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America's Next Great Civil Rights Struggle
June 29, 2011 10:14 AM   Subscribe

The New Republic examines what they're calling "America's Next Great Civil Rights Struggle" and asks, "What will it take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are?"

A gallery of images and interview excerpts related to the main article can be seen at the TNR special feature Breaking Boundaries.
This project began five months ago as a simple reporting assignment: investigate how people who were making the transition from one gender to another learned to alter their voices. That relatively simple inquiry, however, opened a vast array of issues and questions, and introduced me to a number of people whose lives—despite any proclamations of banality—were utterly inspiring. The scope and length of the article grew, and eventually it turned into a broad look at the state of the transgender rights movement.
posted by zarq (173 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think, unfortunately, part of the issue is that many (most?) transgendered people do not wish to identify was transgendered -- at least not longterm. The goal for a transgendered woman is not be a transgendered woman, but to be a woman.

Why is this an issue? Well, at least some transgendered people remove themselves from the fight once they've fully and successfully made the transition.

I certainly am not trying to blame the victims here, but I do think that fact that the trans indentity, at least for some, is only a temporary identity means that it will take longer to make strides in reducing discrimination and increasing acceptance of transgendered people.

That said, it is certainly not the fault of transgendered people that far too many people view them as somehow sub-human.
posted by asnider at 10:23 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Probably time and better surgical techniques. Part of the problem now, in my opinion, is that the change isn't very convincing to a lot of people, body wise. It's hard to completely reshape a body from one sex to another. The look comes off a freakish to a lot of people, especially in western society with its obsession on looks i.e. A man must look like THIS, a woman look like THAT.

I suspect the idea itself is alien to most, by its very nature. Understanding that some people were not born in the right body is really for a lots of folks. Time and education may help in the long run.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:29 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you sure that most trans people really want to erase that part of their history? All trans people I've ever met have had being trans as a big part of them - even if they now live entirely in their correct gender, they still have that history of not being cis-gendered. It would be like a bisexual person suddenly identifying as straight because they were in a straight relationship, as if that erases all their previous history.

The ideal world would be one in which trans people are viewed by all as "real" men or women - and people, of course - but not just because they "pass" or aren't recognised as trans. They shouldn't have to erase their trans identity - and they will always have a different life and health experience than cis-gendered people.

But difference doesn't have to be unequal. And, for that matter, there are a lot of gender-queer people who don't really want to pass for cis-gendered. (I knew a grad student who was gender queer - I can't actually remember what pronoun they preferred, but they didn't identify as a woman or a man).
posted by jb at 10:33 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm very much not involved with the transgender movement, but a friend who went through male-to-female reassignment (and is doing very, very well in both professional and social circles, thank God) says that they're also hurt by what she described as a shocking amount of infighting, especially between MTF groups and FTM.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:36 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mrs. Trurl forced me to watch the Chas Bono documentary and I found it very enlightening.

He visits a school for children who identify as the opposite gender. And what struck me was how natural it all seemed. They were indeed born that way. And they're sweet wonderful kids.

I hope their future is made easier.
posted by Trurl at 10:36 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


jb: "Are you sure that most trans people really want to erase that part of their history?"

Some do, certainly. Most of my acquaintance don't. A lot of it is generational -- many trans people of earlier generations who didn't "come up" through gay or lesbian circles, because said circles were pretty damn hostile for a long while, faced discrimination from cis people and prejudice from gay people and basically wanted nothing to do with the whole damn parade.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:37 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Probably time and better surgical techniques. Part of the problem now, in my opinion, is that the change isn't very convincing to a lot of people, body wise.

Pardon my bluntness, I don't mean to be confrontational, but this is one half bullshit and one half confirmation bias. You see people every day and you have no idea if they're trans or not. You just assume they're not.
posted by entropone at 10:38 AM on June 29, 2011 [38 favorites]


Part of the problem now, in my opinion, is that the change isn't very convincing to a lot of people, body wise.

It's worth bearing in mind that you only notice the trans people who have non-cis-standard body shapes and appearances, whether by choice or not. I guarantee that you, and everyone else, walks by a significant number of trans people every week with no clue as to their histories.

Transgendered people will be the next big group to demand recognition in the West. Count on it. A lot of the talk around the issue at this point confuses 'transgender' with 'transsexual', though (which isn't to say transsexual people don't have an enormous stake in this, but it's too common to assume that the only legitimate form of gender variance is a nice simple road to medical transition), and will likely not be the focus when these issues start to appear more on the mainstream stage. Look to the gender identities and variances of the generations coming up right now. Expectations and assumptions about gender and sex are going to be challenged.
posted by emmtee at 10:43 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I actually think that while the issues are certainly distinct and separable, the real fight is with the same sexist, heteronormative biases that are the enemy of the feminist and gay rights movements. I see all three struggles as essentially against the same "men/women are like this, fuck like this, look like this" stereotypes.
posted by prefpara at 10:44 AM on June 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


Probably time and better surgical techniques. Part of the problem now, in my opinion, is that the change isn't very convincing to a lot of people, body wise.

Why should this matter?

That said, I once met a transwoman whom I really want to help with her transition - she was still struggling with how to sit elegantly in a skirt. By nature, she was more feminine than my-slightly-gender-queer self, but feeling female isn't enough - it takes years of oppressive girlhood to teach that kind of unnatural sitting. But I didn't know her very well, and I didn't want to offer any offence.
posted by jb at 10:45 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think, unfortunately, part of the issue is that many (most?) transgendered people do not wish to identify was transgendered -- at least not longterm. The goal for a transgendered woman is not be a transgendered woman, but to be a woman.

Why is this an issue? Well, at least some transgendered people remove themselves from the fight once they've fully and successfully made the transition.

I certainly am not trying to blame the victims here, but I do think that fact that the trans indentity, at least for some, is only a temporary identity means that it will take longer to make strides in reducing discrimination and increasing acceptance of transgendered people.


"I am certainly not trying to blame the victims here" - perhaps not, but that's a disavowal phrase if I ever read one.

I happen to know an larger-than-average number of trans people. Most are active in transgender-related issues, through volunteering, political work, etc.

Also, it's a lot more tempting to close the book on your transition if everyone is like "ooh, you're transgender? So squick!!!" Stop being transphobic and people will stop trying to hide their status.

Get this - it is often actively dangerous to be visibly trans. I have seen people get harassed and physically hurt for being trans. It is much, MUCH harder to get a job if you're known to be trans - like, ridiculously harder. That's why a higher-than-average percentage of trans folks end up 1. homeless and 2. doing sex work.

Probably time and better surgical techniques. Part of the problem now, in my opinion, is that the change isn't very convincing to a lot of people, body wise.

Also way wrong. For example, a friend outed himself to me as trans - and I was honored that he trusted me that much - after I'd known him for two years. Fellow looks just like any other old punk rock dude.
posted by Frowner at 10:45 AM on June 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


emmtee - what is the difference between transgendered, and transsexual? I thought they were synonyms.
posted by jb at 10:46 AM on June 29, 2011


Yeah. I don't think better moves towards "passing" is the answer. And suggesting someone needs to do so not to be considered "freakish" is incredibly offensive and backward.
posted by troublewithwolves at 10:47 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Probably time and better surgical techniques. Part of the problem now, in my opinion, is that the change isn't very convincing to a lot of people, body wise. It's hard to completely reshape a body from one sex to another. The look comes off a freakish to a lot of people, especially in western society with its obsession on looks i.e. A man must look like THIS, a woman look like THAT.

Unfortunately this. I think almost everyone with major elective plastic surgery looks a little too BioShock. Really good, subtle plastic surgery is very difficult and very expensive. Plenty of celebrities fuck up their looks and they have the money and connections to get the best surgeons.

Pardon my bluntness, I don't mean to be confrontational, but this is one half bullshit and one half confirmation bias. You see people every day and you have no idea if they're trans or not. You just assume they're not.

I'd love to see a study on this, but it would probably never happen. People are so good at recognizing subtle gender cues that I think it's more likely that people are just being polite.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:48 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guarantee that you, and everyone else, walks by a significant number of trans people every week with no clue as to their histories.

Curious, what percentage of the American population is trans?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:50 AM on June 29, 2011


2bucksplus: "People are so good at recognizing subtle gender cues that I think it's more likely that people are just being polite."

Nah, people suck at it. Seriously, unless you're actually trans, you probably have a terrible transdar. I get false positives and negatives on mine, and it's regularly tuned. I've hung with people who pass, people who pass sometimes, and people who rarely pass (I'm in group one myself), and if people guess or if they're unsure, they make it known. Loudly. At length. From cars. Humans have all the subtlety of a half-brick. Sometimes they use half-bricks.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:53 AM on June 29, 2011 [17 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "Curious, what percentage of the American population is trans?"

How Frequently Does Transsexualism Occur?
We find that the prevalence of SRS is at least on the order of 1:2500, and may be twice that value. We thus find that the intrinsic prevalence of MtF transsexualism must be on the order of ~1:500 and may be even larger than that. We show that these results are consistent with studies of TS prevalence emerging in recent studies in other countries. Our results stand is sharp contrast to the value of prevalence (1:30,000) so oft-quoted by "expert authorities" in the U.S. psychiatric community to whom the media turns for such information.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:55 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately this. I think almost everyone with major elective plastic surgery looks a little too BioShock. Really good, subtle plastic surgery is very difficult and very expensive. Plenty of celebrities fuck up their looks and they have the money and connections to get the best surgeons.

This is the heart of the problem--not that there isn't "better" surgical technique, but that in the mainstream, cisgendered people view gender variance as an act of imitation that we appoint ourselves to judge. Acceptance of transgender identities shouldn't be based on whether you or I find those idrntities to be "convincing."
posted by liketitanic at 10:56 AM on June 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


emmtee - what is the difference between transgendered, and transsexual? I thought they were synonyms.

Ask twenty people this question and you will get twenty answers. Possibly thirty if some of them decide to explain the "opposing" viewpoint (which may or may not actually exist as such). In general, one of them describes people whose gender identities don't match with their physical sex, and the other describes people who have changed their physical sex to match their gender identity. Which is which, and what grey areas fall under which term? Good luck.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:56 AM on June 29, 2011


I'd define 'transgendered' as a much broader-spectrum term, encompassing genderqueer people, crossdressers, social rather than purely professional drag queens I guess, medical and non-medical transitioners, arguably maybe even femme guys and butch women. 'Transsexual' is specific, and describes someone who needs to move from the gender they were assigned at birth to the other one. It doesn't preclude a variable gender identity or presentation but it implies a definite move from one side of the fence to the other, whether that takes the form of hormones and eventual surgery or social and presentational change.

Unfortunately this. I think almost everyone with major elective plastic surgery looks a little too BioShock. Really good, subtle plastic surgery is very difficult and very expensive. Plenty of celebrities fuck up their looks and they have the money and connections to get the best surgeons.

How much surgery do you think is involved? The vast majority of trans people's surgery is limited to - at most - genitals and chest. I know people who've had facial surgery, but not many, and even then it's been limited to brow lifts, jaw shaping and maybe a trach shave. If you think trans people appear obviously other in some way, it's not down to major elective plastic surgery.
posted by emmtee at 10:57 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]



I'd love to see a study on this, but it would probably never happen. People are so good at recognizing subtle gender cues that I think it's more likely that people are just being polite.


"People" do not include me, then. I know I'm just going to provide more anecdata, here,but I was thinking about this the other night - I was at a benefit dinner and I saw this cute, slightly nerdy-looking girl. "Hey, she's cute!" I thought to myself. "And sort of familiar!" I was trying to figure out if I'd actually met her somewhere when I realized that I had...talking about her experiences as a trans woman at another event last winter. Truly, truly you do not know everyone's birth-assigned gender when you look at them.

Also, people used to think I was a guy a lot - once even when I had shoulder-length hair which I wore in a bun. I have wide shoulders and when I'm thinner I have no hips to speak of (although quite a lot of chest, confusingly enough.) What did that mean? What was I doing wrong? Or right? And isn't it weird to go through life being all "I bet that person, Frowner, is really a dude!"
posted by Frowner at 10:57 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Curious, what percentage of the American population is trans?

Um, this is discussed on the first page of TFA. To wit:
For more and more people, gays and lesbians do not seem strange—but the idea of denying them rights does. Such a breakthrough seems unlikely for the transgender movement. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, there are only around 700,000 transgender people in the United States, compared with around eight million gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.
With about 300M people in the U.S., it's about two-tenths of one percent, compared to more than two and a half percent for GLB categories.

Out of curiosity, I Googled around, trying to find other categories of the population that contain about the same number of people. It's about the same number of people who qualify for the absolute highest-possible FICO score, and twice the number of people eligible to join the Triple Nine Society.

If we assume that the incidence in the U.S. is representative of transgendered people worldwide, then there are about as many transgendered people in the world as there are Jews.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:02 AM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


You see people every day and you have no idea if they're trans or not. You just assume they're not.

My partner, who is a transsexual, and I often comment that since his transition, and that of some friends, and getting to know lots and lots of trans people, we now see lots of strangers who are probably not trans but look to us like they very well could be.
posted by not that girl at 11:03 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd define 'transgendered' as a much broader-spectrum term, encompassing genderqueer people, crossdressers, social rather than purely professional drag queens I guess, medical and non-medical transitioners, arguably maybe even femme guys and butch women.

I see - I have always used "transgendered" to refer to people who have a specific gender identity as male or female, but who was not born that biological sex (thus the need to transition their gender identity from that assigned to them by everyone else). Whereas, I use "gender-queer" for people who have a more fluid gender identity. I haven't used transsexual in a long time, probably because it feels a bit awkward/old-fashioned and focuses on sex instead of gender. And transvestite I only use for people who like to dress in the clothing of the opposite gender without feeling like they truely are the opposite gender: I have preferred to dress in male clothing at many times, for example, such that I was almost a drag-king although not trying to pass (nearly impossibly with my body type - maybe I would have tried to pass if I could have) - but I never felt that I was male.
posted by jb at 11:09 AM on June 29, 2011


I don't think America *knows* who these people really are, so they're probably not going to accept them for it at least until that's resolved.

I mean, personally I don't really even fully understand what the word implies (is a "trans man" someone who is a man now? Who used to be a man? Either? Something else?) and I'm hardly the kind of crazy homophobe who beats people to death for entering the wring bathroom.

I fully admit that it's a culture that I am not particularly familiar with and do not understand.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:12 AM on June 29, 2011


Are you sure that most trans people really want to erase that part of their history? All trans people I've ever met have had being trans as a big part of them - even if they now live entirely in their correct gender, they still have that history of not being cis-gendered.

Perhaps not. My exposure to transgendered people is admittedly limited. But, the few who have spoken to me about that particular identity question have specifically said things like: "I don't want to be thought of as a transgendered woman. I want to be thought of as a woman."

"I am certainly not trying to blame the victims here" - perhaps not, but that's a disavowal phrase if I ever read one.

