Books

With my PhD in English Literature at Edinburgh University about to begin, I will be reading lots of stuff this year. Do not expect weekly reviews, I do not read quickly. But I will share with you anything interesting I do read, whether it’s a novel that’s in vogue, or something from my course that I think is worth knowing that broadened my horizon. I’ll be reading a lot of things about transgender discourse, but hopefully, a lot of things which aren’t, as well.

Naomi Klein: No Is Not Enough

Naomi-Klein

Naomi Klein: No Is Not Enough

I've been taking in books instead of movies, recently quite political ones, Christmas treats that I got for myself and am working through. Finally, I have something I want to write about.

Naomi Klein's No Is Not Enough is the one book I'd recommend to anyone. It's a brilliant deconstruction of Trump and his Presidency-As-Brand, though what caught my eye most of all was her deconstruction of Hillary Clinton. Though Klein doesn't deny that Hillary was preferable to Trump, she articulates how the Clinton campaign had a similar logic. Trump stood for trickle-down economics; Hilary championed trickle-down identity politics. Clinton's policies would have meant more of the same lukewarm neoliberalism that's created such obscene inequality, with unregulated stock markets and the accompanying culture of deserving winners and losers and an increasingly militarized police to combat the unrest. In effect, even if Hillary had got in, a Trump would have followed eventually, because the conditions for a Trump – of growing working class anger – would have remained. But even in the short term, a vote for Hillary would not have helped so many women in a material sense, not at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

Because I realize it's the same with transgender icons: yay for Caitlyn Jenner for coming out as trans, it helped put trans people on the map in a respectable, glitzy way. But Jenner's support for Trump over Hillary? Jenner's trickle-down trans celebrity won't help American trans teenagers denied entry to the public restroom of the gender they identify with. It won't help the trans military personnel who'll lose their careers because of Trump's anti-trans dismissals. And at a general level, as poverty increases under Trump, it won't help all those at the bottom end of the spectrum. Let's stick to trans people for a moment: those trans people in poverty often end up in prostitution; the murder rate against trans people at the poorer end is horrific.

What I liked most about No Is Not Enough, in fact, is its emphasis on intersectionality: if you really care about what happens to trans people, then be aware that the suffering of those most vulnerable doesn't happen in a void. African-American and Latino trans people get it so much worse, in a ghettoizing system, one that makes prison a profitable enterprise, where locking someone up for 15 years for possession of marijuana gives that prison effectively an economic slave for the next 15 years. There's a general culture here of meanness, of venerating money rather than supporting people. As Klein says, those human traits we value, of generosity, kindness, empathy, and forgiveness, are rejected for a cold, suspicious, materialistic greed. Those who suffer most at the bottom end of the economy, black, Latino, trans, to name but three, their lives won't be better until we categorically address a system that values all the worst things in our nature, a rapacious kind of capitalism where Trump is just the symbol and no token white knight can change that by what they represent.
George Monbiot: How Did We Get Into This Mess?
Vested Interests by Marjorie Garber (non-fiction)
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Guest
Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Captcha Image

My Latest Posts

August 21, 2019

Hearty by Emma Frankland

Hearty by Emma Frankland Raw and dripping with punk aesthetic, this one-woman-show's one-woman emerges in ripped tights and a T-shirt that paraphrases loudly the words of anti-trans theorist Germaine Greer: Lop Your Dick Off. My first impression of Emma Frankland is edgily uncertain and in awe, her Lady-Gaga-looks combined with Heath Ledger's mesme...
August 21, 2019

Pronoun, Pass, & Amnesty International

Transgender drama: Pronoun To be clear at the outset, this was the production of a youth theatre group, not a highly resourced team of experienced, professional career actors – although some of the performances left a powerful impression, and the show as a whole achieved some remarkable moments. Pronoun , written by Evan Placey, follows the transit...
August 13, 2019

Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem

Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem It starts with a heartbeat, the dancer-directors Lizzie and Ayden in slow-motion entry, setting the scene of a nightclub featuring two young transgender bodies who are in fact multiple. Sound Cistem is theatrical dance set to a series of pulsing, dance-floor rhythms and the voices of several trans interviewees projec...
August 04, 2019

Drone by Harry Josephine Giles

Drone by Harry Josephine Giles The blurring of human and machine reiterates here in a comedically surreal, startling performance by the performance poet Harry Josephine Giles. Drawing on visual and aural effects, Giles presents the disturbingly evocative middle-class arc of the life of an electronic, military drone. With Giles as both narrator and ...
August 03, 2019

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza Playing currently at the Traverse Theatre is Travis Alabanza's poignant and comic one-person show, a thought-provoking meditation created out of a jarring personal experience. Back in 2016, Alabanza, a non-binary person of colour, was abused in a London street, with a burger thrown at them by a stranger. The show's series...
August 03, 2019

While transphobes get more hateful, I become more freckly

While transphobes got more hateful, I became more freckly Written weeks after the conference Transgender: Intersectional/International There's nothing good to say, even the films I enjoyed watching this past week, Midsommar and Apollo 11 , I've lost the Sunday will to write. Perhaps Brexit Britain will become like the village cult in Midsommar , bu...
June 09, 2019

Dark Phoenix, John Wick 3, Godzilla: my reflections

Three fantasy movies within three days: X Men: Dark Phoenix; John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; Godzilla: King of the Monsters The Lacanian feminist Kaja Silverman says about cinema, we go because we need the affirmation, to see the things we hope to see and fail to see in the real world. In Lacanian-speak, Silverman says we go because 'the desire ...
June 02, 2019

Personal Reflections on Transgender: Intersectional/International

Personal reflections on the conference Transgender: Intersectional/International (28-29 May) ​​Note: these reflections do not represent anyone else who contributed to Transgender: Intersectional/International I got involved with Transgender: Intersectional/International in order to create an LGBT/queer space that accommodated discussions on racism,...
April 28, 2019

Gina's Moving Castle

Saturday afternoon 27.04.19 Enough with marking papers. Enough about conferences. Outside is a blue sky. There's a book shop nearby, my temple, its owners are trying to remove stickers of transphobic messages pasted on their door. Yesterday I met a guy who'd been set upon by a group of 17-year-olds. He still had the scars, and the trauma. They saw ...