Until the Erasure Stops

Archive for May, 2011

Time to Remember Jeffrey Catherine Jones

So, this is something I was recently made aware of–I didn’t even know her name but I’ve laid my eyes on a number of her works and the cultural runoff (parodies, etc) thereof.

As is typical of the comics industry, her work was not exactly perfect on a feminist viewpoint, nor would I say I’m entirely comfortable with the lack of people of color in the work selected to be representative of her. But nonetheless, JCJ was one of the most talented trans people alive (and numerous people have claimed she was one of the best artists alive, she just didn’t receive the popularity she would have if her works were released in the latter 1800s, when her style was more in vogue), and I think it’s helpful to show the accomplishments that trans people have made in the past, so expect posts on a particular trans person(s) who has made (usually non-political) accomplishments of this caliber to appear occasionally.

Just a warning: These articles contain quite a bit of sexism, lookism, misgendering, and the previously-mentioned issues with her work itself. The reason I’m posting these things isn’t because I think they’re antioppressionist–it’s because they give us an example of a trans woman who was great at something.

Article one (beauty essentialism warning)

Article two (misgendering/mispronoun warning)

Her website

And a thanks to one of my contacts for informing me of this, who has requested not to be named.

(a note to those to whom I have linked: I have edited the links so they no longer contain trigger warnings in the link title, as I know at least one of you displays incoming links on your pages (which have already generated hits to this post in less than an hour). Please understand that the reason they exist is to create a safe space–while I have critiques about your portrayals, I think this is a case where I’d rather you remembered her in a way that is special to you, regardless of the particulars. Eulogies and tributes aren’t the place for wishing people had done better, because–funny thing–dead people don’t change when you point out their mistakes.

Thanks for reading and supplying this information that I’ve linked to.)

Do Video Game Characters Really Represent Real People?

I play a lot of World of Warcraft–and although I’ve never done it here, I complain regularly about the sexist way they handle their female characters. I play a lot of Zelda, Pokemon, and other Nintendo games, and I think it’s blatantly obvious how poorly those games handle female characters. The only badass chick in Nintendo that any casual fan could name is Samus, and in all but the last couple games she’s been in, she might have been male if not for the traditional scene where she takes her helmet off at the end. But, what I’m going to talk about today is a game I’ve played occasionally and left for the same reason every time.

The name of this game is League of Legends. It’s essentially an offshoot of a Warcraft III minigame, which became a small silicon valley company with quotes from Barry Goldwater and Rudy Giuliani on their website. Of the many, many playable characters, I’d say about 33% are female, the vast majority of which are support characters or long-ranged characters. (more…)

A History Lesson: Check Your Goddamn Privilege

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is meant to be proscriptive, i.e. I’m not saying you have to identify in any way like the identities I’m discussing, I’m simply saying that the way we as trans people present ourselves politically is so often stalled because we forget our political history. I think trans and drag are definitely worth separating–but I’m trying to encourage people to understand the history of trans identity, and why trying to separate ourselves from drag denies a history we could really stand to benefit from.

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So, there’s this thing we say in the trans community. We say this, and it makes sense to a lot of us. But it doesn’t really make sense. Not because it isn’t true–but because he have no clue what the implication of what we’re saying is, or we wouldn’t say it nearly as loudly. Yes, it is important to remember these words–but don’t act like it’s the case for everyone, or like it’s some basic truth that will liberate us, because it’s every bit as problematic as its converse. What are these dreaded words we say?

Trans women are not drag queens.

This statement is deeply problematic–and I think we know it is, and we shouldn’t pretend that it isn’t. Trans people are great at seeing the truth in a statement, shouting it like it’s a mantra, and plugging their ears to the problems they know better than to ignore. This statement is a perfect example of it. And now, now that the great mass of people who thought I was a true radical, think I’ve lost it, I will explain why this statement is problematic. (more…)

Transmisogyny in Action #3: Internalized Self-Hate

For all the hate people throw at us on a daily basis, the most sinister haterade stand is staffed by a hater who looks like you, talks like you, thinks like you, and is privileged by you as though that hater were you. This isn’t too far from the truth, because that hater can take months, years, even decades, to separate from your self-identity. That hater is your own internalized self-hate.

Transmisogyny is a cultural narrative that all people exposed to media, socialization, or even just gender roles, can and will internalize. That includes trans women, and in many ways, we tend to accumulate it at a superhuman rate, using it as our only lens of self-understanding until we meet somebody who gives us a better option. (more…)

What do We do About Transphobic Feminists?

