Posted in Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 |
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Not a long post, nor a particularly deep one. But something that I feel needs to be said.
It worries me, the investment so many people make in language. As if it were a concrete system, a fixed reality, an external truth.
Some people feel that the word ‘trans’ always and forever implies the continuation of ‘man’ or ‘woman’ to make it complete. And that ‘trans*’ is preferable, so as to include non-binary people.
My gender is far from binary. I dispute the idea of ‘gender’ completely, at a philosophical level at least ( practically, it has its uses). Adding an asterisk makes no difference to me. I love the word ‘trans’ – as a challenge, a partiality, a prompt, an action. Asterisk or no, whatever works, whatever is easiest, is fine.
What bothers me is the idea that people would consider language to be so static, so immutable that ‘trans’, itself a challenging and disruptive term, would need to be changed to accomodate part of the trans community. And that there are people who feel that they don’t have the right to challenge a word to accept the complexity of their identities. To feel the ownership of it, the flexibility of its margins, the paltry reflexion it provides of reality.
We have better things to fight for, for our community. We should keep language in service to ourselves, and not the other way around. Which is not to deny the importance of thought, of linguistic debate, of challenging the dominant threads of discourse. But it is to say that, whenever we might feel excluded, we have the right to insert ourselves into the mix, rather than splitting away and dividing against each other.
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Well, you asked, so I answered – boy, do I ever find it weird to see myself on camera.
This is only the beginning of a bigger project looking into trans singing and speaking voices – so first a big THANK YOU to all my students for working so hard and trying out various exercises. Secondly – stay tuned for more videos with some of my students – some on T, some not. Thirdly – I am taking more students on at the moment – in person and online, so drop me a line if you’re interested, or if you have any questions/comments – firstname.lastname@example.org.
More singing for everyone. All the time. This is the goal.
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Posted in trans on June 21, 2011 |
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I'm so putting this on a T-shirt. Or even a T* shirt. See what I did there?
Ah, last month’s Trans* Education and Determination conference (TRED) – which I promised to write up…last month. Oh dear. What can I say? Smashing the kyriarchal gender binary is hard work – long hours, you know?
But a recap – TRED developed out of the planned protest against the (subsequently cancelled) Royal College of Psychiatrists’ problematic “Transgender: Time to Change” conference. TRED – a conference with an academic focus, impressively pulled together at the last minute, with no budget to speak of. Speakers: Ruth Pearce, Lynsey Moon, Kai Weston, Natacha Kennedy and Jane Fae. Attendees? Trans and cis people of all stripes. Couldn’t make it? Watch it on Vimeo – it’s good, promise.
I’ve said it more than once this year, and I haven’t been the only one. I think it bears repeating. When it comes to trans activism, it feels like there’s a definite change in the air. An electric charge, something palpable – I left the conference feeling totally elated. For me, the key lies in the title of the conference itself. Not just education – god knows education is at the heart of social change, and that the trans community has been patiently explaining ourselves for many, many years. But determination. “Not about us without us” is becoming ever more the rule to abide by. That so many of the attendees (let alone the speakers) have been or are actively involved in reaching out to the cis population – but that we’re doing it with dignity and pride. That sense of a right to autonomy, a lack of a apology – the laughter directed at those who think that we have to somehow justify our existence – it was intoxicating. It continues to be intoxicating. At every trans event/workshop/protest/social I’ve been to this year it’s been there – and it’s growing and spreading and strengthening. It fills me with a giddiness almost like falling in love.
And the reason for writing this? Maybe to say to everyone that that attitude can be theirs for the taking. To ask people to get involved. With planning the next TRED (next year, fingers crossed). With the Trans Community Conference 2011. With Trans Media Watch, Gendered Intelligence, Trans London - just my particular favourites, but find yours. Facebook and twitter and google – whatever your niche, or your location, there is something – or start your own, if you can’t find it. But I do advise you to try. This movement is growing wings – and the more people on board, the sooner we start flying.
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Posted in fury, London, trans on June 10, 2011 |
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Given the mainstream media’s coverage of the SlutWalk phenomenon and their interpretation of the movement’s mission, what reason could be given for the inclusion and support of trans masculine people, apart from simple solidarity? I’ve been asked a fair few times just *why* this particular protest movement has struck such a chord with me. Obviously, begins the enquiry, obviously women shouldn’t be blamed for being raped. Obviously short skirts and high heels are no inducement to assault. But, um – what would you wear? It’s not like it personally effects you…you’re not fighting for the right to reclaim the image or label of “the slut”.
How pathetic, that the very presence of the word “slut”, the chance to feature pictures of women in various stages of undress, has prevented so many commentators from explaining the core message of the movement. That rape is not a compliment, or an act of passion gone awry. In case after case, throughout different cultures, different nations, rape is used as a way of asserting dominance, “enjoying” power, and of punishing “deviant” behaviours. The “deviant” behaviour could well be a woman treating her own body as her own body – to be adorned, displayed and enjoyed as she sees fit – and to still, shockingly, have it remain her property, subject to her own decisions, her own desires.
Or this “deviance” could be the continual act of treating my own body as my own body – to be modified to become more “male”, to be adorned and displayed and enjoyed in a “masculine” way – despite being assigned female at birth. I’ve experienced abuse and harassment both as a trans person in high femme drag, and as an out androgynous guy – and I can’t, personally, see much difference. The desire of the abuser to control my sexuality. Their confusion over my identity. Their outrage that I could simultaneously attract and repulse them. Their need to prove their supposed superiority and control over me. I’ve been called a slut wearing a skirt, and a pervert whilst wearing a tie, and the threat in those words mirrored each other – not exactly, but close, very close.
Bringing to the fore the issues of consent, freedom, self-expression – and the knowledge that rape is used as a weapon against those who seek to transcend the misogynistic, transphobic social order – this is why SlutWalk matters to me. And why I would hope it matters to all trans masculine people.
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