis privilege and binary privilege, not to mention a dash of transphobia.

*    *    *

In a slightly happier – more amusing – turn of events, one of my grandparents has been informed that I have ‘gender issues’ and am going to an LGBTQ group. The response? As long as I’m not going into the BNP or something, it doesn’t matter. That’s someone who has their priorities straight!

  1. Dreki says:

    “Mainly because there’s very few of us”
    I think there are more of us than we think, but a lot more people are willing to not be open about it because they don’t want to face the same things you have to deal with. I’ve seen a few people who say “I’m genderqueer, but I don’t tell anyone” or “Non-gendered fits me, but I just call myself male (this person’s assigned sex)” generally because “it’s easier”.
    This is also why I don’t buy into the idea that so few people aren’t straight. With all the pressure on people to be straight- it’s pretty likely that there are a LOT of polysexuals out there who only date the opposite sex because “it’s easier” (not including the homosexual people who are still desperately trying to “fix” their sexuality). Not that this helps us get safe spaces, but it certainly effects the statistics when people say “X% of the population is…”.

    I don’t think we’ll ever really be able to know how many of us there are until cissexism, binarism, cisnormativity, and heteronormativity are gone.

    “Maybe they feel it is rough on them, but frankly it’s rougher on me.”

    I hate this argument, and it’s horribly common. It’s just drenched in privilege- “your identity is so difficult for other people to get that you shouldn’t expect people to be able to accept it. Your needs aren’t as important as their comfort and you’re being unreasonable for expecting them to treat you like a real person”.

    • JKBC says:

      With the numbers issue, as well as the people who know and aren’t open about it, there’s also the people for whom their assigned gender never sat very easily on them but who didn’t know there was any alternative to the gender binary. When I came out, an older member of my close family said privately to me that ze felt the gender ze’d been assigned had never fit and that ze thought I might be somewhat similar, which surprised me; so there must be more of us than even know we exist.

      There was a survey recently in the UK that came out with 1% identifying as gay or lesbian, .5% as bisexual and 3% as ‘don’t know’ (and, from another source, .5% as ‘other’). However, the methods used for the survey (doorstep/over the phone) weren’t exactly conducive to accurate answers especially surrounded by a heterosexist and heteronormative culture.

      That privileged argument is terrible, and it’s even worse when it leads into, ‘besides, you don’t actually exist,’ which it often does. And it’s used as an excuse for everything people say or do, no matter how blatantly prejudiced it is. ‘Oh I’m sorry I said you were really fe/male, but you can’t expect us all to understand’ – ‘well yes, I can actually…’

      • Dreki says:

        That’s happened with binary trans people as well- coming out to a parent or relative who says that they felt the same way. Until every single person knows about all the different genders out there, there’ll be plenty of people who have no idea what they are or that it’s even an option. If I were a binary-gender trans kid, I probably would’ve been insisting so since I was 2. Instead I got to go around in a haze of confusion and trying to figure out where I fit because no one could say “Oh, hey, you don’t have to be either!”. I almost got really screwed over on the first trans forum I went on- I got lucky and someone mentioned that my describing my gender sounded like neutrois, everyone else just rolled their eyes and told me that it’s impossible to be neither.

        Yeah, that is a really poorly done survey. I think, in this culture, those surveys sadly need to be done by saying “Have you ever experienced sexual attraction to the same sex and/or gender” “Have you ever experienced sexual attraction to the opposite sex and/or gender” “Have you ever experienced sexual attraction to a person of another sex and/or gender that hasn’t been listed”. The first and last are more likely to get a “yes” than “Are you gay?” “Are you bi?”, because people don’t always self-identify like that.

        • Dreki says:

          The privileged thing is really screwed up. I saw the parent of a kid who may or may not be some gender comment about how “For [cis people], transgender will always be a foreign language we learn painstakingly, and speak poorly”. I assume “transgender” means “language that isn’t offensive, othering, demeaning, erasing, invalidating, or otherwise problematic towards people who aren’t cis”.How privileged can you get, saying that being respectful of trans and non-binary people is to speak a foreign language?

          • JKBC says:

            It would be great if we could get the message out to young folks that it’s okay to be neither male or female, neither man or woman. I try to speak up about it and I mostly (if not reading the situation as dangerous) answer the ‘are you a boy or a girl’ question honestly, because I always hope that I can help either the person asking or someone they know, later on, to come to terms with themselves. No-one ever told me – I was told it was okay to be non-gender-normative, but not told there was any possibility of anything outside the binary. It sounds like you were pretty lucky in that someone mentioned neutrois – having the response the others gave must have been horrible.

