Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


how to make sure we don't leave trans people behind
June 25, 2014 8:07 AM   Subscribe

The Stranger's Queer Issue 2014How to Make Sure We Don't Leave Trans People Behind posted by and they trembled before her fury (44 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite

 
(trans 101)
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 8:34 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Thank Maude that trans communities and individuals are finally being noticed and valued for their individual contributions. I am thrilled to read CeCe McDonald's piece - she sounds like an amazing woman.

Thanks attbhf - great FPP!
posted by Sophie1 at 8:36 AM on June 25


Some of these are great, some of these are... less than that. Let it be said early on that GLAAD's "Transgender 101" guidance is not exhaustive, nor is it fully representational or even in agreement with feelings within the communities it addresses (which comes up in a couple of the pieces linked above--Minard's and Bond's, for instance).

Speaking from my former sex worker dais, there's still plenty to disagree about. Minard's otherwise lovely q & a piece, to take an example, puts forth without challenge that trans sex workers are able to assume roles outside of gender roles in ways that their non-trans counterparts can't ("Yeah, I think I've got it better than she does. Because number one, when her call does involve sex, she has to... for lack of a better term, she has to bottom. I don't have to do that. I can say, "I don't do that. I'm a top.""). It'd be great if everyone involved in these discussions could agree to drop promoting assumptions about others, because that kind of thing cuts anyone who holds it by the blade. We're all capable of it. Speak your own truths, and let everyone else speak their own.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:47 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


I was over on the Transgender Law Center's site looking for something and I stumbled on this lovely video.

Ty Nic has had some struggles in life and at school. Recently, he was forced to wear makeup and dress like a girl for his high school year book photo. But he’s not letting those challenges keep him down. He and his supportive father, Tim, have created this music video to inspire other youth to be comfortable as who they are.

“My dad is still learning the pronouns but he gets my name right, and I’m very proud of him,” Ty Nic told us.

Tim, Ty’s dad said, “I just want my child to be happy.”

posted by rtha at 8:48 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


OK, between this and the Indiana (!) marriage equality ruling, it's been such a freaking good day. I love progress.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:53 AM on June 25


Woo. Good job, The Stranger.

Well aside from the article by a drag queen with a male byline defending the continued use of the word "tranny".

(Me: casually out transwoman who lives in Seattle and has a fuckton of passing privilege.)
posted by egypturnash at 8:58 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Well aside from the article by a drag queen with a male byline defending the continued use of the word "tranny".
I debated with myself whether I wanted to include that article in the FPP or not. I ended up leaving it in after worrying that the omission itself would cause a discussion about that article or the omission. I did end up partially censoring the word in the link text though.
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 9:12 AM on June 25


Also wow their article on Pride Happenings sure feels gay dude centric. Steamy bathhouses full of willing dudes! Really gay theatre! Think I'll pass.
posted by egypturnash at 9:12 AM on June 25


Yeah, that t-word defending piece went straight for the "but those who object to this slur are the true bigots" defence, as well as enlisting some categories of people falling under the trans* umbrella in a slightly transparent divide and conquer move. I'm glad this article was included in the post here, as it does show up the difficulties in getting mainstream gay culture to become more inclusive.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:18 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


and yeah I can see having that debate. I figure, eh, it's a FPP about this special trans issue of the Stranger, may as well post the place where they open their mouth as wide as they can and put a half dozen feet in it as well as the parts that get things right.

Gender is a complicated thing and it's really kind of interesting to see people fighting over this one particular reclaimed-then-abandoned slur. Because language is a complicated thing too. And so are the cultural divides between different sets of people who were born with dicks and want to adopt feminine roles - every time I read something like that article I'm reminded just how alien the experiences and desires of a flamboyantly queer drag queen are to my experiences as an involuted transwoman cartoonist!
posted by egypturnash at 9:19 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Well aside from the article by a drag queen with a male byline defending the continued use of the word "tranny".

The author emphatically does not identify as a "drag queen", or male, but as a transgender person of the "third gender". As you might have noticed at the bottom, V is the winner of Lambda's award for transgender non-fiction and has been an activist for non-binary gender for a long time.

Misgendering a person because you don't like what they're saying is profoundly uncool, and ironic given that the point of v's article is not so much the specifics of word-reclamation as the way fundamentally conservative people will use language bans to enforce gender definitions.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:31 AM on June 25 [9 favorites]


I'm glad this article was included in the post here, as it does show up the difficulties in getting mainstream gay culture to become more inclusive.

