The Tokenization of Relationships

“But I have Black friends!” “My cousin is gay.” “That’s not true! My uncle is transgender!” We’ve all seen it before, the tokenization of relationships in order to prove a fact. Someone with friends, relatives, or ever partners who belong to a marginalized community cannot be against that community or hold ideas that are oppressive against them, right? Of course they can. The tokenization of relationships to prove a point even solidifies this point. How?

 

We’re all the same.

By saying you are friends, related to, partners with, etc. X marginalized group and thus cannot hold beliefs that harm other members of the group, you are saying that all members of the group are like your friend, family member, partner, etc. This is erasive and simplification of the complexity and variance of the group. In order for you to be supportive of the entire group, you are saying their identities and lives are just like that of the person you know.

Get Out of Jail Free Card

This tokenization also uses said relationship as an object, proving that there is nothing you can do or say that would be problematic because you have some relationship to this marginalized group and they have never said anything. This goes back to the fact that it holds the idea that these groups are all the same and cannot hold varying, let alone conflicting ideas or beliefs. If one person of a group believes something, all other beliefs must be incorrect. Interesting how this only applies to the ones who agree with the person who is defending their actions, beliefs, thoughts, etc.

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I Am Not Your Poster Child

Humans, by nature, are imperfect. In fact, human is almost synonymous with imperfection. However, minorities are held to the idea of perfect. They must be poised, well-spoken, and perfect, down to their very person, at all times. They are expected to be willing to educate at a moments notice, willing to engage, and willing to explain. They must be a single example of the perfect model of who they and others like them can be. They must be able to be put on a pedestal for others to admire and aspire to. Of course, these ideals are always created and upheld by the majority.

I can only speak on this from a trans/cis perspective, however it seems to be something that is pervasive among other marginalized groups. However, I will not be speaking on this for obvious reasons. I will be focusing on standards and ideals imposed on trans people, trans lives, and trans narratives from here on out.

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