Way to Think Outside, but Right Up Against the Box

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I motherfucking hate social movements.  I hate labels, I hate arbitrary rules, and I hate binaries.  Realistically, I can’t bitch about everything to which this title applies in one post, but I can sure as hell try.

Initially, I intended just to talk about feminism, but then I started thinking about binary trans people (not all, I’ve met some great folks, but so many have fallen in The Trap – we’ll get to that), and so much other shit.  I can hardly keep track of how many things I feel this way about, but we’ll just keep it down to these two.

First off, feminism.  Fuck feminism, really.  Now, I’m not saying “I hate women” or anything else, but the label and the people who use the label are so limited.  Of course, many awesome Queer folks have stepped up and begun working to claim their place in the feminist movement with the trans feminist, intersectional feminist and Queer feminist labels (among a few others, I’m sure), but really, I think the word Queer should assume feminist sentiments (since, like it or not rad fems, it was your movement that brought us out and made us loud).

To really explicate on the limits of feminism, we’ll have to go back to the Second Wave since that mentality is still entirely too huge.  It was here that feminism was forcibly opened up to Queer identity (specifically lesbian identity), but it was also here that feminists closed themselves off to ALL of Queer identity.  From the homophobic first wave came a transphobic second wave.  Funny thing about that, second wave feminism is where the whole concept of gender questioning on a socio-political scale got started – feminists were publishing book after book about what “woman” really means and how that meaning can be changed, how one can become “not a woman” and so on and so forth.  With so much rhetoric around gender, it was inevitable for them to accidentally advocate for trans* identities, but they did not go far enough.  Once the box is opened, it cannot be closed again, but damned if they didn’t try!  The feminist movement shunned the transgender movement at the time, asserting that “eunuchs” were trying to invade and take control of women’s space and that “transsexuals” raped women’s bodies and all manner of other stupid bullshit, but they could not see that their own gender rhetoric invited trans people into the conversation whether they liked it or not.  The first bits of feminist ponderings into what gender means and how it could be interpreted had to then be set aside and refuted by new ideas which would better support the transphobia within the movement so that nobody would have to go too far from their comfort zone in attempts to discern just how fucking huge patriarchy really is.

Now for binary trans folks.  I don’t have anything against trans women or trans men in general, my problem lies more with the binary and the stark dedication to the binary that many of these folks show.  I have a few friends who are completely binary and that’s fine, but I’ve found I can only deal with them in small doses.  This doesn’t apply to everyone, there are a several lovely trans women in my life who constantly renew my hope in humanity.  One of them, though she was only my life for a brief moment but made a lasting impression, really inspired me in some ways to write this.  She’s just a beautiful trans woman who is super butch and cool as hell.  We met at the bar and started talking, I don’t really remember how we got into transition and Queer issues, but she told me a bit of her story and it has stuck with me – her transition involved a lot of “well, I think you’re pretty masculine” because she simply wasn’t femme and her argument is that you do not have to be femme to be a woman.  I don’t think I’ve heard a truer statement.

Unfortunately, I find that binary trans people tend to be the absolute worst about gender essentialism and misogyny and for the life of me, I can’t understand it.  I mean, how?  Once a person realizes they can reject the gender they have been assigned, they have two choices, they either choose the other binary choice and perpetuate the binary (that second part isn’t necessary, but entirely too common part of the initial choice) or they could absolutely refuse the binary and accept gender as something fluid which runs on a spectrum.  The Trap that I have found many binary trans folks to run into is attempting to fill every stereotype for their chosen gender, positive or negative, which ends in lots of trans men becoming dudebros and many trans women doing everything in their power to be objectified, and thus validated, by cishet men.  As I’ve said before, this does not apply across the board, it’s simply a pattern I’ve seen and really, there is nothing wrong with super-femme trans women or macho trans men, the problem is the perpetuation of gender stereotypes that so many binary trans folks see as the only way to pass.  Perpetuating gender stereotypes in order to be accepted is participating in patriarchy, the very systemic mindset that has forced so many of us in the closet and kept us there for so long.  It’s not cute and it’s not okay, it’s harmful.  It fucking hurts, and when one of my binary friends misgenders me or tells me that genderqueer isn’t a real thing, I feel that I have been stabbed in the back.  I want to call her traitor, turncloak, coward, but I can’t because her struggle is real too and I know that she is scared, but I cannot abide her befriending the enemy at my expense.  For every trans woman or man that shrugs off or invalidates the third gender as a thing, either through rhetoric or through their actions, the Queer community loses that much ground and another of us is shrugged away off to the side.  Questioning your assigned gender is thinking outside of the box, but denying the possibility of any options outside of the binary is just a step right back in.

The fact of the matter is, when somebody asserts gender/binary essentialism, they are perpetuating the patriarchal mindset, be they a purported feminist or a Queer person.  If I’m honest, I’m always more offended when trans people do it though because it is the very thing that Queer folks (especially trans women) as a movement fought against in the ’60’s and ’70’s when the radical feminist movement rejected them.  Now, it’s all I can do to ask trans folk who support the binary what makes them any better than a rad fem.

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I am a Sexy Motherfucker

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I don’t always feel that way, but really it doesn’t matter how I feel if it’s true, does it? I know how conceited that sounds, but sometimes it’s the only way I can be. Not quite to the extent that I’m an arrogant self-centered jackass, but self-confidence is a thing too many people lack and that I happen to have in abundance. Don’t get me wrong, I get dysphoric and feel so shitty about myself and my appearance sometimes that I can’t leave my apartment and then other times, I feel bold enough to lean over my balcony stark naked and talk to the folks at the bar across the street. But I’ve really never questioned my attractiveness – I know I’m hot. I’m hot if I dress up in makeup and dresses or in suits and ties and I’m hot when I wear rags (fun fact: I love tattered articles of clothing). I dunno, I think that self-confidence is important, especially for Queer folks and it’s goddamn difficult to achieve, thanks to impossible standards of beauty and binary essentialist gender roles.