Fair enough. I'm genuinely not trying to be vicitim-blaming, but I realized that my comments may have come off that way, so I felt the need to clarify.

If my comments come off as transphobic then I apologize. It's entirely possible that I have some unconscious transphobia, even as I try to be accepting of all people. In fact, it's entirely likely; I certainly had some residual homophobia before I began to have regular interactions with openly gay people. I was not homophobic on an intellectual level, but there were still (and maybe still are) some traces of the societal homophobia with which I grew up.
posted by asnider at 11:14 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Part of the problem now, in my opinion, is that the change isn't very convincing to a lot of people, body wise.

Yeah, totally not convincing (FTM pole vaulter Balian Buschbaum). And let's not get started on the non-insignificant amount of cis-gendered people who don't have good body types for their gender.

MOVING ON.

I absolutely agree that the long-term issue is less about transsexuals* and more about non-normative expressions of gender. I'm FTM and experienced the most open hostility when I was androgynous. It really tweaks a majority of people to not be able to put someone in a blue or pink box.

Even my family had problems when I was in my "ugly duckling" phase of transition. Now that I pass 100% for male, most of my gender-related problems have evaporated. Would I continue to have external gender-related stress if I were more femme of a guy? Or couldn't take hormones for health reasons? You bet. And that's a shame.

I think that as gender norms are questioned and being whatever shade of genderqueer is more acceptable, sentiments like those quoted above will begin to vanish. And really... also think about some of the recent brouhaha about stories such as Star Wars thermos-girl and pink toenails J.Crew boy. There's a lot of sturm und drang about gender expression that is no where near as drastic as someone changing their sex.

There needs to be a more acceptable range of gender expression, for the benefit of both trans and cis gendered.

*There's still a long way to go here, especially in terms of a lot of basic rights, discrimination, and insurance coverage. But as a trans person, I feel a hell of a lot less isolated and far more understood than 10 years ago. I think the internet and blogging/v-logging has helped tremendously here.
posted by Wossname at 11:17 AM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


You have no idea how muddled my intellectual life has been by my persistent tendency to mix up the New Republic with the National Review...

At National Review, they're totally losing their shit over gay marriage in New York, going so far as to describe it as tyranny on the level of North Korea.

So the next day I see this and I'm like... wait, what?
posted by Naberius at 11:21 AM on June 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


I mean, personally I don't really even fully understand what the word implies (is a "trans man" someone who is a man now? Who used to be a man? Either? Something else?) and I'm hardly the kind of crazy homophobe who beats people to death for entering the wring bathroom.

I fully admit that it's a culture that I am not particularly familiar with and do not understand.


And yet there are so many resources - on the internet, even! - for becoming familiar with basic trans issues. I think even googling "trans 101" will turn some up. A quick google will, in fact, clear up the "trans man" question - although to spare you the key strokes I'll tell you that "trans" here modifies "man" - thus, a man who is trans. Compare to "a tall man" or "a running man".

I admit that this topic is very difficult for me to talk about neutrally, because I have seen at first hand the frustration and pain that a couple of close friends have gone through from people's transphobia and/or resistance to learning.
posted by Frowner at 11:21 AM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


(So I apologize for being bitey, which I am being.)
posted by Frowner at 11:24 AM on June 29, 2011


Naberius: "You have no idea how muddled my intellectual life has been by my persistent tendency to mix up the New Republic with the National Review..."

Take heart. You're not the only one. (Full article isn't available, but the first 3 graphs will give you the gist.)
posted by zarq at 11:26 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


My partner, who is a transsexual, and I often comment that since his transition, and that of some friends, and getting to know lots and lots of trans people, we now see lots of strangers who are probably not trans but look to us like they very well could be.

I do this too - it's amazing how many cis people have been walking around their whole lives with supposedly sure-fire signs that someone's trans.

I don't by any means think it's universal, but there's sometimes a defensiveness in the refusal to accept that trans people can go unnoticed. A determination to believe there's still a difference identifiable on the surface, because otherwise what's 'a man' or 'a woman', and what of either of those can be the basis of sexuality when almost all the stages of attraction and lust can take place without revealing this supposedly vital distinction that moves a person from 'valid subject of attraction' to 'never in a thousand years'?
posted by emmtee at 11:34 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


People are so good at recognizing subtle gender cues that I think it's more likely that people are just being polite.

I've been growing my hair long for the last year or so, and as a result I get called "miss" or "ma'am" constantly by people behind me, until I turn around and they see the beard and the amusement. And I'm not even trying to pass or present as any gender but my own cis male. People are actually not that good at this, I agree with ArmyOfKittens.
posted by Errant at 11:36 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are not good at distinguishing gender. I speak as a woman-born-woman with 40GG tits who used to regularly get called "sir" - even when my hair was long. (That seems to have stopped since I put on some weight - maybe it's a hip-to-shoulder ratio issue? I dunno.)

Funny story: I went to a drag dance last week. Low budget, informal, but most of the women there were at least making a stab at being in drag. I was there with my comparatively femme friend (who looked damned good in a vest and tie) and two gay male friends of hers, who I had not previously met. We had a great time, I got some compliments on my vest, cap, and jeans look, and Katie's friends were lovely gentlemen.

This morning I get an email from her - apparently one of them finally asked why she kept referring to me as "she." He'd heard "Jeremy," saw the relatively butch clothing, and went ahead on that assumption - despite the cleavage (40GG, people!) and the fact that we were at a drag event. No, people are not good at determining gender. They see what they want to see.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:37 AM on June 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


And yet there are so many resources - on the internet, even!

There are lots of resources for *everything* on the internet. Would you like to learn about, say, the migratory behavior of owls? If you want to, you can do that on the internet.

You probably don't though, do you? And nobody's saying you have to, because we don't care if you know anything about owls.

You do care if I know about your gender identity issues, though. You can't simultaneously expect me to be informed about an issue that I could just as well ignore and be snarky about not wanting to do any informing.

You are the one that benefits from me being more knowledgable in this field, not me. I could hold essentially any opinion I like about transgendered people and that would have almost no negative impact on me whatsoever.

If the rest of the world is thinking, "Those people seem weird and they make me uncomfortable because I don't understand them." It seems that you'd probably be more comfortable trying to inform them and make them more comfortable rather than being snarky and dismissive. Most people don't want to read about gender studies on the internet, they have other interests and want to get back to learning about owls.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:41 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


tylerkaraszewski: "You are the one that benefits from me being more knowledgable in this field, not me. I could hold essentially any opinion I like about transgendered people and that would have almost no negative impact on me whatsoever"

Counter-argument: conversations about trans politics, trans lives, trans anythings in cis space are always derailed into the most basic form of trans 101 because people can't be bothered to google.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:44 AM on June 29, 2011 [29 favorites]


tylerkaraszewski, to be fair, you stepped into a conversation about transgender people's lives and struggles. it's a bit more like you're at a discussion group on the migratory patterns of owls and, rather than reading the introductory materials helpfully provided, you say, "well, who even knows what you mean by an 'owl'? i mean, how are owls different from other birds? i sure don't know." and then someone sighs and rolls their eyes and points out where in the handouts you can find the answer to your question.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_man
posted by overglow at 11:48 AM on June 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


If the rest of the world is thinking, "Those people seem weird and they make me uncomfortable because I don't understand them." It seems that you'd probably be more comfortable trying to inform them and make them more comfortable rather than being snarky and dismissive. Most people don't want to read about gender studies on the internet, they have other interests and want to get back to learning about owls.

Right. Transgender people who have a 1/12 rate of being murdered, can be fired in more than 1/2 the states in the U.S., are harrassed, attacked and discriminated against, who lose their families for being themselves, should spend their time making YOU feel more comfortable because you don't understand them. Perhaps you should write an article about "Privilege 101" that folks without power can google to better understand you.
posted by anya32 at 11:49 AM on June 29, 2011 [33 favorites]


Well, the point is that the informing has already been done, for posterity even. It's not so much that trans people are uninterested in educating you, it's that they've already done so and you just haven't done the homework. Which is, you know, fine, I guess; like you say, remaining ignorant has almost no negative impact on you whatsoever.

The issue, as ever, isn't that trans people are uninterested in explicating their rights and their arguments, it's that they've already done so and people show up to say, "No, I don't get it. You! You right there! I need you, specifically, to explain it to me, or else I won't understand and it'll be your fault. And if I don't understand after you explain it to me, that'll be your fault too. My incredibly valuable support as an ally depends on this, trans person. No pressure!"

Well, no, it won't be the trans person's fault, and who knows how useful an ally you'd be anyway? You can't even be bothered to do a little light reading, you're really going to start marching?
posted by Errant at 11:50 AM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


You do care if I know about your gender identity issues, though.

Not my gender identity issues, however. The issues of people I care about a lot.

Please read this in a sincere tone of voice - I am really, truly not trying to be a jerk here.

I apologize for being sarcastic in my previous comment. That wasn't very polite or helpful to you.

I do sincerely believe that - especially with the internet - those of us who do not have marginalized identities (ie, I'm cis, I'm white) should try to find information ourselves rather than always asking trans people, people of color, etc to act as educational resources.

I think that in the past, when it was more difficult and more expensive to find information, it was more reasonable to ask people for 101-style education.

I have it on very good authority from a number of people that it gets tiring to explain, over and over again, what they call themselves, why, etc etc. Especially since there are already so many time-consuming, tiring pieces about being trans - the legal stuff, the medical stuff, the people-yelling-insults-on-the-street, etc etc.

This does not mean that people have to devote hours and hours to gender studies; it just means that a quick scan of one or two web pages instead of what is sometimes a fraught and grumpy exchange of questions and answers. I would say, in fact, that the more complicated a question is, the less frustrating it is likely to be to answer (unless it's a creepy skeevy "how do you have sex" type question, of course.)

It's really about taking a low-cost action that is helpful and polite to help out people who've already got a lot on their plates. Honestly, mefites are more sophisticated than the majority of internet-comment-writers, so I don't think this is unreasonable or out of reach.
posted by Frowner at 11:53 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens: " Counter-argument: conversations about trans politics, trans lives, trans anythings in cis space are always derailed into the most basic form of trans 101 because people can't be bothered to google."

You know, I think it's not a bad thing to answer basic questions and correct misunderstandings when they come up. One of my favorite things about this place is people don't reply to innocent/naive questions with a kneejerk "just fucking google it." They fill information gaps with links, explanations and personal anecdotes. That's a good thing. Have done a few posts on MeFi about various gay and trans topics and have always learned something new in the comment threads.
posted by zarq at 11:55 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


A quick google will, in fact, clear up the "trans man" question - although to spare you the key strokes I'll tell you that "trans" here modifies "man" - thus, a man who is trans. Compare to "a tall man" or "a running man".

That doesn't make it any clearer. Trans-aware people are used to referring to someone who's transitioned to male as a "man", where non-trans-aware people aren't sure what term they're supposed to use. Your definition assumes that "man" means "someone who identifies as male", rather than "someone born male". Go back and re-read it with the opposite assumption.
posted by The Tensor at 11:57 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, totally not convincing (FTM pole vaulter Balian Buschbaum).

Good point and apologies for my ignorance. But it does bolster my point in that Buschbaum's transformation more successfully fits the gender norm of what it means to be a male in Western society. Some of the other photos in the article aren't as successful as pulling it enough.

Western society has a narrow view of beauty. A woman can have mannish hands or man girly hands and those aren't compliments. So if the question is "What will it take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are?" it probably be education and wider acceptance of the variety in the human figure and/or better surgical techniques across the board (or is it hormone therapy?).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:57 AM on June 29, 2011


The Tensor: "non-trans-aware people aren't sure what term they're supposed to use."

A decent rule of thumb is, how would they want to be described? If someone is dressed like a guy, acting like a guy, has gone through medical treatment and social transition in order to be seen as a guy, it's a safe bet he doesn't want the word "woman" anywhere near his self-identification.

really not intending to be snarky
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:01 PM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I believe in full civil rights for trans folk because it's just.

But I will admit that I have a deep lack of common ground on the understanding of gender issues with trans folk with regard to behavior.

I tend to see the vast majority of gendered behaviors in Western society as both artificial and neutral to negative, and it seems odd to embrace really stereotypical expressions of gender identity as being almost essential. I can understand this a bit in the context of having had those expressions denied so long that they over-do it when they finally can embrace them (kind of like the sex binge that a bunch of my friends went on when they finally came out as gay, or the drinking binges in college), but it just reads as so oddly constructed to me — wanting to emulate artificial gender behaviors as portrayed in media well-known for fostering destructive myths.

On some level, it all seems symptomatic of a deeper dysfunction in how genders are expressed and policed in society, in that I kind of feel like anyone who is trans but is raised cis really just needs a broader acceptable range of gender behavior or a less judgmental, more inclusive view of gender and sexuality from society around them — more of a tolerance for ambiguity or lack of binaries — rather than trying to reinvent a new identity and annihilating their previous one.

I remember watching some MTV True Life puff-doc on trans folk, and thinking that while these folks were obviously going through something incredibly painful, the trans man who was struggling with how to present really was engaging in a lot of really douchebag behavior (talking about "banging bitches" and shit like that) under the ostensible aegis of being a man. Part of that could be the accumulated fear and danger of being caught out as trans — the prejudice and danger are very real — but a lot of it just seemed like the same terrible messages that everyone gets (cis or trans) about gender expression, only regurgitated by someone who I kind of feel like should have a little bit more critical distance. Instead, the headlong rejection of the cis for the trans in really simplified and kind of offensive ways bothered me, and left me trying to articulate what, exactly, it was that these people didn't get.
posted by klangklangston at 12:02 PM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


(I actually like the "google it" norm - I've found that it helps me to ask more sophisticated questions because I become more aware of what google can't tell me, what requires some expertise, etc etc.)

That doesn't make it any clearer. Trans-aware people are used to referring to someone who's transitioned to male as a "man", where non-trans-aware people aren't sure what term they're supposed to use. Your definition assumes that "man" means "someone who identifies as male", rather than "someone born male". Go back and re-read it with the opposite assumption.

I've really never encountered any use of "trans man" to mean "man who is transitioning to become a woman", although I can see that from a grammar standpoint it might be confusing. It's more a logic question - like, if someone says that they feel like they are a woman and they're living as a woman/transitioning/whatever, why would they be referred to as a man? Wouldn't it make more sense if the phrase refers to them as "trans [gender they say they are]"?
posted by Frowner at 12:02 PM on June 29, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: " Western society has a narrow view of beauty. A woman can have mannish hands or man girly hands and those aren't compliments. So if the question is "What will it take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are?" it probably be education and wider acceptance of the variety in the human figure and/or better surgical techniques across the board (or is it hormone therapy?)."

The point is not that to be accepted they should have to meet some sort of mythical/noexistent ideal of gender appearance. It is that they should be able to be who they are without having to conform to inappropriate expectations.

