where a variety of voices from within the trans community gather to discuss issues, post news, and compile information
* by Helen Boyd
This is an interesting video to tie together a lot of the things I've been thinking of lately, namely media representatives of trans people and how we, as trans individuals, respond to them. It really stems from the discussion about Calpernia Addams' announced reality show. On the one hand, her show isn't something that many trans people feel the need to celebrate, for a variety of reasons. On the other, it's clearly her decision to make. As people discussed on that thread here, "the community" gives a lot of scrutiny of the narratives of trans peoples that are in the media, because society hears so few of them.Which brings me to this video. My first reaction is huh? what? This particular portrayal strikes me as highly offensive, because it's so alien to my identity. But, it's not really my call to make-- there are lots of people with lots of identities. Everyone has their own take on life.Really, when we're talking about the portrayal of an identity, I guess there are a couple of questions to ask:1) Is this an honest portrayal of someone's identity?2) Does the person doing the speaking know of what they speak?In other words, if this is a video of a trans person exploring and explaining hir identity, good for them-- I'm going to get off of my high horse, and feel rather sheepish for having judged them. On the other hand (I have no idea who Michael Mullen is), if this is a performer giving their version of what being trans "must be like", I have to say, I find it offensive.Which raises the $64,000 question: How do we police identities, and who has the right to speak for them? Do we all need to state our credentials before speaking or making art? That seems ridiculous-- but it also seems ridiculous to allow other people to speak for us. And of course, there's the $128,000 question of identity, and who precisely "us" is-- unique individuals? People with some common identity that overshadows our own individuality? Both? Neither?
I feel very much the same as eastsidekate, in that I found the video - for all its attempt at, I assume, a sympathetic portrayal of a trans person - to be deeply offensive to me as well, for any number of reasons. And let me be clear - to 'me'. And that is where I think we DO have a right to judge and state how we feel - to give feedback, if you will. So when eastsidekate said 'it's not my call to make' I need to differ slightly. Of course its our call to state what we find offensive or not - it simply is not ours to censor or, for me at least, to be anything less than respectful of the person speaking unless there is clear cause. It is a difficult line to walk - we don't want to scrutinize to the point of silencing, but we should be very very careful of silencing our own voice and our right to express what we think and feel.
I posted an entry about this video in my own blog yesterday. Basically, I thing the video perpetuates gender stereotypes, and I'm not sure that anyone needs that. The person, or writer (I too would like to know if this is a personal statement or a performance piece, or perhaps both) doesn't actually feel like a woman. He is drawn to a particular mode of expression--"femme" or "girlie"--that's much more common among women than among men. He identifies with particular kinds of women, and fictional ones at that. He sees men in stereotyped roles as well.If the film was intended to be provocative, then I think it succeeded. It made me think and caused a blog post! If it's a personal, heartfelt statement, I don't want to get on the guy's case. But it does feel a bit creepy to me, and it does annoy me for its reinforcement of stereotypes that certainly need no reinforcement.
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