Monday, April 19, 2010

Let Ze Who is Without Sinning Bloggers on Their Roll Cast the First Stone!

 [image is from here]

There have been a few occasions now where some of the visitors to this blog, and others, have let me know, in sometimes not terribly subtle ways--and more power to them--fuck subtlety!--that "I appear to be associating with transphobes". 

Yes, well: don't we all?

The argument, to me, is "but these are known transphobes". And my reply has been, well, on your blogroll I notice some misogynists and racists, who have been called out on that stuff, and continue to go on in their merry male and or woefully white supremacist ways. So let he who is without sinning bloggers on their roll cast the first stone.

How it is that "transphobia" is a deeper concern than, say, misogyny, is a bit puzzling to me, perhaps because of the ways the two are intimately related to homophobia and lesbophobia, which also seems not to be so much of a concern. Or maybe I'm just hanging with a non-lesbophobic bunch of bloggers.

You are welcome to be as subtle or unsubtle as you wish in shoving me to see that, why yes, there are some unrepentant transphobes in my blogger list. And, frankly, I don't give a damn. Because they are also militantly pro-woman and pro-feminist, and my blog, after all, is a pro-woman and pro-feminist blog. So there.

Trans issues get discussed here rarely. I have posted a few times on the subject, owning my transignorance and lack of willingness to center this as a social concern. You don't find a whole hell of a lot here about "Animal Rights" either, but that doesn't mean I want animals to die or that I even eat a lot of 'em. That's because THOSE ISSUES, and oh-so-many others, are NOT central concerns in my wicked, wicked life, and as my life is currently organised, it isn't likely to be.

And for anyone who does have it as a central concern, I'd like to ask you: would that be the case if you'd never known, well, someone who is transgendered? I know several transgendered people, but not tremendously well, and it's not due to my "transphobia" that that's the case, as none of the few trans folks I'm met have ever told me directly or anyone we know in common that they experience me as transphobic. Which isn't to say I'm not transphobic, whatever that means. I don't "fear" trans people, at all. To date, I've had no nightmares of "running into a trans person" and shrieking. I HAVE had plenty of nightmares about men, however. And call me a Freudian, but I do tend to think the content of dreams relates, in some ways, to waking life.

In my waking life, men beat the shit out of women. In my waking life, men rape women in so many ways the English language isn't prepared to name them all. Nor is the "criminal" justice system prepared to comprehend many of them as ANY form of rape.

In my waking life, white het male supremacy is everpresent. Transphobia: not so much. There's no triage for social injustice, except, I find, for the life one lives. As social realities emerge, due to one's political locations, one responds either with denial or duty.

My world, from day one, was filled with women, not trans women either, who were harmed by men, not trans men. The prefix "cis" is not something I buy, even while it is sold to me like the LDS Bible, with more vehemence, and more reason for the vehemence too, I might add, somewhat compassionately.

"Cis" is a term from science, chemistry. And now Gender Studies. From the most reliable source of information known to white het non-trans men, I bring you this, from Wikipedia:

Cis may have the following meanings:
  • "Cis-" as a prefix of Latin origin, meaning "on the same side [as]" or "on this side [of]", with several derived usages:
  • In chemistry, cis- refers to cis-trans isomerism
  • In molecular biology, cis- refers to cis-acting
  • In gender studies, cis- refers to cisgender
  • In music, cis is another name for C-sharp
  • cis (mathematics), the function cis(θ) = cos θ + i·sin θ
    I oppose a lot of things. I'm sort of "An Opposer". And I don't let "social norms" however subcultural, marginalised, or anti-establishment they are, determine my own feelings and views about things. Or, well, I try to maintain "a view" that is mine, whatever that means, while being mindful of just how entrenched my privileges and entitlements are.

    A perfectly fine example of this "willful refusal to engage with terminologies I find politically problematic" is the phrase "Woman-born woman". It makes no sense to me AT ALL, and, to me, the whiteboy with this blog, it is counter-productive to the political aims this blog exists to support, such as the "debiologization of gender". I don't believe anyone is born a gender--and I surely don't believe ANYONE is born an adult, so I sure as hell don't think anyone is born a woman! I do not accept that anything at all about "Gender" is biological. That's my bias. Sorry white het non-trans men: you get no pass from me for your despicable behavior which you claim emanates from your gonads or dick.

    And "cisman", "ciswoman", and "cisgendered" won't be appearing in my glossary any time soon. Why? Because it goes against the very core of my beliefs. That's why. And you won't hear me tossing around terms like "discursive" either. Even though I know what it means. Academia-speak makes me want to barf. A lot.

    What you will see are terms, when the subject is transgender stuff, like "trans" and "non-trans" to refer to people who are and are not, respectively, transgendered. I hope that's clear. Because it sure as hell better suffice.