            Yeah, I think the questions should be a bit more clear; I don’t know the exact kinds of questions used, though. It seems a bit… strange to use a door-to-door or telephone survey for that kind of a study.

            What the HELL!? That comment from the parent of the child is UTTERLY UNACCEPTABLE. A foreign language?? That’s just… unbelievable. And using it as an excuse to ‘speak poorly,’ ie to treat non-cis folks as less than human… *incoherent rage outburst.*

          • Dreki says:

            It would be awesome. I really wish it was made mandatory for health classes to include trans and intersex education- talking about how your gender isn’t related to your sex, not everyone has a binary gender/has only one gender/has a gender, not everyone has a binary sex, and that if you want to you can go through a different puberty than the one set out for you at birth or postpone it until you know what you want, and explain puberty in terms of THAT as well (you know, the same way they tell cis non-intersex people what to expect to happen to THEIR bodies). But it never will.

            I never get the “Are you a boy or a girl?” question off the internet, and then I rarely do either.

            Ugh, the cis guy who wrote that pisses me off so much. He once, writing an article about Camp Trans (a thing in the US for trans and gender non-normative kids) and inclued the comment “cis (that means normal) siblings”. He still refers to his kid by the kid’s assigned sex, even though it looks very much like the kid doesn’t identify with it (doesn’t identify as female, either). He also said that feminine men are a “third gender” (a term once used to refer to all gay men in a fairly derogatory fashion) and, just, ugh, how privileged can you get… And he calls himself “accepting” of his child. Yeeeaaaahhh…
            It really isn’t hard. I think you could just read the QuestioningTransphobia blog and get a good idea of how to speak respectfully of trans people. It updates, at most, once a day. It has a list of trans 101 articles so you don’t have to read through all the archives. Not a significant time requirement. Completely free. Yet completely impossible, I guess.
            Yeah, it’s great that he’s letting his “son” wear a dress to school and be “himself”, but it’d be even better if he let his child decide what pronouns the child wants to use and actually spent the time to learn how to be respectful of trans issues.

  2. JKBC says:

    It’ll certainly take a seismic shift in the way the world works to make non-cis inclusive and positive, non-binary inclusive and positive, and intersex inclusive and positive education compulsory or even widespread or accepted. I think it’s possible… just, at the moment, extremely unlikely. (trying to be optimistic only works sometimes)
    The question’s a bit of a hard topic. I’m… mostly extremely glad to be able to make people wonder since I don’t want people to read me as my assigned sex, although it’s scary in some situations.

    ‘Cis – that mean normal’ – hey, getting rid of that ciscentric, transphobic, cissexist wording is why the word was created in the first place! Talk about trying to CONSTRUCT trans positive language as a foreign language… He sounds like one of these people where the words ‘acceptance – you keep using that word, I do not think you know what it means,’ are totally applicable.
    And being unwilling to educate himself when there’s zilch but his own privilege standing in the way of that education… urg. It sounds like he’s doing the typical privileged ‘look I’m doing this, can I have a cookie now’ while trying to indulge his own cis, binary, male privilege.
    Acceptance fail. I feel sorry for his child. It’s good that the child is being allowed to be gender non-conforming and not experiencing the conventional definition of abuse over it, but this smiling non-acceptance is definitely a bad thing.

    • Dreki says:

      It really would. It’s hard enough to get parents to let their kids go to school with “those kinds of people”, much less let them be taught that it’s okay to be “those kinds of people”.
      Yeah, it seems like it would be scary. I’m not sure if I want to take testosterone or not- one of the reasons I don’t is because I do have a bit of cissexual privilege and the world would probably be even scarier without it.

      Actually, he sounds like one of the people that inspired my friend to write that acceptance is something you’re resigned to or forced to deal with- not something you welcome with open arms. You could at least say “not trans” which is a vast oversimplification and really not accurate. But normal, Jesus. The justification was incredibly discomforting, too, insisting “But I think queer people are ABOVE normal and BETTER than us lowly normal cis het people, honest!”. We don’t need to be placed on pedestals, thanks.
      I don’t know, maybe he thinks he is educating himself by talking to cis people who happen to have trans kids/be therapists who claim to be an expert on gender (yeah… major flaw in that there logic).

      I wrote a post about all the things I’ve seen cis parents of kids who might be trans do but I’m still afraid to put it up because I’m expecting a whole bunch of cis supremacy. I don’t know which is worse- the privileged people who say we owe them for “accepting” us or the marginalized people who buy into it…

      • JKBC says:

        The ‘those kind of people’ thinking is a real curse, and it’s yet another reason why the automatic, prejudiced Othering of difference needs to stop. A lot of people need to realise that not being taught about these things doesn’t make a child not them, it just has a negative affect on the child.
        I’m lucky, I’ve never had any really bad experiences caused by coming over as ‘queer’ – not necessarily non-cis – yet, although there’s time. Cissexual privilege is a powerful thing, considering the amount of culturally sanctioned transphobia around.

