About Your Issues…

II’m not sure I’ve ever posted a warning like this before, but given the derail that happened in the last trans-centered thread: this is a post about fetishization of trans people. Cis people are welcome to post here, but please do try to advance the ball. Transphobic, transmisogynistic, and disrespectful language is unwelcome.)

In comments here, voz linked to this Annalee Newitz article on Nerve–I may even have linked it back when in a post about trannychasing and Margaret Cho. (Newitz also wrote an earlier essay about trans people–trans women, really–which is just straight-up transphobic; in the newer essay, she says that she used to be transphobic, in part because of internalized shame.)

A lot of commenters to the article pointed out that Newitz recites transphobic tropes about trans people, like this one, even as she talks about what awesome sexual partners they are:

Of course, there’s also something frankly pragmatic about my trannychasing. As a bisexual, it’s more convenient for me if I can date someone who has lived on both sides of the fence. Many trannies — although certainly not all — give off a kind of bisexual eroticism. Even if they’ve had sex-reassignment surgery, they can’t erase their memories of having been treated like a member of the other sex, and it affects the way they interact with me.

She can always tell. No matter what you’ve done to your body, some of that original gender just doesn’t rub off. Note too the way that she places the responsibility for a gendered interaction squarely on the shoulders of the marked class. It’s not that she treats them differently, but that they are different.

This passage also makes the same mistake that defines the essay: briefly, Newitz defines trans gender as transgressive gender. Trans gender is a visibly incongruent blend of gender cues that sets itself up against cis gender, which is conventional. Trans genders are different. Trans people are not like us.

Trannies make me hot because their gender transformations are transgressions, as well. I know this might sound old hat but, for me, sex has always been about some sort of transgression — I like to pull a boy’s hair when I kiss him, or pinch a girl’s nipple hard after I’ve licked it. If sex isn’t inappropriate or shocking, it isn’t pleasurable. Transgendered bodies are transgression incarnate. They don’t conform to expectations; they’re surprising; and they are often in the process of being utterly changed. Desiring a tranny comes out of a deep pull toward people who feel like they don’t fit in, and have done something radical about it. They’ve taken their bodies into their own hands and made something completely new.

Newitz prefers trans gender as she defines it. Different is better. Cis gender is implicitly defined as boring. Cis gender identity is also fetishistic in its way: dedicated to maintaining its status as natural and correct. But Newitz says some of the same things about trans gender identity and community. Hidebound clinginess happens when trans people find her annoying. Because she identifies herself as somebody with a transgressive relationship to gender, any wariness about her presence is reactionary. It’s not that someone might find her creepy or anything, or that trans people might not like hearing that they’re just plain different.

The problem with articles like this–with essays that use identity politics to describe the way that some kinds of ally status leave you vulnerable–is that they’re not exactly wrong about the popular treatment of subcultural companions. If it’s wrong to be something, it’s also wrong to want to be near it. It’s far worse to desire it in ways that aren’t bounded by segregationist social arrangements, and worst of all to desire it because you think it resonates with the same quality in you. So someone who does feel attraction to trans people is doing something wrong according to the dictates of a transphobic society. When Newitz identifies her experience as a marginalized one, she is right. That’s what it is.

Newitz makes a common mistake, though: she loses the distinction between having to want and having to be. Ranking oppressions is never productive, but desire carries the potential for distance as well as intimacy; someone who has the choice between the two has the option of escape, even as they keep the parts they enjoy.

Then she ignores the traditional way of obtaining social permission for desire: using sex as a way to cement hierarchies rather than disrupting them. It’s really easy to have sex that keeps one person intact and degrades the other. We’re very used to this practice, because we constantly draw borders and want across them, and because one of the brightest lines is the one we call sex. Sex is messy, volatile–when your body gets mixed up with someone else’s, lines will tend to blur–but this is precisely why some of the most vicious humiliations have become linked to sex. We inoculate ourselves with cruelty.

Trannychaser did not refer to someone attracted to trans people, although people like Newitz do use it that way. Nor exactly, as Newitz says, to a man who had sex with trans women but insisted that he was totally absolutely one-hundred-percent not like that. (The problem wasn’t that he insisted he was straight rather than gay.) It referred to a man who had sex with trans women in ways that allowed him to maintain, to himself and to others, that he was a normal upstanding man and she was scum. His treatment of her echoed the appropriate treatment of transsexuality. Sex as scapegoating.

The word hasn’t lost its original meaning. More importantly, the practice hasn’t died out, the need hasn’t dissolved. Most people relate to trans people in ways that allow them to maintain that they are normal upstanding citizens and trans people are scum. Our laws and the self-appointed watchdogs thereof define trans people in ways that carefully differentiate between the normal upstanding citizens and the gender trash. Gender as scapegoating.

(This is one reason public restrooms are one of the bloodiest battlegrounds in the struggle for trans gender equality. It isn’t only about preserving a man/woman dichotomy. It’s about preserving a cis/trans hierarchy. If a trans woman can sit on the same toilet as other women, there’s nothing unclean about her body, nothing inferior about her gender, nothing obscene about her sex.)

A commenter on the post argues that Newitz can’t reclaim “trannychaser” because trans people own tranny and thus trannychaser. I think it’s more than that. I don’t think any person from the hating class can take a term used by the hated class to denote an especially insidious form of hatred, no matter how sincere their intentions or unadulterated and proud their desire. Especially if it originally denoted hatred posing as love. They’re in the wrong place. Newitz wants trans people to be her allies:

But my identity owes no allegiance to any particular gender, and I keep falling in love with trannies because they’re my darling comrades, my co-conspirators. In a world where people cling to gender roles as if they were sacred objects, trannies blaspheme beautifully.

But she isn’t offering them respect. Her understanding of their genders is as self-serving; it’s just that camaraderie is part of her special conceit.


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107 Responses to About Your Issues…

  1. Sarah J says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s illuminating.

  2. The Opoponax says:

    Haven’t read the wholewhole post yet, because this stopped me in my tracks:

    Of course, there’s also something frankly pragmatic about my trannychasing. As a bisexual, it’s more convenient for me if I can date someone who has lived on both sides of the fence.

    As a bisexual person, I have to call FUCKING BULLSHIT! on this.

    Bisexuals are not people who need to fuck someone who has been a member of both genders/sexes. That’s not how it works. This is almost as stupid an idea as the old meme about bisexuals needing to have one partner of each sex at a time. Actually, it’s stupider, because the latter trope doesn’t fetishize a marginalized group.

    There’s a slightly self-hating part of me that wonders if some bisexuals aren’t attracted to the idea of fetishizing trans people because it helps them prove to themselves that they really are queer and definitively belong to the LGBT community. Look at me! I’m wild and crazy and kinky and definitely not one of those boring plain vanilla straight people! I definitely sympathize with that feeling. But then I generally try to work on that myself rather than using another person to make me feel better.

  3. RES says:

    What gets me is like any fetishization of a subclass she fails to recognize most of her attraction comes from feeling like a rebel to be able to love a lesser class. I somehow doubt she would be as interested in transpeople if they were not regaled to a freakish or lower status by most of society. It just lets her point to herself and say “look no transphobia here because I am sleeping with them”. How disgusting.

  4. Claire says:

    “Reclaiming” trannychaser? Give me a fucking break. See how a black partner of a white person feels about the idea of the white half of the partnership wearing a “nigger-lover” t-shirt. Not thrilled, I bet.

  5. sally says:

    Shorter response: fetishization is gross and insulting, period.

  6. Kristen J. says:

    To continue along RES’ line –

    How is this different from someone saying they like dating women because they’re so weak and dirty? That’s just creepy and not just a little evil.

  7. little light says:

    Ugh.
    I’m going to go take a long, shuddering shower now. And maybe brush my teeth, like, six times.

