Posts Tagged ‘transmisogyny’

Need To Express Your Hatred Towards Trans Women? There’s An App For That

October 28, 2010

Apple has apparently decided to put its stamp of approval on the mocking and belittling of of trans women. There is an app available in iTunes called “Peek-a-boo Tr***y.” In case you couldn’t tell from the transmisogynistic slur in the title, it exists for the express purpose of being fucked up, offensive, and hateful. And it targets trans women, who are among the most horrifically oppressed women in our society.

Call Apple at +1 (408) 974-2042 and tell them that this is not acceptable.

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Trans Women, Lactation, and Exclusion

August 19, 2010

While I have discussed the obstacles faced by cis women who wish to breastfeed many times, I have neglected to delve into the reality of trans women and their experiences with breastfeeding. This is unacceptable, and a reflection of the cis privilege that I enjoy. Contrary to popular belief, almost every person regardless of gender has the necessary equipment to nurse a child. If you have a healthy breast, you can probably breastfeed.

Now, when a cis woman wants to breastfeed, she is in for an uphill battle. She will get so much misinformation from health care professionals, well-meaning relatives, friends, and advertisements. Her decisions on when and how frequently to nurse are going to be policed by total strangers. If she nurses for “too long,” people will accuse her of being selfish (as if there were no health benefits to full-term nursing or child-led weaning); if she doesn’t nurse “long enough,” then people will accuse her of being vain or lazy (as if there were no legitimate reasons to choose not to nurse or to choose mother-led weaning), which not only is disrespectful to a woman’s bodily autonomy, but also feeds the “rabid baby-fetishing mommy-guilting breastfeeding zealout” meme and turns more women off to even considering breastfeeding in the first place. If she wants to take breaks at work to pump, she will have to deal with coworkers and superiors who may be less than understanding.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for cis women. For a trans woman, take all of those issues and multiply them by a million.

Misinformation regarding, well, almost anything about trans women’s lives is regurgitated and unchallenged by the vast majority of the cis population (who, naturally, dominate the medical profession as well as every other discipline of our society). Trans women have to deal with discrimination from the medical community on a horrific level; things that cis women do without much thought, such as filling out medical forms, are not such a carefree task for trans folks. When I see a new doctor for the first time, I don’t have to wonder if she is going to be so bigoted against me that she will not even enter the room or touch me.

While I feel snug and protected by the laws in my state that guarantee my right to nurse publicly, trans women do not have the same luxury. They cannot take for granted that someone will not challenge them (or arrest them!) on the basis that they are “not really women.”

While many cis women can take for granted that their milk will come in without much effort on their part, there are many trans women who will not be able to afford the hormonal regimen that will allow them to simulate a pregnancy and induce lactation. Insurance companies already overwhelmingly fail to provide support and supplies for lactating cis women; trans women can expect to get exactly squat to even spur lactogenesis in the first place.

The books that I’ve been reading about breastfeeding are of course filled to the brim with cis-sexism. There is a complete black hole in regards to the needs and concerns of trans women who wish to nurse their children. This is something that needs to change. When the “pro woman” battle cry really means “pro cis woman” (and let’s be honest – it almost always certainly means just that), then we are failing. We are neglecting our duties as supporters of health care, as womanists, as decent damn people.

My silence about the needs of trans women in breastfeeding advocacy is a testament to my bigotry. I’ve been fucking up. And I need to do better.

Help Nikki Araguz

July 26, 2010

A woman whose husband has died is being sued by her in-laws, who assert that because the widow is trans, the entire marriage was a farce and she has no right to his death benefits. On top of the fact that the in-laws are grabbing for money only a few weeks after her husband’s death, they have also publicly outed her as a trans woman and have endangered her life by doing so.

For more details, check out Cara’s post on The Curvature.

Mrs. Araguz is currently living off of donations since her assets have been frozen. Please help. If you can’t afford to donate, then at least spread the word! I doubt very seriously that the big GLB orgs and celebrities are going to come running to her assistance; trans issues just don’t rate very highly on the list of Things That Matter in any cis-dominated sphere. Every little bit helps.

Link Love: Objectification, Intent, and Writing About Africa

June 26, 2010

I’ve been meaning to start making regular posts in which I link to posts that have really made me think for a while now. Better late than never, so here goes!

amandaw from Feminists with Disabilities explains how Feminism Objectifies Women:

“The assumption, when this person says “we have to be able to make some sort of systemic analysis and that will mean some choices have to be wrong” they are almost always assuming some specific things.

* Women have been historically locked in their homes tending their houses and families, and larger society pushes against women’s ability to participate in the workforce, and women should participate in the workforce at the highest level possible.

* Women are oversexualized, and that sexualization takes specific forms, such as high heels, lipstick, makeup, dresses.

* Women are stereotyped as demure and submissive, soft and giving, caring and intuitive.

* Women are forced into roles as family carers, encouraged to have as many children as possible and to be the primary carer to those children, stereotyped as having special natural ability to raise children.

That’s just a few.

Here’s the thing. Everything I just said above about “women”? Isn’t true for women. Rather, it is true for white women. Or cisgendered women. Or nondisabled women. It is not true for women as a class.