        Acceptance isn’t enough, but it’s a start, although this guy sounds like he’s accepting just enough to make him look ‘accepting’ and not an inch more. Certainly not embracing his child’s wishes and identification.
        Oh woo, the ‘I didn’t mean it in a subnormal way, I meant it as a COMPLIMENT’ defence, which is terrible. I always wonder if that sort of idea is going to get twisted so that opponents use it as ‘evidence’ that people seeking equality are really seeking superiority. And it’s still reinforcing difference, putting an artificial line in the sand there.
        I think a lot of this could go on a cissexism bingo card, what with that and the marginalisation of the voices of those who actually know what they’re talking about and centreing of privileged voices on the subject.

        Cis supremacy would probably rear its ugly head, but there’d probably be also a lot of support from folks who aren’t of that persuasion. In the end though, that’s your choice – it sounds like it would be a post well worth reading.

        • Dreki says:

          It is. The whole “us” and “them” dichotomy is pretty disturbing and very ingrained. And it’s funny that privileged parents think that not talking about differences mean their kids won’t be aware of them- really it just means that the kids will have to make up their own reasons for why those kids are different than they are. The whole raising kids “colorblind” was a complete bust.
          It’s really weird, parents can talk about the *coughcissexistcough* differences between binary genders. No one worries that telling a little assigned-male child about girls will make that child a girl. But tell kids about non-heterosexuality and you’ll “make” them gay. Tell kids about non-cis people and you’ll “make” them trans. Tell kids about consensual non-monogamy and you’ll “make” them polyamorous. I swear, people just don’t think…

          I really don’t know what the kid’s wishes or identification are because I don’t know the kid, and it’s impossible to because even if the kid says “I’m just a boy who likes wearing a skirt” you don’t know if because the kid IS or because the kid’s been told that that’s the only other option or because the kid doesn’t want to rock the boat by coming out as other gender/s/less. Which is the real problem of this- even if a kid is free to dress however the kid wants, it can still screw up the kid if the kid isn’t free to be whoever the kid actually is.
          It seems like the cis guy is trying, but the trying is limited to realizing he screwed up only when someone tells him he has- rather than trying to educate himself.

          Ugh, yeah, the compliment defense is really awful. It felt so close to the fetishizing thing. Like people who go gaga over genderqueer people because their genders are so “subversive” and “radical”. Seriously, my gender is just as subversive and radical as anyone else’s- aka, not particularly. My politics might be, but my gender? No. It’s really problematic for people doing that because it IS just reinforcing the us vs them.
          And I didn’t think about people using it to show that people seeking equality actually want superiority, but it definitely could be. eurgh.

          It really could go on a bingo card, there’s probably already one with all of this.

          Right now I’m still getting over a cold, have to deal with finals, and am starting on anti-depressants. I’ll put it up when I can deal with the responses. I do plan to, it’s just the “when” that I’m not sure about.

          • JKBC says:

            Yeah, the raising children colourblind was a really bad plan; it probably made the racism problem worse because if children noticed racial bias they would be less likely than adults or people who had a knowledge of the very real colour biases in society to recognise it as unjust and think that it was something wrong with those on the receiving end. Thus perpetuating racism.
            The difference they see, I suppose, between telling a child about the other binary gender (and the cissexist and otherwise messed up ‘differences’ between the two binary genders) is that being a male-assigned boy or a female-assigned girl is not a choice. Many of the people who believe telling kids about non-heterosexuality makes them gay are probably also of the opinion, possibly secretly, that being gay (or trans, or polyamorous, or various other things) is a choice.

            Suppose it comes back to the whole problem with childhood, with children having expectations dumped on them and their routes mapped out for them at ridiculously early ages rather than being allowed to grow and develop freely and being loved for it. Being allowed to dress in opposition to gender norms, while a (small) step in the right direction (especially, I think, for coercively male-assigned at birth people, gender policing and sexism being what it is), is not the whole battle fought; we’re still light years from the standard of being loved, affirmed and supported in any direction of development.

            Yeah, it is pretty close to the fetishisation – ick. That ‘your gender is soo ____’ thing is also disgusting. ‘Oh wow, I’m something you haven’t come across before. That doesn’t make it anything drastically different.’
            It seems like an argument that some bigot would make or has made. I’m not sure it’s been done, although I wouldn’t be surprised to find it has, but it would probably be possible.