  8. I find it incredible that a person could write something that is so reductive and dehumanizing to a marginalized group of people she *claims* to understand and be so oblivious about it. And RES is so right: Newitz’s use of “trannychaser” isn’t reclaiming (even if she could somehow claim a right to engage in such an act); rather, it’s entirely in line with its use to describe someone having sex with transpeople in a manner elevating herself and demeaning her partners. That she demeans with desire rather than disgust doesn’t change the way she’s using the term. She feels like she’s transgressing norms because she’s othering her partners. That’s not an ironic or reclaiming use of a transphobic term–it’s a transphobic use of a transphobic term. Her defense of it is little more than “Oh but I’m cool. I’m different too. I’m not transphobic because I *like* it that you’re freaky.” She’s not engaging with her partners as individuals. She’s creating freaktastic genderbending archetypes of them in order to act out her own urge to “slum” and push the boundaries of her own sexual identity.

    Blech.

  9. piny says:

    Don’t forget to floss.

    Yeah, I’ve written about that aspect of it before, although I don’t know how separable the creep-factor is from the appropriation factor. I wanted to talk more about desire and equality. I’ve encountered more bad-touchy examples of the genre.

  10. aaron says:

    As a transperson, I appreciate piny taking the time to unpack the fetishizing done in the original article.

    The comment in Newitz that REALLY sent up red flags for me was about Newitz’ desire to have a tranny to take home and, in the heat of the moment, call them whatever the hell s/he wants to call them. THIS DESIRE IS NOT ONE THAT TRANSPEOPLE INHERENTLY WANT TO/NEED TO FULFILL FOR YOU. Consensual genderplay in sex is wonderful. NOT ALL TRANNIES CONSENT TO IT. Similarly, LOTS of cisgender folks DO want to participate in it. Newitz’ logic here of “transbody/trans presentation = automatic willingness to do genderplay in sex” is a hot mess. And it’s one that, I think, unites trannychasers across lines of their own identity/desire/presentation (i.e., a “good tranny” will eternally consent to the genderplay whims of their partner… a “bad [and for Newitz, unsexy] tranny” sets boundaries about how much they’re comfortable/willing to do in genderplay).

    Fuck that fetishizing crap.

  11. Holly says:

    OK, so I don’t know Annalee Newitz and I hadn’t read this before, although I DID read her “gender slumming” essay a long time ago as well as her retraction/apology of it, which was not bad for a “I have come to my senses about this” thing. And I agree that it’s important to talk about the problematics of fetishization and objectification, how people are turned into things for purposes of working out the desirer’s own issues with gender and marginalization and who knows what else, and how damaging that can be. I agree with a lot of what’s already been said.

    However, this is one thing that kind of makes me pause about all of this.

    This article was written eight years ago. That’s a long time.

    Time going by doesn’t mean a piece of writing can no longer be criticized — we absolutely should still be saying “Uh whoa Birth of a Nation has a bunch of racist shit in it” — but I definitely have no idea what the author’s relationship is to this rather personal and issue-laden piece. Especially since she’s someone who I originally found noteworthy for having such a turnaround change-of-heart about trans people — that doesn’t make her any kind of hero in my book, but it does indicate she’s capable of reflection at some level.

    I mean, when Newitz wrote this? That was back when I was UTTERLY CONVINCED that all trans people were pariahs and that I was going to suffer miserably in isolation for the rest of my life, having stones thrown at me by children, if I did not somehow manage to save up $75,000 to have every bone in my face surgically shaved down to look prettier. I am not shitting you about this — it was one of the core beliefs of my life. I hope it is obvious that I do not feel that way anymore. In fact, times have kind of changed when it comes to how people think about trans issues — to how TRANS people think about this stuff too. It’s not like anything truly underlying has changed about fetishization, but in 2001 I don’t think I was even aware that “trannychaser” could refer to anything other than the kind of creepy quasi-closeted guy who wanted to pay for a really discrete blowjob especially if you had “all your equipment.” Over the next few years it started to mean allllll sorts of things. And I guess this Newitz article can in some ways be positioned as the “leading edge” of many other trends in fetishizing the “transgression” of gender. But back then, I certainly had not figured out all the ways I felt about this stuff, and the wider communities I was embedded in hadn’t either. It might not even have been possible to make and articulate the kinds of critiques we can in this thread today. Some of us might have been “um… wow this makes me feel really gross” but I feel like it would have been harder to articulate. For me, certainly.

    I just thought that all bore mentioning, not as a defense or “hey leave Annalee alone!! LEAVE HER ALONE!! SOB” but because like, historical context, you know.

    Meanwhile JUST A MONTH AGO there was this:

    ..which made me throw up in my mouth a little. OK, a lot. But no matter how gross I feel about it, at some level I also have to kind of hope that yeah, Erika Moen is somewhere in the midst of a process about this and figuring out what is wrong with it and what’s not wrong with it, and yeah.

    Ugh.

  12. Nicole says:

    Well that certainly is the creepiest thing I have read in awhile.

  13. imogen says:

    I’d just like to make the point that a lot of trans women find the word “tranny” to be a slur, and that I personally feel uncomfortable with the way it gets tossed around as if it were unproblematic. If you have a minute, Cedar did a fantastic job explaining it:

    “Tranny” and Subversivism: Re-reclaiming “Tranny” (or not) part 1

    “Tranny” & Cis Women: Re-Reclaiming Tranny (or not) part 2

  14. piny says:

    Time going by doesn’t mean a piece of writing can no longer be criticized — we absolutely should still be saying “Uh whoa Birth of a Nation has a bunch of racist shit in it” — but I definitely have no idea what the author’s relationship is to this rather personal and issue-laden piece. Especially since she’s someone who I originally found noteworthy for having such a turnaround change-of-heart about trans people — that doesn’t make her any kind of hero in my book, but it does indicate she’s capable of reflection at some level.

    This is all fair, and I think I should at least have mentioned the time lapse. I don’t know what her current circumstances or beliefs are, either, although she hasn’t talked about this article the way she’s talked about the gender-slumming article. I know she’s also a contributor to other magazine, so. Apparently, she’s also written about transmen and pregnancy:

    http://www.sfbg.com/entry.php?entry_id=6105&volume_id=317&issue_id=373&volume_num=42&issue_num=28

    I know that there were discussions rebutting the stuff in the comic, more or less, around my transitioning friends maybe a year or two after the article was written. I’m not sure that there was so much critique of the idea of the Holy Third as love object so much as complaints about seeing transgenders and/or drag instead of people who considered themselves men and women. If that makes any sense. I knew some trans guys–and it happened to me–who were fetishized by chasers who saw them as especially womanlike, not just as some sort of hybrid. They resented that.

    Or, okay, maybe it is current:

    http://io9.com/5020069/science-fiction-that-could-turn-you-queer-if-only-for-a-nanosecond

    Also, one of her other articles said,

    Even ultra-mainstream “women’s media” types wanted a piece of Teena’s tale. Diane Keaton, who had been developing her own version of Teena’s life for a movie starring Drew Barrymore, was reportedly annoyed beyond belief that Boys Don’t Cry had beat her project to the box office.

    OMIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD EW EWWWWWWWWW.

    Now I need to go take a shower.

    http://bad.eserver.org/editors/1999/1999-11-30.html

  15. piny says:

    I’d just like to make the point that a lot of trans women find the word “tranny” to be a slur, and that I personally feel uncomfortable with the way it gets tossed around as if it were unproblematic. If you have a minute, Cedar did a fantastic job explaining it:

    “Tranny” and Subversivism: Re-reclaiming “Tranny” (or not) part 1

    “Tranny” & Cis Women: Re-Reclaiming Tranny (or not) part 2

    Thanks for mentioning it. It’s another part of the article that’s a problem.

