Posts Tagged ‘Transphobia’

TW – violent metaphor.

The kyriarchy, by definition, is all-pervasive. There is no escape from it. If you have privilege on an axis, any misstep you make is not ‘regrettable’ or ‘a problem’ – it’s oppressive. If you lack privilege on that axis, that misstep is treading on you. Hard. And it hurts.

It’s not conducive to great understanding between oppressor and oppressed. If the oppressed person is yelling ‘OW SHIT YOU HURT ME!’ and the oppressing person is yelling, ‘SHIT MAN IT WAS ONLY [X]!’ no-one’s really listening to each other. In a vacuum, it would just be an argument between two people. They’d shout each other down, maybe neither would back down – maybe they’d agree to differ.

But in a kyriarchy, in that situation, it is all too likely to end up with the oppressed person being squelched. Because that’s the nature of oppression. When an oppressed person is justifiably angry or hurt and the oppressing person feels that the oppressed person has overreacted, who has the weight of society behind them? That’s right, the oppressing person. Whose view is legitimated? The oppressing person’s. That’s one reason why the tone argument is bullshit. You just invalidated me – you caused me pain – you denied my selfhood – you contributed to my oppression – it is not my job to tiptoe around your feelings. And the other thing is, mostly, if we talk quietly and politely, we’re not listened to. I have had conversations online where I have told people gently that something was out of order and had them continue doing it – then I’ve blown up in their faces and made sure they knew exactly what the problem was and that it was a big fucking deal. It’s a weapon. And it’s a weapon that, deployed in the right way, can be damn powerful. But it’s also an automatic response that we should not have to apologise for.

The kyriarchy surrounds us, so much that it’s hard to even see it. It’s everywhere. Once you’ve come to consciousness, you find yourself being slapped in the face with it in every situation – pop culture, activities you enjoy, people you love, subjects you are interested in. There’s no escape from it. And that feels awful, a lot of the time, even when you only have an academic knowledge of some of the oppressions involved, even when you have privilege along some axes (as we all do). It hurts when that stuff hits you.

Yeah, sometimes it can seem like people blow up over the little things. But how little are they, when a thousand of them shred our skin each day, hammering at the barriers, giving us no safe space? From the kyriarchy, there is no escape. And when you’re ripped raw from scores of microaggressions, each one hurts a hell of a lot more than it would falling on intact skin.

How little are they, when they actively contribute to oppression? How little are they, when they actively harm people?

I don’t think they’re little at all. And we have a right to our feelings.

Advertisements

As mentioned in the previous post, I have been looking for non-ableist alternatives for words following the pattern of homophobia, transphobia etc. The ableism inherant in appropriating the word ‘phobia’ is a discussion that I have seen a lot of on Tumblr, and I can also see that getting rid of it would remove the common defence ‘I’m not scared of them.’ I will continue to use words in this pattern as tags until alternatives – not necessarily mine – become widespread in the anti-kyriarchy movement, but in posts I will be using the following alternatives unless others become more widely used and accepted;

Misohomy – homophobia (I prefer to maintain a distinction between the elevating of heterosexuality and the denigrating of homosexuality, hence not using the term heterosexism instead of homophobia). I may also use misahetery (mis=hatred, a=non, hetery=adaptation of hetero) for the hatred of non-heterosexuals, not to replace a -phobia word but to try to avoid monosexism.

Transhatred – transphobia (again, I’d prefer to maintain a distinction between this and cissexism).

Misoxeny – xenophobia.

I will continue to write other -phobia endings in long form, such as hatred of Islam/Muslims for Islamophobia, since I do not feel it is right for me, as a non-member of these groups, to coin terminology for them. I was unsure even about coining misoxeny.

These words are merely what I prefer to use, and do not represent me attempting to force them on others or create a more-progressive-than-thou dialogue, which is not productive. I will probably be linking this post a lot when I use the words, simply for understanding’s sake.

Trigger warning for homophobia, transphobia, erasure and discussion of suicide.

