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Posts tagged ‘gender roles’

Being Trans Still Means You Got Gender Socialization

When I speak of MTFs with suspicion and wariness, it comes from the experiences I’ve had in real life with these same people. Apparently it’s rare for someone to have bad experiences with MTFs in real life—I should mention that every single MTF I’ve had bad experiences with spent an inordinate amount of time online. A lot of gamer guys get Inappropriate Asshole Syndrome—they rarely get that what they’re saying might be so inappropriate that it’s not funny or humorous anymore, even for shock humor.

Almost all the MTFs I’ve met suffer from these problems:

– They don’t identify as women; they identify as MTFs, and their transsexual identity is the most important part for them.

– They act like men, including:
a) throwing a tantrum when you disagree with them,
b) monopolizing the conversation,
c) ignoring discomfort signals and a noted lack of participation in a particularly male-privileged fashion,
d) acting entitled to your time, space, and praise. Tolerance? Yeah. Praise?… I only praise my cats, my friends, my garden and Pele.

– They become aggressive and threatening if you point out some way they aren’t acting like women—because they were acting hyperfeminine.

That last one—acting hyperfeminine, the way very few assigned at birth women act because they have to juggle their own personhood and identity and selfhood with that portrayal—is one that pisses me off the most. To my eyes, having grown up around women and loved them and as a practicing gynosexual, many MTFs act out the caricature of women that’s fed to men—because, having grown up as men, they have no ability to tell just how much horse dooky it’s made from. Correcting them isn’t policing: if you want to live and be recognized as a woman, the least you can do is challenge the patriarchally-filtered ideas of them you’ve been brought up in. The least you can do is not blatantly insult, objectify, and dehumanize them by acting out those outrageous fucking caricatures.

I’ve met women who happened to be born into a male body—but they were women: they grew up as girls, passing full-time from very early ages, often with help from their parents. One went to Thailand at 15 for SRS and had been passing from the age of nine—her parents helped her legally change her name to Christina. (She was thirty at the time.) They were women not because of their identified genitalia, but because of their socialization. They also didn’t just tell everyone in sight that they were an MTF—you had to get to know them, first.

Most MTFs, however, have male privilege embedded in their behaviors—you’re not allowed to criticize them unless they think they’re doing something wrong; you’re not allowed to feel unsafe because of their behavior, because you’re being “transphobic.”

Transphobic. Such a fucking joke. Apparently you’re transphobic if you ever do or think anything that one individual transindividual doesn’t like.

… A few years ago, in the Pacific Northwest U.S., I was almost raped by an MTF. Zie came up to me outside of the library and we started talking; zie seemed a little off—anxious, though I was sympathetic to that—but I ignored the misgivings and discomfort I was having (zie had basically trapped me into fifteen minutes of talking about zeir writing) because, honestly, I didn’t want to come off as a douche. I tried being tolerant and anyway, I like making new friends.

Zie invited me over to zeir place and I accepted—though, thankfully, I brought along Aslan. On the walk there, zie was incredibly inappropriate in a way that I have only known online-gamer boys to be. Several intensely lesbophobic jokes were made, including a reference to sex being penetration, with fingers if not necessarily dildos and lesbian porn. We got to zeir house and went in through the back; they had a dog, whose name I remember but won’t reveal, who was badly neglected and neurotic. The inside was—it’s not directly relevant, but the filth of the place creeped me out; I’ve only ever seen as mess that bad once, when I and some schoolmates volunteered to clean out an item-hoarder’s house so she could live in it again—and zie went upstairs.

It’s still unclear. I felt like I was in a haze: zie wasn’t being aggressive enough to trigger any of my defenses or fighting instinct. I do remember, very clearly, zie trying to get my friend out of the room—I tried to go with, but zie pulled me back and just kept… fucking touching me.

I remember there was a crucifix on the wall, and that zie kept talking about zeir computer and pulling me onto the bed. And wanting out.

How did I get out? Aslan pulled me out. I only know because xie told me. Once we left, the MTF started stalking us and Aslan had to actually physically stand between us and threaten zem; I was on the verge of a panic attack, and once we left, I ended up having it. Zie called me transphobic.

I laughed it off, and I only realized recently how fucking angry I am about that entire… farce. Transphobic? I was transphobic for not just sitting down and letting zem sexually assault me, just like I’m misandrist for not letting men fuck me.

This might be fucked up, but outside of everything else, I can’t stop thinking about that dog, and if they’re okay.

Just because you believe you’re a woman doesn’t mean you act like it. Just because you’re on estrogen doesn’t mean you’re not a fucking rapist. The behavior and socialization—the lack of privilege—does not go along with the genitals: transsexuality is not something that determines what kind of person you are… it only focuses on your body and the way you are perceived.