  16. Holly says:

    Hey imogen,

    were you referring specifically to Cedar’s idea that only trans women / trans-feminine spectrum people have any business reclaiming the word “tranny” and that other people including trans guys should be way more circumspect about it? Because I think that’s a whole big other discussion, but it’s definitely worth considering / talking / using as a rule enough to ask about specifically.

    (hi, by the way. i haven’t seen you since your band played under the wmsburg bridge back in july 4 of 2006!! it has been too long. -meta)

  17. Holly says:

    Oh, and thanks for the updates Piny. I kind of skimmed but apparently she still slings the word “tranny” around like there’s no tomorrow and says fairly gross essentializing things about how trans people are “made” and how things Thomas Beatie does are “totally just like a guy” etc. Not the grossest thing in the world, but not exactly respectful or what I would consider… I dunno, a sound analysis of trans people & gender shit.

  18. piny says:

    I get that she was trying to be cute, but, yeah, still.

    The Beattie article was an interesting take on it; I really don’t know how I feel about the argument that biotech adds a veneer of “new” to what would otherwise be dangerous genderfuck. That doesn’t seem to have held true for “technologically created” gender. Everything but the pregnancy has been happening for a long time, and it hasn’t seemed to offer trans men much protection. In fact, “technologically created” has been used to delegitimize them.

    were you referring specifically to Cedar’s idea that only trans women / trans-feminine spectrum people have any business reclaiming the word “tranny” and that other people including trans guys should be way more circumspect about it? Because I think that’s a whole big other discussion, but it’s definitely worth considering / talking / using as a rule enough to ask about specifically.

    I don’t consider this a derail at all, and I really don’t want to pull things up short, but would you like me to start another thread about “tranny,” starting with Cedar’s posts?

  19. voz says:

    @piny
    um, not to make it all about me and my safety issues with this place, but would it be too much to ask pint to um, actually get my name rt?

    its voz, not Voz Latina.

    @holly while u have the benefit of a supporting rl space that allows u to see this as irrelevant and dated, most ppl here have been unaware of this lil fossil.

    That, and nerve and annalee are still at it, despite any apologias made.

    I’m really thrilled you have an envrironment that buffers you against cis stupidity. Not all of us can make the same claim.

    I now take ur claim of not being innocent as proven.

  20. imogen says:

    Hi Holly! Oh man, haha, that was a hundred million years ago.

    I realized after I posted, my comment was mostly directed toward the commenter named aaron, not at the article itself- I just did a bad job of saying that out loud. I do feel like it’s relevant to all the discussion that’s going on though.

    I do think that the way you just framed it- “only trans women / trans-feminine spectrum people have any business reclaiming the word “tranny” and that other people including trans guys should be way more circumspect about it”- is a pretty succinct description of what I believe, although don’t think this comment thread is necessarily the best place to talk about it. Basically, though, the most important thing for me to get across is just that, as Cedar writes,

    “from all these references[…], we can gather the following picture of what “tranny” is supposed to represent: sexually polluted, perverted/slutty/sex-obsessed/promiscuous, ugly, bitchy, really-male, exists only for sex, fake, doing femininity wrong/badly/not feminine enough/hyperfeminine.”

    When a [trans] guy, for example, uses that word, those specifics (eg not feminine enough) carry a very different weight than they do when, say, a trans woman does. Or… doesn’t.

  21. Holly says:

    It’s not that I think it’s irrelevant and dated. It’s totally still relevant, that’s why I posted that comic from a month ago. It’s that the AUTHOR wrote it eight years ago and a lot has changed in various communities, in discourse online about trans stuff, in my own life, probably in her life, in that intervening time. So I don’t really know — I think the links Piny provides sheds some more light on it, and certainly Nerve is still posting that f’d up stuff about trans people like the article about how cute that teacher found the word “cunty.”

    I also don’t expect anyone else to have any kind of “trying to allow space and time for people to change and go through a process of fucking up and getting it right.” That is something I’m thinking about personally right now for a bunch of reasons, but I definitely do not want to advocate it as some kind of general solution. There are tons of reasons to throw up about this and not make any excuses for anyone, I certainly don’t want to come off like I’m making excuses for them. It’s different.

  22. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    Ok, I’m trying to step lightly here because I don’t know how I identify in regards to cis/transgender.

    To spit it out, Newlitz’s post bothers me as someone who identifies as transgressive in regards to gender. Because when I get down to it, my “gender” is only sexy in the company of a long-time companion who understands and has experienced many of the same threats, snubs and discrimination. In most other cases my transgressive gender feels threatening and alienating. There are two cases in California, two which will pivot on the claim that letting Lawrence King be feminine in school constituted a negligent risk that precipitated his murder.

    It’s my experience that the ability of a person to actually empathize with my experiences and what flips me out is inversely proportional to how often they say that my queerness is “just so hot.” Which is why I’m in mild and probably tangental disagreement with The Opoponax. Not that I’m chasing anyone these days, but I don’t feel obligated to give benefit of doubt to people who are not queer.

  23. piny says:

    its voz, not Voz Latina.

    Sorry–I assumed “voz” was a diminunitive; I’ve seen people refer to you by both. I’ll fix it.

  24. Tess Eract [formerly Backson] says:

    This person likes to pull hair and pinch nipples–are those things done with mutual consent? Is she ready to have it done to her in return?
    And it’s okay to have a fetish, but please remember that at least half of it is you, the way you are, and not the way whoever [or whatever] you are fetishizing is. If they turn you on, just be grateful. They aren’t obligated to cater to you–all right, end of lecture, but she lost me at the hair-pulling bit.

  25. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    Which, saying that I’m “transgressive” in regards to gender probably makes things even worse in ways that I’ve not really thought about.

  26. imogen says:

    Oh and piny- sorry I didn’t see this the first time I read it. I don’t feel like a thread on the word “tranny” is necessary or anything- and I’d be reluctant to be involved because I’ve had that conversation so many times, to no avail, that I’m completely burned out on it- but I’d be totally excited to see it. You might e-mail Cedar and make sure ze’s okay with hir article being linked prominently, but I think ze probably would.

  27. Rebecca says:

    Newitz prefers trans gender as she defines it. Different is better. Cis gender is implicitly defined as boring. Cis gender identity is also fetishistic in its way: dedicated to maintaining its status as natural and correct.

    I’m…intrigued (to put it nicely) by what she says about hair-pulling and pinching as transgressive in the same way that transgender people are transgressive. Those are “normal” for plenty of people. I don’t think it’s transgender people that Newitz fetishizes so much as anything outside of that very, very tiny box of cisgender vanilla sex* – which is just as much a fetishizing of that cisgender vanilla sex. Transpeople, those with whom they form healthy relationships, and people into BDSM and whatever other kinks don’t need to fetishize cis vanilla sex in order to enjoy what they do. They could, y’know, just like their partners for who they are and like the things they do with them.

    *Of course it is still massively offensive to transpeople.

  28. Bene says:

    Been lurking for a few weeks and I don’t have anything new to say, but I felt the need to comment on this. Because I’m bi and genderqueer and a SF fan who previously had seen Newitz as the main saving grace at io9. I’ve got to agree with the Opoponax at 2–I’m massively offended by the assertions of ‘I’m attracted to trans* people because I’m bi’, alongside the bullshit about inherent difference and fetishization.

    Not to mention that along with the offensive language in the io9 post piny linked in #14, it’s a massive, massive dumbing down of queer issues in SF, both in terms of sex and in terms of gender.