Browsing through the BBC News site, the four main Welsh party leaders have made videos for the launch of Stonewall Cymru’s YouTube channel It Gets Better… Today. The aim of this campaign, inspired by America’s It Gets Better project, is to tell lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers that they ‘don’t have to wait for their lives to improve – they can be great now,’ (from Stonewall Cymru) and that ‘they don’t have to wait for life to improve as bullying is being tackled’ (from the BBC).

If it really is a start of a concerted push against homophobia from politicians and media figures, then that’s obviously a good thing. As far as I can gather, one major failing of the It Gets Better campaign is that there’s little or no concrete action going on, and it’s based on the foundation of ‘hold on, then later on things will get better.’ This one seems to counteract that by saying, no, you shouldn’t have to wait. Which is good, although empty if there’s no action taken. And by the way, action doesn’t mean posters; my old school had the SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY : GET OVER IT posters up everywhere and I still experienced quite a bit of homophobia, despite not even being out to myself as any kind of queer, and I still wouldn’t have been comfortable speaking to teachers about it.

BUT. I addressed the positives first because that’s my normal essay style. (do you agree ‘yes because… NO NO FUCKING NO because THIS, GODDAMN IT, THIS!!!’)

BUT. What about transphobia? Stonewall has always ignored or denigrated the non-cis population. They have given awards to transphobes. Sometimes they have claimed to represent the T in LGBT, but they’ve generally done more harm than good. Again, non-cis people are being thrown under the bus, being ignored and erased utterly. In the UK, it was found in ‘the UK’s largest survey of trans people (N = 872)’ (http://www.nmhdu.org.uk/our-work/mhep/gender/transgender/) that 34% of adult trans people have attempted suicide. According to the LBGT Excellence Centre Wales, ‘the national suicide rate for Trans People is estimated at 3 in 100,000, 31% of this group. It is estimated that 1 in 7 of diagnosed Trans People attempt suicide at least once during their life. It is estimated that the main causes of “Trans Suicide” are harassment , denial of treatment, and absence of support. It is also estimated that 1 in 200 transsexuals commit suicide within 5 yrs of having Gender Reassignment surgery, as a result of depression brought on by harassment / bullying.’

So yeah, transphobia and transphobic bullying totally aren’t worth campaigning against, because, like, no-one gets affected by it…

Dear top politicians; you don’t just have a responsibility towards non-heterosexual people in your country. You have a responsibility towards non-cis people in your country as well. We’re hurting. We’re dying. We’re bleeding. Stonewall is not our friend, and by endorsing them you are signalling that you are not our friends either. And we need you. Damn but we need you. Don’t abandon yet another population. Begin to take a stand against the kyriarchy – all the kyriarchy – in our society. Then maybe faith in you will return. From someone who exists, despite everyone’s protestations to the contrary.

Transphobia is rampant. Possibly more than homophobia, although the two are so closely intertwined in most of the cis, straight bullies in schools that it’s very hard to tell which you’re dealing with. I’ve experienced both. As far as homophobia went, there was lip service towards its wrongness. There was lip service towards the wrongness of many other types of kyriarchy. Transphobia… anything to do with being trans… never mentioned. Ever. Except by the kids who saw someone different, and went on the homophobic and transphobic warpath.

*    *    *

On a side note, I think I, as a non-binary person, got explicitly included in a lesson the other day. In history, the guy that takes it said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, and anyone who isn’t a lady or a gentleman is welcome to participate too.’ He probably didn’t mean it the way I took it; he was probably being sarcastic, or facetious. But it gave me a warm little thrill inside and I really want to send him an email thanking him, but I daren’t because I’m scared of coming out to my teachers. It feels pathetic that I’m thrilled by these tiny, tiny, tiny things…

Seriously, though, unless he’s saying it to every class, what were the chances of him saying it in the presence of a non-binary student?

