Sunday, 30 August 2009

Why STP2012 doesn't feel right

Yay depathologisation? Err, no.

The fine folks at STP2012 are asking for "the despathologization of the trans identities (transexual and transgender) and their retirement from the manuals of disorders (teh DSm from the American Psychiatric Association, which’s newly revised version is due in 2012, and the CIE from the World Health Organization, due in 2014)"

Umm, count me out from the ICD (CIE) bit.

I don't identify as trans-something. Other people label me as trans (fuck I hate this identity shit. See iden-bugger-tity for a further explanation).

I do think it's not necessarily pathological to be trans, but yeah, for me having a dissonant body was pathological. And damn I'm happy my body no longer feels like it has all kinds of features not requested - I'm happy, too, that my endocrine works with me instead of against me. What I was before medical treatment was pathological. I was sick.

It just wasn't a mental pathology. It was a bodily pathology. But it was a pathology, and I cannot support a flat-out depathologisation of something that very well felt totally pathological to me. Removal from the lists of mental diagnoses? Oh yes.

Removal from the list of all diagnoses? Well, no, not in my opinion, no.

I suspect this might have something to do with the different meanings of "trans": for some it's an identity, for others it's a label - and it has these several, overlapping meanings. Say, trans as pathology is something I'd define as existing until the said person with a trans pathology has that pathology cured, whatever the method. HRT, surgery, change of lifestyle - anything. Trans as an identity I don't really get, and I'm yet to come across an explanation. Trans as a descriptor, a label for people who are not cis I do get, and in that respect I'm definitely trans. I think trans has all those meanings, and while there's nothing pathological about identifying as trans or about being trans wrt cis, I'm of the opinion that there is something pathological about some trans bodies - pathological enough that the bodies need to be fixed. I hope this could be taken into account when going for political changes. Otherwise I see public funding for treatments diminishing from the very little there is now, and even less than the practically nonexistent research into trans bodies, which I think there's a desperate need of. Public funding helps the poorest, most vulnerable, and medical research into trans bodies helps the medical treatments become safer, saner and more effective, thus helping more.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Self-censorship

or, why it is so difficult to be an outspoken trans woman even within the feminist blogosphere

It's pretty obvious it is difficult to be thus, isn't it? It's not like there's hordes and hordes of us to start with, and even less who are willing to engage with the feminists (or anyone, for that matter) after our transitions are done and dealt with.

Firstly, there's the age-old issue of out/closeted, which is not the same wrt cis/trans axis as it is for people along homosexual/heterosexual -axis (which I consider to be a bit of a ruse, but I digress). Speaking from the position of a trans woman is fraught with difficulties: there's always the old transphobic tropes (for a list, see QT, under Trans 101), the endless derailing and decentring of trans concerns, but, and I think this is even more important, there's a real risk of humiliation, ostracism and violence, not only in the academia/blogosphere, but in the meatspace we live in. Woman's trans status can, and is often used to beat her into submission. "Outing" someone as trans puts the woman thus outed at risk. If you don't believe me, just dig a bit at your local newspaper archives and see for yourself how trans women are depicted. There are a number of common features: there's the degendering by the use of her old name; printing pictures of her forcibly masculinised* is pretty common, too. All that is simply crap one doesn't want to deal with, and while silence is quite a price to pay for avoiding that crap, it's pretty understandable.

Secondly, because of our rather unprivileged pasts with regards to feminism, women's studies, gender studies, queer studies and what have you (no, in case you were wondering, those fields did (and maybe do) not welcome trans girls into the fold of feminism and queer: trans girls are more often than not gendered as boys, or men, and are hardly given the same space to explore their sexes and gender the way female-assigned-at-birth -people are. Cissexism does not stop at the door to academia.

So, when I look at the queer studies I do recognise the stuff there is pretty vital to my thinking, but I also feel I'm not welcome. I feel the thinking I do is rather far from the atmosphere they're breathing, and while I do think there's value in my perspective, I find my perspective hard to communicate and possibly triggering hostile responses. I'm not always up to that hostility.

I'll write another piece on my perspectives - at least I can give them a home here.

In short, I don't believe the binary system at all. There is gender, but there's a lot more of them than two. I think lesbian woman is a different gender (and maybe sex, too) from heterosexual woman. I think femme is a different gender from butch, or from heterosexual woman. When I use words like "woman", "man", or "heterosexual", my mind has to make these somersaults to translate what I'm thinking into cis-ese. I think of sexualities in terms of attractions: what do you like? If you like snogging bearded men, you're "snogs-bearded-men-sexual" for all I know. If you're a bearded man yourself, more power to you, but it doesn't mean squat as far as your attractions are considered.

The violent game which cises play with genders makes me sick. I don't want to play, but fucking up the system totally has such a high price I cannot pay it on my own, and not playing is not an option. I play, but not willingly. I play 'cos cis men might smash my face in for not playing, for telling it like it is - that cis boys and men brutalise trans girls and women and force them (and yours truly in the past) to pretend to be boys and men. I play 'cos cis women might simply dump me for not playing. I play 'cos it seems to be the price of admission into the society of humans, and I cannot survive on my own.

But in my heart, I want to smash the cisarchy.

[ETA 21:36 EEST: * forcibly masculinised: this what the cises might call "when she was a man" Trans girls and women do not choose to be assigned and raised as boys and men - it is forced. It's not voluntary, and very often, violence is used to enforce compliance.]

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

I may come to regret this

I started commenting on Finnish blogs. While I do like to natter in my mother tongue, it's also a fact that there's just a tad over 5 million of us here in this land. And it is a very, very small number. It means everyone knows everyone else. It means, feh, that there's a bit of a mob mentality to us Finns. A small bunch of us can ruin stuff here easy: it doesn't need a huge number of slightly dodgy politicians plus businessmen to concoct the latest disgraceful episode in our interior politics: a few people giving largish sums of money to a couple of dozen politicians is enough to rot politics - there not being a larger body of politicians who wouldn't be involved: everyone is, it seems.

Anyhoo, I hope I won't regret a couple of comments here and there. I just don't trust people who are, technically at least, my people.