  29. belledame222 says:

    That article, eight years old or not, was seriously ick, I thought. “Hi! Let’s talk about Me and how transgressive I am by positively objectifying these totally exotic and RLY SRSLY TRANSGRESSIVE PPL.”

    i mean, yes, I take Holly’s point that–I can see how something like that might come as a breath of fresh air if the only other context were even more offensive and -negatively- objectifying crap. I get it, sort of, in the way that…

    well, to sort of connect a parallel (I realize not the same sitch, each axis of oppression is its own world of specialness, but) once upon a time, I gushed to this straight woman for this “edgy” version of Alice in Wonderland play she’d written involving a lot of queer characters/sexuality. I didn’t really grok at the time that she was making the queer characters sinister and decadent and just a whole shitload of hetnormative stereotypes (poor little straight girl lost in a world of dark and dangerous sexuality, which is of course where the queer people live). I just saw, hay, some representation better than none.

    I maybe had a bit more of an inkling that she wasn’t a friend when she had this funny expression as I gushed at her.

    later she was overheard talking about how all the “drama fags” had showed up for something or other. whee!

    she could’ve been less of an asshole and more willing to learn, I suppose, but as it happened i got permanently turned off by her.

    eh, life’s journey or something, I guess.

  30. denelian says:

    at the risk of making an “all about me” sort of statement…
    i need help with a “trans issue”. i know trans people, they are people, i’d never really thought about it before this happened – in my head, if a person say she is a woman, she is a woman, if a person says he is a man, he is man.
    i have a friend who is a MtoF transwoman.
    she hits on me; i turn her down. i am straight. if you tell me you are female, you are *female*. but she won’t stop, and i really don’t want to be rude (its a flaw). i don’t care that she’s trans – i care that she’s *female*. i asked a friend for advice on how to convince her that this is a lost cause. he said he’d talk to her… but he talked to everyone *else* instead, and convinced a whole bunch of people that she was “harrassing” me and that “they need to fix it”
    it’s causing a lot of ugliness in our circle of friends, there are people i know that have taken to calling her male version of her name out of spite, and there have been threats made against her of the “we’ll tell everyone you’re really a guy” sort. i don’t want this, no one is listening to me, and i am really really afraid someone is going to *HURT* her. i don’t know why they are making a big deal out of it – they’ve all known her for *years*, one of the ones make the worst threats is the guy who introduced us! no one had ANY problem with her until i turned her down and she didn’t give up (but no one cares when a *GUY* does the same thing).
    please? i’m frantic, something is going to blow up somewhere, i really don’t want her to get hurt. but NO ONE WILL LISTEN. i tell people over and over that i am not offended by her flirting, that i don’t want people to be mean, that if they are mad at her about something to just talk to her about it and work it out – i think that i am being used as the “reason” for people to hurt her…
    i’m sorry for going OT, but i’m really worried and i need advise, actual advise, please

  31. belledame222 says:

    erm, yeah, the hair pulling and nipple pinching I tend to assume is consensual. I mean that wasn’t the problem I was having. mind you if she -was- doing such things non consensually then yeah, big ol’ problem, but…

    the whole “edgyncool!!*” thing really grates too, I have to say.

  32. belledame222 says:

    There’s a slightly self-hating part of me that wonders if some bisexuals aren’t attracted to the idea of fetishizing trans people because it helps them prove to themselves that they really are queer and definitively belong to the LGBT community. Look at me! I’m wild and crazy and kinky and definitely not one of those boring plain vanilla straight people!

    I dunno whether it was specifically a bi thing, but definitely with her it seemed like “no, really, I’m NOT boring and plain, I’m NOT.” which…I dunno. it’s one thing if one wants to remain in touch with one’s community, any community, but the whole “the worst thing in the world I can think of for myself is to be boring” is just…well, that’s nice for ye, you know, but…

  33. belledame222 says:

    o.O. at Erica Moen panel. damn, that’s…disappointing.

  34. drakyn says:

    I loathe this idea that people can ‘reclaim’ trannychaser (& I hate those terms made to replace it & be more positive–like transsensual).
    One of the reasons I think it’s impossible to ‘reclaim’ trannychaser is that it’s like trying to reclaim sexist or bully.
    To reclaim a word you need to be a member of an oppressed class and take a word used to describe you and make that word positive/neutral.
    Cis* people who objectify trans* people are not an oppressed group & trans* people who don’t like being objectified (nonconsensually and/or for being trans) are not the powerful group.
    Moreover, trannychaser is a term created by trans* people to describe the people who dehumanize us sexually.
    A bully should not be proud of being a sexist; no one should see being a bully as a great thing.

  35. belledame222 says:

    What gets me is like any fetishization of a subclass she fails to recognize most of her attraction comes from feeling like a rebel to be able to love a lesser class.

    This.

  36. belledame222 says:

    ..and having now finally looked at that earlier article as well, it’s…there’s a -lot- of irony about, isn’t there. -Who- is “gender slumming,” exactly? -Who- is projecting fantasies onto whom?

    I mean did she ever figure -that- part out, i.e. in that second, presumably later essay, “oh, shit, I guess that would actually be me”?

  37. belledame222 says:

    …actually, now I’m rereading, I can see why the wariness wrt hair pulling and nipple twisting given the whole context of her MEMEMEME tone. I was just, there’s nothing about hair pulling etc -per se- that I’d find more problematic than, say, misgendering someone on account of ZOMG MY PERCEPTION OF YR RADICAL TRANSGRESSIVENESS IS HAWT I TOTES DON’T CARE THAT YOU’RE COMPLETELY NON-GENDERQUEER, NOT INTERESTED IN ME, AND JUST WANT TO GO HOME AND WATCH THE GAME WITH YOUR FRIENDS.

    “I’m not here for your entertainment, you don’t really wanna mess with me tonight…”

    listen to Pink, Annalee. she hath words of wisdoms for you, too.

  38. denelian says:

    (piny, if you think my earlier comment is something that might cause an issue or hurt/offend someone, go ahead and delete it… i’ve been asking about my situation for a couple weeks at various places, and no one wants to touch it; i think people think that i am trying to troll. i am *not* trying to troll. but if its a potential issue, i get it. but if you have any advice or know of someplace where i may find some, i would REALLY appreciate it. you can email me denelian at yahoo. the situation is getting worse and i am really lost. thank you)

  39. Charlie says:

    I’ve been working for transgender visibility and trans liberation for almost a decade, and I’ve come to the conclusion that trans people will never get respect — will never deserve respect — unless we respect people who are brave enough to express admiration and desire for us.

  40. The Opoponax says:

    it’s one thing if one wants to remain in touch with one’s community, any community, but the whole “the worst thing in the world I can think of for myself is to be boring” is just…well, that’s nice for ye, you know, but…

    Well, that’s not so much how I meant it, but I think she does come off that way. I meant more the desire to prove to oneself that one is not straight.

    I’m not sure if others get this at all, but I’ve felt a lot of pressure from the more homophobic (or maybe just heteronormative?) people in my life about my sexuality basically being a cute college girl phase. And that eventually I’m going to find a nice guy and settle down and make babies just like all normal people are supposed to do. While I’m not sure that other bisexual people experience this sort of thing, if one does, I suppose one reaction is to throw oneself headlong into OMG I AM SO FUCKING QUEER! I FUCK TRANSFOLK! SUCK ON THAT, STRAIGHT PEOPLE!

    Again, I feel like it’s always better to deal with that crap on your own than to go find someone to fetishize.

  41. It’s been over eight years, and I’m still married to the amazing woman I wrote about in that Nerve article. I’m grateful every day that I’ve found such a wonderful person to share my life with, and I hope to be writing smutty articles about my beautiful wife until the day I die.

  42. Liz says:

    After typing a lot of comments under several different blog-names and then deleting them again in despair I will just say this at least for now.

    http://lodestarquarterly.com/work/316/

    Over and out.