The idea of (cis) male entitlement to have (perceived) female bodies on display for them is a concept well-established. It’s a form of entitlement that leads to a lot of sexual harassment and assault, and is damaging for those read as female as their appearance and choices are policed by assholes who really believe that shit, who really believe the people they read as female have an obligation to present themselves in a way appealing to them.

There’re many forms of this entitlement, in which a privileged group feels entitled to police the appearance of marginalised groups because the marginalised groups ‘should’ be presenting themselves for the privileged ones. It happens along any line of oppression when the difference is visible in some way; race, ability, size… and gender.

Cissexist (cis) people often seem to think that non-cis people’s genders and expression of such are there to be judged by them. They set themselves up as the standard for their gender, and then think that every time a non-cis person so much as moves, they’re presenting their gender for inspection. These expectations for the behaviour and presentation of non-cis people are almost always founded on really narrow, binary, binarist gender roles – because what’s cissexism without an unhealthy dose of sexism?- and expectations. Because of course, every cis woman wears makeup and shaves and has long hair. Is the sarcasm-detector overloading yet?

And every little thing becomes a gendered performance – an idea that implies artifice. An idea that implies a false facade of gender over the ‘reality’ – which is always, in the eyes of cissexists, the person’s assigned sex, thus degendering non-cis people even further. The way the person does anything becomes gendered. No thought to ‘x sits like that because x finds it comfortable’, no, it’s got to be ‘x sits like that because x is trying to be a y, and so x must sit like the cis y people.’ The person becomes reduced to their ‘attempts’ to ‘be’ their true gender, despite the fact that they are already their true gender. And then the cissexists look at the person and say, no, you’re DOIN IT RONG. No matter what, UR DOIN IT RONG and the person’s body, appearance, choices become topics of conversation, to be ripped apart by all and sundry.

That’s just for binary people. For non-binary folks, every little action is used to prove that we’re actually binary – because everything is gendered one way or another, in our highly binary society. And they expect us to provide them with a perfect blend of gendered traits, or they say, no, you’re actually binary and you’re in denial, LOOK, you did THIS, that’s so BINARY. Then once they’ve misgendered us, they’ll attack us like they attack binary folks, by saying we don’t measure up.

Well, you know what, cissexists? We don’t exist to be looked at and judged by anyone, let alone you. We exist to live our own lives, to make our own purpose, to do our own thing. To look our own way. You are not the supreme authority on our genders/non-genders, and when we appear a certain way, we’re mostly doing it because we want to. Not because we want your approval. Not because we want your attention.

And while you’re at it, if you feel entitled to police, to judge anyone’s appearance because of your own privileged sense of entitlement – JUST STOP. You’re being an insensitive, bigoted, kyriarchal shitbomb. It doesn’t matter what oppression/s your sense of that entitlement stems from – it’s all unacceptable. We’re all human beings, with selfhood and a right to our own personal autonomy. And remember – if you’re judging others, they will judge you. If you tell me I’m not myself, I’ll tell you that you’re an insensitive, bigoted, kyriarchal shitbomb. And I’ll have a lot more grounds for that judgement.

Trigger warning for cissexism, binarism, transphobia and discussion of transphobic(/homophobic) violence.

So, a friend of mine’s been bleating about how hard it is for her to get used to my new name (which I changed yonks ago…) and how nobody cares that I’m agender…

Of course nobody cares (we’re talking in meatspace here). That’s because nobody acknowledges it as a possibility. Nobody cared that I was agender when they told me I was my assigned gender. Nobody cared that I was agender when I told them to stop using The Name That Shall Not Be Spoken and they didn’t. Nobody cared that I was agender when they insisted on me using gendered public toilets. Nobody cared that I was agender when they assigned me a gender at birth and tried to force me into it, in thought, word and deed. Nobody cared that I was agender when they objected to the way I dressed and used my body. Nobody ever cared.

And then when I told them they had to start caring, because like it or not I was this way, suddenly they cared enough to try to stop me. They cared enough to tell me I was just bizarre. They cared enough to tell me I was hurting myself with this delusion. They cared enough to wish not to know. They cared enough to try to force me back into my assigned gender.

