trans & gender nonconforming

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...)

Questioning Lierre Keith's Transphobia

In reply to a comment I made about Lierre Keith's affiliation with anti-trans politics and opposition to pornography by, for, and of lesbians, "Anonymous" wrote:

Founders of organizations don’t always agree with the policies those organizations come to have.

Can you site anything written by Keith where she expresses views about Trans people?

Do you have any citations of Keith stating that she is opposed to lesbians taking part in consentual BDSM or pornography?

If any of this is true it would quite ironic. Keith was banned from an extended stay meditation retreat in the 1990s because she is a Lesbian.

This is a good question. Where are Keith's politics when it comes to trans people, or lesbians taking part in consensual BDSM or pornography? (Read more...)

Where's the Humor?

Patrick Kwan of the SuperVegan blog wrote a post on Cooking with Trannies, a new YouTube channel, which he tagged under "humor." After watching the channel's debut video I'm left wondering where's the humor?

PETA Celebrates Trans-Misogyny

Back in October I posted about PETA's transphobic "Fur is a Drag" campaign. Since 1992, this anti-transgender component has played a supporting role in PETA's larger campaign that presumably opposes the fur industry. That was, until now.

This Friday, PETA is relaunching the "Fur is a Drag" campaign in an all-out, star-studded celebration of trans-misogyny. According to MTV.co.uk blogger Dael P., "The London party will feature a parody of a fur runway show, cross-dressing models will be sporting fur clothing that will be accessorised with paint and animal traps."

Don't deceive yourself into thinking this is a harmless joke or witty play on words. In truth, this campaign is both hateful and malicious.

As Vanessa pointed out on The Colonic blog:

In this context, fur is a "drag"--meaning it is bad, and a bloodied cross-dresser is somehow supposed to be quirky or funny. This is all in advertisement for a fashion show where cross-dressers will cat walk fur coats with fake blood. The cat walk is just a cruel play on the walk of shame, cloaked by humor and couture no less. Look, it's a tranny! Everyone laugh.

Least we forget, it's worth recalling the high-rate of "trans-bashing" — that is, physical, sexual, and verbal violence targeting transgender people, especially those of us on the feminine spectrum.

A high proportion of trans female and trans feminine people are physically and sexually attacked each year, and many are killed. Additionally, verbal harassment and abuse is an everyday occurrence experienced by most trans people. And this doesn't even include the systemic and institutionalized violence of poverty, housing and employment discrimination, denial of health and medical care, and so on.

The "Fur is a Drag" campaign is part of this continuum of violence and oppression against tansgender people. It is a mistake to view the appropriation of the term "drag" as a cute or silly pun. The assumed "joke" is deeply transphobic, and is just as oppressive as any White supremacist, misogynist, or homophobic so-called "joke." (Of course, PETA does also use White supremacy, misogyny, and homophobia in its campaigns.) In this context, "Fur is a Drag" is akin to PETA having a campaign titled "Fur is Gay." Obviously, the latter campaign presents being gay as objectionable and, likewise, the existing campaign presents being trans as objectionable.

In its campaign, PETA uses "drag" as a weapon that specifically marks trans female/trans feminine people as acceptable targets of violence. In other words, the campaign is based on trans-misogyny. This is evident in PETA campaign materials which mark cross-dressers and other trans female/trans feminine people as "ridiculous" and "ugly." So the entire basis for the "Fur is a Drag" campaign is drawn from, and perpetuates, the belief that trans female/trans feminine people an inherently repulsive and inferior class of people, and therefore suitable for oppression.

With its party, PETA bridges the continuum of verbal and physical anti-trans violence by going from the derogatory use of the term "drag" to portraying cross-dressing models as valid targets of physical violence by covering them with blood-like red paint and traps created to main and kill.

Far from fostering any sort of compassion for either transgender people or nonhuman animals, PETA's campaign and party uses, as oppose to challenges, the exploitation of other animals as an excuse to revel in the oppression of transgender people.

Anti-Transsexual Investigations of Embodiment and Bodiliness

I recently got a troubling call for papers (CFP) for a conference titled "Meet Animal Meat." I'd just ignore it if the only things troubling me about this conference were the title and the CFP's academic doublespeak, which privileges professional academics while making it inaccessible to most everyone else. But what really concerns me is that the conference claims to be "Informed by feminist investigations of embodiment and bodiliness" and goes on to identify Carol J. Adams and Judith "Jack" Halberstam as the keynote speakers. So here is a conference claiming to be "Informed by feminist investigations embodiment and bodiliness" and it's two keynote speakers are both unapologetically anti-transsexual – that is, two cissexist feminists who disrespect the "embodiment and bodiliness" of transsexuals. (Read more...)