    – Liz aka badgerbag

  43. drakyn says:

    Wtf are you trying to say Liz?
    Not everyone grocks poetry.
    And linking to a poem titled “radical girls” when one of the main topics we’re talking about are people who objectify all trans men into “radikewl, transgressive, third-genders”…does not bode well.

  44. belledame222 says:

    eh, piny, feel free not to unmod that last one, think it might be a derail.

  45. Liz says:

    belledame I have long and often admired your fierce blogging but do you seriously consider my love poem about desire and being allies to be “derailing”? I’m feminist and a blogger and non-normatively gendered too, and this thread concerns me certainly as much as it concerns you.

  46. belledame222 says:

    um. I was actually referring to my own as yet unmoderated post as potentially “derailing.” per yours, mostly, I didn’t understand your point.

    seeing as how I am semi-officially On Vacation, I’ll just bow out here, I think.

  47. Borea says:

    I just lost an incredibly long response to this article… crap.

    I am transgendered myself, and the gist of my response was:

    yes Newitz is fetishiszing my very existence. But she is more likely to listen to our response than, say, a cis male who is attracted to “trannies” but has lots of self-directed homophobia. Newitz, in short, is committing a very minor sin in my book.

    I myself find people physically attractive in ways that they might not be flattered to know. I, however, don’t feel any shame for these desires. Shame gets you very little. But I am aware of how they make others feel… and in short I am currently spending some time and mental effort about how to best work with these desires with respect to myself and my possible future partners… whether they have a physical trait I find “sexy” or not.

    As to Newitz reclaiming “trannychaser?” Uh, NO. “Tranny” is like “milf” or “slut.” They are words used by the porn industry to own, dregrade, objectify us. I don’t want words to have such negative meanings, but Newtiz’s tactics for reclaiming “trannychaser” just strike me as wrong. Removing hate from a word is… complicated. I wish I had some simple answers as to how to do it.

  48. Holly says:

    I think she meant her own post, #39. And given the intended retraction of an “eh,” let’s all just stay on the rails, hm?

  49. Cedar says:

    I’m kinda late to the game, saw this only once my blog got linked. (I read some interesting stuff that way, though it ends up becoming very “tranny” centric, which gets weird.)

    If you want to make a new thread about tranny and link me prominently, would you give me an email + a couple days notice to write a part 3? I don’t know that I have that much to add, but there are some criticisms I need to respond to.

    As for your post:

    Trannychaser did not refer to someone attracted to trans people…it referred to a man who had sex with trans women in ways that allowed him to maintain, to himself and to others, that he was a normal upstanding man and she was scum. His treatment of her echoed the appropriate treatment of transsexuality.

    … I don’t think any person from the hating class can take a term used by the hated class to denote an especially insidious form of hatred, no matter how sincere their intentions or unadulterated and proud their desire. Especially if it originally denoted hatred posing as love. They’re in the wrong place.

    That really hits at the dynamic for me, how a really reductive view of language reclamation has taken hold (using bad word to mean good thing = good, end of story.), that totally misses the point w/rt the actual dynamics of power at play, what the word means, and why. (maybe that’s really what I need to write a post on) My experience of cis people (cis women) wanting to reclaim that word is of trying to legitimize ‘primarily dating/being attracted to trans folk’ against trans people assuming it’s busted–but it does the exact opposite, by denying the distinction between attraction and exploitation. It justifies the position of exploitation, and even declaration of ‘trannychaser’ identity to a cis/straight/transphobic crowd is only declaring the legitimacy of the exploitation, not the attraction itself.

    I don’t know that I really added much there. meh.

    If a trans woman can sit on the same toilet as other women, there’s nothing unclean about her body, nothing inferior about her gender, nothing obscene about her sex.)

    Yes. I’ve always wondered why feminists who understand that rape is generally people-you-know get so up in arms about trans women in bathrooms. But it’s using “rape” in the patriarchial sense–where the worry really isn’t about bodily integrity but more about pollution/ritually uncleanliness, where potential contact in the bathroom is the thing that has to be avoided, not rape. The ‘but trans women are already using the fucking toilet’ argument falls flat because the present situation keeps trans women in line/invisible, it’s a tool of control and subordination and epistemic/ontological violence rather than primarily a physically violent act. Trans women are symbolically unclean, so their symbolic absence is what’s necessary. Establishing bathrooms as a cis place requires trans people (women) who enter to be invisible–those who enter invisibly are still entering someone-else’s-space if they have only an ambiguous right to be there/have to maintain a cis appearance, giving up their ability to affect the symbolic stature of the place–the violence against those who can’t pass and the rhetoric against all serve to create the impression of a boundary even when that boundary is nonexistant or unenforceable.

  50. piny says:

    Newitz says:

    It’s been over eight years, and I’m still married to the amazing woman I wrote about in that Nerve article. I’m grateful every day that I’ve found such a wonderful person to share my life with, and I hope to be writing smutty articles about my beautiful wife until the day I die.

    Congratulations? Happy nipple-pinching? Nobody is trying to dissolve your marriage. The problem is not that you found her, love her, or find her extremely hot and amazing. The problem also isn’t your partner’s relationship to her gender or your views on gender/transgression. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is that you see trans people as a monolith extrapolation of all that; the trans community interests you to the extent that it embodies transgression and understands itself according to your needs.

    Look at the responses to the article. There are trans people who do not want to be chased. Many of them do not consider transsensuality to have anything to do with their erotic lives identities. There are also trans people who just don’t see their trans gender as primarily about gender transgression. The article doesn’t even mention them, even though they are very vocal. Even though many of them are queer, genderqueer, visibly trans, and nothing but proud in themselves, they don’t agree with you about what trans means or what trannychasing can mean.

    If you love the community so much, and if you see its people as so brilliantly revolutionary, then you need to acknowledge and respect the broader political currents in their discussion. You don’t get to take the ideas and arguments that are most flattering to you.

    And here’s Charlie:

    I’ve been working for transgender visibility and trans liberation for almost a decade, and I’ve come to the conclusion that trans people will never get respect — will never deserve respect — unless we respect people who are brave enough to express admiration and desire for us.

    Whenever the trannychasing thing was discussed on /ftm–say a guy posted about how he found it creepy and disrespectful, how he wanted to be seen and loved as a man rather than a special kind of butch or a “completely new” thing altogether–some people would respond with the fear that they would die alone. They would say that the trans community needed people like this, needed attention like that, because where else would they get it? At least these people wanted to have sex with them, and at least they weren’t ashamed of it.

    This does not seem like a template for equality. And are you seriously arguing that trans people who find “trannychasing” creepy do not deserve respect for their identities? I don’t think there’s any quid pro quo. But I also don’t agree that sexual or romantic desire deserves gratitude in and of itself, especially when it’s as self-absorbed as this kind of trannychasing seems to be. Well-intentioned, sure. Noble? I don’t think so.

    But wanting you, Charlie Anders, or even trans people in general, is not the problem. Okay? This has nothing to do with admiring trans people (even the ones who don’t deserve our respect). It’s that Newitz constructs a reductive view of trans people in order to support her preferences. Sexual or not, that’s inappropriate. There’s no point in admiring an inaccurate picture.

  51. Amanda in the South Bay says:

    “trans people will never get respect — will never deserve respect — unless we respect people who are brave enough to express admiration and desire for us.”

    I’m not so sure it takes a lot of bravery to fetishize trans people. Likewise, trans people deserving respect shouldn’t be dependent on what others think of us.

  52. piny says:

    Establishing bathrooms as a cis place requires trans people (women) who enter to be invisible–those who enter invisibly are still entering someone-else’s-space if they have only an ambiguous right to be there/have to maintain a cis appearance, giving up their ability to affect the symbolic stature of the place–the violence against those who can’t pass and the rhetoric against all serve to create the impression of a boundary even when that boundary is nonexistant or unenforceable.

