And white trans culture has forgotten it. In all of the discourse I’ve read about gatekeeping, especially what past generations had to go through, in Whipping Girl and on blogs and everywhere, it talks all about how you had to dress conventionally feminine in skirts and heels and makeup, had to sit with your legs crossed, had to follow a script about knowing since you were little even if you didn’t, had to be straight (or lie about being straight), and so on, to be permitted to medically transition. NOT ONCE has any of it talked about having to be White. Not. Once. Where is the acknowledgement from white trans activists that we at least had a chance to make it through the gatekeeping, unlike POC who couldn’t even attempt to just say what the psychs wanted to hear ‘cause white supremacy disqualified them from the get go? Where are the stories and voices of trans POC from past generations who had to live with that? Coming across that article today is the first I’ve heard of it. That’s unacceptable. And I will cop to blogging about trans stuff for almost nine months, since I started my own transition under conditions of relative privilege, and not doing enough to educate myself about trans folks who are less privileged than I am.
All of this. I’m just as guilty (even as a trans POC with “passing as white” privilege) of not emphasizing enough the importance race has played in the relative safety of white trans* women as well as the opportunities that white trans* women have had in the past (and today as well) of getting through the gatekeepers and/or being able to access an IC-model clinic, especially outside of the large urban centers.
I’ve screwed up on this one too. Time to fix that.
The 18th of May is pink shirt day and we thought what better than for the Queer Avengers to raise awareness of queer bullying in our schools than to Queer up the Night again (details of Queer the Night 2011 here.)
We’ve lost a number of people in our community this year due to homophobic or transphobic violence of one sort or another. Join with us again at 7pm on Friday, 18 May to say that enough is enough.
See you in Waitangi Park.
(We’re in the early stages of planning this event, and will be updating this page. The Facebook event is here– go invite your friends.)
What is the difference between sex and gender?
Question raised of how people define gender: some reject it entirely, while some identify with it.
Gender roles have changed throughout history – pink used to be masculine.
This imposition of roles also applies to transfolk, Julie Serano in The Whipping Girl notes how medical ‘gatekeepers’ expect transwomen to wear dresses and experience attraction to men.
Argument raised that sex, as well as gender, is socially constructed – example of intersex children who are assigned a binary sex.
Research from Holland identifies ‘sexed’ brains, and that many trans folk do have an identity that matches their brain.
Comparison with weather, that is known entirely through social construction, and influenced by greenhouse gases: relationship between society and physical reality.
Comparison with gay “born this way” nature-or-nurture debate, point that it’s not really relevant to people’s right to be who they are.
How do we combat gender confomity?
Partly about “not having to do what you’re told,” challenging other forms of confomity. Student strike against gender-conforming uniforms.
Julia Serano: notion of “gender anarchy,” or rejecting gender roles, puts pressure on people who do identify as male or female, pulls rug out from under transpeople. Similar to demands that woman shun lipstick in order to be feminists.
Perhaps “gender policing” is a better description of the problem, rather than gender roles or gender conformity.
Rosemary McLeod and Germaine Greer examples of gender police having a platform, greater power. Useful to look beyond individual gender-policing to institutional forms.
Cis-gender binary serves wider social mechanisms – gender division of labour, requirement to perform a gender role for employment.
Change of gender markers does not necessarily get rid of this power dynamic.
Systems not entirely irrational: they serve a purpose, keep people in power, though there is some out-dated chaff on top of the essential power structures.
Discussion of gendered and unisex bathrooms, agreement to break for snacks and book-trading.
Next meeting April 11th, 7pm Anvil House, covering Homosexual Law Reform.