I made the mistake of reading Lisa Harney’s Blog “Questioning Transphobia”.
I’m not going to attack Lisa. I read her “About”, I actually like her. I even like the premise of her Blog because Transphobia like the more general misogyny of which it is a subset is real.
Dealing with it is painful. Wanting the world to be different is good and putting energy towards changing it is pretty awesome.
The thing is I have been part of the rise of various movements and I have seen their deterioration and fall.
Most notably Second Wave Feminism. I was part of some pretty radical feminist groups. I was even a lesbian separatist for a short time.
The fatal disease, the rotting tooth that destroyed so much of the will to create and sustain a positive movement came not from external forces of repression. Indeed repression from without tends to create cohesion.
What damaged the movement so much was the empowerment of the loudest whiner, who made the claim to the greatest level of oppression.
Last night I read an essay from Alice Echols book “Shaky Ground”. This was about the Sex Wars, or more specifically the anti-pornography campaign waged by Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon.
Now I’ve always felt trapped when confronted by the contradiction of having to defend something I don’t particularly like, indeed may hate because failure to defend that which I may find abhorrent leaves me out on a limb when it comes to defending something I hold near and dear but which others may see as obscene. Pornography is just that. As vile and hateful as the skin magazines in the XXX Porno stores are I can remember how in my teenage years so much information about transsexualism was treated in an identical manner.
Now I have been a sex worker, specifically I worked the ads. Yes it was degrading but so to is homelessness or dependence upon a single man who may well be more abusive.
I sort of followed Dworkin’s writing arc and it came to sound more and more like the ramblings of someone deeply disturbed. Here was someone who achieved relative success as a feminist author, some one who commanded four if not five figure speaking engagement fees talking about personally suffering a life worse that that which I was seeing my drug addicted sex worker sisters as suffering.
There was a fatal tendency to give the one who whined the loudest and exhibited the most scars the greatest credibility.
This brings me back to Lisa’s blog. Some of her followers show that same tendency. It is almost a “Night of the Living Dead” zombie like need to attack anyone who voices optimism or worse yet contradicts their world view that being born transsexual lays one open to more oppression than anything else in the world possibly could. The idea that to be either transgender or WBT is to automatically be subjected to the absolute worst that humanity has to offer.
Now I’m a bleeding heart who has seen the documentaries and photo journalist articles about the ravages of war. Hell I’ve seen the squats and shooting galleries of San Francisco and Los Angeles. On a the Lexington ave train from mid town down to the Village I listened to a pair of child male hustlers talk about living a life that would probably kill them before they saw adulthood.
There are far worse things than being transgender or born with transsexualism. Hell we have doctors, lawyers, engineers and all sorts of other people leading successful lives.
Even a former substance abusing sex worker like myself can clean up and become a productive member of society living clean and sober as well as showing the always hungry mind of an autodidact.
Lynn Conway’s pages of success stories show that it isn’t only a few exceptional people who escape the projected lives of degradation and horror.
Yet if a post-SRS woman says she has pretty much assimilated into ordinary life the hungry zombie issue forth warnings about, “What will happen if_______?”
The answer of living one day at a time, the AA message and that I deal with those things that are within my control to change and work to cope with those which are beyond my control are not messages they want to hear.
My living based on certain AA principles is exceptionalism and means I don’t care about the horrors of all the oppressed transgender masses.
Well, I have my own causes and my own hobbies and loves. Often I have too little time to enjoy my own life. I’m an atheist. I do not believe in saints. I certainly have no aspirations to be one, it is enough to strive to live up to my own ideals of ethical behavior in a world where ethics are often shed in the name of profit.
I am not a counselor. I’ve found what more or less works for me. It took a lot of struggle to do that.
SRS freed me to focus on the many other causes in my life. Yet it would be equally okay if someone’s only cause in life was to be married and supported in order to work out, sun and spend money. I might be judgemental and regard that as a waste of one’s life but I do not have the right to dictate to that person that they need to go off and feed the starving children of Somalia or some other act of do goodism.
BTW I got trashed for supporting freedom of speech during the Sex Wars. I wound up marching the length of Market Street topless and in leathers during a pride day parade with the sex positive group Samois.
It is important to stand up to the whiners rather than let their negativity drag you down to their level of misery.
Worse yet dwelling in both misery and hopelessness prevents action to change those things which oppress.