If I’d never told anyone, nobody would have cared. Binary, cis gender is a custom more honoured in the breach than the observance. Nobody cares that I am because nobody believes that I am. They care that I am not like them, not that I am what I am. And so often, violence greater than I have ever known is inflicted upon trans and non-cis people – because people do not care for what we are (people; worthy, awesome, wonderful people), but for what we are not (cis, binary gendered, gender normative people).

And it’s hard for you, J.? It’s really that hard for you? It’s harder than coming out is, is it? It’s harder than explaining my name change, is it? It’s harder than dealing with people’s cissexism, binarism, transphobia and homophobia, is it? It’s harder than never being acknowledged to exist, is it? It’s harder than looking at everyone, wondering if someone will hurt me because I don’t conform, is it? It’s harder than hearing about people similar to me being killed, devalued, demeaned, raped, injured, denied their human rights, is it? It’s harder than knowing I’m vulnerable to that kind of thing too, is it?

No. It’s not. Quit trying to cissplain at me. And don’t laugh at my need not to be known as my assigned sex. It’s not a laughing matter. It’s a fucking crying matter, because due to people just like you, it’s not gonna happen. I made it as easy as I could on you. I didn’t demand a pronoun change (although it makes me cringe every time I hear the wrong pronoun). I don’t go to you for support and a shoulder to cry on over my issues, even though I should do because I need the help. I’ve never gone apeshit on your ass over the name thing. I’ve never gone apeshit on your ass over your cissexist, binarist bullshit either, for that matter, but one more time and I fucking well will.

Oh, the cissexist tropes. How you make me miserable. I just wish there was a hope in hell that you’d read this, J.

Anybody raising a child has to be cognisant of the fact that there is a very real possibility that that child could be non-cis. Anyone, anywhere, anytime. Sadly, all too many don’t. This is vital. Anyone who comes into contact with children or intends to do so (or doesn’t) needs to read that post. Children are incredibly vulnerable to subtle signals, and the signals sent out by most parents about gender mess most kids up. Non-cis children suffer the most, but even though it is their existence being privileged, cis children suffer through being constrained, not being allowed to explore – and childhood is a time when nothing is certain, nothing should be written in stone.

I was raised in a manner consistent with a non-normative person of my assigned gender. It was never acknowledged that I could be anything else. It still isn’t, actually, even though I’ve been out to my parents for a while now. The messages I got were more positive than some – for example, it was made exceptionally clear to me that me turning out to be homosexual would be embraced by my family. But turning out not to be cis? Never even thought of. Mind you, I’m really not sure my parents knew anything about trans people before I came out.

I’d love to send Dreki’s post to my parents. Unfortunately, most privileged people don’t react well to having their privilege called out, even though as Dreki says parents are the ones that need to have their problematic attitudes called out the most. They hold the well-being of our next generation in their hands, after all, and we’d really rather they didn’t mess any more of us up. Which is why I content myself by posting the link and hoping that someone else’s parents or prospective parents read it, and save another child from misery.

This isn’t a licence to go over to Dreki’s space and spout cissupremacist bullshit. Nothing gives you a right to do that. I doubt that most people who read this blog are inclined to do so, but this is the internet. If you don’t like, your first thought should not be to attack. If you feel put on the defensive over it, close the window and have a cup of tea or a nap, then think about it some more. Don’t react in a stew of defensiveness, because you will regret it; if you go on the defensive, you’re almost certainly not thinking about it. Cissupremacy hurts all of us, and it starts with children. It hurts them and warps them into hatred. No-one should want that for anyone. In the long run, acknowledging that some children will turn out non-cis will do everyone good.

Eventually I would love to see a world in which children are never assigned a gender, where they feel free to explore and to find their own gender/s or lack of in their own time. Until then, we will have to work towards it by emphasising that cisness is not the only option.