Gay men did not have to meet some masculine or feminine ideal in order to be accepted into society. Society's acceptance of transgender people should not be shackled to a similar requirement.
posted by zarq at 12:03 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was not even trying to get people to explain things to me. I was trying to express a viewpoint that I think is common in the "America" mentioned in the subject line. Yes, that's a largely ignorant viewpoint. I could educate myself, absolutely. That was not the point -- the point was that most people hardly know anything about transgender issues and that probably contributes to a lack of acceptance.

Do you honestly think that 300,000,000 Americans are going to read up on gender issues on wikipedia to solve the problem that the original post talks about? I don't think that solution is going to work out for you. I don't think getting angry with me if I ask a question is going to help much either.

Even the language used is confusing. For example "cis" person? If I look that up in the dictionary I get:

1. a prefix occurring in loanwords from Latin meaning “on the near side of” ( cisalpine ); on this model, used in the formation of compound words ( cisatlantic ).
2. Chemistry . a specialization of this denoting a geometric isomer having a pair of identical atoms or groups attached on the same side of two atoms linked by a double bond. Compare trans- ( def. 2 ).

I'm sure I can figure it out (it seems to be, and I'm sure this is offensive the way I'm saying it, but a 'standard' male or female who identifies just fine with the anatomy they were born with). But it's not obvious.

I am not trying to be mean or insensitive, but to express a viewpoint that the post purports to care about, which is the view of "everyone else" and how or when it might change.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:05 PM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm in sort of a similar boat with klang. My ambivalence towards gender norms leaves me somewhat ambivalent towards the idea of being transgender.

tyler, I actually like the cisgender terminology. It's an elegant solution to a non-obvious problem, that being "how do you concisely and distinctly refer to persons who identify with their sex, given that such an identification is usually the nerm". Cis is essentially an antonym of trans, so there you go. "Cisalpine Gaul" vs. "Transalpine Gaul".

You are correct that it's a muddlesome, sticky problem, but I guess it's easy enough to answer your question partway. You ask "how do we make people care?" and the answer is, in part, write articles like the linked article. It's also, in part, being willing and able to talk to receptive people in metafilter, or in a class, or with your family, or whatever.

I feel like I should have something more to say, but it seems like I don't.
posted by kavasa at 12:15 PM on June 29, 2011


I still believe that the onus should be on people with power and privilege to become educated. That said, since some of you are having trouble with "the google", here is one definition of Cisgender: "There’s a really useful word that’s been floating around in certain communities and I want to take a moment to help it spread.

Cisgender refers to people who experience and present their gender in a way that’s aligned with the sex of their body. It contrasts with transgender, which refers to people who experience their gender as different from the physical sex they were assigned at birth. Generally, transgender folks take various steps to bring them into closer alignment, such as wearing clothes of the gender they feel themselves to be, surgery, taking hormones, and having their legal name changed.

The word has been around for at least 16 years, although it has become more well-known since Julia Serrano’s book Whipping Girl came out. The prefix cis means “on the same side” while trans means “on the other side”. Cis and trans are used in chemistry to describe the structures of molecules and, of course, trans is used in a lot of words, such as transport (carry to the other side), transmit (send to the other side), and transcribe (to write in another place). My 10th grade Latin teacher would be glad to see that I remember such things.

The reason that the word cisgender is important to use is that it takes away the idea that being cisgender is “normal.” When we assume that man = cisgender man unless we use the term transgender, we reinforce the idea that cisgender people are normal and transgender people aren’t. Of course, being cisgender is more common but when we use language that reinforces the idea that more common equals normal, we marginalize people who are well within the range of diversity that exists in the world.

Cisgender is also a better term than bio-guy or bio-girl, which was in use for a while, because it shifts the focus from biology to gender. Similarly, the term genetic man isn’t really useful since most people haven’t been genetically tested and there’s no guarantee that someone who looks a certain way will necessarily have any particular genetics.

I’d love to see the word cisgender become used more widely. It’s a really useful concept and it serves a valuable purpose. Use it, pass it on, and help it spread."

More importantly, here is a piece by Dean Spade, a professor and prolific writer about marginalized communities and transgender folks, about purportedly gendered body parts.
posted by anya32 at 12:17 PM on June 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


Probably time and better surgical techniques.

Does every transman or woman actually want surgery (assuming they could afford it or aren't afraid of the surgery or whatever) or are some of them okay with keeping the bits, and just living their life as if they were the opposite gender (and being treated as such)?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:21 PM on June 29, 2011


I remember watching some MTV True Life puff-doc on trans folk, and thinking that while these folks were obviously going through something incredibly painful, the trans man who was struggling with how to present really was engaging in a lot of really douchebag behavior (talking about "banging bitches" and shit like that) under the ostensible aegis of being a man. Part of that could be the accumulated fear and danger of being caught out as trans — the prejudice and danger are very real — but a lot of it just seemed like the same terrible messages that everyone gets (cis or trans) about gender expression, only regurgitated by someone who I kind of feel like should have a little bit more critical distance. Instead, the headlong rejection of the cis for the trans in really simplified and kind of offensive ways bothered me, and left me trying to articulate what, exactly, it was that these people didn't get.

I think that there are several reasons why those depictions of trans people are really common in the media:

1. Bad assumptions on the part of the producers about gender - cis people assuming that there is one "correct" "natural" way to perform masculinity/femininity and so when they want to describe trans people, they seek out images/interviews that show trans people performing stereotypical gender.

2. Creepy people. I've certainly seen some creepy fetishizing/chasing material about trans people where obviously the audience wants trans identities to be shown that way.

3. Political choices - if someone is saying "I want not to be discriminated against for being trans [or gay or lesbian]" I think sometimes people assume that the best argument is to reference "natural" or "inherent" identities. It's a lot easier to say "I'm really naturally this way according to evolution and/or brain chemistry" (I'll reference queer issues here since I'm queer) than to say "gender and sexuality are really fluid, but as someone who grew up in this society, whose has an identity shaped by this society, I feel that I am not straight and that's real to me because I have a history and a self that are always-already constructed by their conditions." That is much less of a soundbite.

I think that sometimes allies of trans people - for example - point to stereotypical actions and behaviors as "proof" of some kind of "natural" identity because we feel that this makes the case clearer and stronger...this may not be the best tactic.

Also, there are plenty of trans people who don't act like stereotypes, just as there are a lot of cis people who do act like stereotypes.

[ I recognize, for example, that Imaginary-15th century-Frowner would not be "queer" like I am now. In that sense, I believe that nothing "inherent" or "natural" makes me queer. And yet, I grew up in this society now; I've had a specific set of experiences that shaped me; and I am not just a blank slate waiting for a sexual identity to be written on me. I feel like something; I feel queer.

I think in 200 years (assuming the world doesn't explode) being trans will be totally different - being a woman will be different; "feeling like you're really a woman despite being assigned male gender at birth" will be totally different. But that doesn't change things for the people who live here now in their existing bodies. ]


(I was not even trying to get people to explain things to me. I was trying to express a viewpoint that I think is common in the "America" mentioned in the subject line. Yes, that's a largely ignorant viewpoint. I could educate myself, absolutely. That was not the point -- the point was that most people hardly know anything about transgender issues and that probably contributes to a lack of acceptance.

Perhaps we should just say that miscommunications between well-meaning people sometimes occur on the internet, eh? )
posted by Frowner at 12:21 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I still believe that the onus should be on people with power and privilege to become educated."

That's a delightfully idealist and not at all practical idea.
posted by klangklangston at 12:21 PM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


FWIW, a FTM friend has explained cisgendered for me- and while I understand the impetus to "take back the language" and invent a word for people that are not like trans people, it sounds silly and even a little offensive to my ears. There certainly has to be better language to use both for people who are comfortable in the gender/sex they were born with, and those who feel the two are out of sync than "cisgendered" and "transgendered".

I still believe that the onus should be on people with power and privilege to become educated.

Yeah. Good luck with that. I'll just point out that using a term to describe those people that they find silly and a little offensive - which was by far the mildest reaction around the table when it was explained to a diverse group of two dozen or so straight and gay friends - is absolutely not a good place to start...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:23 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: "On some level, it all seems symptomatic of a deeper dysfunction in how genders are expressed and policed in society, in that I kind of feel like anyone who is trans but is raised cis really just needs a broader acceptable range of gender behavior or a less judgmental, more inclusive view of gender and sexuality from society around them — more of a tolerance for ambiguity or lack of binaries — rather than trying to reinvent a new identity and annihilating their previous one."

I honestly don't personally know anyone who's done that; I certainly haven't. For professional purposes my birth identity is dead and buried, but that's me trying to side-step discrimination. My actual gender expression hasn't really changed since, well, ever; the eradication of the sluggishness born of depression made a bigger change to my personality than transitioning did.

Looking back I find it pretty fucking hilarious that anyone took me for a guy, and I think that if my teenage friends had known what a transsexual person was, beyond the tittery articles in the back of FHM, they wouldn't have.

on preview showing new comments:

It's Never Lurgi: "Does every transman or woman actually want surgery (assuming they could afford it or aren't afraid of the surgery or whatever) or are some of them okay with keeping the bits, and just living their life as if they were the opposite gender (and being treated as such)?"

Yeah, some people are perfectly happy without seeking surgery. At least one person that I know of on Mefi.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:24 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you honestly think that 300,000,000 Americans are going to read up on gender issues on wikipedia to solve the problem that the original post talks about? I don't think that solution is going to work out for you. I don't think getting angry with me if I ask a question is going to help much either.

Personally, no. I expect them to treat people with basic decency and respect. It really isn't that difficult.

On preview:

There certainly has to be better language

Can I ask, then, what is that better language?
posted by rtha at 12:25 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


anya32: "That said, since some of you are having trouble with "the google","

I'd like to point out that the article you linked to and your explanation isn't something one would find with a cursory google search. In this one comment from you, I learned a lot about a term that I actually thought I had already understood. So thanks for that. But please don't chalk incomplete understanding or requests for further information as "having trouble with the google."
posted by zarq at 12:25 PM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


"I honestly don't personally know anyone who's done that; I certainly haven't."

Not to argue, but the woman featured in the TNR article very much did.
posted by klangklangston at 12:26 PM on June 29, 2011


OneMonkeysUncle: "FWIW, a FTM friend has explained cisgendered for me- and while I understand the impetus to "take back the language" and invent a word for people that are not like trans people, it sounds silly and even a little offensive to my ears. There certainly has to be better language to use both for people who are comfortable in the gender/sex they were born with, and those who feel the two are out of sync than "cisgendered" and "transgendered"."

I've said it on Mefi before and I'm sure I'll say it again: you cis people had decades to come up with a better word for yourselves than "normal" to distinguish yourselves from trans people. You didn't do it -- apparently you thought "normal" was just fine -- so you can live with the word we picked.

generic "you" not specific you.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:26 PM on June 29, 2011 [27 favorites]


klangklangston: "Not to argue, but the woman featured in the TNR article very much did."

Yeah, it's a thing with older transitioners (and perfectly understandable imo). Not remotely universal, though. It's the sort of thing that will fade naturally with time.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:28 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a delightfully idealist and not at all practical idea.

But it's especially non-practical when people who have the skills and time to become educated, and who have the sophistication to understand why it's kind and polite to do so none the less emphasize that no one could be expected to do that.

Yes, I get that Joe Vaguely-Transphobic and Jill Unsophisticated-Internet-User probably won't do this. But there are lots of smart, sophisticated people on places like Mefi - people who transparently don't want to be jerks. And I really do believe that we can easily learn some simple practices to be more supportive. I say this as someone who has been told to google and who has said some jerky things on the internet - I'm not under any impression that my behavior has been meticulous and polite.

Vis-a-vis "cis" - it really is useful to have a term that means "not trans" that isn't "not trans", just like we call women "women" rather than calling them "not men".

I'm always surprised when people get uncomfortable about someone naming a perfectly ordinary, socially-accepted identity. It's not like anyone is saying "oh, you're so unsophisticated and provincial, I can just tell that you're cis".
posted by Frowner at 12:29 PM on June 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Cisgender refers to people who experience and present their gender in a way that’s aligned with the sex of their body.

I'm pretty sure I'm cisgender and I don't relate at all to the above description.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:29 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I adore my genderqueer wifeboi, and work tirelessly to protect her civil rights in our household: equal blanket hogging, merit-based control of the TV remote, sharing of jeans AND belts. These days I'm even letting her in the kitchen occasionally, to help me cook.

Be the change you want to see.
posted by jake at 12:31 PM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


The impulse behind "cis" is good but the word choice doesn't work. If you're going to try and create slang, it's much better to repurpose a word people already know than to make up a new one, whether it's from whole cloth or an etymological root, because that's how organic slang starts. "Straight" isn't a dictionary antonym for "gay," but it's still a word everybody knows. To the non-PhDs of the (non-trans) world, "cis" might as well be a trio of randomly selected letters.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:33 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's a delightfully idealist and not at all practical idea.

We all make our own choices every day about what to do with our power. I have privilege in this world. And each and every day I try to use that privilege to educate systems about the people who do not always have access to them (the legal system in this case). I'm not saying that everyone is suddenly going to do this (or ever going to). And I think a space like MeFi has limits in terms of communication about these issues. But I'm certainly not idealistic. I experience and live different forms of violence each and every day because of who I am, as do the various communities I serve.

and zarq, I was not trying to be sarcastic about "the google" so I apologize that it came off that way. Again, an issue I am passionate about and I'm trying to actually get work done so my typing is a little fast :). There is a ton of information out there, not always the best with your first search. So thank you for the follow-up.
posted by anya32 at 12:33 PM on June 29, 2011


Even the language used is confusing.

Jargon is useful when analyzing the matter in discussions such as this thread, but in my own personal experience, it does not need to be employed to gain acceptance. I think some people just like being deliberately obtuse.

My 8 year old niece and 93-year old grandpa both accepted my transition and instantly understood (a) it was rude to pry about the details of my personal life* and (b) I was not sub-human. All without jargon. Getting to just this level of basic decency is a huge stumbling block for trans-acceptance.

And again, I'm talking not just about transsexuals, but non-normative gender expression as a whole. Once someone slips out of those norms, it seems they suddenly become a sideshow display and subject to all sorts of rampant speculation.

* I have a good running catalog now of the many ways in which people have tried to slyly (and not-so slyly) ask me about the state of my genitals. Unless you want to sleep with me, you don't need to ask about my junk.
posted by Wossname at 12:36 PM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


The impulse behind "cis" is good but the word choice doesn't work. If you're going to try and create slang, it's much better to repurpose a word people already know than to make up a new one, whether it's from whole cloth or an etymological root, because that's how organic slang starts. "Straight" isn't a dictionary antonym for "gay," but it's still a word everybody knows. To the non-PhDs of the (non-trans) world, "cis" might as well be a trio of randomly selected letters.

