Saturday, 26 July 2014

Quoting Andreja Pejic

It would be lovely to live in a world where trans-female models were treated as female models, and trans-male models were treated the same as male models, rather than being a niche commodity. I think that that is the biggest struggle in all this. It’s almost like African-American models back in the nineties. It was like, “Oh, you can do this, but you can’t do that. You can do runway, but no print.” So I think that’s what needs to change.

- Andera Pejic in at Style

Friday, 25 July 2014

Trans people's (Un)Equal Access to Goods and Service in the EU


Trans people experience structural discrimination as social and legal realities are constructed around two exclusive notions of gender: male and female. People who are challenging these norms fall between the cracks. Matching ID- documents are a pre-requisite to access goods and services without discrimination. The Goods & Services Directive protects against sex/gender-discrimination in access to remunerated, non-private goods and services. Many goods and services are only accessible if ID-documents are provided, such as opening a bank account, taking a flight, taking a loan, buying insurance etc. Many trans-people experience discrimination when accessing goods and services because their gender identity does not match the name/ gender marker on their ID-documents. A common reaction is to suspect trans people to use falsified documents, which prompt further scrutinizing questions. More often these situations prompt the trans-person to come out as transgender, which leaves them vulnerable to discrimination and often at mercy of their counterparts about accessing the respective service. 


Source / Full Text: TGEU: Trans people's (Un)Equal Access to Goods and Service in the EU

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Liberal Feminism Isn’t Your Ally Either

I don’t normally like to delve into the realms of the TERFy these days, but i felt compelled by some recent experiences to talk about the ways that liberal feminism fails trans women, since trans folks tend to focus their criticisms on radical feminism almost exclusively. my aim is to show that the specific ideological differences are not the cause of trans-exclusion, but that rather these things are the result of pervasive cissexism that exists in the vast majority of cis people, and thus naturally cis women.
lisa millbank of the excellent radtransfem has talked about how liberal feminists “weaponize” trans women against radicals - and this definitely seems to bear out. someone who presents an apparent contradiction to ideas of wholly socially constructed gender is convenient for a group whose ideology depends on an unease with that concept, and an unwillingness to embrace it fully. you can dismiss radicals with, “well what about trans people?” without engaging their arguments or considering their implication for your own circumstances.
trans inclusion is predicated, i would argue, on this relationship. trans women are welcomed symbolically, without ever really achieving integration with the group. as long as the trans woman “behaves” - is sexless, not too radical, willing to be an artefact for liberal rhetoric, they are accepted. in exchange the libfems will very loudly shout buzzwords for them, about how “gender is between your ears not your legs” and that “trans women are women… period!!!!” that obfuscate trans discourses in favour of palatable platitudes. 
for a while now i’ve been part of a local feminist discussion group, and while there are some excellent and engaged feminists in there, i’ve consistently sensed tensions between myself and the more liberal wing of the group. despite being trans myself, my comments about being trans are viewed with suspicion and distrust, because i speak with the language of radicalism. a cis woman is generally treated as the group’s authority, because she knows several trans men and does drag, and her comments receive a lot more respect than mine do. the rhetoric she serves up is simplistic and asinine, focused on trans-as-subversion, and overly biasing trans narratives that are constructed entirely out of empty appeals to gender identity and preferences in gender expression.
her arguments aren’t as interesting to me as the form of her arguments though, and i’ll refrain from addressing them directly here and now. because these arguments are made whenever trans radicalism raises its head. these arguments are veiled in the language of inclusion - “not all trans people want surgery or hormones”, she says, and she’s right, but the way she says it, specifically addressing radicalism and trans people’s voices, implies heavily that those that do, or even those that want dysphoria and transition to be considered important parts of what trans means for a lot of people, are not really… the right sort. they’re not useful to her, going out on saturday nights in drag to “indulge her boy side”. they’re kind of weird in fact, and hard to identify with. i think that the appearance of inclusion is more important to liberal feminists than actual inclusion.
this can produce disastrous results if the liberal in question radicalizes. one woman in the group, who didn’t know i was trans, took my comments about gender abolition and trans radicalism and explained that it had given her a lot to think about, and that really if you think about it female only spaces are a good idea. this was hardly my point. viewing trans women in the sort of dehumanized way that our society encourages however, the only way she knew how to respond to increased radicalization with regards to gender was to admit that she was suspicious of trans women all along. 
these experiences have led me to a very obvious conclusion. the way libfems and radfems think about trans women is no different. what differs is their perspective on gender. while gender is fun, trans women are useful. when gender must be destroyed, trans women, as gender’s apparent avatars, must be destroyed with it. 
so trans women, don’t be fooled. the liberals aren’t your allies either. the only solution is enthusiastic acceptance of trans women in women’s spaces, an acceptance where our voices are not taken from us and we are not held in contempt for radicalism. the irony is that to achieve this sort of radical acceptance we must be radical, liberal subversionism will only ever buy us false friends. 

