Sunday, 7 August 2011


There's been a Slutwalk in my home town. It bothered me quite a bit, but I couldn't lay my finger on what it was that bothered me, considering I quite agree with the people organising the thing with the issues: blaming the raped woman for the rape is just sick, and yeah, no means no and yes means yes - that's the way it should go. Period.

The presentation bothered me, especially the "slut" bit. I'm not one to shirk from four-letter words, so I kinda suspect it wasn't that - yet the choice of word in the name left me feeling that this is not for me and I'd just feel wrong participating. Not wrong in the sense of morally wrong, wrong against the organisers, but wrong in the sense that I'd wrong against myself, against who I am by marching with these people. My feeling is not universal, not even amongst Finnish (trans) women, but I know I'm not alone, either.

Finally, I found this excellent bit of thinking (read the comments, too, they're full of win also), and the bits finally clicked into place. I found this bit especially pertinent to my thinking:

"Therefore, the word slut has not been used to discipline (shame) us into chaste moral categories, as we have largely been understood to be unable to practice “normal” and “chaste” sexuality anyway."

As if "slut" was somehow a unifying experience. It's not. I've personally been told I'm a pervert. I've been called a tranny. I've been called sick, mentally ill, deluded, twisted, mad, sexually deviant. There's bunches of books naturalising all of that, too, from respectable publishers. The minority I find myself in is more often than not depicted in the media and literature as hypersexual obsessive-compulsives hell bent on plastic surgery, sexy clothing, high heels and makeup (you want examples? Go see Skip the Makeup). I've been told that I can't possibly be a woman, no matter what the evidence to the contrary. And obviously, if I dare raise my voice against this, I must be either a pathetic loonie or an evil liar.  Nice options, those. 

But I haven't been called a slut, and I think that's 'cos that would've implied I'm a woman, and that was something the cisarchy was hell bent on not doing, ever. And besides, "slut" doesn't quite carry the institutional power like slapping a diagnosis does, or the power that lies in the hands of the magistrate who gets to decide whether you'll be classified as a female or a male. And in a perverse way, calling me slut back then would have been an improvement over what was before. Sure it's an "improvement" in the sense that instead of taking your both legs they're just going to take your arm, but that's what it felt like and no, I'm not over it yet.

It's not just men who've called me those things, either - women, including some self-styled feminists, have done more than their fair share of it, too (for examples in English, just go look up Sheila Jeffreys, Julie Bindel, Mary Daly and Germaine Greer. Nice, (white) middle-class people who wish people like me could be mandated out of existence). I don't feel safe with a random bunch of feminists. It's just as likely that there's some cissexist people around, and I'm not at all confident on the rest of the cis feminists' ability to call out the cissexist behaviour in their midst - my experience has been one of "oh just suck it up, they're all right otherwise". Err, right. I'm quite sure your attitude towards racism is just as dismissive.

Finally, there's the issue of dressing how you like. I'd just like to point out, that I had precisely no chance in hell of dressing in gender-appropriate clothes anywhere I liked until i was in my late 20s. Sexy or not. And this was policed not just by some moral-majoritarians, but by practically everyone. And that's one right I'd be ready to march for - the right of everyone and anyone to dress how they please, without ridicule, discrimination or oppression. But this is so far from the practice of a slutwalk that no, it just doesn't feel the right place for such a statement. If words and actions are at odds with each other, actions win for me every time.

The organisers do say that you don't have to own up to the word "slut" (in Finnish, sorry), but I think that's begging the question - if you march under such a well-publicised banner, how the heck are other people to know you don't, personally, own up to it? 

The practice of Slutwalk and the brand of feminism that goes with it just doesn't cut it with me. It's far too lightweight in my opinion, and doesn't do much to advance any of the pertinent issues - in fact, it just seems like a general call of young cis women to be able to dress as they like without having to fear rape or getting victimised for their dress or behaviour. It's a valid point, but to me personally it feels like arguing about the floorplan when the foundation's all rotten. 

Friday, 1 April 2011

Sod visibility, too

(It seems I'm growing this into a series!)

International Transgender Day of Visibility? Count me out. I need visibility as trans like I need a hole in my head. I don't want pity. I don't want condescension or some fucking understanding, which is what actually happens almost all the time if I'm outed as trans. Oh, and don't forget the perverse questions and looks you get from people when they start furtively looking at your crotch, or the condescending remarks of the "welcome to womanhood" -variety. Yeah, I'll pass.

Here's yet again what I do want. I want the same decent treatment, same privacy and same rights and duties as everyone else, trans or cis. In my utopia, the whole concepts trans and cis would not exist at all, because if needed, we could just say "oh, they effed up my legal sex, but it's corrected now" or "I had this congenital defect fixed last month and was thus unable to work". If we, the people undergoing this stuff, so chose to.

