November 2009

Our Bodies and Lives: Questioning Cissexual Politics

Right after I drafted my response to the attack on transsexual men in pattrice jones' Aftershock, I came across a blog post perpetuating the same vegetarian-ecofeminist cissexism and transphobia.

Lagusta Yearwood posted about the boycott of Feministing, expressing doubt about the site's transphobia:

Claims of extreme transphobia and hostility toward trans women on the site: I can't claim to have read all of the long long long threads that the pages I've seen link to (and if you have specific examples of the perceived horrible treatment of trans women on the site, I'd like to see them), but man oh man! Trans issues are complex for a lot of cisgender people, myself included, and I appreciate Feministing's attempt to work through the more nuanced and complicated aspects in an inclusive way. Also, it seems that most of the problems people are having take place in the comments, and it seems ridiculous to blame the site for that.

Yearwood's doubts cannot be assessed without considering the cissexism and transphobia of fundamentalist "radical feminists" (radfems) in propagating a discourse that perpetuates anti-transsexual repression/oppression. This includes Yearwood's own active participation in perpetuating this hateful discourse about our bodies and lives. (Read more...)

Our Bodies and Lives: Transphobic Trauma, Transsexual Healing

Following up on how cissexuals dominate and exploit transsexuals' bodies and lives, in her book Aftershock, pattrice jones furthers the vegetarian-ecofeminist cissexist and tranphobic attacks by claiming, "Nowadays, more and more young women – having learned what happens to young girls in today's world – are literally turning themselves into men to protect themselves from violence." Following up in the notes section of her book, jones goes on to say, "Once very rare, female-to-male sex changes have become so common that there's a slang term for those who have gone through the process: FTM."

Yes, violence against women exists and is a persistent problem in our society. But transsexual men do not get sex changes to avoid violence against women any more than trans women transition so that we can experience violence against women. What's disturbing is that in a book that purports to be "Confronting Trauma in a Violent World, a Guide for Activists and Their Allies," jones is in fact perpetuating the cissexism and transphobia that is a significant source of trauma in the lives of many transsexuals. (Read more...)

Our Bodies and Lives: Transsexual Knowledge and Resistance

Cissexuals often opine about what they believe is the reason why transsexuals seek trans-related health care, such as hormones and surgery. This includes speculating about what are the social, political and/or cultural ramifications of our accessing this care. Too often our bodies and lives are seen as a threat to preconceived, cissexual assumptions about the world. As such, cissexism predominates these presumptions about us, and is backed up by a pervasive transphobic system of discrimination, exclusion and violence that oppresses us as a group of people.

In a way, our transsexuals bodies and lives are like contested "colonies." I'm not saying transsexuals bodies and lives are actual colonies – because they're not – but the domination and exploitation of our bodies and lives follows the logic of colonization. That is, external forces are vying for the full or partial political control over our bodies and lives. These "colonizers" include academics, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, feminists, queer theorists, theologians, politicians, pundits and even our own lovers, families and friends, and complete strangers who are constantly applying abstract theory onto our bodies and lives. In effect, these "colonizers" dominate and exploit us, the indigenous group, by seizing our bodies and lives to further theories and political agendas that don't actually account for our lived reality, and yet further our oppression as a group. (Read more...)