I rarely enage in conversation on the internet—this goes double for debate. As a student of social justice with a proactive disposition, I don’t feel like my best interactions will ever happen with stangers in internet-land. However, as we all know, this is not always avoidable.
I recently commented on a Facebook post. It was a “friend” who put up a humorous picture of someone who had written into their newspaper complaining about school curriculum. This person was concerned that the “gay agenda” was taking hold of classrooms when they learned that their grandson had learned about Homo Sapiens in school. It was funny. It was posted with the intention of being funny. My gut reaction? “Uhhhhh..”, and that is exactly what I wrote. My friend adds an innocuous comment mirroring the absurdity of the claim.
And then it happened.
Another party…a stranger to myself…playfully suggested the “God damn f*gg*t liberals are at it again.”
Gut reaction? “^^That’s not a great word to make casual use of.^^”
Result: Onslaught of defense.
Apparently, if we don’t say words we only give them power.
Apparently, as long as we don’t direct them at a person they are fine to use.
Apparently, if you are straight, white, and cisgender you can still be called racial, gender, and orientation based slurs.
I did not know the people advising me on this matter, but I made some assumptions based on the information immediately available on their own profiles. I was the only woman. I was the only genderqueer. I was the only lesbian. I was the only one who still needed to get over the use of the word f*gg*t.
So, with all this being said, I would like to admit that I have learned something. This next statement goes out to those folks, and all those before and after them, who have taught me a little about the language of opression: The next time I am denied work, denied rights, denied basic human decency; the next time I am made to feel unsafe; the next time one of those so-called innocent words is hurled my direction in a violent situation—I’ll remember your feelings. I’ll remember to lighten up. I’ll think of you.
If you ever find yourself under the impression that pronoun choices don’t matter…that misgendering is simply a matter of an individual being “overly sensitive” (whatever that actually means)…then change yours tomorrow. If they truly are unimportant you should have no trouble hearing yourself referred to as something you don’t identify as.
First thing first: I HATE THIS BLOG POST.
Now that that is out of the way, I’ll explain why….
1. She is speaking over a community she doesn’t understand.
The first piece of evidence is in her us of the word “cisgendered.” I automatically can’t take her seriously. I do my best not to spend too much time in my academic ivory tower, and I do feel a tinge of pretension at having to call this linguistic issue out…but, in the same breath, I’m not sure it is too much to ask that a person be well-read on a subject matter that they are taking such a stark stand against. (Also, she drops a “genderqueers” in there and that is a big No No.) All that aside, the author of this post makes it painfully clear that she does not have a good understanding of nonbinary/genderqueer identities and how these terms operate for the people who use them when she repeatedly conflates masculinity/femininity and gender roles/stereotypes with the use of these identifiers. There are AFAB people who identify as both masculine and female. There are AFAB people who identify as NB/GQ and masculine. There are also plenty of AFAB people who identify as NB/GQ and feminine. Or a mix of both. Or neither. It is far too simplistic to infer that masculine women just stop being women because they are also masculine. Actually, it doesn’t even make sense. Also, there are plenty of AMAB people who are male and effeminate and then those who identify as trans feminine. NB/GQ identities have nothing to do with stereotypes surrounding masculinity and femininity. Or gender roles. When a cis woman to declares that her favorite hobby is weightlifting, she doesn’t know how to cook, and she has no desire to carry a child she is not forced out of her cisness or her relationship with womanhood. She is merely breaking some silly stereotypes constructed around what it means to be a “good” woman. However, if she wakes up one day and says to herself, “Self…I’m not convinced the gender binary is for me anymore,” well, then….WELCOME TO THE CLUB! I would also like to note that this in no way precludes this person from identifying with womanhood (**cough cough** like me **cough cough**). There are a lot of challenges facing cis women and even more facing trans women. Finding yourself more comfortable with a NB/GQ doesn’t mean you have to remove yourself from a sisterhood if you still find that it speaks for you. I also find that this line of thinking only furthers gender policing in all of its many forms….which in this case just calls to mind the cis gatekeeping of the trans community. The worst part of her argument are the essentialist terms she uses to defend her evidence. It’s toxic to rely on these ideas and only skews your own perception of people around you. She simultaneously claims that essential “woman” stereotypes don’t fit her, while suggesting that masculine women are going to be gay. STOP ASSERTING THAT THERE IS ANY RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO BE ANY ONE THING. STOP IT.
