Archive for the ‘genderqueer’ Category
Edit: The kickstarter made the $15,000 goal. Congratulations, Tobi. :)
Also, Tobi posted in the comments:
Also, folks who might be interested in being a part of this there is an open casting call at http://goo.gl/Haxiq.
Tobi has a kickstarter up which has already raised $11,605 – it’s Doing it Again: Trans women’s relationship and hookup dynamics discussed and displayed in an explicit erotic documentary.
It ends on August 8th, so this is the last day to contribute. I wanted to post this sooner, but a combination of putting up appeals for Judas and Ada and me just plain forgetting about it (like I forget far too many things) meant not posting it until the last minute.
However, I really hope this reaches the $15,000 mark, for the third volume focusing on genderqueer and non-binary folks. Watch the video on the site for a longer explaination.
Toronto couple Kathy Witterick and David Stocker did the usual thing that any parents do when their new child is born, they sent out an email notice noting their new baby’s vital statistics and eye color. But what they did differently was to leave short, simple statement about their baby, named Storm.
“We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place? …”
Essentially what Witterick and Stoker have decided is to not assume that Storm is cisgender and to leave it to Storm to figure out whom zie is for zimself in the spirit of self determination and autonomy, free of coercive gender stereotyping.
As explained in their own words their choice was as simple as that.
On May 21st, 2011 the family was featured in The Toronto Star in a story about their decision not to coercively gender Storm. In the proceeding days the story was quickly picked up by other news outlets. Men’s Health, local Fox news affiliates, Human Events, and even The Times of India re-posted the story on their websites.
Predictably, the backlash against this act not in compliance with coercive gendering came to a head and Internet Shitstorm Machine sprang to life.
As one can imagine in our cis-centric society, the family has received an enormous amount of criticism and little praise for their parenting choices. They have been accused of making their baby in to a “social experiment”, of “borderline child abuse”, and “being amoral hippies” in commentary from a multitude of sources. This fire storm of controversy and personal accusation have all come in the name of the “the good of the baby”.
But it’s hard for me to believe that any of this criticism can be counted on as being intellectually honest or in the best interest of Storm. Storm and zir’s parents are experiencing what trans people are well used to, namely, they’re receiving criticism that is not about Strom at all. Instead, Storm and zir parents are being used by cis people as foils for their own personal conflicts, confusion and stereotypes about gender and gender relations.
Both Storm and trans people are treated as kind of an abstract concept that cis people can project their own conflicts, fears and anxieties upon. But in either case, it’s not about Storm or trans people; it’s about cisgender people’s anxieties and keeping cis -supremacy in order.
As for the criticisms and “concerns”, let’s go through the three most prevalent objections I’ve seen.
1. “This will confuse the baby and damage zim”
This argument is obviously flawed in the fact that it assumes that Storm will grow up to be cis or have a binary gender identity/expression, which of course is not to be taken for granted. It also assumes that coercively raising a child as male or female as people usually do is inherently “natural” and doesn’t do damage to people when it fact it can have the opposite effect, as borne out by the lived experiences of both cis and trans people. What Storm’s parents are doing is the opposite of coercion, they’re letting Storm to figure out zir own gender for zirself. How could allowing a child a carefully considered range of freedom be damaging?
2. “This is social experiment with a political agenda.”
Again we see the effects of cis-centric thinking at work here. The truth is that I’m an experiment, you’re an experiment and we’re all experiments of a cis-supremacist and misogynistic society. Saying this ignores that children are influenced by gender stereotypes and depictions of gendered behavior dozens, perhaps hundreds of times a day. People only notice this when someone refuses to conform to these stereotypes or decides not to teach them to their children, as Storm’s parents are doing.
Socialization can come in good and bad forms. For example many kids today are socialized in to racist ideology and behavior. Yet we don’t talk about the evils of that kind of socialization because it would challenge white supremacy prevalent in American society. And in this case, we don’t hear about objections over gender socialization until people are giving their children the free will in a challenge to cis-supremacy.