    I accept that there are other worldviews, and other experiences, and other quite valid ways of describing social and intimately personal realities. I accept that for many people, primarily non-trans folks, "gender" is biological to a large degree. And I get that some trans folks do too--again, to varying degrees. And that doesn't place those two groups (non-trans folks and trans folks) in the same political camp for me, and that's something I see a very few but some radical feminists do that I simply disagree with: I don't think trans folks are trying, with all their might, to Trojan Horse their way into lesbian spaces. For one thing, heterosexist patriarchy doesn't even ALLOW that many lesbian spaces to exist, so MOST trans folks, who are not all from the greater Michigan area, and are not all affluent and able to travel, don't encounter "lesbian spaces" in their lifetimes to begin with. Yet there they are, being all transgendered!

    Having said that, I think there has been gross insensitivity on the part of some trans people with regard to respecting womyn-only space. Now, when I use the term "woman" or "women" or "womyn" what I mean is this: girl-raised women who never thought they were boys or men, even if they secretly wished to be, in order to get some of that juicy status and dignity, and grab onto some of those privileges and entitlements (and LACK of stigmas and enforced forms of subordination), such as the one where you don't have a target on your back and front saying "please rape me; it's why I exist, master man; to be your 'sexual service station' with no will to do anything but be that". As noted, I militantly--whatever that means--let's say "ardently" support woman-only spaces existing and not being "accommodating" to anyone those women deem "not women". Yup, it makes for some problems, don't it? And fuck it: women who are raised as girls are, with few exceptions, socialised to be "accommodating" in just about every way, to anyone else: family members, children, neighbhors, folks in need, strangers who want information, etc. I'm not about to support an ethic of "girl-raised women ought to be accommodating". HELL TO THE NO. Especially, if not only, when it comes to women of color, particularly Black women in the U.S.

    And, obviously, there are trans women in Black communities inside and outside the U.S., and non-trans women of color, and men too, make various choices about how humanely to engage with trans people of color. I'm also not going to support a politic that states that Black folks must be accommodating to "others". HELL NO.

    I support oppressed peoples defining the terms of their collective resistance, including their individual levels of resistance. Girl-raised women, most of 'em not being white or class-privileged, are entitled, in my mind and on my blog, to determine who they wish to associate with ABSOLUTELY. Now, that they never really get to do that absolutely is a matter of great consternation for me. It pisses me off how much girl-raised women's lives are forced to be organised around "other people's needs and wishes and wants and could you do this one more thing for me..." CRAP. I fully support any woman who wishes to be and can be, being a lesbian separatist, or just a separatist when it comes to dealing with "da boyz". And there's no one who's gonna tell me that I gotta change that policy, which, after all, is not one I do much with by way of enforcement. I'm not a gate-keeper at the colonies of lesbian separatists, checking underwear for shapes of genitalia. I've never been near the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and have no plans to start now. And why the hell trans folks can't organise their own festivals is beyond me. I feel exactly the same way about lesbian space not wanting gay men in it. We gay men, well, especially class-privileged ones, can find our own spaces. Lorde knows we have the capital to create and maintain them, in some urban settings anyway. I feel exactly the same way about Jewish folks and Muslim folks wanting Jewish-only and Muslim-only spaces. And fuck any Christians or Non-Jewish Atheists who say "I want in!"

    Yes, some non-trans women are virulently anti-trans. Yup, they are. And I know about three women in that category, and no, I'm not naming names. Now, on the other hand, I know TONS of people who are anti-woman (girl-raised woman, that is). They are woman-haters, woman-bashers, woman-disrespecters, woman-harassers, woman-procurers, pimps, rapists, and plain ol' jerk guys and women with lots of internalised misogyny. TONS. Why, most folks I've ever met in my life are in THAT category. And most white folks I know are racist as hell. As HELL.  O...    M...     G...!!! And some of 'em are white conservative/bigoted about it, and some are white liberal/colorblind about it and both variations of white-folks' racism disgust me no end. But as for folks who are "transphobic"? Do you know that ALL the members of my family of origin would have no idea what that term even MEANS? See, my family of origin, with a couple of exceptions, didn't go to college, and never knew there was such a thing as "Women's Studies" let alone "Gender Studies".

    And I'm not saying that's a good thing. But it's also not a terrible thing necessarily. The Academy does a lot of good for a lot of people, but it is an organ of WHM supremacist and corporate capitalist propaganda. Let's not forget that. The state schools need state funding, so there goes the radicalism, and the private schools tend to be run by white wealthy conservatives and liberals, none of whom want "Radical Views", let alone PRACTICES, being promulgated about campus.

