Nov. 20th, 2008

bossymarmalade: blue eye with lashes of red flower petals (all i do is dream of you)
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. I am admittedly not an expert on this topic, but I'd like to share a couple of testimonies that I've watched/read and are fairly accessible:

100% Woman - a documentary about Michelle Dumaresq, a Canadian mountain biker and MTF (male-to-female) athlete. I watched this video fairly early into my trajectory of learning, and so the first time I heard all of the complaints from the cisgender women about their transgender peer I thought they were pretty reasonable. Then I told myself, "would you accept these statements if they were saying "black/brown" instead of "trans"?" and my whole view shifted.

The website doesn't have the whole documentary up, but there's at least one part that you can watch.

Stone Butch Blues - a novel by "transgender warrior" Leslie Feinberg, about growing up a blue-collar "he-she" in the 1960s, when people could be arrested for dancing with somebody of the same sex. It's a painful, tense, and stressful book to read due to the constant threat of potential violence. But it's also an important piece of history and a reminder that gendered identity has *always* been negotiated by various people, and we need to acknowledge and respect the changes they were able to effect within the constraints under which they laboured.

To be perfectly honest, the book has some sappy romantic bits that I found tedious (the sort that I roll my eyes at in hetero books, too) and the author has certain peccadilloes that could have been edited (count the number of times she says "this powerful woman" or people "whisper out loud"), but hey, I am willing to fight for the right of every person, trans or cis, to write whatever romantical smooshiness they want. *g*

These two narratives are very white-focused. I have not included any links/recs to issues of hijra or two-spirited persons. Partly because all of the articles I've read have been highly academic and are only available in journals or obscure books, and partly because these designations are often co-opted by white people who don't understand them but feel they're useful in an "oh, look -- exotic Indians (both dots AND feathers!) have traditions of transpersons, so it's like getting back to our spiritual roots! let's go do yoga in a sweatlodge!" kind of way. Another thing I've learned in my years of schooling is that LGBT activism in North America is still at heart a white movement, and it tends to overlay white Western understandings/presumptions of gender onto the bodies and traditions of people of colour. I can't think of any scholarship I know that provides insight from the actual pens and mouths of PoC, and therefore I'd rather not promote the overwhelmingly white aca-marketing of Indian and Native "third gender" discourses.


To find out more about trans issues, please check out Leigh's list wherein she is rounding up a bunch of posts about the subject!

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