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PrettyQueer.com | January 28, 2015

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For the Love of Transmisandry

Jack Radish

Let me paint a picture you may have seen before. A college campus nearby is having some sort of trans event. Let’s say it’s Trans Day of Remembrance. Everyone is crowded around a stage and a white trans man steps up to the mic and introduces “our own awesome trans man poet and activist whatever, let’s worship him, let’s say his name is Aydyn” and everyone claps and cheers and a couple folks in the audience scream out his name.

A white, 20-year-old trans man who is a student at the college walks up on stage, an air of false modesty about him, everyone cheers, maybe someone pulls off some undergarment and throws it at the stage; people are that into him. He performs some fun/funny/clever poem about sex or something light and fun, perhaps with a hint of misogyny that everyone excuses under the delusion that trans men can’t be misogynistic, or maybe that we have the right to be, and everyone kinda laughs and smiles—it’s a fan favorite. Then, he gets a serious face and motions for everyone to calm down. He says a few words about “what today is really about,” and says he wants to take things down a notch. Let’s say that he passes out candles and asks people to light them too.

Aydyn gets all intense and angry and performs a poem about going to the bathroom. He talks about people who get murdered for being trans. He talks about being too scared to go to the bathroom because he’s worried he’s going to get murdered. Maybe he even names some names off of the current year’s “Remembering Our Dead” list of trans people who were murdered. He might artfully go back and forth between exploitatively graphic images of what happened to people on the list and what’s going through his head as he walks into the bathroom (maybe someone even shoves him when he’s in there.) There are tears streaming down his face. Everyone claps for him when he ends on a brave note of how he’s not going to let them bring him down. There is pretty much a line of people waiting to make out with him at the after-party. Aydyn is getting laid tonight for sure.

Two or three other trans men (let’s call them Jaydyn, Caydyn & Gaydyn) who look pretty much like him get up and give almost identical performances. It’s clear that one of the 4 of them is the leader and the others are kind of poseurs, but they’re still all getting laid tonight after such displays of bravery.

Towards the end, the one trans woman the organizers could scrounge up at the last minute, as an afterthought, steps on stage to read a statement prepared for her by the organizers of the event and then read the year’s “Remembering Our Dead” list. She was super excited when they asked her to participate, but they didn’t actually bother to read the speech she wrote before they rewrote their own and they “forgot” to tell her about the after-party until the last minute.

Have you ever been to this event? Cause I’ve been to this event. I’ve been to about a million of them, at a handful of different college campuses across the country. But now I’m burnt out on them, and just avoid them like the plague

It doesn’t just bother me that the only trans woman on stage was an afterthought, disempowered and invited at the last minute because the organizers wanted to look inclusive. It doesn’t just bother me that at least one or two rad trans women probably showed up to the first planning meeting but were totally pushed out prior to the group having to find a token trans woman to appear on stage at the last minute. It doesn’t just bother me that the performers were white trans men in college, making no place in the organization for trans women of color sex workers, all while claiming trans women of color sex workers’ experiences as their own.  It doesn’t just bother me that Aydyn & Jaydyn & Caydyn & Gaydyn have actually deluded themselves and really believe their sensationalized fantasy that they will be murdered for trying to go to the bathroom, in spite of the fact that, as a trans man who probably looks a lot like Aydyn & friends, I can say pretty confidently that that’s not something I’ve ever worried about in real life. It doesn’t just bother me that these guys have these smug looks of martyrdom spread across their faces and that they actually believe themselves to be some sort of heroes or “voices” of the “trans community”.

What really bothers me—what really just makes my skin crawl—is that everyone in the audience fucking loves them for it. That everyone in the audience is apparently blind to the fact that transmisogyny is going on in their own, “safe,” queer community, and that bullshit like this is its very birthplace. Or, worse, maybe they’re not blind to it, but they don’t do anything to stop it, they don’t think it’s important and they still treat the purveyors of transmisogyny in the queer community like gods or something. It pretty much makes me want to vomit.