On the one hand, yeah, it's difficult. And on the other, it's so weird to me to see Justin Bond being held up as representative of "mainstream" gay culture, because v (Justin's preferred pronoun) is so not, to me. But it's also an argument that I've stayed away from/out of because I don't feel like it's mine to have or have much of a useful opinion or viewpoint to offer.
posted by rtha at 9:32 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


a drag queen with a male byline

I think Justin Vivian Bond's decision that the defense of a slur is the hill v wants to die on is super gross and a huge turn off (as a former fan), but for the record v identifies as nonbinary genderqueer / transgender.

On preview, I'm not the only person who caught this. Misgendering is not how we punish people for being idiot jerks.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:32 AM on June 25 [5 favorites]


jinx, kind of, TFB!
posted by rtha at 9:32 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


"a drag queen with a male byline"

I doubt Bond would agree with that characterization. And unless that was meant as sarcastic irony, it's about as bluntly cruel as the word to which you're referring.

"Yeah, that t-word defending piece went straight for the "but those who object to this slur are the true bigots" defence, as well as enlisting some categories of people falling under the trans* umbrella in a slightly transparent divide and conquer move."

Did we read the same article? The response to this so far seems like a self-fulfilling prophesy. On that same note, feel free to speak up anytime with the same vigor against the sex worker who is convinced that a self-identifying non-trans woman is a "bottom" whether she likes it or not.

If we're gonna link to GLAAD on this, and if we're gonna say with a straight face that this is not a one way street, it'd be good if we could muster enough consistency to talk about this without calling people stupid jerks, idiots, drag queens, etc. Right?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:33 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


I am really big on not mis-gendering people. But in this case, I think it was a mistake, and maybe if we don't pile on quite so hard we'll give egypturnash some time to catch up on the thread and say "oops - sorry." Because I gotta say, I really don't think that egypturnash would do that on purpose. So maybe let's not have this whole thread go off on this derail? There are lots of good articles here.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:40 AM on June 25 [13 favorites]


And on the other, it's so weird to me to see Justin Bond being held up as representative of "mainstream" gay culture, because v (Justin's preferred pronoun) is so not, to me.

I hadn't heard of v before, but in the context of the Stranger, v's piece comes very much across as privilege defending, no matter who wrote it, considering how much of a mixed record it has on trans* matters.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:01 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Explaining what term you prefer for yourself, why it's important, and why you feel those trying to declare your preferred term illegitimate are enforcing gender orthodoxy, is "privilege defending"? How so?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:03 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


dont-leave-trans-people-behind

Donate a subway pass?
posted by sammyo at 10:08 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


the quiet clash between transgender women and drag queens
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 10:10 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


I don't know anything about Bond, that characterization was based solely on the vibe I got from skimming their article, which said nothing about pronoun choices. Sorry about that. Male-sounding first name followed by female-sounding middle name plus defending "tranny" as a term REALLY reads as "drag queen" to me; in my experience those are pretty much the only people still using that word.

(Is "drag queen" now a slur to some people, btw? I'm not using it with that intent, just using it to denote a certain subset of mostly male-identified people who like to perform an exaggerated female gender on stage. I thought that was still pretty much the accepted term of art; the drag queens - and kings! - I've met during my time in burlesque still seem quite happy to describe themselves as that.)
posted by egypturnash at 10:26 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


These articles inform a lot of my thinking on the reclaimation of 'tranny'. I'm linking both parts, but part two is the real meat of the argument, and you don't need to read part one first. A common charge is that the people who oppose its reclamation don't understand how reclaiming works, and this takes that on directly:

“Tranny” and Subversivism: Re-reclaiming “Tranny” (or not) part 1
“Tranny” & Cis Women: Re-Reclaiming Tranny (or not) part 2


------

That said, good on the Stranger for putting this together.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:29 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


the quiet clash between transgender women and drag queens

That's a great, thoughtful article about this issue.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:05 AM on June 25


I'm just going to drop a happy note here that unlike the previous pride issue where they discussed this, no Dan Savage talking about it!