If you absolutely have to have a day, have one called "International Day of Cis People Having a Hard Look at Their Oppressive Behaviour and Perverse Curiosity".

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Some time ago, Helen posted a piece on QT about reporting on trans issues (it sucks, nothing new there), and one of the comments got me thinking about the representation and the demographics of trans women (a rather western concept, by the way) as a whole.

There's obviously privilege working here: if you're super-rich (on a global scale) and have access to cultural and social resources needed to transition smoothly, you're obviously less likely to suffer massively. But the chilling thing is, you're also less likely to die. It's obvious, yeah, but consider this: what if trans women who have vaginoplasty (white, affluent, middle-class+) are the tip of the iceberg because the rest gets treated so abominably they just curl up in a corner and die? It's not that long a shot. It's not just about the money and privilege, it's also about being able to survive: to have a roof over your head, enough food to keep on going, enough social interaction so you don't shrivel up and die, enough mental resilience to be able to keep on going despite the numerous economic and social hurdles a transition entails.

I strongly suspect trans women who do actually transition are just the tip of an iceberg: the rest plod on the best they can - some seemingly successful, some perhaps institutionalised, and some just die, either by their own volition or get killed. Yup, mighty depressing.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Looking back to my youth: Carto's "do not do" -tip

Navel-gazing leads me to my history, and Aiden's recent answer to a question from a young trans girl recalled a few memories. I'm not proposing this as a course of action for anyone, but this is what I did. It's dangerous, and not to be recommended.

Well, I did contemplate and plan for suicide. That carried me through my teen years and twenties, if I'm being completely honest. I planned how I'd like to die (permanently, and in such a way I'd really die and not stay on living, no matter what doctors might want to do - I also didn't want collateral damage to other people, so jumping in front of a train was completely out of the question. I was serious), got all the stuff I needed and was set to go. I got rid of the necessary implements of suicide when I had my legal sex changed to reflect the reality; that is, quite a while ago. But I still remember what it was like.

What I wanted was an exit, an exit no-one could deny me. An exit that was in my control, and no-one else's. At the time I felt (quite reasonably, in my opinion) that I had very little, if any wiggle room in my life to express what I was; I had to keep on play-acting a boy if I was to survive. An exit clause that I could invoke on a moment's notice was what I needed, and it did help me carry on as I knew I could leave whenever I wanted to.

I guess it gave an outlet to my self-hate. I didn't cut (well ok, I did eat in rather a chaotic and self-harming way), I didn't do much risk otherwise. It kept me alive.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Gazing at my navel (it's a very pretty navel, too)

Or therapy, if you like. It's pretty damn enlightening, now that I'm free to explore stuff that bothers and interests me, instead of the stuff I had to "explore" in order to appease psychiatrists.

Ok, maybe I'm just a particularly suitable candidate for professionally-assisted navel-gazing, but the difference between talking with a person you kinda trust and feel good about is so totally different from what I had to experience with doctors when transitioning.

I feel like sorting out my problems already, which I haven't felt like before. I was mistaken to think they mostly revolved around growing up trans - it's a major traumatising factor all right, but it's not the substance of things that really bother me about myself. Which is both nice (thank God it's not all about trans forever and ever) and kinda bothersome - I've been wrong not only about my sex/gender but also about great many other things, too. Just how wrong can a girl be? Very, it seems.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that I feel most trans people (self-identified, identified by others - doesn't seem to matter) have some sort of common experience of having had to slug it out with the society at large as far as their sexes and/or genders are considered. It does create some community. But in my opinion it's based on oppression and very little else.

No, in the sense that the life experiences of various trans people differ to such a great degree that it's really hard to find common points of self-interest: what would a third option on legal sex do to me? Either nothing (if you can choose for yourself - I'd obviously skip it as I ain't no third sex), or a great deal of hassle and harm (if it's chosen for you, whether you like it or not).

I think it boils down to how trans people would like to be treated by others. Some of us (see, community) would like to be treated in a separate way with regards to law, medicine, or social interaction. Some of us would rather not have anything special (Oi! That'd be me!) apart from correcting errors in documents. Those wanting new, different options tend to fall to the transgender/genderqueer side, and those of us who don't, tend to fall on the transsexuality side of things.

Now I don't propose to have a solution to this problem; it has to be sorted out politically: by discussing, arguing, fighting amongst ourselves. But I am saying that there needs to be options: we've got to sort out a way in which transgender/genderqueer people can live safely and respectfully, and it's got to be done in a way that respects trans women and men who'd really rather just drop the trans bit altogether. In other words, no non-consensual third-gendering, no branding people as trans, no forcing people into sexes or genders at all. The third item on that list being much harder to implement than the others, but it needs to stay on the list for us trans women, too - it'd have some serious potential of saving our girlhoods from being a nightmare they all too often are.