    But it's true that my family or origin doesn't know what "trans" means, because "transgender people" are NOT part of their white poor and working class worlds. Not in any way that is noticeable to them, anyway. Similarly, lesbian women and gay men are NOT part of their white heterosexual world. Not in any "out" way, well, with the exception of little ol' moi! I'm the only Jew also, so let's just say I don't spend a lot of time with them and leave it at that. There's the whole matter of incest in my family as thick as brick, so that's a factor too.

    So, unless or until trans issues begin to impact those I love, or me, in a very visceral way, I'm not likely to take it up as a cause to rail about. (And I can rail, so it's not that I'm opposing to getting incensed about issues.) But sorry. I'm  not.

    In case the name of this blog hasn't clued y'all in, I ain't no librul and so I'm not pretending to give a shit, like oh-so-many white middle class non-trans folks do. Oh, they care so damned much about transphobia! Why, they'll be so upset with me for even writing this. How fucking impolite of me! Their non-trans selves will be far more upset, in all probability, than most trans people will be. Because like any other marginalised group, people feigning to give a shit is really annoying and obnoxious. And white middle class college kids, in my experience, are super good at feigning concern about all manner of stuff. Which brings me back to "Gender Studies".

    I'm not a fan of the academic discipline, precisely because it tends to prioritise looking at gender as "difference" not "dominance", as "types" not "tyranny", as a "psychological or biological continuum" not a "means of social control". Most trans folks I know--no, wait--ALL trans folks I know DO view gender as tyranny, as an oppressively hierarchical political system that is fucking up their lives big time, even if trans issues aren't what they deal with politically very much. All the trans folks I know are feminist too. And anti-racist. To some degrees, anyway.

    But having some non-trans person come on over to my gay ol' blog and tell me "You know you link to some transphobes" as a sort of what? Warning? Reprimand? Slap on my hand? doesn't make me blink. Because, guess what? I KNOW THAT. And I don't approve of their virulent transphobia! And were I not structurally positioned to oppress them, I might actually engage with them on the subject. In fact, if the blog was a gay blog, or a het male blog, I'd be all over their sorry asses for promoting ridiculously anti-trans ideologies or ideas. But it's not my place, and women of color who are actively pro-trans, have told me that directly. And to those women, the radical women of color in my life, and to the radical white feminist women in my life, I am directly accountable. To some class-privileged non-trans, non-queer, non- (or anti-) radical feminist white woman who I don't know from Eve, not so much. And to the doods: you know how much I'll put up with your CRAP. Not a whole fucking lot.

    And that, as they say, is that. So bring your non-trans white self over here and try to tell me what to be concerned about. Unless it's sexism and racism and heterosexism, and anti-Indigenism, and genocide, and gynocide, and ecocide (you know, the issues stated at the top of EVERY blog post, in the banner of this very blog), I'm not going to concern myself too much with your reprimands and cautions and warnings and alerts. Just so you know, to save you the expenditure of energy and time.

    Oh, and that may be the last time you see the term "Ze" here as well!


    1. I might disagree with many things you say, Julian, but I deeply admire your intellectual honesty, courage and willingness to defend your beliefs. Great post!

      I don't know how or why anybody would consider you transphobic, and I hope that after this post your reasonable and well-argued position will leave no doubts in anybody's mind as to that.

      Once again, good job!

    2. Hey Clarissa,


      That's the first time someone has posted a comment WHILE I was composing the post!

      So good job right back atcha!

    3. You know this sort of reminds me of a blog post I read about a year ago, about how rude it was to come into someone else's minority activist space and complain about how a different minority group has it bad as well. This was sort of similar. I liked that post then, and I like this one now. It's is not to say the other group doesn't exist but it just isn't the place for it. It's not possible to do everything at the same time, or fight everyone's different prejudices at the same time either.

      PS. I haven't forgot about my comment to you, I'm working on it.

    4. Hi Andrea,

      Thanks for that. I agree--no blog covers all topics, necessarily. Nor should they give lip service to a subject they know little to nothing about. In some ways, I've earnestly investigated the trans issues that have been in the communities of people I network with.

      For a gay man, I deal remarkably little with issues that impact white gay men. That's because I don't see white gay men doing any radical work on anything, so what's a "radical" blog to speak of?

      The same with trans issues. I fully support trans people being in society with full human status, as I do intersex people, without bigoted or condescending stigmas and stereotypes being hurled at those populations incessantly.

      That's a human rights issue, yes. But, like acceptance and assimiliation of gay males into society, it's not an issue that radically challenges racist heteropatriachy's existence, it's basic, fundamental premises and practices.

      I refuse to report on queer community "acts of transgression" for exactly the same reasons: ain't nuttin' radical going on there, imo.