Genderbitch Kinsey tells us why “I didn’t mean to be transphobic/racist/whatever!” is a pathetic excuse in Intent! It’s Fucking Magic!

“So say, if you make a bunch of racist jokes, instead of contributing to the systemic oppression of POC, the bewitching might of Intent (I’m capitalizing the I now, to give it proper respect as a primary element) spreads out, blocking every single person from fully hearing the awful racist shit you just said, further preventing them from internalizing it and using it to justify actions. It also prevents it from creating an environment where racist behavior is seen as more acceptable, by twisting the very threads of fate there as well! And, the best part? If you say it in earshot of someone who’s offended or hurt by it, the occult powers of Intent change everything! Now, instead of hearing a hurtful slur or sentiment that reminds of past abuses at the hands of privileged fuckjobs, the marginalized person in question only hears the beautiful natural sound of birds chirping. Or whale noises! Because you see, Intent is just that powerful. It literally keeps anyone from getting hurt by your fuckery!”

And last but certainly not least, a short video entitled How Not To Write About Africa (click the link to read the original essay) based on the essay by Binyavanga Wainaina. I’m not a big video watcher personally, but this is well worth the few minutes. Also, Djimon Hounsou’s voice is super duper sexy.

On Identity and Telling the Truth

June 3, 2010

Today, thanks to a conversation with a friend, I’m thinking about lying.

Specifically, I’m thinking about being accused of lying when you are, in fact, telling the truth. I had it happen to me a few times as a child, as I’m sure everyone has at least once or twice. I remember how it felt. It was awful, I felt helpless (if the truth couldn’t save me, what could I do?), and I remember how furious my helplessness would make me.

On one occasion, as a young adult, I told my parents that I was sick and could not go to work that night. They accused me of lying and argued about it with me for over an hour until I finally, tearfully, begged for them to just let me go to bed and sleep it off. My mom took my temperature an hour later and discovered that I had a fever of 102. They did apologize, in the face of indisputable evidence, so that was something.

I lost my glasses during the second week of my freshman year of high school. I told my parents and they accused me of lying; they thought that I’d purposely thrown away my glasses in order to get a new pair, so they adamantly refused to buy me new ones. I went through my first two years of high school having to copy my friends’ notes in class because I couldn’t read the blackboard. They didn’t get them for me until I needed them for my driver’s license, at 16.

When I was 19, I was dealing with a serious bout of depression. I was suicidal. I had a huge fight with my parents and ended up leaving home. I stayed with friends for a week, and when I went back home, I tried to explain to them what was wrong with me. When I tried to tell my mother that I was depressed, she told me, “You’re full of shit.” She didn’t believe me. She thought that I was making up excuses for my behavior.

I don’t bring these things up in order to vilify my parents. It was a long time ago, and my parents were/are very young; I genuinely believe that in some things, they just didn’t know any better. They didn’t and still don’t understand much about depression. And I don’t believe that they ever said the things that they did just for shits and giggles. What I’m thinking about is how I can avoid doing the same to Eve; children are people, and people lie. Sometimes people lie for fun and sometimes they lie to cover up what they’ve done, and sometimes they tell the truth even though it hurts to admit and it can be scary. But how do you discern the difference?

This also ties into a debate that I’ve been having about trans women with some asshole on an online forum I frequent. Like most cis people, as soon as the topic of trans folks came up, he started talking about “honesty in relationships” and “I just think they should be honest” or whatever. No one was even talking about relationships; we were actually just discussing the media and LGB’s constant misgendering of Tiwonge as a gay man rather than the woman that she is. I made the point that a cis person jumping up to talk about the importance of honesty in cis-trans relationships is like a white person butting into a discussion about interracial relationships just to throw in, “And I hope the black guy knows not to steal her TV!” It’s offensive and unnecessary to question the honesty of trans folks just because they are trans.

This is not even getting into the fact that trans people are not dishonest for not disclosing their trans status unless you think that “trans” = “not really the gender I say that I am.”  A trans woman who says “I am a woman” is not a liar if she leaves out the trans qualifier; she is a woman. But trans folks who don’t disclose their status are frequently framed as being deceptive by cis folks, as if by claiming womanhood fully, a trans woman is somehow trying to sneak her way into cis lives.

Fuck, while I’m thinking of it, why don’t cis people disclose their status? Something like:

“Hi. I really like you. Before things move along any further, I just wanted to let you know that I’m cis, meaning that I was assigned the gender that I identify with at birth, and therefore I have tons of cis privilege that allows me to ignore the concerns and suffering of trans people, not to mention gives me an unearned advantage in millions of ways, one of them being that no one ever questions my gender identity and I never have to ‘prove’ my womanhood in order to ‘earn’ recognition of it. I also don’t have to worry about people murdering me because they discovered that I’m cis, and I don’t have mainstream feminists idolizing women who advocated for my genocide like Mary Daly did. I hope you don’t mind because I really like you, but I just thought I should let you know, because if you’re trans, I will probably cluelessly stomp all over you with my privileged ways of thinking.”

Yeah. That sounds good. Any cis person who does not disclose their cis status to their partner is a fucking liar.