Transphobic feminists occupy a lot of my time. They really do–one of the biggest factors of Kyriarchy in the oppression of trans women (especially non-hetero ones) is the fact that our safe spaces, full of other women more or less just like us, are behind walls of angry political bad blood. So we do what we do best–we organize the small scraps of trans rebellion together and bring our sights to bear upon the source of our discontentment.

I, for one, am willing to consider the concession that this isn’t the way we should be going about it. Today marks an interesting day for N&B, because I’m about to tell you to do something I would feel uncomfortable about doing myself. See, the thing is, transphobic feminists may be transphobic, but they’re also feminists. We don’t have to agree with them about trans stuff. There’s plenty of other things I won’t agree with them about–sorry, but I don’t agree with proscriptive feminism, sex positive or sex negative.

There are a few things I do agree with them about, though. I agree with them that there are times that men need to give us a safe space. I agree with them that we need to take everyday steps to combat oppression, and not just hang around in whatever liberal mass happens to be near you and expect them to listen to us. That, sisters/ziesters/cisters and brothers, is what makes us radical feminists. (more…)

Comment Policy

So, I’ve decided to make a comment policy. Not because I’ve needed it yet, but because it’s common practice to have one and there’s some things I want to get across in how I choose to write mine. Plus, it might encourage commentors…who are notably scarce at the moment. (more…)

With Regards to Chaz Bono

I’m going to start this off with a link. A link to a New York Times article about Chaz Bono. 

Let’s start by asking: Who is Chaz a “reluctant role model” for? I certainly don’t consider him a role model. For starters, many people have said in discussions–and I agree with them–that Chaz is way too early in transition to be considered an authority on trans people. I’m not the type to posit that authority point at some huge number of years, or milestones or whatever. But I’ve been out as “not male” for almost 4 years, and I’ve been in transition for almost 2 of them, and I’m only now starting to understand true trans theory. I wouldn’t want to be considered the only authority on trans issues, but I will admit that authority is a position people have placed me in enough times that I can understand the ramifications of it.

Chaz, on the other hand, has been given a pedestal to shout from and is proceeding to misuse the authority position people have placed him in. Part of me wants to give him the benefit of the doubt, and allow that he may just not yet understand that, when a trans person, any trans person, is put in a media spotlight, zie becomes the authority whether they can handle that, understand that, or not. Cis people unaware of trans issues don’t know how to gauge the authority credentials of a trans person, so they trust the media to gauge that for them. (more…)

Transmisogyny in Action #2: Intersectionality

Intersectionality is a wonderful thing we can (largely) thank the Womanist movement for being the first to examine. It’s what happens when you stop looking at just one identity (say, woman, or trans), and you take a look at what it means to have more than one identity, and how that affects those people. Folks quick on the draw might realize that this blog consists entirely of intersectional trans + woman examination. My more deep-thinking sisters may realize that this isn’t a new realization and has in fact been the intention since before this blog existed. Still others are the reason I spelled that out. This is an intersectional blog, it always has been, and it always will be. But it seems like a nice time to talk about what that actually means for us.

Intersectionality is about adding a few fundamental rules to feminist theory. First of all, there is no such thing as one identity having it worse than another. You might have noticed I go way out of my way to avoid the very common comparisons of trans oppression and the oppression of people of color. That’s because it’s both erasurist towards and cold comfort for those people who happen to be PoC AND trans. It’s about imagining identity as a dynamic thing, and never settling on thinking something is a “women’s issue” or a “transgender issue.” There are a lot of disabled women who are transgender, so an end to transmisogyny could easily be said to be a disability issue, just as it is a transgender and a women’s issue. Intersectionality is about giving voice to those people like, for example, trans women, who get erased from ciscentric discourses on bodily self-autonomy (which fail to understand that this may entail wide, sweeping changes to the body, changes which should be free, easy, gateless and legal). (more…)

Tales of a Trans Girlhood #2: (Auto?)Gynephilia

I’m a dyke. It’s a kind of obvious. I’m also a girl. That’s also kind of obvious. Come to think of it, these things kind of go together. The important thing we’re gonna talk about here, is how that affected me growing up. Namely, I was sexually attracted to other women…but in order to express that, I had to feel comfortable in my womanhood. But of course; let’s not forget what the psychiatric community has done to people like me in the past. (more…)

Poll: I would like it if Nuts & Bolts…

Poll below break to save front page space.

(more…)

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