It is Time to end the Transgender as Umbrella Fiction

I’ve been writing a bunch about ending the ridiculous fighting between transsexuals and transgenders and how along with the stopping of the name calling it is time to stop stepping on each other’s self definitions.

It has been some 10 years since I went to the Forward Motion Conference in Burbank.

The single most important observation I came away from that conference with was that there was no such thing as a “Transcommunity”.  That what had been described as a gathering of the tribe was more a gathering of different tribes.

Of course I already knew that.  I had been a counselor in the Tenderloin and knew there were serious if not obvious differences between the queens (transgender sisters) and the transsexual sisters.  Our common interests made us friends, our differences put us on different life paths

This became even more obvious after I moved to LA.  I came out as a lesbian and the TG sisters I knew thought I was weird and they were into a different scene.  I went off and hung at the Women’s Building. I was becoming more a part of the lesbian feminist movement. Even as I continued to photograph my TG sisters we were drifting apart as we shared fewer and fewer common interests.  Other sisters who got SRS at the same time I did got married.  I stayed friends with some and not with others.  Our lives move in different directions.

When it was first coined transgender served an honorable purpose, it gave a dignified term to people who lived their lives as members of the sex not associated with their present genitals and who had no real plans for SRS.

In short a group of people with similar needs regarding anti-discrimination laws and hate crimes laws to people who were either post-op yet obvious or surgery track and having problems getting there.

About the same time I observed there were communities rather than a community others were coming to the same conclusion.  I keep returning to Deborah Rudacille’s book where I recently read a similar observation from Chelsea Goodwin.

Now transgender as a category has become a dumping ground for all sorts of folks including the gender queer movement and the academic gender theorist types given to espousing great truths that make it hard to take actual transgender people seriously.

I know, I know the latest gender queer theorist, Jasper Gregory  isn’t particularly one of yours but the idea of the huge umbrella squeezes this misogynistic transphobic turd into the “community”.

I’m taking a lot of heat from the extremists of the “classic transsexual” HBS set for even trying to start a dialogue rather than hurl insults and call names.

I think the major issues are important enough to stop the foolish bickering.  I may be sticking my neck out a little but that’s my radical history.

Maybe it is time to make transgender a smaller and more focused label that fits folks committed to living the life full time rather than including those who view it as a sometime thing or a path to academic fame.

Why I Support Same Sex Marriage and Thoughts on Sisters Who Do Not

When I listen to the crap coming from the mouths of some of my right wing heterosexual Post-SRS “sisters” regarding marriage equality I am forced to question the powerfulness of sisterhood.

First of all marriage equality isn’t about “gay marriage” even calling it that removes lesbians from the equation.  The proper term is same sex marriage.  “Gay Marriage” is the preferred usage of Taliban Christers and rabid right wing assholes.

Now mind you that something like 2/3 of post-SRS women are lesbian or bisexual in orientation so marriage equality is an important issue for us.  Especially now that the economics and class realities have made it harder for throwaway urchins like me who found the downward mobility elevator stopping at the floor marked lumpen proles to actually get SRS.

A lot of people who were my peers and got SRS at the same time I did were able to do so because it was cheap and it was also possible to live on air as rents were cheap and so were other costs of living.  Class privilege plays a role in whether one is able to get SRS or not these days.  So marriage equality makes heterogendered but technically same sex marriage possible and that makes it economically easier for some to get their SRS. Especially considering the strangeness of corporate for profit medical care rationing programs allowing spousal coverage for only married couples.

Marriage equality insures that existing marriages entered into before one comes out are in no way threatened, either before or after the fact.

But the oddest of all, the most Kool Aid chugging of arguments is that marriage equality would make the marriage of a sister to a man into a “gay marriage”.  To which I say, only if your peers are right wing Taliban Christers.  But then if they know your history they aready think of you in the same terms as the queens who show up on Jerry Springer to brawl for the edification of tabloid TV watchers.

The venomous homophobia spewed by some sisters is up there with that spewed by Ted Haggard and Larry Craig as well as a number of other rabid right wing closet cases before their being exposed by folks like Mike Rogers.  It speaks volumes more about your own insecurities than of your sense of femaleness.

The secure position is indifference not turning into a hate spewing Ann Coulter doll filling the room with epithets every time some one yanks your string.

The secure position is realizing that your rights are not based on the oppressing of others.

Marriage equality does not threaten my sureness in my being female.

Why Do Women Singers Have to Look Like Barbie?

From Alternet:

The obvious answer has to do with the marketing of gender with a message reinforcing the idea of women as “other” and objectification.