2. She is waiting for someone else to do the hard part.
"Perhaps one day the gender binary will be dismantled totally, and we’ll all stop limiting our children by bringing them up as either males or females."
Yup. Yeah. This is great. Want to know how we can get started on that? Stop writing essentialist bullshit blog posts about how you are ACTIVELY REJECTING A NONBINARY IDENTITY. If you truly believe in a future without the gender binary…you should maybe not talk to people about how important you think it it is. Maybe…just maybe….if nonbinary and genderqueer children had, I dunno…nonbinary and genderqueer people to look up to they could grow up with less depression and more self esteem. Maybe they could rip apart the binary for you. But, no…let’s spend more time focusing on the cisgender experience. Here is this wacky notion I have…cisgender kids could maybe find themselves looking up to trans people? Yeah? Yeah. They definitely could. What is this separate but equal role model nonsense?
3. She is perpetuating the myth that trans/nb/gq visibility can be reduced to a “trend.”
Trans and nonbinary identities are nothing if not ancient. Anytime I hear a person (accidentally, or otherwise) glorify the gender binary, my first thought is, “You’re a racist with a limited understanding of Western white supremacy.” Nonbinary identities are not new. Allow me to reiterate: NONBINARY IDENTITIES ARE NOT NEW. The relationship we (white people, as I am white), in 2014 living in the USA, have with gender is not indicative of what gender looked like prior to our arrival here. The binary is not what gender looked like in the nations of the people we enslaved, either. Transgender and nonbinary people have always been and will always be. Please don’t claim that you are “square” for choosing not to co opt something you have no intention of respecting. Please don’t encourage cis people to view trans identities as a trendy phase that has an end. Please don’t invalidate people’s lives.
I have to admit that I have walked this line myself. When I first started to look inward and realize the possibility that there was more to my relationship with my gender than the binary could offer me, I struggled a lot. I would ask myself, “What’s so wrong with being both masculine and female?” or “Am I turning my back on my female community?” I’m not mad at myself for asking these questions. It was a part of my process. And asking myself these questions helped me learn that genderqueer and womanhood don’t have to be mutually exclusive. As masculine as I am, I am interpreted as a cis female when I leave the house. That’s a part of my experience that I can not remove myself from. It is my reality and discussing it/fighting against it/identifying with it does not make me any less genderqueer. In fact, it gives me insight into two lived experiences at once. That duality can be confusing and stressful, but it can also be incredibly enlightening and, I feel, makes for a complex and richly lived life.
As someone who is both AFAB and uses the term “lesbian”, I see a problem with others in my communities and the way we approach NB/GQ people. Let’s stop treating AFAB people outside of the binary like traitors. AFAB people notoriously take up too much space within trans/NB/GQ spaces. Our visibility is more accessible and our blatant discrimination less vicious than our trans sisters. I urge us within the community and cis women alike to appreciate that privilege (and to also push back against it, but that’s another blog post). I say appreciate, because with the safety afforded us we should not be shaming the people in our community against coming out. Ever notice that these sentiments are only ever coming from cis women? Cis men don’t typically feel betrayed by trans women or trans feminine people. And they aren’t known for being the first people to rally around them and offer them support. Perhaps some of the energy being spent on shaming or discouraging or invalidating AFAB nonbinary/genderqueer people could be redirected into support and visibility and safe places for trans women and trans feminine people.
If a nonbinary/genderqueer identity is not for you…that’s cool. No one wants you to use words for yourself that you don’t find helpful. What this boils down to is: there is no good to be done by going out of your way to defend your cis-ness. I suggest you recognize the privilege you have by not having to live with the added pressure that can come with a non-cis identity. I especially suggest that you, in turn, offer more support to the trans/nonbinary/genderqueer people around you.
Written by mod John(na)
Since April 2013, three transgender women have been murdered in Baltimore, in crimes that bear some similarities to one another.
For the girls I loved before I knew that’s what I was doing, I promise to blaze a trail of queer wherever I can. I’ll do it for Amanda, for Ana and for Kelly, and for every person who fears their love is something lesser than love….
This is perfect.
Helllooooooo dear followers! <3
In celebration of National Coming Out Day, I am starting a yearly giveaway during the month of October for members of genderqueer, genderquestioning, trans* community. The purpose of this giveaway is to help fellow community members access gender-confirming gear. Please note that I am merely a lowly graduate student who feels passionate about helping fellow trans* folk access the care, support, and dignity they deserve regardless if they are out or not. (My contribution may be small, but I know that it might help someone else.) Thus, the giveaway is valued at a maximum of $50US toward the purchase of a packer, STP, binder, breast forms or other gender affirming gear (including the cost of shipping).