            Haven’t yet found a specific cissexism bingo card – transphobia and coming out (gender) yes, cissexism not yet although it probably exists.

            I hope things go all right for you; you’re the best judge of when you can deal with the responses. I will keep a look-out, though.

          • Dreki says:

            I think there are studies showing that it did, because then kids will come up with their own reasons for why a kid looks different. A common one is “My skin gets brown when I play in the dirt- so you must be dirty!”, which can lead to really tormenting some poor kid, I’ve heard of an entire class of 5 or 6 year olds who would wipe off a counter or pencil or anything this one black girl used because she was “dirty”. You can imagine what that did to the girl. Parents who are so proud of their “anti-racism” would be scandalized to find out what their child who “doesn’t see race” has been doing.

            Yeah, that’s true. It would help if people didn’t see all those things as a choice. Bleh, I keep forgetting how ignorant people are, it’s like I think they can’t get any lower and then they find whole knew levels of baseless irrational hate…

            Yeah, childhood is weird. I think mine was really unusual- my parents were pretty lax. I don’t think I had any rules growing up, but I never did anything really awful either. I don’t know if they had any expectations for me. It defiitely is a step in the right direction- and it’s nice that some schools actually ARE doing workshops about gender and social roles and stuff (okay, I’ve heard of one, which had at least one non-cisnormative- but it was, like, 2nd graders. That is epic win). I definitely appreciate teh steps, but then I look at how hard it is just to make those steps and how far I’ve got to go and it’s like “Gah, can’t you move any faster?!”

            I’m not sure that fetishization in general isn’t a form of bigotry. It’s not outright intolerance- but a lot of times people who fetishize a group will be really abusive towards anyone of that group they end up in a relationship in, trying to force them to fit their rigid ideas of what the person’s like. Just because you’re saying “You are SOOO awesome!” while kicking someone doesn’t mean you aren’t kicking the person.

            I’ll try to remember to let you know when I put it up. 🙂 If nothing else I may need other peoples’ help if I end up getting really awful comments…

  3. JKBC says:

    That’s a terrible thing to happen, poor girl. I see what you mean, that kind of thing would come up… in a just world, adults would be working to prevent that rather than believing that colourblind bullshit.

    Yeah, there’s waay too much ignorance and intolerance around; it sometimes seems a bit like a black hole. I forget a lot, too – rarely get to discuss social justice issues and only occasionally run up against the bigotry of many culturally-validated folks.

    I don’t think my parents had any real rules, but I remember the subtle cues nudging me towards accepting my assigned gender, even if not necessarily in a normative manner. Wow, that’s amazing that there’s schools doing that kind of thing. (I had never, ever, ever come across any mention of non-heterosexual people or non-cis people in schools until sixth form.) That makes me hope that these steps can be taken…

    Yeah, fetishisation is definitely a form of Othering and probably the flip side of the lose-lose coin with hatred on one side. It’s the fact that it seems to lump all people in a particular group together to a point where they could be interchangeable, and then as you say, abuse is the end result when people inevitably prove to be different to one and other.

    I’d definitely be glad to know when it comes up, and I’ll be there if you need any help dealing with the comments. People can be horrendous.

    • Dreki says:

      In a just world, yeah. In this world parents get to apologize for how their child reacts to racism because the white parents are all “It was just a joke! She didn’t mean anything bad! Your brat’s just oversensitive!”. And I really wish I could know for a fact that I’d never say anything that offensive when called out on my own privilege/my hypothetical kid’s privilege, but knee jerk reactions can be really awful.

      I’m really sheltered in meat space because I’m lucky. I’m so introverted that I don’t get many conversations that aren’t small talk- and, luckily, bigoted bullshit doesn’t come up in “so, how are you? Yeah, same here, have a good day”. I’ve also really distanced myself online from anything like that. The only forums I go on are webcomics that aren’t trans or LGB related so that stuff rarely comes up (unless some idiot brings it up and then ARGH cisfail…), most of my time is spent in the anti-kyrriarchy section of the blogosphere. I think I’m also getting the hang of not looking when I know someone’s posted something really transphobic and offensive (so, any comment on an article about non-cis people that isn’t on a non-cis person’s blog, pretty much), but it’s hard.