The current women musicians I am most likely to listen to are far from the commercial packaged image.  I like Ani Di Franco, Kaki King, Jill Souble, Amanda Palmer, Liz Phar and the like.  Punkish with tats piercings and attitude.

By Luanne Bradley, EcoSalon
Posted on September 10, 2009, Printed on September 11, 2009

The album title is Fearless but the message is be flawless. So what if you can sing. Are you drop-dead gorgeous, model thin and loved by the camera?

When young female vocalists are over-styled to sell, something serious gets lost in the packaging: Raw talent.

I remember back in the day when that talent came in a very simple, green package. Contained within, the songstress: Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Roberta Flack, Holly Near, Cris Williamson, Jennifer Warnes and  Carol King.

These icons of my generation were sensual, real women, clad in ribbed sweaters and peasant blouses. When they sang Tapestry, Heart Like a Wheel and Blue, we focused entirely on their voices, instruments, lyrics and message – in other words, the music.

Does anyone else out there miss the music? As I kid, I wanted to emulate these women, so I learned to play the guitar and focused on being a natural woman. Isn’t that the thrust of our evolution to eco?

Cut to Taylor Swift’s ubiquitous Romeo and Juliet Love Story video, in which the singer is cast as the skinny blond Disney princess – sewn into a fitted, medieval gown, tresses swept into an updo of ringlets, face airbrushed like a porcelain doll’s. Who notices the voice when the supermodel image is so captivating?

The message is clear: This is the fairy tale love story that can come with perfection. Not fight the war, protect the migrant worker, sit in a park in Paris, France, read the news and find yourself.

Not to single out Swift. Other popular videos bundle the entire hot Barbie brand: The boyish bod, the doll face, the air-brushed make-up, the expert hip hop dance moves, the skanky get-up, the seductive rubbing up against the back-up dancers, the mediocre voice.

And you better have it all, baby, if you want to go far – you know, selling product lines of phat made-in-China clothes, cruel platform shoes and your very own sickly-sweet scent at Macy’s. Ka-ching!

Of course the package sells but sadly the takers are young, impressionable teens, who croon about their lovely lady humps the same way we harmonized to Leaving on a Jet Plane.

My own over-exposed, naturally beautiful 13-year-old daughter won’t leave the house until she has molded her likeness to the popular culture ideal: Hair flat-ironed, blemishes concealed, skinny jeans tight and hitting the Converse high-tops just right, Lash Blast and eye liner caking the wide-eyed peepers and all body hair erased.

Recently, a shallow girl who was visiting our home played dress-up with my daughter on a weekday afternoon and opined, “You look super gorgeous, Sydney, except for your freckles, which are really ugly.”

After the put down, my daughter suggested she have her adorable freckles removed by laser. Teen fans are not conditioned to see freckles or other imperfections on those 20-something, supermodel pop stars. It might make them look, well, real.

My daughter is convinced flaws aren’t part of the package. She never sampled Carol King’s unruly hair or Joni Mitchell’s sexy overbite. She doesn’t know from icons who can actually sing, write, compose and perform without the bells and whistles, smoke and mirrors, butt pads, hair extensions and boob jobs.

Recently, Fabsugar asked readers to vote which pop star would they like to be, emphasizing which look appeals most to wanna-be singers (glamor of Christina, punk style of Pink, sleek R&B or Indie)?

I love one of the 55 responses: “I like to live a bit of a glam life but not too much…Christina’s way too much for me (plus the hair, the make-up and constant need of showing some cleavage, no really). I went with Natasha Bedingfield without hesitating: fresh, young and stylish. All I’m missing is that small detail: talent. Hmmm, where I can get some of that?”

Fergie and Christina certainly have talent but all that plastic and glitter conceals the woman behind the microphone.

The men behind the music, same as the Hollywood suits behind films, play down the talent and play up the packaging because it fools the audience in a plasticized society trained to see the fabulous sugar coating rather than the true ingredients.

Honestly, would a Linda Ronstadt even make it today? Can you picture a young Bonnie Raitt strumming those slide blues guitar licks on American Idol? Misogynistic Simon Cowell wouldn’t know what to make of little Bonnie’s intense, bottleneck style of jamming. Run, run, run, run, run away.

For the sake of my own daughters, I wish we could keep the great dance music but return to a day when female vocalists ruled with a good set of pipes and an inspirational message. Even if the message is the universal notion that love hurts, it is vastly more believable when sung by a flag burning, guitar strumming, globally-connected messenger with unruly hair, an overbite, and yes, even freckles.

© 2009 EcoSalon All rights reserved.
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