You do realise that the words 'homosexual' and 'heterosexual' were created using similar logic, right? They somehow managed to catch on. That's the pair of words from which I learned what 'homo-' and 'hetero-' meant as prefixes. Not 'homogenous' and 'heterogeneous', which is the only other pair I can think of. The difference with 'transgendered' and 'cisgendered' is that one came first.
posted by hoyland at 12:39 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The impulse behind "cis" is good but the word choice doesn't work.

I really don't think the choice of word matters. People don't like it because it's a new word and a new way of thinking about themselves. I'm pretty sure straight people thought it was weird that they were now 'straight' when the terminology came around it, but people got used to it.

Honestly, I think it's better that they aren't trying to appropriate another word for the task-at least then it's obvious that hey, they aren't talking about the other meaning of the word.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:39 PM on June 29, 2011


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "The impulse behind "cis" is good but the word choice doesn't work."

It's here to stay now, and it'll be mainstream before long. Our word for you lot has been settled on; we don't have to define ourselves as not any more. We've moved on, and I don't think you'll find a great deal of energy among trans people for revisiting that.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:40 PM on June 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


I like the word "cisgendered", especially that I now know the near/far connection. It makes sense: if your gender is near your sex, you are cisgendered. If your gender is not near your sex, you are transgendered. It does take the "normal/not-normal" thing right out, and makes it like being right or left handed. One is much more common, but that just lets the other lord it over the first for not being as cool. (Yeah, I have some lefty-issues - I so wanted to be one when I was a kid.)

And by gender here, I don't mean "society's current ideal male/female" - but your inherent gender-identity (maybe that's a better term?). Some people seem to have strong gender-identity, and some people don't. I don't have that strong of a gender-identity myself, but my SO does - he inherently feels male, and would be very uncomfortable if people started calling him "she". He won't even try wearing women's clothing, no matter how much I encourage him - it makes him feel uncomfortable, in the same way that trans people feel uncomfortable being forced to live in the wrong gender. I assume that most, if not all, transpeople who aren't explicitly gender-queer also feel a strong gender identity, or else they wouldn't go to such difficulties to express that gender-identity. My SO says that if his brain were transplanted into a woman's body, he would still feel male; me, if I were transplanted into a man's body, I would go "Cool, now I can aim!", and alternate between pants and skirts like I already do. (Actually, seeing that photo of Buschbaum above, I'm more jealous of what he looks like than what most fashion models look like - I would love to look like him).
posted by jb at 12:40 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Society's acceptance of transgender people should not be shackled to a similar requirement.

Sure, I don't think anyone is disagreeing with that. But ignorance abounds in the world, so that very worthy goal doesn't seem attainable at this point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:49 PM on June 29, 2011


Sure, I don't think anyone is disagreeing with that. But ignorance abounds in the world, so that very worthy goal doesn't seem attainable at this point.

Remember during the last presidential election when lots of white people would say "but those other white people will never vote for a black man!" That always confused me. Sure, there's lots of bias in the world, but the best way to make sure that the bias stays in the world is to assert that those other people off over there will never, ever change and therefore it's useless for me even to try.

For example, trust me that even if you are the only non-homophobe in the room with me, I will still be glad that you aren't being all homophobic. In fact, please be especially, visibly non-homophobic when you are the only non-homophobe in the room. You'll give courage to people who want to change, you'll shame at least a few of the creeps and you'll certainly make me feel a lot less freaked out and alone.

(This should in no way be interpreted as an an endorsement of the Obama administration.)
posted by Frowner at 12:56 PM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


anya32: " and zarq, I was not trying to be sarcastic about "the google" so I apologize that it came off that way.

Absolutely no problem. No worries. Thank you.

Again, an issue I am passionate about and I'm trying to actually get work done so my typing is a little fast :)

Been there. :)

There is a ton of information out there, not always the best with your first search. So thank you for the follow-up."

And thank you very much for yours. It's very interesting.
posted by zarq at 1:02 PM on June 29, 2011


But ignorance abounds in the world, so that very worthy goal doesn't seem attainable at this point.

We went from lock-up-the-homos-they're-sick to gay marriage in less than 40 years. It's doable.
posted by rtha at 1:07 PM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: " Sure, I don't think anyone is disagreeing with that. But ignorance abounds in the world, so that very worthy goal doesn't seem attainable at this point."

Maybe not right now. But we've made progress on other fronts, and eventually....

I mean, the goal is still worth fighting for though, right? We counter ignorance with knowledge and intolerance with familiarity, and sometimes the struggle to rid ourselves of both takes a generation or two.

News came out today about a gender-neutral preschool in Stockholm. They're eliminating the words "he" and "her" and have carefully chosen toys and books that don't perpetuate gender stereotypes. I think that's total overkill. But still, then I read articles like the one in TNR and wonder if a gender neutral preschool might not be helpful. Breed familiarity. Or if similar tactics, maybe not so extreme, could help counter ignorance.
posted by zarq at 1:10 PM on June 29, 2011


We went from lock-up-the-homos-they're-sick to gay marriage in less than 40 years. It's doable.

Nope, there's only gay marriage in six states in the US. It's coming, yes, and long overdue, but jesus christ are some states going to have to dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

I mean, the goal is still worth fighting for though, right?

Absolutely, of course.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:11 PM on June 29, 2011


zarq: "News came out today about a gender-neutral preschool in Stockholm. They're eliminating the words "he" and "her" and have carefully chosen toys and books that don't perpetuate gender stereotypes. I think that's total overkill. But still, then I read articles like the one in TNR and wonder if a gender neutral preschool might not be helpful."

I've been watching the responses to that around the web and it's been fascinating. I honestly don't believe it's a step too far, but part of that is that said preschool is not going to form the entirety of the children's exposure and access to gender. At most, it'll teach them that gender, though pervasive, is not the natural law or inevitability it's so often presented as. And yet I see people reacting to it as if it's a cartoon hand in a political cartoon with "post-gender society" written on it, plucking all the hes and shes from the children's lives and passing out dresses to boys, overalls to girls.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:25 PM on June 29, 2011


Nope, there's only gay marriage in six states in the US.

Well, I know that. Apologies for my shorthand. I thought - wrongly, I guess - that going from "lock 'em up" to "any amount of gay marriage in the U.S." was a pretty good indicator of progress, and it's progress that's, you know, progressing. Some states always have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future; that doesn't make it an unattainable goal.
posted by rtha at 1:25 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some states always have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future; that doesn't make it an unattainable goal.

We're just arguing over minor details here. My only point was that the goal was unattainable right now. Obviously things will get better in the future. Doesn't mean we should wait until then though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:31 PM on June 29, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: " Absolutely, of course."

OK.
posted by zarq at 1:35 PM on June 29, 2011


One of the more interesting aspects of learning that I am on the autism spectrum was that, in general, there's not a lot of attachment to gender identity. That certainly helped explain why I have never been very good at "being a girl/woman" -- because I have absolutely no idea what that means, outside of the more obvious, stereotypical markers.

I don't feel like a woman. I feel like a gsh, I feel like me. If you asked me what it means to be a woman, I couldn't tell you. And more to the point, I don't care.

So I've always had a really hard time understanding the outward manifestations of transgender life, because those manifestations are all about the obvious, stereotypical markers. For instance, there are a couple of middle-aged MTF folks I've seen here in Chicago over the years. Every single one of them dressed like the Jane Fonda character in "9 to 5", I kid you not. It was more costume than anything that looked even remotely personal or individual.

On the other hand, I've seen drag queens who so fully embody the character of their costume that it comes across as 100 times more natural than the middle-aged MTF folks above. And yet, drag queens are more about (in the words of Josh Kilmer-Purcell) being a "celebrity trapped in an ordinary person's body".

I don't doubt that the transgendered are struggling mightily with their identities but I do sincerely wonder if the struggles are actually about gender.
posted by gsh at 1:50 PM on June 29, 2011


My brother is one of those men who doesn't really think of himself as trans-anything, just a guy who needed medical treatment. (Nevermind that the treatment also involved cutting ties with most of his acquaintances, and various legal bullshit and the emotional wrangling of his family and so on.)


I consider myself gender-fluid (probably "genderqueer" but I don't really like the term), but as it has worked out so far, that's mostly male outside and mostly female inside. I answer to male pronouns etc. and have issues with not wanting to look like a "sissy" or a crossdresser. I really do wish I'd grown up in a society less stringent about gender, or at least one that understood the difference between sex, gender, and orientation.

But then, when I was born, the idea of a female doctor was pretty much a joke. I think the current push for gay rights, and the lagging-slightly-behind push for transgender rights, and the probably-a-bit-behind-that push for general relaxation of prejudices against anyone who falls outside binary gender concepts, are really a continuation of the long struggle for women's rights. Most of the reason why there's more of a stigma against males behaving/dressing like women than there is against women gaining the same rights and the same behavioral traits and dress as men, is the lingering idea that men are "better" than women.
posted by Foosnark at 1:53 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


ArmyOfKittens: " I've been watching the responses to that around the web and it's been fascinating.

Yeah. I nearly posted it as an FPP today instead of this article. Then I spent some time looking at those same online reactions and decided it wasn't worth the potential/likely aggravation of watching a thread go down in flames. Besides, this was more interesting.

I honestly don't believe it's a step too far, but part of that is that said preschool is not going to form the entirety of the children's exposure and access to gender. At most, it'll teach them that gender, though pervasive, is not the natural law or inevitability it's so often presented as. And yet I see people reacting to it as if it's a cartoon hand in a political cartoon with "post-gender society" written on it, plucking all the hes and shes from the children's lives and passing out dresses to boys, overalls to girls."

Very true.

With two three year olds in the house, I'm finding the way they process gender identity kinda fascinating. My kids have definite opinions on what clothing belongs to girls and what belongs to boys. My son will tell you to stop being silly if you try to put him in any of his sister's clothing. Push the issue and he'll refuse outright. But they have no problem playing with each other's toys. My daughter likes his cars & trucks. He likes her dolls. Dora and Diego are interchangeable, etc. They ask for and watch shows that are not targeted for their gender. (He watches her princesses dvds...) They also identify with specific characters in shows that are their gender, such as Leo from Little Einsteins, and Kai-Lan from Ni Hao Kai-Lan. Oh, and he still has a purse. My wife and I aren't uptight about it, (we don't care, really). I guess that kind of preschool program might be helpful if a kid is getting rigid instruction about gender roles at home.

The backlash was inevitable. People get very defensive about their kids.
posted by zarq at 1:54 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


They ask for and watch shows that are not targeted for their gender. (He watches her princesses dvds...)

So what you're saying is that your son is a brony.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:56 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It looks like you’re a cisgendered person trying to discuss trans issues. Would you like help?" It's Trans Bingo time!

Bingo cards are the best part part of discussion derailing. I wish I had a wallet-sized printed set I could hand out offline.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:00 PM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


Doublewhiskeycokenoice: "So what you're saying is that your son is a brony."

He doesn't watch My Little Pony. We have some standards. :D
posted by zarq at 2:03 PM on June 29, 2011


I don't doubt that the transgendered are struggling mightily with their identities but I do sincerely wonder if the struggles are actually about gender.

"Based on a brief glance at some people I didn't even talk to, I'd like to reject decades of academic research and call bullshit on the self-reported experiences of actual trans people."
posted by Zozo at 2:05 PM on June 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


I suppose I was using a more expansive definition of "brony" than is strictly appropriate. I will say that I have put Lisa Frank stickers on the bathroom walls of my favorite punk rock bars and intend to do it again. This may or may not be brony behavior. I haven't seen the show myself.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 2:06 PM on June 29, 2011


gsh: "I don't doubt that the transgendered are struggling mightily with their identities but I do sincerely wonder if the struggles are actually about gender."

Would it help if I mentioned that I know several trans men and trans women who are also on the autism spectrum? For many trans people (possibly most? it's hard to say what with the different pressures on the different generations causing similar issues to manifest differently), the internal pressure that leads them to transition is not connected to their gender but to their physical sex. Literally, their sex is wrong to them. So they change it.

For me, it was connected in that for a while I didn't feel able to express my femininity while I was outwardly male, but that was because I was afraid of the consequences, not because of any real incompatibility between my gender identity (feminine) and my apparent sex (male). So connected to but still very much distinct from that was that my sex was wrong, and I had to change it. So I did.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I consider myself a letter in the GLBT acronym. I can't call it a community, though, because everyone that can also use a G, L, B or T are all very diverse groups of people, with a lot of interesting and nuanced cultures and subcultures and identities. I've heard a number of these same people, when discussing transgendered people, wonder why the T's in our little number need their own separate cause.

Look, as a bisexual person, I get hell from the G and the L because I should "pick a side," because there's apparently no such thing as B. I have heard some of this attitude directed at the transgendered community as a whole, and I can only imagine how much worse the actual attitudes are; "No such thing as bisexuals, eh? I have to pick a side, eh? What about being born the way I am? What about the whole 'we don't choose' thing I hear so much about? Oh, so what about the people that didn't choose the gender they were born with, eh? What sides do they have to pick from?"

The fact remains that transgender folk do need their own cause in a general way because they are indeed discriminated against at such a level as to be criminal.

At the same time, we have a pretty acronym with its own pretty flags and logos that tell everyone else that we're an inclusive community when we're pretty much just a bunch of "different" people grouped together when in reality we're all as different as anyone else is, with some people wanting to take part in a cultural and civil revolution, some of us want to change the way other people think about us and act towards us, and some of us do indeed conform to the stereotypes about us, but others that really want no part of it, that want to be seen as nothing at all different than anyone else. To further restate the point, it's only possible in the most general of ways to peg someone into only one category. The problem here is that a lot of people group transgendered people into a single category, make a whole ton of assumptions and then proceed to point at the "different" people and have their fun by making someone else's life hell.
posted by neewom at 2:09 PM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


For me, it was connected in that for a while I didn't feel able to express my femininity while I was outwardly male, but that was because I was afraid of the consequences, not because of any real incompatibility between my gender identity (feminine) and my apparent sex (male). So connected to but still very much distinct from that was that my sex was wrong, and I had to change it. So I did.

My experience is similar, but I don't necessarily feel like my sex is wrong. Suboptimal maybe. The fear of consequences comes into effect there too though. Transitioning is a big, scary deal.

In fact it took me years to figure out whether I am a would-be transwoman who is simply too chicken to transition, or something else. I landed on "something else." But give me the technology to shapeshift at will, and I would be all over that (and probably spend most of my time in a female or androgynous form).
posted by Foosnark at 2:36 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't doubt that the transgendered are struggling mightily with their identities but I do sincerely wonder if the struggles are actually about gender.