Androgyny in Western culture tends to be suppressed and considered unattractive, undesirable and confusing, but fuck that. Androgyny is hot. Transgender is hot. The human body is motherfucking sexy, so do me a favor Queer friends: wake up every morning, look in the mirror and whether or not you look or feel your best, just tell yourself “I am a Sexy Motherfucker.” Do it. Seriously. Even if you’re not feeling it, just do it because it feels good and it’s fun to say and because despite yourself and all your doubts, you know it’s true.

I dunno, I’m just feeling fucking good today. Probably out of spite because some cis/het dickhole who’s never seen me before in life told me what a boyish dyke butch punk I am as if that’s a bad thing. The point is, I’m hot and so are you so let’s all just be hot and Queer together and fuck all the rest.

Exercise, not Competition

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So, I’ve been needing to start working on my transition and I’ve decided to go about this slowly and carefully, taking it one step at a time. Since AFAB transition requires a lot of exercise and I’m more interested in achieving androgyny than anything else, I think that starting up a regular exercise routine should be my first step. Interestingly enough, it is also the hardest step. I’m not good at making myself exercise – I never liked it. Perhaps there is a reason for that, it’s not like I don’t feel good after exercising, I do, but I think it has more to do with the pressure I have come to associate with such a practice.

Growing up in U.S. public school systems, children tend to equate exercise with competition because the American mindset is a competitive one and most phys ed classes incorporate that mindset into their curriculum by focusing on competitive sports. Even basic stretches and core exercises were given a competitive twist and I, not having ever been a competitive person myself, got turned off to the entire idea. Despite being naturally slim and incredibly healthy my entire life, gym was always by far my worst subject area – I had no upper body strength to speak of, no endurance, the only thing I was good at was running and, strangely, basketball. I might have actually pursued basketball as a hobby if that, too, wasn’t so competitive. I was even offered a place on my middle school coaches long distance running team and turned it down because I didn’t want the pressure of competing in a sport. It simply involved too much – dieting, regular exercise, but most importantly playing to win. And here I am now, having to make myself do the things that my peers used to bully me for being unable to do.

Perhaps this is why I took to yoga so well. It’s the perfect regimen – there is no pressure, you need only do what is available to you and your body on any particular day and, most importantly, it focuses on the entire body in near equal proportion (if you’re doing it right). I can’t go to the gym without feeling inadequate compared to the people around me and I think that focusing on only one part of the body at a time is ineffective at best and harmful at worst. I prefer yoga’s simplicity to literally anything else – exercise machines just look like medieval torture devices by comparison. So what’s my problem, then? Why not just do yoga every day forever and make it a habit? Probably just laziness, honestly. That and a strange fear of routine.

I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like homogeneity in my daily schedule. It gets boring. Still, that’s an easily fixed problem too – it’s not like I’ll be doing the same exact yoga practice every day, that wouldn’t be useful at all. I’m not sure what it is that bothers me, perhaps it does come down to that old issue with competitive exercise or maybe I’m just afraid of the physical changes I can expect from actually being in shape (which, I’ll grant, is a little weird but I like my jiggly butt. It jiggles XD). Also, somehow I think I’m afraid that yoga might even make my body shape more feminine than it already is (though, I’m not exactly sure how that’s possible) with all of the hip-opening stretches to open my already very wide hips and core exercises which promise to make my waste even slimmer as though to make me a more pronounced hour glass. But all of that is silly – hormones will help to redistribute fat in my body to make it more masculine, I know this, but still. Part of me thinks I’m supposed to be doing more “manly” exercises like lifting weights and doing pull-ups (a thing I’ve literally never been capable of to my middle school self’s embarrassment), maybe I should be running on a regular basis, doing crunches and push-ups and all this other good shit, but none of it has ever been as satisfying as yoga so perhaps that is the best thing for me. Maybe, one day I’ll add those things to my routine, but since I’m only just (re-)starting a regular exercising habit, I think I’ll stick with my favorite and, by far the versatile, of options. I know now that I’m not in competition with anybody else and I don’t have somebody yelling over my shoulder for me to “be better, be better, don’t be lazy, don’t give up, you have adversaries to beat;” I only have myself and my goals and my needs and that is enough for me, I think.

The Pardoning of Allen Turing, or “Sorry, United Kingdom, but you are 60 years too late for this to have much meaning.

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Well, Alan Turing has been pardoned a few decades too late. So, uh…you got anything else for us, UK?

Trans.Nerd.Feminist

Alan Turing to receive pardon – CBS News.

Okay, if you don’t know who Alan Turing is, you should crawl out from under your rock and look him up. He’s one of the largest pioneers of what would later become the field of computer science, as the Turing Test (for computer intelligence) is named after him. The Turing Machine is one of the earliest electronic computing devices. He is largely credited with breaking with the German Enigma code in World War II, which allowed the Allies to decode classified, encrypted German military communication. Many believe the intelligence gained from this shortened the war by a matter of years. Unfortunately for Turing, he was also gay, and any form of homosexual sex was illegal at that point in history. In 1952, after admitting to having a relationship with a young man over the course of an investigation into the burglary…

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