[Content note: dehumanization]
I was at the Walgreen’s buying gum (the kids still chew gum, right), and I was standing in a long-ass line because I was at the Walgreen’s. I looked over at the magazines (it was either that or the cigarettes), and I saw that such and such celebrity reportedly “wants to be a woman.” Fucking fuck.
1) Cram your “wants to be a woman” bullshit.
2) I don’t give a fuck. I mean, cool, I’m all hugs and shoes when folks want to come out, but I really don’t care about random celebrities. Gaga takes shit. Usher does thing. (Do the kids still listen to Usher? Does Usher even sing?) Like I care.
The neat thing about this incident is how it ties in the way in which society views celebrities as something to consume as it does marginalized bodies.
I mean, we all have raging boners when Prince What’s-His-Face is surprisingly decent and we’re all totally appalled when Justin Beiber is a huge asshole about Anne Frank, but folks tend not to treat random cis het white dudes on the street like they exist for our enjoyment.
On the other hand, tons of folks are super eager to:
Gossip about trans* women’s underwear.
Ask trans* people about their surgical histories, and “real” names.
Touch black women’s hair.
Touch pregnant women’s bellies.
Ask women to smile.
Offer dietary advice to random fat people.
And so on.
And so forth.
So when there are unconfirmed rumors that such-and-such celebrity may or may not wear women’s clothes, basically the universe creams itself and I got to watch that shit while I’m trying to buy gum. And that’s why I take Ativan. Assholes.
[Content note: Transphobia, outing]
I’m not psychic, but I’m hoping that in the coming days more cis people will speak out against Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs, but you knew that) super neat habit of outing trans* women and girls, trying to get them fired, contacting doctors to try to stop them from getting medical care, etc., etc.,
I mean, I’m not super stoked about this, because: a) I don’t think it’s very likely that the big name white cis corporate feminists who don’t usually give a crap about people who aren’t also white capitalists are going to make much noise, and b) TERFs don’t what y’all think. Still, indulge me for a minute.
I’m imagining a scenario where a bunch of white people speak out about terrorists trying to hurt a group of my friends, pat themselves on the back, and then go home. Yawn. Were this to actually happen, I guess I’d be down with the basic display of human decency, but that’s about it.
Do y’all know what goes into not being outed? You usually have to change your legal name, which typically costs a few hundred (or more) dollars and can be a huge PITA. If you’re a trans woman, you likely have to undergo facial hair removal, which takes fucking forever and costs thousands of dollars. If you’re in the US, you likely have to change your birth certificate, thanks in large part to bullshit “post 9/11″ laws that require you to constantly document your existence if you want to hold a job or travel. That require you to have been born in a state that will issue a new birth certificate. (I was born in Minnesota, which will only issue an amended one. Three states won’t even amend birth certificates.) Just about always, you have to have proof of some sort of surgery (which most folks can’t afford) in order to make that happen.
So, you know, aside from lot outing and harassing trans people, there’s a lot more that would be allies could do.
Here’s one route:
- Fight for insurance to cover trans* people’s medical bills
- Fight to make legal names changes and new birth certificates easier to obtain.
Here’s another route:
- Fight to make sure all people have access to all necessary medical care.
- Fight bullshit laws (like REAL ID) that police people’s identities. I’ve had to show my birth certificate to my last two employers. It’d be sweet if I had a shiny new birth certificate, but remind me again why employers need to see that shit?
- Change society’s weird fetishization of legal names.
So yeah, I’m being heavy-handed here (although I didn’t bring up class warfare, so I could have been a lot worse), but yeah, for the bieberillionth time, intersectionality matters. I want folks to speak out against violet transphobes, but that’s not enough. I want folks to push for trans* friendly laws and policies, but that’s not enough either. If you want to earn a cookie (or was it a merit badge), you have to actually do the work that matters.
[Content note: This post contains some major-league triggery stuff about depression and self-harm. Also, there's transphobia. There's always transphobia, lolsob]
Yesterday I wrote a piece about why I don’t like “love your body” campaigns. When I wrote it, I made a deliberate decision to omit any of my issues with self-harm. I’ve been thinking about that a lot.
First off, I think it’s inappropriate to start talking about self-harm at the same time that I’ve got widget up raising money for my medical bills. The whole “give me money or I’ll cut myself” thing is manipulative as hell.
Just to be clear that I’m not being passive-aggressive, I’ve long since decided that if I ever find myself insinuating that self harm is eminent, I’m absolutely stopping raising funds prior to doing so. It’s just not cool to put folks in that position, full stop.