The fundamental experience of women is global, in every civilization: as property. That is the fucking universal experience of women. I don’t understand much of this “cis privilege” idea because it seems to be the case that women are constantly suffering the same physical, sexual and emotional violence that MTFs are, all while being “cissexual.” I can allow that it might exist in some way that hasn’t been properly fleshed out yet, but as someone who’s genderqueer and always has been, I can tell you this: transfolk are not necessarily more right about oppression, transsexuality and transgenderism than anyone else is. Just because we know what we feel doesn’t mean we know, without a doubt, the truth of the naturalness and the nature of being trans.

I feel fucking alienated as hell when people openly mock transfolk, talking about how FTMs just want to fuck gay men with their vaginas (??? I have never known an FTM, other than that porn actor, to do that) and how those born male can never be women, no matter how early in life they pass and transition… and to a point I understand the impulse.

But I feel more alienated by a trans narrative that tells me that to be valid, for my identity to be genuine, it has to be natural—something inborn and inherent within me, a neo-essentialism. I feel safer in a room full of radical feminists, knowing that I have a better chance of having my concerns and arguments taken seriously, sharing an understanding that gender-as-sex and sex-as-gender is socially constructed, knowing that all of us are working towards gender abolition because that is the only way all of us will be seen as people… and that they won’t try to rape me.

The problem I have with MTFs is the problem I have with all men: they act like men. They are not safe. Reacting with hostility and calling me transphobic only compounds the problem by attempting to silence me.

Just because I disagree doesn’t mean I’m transphobic. I know next to nothing about the inherency and reality of trans within the world and the human population as a whole: only the experience. And if anyone tries to tell you they do know—they’re lying through their teeth.

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In the Transitive

Just a small note.

Trans can be used in several ways, because it is merely a prefix that means to move. For example, transition means to move where you are positioned. It stands to reason that trans means different things depending on what it is placed before.

Next, sex is a binary: male and female. There is such a thing as “intersex,” but there’s a reason that the word means “to lie between” or “to take from both sides.” Sex is a binary only in that there are two clearly-defined sides, not to erase the existence or naturalness of intersexed people.

Gender, however, is not a binary. As a sensation or feeling, it does not have any clearly-defined sides whatsoever, and would be better explained by a sphere where all colors and luminosities exist, amorphous and unstable.

Granted, gender can also be understood as the inner feeling supposed to correspond to a given sex, with behavioral (and to a point appearance) stereotypes associated with those sexes described as gender roles.

When you are transsexual, it means you want to be identified as the opposite sex of the one you were assigned at birth. You can be genderqueer and also transsexual, but apparently it’s fairly rare—or maybe not, depending on how the individual interprets gender. Someone who is transsexual may very well simply associate their gender with their chosen sex regardless of “accuracy.”

The trans in transsexual means to go across—because there are two binaries. Like transcontinental, the prefix specifically refers to linear travel.

Transgender is to fall entirely outside of the gendered sex binary: your inner feeling of gender has no reflection or relation to your sex, regardless of whatever similarities it shows to gender roles. In this way, the trans in transgender means to transcend—to rise above or outside, that is, to move from the binary (feminine/masculine and assumed genitalia) outside of it, to the color-light gender cloud described above.

It is virtually impossible to tell who is “cis” or not because of two inarguable facts about the state of gender-sex relations right now:

1. Someone who you would define as transgender were you to see their gender-flavor might not define themselves as transgender for a number of reasons—because they assumed their gender corresponded to their sex, because they never wanted to actively change their sex, or just because they don’t feel any particular importance in identifying as transgender.

2. Large swaths of people—especially those who were assigned the sex of “female” at birth—are not comfortable with their assumed gender, gender roles, and the way they are treated and perceived.

There are serious ethical and ideological problems with focusing so strongly on dis-identification with one’s genitalia and the desire for surgery. Assuming that merely because someone does not want to alter their secondary/primary sex organs, they can be described as “cis”—which is shorthand for not oppressed by the gender-sex system. Similarly problematic is the assumption that someone also oppressed and trapped by the gender-sex binary is privileged simply because they “win,” even though it’s a pretty harmful thing to “win” at.

Destroying the gender-sex binary can only be a good thing for everyone involved. Transfolk, please stop treating people who were assigned “feminine” at birth as enemies: they aren’t in control of the gender-sex binary—in fact, they’re forced to compete in it as well, with consequences just as dire as you have seen for any transperson—and are not the people who are likely to enact violence against you at any level. Those assigned “female/feminine” gender roles at birth do not hold significant social or economic power over you.

Solidarity is working with everyone who is oppressed, marginalized and maligned by the status quo—not slandering them with accusations of nonexistent privilege.

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