Transgender Life

I don’t want this site to be solely about being transgender. From my experiences so far, it’s not even something I could write about every week – being in the closet is far more intense and frustrating and writeable. However, there are moments when things happen, unique to trans people. I’d like to share those moments with you, and let you into the mystery.

A Difficult Week for Trans Rights

Gender-Kristeva

A Difficult Week for Trans Rights 26.11.17

Since I joined Twitter a month or so ago, I've become aware of the vitriol about trans and non-binary rights. Effectively you can boil the debate down to one side battling for its own existence, while the other side attempts to strangle this possibility at birth. It is a seismic debate. It is effectively deciding whether we stick to only two core identities, forged at birth and continued thereafter, or whether we accept that the gender binary is not enough as we currently know it, that humanity is potentially much more complex than a fixed-at-birth A or B.

The coverage in the news, I admit, makes me so uncomfortable that I don't know how to debate without feeling self-disgust. The main counter argument seems to involve the hypothetical danger of letting transgender women into women-only spaces. The damage we could do to other women. What am I supposed to say? Plead that I'm not dangerous? Or perhaps not plead anything. Better that I go with the counter-narrative and pretend I don't exist as a trans woman at all. There is no trans. There is only A or B.

I could try to sound informed, about how Argentina has trans-friendly legislation and no incidents have occurred. Or do I get sucked into the maelstrom of the most recent news? The young Labour party trans woman Lily Madigan , for example, and the furore over her application for a training programme for women. Or do I get all statistical about all the young people who are rejecting the gender binary? But you can read about these things in greater depth in The Guardian. As my line-manager would say: don't re-invent the wheel, Gina dear. Just do your fucking job.

What is my job? I'm here to shed light from my own angle, and so, here is my own angle, my step back to gaze at the bigger picture.

In the 1970s, a debate began within feminism about a segregated gender binary: there are only men and women, two identities decided at birth. Let men live their lives within patriarchy; let women opt out in a new kind of feminine society. Segregation, division, permanent, irreducible, unbridgeable difference. Many feminists adopted this position, most famously post-Lacanian Luce Irigaray.

Another feminist, also with associations to Lacanian thinking, called Julia Kristeva, thought differently. She wrote something in 1979 so ahead of her time that I can't paraphrase it, I am here simply to pass on the message:

Then there are the more radical feminist currents which . . . make of the second sex a counter-society. A female society is then constituted as a sort of alter ego of the official society, in which all real or fantasized possibilities . . . take refuge . . . As with any society, the counter-society is based on the expulsion of an excluded element, a scapegoat charged with the evil of which the community duly constituted can then purge itself . . . Does not feminism become a kind of inverted sexism when this logic is followed to its conclusion?

A third generation is now forming . . . In this third attitude, which I strongly advocate – which I imagine? – the very dichotomy man/woman as an opposition between two rival entities may be understood as belonging to metaphysics. What can 'identity', even 'sexual identity', mean in a new theoretical and scientific space where the very notion of identity is challenged?

I think Kristeva was pinpointing two things that matter today. Firstly the debate we're seeing now is part of a vision among some based on exclusion, of a disempowered position that seeks to invert rather than challenge the status quo of patriarchy. Secondly, and increasingly, of how gender is witnessing the tipping point, with gender as a spectrum, as the growing numbers of trans and non-binary people coming out suggest. What it means to be those loaded terms of male or female, on which our society is based, has concurrently to be more receptive, and more inclusive, of complexity and diversity. Because complex and diverse is what we are, all of us, and the labels that we've got barely cover who we are.

PS My gratitude to Paris Lees whose defiance on the twittersphere in defence of trans rights is wonderful to see 

On AIDS, Twitter and a Bad Week at Work
Trans Remembrance 2017
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Guest
Monday, 16 July 2018

Captcha Image

My Latest Posts

July 16, 2018

My Week in Netflix: Denial and The Stanford Prison Experiment

  My Week In Netflix: Denial and The Stanford Prison Experiment Denial (2016) is a film I was frustrated to miss at the cinema. Starring the ever-brilliant Rachel Weisz and Timothy Spall, it covers the real-life events of Holocaust-denier David Irving and his lawsuit against academic Deborah Lipstadt, who had accused Irving of wilful distortio...
July 15, 2018

The First Purge

  The First Purge A dystopian near-future with America under the control of white supremacists, The First Purge is the prequel to a crossover trilogy of horror and social commentary of disturbing prescience. Given political developments in the US since 2016 in particular, I'd place this film up there with Get Out! (2017) as the kind of twisted...
July 13, 2018

Learning to Smile

  Learning to Smile When I smiled, it was always awkward. My tightly closed lips – if you look at the other pictures of me in my Transgender Diary, you'll notice that you never see my teeth. In no photo of me going back to early childhood will you ever see my teeth. But then, in the final years before I came out as trans, you'll stru...
July 08, 2018

She Called Me Woman: Nigeria's Queer Women Speak

in Books

  She Called Me Woman: Nigeria's Queer Women Speak Transgender narratives seldom emerge outside white, Western experience - at least if we're talking about mainstream publishing. African trans, I'm aware only of the occasional documentary, which is what makes this book so especially valuable. An edited collection of personal stories, gathered ...
July 08, 2018

Sicario 2: Soldado

  Sicario 2: Soldado Islamist terror meets drug cartels and Mexican immigration: thus, does Sicario 2 begin, in literally explosive fashion. What emerges after the opening set pieces, however, is strangely un-dramatic, despite the best attempts of Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro to re-create the amoral desert of the original Sicario (2015). W...
July 01, 2018

I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

  I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore (Netflix) My flatmate's been out of town for a few days, which has encouraged me to use the sofa in our living room a bit more often. This has never been an issue between us, she likes to stretch out on the sofa while I take the kitchen table. But these past few evenings alone in the flat have ...
July 01, 2018

Miss Maria, Skirting the Mountain

Miss Maria, Skirting the Mountain (Edinburgh Film Fesitval) As a snapshot of what it is to be a transgender female in a rural, religious setting, without medical aid or sympathy, I'd recommend this documentary. Miss Maria, Skirting the Mountain (2017), follows forty-something Maria in the foothills and pastures of Andean Colombia. The scenery ...
June 24, 2018

My World Cup diary (I)

​ My World Cup diary (I) Saturday Night My flatmate and I hosted a Beatles-themed party a few weeks ago. I chose the simple route for my Beatles-themed outfit, using string to tie lots of paperback novels to my waist, signifying  Paperback Writer.  It wasn't very inspired, but I did also create some mash-up posters for my flatmate (see pi...
June 15, 2018

Anxiety Dreams and the Cisgender Label

Anxiety Dreams and the Cisgender Label I know it's bad form to talk about one's dreams but I'd like to start this post by talking about how I woke up in darkness last night, after an evolving, unpleasant, anxiety dream about being trans. In the first half of the dream, people saw me in a nice apartment, and wanted to take it for themselves because ...