      I was really feminine until I got to kindergarten, so before that my mom did the play with whatever you want thing and pushed me towards less “gender acceptable” things like math and science. But then I got to kindergarten and was like “WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S A BINARY?!”. Not literally, but I think I had severe culture shock and (because I was more a drag queen than a girl) people had no idea what to do with me so teased me. After I started resisting (very, very, very badly) being seen as a girl my mom started pushing me to unreasonable standards of femininity. It’s actually horribly ironic because if my mom had spent more time with the “it’s okay for boys to wear skirts and girls to shop in the men’s section” I actually would have been more iwlling to wear skirts. While the “You don’t dress enough like a girl!” complaints (baby doll Tshirt+flare, hip-hugger jeans= not dressing like a girl? Men have literally been killed for wearing less feminine things!) pushed me sooo far away.
      But I didn’t have other rules and that wasn’t so early like most people get.

      It really makes me sad when a person from a marginalized group defends fetishizing because “well, who else will love me?!”. First, that’s not real love- that’s objectifying. Second, lots of people! Don’t believe what the kyriarchal jerks tell you, there are loads of people who’ll love any given you for you!

      They really can be. I’m hoping it’ll all be fine, but since horrible comments can be so upsetting for me, I’m really not up for giving strangers the benefit of the doubt. This IS the internet.

      • JKBC says:

        Ick. Parental defences of racism are pretty nasty, and I’ve heard stories of teachers trying to not see it as well. I really hope I wouldn’t react in that kyriarchally-programmed/defensive way to privilege call-outs either, but yeah, it’s hard to be sure. It wouldn’t make it okay, though; I’d hope I’d apologise and use it as a catalyst for redoubling my efforts to contribute to the downfall of societal attitudes that legitimise privilege.

        Yeah, it’s lucky that bigotry doesn’t tend to come up in casual conversation. Mind you, a couple of times I’ve wished people were more forthcoming about these things because I’ve wasted time, energy and pleasantry on people only for them to turn out to be douchebags. That would be bad a lot of the time, though. The anti-kyriarchy areas of the blogosphere are a great blessing… then one leaves them and GAA CULTURE SHOCK. I’ve steered clear of forums – spent a while posting on a bass one, but then I started thinking about kyriarchy and privilege and oppression and that started consuming my time. Getting the hang of avoiding the really terrible stuff must be useful – I’m only just starting to learn that, I have this tendency to read on in horrified fascination and then get angry and upset.

        Ouch. Being pushed towards femininity after reacting against being seen as a girl sounds awful. And gender-policing teasing is disgusting – I remember being made miserable by others in primary school due to some difference, but not what the difference was (probably either the hair or accent) and only encountered full-on gender policing much later when I decided I was the ‘opposite’ half of the binary. I guess I was lucky – my mother was a tomboy as a child and brought me up in a similar way, while still assuming that I was a girl and always would be. I did get put into skirts and dresses when I was too small to resist – and fairly often after that, due to not resisting – but I wasn’t pushed into it by my parents. (grandparents, teachers, peers – another matter. I’m just grateful to my parents for helping me resist) Hearing people talk about early-life parental gender policing makes me realise how lucky I was.

        It’s always sad to hear that kind of defence. I can see why people start thinking that way, because sometimes it feels like nobody would truly love and accept and the person might feel that even objectification is better than loneliness, but it’s such a shame for the person saying it and it’s an indication of just how strong the kyriarchy is in people’s lives.

        No, the internet isn’t exactly known for its progressive, anti-kyriarchal sympathies… more for giving a voice to the prejudices people daren’t admit to IRL and the horrendous things they’d never dare say in person.

        • Dreki says:

          Have you seen the blog Love Isn’t Enough? there are some serious horror stories about teachers and classes (as in classroom, not societal) in there. I think I was vaguely aware of the fallacies (or I’d like to think I was), but I don’t really know, I ended up really unable to deal with people of color because I was brought up thinking that they saw racism where it wasn’t and no one ever explained a polite and respectful way to talk to them and I didn’t want to offend anyone.
          It definitely wouldn’t make it okay. I have a friend who’s half-black right now and I’m always nervous that I’ll say something offensive and she won’t feel like she can tell me it is, but I don’t really know how to tell her it’s okay to tell me when I’m being an ignorant jerk.

          I’ve definitely had the wasting time on people, which does make me wish it came up more. It’s nice being sheltered form it someitmes, but it’s not the best situation. Whenever cis people shriek that trans people should be forced to announce their status to complete strangers, I wish that people like that oculd be forced to announce their bigotry instead. Save everyone the trouble. I was on forums for awhile… But AVEN (asexuality forum) is horrible and the trans ones are anti-binary and everywhere else is anti-trans. Not worth the effort. I only got the hang of it because it’s so emotionally awful for me not to. If it wasn’t I’d probably still be doing it.