Full Text / Source:  RadTransFem

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Defeating Shame: My Story of Trans-Attraction

I never thought I would have to come out about being attracted to women. But that’s the funny and sad position I’m in these days. Although I don’t see anything different about my sexual orientation, most people do.
About four years ago, I was an exchange student in Thailand, a country known for its large, open transgender population. While most men avoided trans women, I saw no difference between them and cisgender women (women who were born biologically female). I was attracted to trans women, in other words, and I spent the next three years of my life in confusion and shame.
The heteronormative world in which we live had successfully convinced me that being attracted to transgender women meant I had a fetish. I began questioning my sexuality and even my masculinity.  I didn’t even know what to call my sexual orientation.  Finally one day, after hours of searching, I came across two terms that described what I was feeling. Trans-attraction and trans-orientation. Neither one is official or common, but their use is growing due to the increasing demand for a way to categorize people who are attracted to transgender people. When I saw these words, a feeling of relief washed over me: I was not alone. I don’t always describe myself as trans-attracted, but the label helped me feel like I had a place in the queer community and it helps others understand my sexuality.
My year in Thailand made it a second home for me, and I returned last spring for a study abroad semester. Once again surrounded by the transgender community, I started thinking about my sexuality almost every day and this inner conflict re-arose.  That was when I started reading queer theory. Julia Serano, a transgender activist and writer, pointed out that it is not acceptable to consider attraction to trans women a fetish, because that reduces them to fetish objects.  Trans women are treated as if they are not worthy of love. In her speech, titled “The Beauty in Us,” she said, “Because our culture deems us undesirable, our lovers and partners are often expected to explain why they choose to be with us.”  After reading that powerful speech as well as many other queer theorists, I stopped feeling so backward. It was the shaming of trans-attraction that was ridiculous — not my sexual orientation.
However, I wasn’t ready to be open, because I wasn’t yet aware of the desperate societal need for me to do so. I didn’t realize just how damaging my shame could be to trans women. It wasn’t until I fell for a transgender girl in Thailand that my own toxic silence finally melted away. When we met I thought that she might be transgender, but I was not sure.  Regardless of what might be between her legs, I found her confidence, independence and grace inspiring. We started seeing each other.
We met three times before she told me she was transgender.  It breaks my heart when I remember how nervous she was. She was afraid to tell me for two reasons: One was fear of rejection. It must be so painful to be turned away and shunned by someone you like because he does not see you as a “real” woman, whatever that means. The other devastatingly sad fear that she had to deal with was fear for her safety. I could have exploded into a violent rage and responded with my fists, or even a weapon. This certainly happens to transgender women, often when all they are doing is searching for love.  According to Trans Murder Monitoring, there were 265 trans people murdered in 2012 alone. Somehow, facing those fears, she mustered the amazing strength and courage to tell me.
I watched relief pour over her face when I told her that I didn’t care.  It’s a strange world that we live in when two people who are attracted to each other have to come out to each other.  Later that evening, she turned to me and said, “I feel free.”  Finally being open about my sexuality was liberating for me, too.
So why bother coming out? I could easily hide this, since I am attracted to cisgender women, too. I decided to be open about it, though, because of how few openly trans-attracted people there are in the world and how this silence contributes to stigma about trans people and sexuality.  Although trans attraction is hardly a rare phenomenon, it remains hidden because almost all trans-attracted men are in the closet. As a result, the common assumption is that men who date trans women are desperate and simply put up with the fact that the woman is trans. Yet, we are not just OK with it; we are just as attracted to trans women as we are to cis-women, regardless of their biological sex.
A few weeks ago, in September, DJ Mister Cee, a prominent figure in the hip-hop community, was “caught” with a transgender woman.  After being outed and admitting to being attracted to trans women, he was so ashamed that he resigned from his job at the radio station Hot 97. His trans attraction was turned into a scandal. The only thing that should be considered scandalous is the fact that he had to hide his attraction in the first place.
I’ve had enough of this shaming. It’s created a disgusting culture of trans-attracted men using trans women for sex but never forming a committed relationship with them. Most trans-attracted men are only trans-attracted at night. Then, during the day, they run back to their heteronormative relationships with cis-women of whom they are not ashamed.  Even men who are in committed relationships with trans women will often tell those women that they could never introduce them to their friends or family. Imagine a woman who has been to hell and back trying to transition into who she really is only to be told by her lover that he is ashamed to be with her. The hardship that trans-attracted men go through (and believe me, it is hard) does not even come close to what trans women have to go through in their day-to-day lives. That is why it’s so important for trans-attracted men to start coming out of the closet. Personally, I am proud to be attracted to women who are so strong.

Source / Author: The Weave - Thomas Matt



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