And you know, since friends and family are likely reading, let me just say that I’m having a fairly decent week, all things considered. I’m an old hand at managing my depression. I’ve got a great support network. This being trans* shit ain’t fun (nor is mental illness). If it was, all the kids these days would be doing it.
As much as I like to ground my writing in my experiences, I’m not really here to talk about me as much as I am why I’m usually careful to not publicly talk about self harm.
If you’re trans* (or intimately involved in a trans* community), you’ve probably already noticed this: we’re constantly talking amongst ourselves about self-harm.
Yesterday was the National Organization for Women’s 16th annual Love Your Body Day.
Here’s how NOW explains the day’s purpose:
Every day, in so many ways, the beauty industry (and the media in general) tell women and girls that being admired, envied and desired based on their looks is a primary function of true womanhood. The beauty template women are expected to follow is extremely narrow, unrealistic and frequently hazardous to their health. The Love Your Body campaign challenges the message that a woman’s value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current beauty standards.
1) Popular culture is saturated with some horribly misogynist (and racist, ableist, homophobic, fat-hating, trans* phobic et al.,) messages about bodies and lives, particularly when it comes to women.
2) Nobody should feel obliged to listen to other people’s critiques of their body. This includes multi-national corporations shilling crap just as it does random assholes on the street.
To me, this is all pretty straight-forward. Smash patriarchy, etc., etc.,
However, folks (and in particular, I’m looking at the cis folks out there) have to decouple “don’t let other people tell you what to think about your body” from “I think your body is super.” If the kyriarchy isn’t allowed to talk shit about my body, it shouldn’t be pushing any views on my body just to make itself feel better about itself.
My body, my perspective.
I sense that this is probably counter-intuitive to a lot of people. However, while I can’t speak for other trans* people, I’m sick and tired of other people telling me that I should be cool with my body.
When I came out, people asked me why I had to go and change my body, because all bodies are beautiful.
When I complain to people about having to shave my beard once (or more) a day, people point out that lots of women have lots of facial hair, as if this is somehow relevant to how I feel about my facial hair.
This isn’t just idle chatter. Activists have argued that the medical treatments that I (and countless trans* people) seek amount to the mutilation of our beautiful bodies. I don’t recall asking them for their thoughts on my body.
I (and I’m not alone in this) don’t have access to necessary medical care because other people have decided that it’s “cosmetic.”
In the end, I don’t see a whole lot of difference between people who object to my transsexuality because I’m going against the word of God and people who object to my transsexuality out of my need to not listen to what the wrong people say about my body.
Nobody should be forced to wear cosmetics.
Nobody should be forced to have reconstructive surgery.
Nobody should be forced to be feminine.
And yet, some people wear cosmetics, have various appearance-altering surgeries and/or are women. We’re not sell outs to some bullshit ideal (if I only had a vagina for every time I heard that garbage), we’re just being ourselves.
I’m happy that lots of other people love their bodies. It’d be awesome if everyone loved their body, but that’s not a call I get to make.
So while I applaud NOW for fighting on this one particular front (even if it’s one that corporate feminists have been fighting on seemingly forever), I don’t want to answer anyone’s bullshit questions about why I love my body. I don’t want people to act as if I’ve never considered loving my body.
Shit, I try to tolerate my body. I’m a strong person, but every single day in this body is a struggle. I’m not throwing that out there to elicit pity (HEY LET’S ALL GET ON THE INTERNET AND FEEL BAD ABOUT OUR BODIES). I’m just pretty jarred that so many cis people think telling other folks to love their own bodies isn’t extraordinarily hostile. I get that the idea probably never occurred to a lot of you, but that’s the precisely the problem.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a glut of opportunities to consider the ways in which society privileges cis bodies. More specifically, I’ve been reflected on how society privileges cis people’s medical needs.
A few years back, I was at the radiology department of a local hospital, because it was the third Sunday of the month and I played roller derby. (Seriously. Let’s hear it for the rad techs.) Anyhow, I’m about to get my chest or head or whatever x-rayed or scanned to make sure that everything is of the appropriate size and relative location, and I’m talking to the tech.
According to my driver’s license and my chart, I’m a woman, so I have to answer the usual questions, because if I’m pregnant and playing roller derby, it would be totally inappropriate to expose the fetus (or fetuses!) to radiation.
Now, there’s two basic ways a provider can approach that question. Read more…
[Content note: homophobia, transphobia, violence]
During Monday’s inaugural address, President Obama referenced “our forebears” traveling through Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall on the long road towards freedom. It was an unexpected and poignant moment for me and many of my fellow LGBTQ Americans. Cool beans.