And our normative gender relations and stereotyping have an enormous political agenda, namely in defending patriarchy, heterosexism and cis-supremacy to the bitter end.
3. “The child will be bullied and harmed by others”
This is about the only argument I’ve seen that actually could honestly have concern for Storm’s welfare as a top priority. But the logic is still broken, it puts the onus on an individual who somehow different to avoid being abused on compromising their integrity at their own expense. The logic privileges that “fact” that bullies will bully over the safety of the abused and that the parents are “asking for trouble”.
Of course Storm could be bullied for not being assigned a gender at birth. But that’s far down the road and as zir’s parents point out, people could bully zim for other reasons. Bullies don’t need a reason to bully. Storm’s parents acknowledge this danger in the story and seem to be on alert for anyone who might marginalize Storm. In the end the problems with bullies are bullies, not Storm or how zir’s parents raise zim.
Though the ugly face of cis-supremacy has revealed itself with its usual speed in this episode, we need to support and honor the parenting choices of Storm’s parents. To overcome cis-supremacy we need to support parenting choices that offer the most constructive forms of freedom and flexibility to our children in order to enjoy their life to the fullest extent possible.
The saddest fact about Storm’s and zir’s parent’s story is that they simply cannot win in the cis-supremacist Catch-22. If Storm grows up to be cisgender/cissexual and of a binary gender expression people will then hail that as an example of the triumph of gender essentialism. If Storm grows up to have a non-binary identity or is transsexual, then the parents will be further demonized and denounced for somehow “brainwashing” or “damaging” Storm.
And this is what you get for non-compliance with society’s ultimate cis-supremacist agenda.
Hello there. My name is Static Nonsense, though you can call me SN for short. I’m a queer, nonwhite trans person with physical and mental disabilities, along with a host of other things that I don’t remember right now due to being undercaffeinated in the wee hours of the morning. I write over at Some Assembly Required, about all sorts of things ranging from ableism and psychophobia to sexuality and BDSM – even gaming (because I’m such a dork like that). I don’t typically talk a lot about trans issues, but it’s something I’m getting back into after having essentially gone into hiding. So yeah. Hi.
I’ve been avoiding the trans community for a few years now. The pushback I get is too much for me to handle, and I’ve never been able to get the support I need from a community that really should get why having this support is so necessary. This wasn’t always an issue – it only started showing up when I became to understand that I am also mentally disabled. Even moreso when I started to come out about that fact, a part of myself that I didn’t see as having much relation to me being trans. Just, yanno, an extra tidbit of information. Which isn’t exactly true. I’m noticing that yes actually, my disabilities are a major factor in why I identify as trans. That shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Apparently it is.
Trans people get othered a lot. We’re pushed off as crazy, disordered, for challenging the social norms of gender and sex. Either by choice in trying to deconstruct this ancient structure, or simply by existing. Throughout history we’ve been institutionalized or “fixed” (or tried to be) simply for existing as ourselves in a world that focuses so strongly on the cissexist concept of penis = man = masculine and vagina = woman = feminine. Even now the disconnect of the body and one’s self identity is seen as a disorder, one that must be treated and fixed so that we can fit neatly into this dichotomy again.
This has pushed a lot of us on the defensive, and understandably so. Transgenderism isn’t a disorder and shouldn’t be treated as such in society – it’s an identity, an intricate part of who we are as people.
But it sometimes goes to extremes. All too often people are quick to point out that they’re not crazy. People with mental illness are crazy, and people shouldn’t conflate the two. Trans people aren’t loony like those real loony people are. Which causes a whole mess of problems a la ableism, psychophobia and a combination of misunderstanding and misinformation.
For one, it isolates trans people with mental illness, even when they don’t relate. Because suddenly, they are those real loony people. The ones being targeted, within a community they’re seeking support from.
