|This guest blog post was written by The Angry Chihuahua. He can be found at his online home over at his personal blog at The Angry Chihuahua yipping and yapping (together at last!) |
I wrote a guest blog for Trans Talk many moons ago, and I'm back again at the gracious tolerance of the hostess with the mostest, De.
Let it be known from the outset that I love me some Julia Serano (http://www.juliaserano.com/). Her breakout book, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity (http://www.juliaserano.com/whippinggirl.html), blew my mind and was the best feminist work I'd read in years. And I am a dude who reads feminist essays like other people read People magazine, so that's no small statement.
I am saying all this to establish that I really value and appreciate what Dr. Serano's written on feminism and, specifically, about feminism's intersections with trans women. Because in this post, I want to talk about something that I think Serano got very, very wrong.
In Whipping Girl, she briefly discusses her perception that genderqueer and other non-binary-identified folks (especially trans male spectrum genderqueer folks, i.e., those assigned female at birth) get a better deal than trans women in queer circles. Genderqueers (and, again, female assigned at birth genderqueers specifically) are regarded as radical and progressive and cool, whereas trans women get hit with the derogatory labels of "retrogressive" and even "anti-feminist."
This isn't an entirely inaccurate picture, sad to say, but I do believe it's a bit incomplete. Some queer circles--in particular, radical queer circles and, further, radical queer circles dominated by cis (non-trans) people--do seem to prioritize genderfuck, gender-bending, and other forms of gender nonconformance over what's considered traditional gender performance. And such queers sometimes do think those of us who feel they fit pretty well into one of the two available slots in the gender binary are sellouts if not actual enemy collaborators.
These queers are assholes. Anyone who prescribes gender expression for others--whether it be co
nformance or nonconformance--is.
But be this as it may, I haven't seen this translate into respect for genderqueers and other non-binary-identified folks, and their identities, in queer communities in general. Or even in trans communities. On the contrary, what I've seen is a whole lot of binary-identified people assigning genderqueer people a binary pronoun based on what that person apparently feels the genderqueer person most "looks" like. Often, this means "he" for trans male folks who are deemed masculine and "she" for trans female folks who are deemed feminine.
This has been at cis-dominated queer meetings. This has been at trans-dominated meetings. I've seen this from cis people and from trans people alike. I've seen this from men and from women alike. The one constant is that this is coming from binary-identified people.
And while never excusable in any context, it's particularly galling to watch binary-identified trans people, many of whom have fought very hard for their own correct pronouns, do this to others.
I've watched non-binary-identified people at trans meetings start giving pronoun preference hierarchies that include binary pronouns--because they've come to learn that the other people in the room simply won't use their actual preferred, gender neutral/third gender pronoun. It is an outrage that trans meetings that are so careful to ask everyone for their preferred pronouns will then go on to ignore those pronouns when the pronoun isn't a convenient "he" or "she."
So here's my challenge to my fellow binary-identified trans folks: Use the right pronouns for everybody. Scrupulously. Religiously. For binary-identified folks, for non-binary-identified folks. For women, for genderqueers, for men. Show respect for everyone under the great gender umbrella.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Right Pronouns For All Is A Matter Of Respect: Binary-Identified, Non-Binary-Identified, Women, Genderqueers, Men
Posted by De Sube at 3/23/2010 11:17:00 AM