Cissexism in trans* or trans*-related media [a reaction]
Or: Why “disclosure” is a word worth avoiding.
Let us start from the very beginning. For quite some time now I have been broadening the network of people whom I follow on Twitter. Even though I have been mostly preoccupied either with accounts tackling issues related to SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression - I prefer this when speaking broadly about matters concerning people somewhere along the line of LGBTQIA…O) and social justice, I sometimes curiously either follow or observe the accounts of those who are definitely nowhere near my own understanding of personal freedom and the right to it.
I did not consider the planetransgender account to be one of the latter, it seemed like one of those who simply repost media-related content covering trans* matters, sometimes posting a comment, but functioning mostly as source material for others interested. It had its interesting approaches, but for my taste lacking a significant policy on sensitive and triggering information.
Remembering a case The Scottish Transgender Alliance was communicating a while back, I decided to have a curious look at it and, unfortunately, was extremely surprised how the issue was portrayed. It left me with an impression that transgender people owe it to society to disclose their gender status wherever they feel they could “offend” everyone else. Don’t believe me, have a look at the quote from the website:
The issue is the vaginal penetration of a partner without her consent with a object other than what she expects I.E., a penis.
I’ll probably get crucified for saying this but…supposing that both party’s accurately described the circumstances prior to penetration I would have to agree the the ruling that aggrieved party was deceived. I am of the belief that disclosure of trans status with a potential sexual partner, before the sexual act occurs, is only right. Doing otherwise could be construed as deception. My opinion does not mean I think we as trans people are of less value, but we have undeniably different history in context with cisgender people and this history has a profound effect on whom we are today.
It is true that our histories and the way we work with the gender(ed) system leaves us often alienated in the eyes of the cisgender population, however, I cannot agree to an argument stating that “disclosure is only right”.
It is not to say that I would defend those individual cases. I cannot, since I lack proper information of what has been happening, and I do not think that media coverage and an NGO statement is enough to pose judgement if you do not have access to actual court documentation. I do not plan to gain it.
There is much to work with those types of cases in terms of power relations, especially when one considers the question of consent, minimum age of consent laws and even the dynamic between trans masculine subject and the cis feminine subject both being in constant threat of patriarchal and predatory behaviour. Either of them, of course, in various and extremely different ways.
I am not going to pretend that the question is easy, especially coming from a trans masculine, pansexual perspective, finding honest communication about sex and body quite problematic, giving the experiences I already have.
I cannot, however, accept a statement that “disclosure” of trans* status is “right”. Remembering those who actually lost their lives or were physically attacked by their either sexual or life partners simply because they felt safe enough to talk about their trans feminine, masculine or gender variant status, I cannot support an argument which takes two unclear and suspicious cases, making them an excuse for stating an opinion targeting every single person. What I found under it was a case of victim blaming - telling trans people that they should be aware that their status bothers those of cisgender experiences, that being trans* is a problem in a somewhat broader societal idea.
It is obvious that transgender persons are threatened by violence whether or not they choose to discuss their status or not. As we are often reminded, there is no safe space. Some places might be consider safer and very often on individual basis. Forcing someone to be open about their transgender status will not change anything and might, in fact, contribute to making transphobia legitimate in a binary-ruled society. Cissexism has its ways to make our lives even worse.
Openly telling our stories, including sexual, might of benefit to some, but to others can contribute to raising the threat they already live in. And while open and honest sexual communication is important, we can never prosecute those who decide to not discuss the subject of their trans* status as it is already putting yourself forward and risking violence or shaming. We have the right to keep that information to ourselves and it is up to society to finally realize that genders are diverse and that identity status should not be seen as connected to one’s body shape and structure.
And, in the end, it was very sad to read that the “disclosure” argument comes from a website which contributed a lot to trans* visibility on Twitter and other social media, especially that it is constantly repeated on cisgender channels.
English: Writing makes my head hurt, but it is what I have chosen as part of my working/volunteering/academic environment (academia is not work for me, although it’s no leisure, especially when it makes your head hurt) and, in the end, I do enjoy it. And since my last blog was wiped out of the face of the earth due to a server failure and then a hard disk crash, I decided to treat tumblr as a symbolic new beginning.
Well then, here I am. Ready to post, re-post, comment, write own stuff etc., etc. And videos. I like videos.
Also, some posts will be either in Polish or in Slovak without an English translation. The reason? Scarce information sources on various trans*-related issues in those languages. Dot.
And photos. Photos are nice.
Polski: Ostatni blog zamieszczony jeszcze na adresie vworld.pl przestał funkcjonować, a stare dane jak dotąd nie są dostępne z powodu awarii dysku twardego, na którym przetrzymywane były kopie zapasowe.
Zaczynam w takim razie od nowa. Będą komentarze, teksty, materiały wideo… Ile z nich tak naprawdę po polsku, tego - niestety - nie wiem, ale mogę przynajmniej obiecać, że będę się starać.
Materiały nie będą tłumaczone. Jak zresztą widać na załączonym obrazku. Każdy z postów jest odrobinę inny.