This is something that’s been annoying me lately. I realize that anyone who only knows me from this blog might be a bit surprised- but, really, there’s a reason this blog is so dead.
Right now, being trans is complicated. Like I talked about in this post, I’m getting better at social dysphoria, I don’t have big problems with bodily dysphoria since getting surgery, and I’m becoming more hesitant to come out to people because I’d rather deal with unaware misgendering than being rejected when I express what I need. Is that the greatest place to be? Not really, in an ideal world… But this isn’t an ideal world.
I may have before, but right now I don’t want to be an activist. I burnt out severely trying to be one, and right now I have way bigger problems to worry about.
But a lot of people seem to expect me to be Trans above anything else, and it’s really frustrating to me. It’s not that I don’t want people to be aware that I’m trans, but the way people keep expecting that it’s the biggest issue in my life or that I want my life to revolve around that one aspect really bothers me.
I have never liked the -phobia language used mostly by the LGBTQIA community. And trans, asexual, and intersex people use it, too, so they’re included this time. But it’s getting to me a bit more than usual. There are two main reasons: It is ablist and it hurts the communities.
For why it’s ablism: because phobias are real things. They qualify as disorders, if you want to use that term, it’s in the DSM and all that. I hate the DSM, but it’s there. I also am uncomfortable with the term neuroatypical, but phobias almost definitely qualify under the label. A genuine phobia can have serious effects on a person’s life.
Things like homophobia and xenophobia are not the same thing, but are being compared to that. This is not fair on people who have genuine phobias.
Something that I hadn’t thought of before but eateroftrees pointed out, this also makes things harder for people who actually can develop genuine phobias as a result of internalizing hatred. Although not for everyone, for some people the self-acceptance process can involve panicking, even for people who have friends who are gay/bi/trans/feminine and support those friends, because of the heavy anti-gay, anti-bi, anti-trans, anti-feminine messages in this culture. This is not the same as mistreating people for being gay or bi or trans or feminine, and conflating it with that only makes it harder for people who experience this.
This also has a very real damage to the communities. Don’t believe me? Look up “Gay Panic Defense” and “Trans Panic Defense”. The idea that hating gay people and trans people is a phobia adds to the validity of these. It sets up an ideology where a cis man on trial for brutally harming a trans woman who made no moves to harm him save for self defense can say “I was afraid for my life”, and a jury will believe it because they keep being told that people like him are severely afraid of trans people instead of being told that people like him hate trans people.
I recently read Doktor Snake’s Voodoo spellbook (available in my school library, donated by someone who a building is named after, I find this awesome). I’d recommend it even for people who don’t care to practice Voodoo or hoodoo because it gives interesting information and was pretty nicely written. It’s not just a spellbook, it also talks about some stories and the author’s experiences. Hoodoo, Voodoo, and Conjure: A Handbook is also pretty good for people who, like me, are sick of hearing about Voodoo but knowing nothing about it. I got it from interlibrary loan.
One of the bits Doktor Snake’s Voodoo spellbook spoke of was Robert Johnson, who allegedly sold his soul to the devil. It talked about how the “devil” at the crossroads was initially an African God who acted as a way for mortals to communicate with the Gods. This God was turned into “the devil” by white missionaries who came to Africa. So the term “devil” doesn’t have the same connotations for people who believe in Voodoo as it does for most people, and selling your soul to him isn’t as horrible as it might be to Satan.
I’m not even sure if you are “selling your soul” to him, it seems more like you’re making an agreement that you get something you want and give up most of your life in exchange, I’m not sure if there’s anything about what happens to it afterwards. There are people who would find 10 years of artistic genius well worth never living to see 50, but if the God got to keep your soul afterwards I don’t see why he couldn’t wait a few more decades to get it. But you might be so I don’t know, I’m clearly not an expert here.
One of the most annoying things, for me, of not having privileges is how hard it is to find entertainment that isn’t triggering. It’s next to impossible. I read a lot of webcomics, and a ton of them throw in random transphobia for the hell of it. Something Positive makes “tranny” jokes (I can not be bothered to find proof), and the author hasn’t gotten back to me about why. C’est La Vie just… ugh. Same with El Goonish Shive. I could go on, and on, and on, and on, and on.