Yea i realize thinking he should sit down and shut up is a contentious thing, but the stranger loves to hand him the reigns on an article in this sort of issue.

also, although I Am the Best Feminist, for I Am Dating a Trans Woman reminds me of some people i've known in concept... i have to wonder how much of it is a total or partial strawperson? does anyone really think that, or is it just a fun "lol SJWs ally olympics" thing to slag on?
posted by emptythought at 11:10 AM on June 25


Yea i realize thinking he should sit down and shut up is a contentious thing, but the stranger loves to hand him the reigns on an article in this sort of issue

Well, yeah. I mean, he's the editorial director. That only makes sense.

also, although I Am the Best Feminist, for I Am Dating a Trans Woman reminds me of some people i've known in concept... i have to wonder how much of it is a total or partial strawperson? does anyone really think that, or is it just a fun "lol SJWs ally olympics" thing to slag on?

Yes to the latter.
posted by josher71 at 11:25 AM on June 25


Yes to the latter.

According to the comments on the original piece, it's actually A Thing? I wonder if it's in part backlash to the toxic "I only date women... and trans men" trope that was going around a few years ago.
posted by muddgirl at 11:51 AM on June 25


The ThinkProgress article is lousy because it tallks to several drag queens and a genderqueer person but no trans women, which seems pretty bizarre in an article ostensibly about a "clash" between trans women and drag queens. They pull old quotes from trans women who are okay with the term and use "some trans women" for the trans women who are not okay with the term. It presents a close-but-biased summary of the two jobs the word "transgender" is holding down, but then uses the completely wrong argument that these "some trans women" are attacking other people's identities. Most of us are fine with people identifying as the word if they want, just as there are gay men who identity as the f-word. We aren't trying to kick anyone out of the umbrella, or drag anyone under the umbrella who doesn't want to be there. We're just fucking tired of an increasingly mainstream LGBT culture that's teaching people that this word is only ever fun and okay for people with no stake in it to use. Because it's not fun for an awful lot of us.

I'd have been impressed with The Stranger if, after recent pushback against Savage in particular, they'd gone out and found a trans woman to write an anti-slur piece. I'm not impressed that they found a genderqueer person to agree with Savage, because it just shows he doesn't even want to actually listen to us. It's downright tone-deaf to to it on the heels of the recent incident. And the Justin Bond article is actually awful in its portrayal of straw trans women: it even references the argument that trans women have some insidious residual male privilege, which is fucking reprehensible, and claims that protesting the use of a slur aimed at us is an attack on nonbinary identities. I don't know how v got there, but it's complete bullshit.

So thanks but no thanks on that front, Dan.
posted by Corinth at 2:29 PM on June 25 [11 favorites]


Banning Words Is Censorship, and Censorship Is a Conservative Tactic

That's a shame: I like Justin Bond, and I thought v was smarter than that.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:34 PM on June 25


A couple more articles from Queer Issue 2014: posted by and they trembled before her fury at 2:37 PM on June 25


The ThinkProgress article is lousy

The fact that it comes off vaguely measured and reasonable says something about the usual kind of pro-t-world article that usually goes:
1) Paint cross-dressers as the true pioneers and knowers of everything.
2) Paint trans women as laughably wrong; they would be pitiful if they weren't so dangerous.
3) Get in some vicious, really mean little digs. Bonus points if you flip your shit accusing a trans person of using pronouns wrong.
4) Bemoan inability to find common ground.
posted by fleacircus at 2:57 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Hey people, remember, Everyone Needs A Hug.
posted by marienbad at 3:22 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Askini's piece seems to use some overly simplistic language, using "born with" instead of "assigned at birth", and I wonder if that's because she's speaking to a generally ignorant cis audience or if that kind of language is common outside of the more radical trans and NB circles that I tend to follow.
posted by NoraReed at 4:17 PM on June 25


I think it's just a choice for audience, and I don't blame her. Janet Mock has tried to use "assigned at birth" language in front of ignorant cis audiences and gotten a lot of hate for it.
posted by Corinth at 4:45 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


I'd have been impressed with The Stranger if, after recent pushback against Savage in particular, they'd gone out and found a trans woman to write an anti-slur piece. I'm not impressed that they found a genderqueer person to agree with Savage, because it just shows he doesn't even want to actually listen to us. It's downright tone-deaf to to it on the heels of the recent incident. And the Justin Bond article is actually awful in its portrayal of straw trans women: it even references the argument that trans women have some insidious residual male privilege, which is fucking reprehensible, and claims that protesting the use of a slur aimed at us is an attack on nonbinary identities. I don't know how v got there, but it's complete bullshit.