          It wasn’t gender-policing teasing, is the thing. It was just teasing me for existing. The kids just teased everything about me. I think it was caused by me being non-binary, but the taunts never specifically involved my gender or sexuality because they probably didn’t know enough to be able to.
          I still think my mom might be a trans man but can’t accept it. She is not traditionally feminine- rarely wears makeup or dresses, worked in the army- but then kept pushing me to be as girly as possible. Really annoying.

          Yeah, I hate how much people internalize stuff like that. It really kills me, especially because some people have to internalize it just to stomach the injustice in the world. That’s a big part of why I wrote my trans 101- because I still need to hear it and I bet a lot of others do, too. Maybe my priorities are wonky and I should be all trying to force cis people to embrace us and treat us right, but right now I really care more about trans people actually being aware that it’s okay to be trans, being trans doesn’t negate or lessen your gender, and that you can use (and make up) terminology that doesn’t other you or negate your experience. Cis people get enough time.

          • JKBC says:

            I hadn’t come across Love Isn’t Enough, thank you for mentioning it. A child I was, to my great shame, ‘colourblind’ in the racist way; I can remember one incident where I said something that was horribly racist to a girl of colour in my class in primary school (aged about eight maybe?) and then was surprised to be told it was racist (I thought I was merely picking on an aspect of her appearance, which doesn’t excuse it, but didn’t know the wider social context OR the utter unacceptability and offensiveness of what I said). I’ve had trouble with not wanting to offend and lacking the tools to engage since; I think a lot of people do. It’s a real shame that people have to find their way around the minefield alone, and probably contributes to the really high degree of seemingly voluntary racial segregation I’ve seen in school all the way through.

            It would be useful to make people announce their bigotry – at least then we’d all know who the allies and the enemies are. And would all feel a bit safer being able to cut them out of our lives. Yeah, I can imagine that most forums are pretty bad – I’ve never been out on one or seen a discussion of queer issues; most people thought I was a man on the ones I went on.

            Urgh, children taunting others is horrible. At that age I suppose they wouldn’t really have the words… taunts about sex came up a bit for me, but not till the end of infants which is a bit older.
            It’s a shame when people who themselves seem to defy gender stereotypes push others into it.

            I agree with you – I think too many people do internalise it out of necessity. Most of us still need to hear positive affirmation, because there’s so little of it around. I don’t think there’s any need to prioritise helping the cis people, although it does seem like a huge objective that we should all be working towards with all our might. But there, if our own attitudes towards ourselves are broken, how are we going to fix others’? Cis folks do get enough time, and it’s costing us and often them as well.

          • Dreki says:

            As a kid I grew up in a small town in Connecticut. We MAY have had a kid who was 1/4 something other than white in the whole school. Thankfully I didn’t get to say anything stupid until highschool when I got moved to a school that was majority black (and, sadly, the high-level classes I took were notably majority WHITE) without any information on how to treat people respectfully.

            “I’ve had trouble with not wanting to offend and lacking the tools to engage since”

            This is exactly my thing. That’s a really good way of putting it. There’ve been a few times that race came up while talking with my friends, one of whom is black, and I think we’ve said bad things from the look on her face. I still can’t watch the Princess and the Frog without feeling guilty because I think I said something REALLY bad about it…

            If you want to get a taste of what you’re missing, here’s what a bunch of cis people said when someone brought up “transgenderists” on a webcomic forum out of NOWHERE. And that’s nowhere near the worst that you get. Ugh, I had a person on a language forum completely belittle non-binary pronouns in English. It was so gross.

            My school was something. It wasn’t until grade 4 that anyone found out about sex and they just giggled whenever anyone said “it”. I’m guessing Connecticut soccer moms don’t give “the talk” very well. I think they were all pretty unaware of anything. I imagine if they even knew about queer stuff they would’ve teased me. I just don’t think they did.
            My mom was really confusing about it. I think she works on a different understanding than most people. It’s one thing (although aggravating) to see a woman who clearly got all her clothes in the men’s section saying how horrible it is for men to wear skinny jeans. It’s another for a person of one gender who breaks gender norms to shove other people perceived to be of the same gender into them.

            I feel like focusing on cis people does a horrible amount of damage to us. Have you seen Asher’s Trans 101? There is something WRONG with the way the world is if that’s seriously one of the first trans 101s that doesn’t other or invalidate non-cis people. That’s where most non-cis people start getting their info- trans 101. We can’t write it as if we aren’t reading them. So many non-cis people internalize a lot of crap, I was on a trans forum where they HONESTLY BELIEVED that you can’t tell what your gender actually is (if you aren’t cis) you have to have a gender therapist tell you, it also had women angrily say that they aren’t TRANS, they’re WOMEN- as if “trans woman” were an oxymoron. It was so sad. Same forum where a 2#$#@$#@$#@ binarist jerkwad of a moderator told me that humans have to be an androgyne if you aren’t one or the other…. I don’t care if a person doesn’t identify as human but it is so screwed up to tell a stranger that they can’t be human because you don’t like their freaking gender.