And, most recently (for me), Scandinavia and the World failed. Twice. First: (both quotes are from the artist’s comments) “Denmark was the first country in the world to turn a transsexual man into a woman. … Sweden is not a fan of man-boobs” Second: “Denmark once invented man-breasts“
HAHAHAHA IT’S SO FUNNY BECAUSE, SEE, THE AUTHOR DOESN’T KNOW JACKSHIT ABOUT TRANSITION OR WHAT GOES INTO IT OR HOW THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE, REGARDLESS OF COERCIVELY ASSIGNED SEX, HAVE BREAST TISSUE OR HOW SOME CAMAB PEOPLE NATURALLY HAVE “BREASTS” AND BECAUSE TRANS WOMEN AREN’T REALLY WOMEN, THEY’RE MEN- HAHA, SILLY MEN WHO THINK THEY ARE WOMEN
So, really, I’ve got two options here:
1. Figure out how to be completely unphased by this, especially because there are no trigger warnings so I can’t be like “okay, this next bit contains transphobia, I’m ready”.
2. Stop trying to read things I enjoy because it may end up like this, which is seriously upsetting for me.
Reasons not to start T (personal list, please be aware this applies to me only):
- Baldness runs in my family, I love my hair
- more body hair, do not want
- more acne, I have severe issues with my acne already
- can’t control how deep my voice becomes
- clitoral growth, may end up being another source of dysphoria and makes it harder to use STPs and the surgery to be able to pee through it is fucking expensive
- Different health risks
- Give up the ability to pretend to be cis when I need to
- Need fucking expensive surgery to be able to change all my legal information
- Doing this may invalidate my marriage in the eyes of the government and result in my partner being deported
- May not be any happier being seen as male full time
- Make wearing dresses & skirts much more dangerous
- May never fully pass as a cis male
- shots are painful, and get more painful as time goes on, cost money I don’t really have. All other forms are incredibly expensive.
- Not sure what emotional effects it will have
- Not sure if I’d like what it’d do to my overall body shape or facial features
- Sweat more
Reasons to start T:
- Might get people to stop reading me as female
- Easier time building muscle
That this is still something I’m seriously considering should shed a little light on just how freaking awful social dysphoria can be.
My school did the vagina monologues. I did not go. I don’t know if they did either of the two about trans women, but I sure as hell hope they didn’t because I’m pretty sure that, if they did, they were performed by cis women. I only know of one trans woman on this campus and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t in it. Maybe they did have trans women doing it if they did it, but I doubt it.
They’ve been advertising in part with posters that feature a line drawing of a person’s torso from roughly the hips to below the bust. It is clearly curvy, considerably more curvy than you’d expect someone perceived as male to be and even curvier than a good number of people perceived as female. Not to get into how people identify. It’s also thin. The poster features a microphone roughly in the area of this line art’s genitalia because, you know, the vagina is talking. Even though the play is people talking about their vaginas.
Only it isn’t. It’s Women talking about women’s vaginas. Well, vulvas. But anatomy fail aside, it’s just about women. Even though women aren’t the only one who have or even want vaginas or vulvas. And not all women have them. I will be okay wtih the monologues when and only when they feature a really burly, been on T 10+ years trans guy who you’d “never guess” isn’t cis go upthere and talk honestly about how much he loves his vagina. And a few other men as well, ones who never want to take T, ones who don’t look cis, ones who are really feminine. And, of course, non-binaries as well. But I want the stereotype of macho manliness to talk about how much he loves his vagina.
I don’t really care how much you love this play, it’s cis supremacist as hell because of the way it associates vaginas with women. The advertising in this specific case was horrific for the same reason. I don’t care for any apologist bullshit about how it’s okay to erase and degender all the non-women out there who have vaginas and/or who have curvy bodies because “but they help women feel good about their bodies!”. Yes, it is horrible the way that non-societally-accepted-as-male bodies are treated. But fixing that by adding to the oppression of people isn’t okay.
This really gets to me because, yeah, my body looks a bit like that poster. It is curvy. Too curvy to be perceived as male. It’s probably at least part of the reason people constantly mistake me for a woman. Associating my body type with “women-only” shit is to erase my gender, and the gender of all curvy people who aren’t women. It is to reinforce the very problem that makes it so that I, and a good number of those like me, will never be correctly perceived. That isn’t okay.