Second, it asserts that the only true and appropriate identity is one that isn’t a result of mental illness. Which is leaving me with the question of “WHY?”
Various mental disorders can shape one’s identity. What exactly is the problem with that? Why exactly is an identity shaped without the influence of mental illness more valid than one that is influenced by them? An extreme but perfect example is Dissociative Identity Disorder, where the identity of the self is so fragmented that the system can be composed of so many identities, some of which can directly contradict others. This is in constant fluctuation, and many of these can be present all at once, individually or sometimes none at all. This is effectively the case with me, where I can identify as a man, a woman, both, neither or something else entirely – be it all at once, one or two of these at a time or fluctuating constantly throughout the day. And while it can last for just minutes or days, it can also extend over several years, to the point where I originally sought out transition as a trans man due to the disconnect between being female-assigned-at-birth (FAAB) and identifying as a man for so long. And that’s not including the added fragmentation of schizotypy, where I see the world abstractly and thus didn’t have a clear grasp on this concept of penis = man = masculine and vagina = woman = feminine, even when my abusive peers tried to teach me this clear absolute true fact of the world, and I still don’t.
Since then I’ve come to the general identity of genderqueer or genderfluid (depending on which day you ask me), allowing myself to shift between these various gender identities freely as my mind naturally shifts in response to situations and just its own natural state. But this is a state I had to come to entirely on my own. I did not have the support of my own community, because in their eyes I am crazy and not “really” trans because of the possibility of my identity being a result of my mental disorders. I make them look bad, because crazy is automatically bad and I’m the reason they’ve been victimized for so many centuries.
When in actuality, maybe the issue isn’t with who is really crazy and who isn’t. Maybe the issue is with our society’s concrete idea of the gender and sex dichotomy, its complete disregard for the identity and rights of people regardless of where they stand on the spectrum, and how it treats people that don’t line up perfectly with their ideals. Perhaps this concept of craziness has just been a scapegoat for the actual issue at hand, a weapon used to demonize the people that don’t line up with their ideals. An age-long system of oppression built on cissexism and transphobia, utilizing ableism and psychophobia to attack, ostracize and well, oppress.
But what do I know. I’m the crazy one, after all.
I’ve used this before to refer to genderqueer people who apparently don’t want to transition, largely in response to certain bloggers who attacked binary trans people (and especially trans women) for transitioning and being conservative/regressive, as well as some gross comments I’ve heard and seen from others in various places about transitioning trans people (always assumed to be binary). But these are not from a majority of genderqueer or non-binary trans people I’ve talked to – really only a few.
But I think this is oxymoronic and inaccurate. And I think, as a guest poster discussed a few months back, it plays into the “trans enough” thing that I don’t think any of us win. And I mean, like I said, I have played into this. I am not going to say that this is a huge cause of divisiveness among trans people (but it is a cause), but only because there are so many and I think certain other tendencies are much worse. But that doesn’t really make it okay?
So, the assumption behind cissexual is that you have someone who doesn’t want to transition, and has no issues with their body or how their body is gendered. And I don’t believe this is actually true for all non-transitioning genderqueer people. I have heard from at least a few genderqueer people that transition is inaccessible to them without lying, and perhaps without a transition that doesn’t fit their needs – and that they are not comfortable with their bodies but have no place to go… or they transition from one binary position to the other because it is the lesser of two evils.
And this is really about access to health care and transition, and about how WPATH and the DSM privilege binary transitions about everything else, and how medical ethics say that it’s wrong to alter a human body into a form that wouldn’t “exist naturally,” whatever that is supposed to mean.
When you are looking at a trans person who has not accessed transition or has not fully accessed transition, and who has a non-binary gender, you don’t really know how they relate to their body and sex and gender and whether they’re okay with their state of transition or lack thereof. I would rather err on the side of caution and deal with what people say and do before applying labels to their bodies that may fit very poorly.
Post edited to remove erasure and a bit of fail