    Yes! It establishes trans status as a status crime. This is why arguments about using the bathroom you pass best in–aside from the practical problems any transitioning person could tell you all about–aren’t right: they force trans people to hide themselves in order to go out in public.

  53. little light says:

    I’ve been working for transgender visibility and trans liberation for almost a decade, and I’ve come to the conclusion that trans people will never get respect — will never deserve respect — unless we respect people who are brave enough to express admiration and desire for us.

    What? I’m sorry, this looks like admiration to you? This looks like desire for us, and not for some cool-kid slumming cred for being willing to touch something titillatingly dirty?
    I say we’ll never get respect unless we pay attention to who actually respects us. This isn’t respect. And mistaking being used in this way, as many of us have been, for respect and alliance? That’s not the way to get respect. That’s just us, not believing we deserve to be treated as fully human, settling for exploitation because we think its the only way anyone will ever touch us. That’s us buying into the notion that we will never have real respect.
    I am all for sticking by the cis people who choose to truly stand with us and our communities. I am all for respecting the cis people who take the time–and the effort–to learn about us as real people, understand what we know we need, and listen with a little humility and, yes, respect. But we can’t mistake them, including those among them who are interested in us sexually and romantically, for being the same thing as people who think we’re an excitingly transgressive toy they can play with to sate their own needs while leaving us in the dirt. It’s been done. It’s a dead end.

  54. belledame222 says:

    confusion wrt the OP here:

    because there’s no difference between

    “Wow, I find you attractive. Including, but -certainly- not limited to, your non-normative body, which personally turns me on, because while I have certain ‘hot buttons’ for turn ons, same as everyone else, gosh, I actually understand you’re a whole entire person of your very own, not just a two dimensional projection screen for my fantasies”

    and

    “so, ladies! (yeah!) ladies! (yeah!) if you wanna ride in my Mercedes! Turn around! Stick it out!…”

    especially if the lady in question has not, in fact, expressed an interest in Mercedes, turning around, sticking it out, or indeed the “chaser” in question.

    right. /back on Vacation for real now.

  55. Lynn says:

    “It’s been over eight years, and I’m still married to the amazing woman I wrote about in that Nerve article. I’m grateful every day that I’ve found such a wonderful person to share my life with, and I hope to be writing smutty articles about my beautiful wife until the day I die.”

    Not really sure what your point is but I wanted to remind you that theres alot of married men out there that you probably wouldn’t consider allies against sexism.

  56. Lynn says:

    “I’ve been working for transgender visibility and trans liberation for almost a decade, and I’ve come to the conclusion that trans people will never get respect — will never deserve respect — unless we respect people who are brave enough to express admiration and desire for us.”

    Personally, I respect people who can express adiration and desire without disrespecting us.

  57. belledame222 says:

    but here, all right: I find genderfuck hot. I find drag hot, yes. I like to play with other people who also find such things hot. I have a number of gender-related fetishes (among other fetishes). It’s nifty when you find other people who not only don’t shame you for your erotic tastes, they share them. Absotively.

    -Also- -separately-, I have been attracted to trans women as well as cis women (and even the odd dude here and there), although to me when that has happened that has not been a “fetish,” that has been “I am attracted to this woman for x y and z reasons, some of which I may or may not be entirely conscious of, same as any other attraction.” Some of those women (cis and trans alike) are kinky and/or gender-bent. -Some aren’t-. That’s up to THEM. You know?

    -Attraction- =! -fetish.- And yes, both are legitimate? but it really kind of helps to distinguish between the two. As in, one is at least -somewhat-, -ideally-, about a -person-, and the other is about old tapes in the head which may or may not map onto an actual person.

    And it’s fine to have all sorts of fantasies. Thing is, when they -don’t- happen to match up with the actual person in front of you? See the above video? It’s not just for straight cis dudes anymore, okay?

    -Women can be patronizing/objectifying assholes too.- Which seems to be the other part of the umm whatever it is going on here.

    And y’know, I get that some people (cis and trans alike) get off (erotically and/or otherwise) on the very idea of being “radical,” and I suppose that personally I find that tiresome and/or squicky is at least partly My Stuff, but it’s like…

    well, I -don’t- want to derail, but you know, there are reasons why the phrase “sex positive” tends to kind of hit my teeth like too much ice cream too fast these days. Not the concept: the phrase. Because there’s just a -little bit- too much confusion of

    “yes, my eroticism is valid, and saying that in a sex negative world is a big deal all by itself, okay”

    with

    “My sex life will Save The World!! Gosh, I feel so self-actualized now! ‘Other people?’ Vas is das ‘other people?’ Oh yeah: the -objects- of my desire: they’re awesome. What? I just -said- you were awesome! I TOTALLY RESPECT YOU RLY SRSLY…Okay, now I’m off to write about my breakfast which is TOTALLY SERIOUSLY FEMINIST ACTIVISM seeing as how it’s from a feminist”

    -sigh-

    okay. VACATION DAMMIT.

  58. belledame222 says:

    Not really sure what your point is but I wanted to remind you that theres alot of married men out there that you probably wouldn’t consider allies against sexism.

    Or racism. Because, I’m sure no one else has ever seen something like this, either:

    “What? I RESPECT the Asian Cultures. I think their way of life and their women are SUPERIOR to -our- way of life and women. That’s why I belong to -shylotusblossomadmirers-. Hey, I met my wife that way! She’ll tell you how awesome and totally not at all racist or sexist I am!! She KNOWS me. You don’t KNOW me, maaaaannnn. Ergo, you have no right to find anything I’ve ever said racist or sexist.”

    /goddamitsomeonemakemestoprespondingplease

  59. belledame222 says:

    piny, your discretion if you want to unmod either of those two, or edit.

  60. belledame222 says:

    probably to avoid serious derailing you might want to end the first one at “going on here.” up to you though. sorry. /reallyseriouslyleavingnowiknowthisisanassholemoveoverallsorry

  61. piny says:

    I know. I don’t think the comments are a derail, although the YouTube thing probably qualifies as OT. Since you aren’t trying to talk about cis women being objectified, and since you’re leaving anyway on vacation, it’s not a big deal. Don’t stress about it.

  62. piny says:

    …Wait, we were talking about different comments. Look, I suck at this. Don’t anybody go off on some long tangent about sex-positivism, okay? It’s true–that’s not the topic we’re discussing here.

  63. piny says:

    And y’know, I get that some people (cis and trans alike) get off (erotically and/or otherwise) on the very idea of being “radical,” and I suppose that personally I find that tiresome and/or squicky is at least partly My Stuff, but it’s like…

    A couple of commenters here have talked about how this focus on radical–as though it’s about the distance from convention rather than the alignment with your needs–ends up limiting the definition of “trans.” It essentializes transgender, by defining it as whatever normal men and women are not.

  64. belledame222 says:

    wrt Youtube, yeah, just trying to say that if you just switch the subjects/objects, that Pink video seemed appropriate to the whole “I was in this club…” part of the OP. the Erika Moen cartoon too,. you can be beautiful, you can be hot, you can go strut your stuff…and you still might not welcome the attention of every passing “admirer” with humble gratitude. if you can identify with Pink as a cis woman, can you extend that a little bit? I mean, I could. “what did you expect? ” and “I SAID you looked HOT, what’s wrong with you anyway?” “well SO AND SO is okay with it, therefore it’s YOUR problem if you’re not (aren’t you all the same, anyway?)” “what do you MEAN you’re sending off all these signals but you don’t want to be bothered?” …are all at least as tiresome if you’re a trans person, I expect.

    and I do think that there’s a part of this that’s about “well, cis women just -can’t- be as creepy as Teh Men, and besides we’re talking about ‘transgressive’ desire, not hetnormative yadda, therefore this is TOTALLY DIFFERENT.”

    but, no. boundaries are boundaries. and creepiness isn’t limited to any one demographic.

