Monday, May 20, 2013
Ch 20: Why being a good MtF trans is not necesarrily a 'good' thing
I came across a couple very interesting articles today, first I'll talk about the idea of being a 'good' transgender individual. With the trans stereotype of transgender individuals being oversexed, and 'easy' the perception is that we are all street-walkers. Which of course is not the case, and in many instances it was found that transgender individuals have above average intelligence. While based on circumstances a higher proportion of our population than any other population works in the sex industry many who do work in the industry wouldn't do so if they could make a living another way.
Below is a link, I couldn't figure out how to embed the video so the link will have to do for now of Bailey Jay. While she works in the sex industry the video itself comes from We Happy Trans and is a very honest and truthful depiction of why she chooses this sort of lifestyle. There are many females and males who do the same when they find that they can't make the money and living they want to any other way. Personally I don't look down on people like this, but at the same time we have to remember that these people are the exception not the rule:
7 Questions – Bailey Jay | We Happy Trans
Anyway, back to the discussion of 'good' and 'bad' trans, so the article I found is entitled 'I'm a Transwoman and I'm not interested in being one of the 'Good Ones.'
"My friend thought his acquaintance might be able to give me some tips on surviving as a trans woman. I was thrilled. Here, I though, was someone who had the answers. Surely she would be able to point me in the right direction. We had arranged to meet in a coffee shop. In my excitement I arrived an hour early. It was going to be awesome.
What actually happened was that she showed up and asked why I wasn't dressed like a woman. I was wearing skinny jeans, a studded belt, and an ironic t-shirt. I liked how I looked. I looked, in my opinion, like a queer woman in her mid-twenties on her day off, which, shockingly, I was.
But no, I was informed, I wasn't being a woman right.
She was neither the first nor the last person to inform me that I'm doing it wrong. There was I woman I met soon after moving back up to Boston in 2011. She had transitioned in her teens and most folks wouldn't know she was trans unless she wanted to tell them. She had a real heart for women who were just starting transition, but she had expectations for those people. She couldn't stand 'bricks.' She explained that bricks were women who looked "like a man in a dress." A cinderblock was even worse. A trans guy who was too femme was feathery.
I've been told that if I'd only start pitching my voice up, or stop wearing pants, or start wearing make up, I could totally pass, that no one would have to know the shameful secret that I'm a trans person.
There's another side too. In college I asked the instructor of a Women's Studies course I took if she could recommend any reading on trans issues. She suggested Sheila Jeffreys' 2005 book 'Beauty and Misogyny,' which contains a delightful chapter in which Jeffreys uses pornography depicting young trans women of color to explain why there's no such thing as trans and how trans women(no mention of trans men or non-binary folks for some reason) are actually evil, essentially pornographic simulacra reinforcing harmful gender tropes.
It's a great double bind. If you present in a traditionally feminine way, you're just being a misogynistic parody of a woman, and if you fail to present in a traditionally feminine way, well ha! There's the proof that you're not really a woman right there.
And even if you are "really a woman," that might not be enough. At a Christmas party last December a Smith alumna defended Smith's decision not to accept trans feminine students by explaining that even if trans women were women, they had still been socialized as boys and men, and that Smith, as a safe space for women and trans men, had a right to defend their students from such people, from the inexorcisable specter of their privilege.
I know women who identify as "heterosexual with a transgender history." They're trying so hard to get away.
But you know what's worse than being somebody's idea of a bad tranny? Being somebody's idea of a good tranny, an acceptable tranny," (http://www.autostraddle.com/im-a-trans-woman-and-im-not-interested-in-being-one-of-the-good-ones-172570/)
Now you can start to see the reasoning behind why the words and language we use to describe ourselves is so important. As the author states we are in a double bind where if we aren't girl enough we aren't living up to the expectation of what we are supposed to be and therefore not women at all. But if we are over the top girly then we can enter the world of being considered a tranny who may be expected to do sexual favors, or have other equally horrible forms of discrimination pointed at us.
In Pakistan we see this trend emerging, basically because homosexuality is outlawed men who like other men or who are indeed transgender both have to either transition or be put to death for kissing or having relations with another man. On the other hand Pakistan is reveled as their laws came to accept transgender individuals as a 'third' gender.
"In Pakistan, there are an estimated 500,000 "eunuchs" -- a community of castrated men, hermaphrodites, transsexuals, transvestites and homosexuals, traditionally paid to help celebrate the birth of a son or to dance at weddings.
When the Supreme Court in 2009 recognised them as a "third gender", ordering they be issued with separate identity cards, it was hailed as a landmark decision in a nation battling enormous human rights abuses and chronic violence.
But in a country where sexual relations outside marriage are taboo and homosexuality is illegal, transgender people are treated as sex objects and often become the victims of assault, ending up as little more than beggars," (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/18/pakistan-transgender-political-candidates-_n_3106370.html?utm_hp_ref=transgender).
In other countries, primarily the United Kingdom, Ireland and Scotland the policy has been in place and it is accepted to transition but it has been found through law that if the transgender individual does not disclose their identity before intimate relations occurs then they can be persecuted under fraud. Basically disclaiming the claim that a transitioned individual is actually a woman or man when they are done transitioning. They also have a rule that if a married individual finds out that their partner is transgender in the first three years of marriage that is automatically grounds for marriage annulment assuming the partner did not know beforehand. So, for being themselves they are persecuted as being fraudulent, given probation, community service and in rare cases jail time. This seems highly unfair, however on the other hand, the other individuals argument is that they can be traumatized and have long lasting affects from having relations with someone they thought was a 'man' or 'woman' but was indeed trans. This opens the grounds for the discussion on what constitutes gender and who's rights should be protected. But with rulings like this it invalidates any meaning an individual had from being affirmed as female or male in the first place.
In previous chapters we talked about how many individuals even after fully transitioning put that part of their lives behind them and live fully as a male or female depending on the situation. By hiding their past they are committing fraud? Committing a crime? I would argue they are just being who they are, somehow I don't think that seems right. Though I guess I am biased as I am gender dysphoric myself.
to be continued...