Most of the ways that I don’t have privilege are invisible and things that I wasn’t fully aware of. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t suffer because of not having the privilege. Bad things happened because I didn’t know I was asexual, I spent a long time confused and in permanent denial because I didn’t know I was neutrois, I don’t even know how someone can have double depression without suffering because of it, and I now have a deep-seated fear of being crazy because I didn’t know you could be healthy and part of a multiple system. But I didn’t suffer direct discrimination in the same way, I didn’t realize that the oppression effected me the way it does. I had the shields that privileged people have of not having to be aware of the discrimination all around me. But those shields start falling once you start accepting yourself and coming out.
The oppressions you face then aren’t worse than if you’d been facing them all your life. But it can be one hell of a shock and because the world is set up for privileged people, there’s nothing set up to prepare people to deal with it. I’m sorry, you chose to step down from the elite? Well, you deserve what you get, after all, we can’t have people thinking it’s okay to be someone like you.
It’s funny how much your opinions of people can be shaped by other people. If a person you trust tells you something about someone you thought was nice, and what they say makes you think they aren’t so nice, you’ll probably end up warier around that person. It’s difficult when you find out that you shouldn’t have trusted that person, though.
Keith from the Center told my partner and I that the counseling services treated them badly when the cis people in charge of the “trans” group brought up them being more helpful about trans things. Now, I wasn’t privvy to any of these interactions. At first I, assuming Keith was a decent person, believed what he said. This was pretty early in the semester, when my partner was still starting with their therapist. Now I know from dealing with him exactly what he considers being “treated badly” (not spinelessly grovelling at his feet). My partner’s therapist hasn’t been the best so far, but I don’t know how much of that is because the two just don’t mesh and how much is because my partner’s views ended up being colored by what happened. Later on he and his therapist ended up spending an hour and a half of an hour long session talking complaining about Keith (which meant me sitting there, after the place had closed, wondering if I should still be there or if they’d left without me), which I imagine was pretty damn cathartic for my partner.
There’s a genderqueer on campus that, at the start of the term we were getting on with alright. Then a few weeks in she just stopped talking to us that much. The timing coincides with a few things, including that group starting and us spending time with Keith. Keith’s girlfriend told us that the genderqueer unfriended her on facebook, acting as though she had been very inconsiderate and rude. We based part of our view of her on that and assumed it was just how she was. After dealing with these two I can’t help but wonder if what really happened is that something similar went down between her and Keith, and now she doesn’t want to deal with people who have anything to do with him any more than I do.
I don’t really know, I don’t have much of a way to know. I don’t know her well enough to ask her and I don’t talk to her often enough to be able to casually bring up the fiasco with the center. But it really bothers me how much these two have effected my judgement of others, because now I really don’t know what’s right or wrong in a few situations.
(I’m not entirely sure I’m qualified to talk about this, but I’ll give it a go.)
Privilege doesn’t often come up around people who have it, and when it does it’s generally knocked down with privilege denying and people not bothering to find out what the terms mean before getting offended by it. If you start looking into people who talk about privilege, then you’ll probably see words like “supremacist” and “oppressed” that push quite a few buttons and make people want to deny. But most of the words aren’t quite as harsh as the kyriarchy wants you to believe. So, what is privilege?
First, you have to know that there are groups who are privileged by society and groups who are marginalized by it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there are laws in place that support or even allow this to happen, but the way society is set up it does anyways. One example is that heterosexual people are privileged over people with any other sexual orientation. Even if all the laws were made so that you can’t fire or otherwise discriminate against someone for not being straight; if most relationships in the media are straight couples/only portray other sexualities as tokens and not people in their own right, straight people would still have privilege because their sexuality would still be treated as more normal and natural and acceptable. No one has to say anything against other sexualities, but subtle othering still makes it clear which one society feels is right. People who are privileged by society have privilege.
The point of this post is to make people think, so, please, only read it if you’re willing to think about it long and hard. This is a post that will upset some cis people. Maybe most. Maybe all. I suggest you read the advice on how not to be defensive when called out on transphobia before you go on if you haven’t already. Actually, just read it, it’s good advice. If you don’t think you have privilege for being cis, don’t think you could POSSIBLY be transphobic, feel that cis is offensive, or are simply unwilling to read this with an open mind- just don’t bother reading it. It’ll be a waste of your time.