  4. […] writing my last post and commenting on someone else’s post (our conversation has kind of gotten off-topic… okay, not […]

  5. JKBC says:

    That is sad, that the higher-level classes were predominantly white. In primary, we had a few non-white children – two or three per year, I think – and then in secondary, there were quite a few non-white children, but it was still always a mostly-white environment. All they ever did with us was said occasionally ‘don’t be racist,’ but they didn’t even pick up on some fairly explicitly racist remarks.

    I think I’ve screwed up a few times as well – really hope I haven’t, I do try to tackle people saying racist things whenever I hear it, but I doubt I catch everything or even everything that comes out of my own mouth. (one time someone said something and I was just about to open my mouth when a guy LITERALLY tackled him, which was kinda brilliant…)

    Urgh, that forum stuff is awful. Complete cisfail. Sigh for yet another person belittling non-binary pronouns… I’ve only ever talked about it IRL once, and that person did a binarist fail, so I’ve dropped the subject.

    I think kids giggling after they find out about sex is universal… I’ve never come across one that doesn’t. And you can’t mention sex as in biology rather than the act around them either. They probably would’ve… children have a horrible tendency to pick up on every difference they can articulate and quite a few they can’t.
    It does sound pretty confusing about the double standard.

    I did see Asher’s Trans 101; it is indicative of a really bad situation that’s it’s one of certainly few non-othering, non-cissexist, non-invalidating trans 101s around. Some of the cis people I know in meatspace come out with stuff from the ‘standard’ trans 101, and I make sure I correct them if I feel up to it – ‘comrade, you know me now, you’re getting the proper, respectful 101’.
    That’s really terrible, trans folks believing that they had to have a therapist tell them their gender and believing that ‘trans’ and ‘woman’ are mutually exclusive. With the medical establishment as broken as it is… Society really tries to screw non-cis folks up, and it’s so sad when it seems like it’s succeeding. Bloody binarists. Even removing the wider social context, it’s still wrong to tell people that something they ARE doesn’t exist, that by being it they’re not being human… gaa ick.

    • Dreki says:

      It was. I think 55-60% of the school was black, but then 80% of my classes were white (and had other races, so it was a SERIOUS minority of black students, maybe 10%). Serious discrepancy. Everyone says “don’t be racist”, no one says what it means. I’ve heard of a few situations where race comes up in a mostly-white class and it’s very painful for the person of color whose history/culture is being talked about because everyone’s being offensive and the teacher doesn’t care or, even worse, punishes the student for reacting to the racism.

      Yah… the binarism thing is really awful. I WANT to try using another set of pronouns, but I don’t want to put up with people being assholes about it and pulling the “But it’s so haaard” card. Okay, yeah, it is hard to get used to them- but you just have to put in a bit of effort. Saying “It’s too hard, I won’t” is not effort.

      It’s one thing to giggle about finding out about sex, but the way they did it struck me as immature because they did over a pronoun. I suppose it just bugged me because I was just like “What’s the big deal?”.

      I think it actually might be THE one… I haven’t seen any others and I’ve spoken with a few trans people (including Asher before he made that) about how there aren’t any. :/

      I hate the medical establishment right now. I know there are good people, but I really think a ton of non-cis peoples’ problems were caused by therapists who “know better”. Having to listen to a person for an hour every week or two tell you what’s what, especially an “expert” who you have to cater to to get medical treatment you need (which can mean getting bullied into getting other treatment you DON’T want with this system), can have a huge effect on a person.
      Yeah, that forum was awful. For awhile I stuck around just to save other non-binaries from the same treatment, but it got too much for me so I had to leave.

      • JKBC says:

        Yeah, no-one ever talks about racism and what it is so everyone thinks it’s just calling people the n-word or other racial slurs. And when it’s institutional racism and subconscious racial bias that’s the main problem, that amounts to a whole lot of neglected discrimination. It’s terrible when teachers punish students for reacting to offensiveness and ignorance, luckily I’ve never seen it happen (I think…) but it does, and it’s awful.

        A lot of people have such a problem with non-binary problems, it’s bloody ridiculous. Step outside your comfort zone for once, you privilege-denying douchebags. I got the ‘it’s so haaaard’ thing with my NAME, which pissed me right off – my name is ‘made up’ but easy to say and should be easy to get used to here where there’s a very common similar name, and people claiming to be my friends either mispronouncing it or using the old one really annoy me.