Because you don't know what it's like to really feel the socially imposed pressures and meaning-making processes involved with cultural gender norms, there's no way you'd be able to imagine otherwise. But that doesn't mean it's not possible for the pressures to be that oppressive, that tyrannical.
posted by liketitanic at 2:41 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I keep trying to come up with points to make, but they're all on the bingo card. Well, maybe the Fine Article can remind me of some other points. Ah, yes, here they are:
  • Every time a trans woman is described, her clothing and mannerisms must be given in detail: "Although she is six foot two, with broad shoulders, she has a womanly shape. She wore black pants, simple black ballet flats, a cropped jacket, and a long black coat with subtle fur lining. Her voice and manner were effortlessly feminine." Can't ever let us trans women forget that our gender presentation is artificial! Always make sure any awkwardness in the trans woman's wardrobe gets described in full detail: "...sister Maureen recalls that she looked like a man in drag. At that point, Steve hadn’t figured out how to dress like a woman. She wore the wrong make-up and a satin evening blouse just to walk around during the day. Her hair was growing out, but she was washing it too often, so it looked frizzy."
  • One trans person's experience gets taken as representative of all trans people's experiences: "Transgender people find it offensive to be referred to by their pre-transition gender, because they point out that they always were their current gender." Because clearly all trans people feel that way all the time. "Caroline gets to be the person that she has always wanted to be, but that means the person she once was is gone." Because no trans person ever embraces their pre-transition history.
  • Trans women must be reminded that we get "accepted" as women, and that we need approval of "biological" women before we can be who we are: "After our first hour together, I couldn’t think of her as anything but a woman." Good that she passed your test -- what would she do otherwise?
  • A trans person's birth name must be mentioned: "Caroline was born Stephen..."
  • Use pronouns for the convenience of the reader, rather than the trans person: "Nevertheless, I will use the pronoun 'he' for the period of Caroline’s life when she lived as a man to avoid confusion..."
  • Always have to have explicit references to surgery: "'[E]asier to dig a hole than build a pole.'"
  • Ignore what happened before medical transition was possible. Although trans people have existed pretty much everywhere for pretty much all of recorded history, make sure your article gives lots of consideration to doctors rather than actual trans people.
  • Any time you mention trans rights, make sure to talk about bathrooms! "The religious right has launched a major assault on what it calls 'bathroom bills,' warning that they will turn restrooms into hunting grounds for pedophiles and rapists." And don't describe more than that -- never tell the reader that a trans person is far more likely to be assaulted going into a public bathroom than to assault anyone there, for example. (Are there actually any recorded cases of trans people assaulting anyone in a bathroom?)
  • Always make sure trans women are depicted as tragic, deceitful or (if you can work it in) both. "This is the hardest thing about Caroline’s transition for the people around her..."
Hmm, not quite enough for a whole new bingo card, but it's close. I admire where the article is coming from, but there are a whole lot of problems going on in there.
posted by jiawen at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


I suppose this is a good a place as any to note that Justin Bond seems quite happy that the Guardian used the 'v' pronoun in their recent profile, headlined 'I think everybody's trans'.
posted by robself at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


ArmyOfKittens:
I've said it on Mefi before and I'm sure I'll say it again: you cis people had decades to come up with a better word for yourselves than "normal" to distinguish yourselves from trans people. You didn't do it -- apparently you thought "normal" was just fine -- so you can live with the word we picked.
Where's that "favorite a LOT" button?
posted by jiawen at 3:13 PM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Okay - maybe someone can explain this to me:

Why does anyone ever care if a transperson uses any bathroom? I mean, a transwoman might have been born with a YX, but she feels like she is a woman, and she wants to behave as a woman, so she's not going to be going into a women's washroom to oggle women - ignoring the fact that all women's washrooms have stalls anyways - unless (maybe) if she is a lesbian trans woman (if you're paranoid). I actually do understand (though don't agree with) some of the tension around shower/locker room sharing between gays and straights - but trans people are just as likely to be straight trans people as to be gay.
posted by jb at 3:45 PM on June 29, 2011


(As I was biking home, I realized that I'd said (at least one) kind of fucked up thing on this thread, and I wanted to pop back in and apologize...Far upthread, I was all "and there was this cute girl at a dinner! And I didn't know she was trans, except I'd met her at this event talking about trans issues!" What I meant to convey was "trans people are everywhere, regardless of whether cis people realize it" and "I met a cute girl! A cute activist girl!!!" What came out was "trans women who pass are attractive, and it is my job to comment on this".

Which is 1. Really screwed up and I apologize to anyone who felt frustrated or hurt; and 2. None of my business - it is 100% not my business how other people perform gender, and it is none of my business to talk about whether I think people "pass" or not.

Also, I was thinking about how cis women (almost always women, and including me) have this weird anxiety about trans people supporting patriarchy through gender performance - trans women who are "too girlie" or trans men who are "too macho". Again, it is none of our business - but it's also this screwed up projection onto trans people. Trans people do not create and enforce patriarchal gender dynamics - that's on cis people. Trans people are extremely unlikely to be in a position where their performance of gender threatens me in any way or has any power over me at all. Quite on the contrary! And yet I hear (and have in the past participated in) proportionately far more conversations challenging trans people's wrong/patriarchal gender performances (and implicitly their whole gender identification) than I have the gender performance of cis people. I also notice that in these conversations, cis women tend to treat trans folks' gender performance as this fixed artifact - like a trans person says "now and forever I will wear my make-up this way/talk about women that way because that is the Right Way that all people should follow". As if, in fact, trans people aren't actual people but are some kind of robots.

Anyway, I realized when considering the bingo card at the end of this thread that sometimes I am Not So Great Actually, and need to check myself a little more on these topics.
posted by Frowner at 3:55 PM on June 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


jb, I think the biggest fear is that there might be a penis in the ladies room, even if the poor women and children don't even know there's a penis afoot. The bathroom taboo is huge in our society, and people who cannot otherwise articulate their discomfort can most easily say BUT OMG PENIS IN THE LADIES ROOM THINK OF THE CHILDREN.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:57 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's connected to the hubbub from my minty-fresh first-ever FPP which among other things was about trans people specifically being barred from sexual assault group counselling, for similar reasons to the whole daft bathroom flap.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:28 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of bathrooms, if you really want to be useful please add the gender neutral bathrooms in your city/town to the safe2pee database.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 4:32 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh that is super cool. Just added one - one of my favorite sushi restaurants has three single bathrooms - one labeled men, one woman, one either/or.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:36 PM on June 29, 2011


People flip out over the bathroom thing and I just don't get it. I'm a woman who some people see as male, and I get odd reactions from women in public restrooms. It ranges from a momentary "Hey, am I in the wrong...oh, no, she's a her," to "This is the ladies' room, you know!" (really) to not even a second glance.

I was at a baseball game one time when a guy brought his little girl into the women's room (I guess the line for the "family" bathroom was too long) and no one freaked out, though it would likely have been different if he'd come in by himself. Which, again, is weird - it's all stalls, so nobody would be able to see anything anyway.

The only thing I care about is that the person who used the stall before me not pee on the damn seat. If you did, wipe it up!
posted by rtha at 4:39 PM on June 29, 2011


I've never gotten a good explanation of this: why, if you have two bathrooms in your place of business, each with one toilet each, do you label one "men" and the other "women"? There are two bathrooms in my house. We are three men and four women, so it would maybe in some way make sense to segregate the bathrooms by gender. But we segregate them by the much more practical fact that one is upstairs and one is downstairs.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:40 PM on June 29, 2011


Kadin2048: If we assume that the incidence in the U.S. is representative of transgendered people worldwide, then there are about as many transgendered people in the world as there are Jews.

As a person with a confusing history of gender identity and one Jewish parent (the wrong one, i. e. my father), I find this fact fascinating. (I find it so fascinating that I'm not even going to question the assumption it starts from.)
posted by madcaptenor at 4:50 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there a more vulnerable space in public than a bathroom? Pants around ankles or otherwise, you are absolutely exposed.

For a single toilet restroom, unisex is logical. But multi-stall? It's a scary place! Smells, sounds, door latches that don't quite catch and could pop loose at any moment.

Now, if we would convert the world to the more European style of floor-to-ceiling, fully enclosed stalls, then it becomes more private and provides a buffer.
posted by gsh at 5:06 PM on June 29, 2011


gsh: I was referring to single-toilet. When I rule the world all bathrooms will be single-toilet. (Don't worry that that will take up too much space, I'll bend the space-time continuum to make it work.)
posted by madcaptenor at 5:18 PM on June 29, 2011


Transgender people who have a 1/12 rate of being murdered

Any chance of providing a link that actually backs up that oft-made statistic?

Hate crimes are bad enough without entire communities repeating completely (as far as I can determine) unsupported claims.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:48 PM on June 29, 2011


Because you don't know what it's like to really feel the socially imposed pressures and meaning-making processes involved with cultural gender norms, there's no way you'd be able to imagine otherwise. But that doesn't mean it's not possible for the pressures to be that oppressive, that tyrannical.

Well, as a teenager, I took no end of crap from my mother: "Why don't you wear makeup? Why don't you do something with your hair? Why are you wearing such unflattering clothing?" So the pressure was there, but, it had as much meaning for me as "Why don't you flap your arms and fly?" I could no more conform to gender norms than I could become suddenly good at math, so I ignored it.

There are so many things that set each of us apart as individuals that sex and gender seem not only wholly inconsequential (apart from procreation, if that's your thing) but also the least relevant.

But the brain/body divide is interesting. For instance, are there examples of transgendered people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries and then rejected their outward gender appearance?
posted by gsh at 6:02 PM on June 29, 2011


Any chance of providing a link that actually backs up that oft-made statistic?

Here is a link that deconstructs the stat and places it into relevance. It was the second hit on a "murder rate of transgenders" Google search.

Basically, they think the stat is referring to lifetime risk, or prevalence, and not incidence, which is to say that transgender people are about 10 times more likely to have their deaths be the result of murder than the average (1 death in every 145). That ratio tracks with other high-lifetime-risk categories; people of color, for example, have significantly higher murder-prevalence numbers than white people. The statistic citer appears to have conflated transgender murder prevalence numbers with cisgender murder incidence numbers, presumably for effect, but they're not really comparable statistics. Regardless, the statistic is an estimate, and it isn't really saying that transgender people are murdered at a rate of 1 per 12.
posted by Errant at 6:19 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, as a teenager, I took no end of crap from my mother: "Why don't you wear makeup? Why don't you do something with your hair? Why are you wearing such unflattering clothing?" So the pressure was there, but, it had as much meaning for me as "Why don't you flap your arms and fly?" I could no more conform to gender norms than I could become suddenly good at math, so I ignored it.

There are so many things that set each of us apart as individuals that sex and gender seem not only wholly inconsequential (apart from procreation, if that's your thing) but also the least relevant.


Okay, but I am trying to explain that I don't think most people can just ignore it or dismiss it or resist it. The extrapolation you're making doesn't hold, which is why it seems improbable to you that such pain could be the result of "just gender."
posted by liketitanic at 6:53 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Why does anyone ever care if a transperson uses any bathroom? I mean, a transwoman might have been born with a YX, but she feels like she is a woman, and she wants to behave as a woman, so she's not going to be going into a women's washroom to ogle women - ignoring the fact that all women's washrooms have stalls anyways - unless (maybe) if she is a lesbian trans woman (if you're paranoid). I actually do understand (though don't agree with) some of the tension around shower/locker room sharing between gays and straights - but trans people are just as likely to be straight trans people as to be gay."

As far as I understand it, it plays back into the Predatory Male Creep trope, in that if we don't have a prohibition on everyone born male in the bathrooms, then pervos will simply claim to be trans in order to leer at women.

There may be an argument to be made that Predatory Male Creeps are more prevalent than trans folk, but it seems like it's probably easier to deal with that issue when it comes up than to exclude people essentially from both gendered public bathrooms.
posted by klangklangston at 7:30 PM on June 29, 2011


I'd just like to say that speaking as a trans guy who only came out recently, there's more to it than "oh I don't conform to gender norms," at least in my personal case.

I grew up with pressure to conform to gender norms. When I came out as bisexual, people started to identify me as a lesbian instead, because I failed at conforming to ultra-feminine gender norms, and that meant I read as butch. I'm pre-medical transition at this point, and might be for a very long time for fiscal reasons - I had to have a fundraiser to buy myself a single chest binder, and I don't even know where I could go to get HRT where I live - so I still tend to read as a butch woman.

If the only issue at hand were conforming to gender norms, I would be perfectly fine with being read as a butch woman. I don't shave my legs or armpits, I wear men's clothing, and so on, so I'm expressing myself with the cultural gender norms that I choose, rather than the feminine ones that would be expected - and I get accepted that way, and people don't bother to pressure me any more. So if that were all that was going on, I'd be perfectly happy, right? And at that point there would be no reason to ever come out as trans and face the bigotry and even physical danger and generally increased difficulty of life that can go along with that.

Yeah the thing is I'm not a woman. I have never in all my life identified myself with that concept of "womanness." Sure yes come in and say that you don't either and you just think of yourself as yourself and gender isn't part of your identity and that's fine, really, I'm happy for you and I'm not being sarcastic here. But I have plenty of cis-female friends who, well, when they describe themselves, they use the word "woman" (or "girl" or "chick" or whatever equivalent term they personally identify with most). That's part of their identity, and they relate to the idea of womanness in one way or another - not all of them in the same way, or to the same part of the constellation of ideas that get lumped together under the heading "femininity", but to some degree they are all going "yeah, I'm female." I don't do that. I've been describing myself as a dude or a guy or a bro for years, usually acting as though I was joking (which is a privilege I have as an FTM - women are allowed to appropriate masculine trappings far more readily than men are allowed to appropriate feminine ones, so I could get away with doing that for ages before I even came out) before I came out, because that is the gender identity I have. It's innate and it's not something I chose. I often end up identifying with the female point of view in discussions about sexism and stuff, because my entire life I've been viewed and treated as female by the rest of the world which makes my experiences relevant in those cases, but that's not who I actually am.

I actually got viscerally upset by reading "I don't doubt that the transgendered are struggling mightily with their identities but I do sincerely wonder if the struggles are actually about gender." - I felt very dismissed, like, here's this person just assuming that they know better about my experience than I do myself - and then I thought, okay, don't post angry, the odds are very very low that they posted that to cause the emotions it caused, give the benefit of the doubt. So I walked away and did some other things for a while and then came back to share my first person view about how, no, it actually is about gender, and not about how much I just want to dress up in boy's clothes and be a drag king. I hope this is deemed relevant by y'all.

(This is also essentially my coming-out post on Metafilter - I'm not really out on the internet, except amongst friends - so even though I'm not a well-known poster or anything, I feel kind of weird about posting it.)
posted by titus n. owl at 8:16 PM on June 29, 2011 [43 favorites]


Pretty much everything titus n. owl said. I also think a lot of people posting in this thread could benefit from reading through that bingo card and imagining that being said to them. No, it's not different because you're cis. Imagine if people said this kind of shit to you every single day and expected you to talk about your medical history, how big your junk is, whether your family still loves you etc. Just by being visibly gender non-comforming I have to put up with random strangers pointing at me in bars and screaming "WHAT IS IT??" even though it's none of their fucking business. This is marginally better in the LGBT community because gender non-conformity is more embraced by this community (see: butch lesbians, drag kings and queens) which makes LGBT spaces much safer for me. To have the LGB drop us whenever they think they can get better results by leaving us behind is a huge kick to the gut, like that safe space has been suddenly removed from me and I now have to deal with cis-sexist responses everywhere. What's in my pants is nobody's business - why does everyone else give so much of a shit?