Well isn’t JKBC a bloody stupid individual for voluntarily going through the entire archives of a radfem transphobic hate blog. I’m not going to dignify it with a link, but it is, like many other transphobic hate blogs, accessible on WordPress tags (which is how I found it). Normally I try to avoid these disgusting places, but… I arrived and then read on in fascinated horror.

I don’t understand, radical feminists. You are cis. You have cis privilege. You can’t talk about being trans. Being a butch woman is not being trans. To be a butch woman is to experience a certain amount of transphobia from people who don’t know you, but does not give you the experience of being non-cis. Whether or not people are reading you as trans, you are cis. Don’t criticise my walk without walking a mile in my shoes.

Our identity does not invalidate yours. We often have the same goals as you, because we recognise that being freed from gender inequality and oppressive norms is a good thing. Not just for us, but for everyone. But many of us won’t call ourselves feminists – because the small minority of feminists like you hate us, and make it an unsafe space for us.

Who are you to talk about body dissonance? You, who have lived all your life in a body that fits you – who are you to tell me/us that I/we should not change this strange, alien body to the one that feels right? Who are you to violate my/our bodily autonomy? Who are you to talk down to me/us? Who are you to invalidate my/our identity? Who are you to put your fingers in your ears and yell LALALA when we tell you we’re dying from your hate and from your and the patriarchal, kyriarchal mainstream’s refusal to grant us validity, when we are valid?

In this, you are collaborating with the patriarchy you profess to hate. You cannot fight one oppression while perpetuating another, because one, it makes your movement invalid, and two, it will come around to bite you in the arse. Feminism is the movement that brought me to consciousness and that allowed me to accept myself – but that is not your feminism. Your feminism is a hateful rhetoric that violates the very principles you hold dear. Your feminism is not my feminism. You work against your narrow definition of the patriarchy and actively support the wider patriarchy and the kyriarchy. That – that’s not feminism, actually. I don’t like being prescriptive, but you cannot support the patriarchy/kyriarchy and still claim the title feminist. FYI, that goes for all other oppressions as well. You can’t support those and still call yourself a feminist, either, because those oppressions oppress women, the people you profess to support.

Stop calling trans women male fetishists. Trans women are as woman as you are. Anyone who will stand up in this misogynist culture and say ‘I am a woman’ is a woman, and brave, and strong, and incredible. Also, you have never had to encounter transmisogyny – and you never will – and believe me, transmisogyny is a bad thing.

Stop calling trans men brainwashed women. Trans men are not women. They are men. They are not butch women brainwashed by the patriarchy’s narrow ideals of femininity. They are not mutilating their ‘beautiful female bodies’. They are making their bodies habitable for themselves. You know the idea of ‘my body, my choice’? Well, it applies to trans folks too. And frankly, unless you’ve experienced dissonance, STFU. Like you tell cis men, unless you can get pregnant, STFU.

I don’t even want to know what you’d all say about non-binary folks. For the female-assigned, I suppose you’d say that because of patriarchal brainwashing, female-assigned non-binary folks feel the need to create new genders rather than be non-normatively female. No idea what you’d say about the male-assigned. Fetishists who hate women too much to even do the fetishisation properly? It’s hateful enough.

Trans people are not a trend. We are people. We’ve existed since time immemorial, but now as the movement towards our liberation raises its head cautiously and more of us are able to acknowledge ourselves, you call us a trend. Don’t disparage us for finding the courage to come to terms with ourselves. You did it – remember how hard that was? Now try doing that underneath the millstone of transphobia, cissexism, binarism etc.

Don’t give us shit about the way we are. We can’t help our genders. The world has screwed us over forever, telling us that we can, that we must call ourselves words that aren’t right, that we must wear a body that doesn’t fit. You don’t get to tell us anything about our experiences. You don’t get to have a say in our bodies. You don’t know the gender that exists or not in our minds. You’re not us.

I’ve got a solution. Don’t like us? Don’t talk about us. It’s very simple. You have cis privilege – you can walk away. Do so, please. We really don’t need you around, and you evidently don’t need us around since you hate us so much.