        I can’t say I can remember reading another one, but I know I haven’t read everything everywhere.

        Yeah, the medical establishment is not showing itself in a good light, and there’s probably a lot of problems with the ‘good’ people being unable to act in a good way. And the hoop-jumping requirements and standardised lines of treatment are really bad.
        I’m scared to take any steps to permanently alleviate my body dissonance in case I get forced to transition to the ‘opposite’ sex to get that, which is not something I want to do.

        Sometimes I really hope that other non-binary people Googling it find those of the anti-kyriarchy blogs that are respectful rather than binarist stuff like that. I was lucky – anti-kyriarchy blogs were how I found out it was POSSIBLE to be outside the man/woman binary.

        • Dreki says:

          If people actually talked about what racism is, then someone might actually do something about it. It’s easier for white people to just define it so narrowly that they never have to admit it really happens.
          I don’t think I’ve ever seen it happen, but you don’t always see it. A lot of stuff happens in the principle’s office and people don’t always talk about what occured, or they talk about it in a way that it sounds like justice has been done instead of a grave injustice that actually happened. Which really sucks.

          Eurgh, your name, seriously? There are loads of people with “unusual” names and most people actually manage to pronounce it right. I get it with pronouns because it can be hard to get into the habit of it (but once you do, learning the others is really easy), although that is NOT an excuse not to try. But your name being too hard? That is so pathetic.

          Yeah, and it is possible that some people have given better trans 101 workshops- which wouldn’t be online. But most of the ones I’ve seen are really awful, definitely a vast majority.

          Ugh, yeah, it was hell trying to find a therapist who’d sign off on me getting top surgery without starting T first- even though every bloody surgeon I talked to was fine with it. Stupid system.

          I think that some do, but I don’t know how common it is. I ended up in the blogosphere only from forums. I don’t know how many people think to search for blogs about this. I think some people do, but I don’t know if they’re a majority, and most of the sites you can stumble on more easily are binarist. :/

          • JKBC says:

            Yeah, we definitely need more widespread knowledge of what actually racism is. People say, ‘I’m not racist, I’m making a joke!’ or ‘I’m not racist, I make fun of white people too!’ or ‘I’m not racist – but they just don’t apply for [service/job/place]!’ and you’re sitting there going, ‘yes, you are racist,’ and they say something like, ‘what do you care anyway, you’re white,’ which is NOT a good thing to say to back their point up…

            The name thing was pretty awful… they even had the nerve to try to suggest other non-gender-specific names that are ‘real’ and concern-troll me with the whole ‘you don’t want to be known as the person with the weird name,’ and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘as long as it’s person not girl I don’t really care, and anyway that’s nothing new (my surname is also odd)’. People are still pronouncing it wrong occasionally, but on the whole they’ve got used to it. It makes me really nervous about bringing up pronouns though. I’ve pretty much got used to them, both for myself and other people, but a lot of people are too pathetic even to try.

            I really HOPE there’s other decent trans 101s out there, off the internet. The alternative is extremely depressing, but unfortunately very likely.

            That’s a ridiculous situation, if *every surgeon* was fine with it. Honestly, they let cis women get ENLARGEMENTS easy enough, I guess it’s fine as long as a person isn’t breaking gender norms and annoying creepy, pervy assholes by getting rid of the things. Bloody heteronormative, cisnormative, binarist, gender-policing culture.

            I think some people land on blogs – someone once got to this blog with the search term ‘”agender” gender’ and some other terms that have found this have mentioned dissonance, but I don’t know how common it is. A lot of people would probably have the problem that they don’t even know the words, which makes information and community even harder to find with a search term. There’s way too much easily-accessible binarist crap around, which is really not helpful…

  6. Kit Beard says:

    I tend to use the internet as my safe space. Find game, play game, forget world.

    There are people who care about you and understand the life between the boxes, and we’re here on the internet. I haven’t read a huge amount of your stuff, but you seem like a nice folk, and you know where to contact me.

    I think I’m quite lucky to have found the group of people that have become my friends – there are both binary and non-binary trans people, of various sexual and romantic orientations. Nothing phases them. I hope that some day this happens to you.

    • JKBC says:

      Yeah, it must be good to be able to play games like that. (shared computer=not good for gaming. Oh well…)

      Thank you. It’s wonderful to hear words like those. I’ve come across quite a lot of other people between the boxes on the internet, but cyber-socially-awkward me finds it hard to reach out.

      Your friends sound great. I have a few who are accepting, but basically none who I can rant to without first explaining why I’m upset/annoyed/angry or trust not to make it worse.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s