To be considered for the giveaway, applicants should be prepared to submit some information about themselves. Please note that any information you send will be treated with the greatest care and your personal information will not be distributed or shared in anyway. (At the end of the giveaway, all material will be destroyed and deleted.) To be considered for the giveaway, please note that you must be a US resident, identify as a member of the genderqueer, multigendered, gender-questioning, transgender communities (no requirement to be out or visible, or to be “certain” that you are trans* etc). Strong preference is given to applicants with financial hardship. Please note that committee members would like to use some of your responses to help generate awareness of trans* issues with your permission.
Please email your (brief!) answers to the following questions to firstname.lastname@example.org before October 21st, 2013 at 11:59pm:
1. Preferred name and pronoun
2. Mailing address or a location where you may receive mail. Email address and phone number (if you don’t have one, we can try to communicate via email).
3. Why are you applying to the giveaway? If financial hardship is an issue, be sure to mention that in your response.
4. What sort of device/gear do you need? How much is it? What size do you need? Provide links and item SKUs/model numbers.
5. Optional: Racial or ethnic identities, ability status, or other identities that you feel would provide context for your application/answers.
Pick one (1) of the following:
6A. What are your thoughts about “National Coming Out Day” and how does your perspective about this queer holiday apply to own identity/identities and/or visibility?
6B. What is one of the biggest issues facing the trans* community today?
[Note: A variety of social, cultural, or political perspectives are encouraged to apply, not just those that might align with committee members’ values!]
[image from: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Another_Yin-Yang-Yuan_BiggerWholeButterfly_TransGender-Symbol.png]
Trans* Gear Giveaway Contest! Check it out!
We make the case for equality in the nation’s courts and in the court of public opinion. The work we do has impact on the way all of us live—we change laws, policies and ideas.
"IF YOU’RE YOUNG AND LBGTQ, THIS SECTION IS DESIGNED TO HELP YOU KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND MAKE SURE THEY’RE RESPECTED."
Hi everyone! Please consider donating to help my friend and colleague, Susie, get the top surgery they need!
A little more about Susie:
Thank you for visiting my page and for learning more about me!
I identify as a genderqueer and transgender person and I am hoping to fundraise/save for top surgery. Top surgery is often a critical surgical procedure for people like me who bind their breasts. I am also a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (cancer) survivor. Going without a binder can be very anxiety provoking, even though wearing a binder also poses significant risks and can damage my body. Top surgery offers me the opportunity to live a day-to-day life without a binder, prevent cumulative damage to my chest cavity, and reduce the risks associated with decreased lung capacity caused by cancer treatment.
Furthermore, my mother recenty passed away after a third round of aggressive breast cancer. A significant amount of my breast tissue was radiated in order to target the lymphoma in my medastinum. Radiation plus a first degree family history of breast cancer puts me at extremely high risk for developing breast cancer myself later in life. Top surgery will allow me to feel affirmed in my gender identity and significantly reduces the chance (by approximately 95%, according to my oncologist and surgeon) that I will develop breast cancer down the road.
I am currently scheduled with Dr. Peter Raphael of Plano, Texas. Dr. Raphael is one of the best trans-specialized surgeons in the United States and also has one of the more reasonable surgical fees as well. I’ve talked with him in person, read reviews, looked at surgical results and I’m certain that this is the surgeon for me. [Check out the link for more info on him:http://www.ai4ps.com/meet-the-surgeons/dr-peter-raphael/]
Here is more information about the FTM mastectomy (a.k.a: top surgery) procedure as well:http://www.ai4ps.com/procedures/transgender/female-to-male-mastectomy/
The total cost of surgery is $6750 (including the required $500 deposit). Medical insurance does not recognize it as a necessary procedure for FTM, non-binary, gender non-conforming and transgender people; therefore, my insurance does not cover any surgical costs and I will be paying out of pocket for it.
I know that I can save enough to pay for therapy, transportation, the cost of consultations, blood work, prescriptions et cetera; however, I feel challenged to locate enough to pay for surgery at this time. 100% of the money raised here will be dedicated to funding my top surgery.
Anything that you can give/do to support me in my gender journey is deeply appreciated. Thank you for reading my story!
(And please reblog to spread the word!)
The deadline is January 18, 2013 for undergraduates. Scholarships are up to $10,000. Apply!