Yea.

After really sitting down, crunching through this content in full, reading the whole thread, and putting on my thinking cap... this is sort of a really crypto, clever, 7th degree blackbelt "but i have a black friend and he's ok with it!". It's fox news, push pull journalism bullshit.

They found a few people with just an ounce of cred who agree with his byline, which as basically an admiral of the stranger is essentially the party line... and then they built an article around it.

it's like a really slimy article about abortion that presents itself as talking to both sides of the debate, but only talks to anti-choicers.

An article written by a trans woman who interviewed some drag queens would have been interesting. It wouldn't sell the point they're trying to make, though.

I have always had really mixed feelings about the stranger. Kinda the same way i feel about vice, but complicated even more by the fact that my friend/kevin bacon circle overlaps pretty significantly with several people who work there. The whole thing seems to often end up being less than the sum of it's parts with regard to quality, integrity, and doing the right thing. So often i walk into a writeup(so to speak) going "Yea, ok, i think i'm buying what you're selling" and then it ends up being the equivalent of a pizza baked by someone who had only gotten a blackbox, cleanroom description of what a pizza is supposed to be and completely boned it to hell and stuffed the landing.

This is pretty egregious though, jesus. Like, could they try any harder to basically be cheerleaders for Savages message? It just feels soo much like "fuck you, i'm right. i have my army behind me, who do you have?" after the recent incident. And it's really, really gross and unsettling.
posted by emptythought at 12:27 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


And, I mean, most of these are good! I just don't know why you'd smuggle in a defense of slurs (with, again, some pretty vile portrayals of straw trans women in it) with the package of "How To Make Sure We Don't Leave Trans People Behind." They even have CeCe McDonald telling them it's not cool in her interview, and Janet Mock very briefly touching on it in hers. It's just crazy to run Bond's article alongside that - is v saying that CeCe is word-policing? That she should be ashamed of herself? That she's been attacking non-binary people? That she's accustomed to having things her own way? That she's conservative? That she's overly concerned about feelings? Because v says all those things about trans women who object to that word, and v's obviously engaging imaginary harpies and not the actual trans women being interviewed for this issue.

A few months from now this will be on Savage's lists of Things He's Done For Us and Why He's A Great Ally the next time he needs to cissplain another misstep away.
posted by Corinth at 1:09 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


I just don't know why you'd smuggle in a defense of slurs (with, again, some pretty vile portrayals of straw trans women in it) with the package of "How To Make Sure We Don't Leave Trans People Behind."

It's almost as though The Stranger dares to suggest that different trans people have different opinions! And that trans people who disagree with you are among those who shouldn't be left behind. Who can say why they would do that?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:33 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


looking forward to reading these links tonight, thanks for posting
posted by rebent at 6:24 AM on June 26


["The fascist groupthink of the monolithic trans orthodoxy" is a familiar derail, and, per the conversation we're having in MeTa about regular and repeated derails in threads involving gender, I think it's useful to flag that and move on.]

So... I think the problem with Bond's article is not necessarily the conclusion v reaches, but the way v gets there. First up, I don't know if v's etiology of "tranny" is entirely accurate: I don't know if there was a period where the term was an affectionate and non-pejorative usage employed solely by non-traditionally gendered people of each other, or how long that period was.

There's a second question there about the overlap of "non-traditionally gendered", "cross-dressing" and "active in the public practice of drag artistry". These are Venn circles, sure, but their overlap is far from total.

However. Bond's experience of "tranny" may well be purely in the context of a non-pejorative and affectionate usage between friends, but I think that leaves out a lot of people whose context and experience is very different, and has been for as long.

So, that exclusion is an issue, and I think from there the statement:
But if by erasing the word "tranny," they hope to get rid of embarrassing associations with trans sex workers, drag performers, trashy gender fuckers, and other self- identified "freaks" who choose to live outside the binary gender system, they are in for a big disappointment, and in my opinion, they should be ashamed of themselves.
Involves a really, really big "if"; and yet the article continues on from that point sort of taking that "if" as given - that this is the reason for objections to the public use of the term to describe trans people.