All of that has to, in my opinion, be sorted out by the people affected by it, that is, trans people of all kinds, even the people with trans pasts. And in that sense there must be a community if we're to do the right thing.

But will there ever be a trans community in the sense people see there is a gay community? No. And I don't think there's much of a gay community, either. Gays come in all colours and sizes and varieties. What I would see superficially as a gay community is fairly likely just a very visible subset of all the variety of gay people, and 'cos I'm not a part of it myself, I just tend to do the very human thing, and lump 'em all in the same heap of gay. But it's not the truth about them, it's my simplification, and I'd really better not make any political statements based on my silly generalisations.

I'd like to pontificate on the reasons for trans people falling so afar from each other: I think a large part of it is due to fear, uncertainty and other contradictory feelings. The following is highly speculative, so try to bear with me.

From my pov, transgender/genderqueer people seem a tad unrealistic at times. It's all very good to demand equal rights for all people (and especially themselves), but actually implementing those rights can be a bit of a bastard. And not only that, but it'd be neat if the said implementation wasn't an ad hoc -mess, but something that can be applied in a general sense, too. For example, consider scrapping legal sex/gender. (I'd sure like it, no harm would be done to me even if I am a woman - I'd be just as much a woman after that, too) Marriage legislation would have to be rewritten. Parenthood legislation ditto. Military conscription has to be redone. All kinds of registers have to be redone. Passports, DLs, the lot - it's not a trivial task, nor is it in any sense clear that that is actually possible to pull off in one fell swoop; it requires a lot of political will. Just yelling "our rights now" (or even worse: "my rights now") won't do it. Actually talking with politicians, or becoming one oneself are steps into that direction, but what little I see about transgender/genderqueer politics, it's all about anarchism and not getting dirty with the state and let's have a revolution. Yeah, right. Pull another one. You guys couldn't have a revolution and even of you could, you'd just end up oppressing in new ways. It's happened so many times already - what makes you think you're different? And please, pretty please, have a look at the sexism in your midst. There's a reason why there's so few trans feminine spectrum people present in those circles.

From transgender/genderqueer/queer pov, binary trans women such as myself probably raise some squicks. Our surgeries do that. Our trust in medicine, our delight in our conditions, nay, make that illness's, medicality seems to do that big time. I love what I got from the surgeries I've underwent. I think medical science and skill is just great in some respects. Micronised estradiol pills <3 <3 <3  For people who don't trust medicine the way I do, this must be a bit distressing. My dependence on modern Western medicine must be a bit depressing to someone who likes to do things by hirself, for hirself, and if a thing can't be done in an ethical way, it'd perhaps really better not be done at all.  I also suspect my apparent femininity must raise some eyebrows, too - the combination of the determination needed to get medical and legal reassignment and then just flowing into this new almost ridiculously standard sex/gender must be a bit mind-bending - I'm not sure, but I feel the thinking might go along the "she went to all that trouble and fighting to get that bog-standard woman stuff, instead of this gender/sex neatness we have?"

I don't have the solutions. But I think a description of the problem is the beginning of the search for a solution. This is my offer.

Friday, 7 January 2011

The interlocking nature of sexisms plus a note

Consider this: if you don't believe there are two, and only two sexes and genders (cissexism), you can't really uphold heterosexism ('cos once you go down the slippery slope of more than two, what's stopping you from seeing everyone as a different sex and gender?  Nothing, that's what). And why would you, indeed, see any necessary complementarity in masculine and feminine? And if you don't believe masculinities are inherently better and more valuable than feminities, or some other -inities, what'd be the point of dissing any people not on either spectrum, or people rejecting their assigned sexes and genders?

It all holds together. Sexism comes with cissexism which comes with heterosexism - they're a nice, evil compact bundle, full of misery for everyone.

They can't be teased apart, either. You can't pick a nice dose of transphobia to go with opposing sexism, or heterosexism - if you want to oppose sexism, it's just not on to diss trans women for being feminine. If you want to oppose heterosexism, why would you exclude trans-cis homo couples? And if you're against cissexism, it's no good to be homophobic: how could you defend people's rights to ditch their assigned sexes and genders as they like, and then require them to conform to hetero-only relations? As if you could define hetero-only to exclude anyone without bringing in cissexism!

Other than that tidbit, I'm rather down and out - turns out my childhood was not quite as bad as I thought it was - it was considerably worse. Hello, therapy (no, it's not about teh trans, for a change). This time, I really actually need therapy, and seems like I can benefit from it, too.