In the intervening days, the media has been awash in explanations of what happened at Stonewall:
“In 1969, some cops rolled a boulder in front of New York’s gay bar. Miraculously, the gays’ mix tape lasted for eight days. When some asshole moved the rock so he could get free parking, the gays came out and had a grand feast with the police. To commemorate the police’s decision to for some reason let Rosie O’Donnell have a TV show, each year those people hold a big parade that makes it a total pain in the ass to drive to that Saturday’s ballsport matches.” -Some douche, probably
And then there’s NPR:
”So, what was Stonewall?”
Given that the Stonewall rebellion happened over forty years ago, and that allowing public school teachers to acknowledge queer peoples’ existence is still a controversial matter for many Americans, it makes sense to examine Stonewall.
The NPR story is representative of a common theme in Stonewall narratives.
[G]ay men resisted police harassment at the Stonewall Inn
The Stonewall Inn… was one of the few places where gay men, almost all necessarily closet, could gather.
[A] gay male bar in New York
It was not filled, as some accounts have it, with drag queens and street hustlers.
[Authorities] targeted gay men.
[T]he men began to throw things.
It wasn’t the first time gay men had pushed back.
Gay men in San Francisco had already been protesting.
At this point, most of you already know where I’m going with this. Before I get there, let me be clear about a couple of things.
Two thousand and thirteen is not nineteen sixty-nine and community identities evolve with time.
In the late sixties, society did target gay men for punishment. It still does, even if we’ve made a lot of progress. For one thing, “homophobia” is now a word.
During the sixties, straight society had an even less nuanced view of LGBT lives then it does now. If you were the kind of person who had the wrong kind of sex with the wrong sort of people in the wrong sort of clothes, you were one of the others. There wasn’t a lot of parsing out “straight acting” homos from queer ones.
The LGBT community has always been both a community and a coalition. Yet, in the years since Stonewall, various members of the community have put themselves forward as more palatable, less threatening, and therefore more deserving of rights.
‘Sure I have sex with other men, but at least I’m not once of those lipstick-wearing penis-havers.’
‘Sure I had a physical condition, but I got it fixed and I’m now I’m having the right kind of sex, unlike some people.’
The act gets old.
Stonewall was not merely gay men’s riot. Call us what you want, but queens, trans women, and otherwise gender non-conforming people (and yes, there were butch women) were a major part of the rebellion that many gay men trace back to the Stonewall.
What’s more, while events in Greenwich Village were pivotal in queer liberation, we’d been fighting back for years. Stonewall wasn’t the first violent protest of police harrassment where trans* people played a major role. It’s also worth noting that queers of color comprised a large proportion of those fighting back.
I’m not pointing all of this out because I want to play oppression Olympics. I’m not even pointing it out to educate folks– I suspect most regular readers of both Shakesville and my work are already well aware that trans* people have long been a part of the struggle for queer rights.
I’m pointing all of this out because most straight folks are clueless about this aspect of our history. I’m pointing this out because it’s important to keep calling out certain corners of the gay community on their incomplete narrative.
Stonewall was embedded in a much larger, intersection fight for social justice. Don’t rob my elders of their legacy.
You owe people an apology.
Earlier this week you published a satirical story about Mark Wahlberg being a trans woman. The joke, as it were, is that trans people are trans.
I’m a huge fucking smartass, and a longtime Onion reader. I totally get that satire involves risks. I also get that satirists miss the mark a lot of the time. Y’all miss the mark a lot. That’s not surprising, given how much content The Onion‘s writers churn out. It’s also something a lot of your readers tolerate, because OMFG WHEN YOU HIT THE MARK.
But bloody hell, “trans person trans” isn’t funny (see also: “fat person fat”). It’s lazy. It’s been done (TRUST ME). It’s hurtful. It perpetuates hate and violence. Etcetra.
Look, it’s not that trans people aren’t funny. I know so many hilarious trans people who can write satire about transness that would make y’all laugh your tits and/or wangs off. A lot of us could use the cash. CALL US.
In the meantime, do the grown up thing and apologize.
The best part of having breasts is being able to store stuff in one’s bra. It’s like a superpower.
Star-Tribune, Minneapolis “UnitedHealth to Buy Brazil’s Amil for $4.9 billion”
“Brazil has emerged as a consistently growing and evolving market for private sector health benefits and services. Its growing economy, emerging middle class and progressive policies toward managed care make it a high potential growth market,” said Stephen Hemsley, UnitedHealth Group’s president and CEO. “Combining Amil, the clear market leader serving an under-penetrated market of nearly 200 million people, with UnitedHealth Group’s experiences and capabilities developed over the last three decades is the most compelling growth and value creation opportunity we have seen in years.”
Dow Jones has just added UnitedHealth to the Dow Jones 500. In the 2010 fiscal year, the insurer had profits of $4.63 billion.