Sunday, May 20, 2007

So... how controversial can we be?

Can we throw bricks through the windows of transdogma? Do we have to all agree about what what others say or can a modicum of "agree to disagree" exist?

I'm not prolific by any measurement, but I do like to say things that, um, might piss other trans people off. I think that's a good thing, actually. Not me pissing others off, but I think questioning some of the assumptions of trans life is essential.

Will that make y'all uncomfortable?

For example, I think there's some value in saying the following:

Even though we all thought transgender was going to be this umbrella term that covered everybody, it's terribly obvious that transgender these days means transsexuals. It's a done deal. The media is the media and they like simple story lines and for the most part, they're only interested in us if we've gone and done shit to our genitals. Which, of course, means transsexuals to the vast unwashed masses.

Try explaining yourself as a transperson without the whole, "So... you did cut something off, right?" Surgery equals trans equals transgender equals transsexual. Every one else need not apply. You are less than... somehow.

Which of course, is utter bullshit.

But if you tell a reporter they're fucked up for writing that... well, they don't write about you any more do they?
That kind of stuff.

Would that be okay with, ya'll?

BTW, I'm not terribly interested in fighting that fight because I think it's a fait accompli and I'd rather they know something about us rather than, well, nothing.

But I do think this has the potential to be something kind of groovy, cool and every once in a while, incendiary.


helen_boyd said...

well that's certainly not the point. i'd really rather things be less contentious than more. you know, productive. g-d forbid the trans community move forward instead of going over the same old ground.

Richard M. Juang said...

I'm all for productively exploratory over contentious... I think maybe there are ways of making sure that discussion focuses on where the rubber meets the road concretely (sorry for the cliche and mixed metaphor!). What Betty points out is pretty relevant in a legislative context, for example. I wrote on my LiveJournal recently that:

"In my head, two concerns have crystallized: Aside from unaddressed issues of economic inequality, I worry that the movement's legislative work, which includes the messaging and training that surrounds the law, as well as the written laws themselves, abandons:

1. Individuals who don't pass.

2. Individuals who don't live consistently in one gender."

helen_boyd said...

i agree entirely.

from where i stand, couples would often stand a better chance, too, if someone could take longer to transition so the partner had time to adjust. similarly, using family/private resources to do things that make a person passable - legally or otherwise - can cause a lot of problems.

& it would help those who don't have the finances for surgery etc to find a different path.

Vickie Davis said...

I know I am late to comment here, but I think Betty is right about the term "transgender." Even transsexuals who know better, often call themselves "transgender," because it is a gentler term and does not have the dreaded word "sex" in it.

I don't know what the answer to the misuse and changing use of terms. If "transgender" means "transsexual," what possibly could be a new umbrella term? Beats the s*** out of me.

Anyway, Betty, I want to hear from you! If it has to be a brick through somebody's window, so be it. I have read two books about you and yet I still feel I do not know you very well yet. I am sure you can "productively" toss that brick.