It’s not that I have anything against spoken word poetry, it’s the whole tone that trans bro communities and the communities that worship them exude. This unspoken idea that only an elite group of trans men, who look a certain way, dress a certain way, pass a certain way, date a certain type of people, etc. really get taken seriously or given the time of day. And there’s this arrogant tone in there that everyone else, specifically trans women, don’t “get” it, are not “enlightened,” and that it is the job of trans men to tell them what their life experiences really are.

I feel like I get to have a special brand of insight into this whole culture because, in most ways, I can fairly seamlessly blend into these groups if I want to. I am college educated. I am white. I have read the “right” books and taken the “right” classes. I started transitioning fairly young, so I am both a young person and someone who is long established in the trans community. I have the “right” amount of gender variance (just enough to show that I’m interesting, but I’m still a binary-identified man). I have had the “right” surgeries. I speak the “right” language. I have a lot of privilege in those spaces. Sure, there are things that push me out of that group, like the fact that I’m fat and the fact that I don’t pass “enough.” But, then again, exclusive groups like that thrive on members’ fears that their own membership might be threatened—people will do or say some pretty messed up things when they feel threatened. So having a few insecurities could actually help secure my place as a trans bro if I wanted it.. So if I want to, I can insert myself into the middle of this community, 100% undetected as an imposter, as long as I don’t say anything. So I have seen these communities on their worst behavior.

The thing is, I can’t do it. I can’t stand it. Hanging out with a group like that, even for an afternoon, makes me feel awful about myself. It makes me feel like I’m stepping on the backs of my friends—of the people who have loved and supported me, the people I have learned from, grown up with and told my deepest secrets. I could not stand to go into a trans bro space and be quiet when, within the first 5 minutes, I hear a whole group of people stepping on my friends and sisters. I could not fail to speak up when trans guys claim the experiences of trans women (talking about how they’re scared of being murdered or calling themselves “trannies” are my favorite examples), when white trans people claim the experiences of trans people of color, when college-educated trans people claim the experiences of self-educated trans people. And I can’t keep my mouth shut when they then talk about or treat the very people on whose backs they have built up their own identities like they are not smart enough, not radical enough, not white enough, not male enough, not educated enough, not WHATEVER enough to really “get” what they are talking about or belong in their communities—they never stop to consider that maybe they are the ones who did something to exclude trans women from their groups. And when the same people start saying, “our group is open to trans women, but I guess there are just no trans women who want to come,” I have to get up, walk away (if I haven’t already, which I probably have) and join the ranks of the trans women who don’t want to come to their stupid events. I leave them scratching their heads, still wondering (but not too hard) why everyone who comes to their events looks just like they do.

So when I first heard the term, “transmisandry,” I kinda laughed and though, “hell yeah!”

Comments

  1. Oh man, I know exactly what you’re talking about here. One of the trans boys in my LGBT youth theater group was such a total bro, if he had been cis nobody would have put up with it but because he was trans, his oppressive behavior was tolerated as an exploration and expression of his identity. He told really mean spirited jokes and was one of those Dudes who thinks he’s really compassionate because he’s always “totally in love” with whatever girl/woman he’s dating, but all of his exes were “total bitches/sluts/cunts”. He made sure we all knew his trans ex girlfriend got someone pregnant and he thought the pain of their situation was hi-larious.

    • J.A. B.

      I am sometimes afraid to call trans boys out on anything, because I (a trans woman) don’t pass and still get male privilege, so I’m afraid everyone will fall over that and get angry at me. And because I never see anyone else doing it either, that means trans boys can get away with pretty much anything, without it even being questioned.

      • i feel like a lot of people do that–like they see how douchey trans men are being but cut us slack anyway for probably a lot of reasons. as a trans man, i think it’s a lot easier for me to dis trans bro culture because i’m basically not worried anyone is going to think i’m being transphobic (which i’m not or at least not intentionally) for doing so. i also figure that the only trans men i will offend by saying stuff like that are the trans men who are douches, that any trans guy who is at all enlightened will know what i’m talking about.

        i’m not trying to squash trans womens’ voices by saying shit like this–trans women started saying this stuff way before i did and i’ve learned from the best, but i still feel like some people (some trans women included) hold back for fear of offending trans guys who are not douches or at least try hard not to be.

        but usually hearing a trans man say trans bro culture is douchey makes people who were holding back feel like they have “permission” to also talk about this as a huge problem. i don’t think my voice as a trans man’s is more important than anyone else’s, i’d just rather use my privilege to get people to question annoying trans-bro-worship culture than to participate in it

        • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

          Well, this won’t be short.

