Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Bugger all cis people

The heading says it all, really. I'm just sick and tired of cissexual storytelling. Sick and tired of sensationalistic press, telly, radio, the lot. Even if the terms have become slightly less insulting, the basic, underlying attitude hasn't. We're still the exotic, weird, freaky. We're still not quite human.

Oh, and the endless, wonderful, cissexual fascination with our genitalia, as if we were animals in a zoo. Which we are, it seems. Animals in a cissexual zoo, monsters that have to be locked up in a cage built from cissexual privilege and oppositional sexism. Some of us are let out occasionally, if we promise to behave ourselves and not upset anyone and promise to tell anyone who wants to know everything about our bodies, lives and especially genitalia, and promise to keep it to ourselves unless asked, too.

Because, really, what would happen if cissexuals couldn't be absolutely certain the border between cis and trans is impermeable? They might have to accept that cis privilege is built on our backs. They might have to accept some uncertainty about themselves. The whole damn sexist project might just collapse if it were generally known that the cissexual emperor really doesn't have any clothes on. The whole patriarchy would be shaken if it were admitted that yes, femininity is despised and hypersexualised, and it is wrong. That femininity is perfectly ok, and not in any way of lesser value than masculinity. Hey, heterosexual men might start wearing dresses!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Taking an exception to separating sexes and genders and whatnot

I've become less and less satisfied with the way trans sexes and genders are talked about even in "progressive" circles: my main point of objection being the separation of a person's sex and gender into several unconnected, or very loosely connected, entities. Biological this. Chromosomal that. Psychological whatever. And it doesn't happen to non-trans people: it's trans people who are singled out for this treatment.

For the record, I have one sex and one gender and they are one and the same: I'm a woman. There's no meaningful way to "multigender", or "multisex" me: the concept of me having more than one sex or gender doesn't make any sense to me.

Nor have I ever messed about with my gender, or my sex. They are what they are. I've messed about with my body, but my sex? No way, no how.

My perception has changed, however, and so has other people's: what has changed is the way people, myself included, think about my sex. Somewhat. My thinking has changed a great deal, other people's, much less: and this is where the divvying up of sexes and genders comes into play.

There's of course the "classical" sex-change speak: it's so silly it doesn't need further comment.

The one that needs some commenting is the newer form of "i-want-to-cling-to-my-cissexual-privilege" that talks about biological sexes and chosen genders and all that. Now I'm not against the concept of being able to choose your gender. But I also think that the reality of most, if not all, transsexual people is that we cannot choose our gender, or sex. We are what we are, and it's not our sexes or genders that have to change, but the thinking of other people, and we might want to do a thing or two to our bodies, too. Precisely because we cannot change our sexes. We really need to make ourselves intelligible to other people. We really need to make our bodies match our sexes and genders. To coin a phrase, it's not a man in a dress, it really is a woman with a penis.

Why is this multi-sex talk needed? Why are the acronyms MTF and FTM so very much in use even today?

It's about cissexual privilege, I'm afraid. It's about clinging to the concept of birth-assigned genders trumping anything else, even reality. It's about desperately calling a woman a man against all evidence to the contrary - it's about holding up the cissexual power structure where people who dare raise their voices against cissexual oppression are branded as untermensch.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Forced masculinisation

Or, what happens to many, if not all, trans girls.

Basically, it's the experience of being treated as a boy instead of the girl you are. Repeatedly. Over and over. From birth. You're given the wrong clothes, the wrong haircut, a wrong name. And when you can't be a boy, when you behave in non-boyish ways, you're punished for it. You're ostracised (if you're lucky, it ends here), bullied, beaten. You get bruises for not behaving like a boy. No-one wants to be your friend because you're considered too weird, too odd, too fucked-up.

You can't be the girl you are, either. Crossing over is not allowed, and if you're brave (or foolish, take your pick) enough to try, you will be told in plain terms that you're a weirdo, a freak, and not able to anyway so just go back to trying to be a boy, m'kay?

That's the reality of forced masculinisation. That's the reality of good many trans girlhoods, including mine.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Coming to terms with pain

I guess I'm slowly, slowly inching towards my pain. Towards the things that have been done to me. Towards the pain those things caused me. Towards a realisation that many of the oppressing structures are still intact, still capable of causing pain. Towards an unflinching gaze at the horrible reality that is humans.

But it is, too, a reality through which some people really love me. It's also a reality in which I have found happiness and ecstasy: it is the reality in which I cry for joy. Because of the wild joy that is being me. Because of the rich pleasure of having someone love me. Because of my children.

I cannot dismiss the pain. I cannot dismiss the joy. Somehow I'm trying to come to terms with both.

This is probably why I'm reading trans feminist writings - I'm trying to make sense of my experiences, I'm looking for a frame of reference that would give my experiences a space in which they're intelligible: and of course I'm forming that space myself, too.

Serano's Whipping Girl was, obviously, one big influence on this road to intelligibility, as was Wilchins' Read My Lips, and I'm very glad to say Troost's Beyond Inclusion makes good sense, too.

When examining my pain, there's this huge grief enmeshed with it: a grief born of not having had the normal girlhood which would have no doubt been a lot less debilitating than what I got.

It's such a two-edged project: on one hand, it's very empowering to realise what has happened to me, and on the other, it's very painful to realise the simple amount of crap I've had to wade through. There's just so much of it. There's the bullying. There's the forced masculinisation. There's the homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, trans misogyny, plain misogyny and simple hate directed at anyone who's visibly, palpably different. There's the silence of medicine: the withheld information, the power imbalance which I dare see now that I'm past it. There's the feeling of utter powerlessness against the cissexist, plain sexist, homophobic world. Hell, at least I know (I hope, anyway) the crap I've been through. I hope it defuses the effects of a bad things in my past a bit. I hope I'm no longer driven by the shit done to me.

What am I looking for and can I ever hope to find it?

This pertains to one search I seem to be on, namely, a search for a road to feminism that chucked me by the wayside. The feminism that wouldn't recognise me for a woman. The feminism that simply beat me with a stick called cissexual privilege, and wouldn't let me in.

The feminism I need.

It is very unsettling to realise one really is dependent on the world that has really trampled you down. Dependent on a world that doesn't admit I exist. Dependent on a world that's bent on erasing my experiences.

And by God, I need that world. I am human, I need the companionship of other humans. I desperately need to renegotiate the conditions of that contact... and that's what I am doing.

Can I ever hope to get there? Can I ever get to the promised land? I'm not sure. I don't know. Perhaps I'll only live to see it from afar, but I know thence must I go, or perish going. I must push towards a better world. I think I owe it to myself, too. I'm worth it.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Exercise, endorphines and love

For some or other funny reason, opiates, both laboratory- and body-produced, make me absolutely love my spouse and my kids. Or rather, perhaps endorphines (the opiates I encounter outside a hospital) just sorta strip away some pretense, and leave me "bare" as it were. Anyway, to make a long story short, every time I exercise with any intensity, I feel the love I have for my family ever more intensely. Yet another reason to exercise. God, I feel so blessed.