Objections to "tranny" being used to describe trans people have not, in my experience, sought to exclude trans sex workers, drag performers* etc - they have usually been based on the fact that "tranny" is often used by cisgender people to mean someone who is representing themselves as belonging to a gender they do not in that cis person's reckoning belong to, not someone who is challenging gender binaries. That is not Bond's experience of the term, and I'm not denying Bond's experience, but it is a pretty well-documented one.

So, comparing it to the "gay bourgeoisie" who objected to the word "queer" being reclaimed, I think, doesn't exactly map. This isn't a Mattachine Society/Stonewall situation.

So, Bond's conclusion:
For now, please don't call anyone "tranny" who wishes to be seen only as the man or woman they are, because it really, really upsets them. They are not trannies. They are men and women, and it's our job to respect, honor, and look after their wishes and to care for them as well as for each other. But whether you're someone who hates gender or one who delights in gender play, if you refuse to be defined by other people's notions of what you are or who you should be, and if you see me on the street or in one of the other real nice places I usually hang out, feel free to look me in the eye with pride and a little bit of mischief and say, "Hey, Tranny!" Just don't say it too loud. I don't want you to get in trouble—and I certainly don't want you to hurt anyone else's feelings!
Seems fine as far as it goes - that v believes that "tranny" is a non-pejorative/reclamatory term when used by a subset of the trans community (and drag artists who might not identify as trans? That part is unclear to me) of and to members of that same subset of the trans community. But I don't know if that goes very _far_. I mean, members of groups with experience of oppression on the grounds of their race, gender or sexual orientation have social structures where in certain cases it's a show of community to use words of themselves and each other that would read as abusive or hateful in other contexts. This is familiar.

"I don't mind you addressing me with this term, if you are recognizable to me as somebody whom I would address with the same term, but don't say it loud enough that anyone whose experience of the term is pejorative might hear it" is a pretty reasonable statement, although it's also not a very useful one, because unless it presumes that the set of gender non-conforming people and the set of people who do not object to being called "tranny" are one and the same, it depends on knowing ahead of time whether someone would mind**. So, it doesn't scale. And it also doesn't make a particularly good case for the strong implication that objecting to the use of the term is necessarily an anti-progressive stance, or censorship, or "word policing".

I understand at the end of the article that Mx Bond understands "tranny" to describe in a non-pejorative sense a particular set of people, and does not object to other people using the term to mean that particular thing, as long as they also belong to that set of people, when speaking to or about Mx Bond. But I don't really have a sense of what that means for people who aren't Mx Bond, which the headline and the sub-head of the article suggest I should.

* Although contrariwise I think drag performers do not necessarily identify as trans. Tom Neuwirth, for example, identifies as a gay man with a female stage persona, AFAIK, and does not identify as trans.

** It also, in the street, assumes that Mx Bind's potential greeter will be able to identify and gauge the proximity and auditory acuteness of trans people whose experience of the term is as a pejorative, which seems like a big ask.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:58 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


My guess is that a lot of these articles were planned in advance of Dan's recent nonsense, and Bond's piece was a latter solicitation in reaction to it, but I don't have any idea what their typical lead time for solicited work is.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:38 AM on June 26


Either way, it's pretty telling (/emblematic/sad/predictable) that there are Actual Trans Women talking about the t-word in the magazine, and yet the article about the t-word still chooses to make up Fake Trans Women to chastise.
posted by Corinth at 12:42 PM on June 26 [4 favorites]


Also wow their article on Pride Happenings sure feels gay dude centric. Steamy bathhouses full of willing dudes! Really gay theatre! Think I'll pass.

Even though I'm a gay cis dude, I'm taking a pass on Pride this year too. For a whole bunch of reasons, but one major one is how trans folks are overlooked as virtually invisible in the parade, and in events surrounding Pride. I even wrote a blog post about it (not gonna self-link here, you can get to my blog via my profile if you want.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:32 AM on June 27


So I immediately clicked on the "how to have sex with a trans person" link. The answer in the article is "communication but don't make it complicated." I feel ripped off.
posted by amitai at 6:21 PM on June 28


How were you ripped off?

I've always approached sex with trans people the same way I approach sex with cis people. "So, what do you like? Anything you really hate?"

I don't see why there should be any difference, really.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:50 AM on June 29


amitai, you might enjoy the work of Mira Bellwether.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:43 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


« Older Internet TV/DVR start-up Aereo lost its copyright-...  |  In an interview published Mond... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments