When I’m drawing, I’m thinking about the skeletons within the bodies i draw, the separation of them all and making sure everything is clear. This didn’t feel like the right way to go in a piece about blurriness AS physical mass, so instead of taking out my sketchbook i went to the kitchen and made play dough. I wanted to have to focus on the exterior, on the blurry lumpiness that could only come from drawing something from its exterior. This also freed me up to do some cool angle stuff and play with lighting. I made some models, mashed them together, and ran with it until the piece felt complete.
Genitals. Genitals. Genitals. If there is one thing cis people obsess over, it is the genitals of others. Well, mostly when those genitals are attached to someone who is trans*. It almost seems like they want to know what we are packing at all times, or what we used to be packing. They like to ask invasive questions about our junk, how it functions, what it looks like, and how we use it. Our genitals are a constant fixation for cis people. In fact, our genitals are such a fixation that people pass laws involving them.
This is obsession has made itself known in Utah under the bill, HB 87, which seeks to dictate which restroom people can use in schools on the basis of their ‘phenotype’. The legislation uses the word phenotype to mean the gender of an individual on their birth certificate. Since birth certificate genders are based on assumptions based on the genitals of children, the bill’s writer, Michael Kennedy, uses phenotype to mean genitals. Those who are trans* need to have their genitals examined by a physician and have a letter saying they are phenotypically male or female. Convoluted language aside, this bill is downright ridiculous.
There is something that is talked about very little in the trans* community, or when it is talked about, is only talked about in a negative fashion. Detransitioning, where a trans* person decides to no longer transition and/or live as a gender other than the one they were coercively assigned at birth, is something that is often only brought up in a negative light. People who have detransitioned are often used as evidence that trans* people should not transition. There are people who have detransitioned who are also very vocal advocates for not allowing people to transition due to their personal experiences. There are people who also detransition who are not vocal opponents of those who are transitioning or seeking to transition. These people live the rest of their lives as happy cis folk. They realize their experiences are their own.
There is nothing inherently wrong with detransitioning. We are afforded (or should be afforded) bodily autonomy to do with our bodies as we please. People detransition for numerous reasons, some simply because of no longer identifying in that way, others due to the stigmas associated with being trans*, and others for more complex and varied reasons. There is no wrong reason to detransition. If we are to be afforded bodily autonomy to transition, we must acknowledge the same respect for others. While we may not agree on the reasons, we must allow people to do with their bodies as they wish for their happiness.
I was going to keep quiet on this for a bit, let this issue sort itself out. However, after personally dealing with and now seeing legal threats, I can’t keep my yap shut. Buck Angel’s racist, classist, transmisogynistic and sexist history is out in the open already. It is not any news to many people that Buck Angel blames trans women for their own murders via not disclosing. He used to believe that trans men should just ‘man up’ when it comes to affording surgery. He looked down upon people who asked others to help them with their surgery funds.
However, Buck seems to have changed his tune on that one. In fact, him and Jody Rose, started Transgasm which despite the name, was not about porn, sex or orgasms. Transgasm was about crowd sourcing to raise money for trans* people and their surgeries. It looks at taking the works of trans* people, selling them in the Transgasm store and dividing the profits. 50% of the profits would go to the creator of the product, 25% would go to the group pool for the surgeries, and 25% would go to keeping Transgasm around.
In reality, it seems like a pretty ok idea. The limit was 7 people with no time frame. Now, depending on the make-up of the group, and estimates the lowest range would be 7 CAFAB people sourcing for top surgery. Estimates for the surgery alone are around $6,000, meaning that $42,000 would be needed to be raised. However, in essence even MORE would have to be raised, since minimum, only 25% of profits is going towards the surgeries. The idea behind this is that these people would market their own products or services in order to fund their surgeries. This article on the Advocate, written by Parker Marie Molloy explains the breakdown of the site, its intentions and one of the biggest issues.
My body is my own. My body is no one else’s. My body is my own to do with as I please. What I do with my body, consensually, does not harm anyone else. My body is to do with as I please. I say this as a trans* person. I say this as someone who has to have doctors upon doctors tell me how I can use my body to make it more of my own. I say this as a person with body mods, which society dictates makes me a rebel and an outcast. I say this as someone who in the future wishes to cover HIS body with ink and art, which society tells me, makes me stupid.
My body is my own. I have every right to do with my body as I please. To say anything else is oppressive violence. Seems like a strong word, but it is truth. Dictating how a person uses their body and controls their body is the very way oppressors take away power. They dictate what people can and cannot do with their body. They take away their right to own themselves, since they cannot make up their own choices about their own flesh and blood. This is oppression, this is violence. They make laws against our bodies. They institutionalize their control over our bodies. They invade our very bodies as much as they can, forcefully and violently.
There are a ton of misconceptions, incorrect facts, half-truths, and a myriad of other problematic information about trans people floating around in the media, academics, word of mouth, and so on. In fact, these misconceptions are often perpetuated by mainstream media and academia. For example, Orange is the New Black which is touted to be extremely positive towards its portrayal of trans people with its trans woman character, Sophia, has its problems. Sophia has had bottom surgery and has been on hormones for a while, I will not spoil any of the plot, but the show ends up showing Sophia sprouting chin hairs and experiencing breast shrinkage due to issues accessing hormones in prison. Neither of these actually happen to trans women who have had some form of bottom surgery. However, the show incorrectly shows Sophia experiencing secondary sex characteristics that are typically male due to her lack of hormones. While minor, these types of misinformation plague the trans community and society at large, creating a lot of confusion and misconceptions about trans people, transition, and their lives.
I am going to dispel some of these misconceptions and misinformation throughout this piece. I have split it into three parts: Identity/Sexuality, Surgery/Transition, and Choices/Binary/Enforcement. There will be things that fit into several or all the categories. I picked the best category I felt for each option.
Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny, cissexism, femmephobia
There lies a double standard in feminism and society on a broad scale, not just radical feminists of the TERF variety, that holds trans* people to an entirely different set of qualifications than their cis counterparts. It’s interesting how feminism is about freedom of expression and freedom to simply be without policing. Yet at the same time, police exactly how one should be a feminist and a “real” person. Trans* people’s bodies are not seen as our own. In an age where we fight for bodily autonomy, trans* bodies are still at the mercy of others, whether it be doctors, therapists, other medical professionals, or fellow people. Trans* bodies are not allowed to exist as their own and hinge on the validation of others for their existence. We are not allowed to be in control of our own lives, bodies, and identities in the same way that cis people are.
These double standards exist is different degrees and different ways for trans* people. Trans women, trans men, and non-binary people are held to different standards, even among themselves. Feminists and those who proclaim to be all accepting (or even openly discriminatory) highlight these differences quite explicitly. For example, it is easy to see how many feminist spaces are dominated by more masculine or butch people. Even among trans* circles, genderqueer, genderfluid, trans men, masculine of center, or trans masculine people who are FAAB, dominate discourse and discussion (heck, even butch cis women). These people are often celebrated for forsaking the gender binary and transgressing it while at the same time, trans women, trans feminine people, and even feminine cis women are seen as promoting stereotypes and binary oppression. Femme people, across all gender categories, are seen as tools of the patriarchy who have succumb to media and social pressures and thus, have submitted to these forces.
Everywhere you look today, there are articles about Chelsea Manning. Even I jumped on that train, and I’m going to jump on it again. However, I am going to talk about her transition this time, and the problems behind not supporting her medical transition. Every news site, even the queer friendly ones, has discussions over how the government should not pay for the coverage of her hormones. Some places are even dragging surgeries into this, surgeries she has not even mentioned, she has only mentioned HRT. Many trans* and cis people have voiced several of their concerns with her transition. While understandable, they are all problematic. Chelsea should have the basic health coverage everyone should have. Whether or not you condone her as a hero or a criminal should have no affect on the way she is treated. However, for most, it sadly has everything to do with it.