Transphobia and Pseudo-Allies

Mirha-Soleil Ross describes an encounter with the transphobia of Carol J. Adams specifically, as well as the transphobia of Feminists for Animal Rights (FAR) more generally. In her description of the events, Ross mentions Greta Claire Gaard, whom she calls "an eco-feminist who support trans rights, at least in theory." I think Ross is right to say "at least in theory," as opposed to in practice, and I wonder if "in theory" is even too gracious. (Read more...)

Transphobia and PETA

In 1992, PETA launched the transphobic "Fur is a Drag" element of its fur campaign. This anti-trans element was added to the PETA campaign just months after it launched the "I'd Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur" campaign.

In a way, these two elements both represent different sides of the same coin. While the "naked" component of the campaign relies on stereotypes of the White ideal of feminine beauty, the "drag" component relies of stereotypes of trans female/trans feminine people as inherently unattractive. Hence PETA's use of drag queens to mock Star Jones, Anna Wintour, and Joan Rivers for wearing fur. That is, the subtext of PETA campaign is to suggest that Jones, Wintour, and Rivers are ridiculous and ugly for wearing fur by connecting with viewers' transphobic belief that trans feminine expression is ridiculous and ugly.

The PETA webpage promoting activist participation in this element of its campaign combines an anti-trans caricature with a sexist, racist caricature in its title "Draggin' 'Ladies' Prove That There's Nothing Glamorous About Fur," which is a play on the anti-Asian-based epithet "dragon lady." The webpage reads:

Want to help educate people about the cruelty of the fur industry? Put on some pumps and show the world what a fashion faux pas fur really is! Whether you've got a flair for the flamboyant or you're just an up-for-anything activist, staging a "Fur Is a Drag" protest is a terrific way to show people just how ridiculous fur really looks. You can enter a contingent of cross-dressers in a local parade or stage a drag of a demonstration outside a fur retailer. We have everything that you'll need to make your event a raving success. You just need to supply a time, a location—and a few daring drag queens! And remember, a few hours in heels is nothing compared to what animals killed for fur go through, right, guys?

Clearly PETA believes that trans people are "ridiculous." While feminists have long been speaking out against sexism in PETA's use of naked women in its campaigns, the silence regarding its devaluing of trans female/trans feminine people is deafening. This might be related to the virulent transphobia by some feminists (e.g., Carol J. Adams and other Feminists for Animals Rights) who criticize PETA's traditional sexism.

Much like it uses transphobia, PETA started exploiting anti-homeless hate in 1998 by giving fur coats covered in red paint to homeless women. PETA believes that both trans people and homeless people are disgusting and that if people see crossdressers or homeless people wearing fur then they'll think fur is disgusting by association.

Feminism Beyond Transphobia

I no longer feel that continued education about trans issues within women's communities would change their oppressive behaviors in any significant degree, unless they are actually willing to change. It is not the lack of knowledge or information that keeps oppression going; it is the lack of feminist compassion, conscience and principle that is. -Emi Koyama, "Whose Feminism is it Anyway? The Unspoken Racism of the Trans Inclusion Debate"

When it comes to asking, "What are we going to do about transphobia among feminist-vegetarians/ecofeminists?" Emi Koyama just about sums it up. These are people who currently dominate the feminist discourse on nonhuman animals; as authors, speakers (in some cases very well paid speakers), and academic they have a vested interest in continuing the status quo. (Read more...)

Transphobia and Carol Adams

Another example of vegetarian-ecofeminist transphobia and cissexism is described in the keynote address presented on June 17, 2005 at Queer Communities and Controversies, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education's second annual conference in Toronto, Canada, by transsexual, sex worker, and animal liberation activist, Mirha-Soleil Ross. In her keynote address, Ross describes an encounter with Carol Adams that occurred on July 15, 2000 at the World Vegetarian Congress.

Ross talks about Adams' cissexism, starting with trans-interrogation. Adams uses a metaphor about "fish in the water" to invalidate Ross' gender identity. Adams intrusively attempts to force Ross to answer personal questions about her transsexuality, and reduce her to the status of an object. Adams also uses trans-fascimilation to portray Ross as merely imitating a woman by claiming the Ross simply "chooses" to be a woman. (Read more...)