I remember the helplessness and rage that I felt whenever my parents accused me of lying when I was telling the truth. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to have almost the whole world call me a liar just for saying, “I am a woman,” even though it’s true, and for that world to hate me just because I refuse to placate them with a lie.

My Lorde!

May 6, 2010

[The image shows a book cover with the title Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches by Audre Lorde and additional subtext New Foreword by Cheryl Clarke. The design is of a pair of stylized faces with recognizably African features such as full lips and cornrowed hair over an olive-colored background.]

Last night I picked up a copy of Sister Outsider, a collection of essays and speeches by Audre Lorde, a poet and black activist with whom I am only just starting to acquaint myself. It’s only recently that I realized that if I’m going to convince Eve of just how amazing women of color can be (and if she’s like I was as a child, bombarded  by the anti-woman and anti-black messages that permeate this society, she WILL need to be convinced), I need to familiarize myself with amazing women of color. I know more about white celebrities, white history, white politics, white entertainment, white cultural norms, and white pop culture more than I do about people of color (or also, for that matter, about people with disabilities, or gay people, or trans women and trans men). This has to change. Amazing things have been said and done by people who are not white, cis, temporarily able-bodied, wealthy or middle class, or straight, and their histories deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated. (And in fact, Audre Lorde was a lesbian of color and also legally blind – hooray for intersecting identities!)

Anyway, about Audre Lorde. So far I’ve only read two chapters out of the book: her essay “Poetry Is Not A Luxury” and her open letter to Mary Daly (aptly titled “An Open Letter To Mary Daly”), the radfem white lesbian whose recent death sparked a bit of controversy when many feminist bloggers mourned her death uncritically*, failing to acknowledge her racism and abhorrent and unfettered hatred for trans women (to the point that she actively called for their Nazi-style extermination… yeeeaah), and in fact those bloggers became defensive and let their racism and transmisogyny really fly when called out on it.

I liked “Poetry” well enough, but the letter spoke to me in a big way. In it, Lorde expressed her exasperation, her anger, and her exhaustion as a result of dealing with white feminists, who, for all their talk about equality, had no problems using the same oppressive and silencing tactics against women of color that men use against women. (My summary of it does it no justice and I really would recommend that you read it for yourself – you can find the full text archived here.) I identified strongly with Lorde’s experiences with and disappointment in white feminists, and she does it with such eloquence that I pretty much want to get every beautiful scathing word tattooed on my forehead just so that I can read it again as I brush my teeth every morning.

There is a reason that I identify as a womanist and not a feminist. I started calling myself a feminist about a decade ago, and over time, as I became more aware of the fact that white feminists, by and large, are only interested in securing respect and equality for a very specific kind of woman (a definition that, more frequently than not, excludes me and mine), I started to distance myself from the label.

A situation that sticks out in my mind is of a pages-long debate in a pro-choice group, in which a pro-life man who apparently did not like the direction that our debate was going suddenly said to me, “Let’s not fight, let me tell you a joke. Why is there cotton in pill bottles?”** Suddenly, all of the women who were so quick to call out posters for their use of sexist slurs, slut-shaming, or victim-blaming were silent. Not one member of the group called him out on his very explicitly racist attack, save for a moderator who intervened at my request (and even then, her admonishment was pretty lukewarm, along the lines of “I’m disappointed that you would think slave jokes are funny”). The man, who had been banned before for his sexism but never for his racism, was free to engage openly in as much as racism as he wanted, and no one ever said anything but me (that incident was only one of many with him). The very same women who had been right beside me when defending a woman’s right to abort would suddenly distance themselves and become silent when my race was used as a weapon against me (and some of them cheerfully joined in on the attacks). Eventually I quit participating, as it just became too much for me to deal with.

Too many white women who will freely discuss what it means to navigate this society without male privilege will shit themselves in violent denial whenever white privilege is mentioned. Attempts to discuss race are either discarded as irrelevant, unimportant, or worse, actively antagonistic. The mere mention of the fact that women of color frequently experience sexism in a racialized context is decried as either playing the “race card”*** or muddling up the discourse by taking time and energy away from the “real” (read: white) issues.

Suffice to say, I am excited to have discovered Audre Lorde’s writing and am looking forward to reading more of her works. It’s cathartic to discover that someone has managed to put words to my experience as a woman of color with such nuance and power. I’ll leave you with this quote, which I found to be a simple but powerful reminder of why I am making myself speak out against racism and oppression, and I probably really WILL have it tattooed on me someday (although not on my forehead, I promise).

“Your silence will not protect you.”

Likewise, my silence will not protect her.

—-

*This particular blog post by Sady Doyle entitled “Acts of Contrition: Feminism, Privilege, and the Legacy of Mary Daly” is, unlike most of the posts regarding her death by cis white women, a terrific read and I highly recommend it.

**The punchline to this grotesque little joke is “To remind black people that before they were drug dealers, they were cotton pickers.”

***For an insightful look at just how ridiculous the notion of a race card is, read Tim Wise’s “What Kind of Card is Race? The Absurdity (and Consistency) of White Denial”