  65. belledame222 says:

    yeah, that’s what I meant, I regretted adding that piece of it as soon as I posted it. consider that post ending at “what’s going on here.”

    but yeah, in this context, the “radical” piece is annoying because it strongly implies “if you don’t fit my transgressive fantasies, I don’t find you interesting.”

    which is, whatever wrt personal relationships? but when you write sweeping generalizations as in the article fisked in the OP, besides permanently “othering” trans people, it–well, what happens when it comes to civil rights? what if every trans person doesn’t -want- to be a Magical Third Gendered Radical Vanguard Battering Ram On The Gates Of Patriarchy? What if it’s enough of a big deal for a -lot- of people to just live their lives? Is that not sexy enough? I mean…

  66. belledame222 says:

    …I mean I think it’s fine as a choice for -anyone- to do that, cis or trans, to be the radical battering ram etc., if -that’s their choice.- But the way the article is written, it sounds like that’s the -only- acceptable option for trans people. Be the exotic “positive” Other because it’s preferable to the alternative of simply being reviled or simply invisible. Cis people never even have to consider that. At least not in that context, she amended.

  67. imogen says:

    I’m trans and I’m not a battering ram! I have the most boring, uncomplicated and un-transgressive gender out of pretty much anybody I know- it’s just not the one some doctor guessed when I was born. *shrug*

    belledame222, I am in love with how much you are clarifying.

  68. The Opoponax says:

    Belledame, your conduct in this thread is fricken adorable. I want to nom your comments, especially your metacomments questioning the validity of your comments and also your repeated insistence that you are on a vacation from the blogosphere/internet/maybe you are actually on a beach somewhere.

    Note, btw, that I do not have a fetish for ambivalent pigeon-toed commentariat brilliance. I just happen to feel that your particular behavior here kicks ass.

  69. Pingback: Femmostroppo Reader - April 12, 2009 — Hoyden About Town

  70. The Opoponax says:

    It essentializes transgender, by defining it as whatever normal men and women are not.

    Not to mention drawing really bizarre distinctions about what “normal” is for men and women and how that aligns with cis*/trans* (am I using those asterisks correctly?) spectra.

  71. voz says:

    Deposit needed smackdowns here

    http://voz-latina.livejournal.com/4775.html

    yeah, I know Belle already hit the high points, but come by and take a swipe, so when I read about scumbags like this, I can feel better about at least somebody not thinking trans women are cumrags for skanky, exploitative cis women.

    Annalee proves that being a Guido knows no gender.

  72. evil_fizz says:

    Annalee proves that being a Guido knows no gender.

    Let’s not trade one slur for another, please.

  73. YourButchGuidoLover says:

    Yes as an oppressed Italian American I am very offended by being compared to that slumming fetishizing piece of trash.

  74. SatinGurl says:

    I am physically ill from reading the BS quoted from Newitz’s article. Gross.

  75. voz says:

    @YourButchGuidoLover

    sorry about that. I’ll make it up to you when I hit the city, promise :D

  76. Butch Fatale says:

    Wow. Belledame, you had me cracking up there – not because you were wrong, but just . . . aren’t you on vacation???

    I just wanted to co-sign the “just because your wife thinks you’re awesome doesn’t mean we can’t be critical of your fetishizing language wrt trans and genderqueer folks” sentiment.

    I think anyone who wants to write about how much they LOVE trans women/their wife who is trans/their student who is trans/WHATEVER needs to really think about what they’re saying. And then, if you still manage to say really fucked up shit, you need to LISTEN when the people you’re writing about or who are in the group you’re referencing tell you that you fucked up.

    Being called out is an opportunity, folks. Be grateful it was brought to your attention and learn from the experience.

    And stop using the word “tranny”, cis folks. It’s gross.

    That comic? Totally gross. I am so sick of that shit. It is not cute.

  77. jayinchicago says:

    I personally find that Erika Moen cartoon really fucking triggering, and I am tired of seeing it everywhere.

  78. Cheshire says:

    here fucking here, she isn’t allowing trans people to self define there gender, it is all about her, her desire, her image of what trans people are.

  79. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    The thing about radicalism is, well, I’m pushing 40 now, and being a radical is no longer the fun, scary, edgy and sexy act of defiance that it was when I was 21.

    I have a relationship, little castle, island or fortress where I have the liberty of just not thinking about it, of not being aware of these things 24-seven. That relationship is sexy because our existence is taken as understood.

    The radicalism is the rude discovery that I’m an object of hatred and possibly violence by other people if they ever clued into to the fact that I am one of those queers.

    I find that self-consciousness to be extremely wearing and depressing these days. I want relationships in which I don’t have to think about it. I want relationships where I can just be, and act and do without it being treated as an act to turn my partner on, or as some issue that must be processed.

    I want relationships that understand why I’m angry and depressed when I read the news.

  80. voz says:

    @vheshire

    here fucking here, she isn’t allowing trans people to self define there gender, it is all about her, her desire, her image of what trans people are.

    Welcome to feminism. Most are like annalee, some can talk the talk of equality, and a very few actually walk the walk, until they get tired and fall off the wagon.

    Make NO mistake: this problem is endemic among cis feminists, and the exceptions do not make the problem go away.

    Disclaimer: if it’s not about you, its not about you. The cookies are in a jar by the door.

  81. Pingback: Comic FAIL « Little Lambs Eat Ivy

  82. Cheshire says:

    Voz, this stuff is sadly not new to me either.

  83. Grace says:

    denelian: If you wanna talk about it, message my LJ inbox. Might have some suggestions for ways to deal with it.

    jayinchicago: Concerning the Moen comic, you should see how she handled it in the comments she dumped out of her LJ after people started commenting. Her response was not an apology or even an attempt at saying “this is humor about a problem I have” or something, merely ignoring as hard as she could and closing comments. I’m still spitting mad about that shit, and that comic triggers me too. >:(

  84. Jadey says:

    Chronic lurker, but weighing in as a cis woman with a gender play kink, and copping to a huge privilege check.

    In lieu of a self-indulgent personal biography complete with mea culpa and actionless apologies, I want to offer this:

    Responsible sex is about more than condoms and dental dams, it’s about looking after the safety and well-being of yourself and the person/s you are with. And that includes at an emotional and social level.

    My kink is not specifically about trans people, BUT it absolutely harbours the potential to harm a trans person. Sexuality feels like a private matter to me, but it’s pretty damn clear that in this society sexual privacy is a matter of privilege. And I’ve got that privilege.

    To Annalee and Charles, if you are still reading this, I wish you the very best in your relationship. I sincerely do. But I really would like it if no more clueless cis women like me read that essay (or Moen’s cartoon) and confused their kink with someone else’s life.

  85. Rikibeth says:

    Jadey speaks for me.

    I’ve been in a relationship with a transwoman. I didn’t seek her out because she was a transwoman, although the unconventional gender presentation I saw was part of the attraction. We had a lot of fun together, and while sometimes we both got a kick out of knowing that we made a transgressive-looking couple, I like to think that that was done in a spirit of collaboration, not either one of us fetishizing the other. There were a lot of things I didn’t expect going into that relationship, and I tried to handle unfamiliar situations with grace and acceptance. When we stopped dating, it wasn’t out of disagreement, but because another relationship she was in had gotten more serious and they wanted monogamy, and we’re still friends.

    …yeah, I know, cookies are in a jar by the door.

    I guess I’m just saying, attraction is a great and lovely thing, and transgression can be a thrill, but making generalizations instead of taking the effort to treat people as individuals has a lot of potential to get people upset, as this thread so amply demonstrates, and if anyone sees me trying to generalize and it makes them uncomfortable, I hope they’d point it out to me, and I hope I’d have the grace to think about what I was saying instead of getting defensive.