I would also like to point out that many trans* people go through an "overcompensating" phase when they initially come out, especially in ares with particularly rigid gender norms/roles. This is often what leads to extremely butch trans men and extremely feminine trans women who look incredibly uncomfortable in their skins. I know when I came out as trans*, I had a brief period of "well I was butch for a woman and assumed to be a lesbian and things didn't work with men so I must be a butch straight guy!" which was incredibly awkward for everyone involved. There are a LOT of us who fall into completely different gender expressions once we settle into our identities and stop trying to prove our identities or get the approval of random passersby (see above comment about how you can always tell).

All this to say that my identity as male and my expression as slightly feminine/androgynous have nothing to do with my assigned gender at birth. I am far more comfortable in my femininity now than I ever was while people assigned me female pronouns. I don't pass much yet and I anticipate I will always be read as queer because effeminate straight men are so few and far between.

What does America need to do to accept us? It needs to stop sticking its nose in other's private business. It needs to stop being obsessed with the genitalia of other people - even strangers. It needs to accept that people are different in their gender expression. Frankly, it needs to suck it up and deal with it. We're not going to disappear. (Yes I realize this is unlikely to happen but imagine your gender identity being constantly called on 24/7 and tell me you'd still be in a good mood.)

Oh PS: We just want to pee. Really. REALLY.
posted by buteo at 8:45 PM on June 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm a cisgendered woman. I give voice lessons to transpeople who are moving towards a female presentation and who want their voices to sound more womanly. One of the things I frequently talk about when I'm working with a new client is the hard reality of giving up on being the fantasy woman. You're not going to be Claudia Schiffer; you're just not. Very, very few people ever are. (Technically, I guess, just one.) Vanishingly few cis women look like Marilyn Monroe, and my job isn't to help you talk like her, either. My job is to help you talk like the woman you were born to be.

In working with a recent client, we were talking about this process of letting go of the ideal, and I came to realize -- that's very much of a female experience, is letting go of the ideal perfect body, the ideal perfect voice, the ideal perfect presentation. There are literally tens of thousands of women walking around out there with square jaws, big feet, broad shoulders, wide hands, flat butts, what have you. Not all of them are trans, and not all trans women are members of that group. You seriously just cannot tell.

(Another client once told me "Gender is like underwear. If it fits, you never give it a second thought; if it doesn't, it's all you can think about." I love that.)
posted by KathrynT at 9:17 PM on June 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


Oh and the bathroom thing? FFS, fellow cisfolk, what on earth is the big deal? My husband goes into womens' rooms all the time, because sometimes the ladies' loo is the only one with a changing table so if he has to change the baby, he doesn't really have a choice. Nobody's ever experienced a case of sudden-onset Penis Proximity Cooties or anything.
posted by KathrynT at 9:19 PM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's in my pants is nobody's business - why does everyone else give so much of a shit?

My theory is that they want to know if you have the sort of genitals that people they sleep with usually have, or not. (Yes, I am drastically oversimplifying.)

My theory predicts that bi people are less likely to give a shit. I have no evidence for this prediction but I have no evidence against it either.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:23 PM on June 29, 2011


Also, in case you haven't noticed, public bathrooms smell bad and are unclean. Why would people want to spend any more time in them than they have to?
posted by madcaptenor at 9:32 PM on June 29, 2011


I promise I'm going to read all of these comments tomorrow when I'm not totally bleary-eyed, but I wanted to add my thoughts to the discussion quickly:

I hope, someday, that this won't actually be an issue. It bugs me to no end that we still, as a society, are hung up on classifying people into one side or the other. It makes very little sense if you really get into it. I for one would be delighted if I could wear the clothes that I thought were most comfortable, marry whomever I love, and date whomever I want, without people flipping their shit about it.
posted by odinsdream at 9:46 PM on June 29, 2011


Oh and the bathroom thing? FFS, fellow cisfolk, what on earth is the big deal? My husband goes into womens' rooms all the time, because sometimes the ladies' loo is the only one with a changing table so if he has to change the baby, he doesn't really have a choice. Nobody's ever experienced a case of sudden-onset Penis Proximity Cooties or anything.

Just a reminder what trans-hatred can mean with regard to the bathroom thing. Warning - extremely graphic, disturbing and depressing video included.
posted by odinsdream at 9:48 PM on June 29, 2011


What Titus N. Owl said times 10.

And -- Different people experience gender differently. (I initially thought gsh was going that route -- describing the variety of her own and her compatriots' gender experiences.) For some people gender (in every way -- the feeling of gender, the role of gender, the body connection) is super important. For other people gender is this weird construct that doesn't match up and just feels artificial or irrelevant. And everything in between. And that's just one spectrum -- you can be cis or trans at any point in between.

Shorter: Everything is complicated. And quit projecting.

And -- from the article -- For a long time, gay and trans people were equally marginalized in the United States, and so they tended to band together. There's this weird tendency now for us to make this hard line between people who are gay and people who are trans. Of course, it's part of giving the definitions, this, not that. That, not this. And to look back in history and think, oh, all the deviants hung out in the bars, they were allies, but they were really too separate groups. But I don't think that's exactly right. I mean, yes, there are differences, and different groups, but I think that people also draw lines out of fear -- I'm trans, not gay. I'm gay, not trans. All kinds of fear about gender presentation, this not that.

Shorter: There's all stripes of queer and they interrelate (and I wish there was more appreciation of this).

Shortest: I'm biased but I think there are more gays and trans people than are currently reported (because of all of the limitations of trying to study something that is not always acknowledged or realized).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:53 PM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I always find these discussions confusing, as someone who makes an effort not to conflate gender and sex.
posted by TheKM at 11:05 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


My theory predicts that bi people are less likely to give a shit. I have no evidence for this prediction but I have no evidence against it either.

You would be surprised. My gay, lesbian and straight friends have been accepting as a whole but I dealt with ~6 months of misgendering and deliberate use of my birth name by someone who specifically identified as pansexual. You really can't predict who is going to be a jerk about this kind of thing.
posted by buteo at 11:47 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


titus, thank you for posting. It's difficult when you have to come out just to help dispel misconceptions. Thanks, from a fellow trans person.
posted by jiawen at 12:13 AM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


As a fan of chemistry, I support any gender labels that lead to people accidentaly learning about isomerism.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 12:43 AM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Frowner: Also, I was thinking about how cis women (almost always women, and including me) have this weird anxiety about trans people supporting patriarchy through gender performance - trans women who are "too girlie" or trans men who are "too macho".

You're kidding. People still think like this? I thought the whole "real feminists aren't all girly" thing was half second-wave radicalism and half overblown stereotype. I mean, I was in elementary school when I realized that I didn't like sports, but I did like dolls, and that was okay and it didn't make me a bad feminist. (Of course, I didn't think about it in those terms; I just had this general impression that girls had to prove themselves better than boys at everything, especially at "boy" activities, and eventually I realized that that pressure was needlessly exhausting and it was just better to be myself. But of course, I got that impression from the adult feminists around me.) I thought that third-wave feminists acknowledged the possibility of being both feminine and serious about equality. I guess not.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 3:52 AM on June 30, 2011


My theory is that they want to know if you have the sort of genitals that people they sleep with usually have, or not. (Yes, I am drastically oversimplifying.)

I'm not sure who said it, but my boyfriend told me about a post somewhere where the reply to the whole "well, you should tell me you're trans before we start dating" should be:

"You should tell me that you don't like trans people before we start dating, because why would I want to waste my time not knowing I'm with someone who dislikes trans people."

Always, always, many people put the pressure on trans people to be the ones to out themselves, to apologize for any "discomfort." You know who should be apologizing? The people who made them feel horrible.

I feel pretty fortunate that when I told my family that my boyfriend was transgendered, their reaction was very positive. He was not so fortunate when he told his family (to put it mildly).
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:21 AM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I still think the terms "cisgendered" and transgendered", while more descriptive than your grandparents' "male" and "female", still creates a confusing binary.

Our whole culture is confused about gender, and always has been because, like race, it is a social construct. It's imaginary. So "cisgenders", shut up about how weird people who are more awake to the subtleties of life are. And "transgenders", you know, just because we haven't also had the surgery and don't have to live with the same kind of emotional and physical risks, doesn't mean we don't also struggle every day under the yoke of gender fascism.

Now let's all kiss and make up, because at least you all don't have to live in France, where short hair and pants on a girl is still considered super duper edgy.
posted by Mooseli at 5:22 AM on June 30, 2011


Anyamatopoeia: I thought that third-wave feminists acknowledged the possibility of being both feminine and serious about equality. I guess not.

They do. That doesn't mean there isn't an awful lot of second-wave nonsense about...
posted by Dysk at 5:33 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Our whole culture is confused about gender, and always has been because, like race, it is a social construct. It's imaginary.

Except that the existence of transgendered people suggests that this is not true. I mean, you don't have people of one race risking their families, their jobs, sometimes their lives because they feel like they were really born another race, and would be happier living as that race. Race and sex aren't comparable that way. (Secondary sex characteristics are real).

of course, there is a terminology problem -- if you're talking about merely gender roles, then much (not all) of these are socially constructed. But when you're talking about gender as in gender-identity, this appears to be a spectrum similar to (though detached from) sexual orientation, with lots of people feeling innately male or female, and some people in the middle.
posted by jb at 5:45 AM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Now let's all kiss and make up, because at least you all don't have to live in France, where short hair and pants on a girl is still considered super duper edgy.

Wait, what? Is this a thing?
posted by odinsdream at 5:46 AM on June 30, 2011


Mooseli: "And "transgenders", you know, just because we haven't also had the surgery and don't have to live with the same kind of emotional and physical risks, doesn't mean we don't also struggle every day under the yoke of gender fascism."

Also doesn't mean you're at anything like the daily physical risk of violence to your person because of your gender presentation. I appreciate that anyone who doesn't feel comfortable or satisfied with whatever gender presentation is considered appropriate to their physical sex in their particular locale is going to chafe against gender norms and be frustrated with the limited options available to them; as a moderately feminine woman who nevertheless sometimes wants to butch up or slob out, I feel it too! But as a trans woman, it's a bad joke to compare that with the utterly ludicrous risk of being visibly trans in just about any culture on this planet.

Also, "social construct" does not equal "imaginary". Whether any or all of the artefacts of gender are social constructs or innate or innate in some people and constructed in others is a long-ass debate that I would be more than happy to have here, partly because I still don't have a solid position on myself, but that doesn't make them any less real in the here and now. Like race, the "social construct" of gender gets people injured and killed if they don't obey its rules. And I'm not going to moan to a black person that I understand what it's like to be discriminated against because I went to Japan once and people talked funny to the gaijin; and I'm not going to tell them to buck the fuck up about racism because other people have to deal with discrimination, too, but in much less serious ways that affect their daily lives less.

I'll be overjoyed if I live to see the day that cisgender and transgender cease to have relevance -- although I'd be astonished if I lived to see the day that cissexual and transsexual go the same way -- but that day is not today and it's likely not fifty years from now. People who don't feel cis or trans already have words for themselves and I'm not going to quibble with the relevance or construction of genderqueer or other words for other identities because it doesn't apply to me.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:49 AM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Mooseli: So "cisgenders", shut up about how weird people who are more awake to the subtleties of life are. And "transgenders", you know, just because we haven't also had the surgery and don't have to live with the same kind of emotional and physical risks, doesn't mean we don't also struggle every day under the yoke of gender fascism.

Can we not use adjectives as nouns? Nobody is 'a transgender' or 'a cisgender'. They are transgendered or cisgendered. Using them as nouns really really doesn't parse well, in terms of tone.

You also seem to be confusing transgendered with transsexual, with specific reference to surgery. Lots of transgendered people haven't had surgery. Lots never will, either through choice or circumstance.

You're also right that cisgendered people also have to struggle under the yoke of gender fascism. Much like (some) men are also limited and disadvantaged in some ways by the patriarchy. The difference in how these pressures are experienced is still pretty stark - expressed in the really quite significant emotional and physical risks which you skip over so readily.
posted by Dysk at 6:19 AM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, I was thinking about how cis women (almost always women, and including me) have this weird anxiety about trans people supporting patriarchy through gender performance - trans women who are "too girlie" or trans men who are "too macho".

You're kidding. People still think like this? I thought the whole "real feminists aren't all girly" thing was half second-wave radicalism and half overblown stereotype


I've had this conversation mostly with feminists - usually either radical-feminists-who-are-not-intentionally-transphobic (rather than the radical feminists who are all "trans women are just seeking women's power!") or with casually feminist women who don't do a lot of theory.

The idea is pretty much that by being "too feminine", some trans women are reinforcing the idea that extremely labor-intensive femme-y femininity is "natural" and the Best Thing For Women, rather than, you know, trying to perform femininity that they are happy with and that is also acceptable on the street.

Similar lines of thought on trans guys who say sexist stuff - that a trans guy talking about "bitches" or whatever isn't just 1. coping or 2. a douchebag but is actually making some kind of argument about How Masculinity Should Be.

I haven't had a lot of conversations with cis guys about trans folks' gender performance, and I think these conversations are particularly something that cis women tend to have because of pre-existing (and legitimate) anxieties about sexism.

On the one hand, this is a paradigm problem - lipstick doesn't oppress people; social mandates about lipstick oppress people. And I have not noticed anyone saying to me "Frowner, I have noticed that you don't shave your legs, but I know a trans woman who does! You should be more like her in order to be acceptable" while I've certainly gotten a lot of "look at the dyke! look at her legs!" from straight/cis folks.

On the other hand, I think it's transphobia - or at least, a lack of willingness to think things through - disguised as concern about sexism. And I also think there's some unacknowledged pleasure (for radical feminists especially) in having a socially marginalized opponent who can't hit back very hard - for a long time it's been very socially acceptable to insult trans women and very difficult for trans women to be heard. So it's, I think, emotionally gratifying for certain radical feminists to project all their stuff about men onto trans women and then hit hit hit. I honestly think that lots of social groups develop a screwed up dynamic where they constitute themselves by having an "unacceptable other", and for some groups of cis women, trans women are that other. Which is so dumb.
posted by Frowner at 6:44 AM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


Oh, and I wanted to clarify that "really femme-y transwomen are reinscribing patriarchal norms" was a line of thought I actually kind of believed for a while, until I ended up in a social circle with a lot more trans folks and realized that this didn't even remotely approximate reality.
posted by Frowner at 6:46 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Frowner: "Oh, and I wanted to clarify that "really femme-y transwomen are reinscribing patriarchal norms" was a line of thought I actually kind of believed for a while"

I thought that for a while, too. Before I transitioned I turned for a while from the pretty femme-y person I am naturally into a very dark, shut down, emotionally dead husk of a human, and I developed a lot of contempt for trans women who really femmed it up. They're so fake, so broken, so desperate to prove themselves to their friends and their doctors and their loved ones and themselves that they're allowed to be women and that it's okay and natural for them to be women, they spent their lives beating their heads and hands against the wall until the skin broke and the blood flowed and their fingers bent and twisted so when they finally broke through they couldn't think clearly any more and they let themselves be carried away so thoroughly by the sexist shit that pervades the world that they cover themselves with cream and dance for the real men and real women who laugh at them behind their backs and who find them in the dark and hurt them.

