Dear trans advocates,
As the times press onward, politics change. Our issues evolve. Our fight becomes more complicated. I fear that a lot of the people in the field doing the work are only doing a very small bit of it and not holding discussions that actually matter. I fear we’ve become a movement of tokenization – one where beautiful, respectable, palatable folk are given a platform to speak about our issues but only tackle those that are palatable to the broader society. We’re relying on these commercialized narratives and truths to represent us and our fight and articulate them over and over yet ignore other nuances of our identities. The young people like myself are a threat to normativity because we don’t know what that is (figuratively, of course). We are reinventing the trans* narrative in ways that makes others uncomfortable and even makes the work of advocates in the community a bit harder because they are faced with alternate truths that intersect at the point of our proclamation of our transness. What do I mean? Allow me to give a few examples.
Women can do sex work….because they just want to. Girls are speaking out and refuting the notion that sex work is only for the needy. They’re fighting the stigmatization of the field and this explaining away of those in it as a means to make the movement more palatable to the broader society. Yes, many women are forced into sex work, but if we don’t give space and agency to women to be able to do sex work no matter what their circumstance and we refuse to raise those voices up, we’re pretty much contributing to its demonization. So I ask you, do your politics support that?
Women can love their penises. More and more women are speaking their truths and claiming that they have no intention to get SRS. Women are loving, flaunting, and embracing their penises and using it as a means to further exemplify the beauty of their identities. Do your politics support that?
Women can religiously pursue dating gay men. Some have been embraced by the gay community most of their lives and had been involved with gay men for quite some time. They’ve been addressing that their sexual attraction does not change when one pops a hormone or begins to identify as a woman or any variant outside of the identity that was forced upon them at birth. Some women have loved the gay male culture and are still attracted to those that hold that identity. They bring a new perspective to the table in regards to attraction and limitations of sexual identity. Do your politics support that?
Women can refuse to disassociate themselves from gay male spaces. Many women “transition” yet find it very comforting to still embrace gay men as their family. They attend gay events, have a plethora of gay friends, and refuse to rid themselves of the cultural impact that living as part of the community has had on their lives. They are called “punks” and deemed unacceptable when they’re just embracing themselves and living authentically like we preach. They fight to validate their existence and speak of the beauty of using one’s non-cis background to shape them in ways that make them new breeds of women. Do your politics support that?
Women can love women. Duh. Do your politics support that?
Women can be masculine of center. You say fuck a binary and fuck normativity so let’s not forget that these women and those who are GNC exist. Do your politics support that?
Women can be sexually liberated and bear it on their sleeves. I’m going to have my titties out. I’m going to fuck because I enjoy it. I’m going to wear my coochie cutters and clap my ass in the club. I’m going to continually take nude pictures. We see the greater feminist/womanist movements catering to cis women and working towards sexually liberating their bodies and identities. We see Beyoncé and Rihanna redefining black women’s bodies but what about black trans* women? We’re so caught up in being a palatable movement and working on one issue at a time that we reinforce the body policing and respectability that we claim to refute. Young women are challenging this. Young women are freeing themselves. Young women are being “sexual”. Do your politics support that?
Women can say “fuck your hormones”. We come in all variations, and some women refuse to present visually in ways that make their identities more comfortable to the bigots around them. Do your politics support that?
Women can be drag queens. Self-explanatory…
Do your politics support that?
There’s so much more I can add but all in all, I love my generation of trans sisters precisely because they bring nuance to the discussions surrounding our issues. They’re coming out of the woodworks and saying “Actually…..” and “complicating” our movement. Trans* advocacy should not be about centering cisness or even about blending in. It should work for all of us. It should be about giving us all a seat at the table. The agenda should truly uplift those who live unapologetically in their various truths. It should raise up those voices of people who challenge every little piece of “normal” or “acceptable”. I’m not saying we can’t validate those who do ascribe and are comfortable with blending and “just being” but let’s be wary to not progress like other movements and isolate “fringe identities” in our community. We should all be one and move in unison and work for one another. The agenda shouldn’t be a numbered list. It should be continuous and simultaneous. All issues of any trans* person is a trans* issue worthy of being addressed at a white house or on a panel or in a rally. The youth will lead. The young people are finding themselves and reshaping this movement. Are you ready?