  86. voz says:

    Rikibeth, please put the goddamn space in.

    trans woman.

    Just do it.

    I tried to handle unfamiliar situations with grace and acceptance.

    wow, that must have been sooo hard for you! imma cry ma fuckin eyes out tonite. Really, I am.

    you have a set of stones on you, mujer! But then again, it kinda proves the point about trans women’s lives and privacy, no? that u offer up yer damn relationship here to make an inane non-point, huh?

  87. Trix says:

    Just to weigh in on the “tranny” word, while I realise there is a group of people in the US who are are saying that “tranny” should be strictly avoided, or, for reasons I still don’t understand, applied to people of one gender and not the other, in other English-speaking countries this word does not necessarily have the same connotations as it seems to for some in the US.

    Sure, you can use “tranny” in a derogative sense, just as you can “queer” or “gay” or “woman”. But it’s a casual abbreviation that has been around since the word “transsexual” has been, and it doesn’t require reclaiming by those communities that never lost it.

    That being said, I also realise it’s a sensitive word in the US (and other places, including for a few here in Australia), so I don’t chuck it around myself, unless it’s fairly clear what my audience is comfortable with the term and my intentions. However, even though I’m cis (and people might question my right to engage in this discussion), I do get annoyed at this kind of linguistic imperialism that seems to assume a monolithic culture. Sure, our various subcultures have common themes, but to assert a gay man in, say, India, has to use the same language and mores as a gay man in Europe is patently ridiculous. The trans community is no more monolithic than any other.

    Anyway, blahblahblah, I realise most the contributors to this site are from the US, but there is an international readership, obviously, and I just wanted to point out that there is a diversity of usage of the word “tranny”.

  88. piny says:

    I don’t think people are saying that “tranny” must never be used. There are at least a few prominent self-identified trannies. Riki Wilchins was spreading it around like peanut butter, although this was a few years before the Newitz essay, even.

    The reason “tranny” is–that word again–problematic is this: it does have a deogatory connotation, at least in most of the English-speaking West. It’s more like “dyke” than “gay” or “woman.” In addition to being a straight-up slur sometimes, “tranny” is also used in demeaning sexualized depictions of trans women. Tranny porn. Most cis people mostly hear it in one of those two contexts.

    There’s another issue. The second derogatory meaning of “tranny” is usually focused on trans women. Even the first one usually refers to a hypothetical or actual trans woman, since trans men tend to be invisible. This doesn’t mean that trans men aren’t affected by stories about trans people being murdered, or opinion pieces about how they deserve it, but “tranny” is slanted that way.

    “Tranny” has been used as a positive term by some trans people. However, some of the spaces and venues where “tranny” has become popular either exclude or ignore trans women, which can effectively make “tranny” part of a hostile environment.

    So the argument people are making is actually more like your argument–that people have to be aware of their audience and their position–but this is how the meaning of the word can shift. It is kind of like “dyke;” the word does sound different in Andrew Dice Clay’s mouth.

  89. voz says:

    “It is kind of like “dyke;” the word does sound different in Andrew Dice Clay’s mouth.”

    Or some asshole cis person’s mouth trying to insinuate that he speaks for Aussie culture and bullshit an audience he presupposes is ignorant of same.

    Not everyone here is ignorant of how shit goes down down under.

  90. denelian says:

    Grace;
    i’m sorry, i don’t know what your LJ is. i have just sent an email to the address that is linked to the name you are using here… i hope it is the correct email address, but i was very vague in the email anyway, just asking if i had the correct email.
    if that does not go through, can you please either email me or stop by *my* LJ? my name at LJ is also denelian

    thank you!!!

  91. little light says:

    voz, where was Rikibeth not supportive and respectfully open to being called out on privilege? While the sentence you call out is a privileged one, and she uses the ‘transwoman’ construction–which admittedly I hate, but which large portions of the community still use with regularity such that it would be easy to get the impression that it’s preferred usage–which could easily be called out by just mentioning how we do prefer it, with a space in, I don’t understand the harshness of your response.
    Yes, it’s a cis person speaking in a space that’s centering trans perspectives, and it’s not our job to educate, etc., etc., but I don’t see what she did wrong here, except try to provide a counterexample to the exploitative, nasty bullshit that’s been on display, and open herself up to being accountable to us.
    We can hold people accountable without assuming they’re all hostile.

  92. little light says:

    The Erika Moen thing is a huge disappointment to me, because I’ve loved her work for years. I was really shocked by her response and her shutdown of criticism. I mean, right there in the comic she makes it clear she knows what she’s doing is problematic, and then dismisses the criticism she knows is coming.
    I just hope she gets past this, hears what people are saying, and deals with her shit.

  93. belledame222 says:

    yeah, likewise. or, well, I hadn’t been following consistently, but I had a post on one of my blogs about how awesome the “Girlfuck” cartoon was. got at least one comment from some random person wrt how it had helped her come out. Moen herself showed up and was friendly. that was a few years ago though. I doubt anyone’s reading that blog, but I updated that entry with links to the current fail rescinding of overall endorsement anyway. meh.

    -goes *poof* again- /reallyi’mnothere

  94. Rikibeth says:

    little light, thank you. I didn’t know that about the space vs. the compound word; my ex uses the compound form when trying to be formal, and I was following her lead.

    And, yeah, I can see how the sentence I wrote comes off as privileged, and I’m sorry. I was trying to summarize my experience without giving an excess of too-personal details; let’s just say that we met each other in a fairly early stage of her resolving her identity, and she wasn’t using a female name or pronouns until after we broke up, so there were surprises for both of us along the way. It obviously took a lot of trust on her part to tell me stuff as she sorted it out; I tried to honor that trust by not freaking out, is all.

    It’s not much, really. It’s kind of a bare minimum of decent behavior. But I’ve heard so many horror stories I wanted to put this out there as, I dunno, an apology for all of the lousy stories I’ve heard.

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  96. imogen says:

    Hi Trix,

    Could you specifically tell me where and why it’s okay for people to use the word “tranny?” Because, unless you back up your assertion pretty strongly, I think it’s very, very messed up for a non-trans person to tell me I should be okay with people using a slur against me. Especially in the context of not responding to the links I posted.

    Thanks,
    Imogen

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  98. voz says:

    @little light
    I don’t understand the harshness of your response.

    Prolly because my reservoir of good faith is a lot drier than most ppls, and she came off as demanding a cookie for exposing her relationship with a trans woman on a thread that talks about exploiting relationships with trans women for literary effect.

    also, contrast her presentation with the comment above her.

  99. Cassandra says:

    This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read in a long time. As a trans woman, the implications of taking back “chaser” are… mind-boggling. It’s as if to say, “I might have sexual attraction to those icky trannies, but I still deserve the same respect as the rest of you queer cis people!!!”

    This isn’t like taking back “queer” or “fag.” Those words were used by people with power over the queer community to strip them of their humanity. The same thing goes for “tranny.” It’s not at all like chaser. Chaser is a word designed to protect our community and take a few jabs back at the people who love us for what we are and not who we are.

    I am a human being. I’m not in the same category as the vibrator or fuzzy handcuffs in your desk drawer. My existence is not for the purpose of enhancing your sexual pleasure.

  100. jayinchicago says:

    grace: yeah, i was one of the commenters whose comment she screened or deleted.

  101. Cassandra says:

    Should also mention… in post 102, I did not mean to imply that any of those three words aren’t still used in derogatory ways, because I accidentally did just that.

  102. RD says:

    Responsible sex is about more than condoms and dental dams, it’s about looking after the safety and well-being of yourself and the person/s you are with. And that includes at an emotional and social level.

    “Quoted for truth” (h/t Voz for the phrase)

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