...is what I thought.

I decided I wasn't going to wear makeup or dresses or pluck my eyebrows even though I wanted to do all those things; even though I had been doing those things a few years before when I was at school. Real women didn't have to drape themselves in femininity to get along and so I didn't either. I didn't want to fall into that trap and I hated anyone who did.

I got over it, of course. I realised it was all internalised transphobia, cissexism, and fear of not passing, of not being seen as a "legitimate" woman, of not being able to build a life after transition. My belief that trans women who "go along" with femininity are shoring up the patriarchy was born of fear and shame, and when I conquered my fear and outgrew my shame that belief died as well.

Take what you want from femininity, take what you want from masculinity; take what's real to you, or take what you like the look of and incorporate it into your identity; and get the fuck off of people's backs about whether they wear lipstick or a big stinky beard.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:08 AM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


...Wait a minute, I wasn't trying to even remotely suggest that, just because we're also struggling under the yoke of gender fascism, that struggle is somehow directly equal to the stuggle of transgendered (sorry Dysk, point taken) individuals. But there is real pain there, and not the kind of pain that, for instance, being white in Asia might inspire (which I imagine is more a kind of confusion than a pain) - I have known cisgendered people to commit suicide because of the rules imposed on them. And in some countries, raping women and other sorts of gender-based violence is so widespread as to be practically legal. Sure, the fac that there's a minority that is still being hideously mistreated in countries that claim to be the world leaders in human rights sucks more than most other situations, but how can you say that, for those women who are raped and whose rapists aren't put in jail because "oh, she was a slut", that the gender issue "affects their lives less"? The issues are different in America, is all.
posted by Mooseli at 7:22 AM on June 30, 2011


...And while I accept that gender is a practical reality right now this minute, I look forward to the day when we will eventually let it go and let people be whatever the hell they want to be independent of whatever they were born with. And yes, I'm not stupid, I understand that sex and gender are two different things, but even the biology of sex differences is more complicated than most people want to admit.
posted by Mooseli at 7:38 AM on June 30, 2011


Mooseli, the title of the thread is 'America's Next Great Civil Rights Struggle'. You'll have to forgive a fairly anglo-/euro-centric angle here - it's explicitly what this thread is about.

But there is real pain there, and not the kind of pain that, for instance, being white in Asia might inspire (which I imagine is more a kind of confusion than a pain)

I'm not denying that there is real pain there, but that isn't what this is about. Much like you're not going to make friends by going into a thread about women's rights and shouting about how hard men have it, this isn't the time or place to point out how hard cisgendered people have it. We know. Transgendered people experience those pressures too, just a bunch more besides.

Additionally, as a white person who grew up in Asia utterly feeling utterly isolated from everyone, I resent your implication.
posted by Dysk at 7:43 AM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I had a thing, but really, what Dysk said.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:03 AM on June 30, 2011


Mooseli, you're scoring lots of hits on the bingo card. I encourage you to think about why the bingo card exists, and why those specific statements are on it.
posted by jiawen at 8:23 AM on June 30, 2011


Bingo cards are lazy and dismissive and toxic to discussions. If you want to talk about assumptions or cliches, you're welcome to it, but pretending that a bingo card is an argument is pretty obnoxious in almost every conversation.
posted by klangklangston at 8:32 AM on June 30, 2011


klangklangston, I feel the same way about the statements on the bingo card. Here's a suggestion - if we can agree not to be dismissive and insulting, we can avoid both the bingo cards, and the stuff on them.
posted by Dysk at 8:34 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Sorry, didn't mean to direct all that at you, klangklangston. Imagine a few linebreaks after the first sentence, as the rest was meant to be a general statement.)
posted by Dysk at 8:35 AM on June 30, 2011


Because all internet discussion branches at some point into a debate over how the debate is being conducted: Yes, there's an anti-bingo bingo. (I love you, internet meta!)

In general terms, Internet bingo cards are not perfect, but they are useful as two things:

- A humorous-but-still-serious frustration outlet for people in marginalized groups who are forced to keep hearing and defending themselves against the same arguments from different people over and over and over and over and over, meaning the discussion never moves past that point and the whole thing turns into an exhausting Sisyphean task. (See for example the background behind Derailing for Dummies.)

- A handy comparison list, when you're* taking part in a discussion, to compare your* ideas against and realize that your* very original highly specific personal special snowflake argument is not. At all. So this suggests an excellent opportunity to educate yourself further on the subject!


*generic you
posted by nicebookrack at 9:15 AM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


nicebookrack has already written most of my response. Thank you.

I understand the importance of educating, and I do it a lot myself. However, the sentiments "[t]hat's a delightfully idealist and not at all practical idea" and "[b]ingo cards are lazy and dismissive and toxic to discussions" combine into huge frustration for me, because they indicate that you believe trans people owe cis people infinite patience, infinite politeness and infinite willingness to put up with abuse. Dunno if that's how you intend it to come across.
posted by jiawen at 9:35 AM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here is a link that deconstructs the stat and places it into relevance. It was the second hit on a "murder rate of transgenders" Google search.

Basically, they think the stat is referring to lifetime risk, or prevalence, and not incidence, which is to say that transgender people are about 10 times more likely to have their deaths be the result of murder than the average


Right, I had read that article, and while the calculations seemed to match my own, it pretty much proved that the 1/12 statistic is completely bogus.

Granted, there are a lot of ways to crunch the numbers, particularly when it comes to projections, but if 1/12 of the current Trans population were to be murdered, that would boil down to around 60,000 murders (assuming the U.S. Trans population is about 700,000) Then (this is the tricky part) we have to assign some kind of "expected lifespan" to the population, starting from today. For the sake of argument, let's say an average of 50 years, owing to the fact that it generally takes a number of years for a Trans person to identify as such. (unless I'm mistaken)

That all works out to about 1200 Transgendered people murdered every year, which, given the 15,000 murders in the U.S., jives pretty closely with the "ten times as likely" statement.

So, is there any database willing to state that 1200 Transgendered people are murdered in the U.S. every year? Most advocacy groups rely solely on verified cases, and thus the numbers are artificially low. Their numbers for 2010 put the figure at 14 murders (specifically hate-crime related murders). Even if we tripled that figure to 42 per year, that still only gives us a murder rate of 6/100,000 which (surprise) matches the overall murder rate for the country.

Again, not trying to make light of it, and even 1 murder is too many. But playing fast and loose with statistics is bound to hurt the cause in the long run, I think.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:09 AM on June 30, 2011


"I understand the importance of educating, and I do it a lot myself. However, the sentiments "[t]hat's a delightfully idealist and not at all practical idea" and "[b]ingo cards are lazy and dismissive and toxic to discussions" combine into huge frustration for me, because they indicate that you believe trans people owe cis people infinite patience, infinite politeness and infinite willingness to put up with abuse. Dunno if that's how you intend it to come across."

Well, you know, I've tried to engage here pretty honestly and fairly, with sensitivity to how people whose lives these actually are deal with these discussions, and ignored nonsense like that feminists concerned with gender performance from trans folk are just transphobic, which reads as an inane imputation. I try to cut slack because I realize that these things are hard to deal with and that they build up legitimate resentment and frustration.

But when I see bingo cards, I see someone spoiling for a glib fight. And that's fine, if that's what you want, but I don't think you do. Bingo cards are toxic for discussion, because they're a way to dismiss statements without engaging with them and substitute snide mockery for argument.

Again, I'm fine with snide mockery, but I get the feeling that you already get enough of it without trying to engage me on that level.

So, the answer your question: You're the one combining my statements to infer that I believe some pretty specious things in an exaggerated manner. If I believe that trans owe the cis infinite patience and willingness to put up with abuse, you believe that trans folk get a free pass to be snide and trot out LJ memes, and to simply dismiss anyone who doesn't agree with everything they say. Cis or trans, one's gender identity doesn't preclude being an asshole.

I don't think that either of us really believe those things, and while other people might, I doubt very many of them are in this conversation. But when you start treating them like they are, and for me that includes pretending that a bingo card is somehow helpful rhetoric, I'll stop treating this like a discussion and start treating it like a lazy snark fest, and we'll both lose something valuable.

Lazy snark fests are fine by me, but they're better for conversations where you're sure everyone already shares your values. Otherwise, they encourage a rhetorical style that privileges, well, privilege.
posted by klangklangston at 12:01 PM on June 30, 2011


Shutterbun, the biggest problems when it comes to calculating the murder rate against trans people (and I'm not going to spend long on this topic since I still have nightmares about the way a friend of mine died) are under-reporting by authorities and by the people involved, lack of particularly accurate numbers as to how many trans people actually exist, and conflation of data. Statistics for transsexual women (who are at greater risk than trans men) get confused with statistics for all transgender people, and vice versa. I've read all sorts of numbers but no conclusive studies, because I don't think it's really possible to work out with hard data, which doesn't exist. You also have issues of stealth obscuring trans identity and people early enough in transition that there is no official record of their true identity.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:23 PM on June 30, 2011


Exactly, AoK. The true numbers are likely never to be known, for the reasons you describe. So instead of the completely unsupportable "1/12" figure, I think (for what it's worth) the community should focus on the cases that are indeed known (as the Day of Remembrance seems to do) and highlight those individuals' stories, as well as drawing attention to the unfortunate secondary causes leading to homicide (sex work, poverty, drug abuse) which tragically all too often find prevalence in the Trans community at large.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:33 PM on June 30, 2011


Yeah, there are risk multiplying factors at work. I pass and have for a million years, and I'm post-op, so I'm in no more danger than any averagely-attractive white cis woman in London, and even if someone finds out somehow that's still a case-by-case thing: at a party maybe someone tells someone else and the violently prejudiced drunk guy overhears, but the next day when he's fifty miles away and never sees me again I'm in no more danger. Whereas someone who doesn't pass or only passes sometimes is at far greater risk, and it's a constant thing. A lot of poorer trans women do sex work which is another huge risk hike (a lot of anti-trans violence happens after sex, usually because of some bullshit hetero shame thing), and trans women of colour have their own heightened risk that goes with not being white.

The trans people at greatest risk, then -- and the ones I think a lot of the statistics relate to, which then get conflated with the trans population as a whole -- are those trans women who are visibly trans, trans women of colour, poorer trans women, and trans women in the sex industry.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:56 PM on June 30, 2011


klangklangston: As a feminist trans ally I believe it is my job to point out when my fellow would-be allies are hitting trans bingo points or being a Concern Troll. Which you are doing, so please stop. I also believe that is the job of my fellow allies to point out to me when I'm doing the same things, so when that happens, please tell me. Between us, if we allies monitor each other as a group, the actual oppressed people can spare some time between calling out oppressions to grab dinner. And when they are fed I can get back go my real job, which is to shut up so I can hear the overwhelmingly silenced people talk LURK MOAR.

I'm not sure I'm actually helping here anymore, unless I have managed to reduce some trans reader's GRAWR. And I'm sorry that you are upset, klangklangston, because I don't think reading this will make you less so. But I care more about dissecting this as an example of debate-derailing-in-action than I care about sparing your feelings, so I will try to break this down nonetheless.

[/White Knighting!]


klangklangston: Well, you know, I've tried to engage here pretty honestly and fairly, with sensitivity to how people whose lives these actually are deal with these discussions
Implication that the people you are addressing have not been engaging honestly or fairly or sensitively = You're Not Being A Team Player + You're Being Hostile

and ignored nonsense like that feminists concerned with gender performance from trans folk are just transphobic, which reads as an inane imputation. I try to cut slack because I realize that these things are hard to deal with and that they build up legitimate resentment and frustration.
Implication that those you address believe inane nonsense that you have been generous enough to overlook = You're Interrogating From The Wrong Perspective + You're Arguing With Opinions Not Fact

But when I see bingo cards, I see someone spoiling for a glib fight. And that's fine, if that's what you want, but I don't think you do.
Implication of "I assume negative motives based on your mode of engagement while assuring you I assume no negative motives"

Bingo cards are toxic for discussion, because they're a way to dismiss statements without engaging with them and substitute snide mockery for argument. Again, I'm fine with snide mockery, but I get the feeling that you already get enough of it without trying to engage me on that level.
Implication that those you address are obligated to engage your debate points seriously and at length = If You Won't Educate Me How Can I Learn + You're Not Being Intellectual Enough

So, the answer your question: You're the one combining my statements to infer that I believe some pretty specious things in an exaggerated manner. If I believe that trans owe the cis infinite patience and willingness to put up with abuse, you believe that trans folk get a free pass to be snide and trot out LJ memes, and to simply dismiss anyone who doesn't agree with everything they say. Cis or trans, one's gender identity doesn't preclude being an asshole.
If You Cared About These Matters You'd Be Willing To Educate Me + You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry + You're As Bad As They Are!

I don't think that either of us really believe those things, and while other people might, I doubt very many of them are in this conversation.
I'm Just Saying What Other People Believe. I Never Said I Agree

But when you start treating them like they are, and for me that includes pretending that a bingo card is somehow helpful rhetoric, I'll stop treating this like a discussion and start treating it like a lazy snark fest, and we'll both lose something valuable.
A grand whammy of If You Won't Educate Me How Can I Learn + You're Being Hostile + You've Lost Your Temper So I Don't Have To Listen To You Anymore

Lazy snark fests are fine by me, but they're better for conversations where you're sure everyone already shares your values. Otherwise, they encourage a rhetorical style that privileges, well, privilege.
Implication that debate is being conducted incorrectly and that not addressing your arguments seriously and at length is equivalent to laziness = You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry + If You Cared About These Matters You'd Be Willing To Educate Me

Is that helpful?
posted by nicebookrack at 1:40 PM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


This discussion is really amazing, and I wish I had something thoughtful to add. But I don't. I just have this. Which I will post solely for being able to use the word "penis." Twice.

BUT OMG PENIS IN THE LADIES ROOM THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

I'm proud to say that I bring a penis into the ladies room on a regular basis on behalf of the children - specifically, the child whose diaper I am changing.
posted by sonika at 5:05 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"As a feminist trans ally I believe it is my job to point out when my fellow would-be allies are hitting trans bingo points or being a Concern Troll. Which you are doing, so please stop."

