This started out life as a response to the convo about Fat Acceptance and trans* people that’s been happening on Miss TheRotund’s Tumblr, but it sort of took on a life of its own and I’m pretty sure it’s over the Ask Box character limit anyway, so here it is:
The thing is, trans* people get all the same stupid body-hating, fatphobic bullshit thrown at us that cis people do, only we have a whole load of gender dysphoria besides. And while I think I’ve been pretty successful at unpacking which is which for me personally, the dividing line between those two things (assuming there is one) is going to be different for every trans* person, and sorting it out at all might not be possible for everyone. And obviously, FA can help with the fatphobic bullshit, but it’s unlikely to cure anyone’s desire for a phalloplasty, say.
I feel way more welcome as a genderqueer person in the FA community than I do as a chubby person in the trans* community. Transwomen/transfeminine people I can’t speak for, but for transmasculine people? To be attractive, you MUST be a dude who spends all his free time in a gym and has been on T for a million years, so that you’re indistinguishable from a conventionally hot cisgendered guy. Exceptions are made for pre-T guys if they’re really skinny and wear eyeliner. I’ve quit following most FTM-oriented blogs/communities because of commenters who said “transguys are HAWT!!!1” and were clearly not talking about trans* people who look like me.
And can I just say how fucking alienating it is when you do all the things you’re “supposed” to do to pass as male without T or surgery, still not pass the majority of the time, and then read more passing tips and the FIRST FUCKING TIP EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME is “start working out, it’ll give you a more masculine body shape!” Because that WORKS EQUALLY WELL FOR EVERYONE AND IF IT DOESN’T YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. Sound familiar?
So I guess in other, slightly calmer words, I’m saying that fatphobia in the trans* community is a major problem, while I have not noticed much in the way of transphobia in FA. Most cisgendered FA people just tend to stay away from the whole issue, aside from general messages of support. Which honestly, I don’t mind, because the interplay there is often intensely complicated and personal (see point 1), and if you’re cisgendered, you just haven’t been there and you’re not going to have a lot to say about it. And generic support is better than nothing.
And finally, because I like to end on a positive note, let me just say this:
If you are a chubby transguy and you dress up as Lady Gaga for Halloween, and you’re at a party full of awesome people who use the right pronouns, and you get completely trashed but still manage not to fall on your ass or break your shoes? You will have one incredible fucking night. Trust me on this.
So, there was this show on HBO a while back that was filmed at the Bunny Ranch in Nevada. And a person with whom I was watching it at that point pointed out that the difference between most of the women and this one particular woman there was that they all had the same affected signifiers of beauty and desirability but that this one woman was actually truly beautiful.
It was an interesting conversation because, while I found the one woman beautiful, I found many of the others quite beautiful as well and not just because they had the requisite big hair, red lips, ample breasts, etc. The idea of performing beauty, though, and being read as beautiful no matter what you started out looking like, was interesting to contemplate, though, and I think we see it play out all the time (especially in reverse - yes, I’m looking at you Tina Fey and shows like Ugly Betty).
Performing gender reminds me of that conversation - because it is the mainstream cultural signifiers of gender that people look for whether they’re looking at trans or cis people. This becomes a problem for trans people trying to pass and also for cis people who, for whatever reason, don’t conform.
A lot of the trans people I have known have actively pursued those mainstream cultural signifiers of gender because if you can conform with that, it’s a lot easier to pass. But I want FA to be a resource because that just isn’t possible for every body and, as you said in point #1, trans people live in the same body-policing, fat-hating cess pool the rest of us do when it comes to body image.
I am not a perfect ally. I don’t know if I will be in my lifetime! I can rattle off a list of ways to be better and do things better, not because I am perfect, but because I am lucky enough to be a part of a community that holds me accountable. I also think about this stuff a lot.
My bf and I had a great conversation tonight about the journey of working through cissexism. He’s so great and I appreciate when he helps me analyze stuff about gender and oppression and interner-matyrdom (my own!). And the anon commenter from an earlier post was kind enough to engage me in dialogue that let us both talk out our frustrations.
I’m really glad that these conversations are happening in the queer tumblr universe!
They are such important conversations and I am so glad they happen here.
YES to important dialogues!! I want to always be working towards being better. I want to grow and learn and I’m SO lucky to have resources to do that.
- JessieDress is so damn graceful.
- Fucking and dating transfolk does not a trans-ally make. Having trans friends or organizing a femme group in your city that is trans-friendly/inclusive/led in theory and not in practice does not mean you stand in solidarity. Shit takes work.
- Most cissexual femmes DO take part in transphobia. Cissexim is an oppression that is so very insidious. Think before you say “I’m not a cissexist/transphobic,” or “What I did/said was not transphobic.” Intent is important, but sometimes intentionality can only carry you so far.
- Feedback is a gift. Feedback from somebody you have affected/oppressed with you ignorance and bias is an even bigger gift. Take it and learn from it. Don’t get huffy. Don’t put a band aid on it. Jump in.
This is not just for folk involved in this most recent discourse on transphobia in femme community, but to every femme who wants to build a whole and inclusive community that is working towards justice for all femmes!
I’m always learning and always growing and I’m VERY lucky to have intelligent, passionate and active people in my reach who facilitate that <3
Did you really use my Creme de le Mer moisturizer to jerk off? You idiot. That shit costs more per ounce than Vegas cocaine. If you run out of Jergens, use spit next time.