As a feminist trans ally, I believe it's my job to point out when my fellow would-be allies are being dumbasses who can't construct a reasonable argument without resorting to trite copy pasta from a website that's more snark for true believers than the magic logic talisman that many of its adherents treat it as.

And here's a good opportunity for me to point out the essential flaw in your rhetorical strategy, one that you seem to have missed in your zeal to take a bunch of out-of-context quotes and pretend that you have an argument — simply calling me a concern troll and dismissing me is idiotic. You can do it if you want, but the end result is that I've lost none of my privilege, won't work any harder to ensure trans rights (which I already advocate through a variety of modes, so let's call that a wash) and just think of you as a shallow, strident moron.

Handily, there are plenty of trans folk and allies who aren't shallow, strident morons, so I don't think it reflects poorly on them, just you.

"And I'm sorry that you are upset, klangklangston, because I don't think reading this will make you less so. But I care more about dissecting this as an example of debate-derailing-in-action than I care about sparing your feelings, so I will try to break this down nonetheless."

I'm not really upset, but it's pretty clear that you care more about continuing a debate derail than actually having a conversation. I'm fine with that (the thread's long enough), but let's not pretend that I'm the villain here and you're doing this out of some altruistic fervor — that's bullshit.

"Implication that the people you are addressing have not been engaging honestly or fairly or sensitively"

Actually, no, it's a restatement of my sincerity and attempt at deescalation. Your inference was not a necessary implication. By attempting to link that to a derail point, you are now arguing against a straw man.

Way to start on an empty note — it can only get better, right?

"Implication that those you address believe inane nonsense that you have been generous enough to overlook = You're Interrogating From The Wrong Perspective + You're Arguing With Opinions Not Fact"

Actually, it was me not derailing earlier by pointing out that the essential assertion was that feminist critiques of trans gender performance are all illegitimate as they're manifestations of transphobia. That's bullshit.

And the fundamental problem with using the Derailing For Dummies website is that it glibly asserts bad faith for a lot of legitimate complaints — it's not a derail inherently to point out that something's an unsupported opinion. As for the "interrogating from the wrong perspective," that's got so little to do with what I wrote that you must assume your readers are lazier than you are, or in your zeal to play gotcha, you didn't bother to read either what I wrote or the link you posted.

"Implication of "I assume negative motives based on your mode of engagement while assuring you I assume no negative motives""

Actually, what I was replying to was you presenting a straw man of my statements, and I was saying that you probably didn't mean to do that. I said that because it was more polite than, "Wow, that's an incredibly stupid and loaded misreading." Which yours was.

But that's not an assumption of negative motives — it's an assumption of incompetence. But I don't necessarily assume negative motives for fundamentalists of any stripe (unlike how you've assumed I have negative motives). I do assume question begging and a poor grasp of logic, which you've demonstrated.

I think you mean well but picked the wrong target and don't like being told that you're not very good at arguing and that your rhetorical strategy isn't likely to achieve your goals. You can reduce that to "negative motives" if you like, but it'll be you being reductive and idiotic again.

"Implication that those you address are obligated to engage your debate points seriously and at length = If You Won't Educate Me How Can I Learn + You're Not Being Intellectual Enough"

Actually, no again. I mean, I know it's hard for you to read my words with all your righteous fury, but the point was actually that if you keep engaging me with lazy snark, I'll just call you a moron and engage you with lazy snark. But you go with your 1337 HTML skillz! LINK MOAR! Maybe if you give me just one more copy pasta it'll be the one that proves that you can think for yourself!

"If You Cared About These Matters You'd Be Willing To Educate Me + You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry + You're As Bad As They Are!"

Not really. Again, I don't judge the "cause" based on your stupidity — I judge you based on your stupidity. I didn't ask for education, and I didn't say that you were as bad as "they" were. I actually said that I didn't believe what you attributed to me, and that I didn't think you believed an equally stupid misrepresentation of what you said.

Maybe you should spend less time trying to shoehorn what I write into glib reductionisms and more time, you know, trying to understand it? = Act Like An Idiot And I'll Treat You Like An Idiot.

"I'm Just Saying What Other People Believe. I Never Said I Agree"

I'm sorry that reading and context is so hard for you. I said two things — that I disagreed with your interpretation of what I said, and then similarly misrepresented your position while making it clear that it was a misrepresentation — hence the "no one agrees."

So, no, I wasn't arguing a position as a devil's advocate or making an appeal to outside popularity — I was actually doing the opposite. But even street level rhetoric is over your head, isn't it?

"A grand whammy of If You Won't Educate Me How Can I Learn + You're Being Hostile + You've Lost Your Temper So I Don't Have To Listen To You Anymore"

Nope. Not asking you to educate me; not saying that you are being hostile; not saying anything about tempers.

I am saying that your links are both pretty bad summations of my comments and many of them pretty bad arguments in themselves, and I think that you honestly don't understand that and aren't really trying to. And because of that, I don't really mind making fun of you.

(But if I don't educate you how will you learn?)

"Implication that debate is being conducted incorrectly and that not addressing your arguments seriously and at length is equivalent to laziness = You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry + If You Cared About These Matters You'd Be Willing To Educate Me"

Oh, Olympian of wrongness, you are a decathlete.

At what point do you stop pretending that any of what you have linked is an argument against anything that I've said?

"Is that helpful?"

Are you an idiot?
posted by klangklangston at 9:40 PM on June 30, 2011


« Are you an idiot?

It is certainly possible! I now retire to the depths of 4chan, to resume the furious posting of cat macros and to improve my understanding of trans issues and formal rhetoric. I look forward to a day when I can properly encapsulate the complex history of social justice in lolcat form.

zarq and others, I apologize that your thread has gotten so thoroughly derailed, and I am sorry for any further distress I or it have caused trans people and friends for whom this is more than an impersonal internet debate.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:52 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not a derail, and as far as I'm concerned you have nothing to apologize for.

There was an essay posted to Good a few days ago that I had considered dropping into this thread, but at the time it seemed somewhat heavy handed. Perhaps it's worth doing so anyway: "How I Learned to Hate Transgender People."

Until very recently, the media was saturated with negative messages and stereotypes about LBGT folks. Ideas which became ingrained. With full cognizance that I'm an outsider to the oppression those groups have endured for generations, my initial reaction was to agree with Klang that the bingo cards seemed glib here. My impression is that the main article in this post was written in good faith and makes an earnest effort to educate the public. And yet... and yet.... I think we should also still be aware of the article's assumptions. When it dips into potential stereotypes, (inadvertently?) to make its point, is it really helping? Trying to make its subject matter relatable to the masses? Or is it perpetuating a problem? We can't ignore these questions. I suspect they're going to be a vitally important key to transgender Americans achieving long-term rights and widespread acceptance.

A couple of years ago, I posted this to MeFi. I thought the story was fantastic, and wanted to share it on MeFi. Both articles are glowing profiles, but the second article includes a photo of Dr. Bowers putting on makeup and hits a number of points on that bingo card. Not great.

I'd still like to think it's a net positive, though.
posted by zarq at 6:19 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


KathrynT: "Oh and the bathroom thing? FFS, fellow cisfolk, what on earth is the big deal? My husband goes into womens' rooms all the time, because sometimes the ladies' loo is the only one with a changing table so if he has to change the baby, he doesn't really have a choice. Nobody's ever experienced a case of sudden-onset Penis Proximity Cooties or anything."

I'm very thankful for family room bathrooms. Am dreading the moment when my daughter has To. Go. Right. Now., and I have to bring her into the ladies'.

[derail]Also? People are disgusting pigs in public bathrooms. I wish I could spray laminate everything before my kids go near it. [/derail]
posted by zarq at 6:32 AM on July 1, 2011


Are you an idiot?

Cut it out. I know you are perfectly of capable of telling someone in detail why you think their argument is bad without descending to this lazy shit.
posted by cortex at 7:08 AM on July 1, 2011


zarq, the times I've witnessed a dad bringing his daughter into the women's room, he's been met universally with smiles, nods, or just being ignored.
posted by rtha at 8:36 AM on July 1, 2011


I wonder what kind of reaction a dad would get if he brought his son into the women's room, if his son was at that very young age where you can only tell boys and girls apart by what color they're wearing, and the kid happened to be wearing, say, yellow.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:40 AM on July 1, 2011


"And yet... and yet.... I think we should also still be aware of the article's assumptions. When it dips into potential stereotypes, (inadvertently?) to make its point, is it really helping? Trying to make its subject matter relatable to the masses? Or is it perpetuating a problem? We can't ignore these questions. I suspect they're going to be a vitally important key to transgender Americans achieving long-term rights and widespread acceptance. "

Those are all fair points, though for a lot of them the answer is that this is magazine writing for a mainstream audience who can't be assumed to know much about trans people, gender expression or social roles, informed by the kind of story that the writer's sources want to tell, and that it has to be told at a 10th grade reading level at most.

Excoriating the article for bringing up the question of passing is fairly stupid when passing is of obvious importance to the subject and where the author can be a proxy for an objective observer.

Real people's lives often include stereotypes.
posted by klangklangston at 8:41 AM on July 1, 2011


I wonder what kind of reaction a dad would get if he brought his son into the women's room,

My first assumption would be "oh, the men's room must be full." Kids' bladders are like time bombs.
posted by sonika at 8:57 AM on July 1, 2011


klangklangston: the author can be a proxy for an objective observer

I'm not sure the concept of an 'objective observer' makes a whole lot of sense in this context...
posted by Dysk at 9:08 AM on July 1, 2011


zarq: "There was an essay posted to Good a few days ago that I had considered dropping into this thread, but at the time it seemed somewhat heavy handed. Perhaps it's worth doing so anyway: "How I Learned to Hate Transgender People."

Woah. Good article. Thanks for the link.

"Both articles are glowing profiles, but the second article includes a photo of Dr. Bowers putting on makeup"

I'd forgotten about that article. Kinda hilarious, though: profile of doctor, right, professional history, yeah, pillar of community, okay, OMG SHE'S A TRANNY BREAK OUT THE MIRROR AND THE LIPPY WE NEED TO GET FEMME ON THIS SHIT
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:11 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's Never Lurgi: "Does every transman or woman actually want surgery (assuming they could afford it or aren't afraid of the surgery or whatever) or are some of them okay with keeping the bits, and just living their life as if they were the opposite gender (and being treated as such)?"

I'm one of them, non-op MtF here. The standard MtF narrative of always having hated your penis really isn't me. Body and facial hair were way more of an issue for me. Some of the older literature talked about transgenderists ( for people who were lived full-time but did not want genital surgery) as a separate category from transsexuals before transgender came to be used as an overarching term. That kind of disappeared with the popularity of the current usage of transgender.

When I first started to think seriously about transitioning I made myself a promise. I knew it would be a painful, long and difficult journey, which would only be worthwhile if at the end I was happy with my choices, it would not be worth exchanging pretending to be one thing I wasn't for another thing I wasn't.

Right from the start when talking to the medical profession I've said I don't want genital surgery, just hormones and maybe some facial surgery but I still very much id as female, if a very geeky somewhat androgynous one. My first Psychologist was very much geared up for the notion that surgery was the end game for all real transsexuals, so if you didn't want the operation you weren't really a transsexual. Some parts of the trans community are really anti non-ops for much the same reasons plus you have all the negative connotations of being seen as a shemale.

My genitals don't define me as being female or not. To have the surgery for me would doing something to make other people more comfortable with me, not something that makes me happier with my body. Very few people will ever see me without clothes, so 99% of people it really never going to be an issue. I've taken the steps I feel I need to, hair removal for the facial hair I've always hated, taken hormones which have helped my mental state and changed my skin plus all those other effects.

Its not all positive, I love swimming which is mostly off the cards now and dating is trickier (not that's plain sailing for any trans person) but I'd thought about this before hand and on balance this is the right place for me.
posted by Z303 at 9:34 AM on July 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


Z303: "it would not be worth exchanging pretending to be one thing I wasn't for another thing I wasn't."

High fucking five for this.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:23 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


rtha: "zarq, the times I've witnessed a dad bringing his daughter into the women's room, he's been met universally with smiles, nods, or just being ignored."

Man, I hope so.
posted by zarq at 12:17 PM on July 1, 2011


Z303 - There are lots of women's bathing suits which are modest, and not just super-modest ones. Like these skirted swimsuits. No one should ever have to give up swimming. (Personally, I'm really liking that first linked one - it's a pretty swim dress.)
posted by jb at 12:25 PM on July 1, 2011


I always said that I'd go swimming the second I was all healed up, but it's been almost three years and I still haven't gone because now I'm self-conscious about the weight I put on while I was disabled...

dieting madly though, can almost fit into trousers from before I got disabled, swimming is only months away!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:30 PM on July 1, 2011


AoK - my grandmother swam nude (at her nudist colony) in her late 60s and she weighed over 14 stone/ 200 pounds; my mother weighs more, and she swims (though she does like the suits with the little skirts). If women wait until they are "thin enough" to swim, most of us never will get in the water :) Besides, a good swimsuit can smooth out any bumps better than most other clothes - I look sleeker in mine than streetclothes. (It's a great full-covering suit with boxer-brief style legs).
posted by jb at 12:46 PM on July 1, 2011


I don't know how much of a solution this is for MTF ladies, but there are lots of suits with skirt style bottoms that cover much more than your standard issue bikini cut.

I personally prefer them as the tops of my thighs aren't going to be improving anyone's beach experience.

Also, for tops, tank style tops are more flattering than halter tops and would hide more body hair, if that's an issue for you.

These are mostly standard ladies' sizes - Popina has a lot of retro style suits that are really flattering and conceal much more than anything I've seen in stores. Would that all ladies be this classy!
posted by sonika at 1:05 PM on July 1, 2011


Thanks jb and sonika for the swim suit recommendations, I still swim when I'm at my mother place in France, so I've not given up completely.

My main issue is how much a single gendered space changing rooms are, even more so than toilets and *sigh* how well I pass. Its always a little stressful, wondering are they going to be problems. About six weeks ago I was getting a suit for a job interview, as I was queuing for the changing rooms to try things on, I noticed a big sign with no males after this point. Seeing the sign did put me a little on edge.
posted by Z303 at 3:01 PM on July 1, 2011


Ugh yeah. I still struggle with passing anxiety -- and feelings of illegitimacy -- even though I haven't failed to pass in many years. It's taking a lot longer than I hoped to kick that dog off my back.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:32 PM on July 1, 2011


Z303 - I had wondered if that might be your concern. I have not always been comfortable with change rooms for different reasons (body image, being a bi teenager), which are by no means as serious - but it made me aware that there are some pools where you don't have to pass through the changeroom to enter them - and I would go in my swimsuit with clothes overtop, and just take off my clothes on deck (local was an outdoor pool). It doesn't help with the many pools, maybe the majority, where you must pass through the change room to enter the pool. I wish we could just say, "oh f*ck 'em" for anyone who would say anything, but reading this thread has reiterated how dangerous transphobia can be.
posted by jb at 8:02 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


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