          I think one reason why the perception of “permission” tacitly exists at all is because for some of us — speaking as a trans woman here — there is clear memory of the not-too-distant past when saying anything in trans space would get us slapped down hard by groups of budding, CAFAB trans folks in university as “male-privileged oppressors”. This reaction would (d)evolve in the coming years into something slightly different and no less frustrating.

          To say this “male-privileged oppressor” line, these CAFAB trans folks would turn to that clever second-wave essentialist language learnt in the lesbian community (and at the time, most out trans guys found their queer footing in dyke circles) on CAMAB trans people — particularly any trans woman who had been out as long as or even longer than they had. One gem: “We need our safe space” (code for “trans men only”). They never asked us whether we needed a safe space, too. Eventually, “trans safe space” because an exclusive “trans-masculine space”, often still within cis dyke space, and this set into motion a pattern for today’s situation of permissibility.

          I remember my voice, despite my somewhat respectable placement within queer circles, falling to deaf ears over and over again around this time. So I learnt to just be quiet and eventually not show up at all to anything labelled “a women and trans friendly event” — which often was code for “no trans women”. I felt had nowhere, and for the few trans women with whom I kept in touch, they didn’t either. And we’re talking women who came out in their teens and very early twenties. If this wasn’t bad enough, we were also excluded by mid-stream trans women who long had had their own organizations and societies in place, and we didn’t belong there, either. If anything we were flat-out treated with resentment. Sorry, off-topic.

          In any case, that “male-privileged oppressors” firebrand used against any “uppity” CAMAB trans woman (d)evolved into “you don’t know what you’re talking about”, spoken in the way cocky schoolyard boys talk down to girls. If they asked what you thought, and you spoke frankly at the risk of offending fragile sensibilities, it might result in a slew of book-learnt critical theory being thrown back at you.

          Eventually, it seemed like entire subcultures built around this queer theory-fu emerged in places like upper Manhattan, the West Coast, Northampton, and Minnesota — in which the only CAMAB trans people let in (if at all) were those who were up to speed with that book theory and was read as a non-threatening, androgynous cis dyke. I admit that some of this is a bit general, but if you wondered the genesis of this seeking “permission” first pattern, it probably comes from this history.

          I sometimes wonder why I didn’t walk away from being treated diminutively sooner than I did. Probably because I felt like I deserved it since, well, I was a girl, and it was an internalized sexism I had yet to learn how to challenge.

          Now, years since, I’m might be all “book-learnt” too, but I’d rather use what I know to facilitate good for trans people overall — not trans provincialism or to let cisnormativity and transmisogyny go unquestioned.

          Also, I have met some really good guys in the last year who have trans bodies. They totally get it, and I feel they’ve got our back this time should we brave saying anything in mixed trans or queer space. It shouldn’t have to come to that, but that’s where we are right now and will remain so long as the *a*den trans guys play having things “both ways” — using semi-separatist lesbian rhetoric and mobilization, and being misogynist and transmisogynist dickbags at the same time — resulting in a perfect storm of self-absorbed badness all around).

          Lastly, if I ever hear the “male privileged” card directed at a trans woman by a CAFAB trans person, especially to a trans woman who has no experiential knowledge of being treated like an adult cis man by peers, I am no longer as afraid to call out-and-out bullshit on that — whether or not a guy has me covered. I’m getting too long in the tooth (yes, I just likened myself to a horse) to play the “misogynist gender role game” any longer.

          • You know, ironically, I think it was being segregated by assigned sex and being read as ‘not one of the boys’ that made me opinionated, assertive, and over-researched.

            When I was in Junior High they decided to segregate the math and science classes by assigned sex. (Of course, they didn’t put it that way.)

            And I was very clearly not respected by the jock gym/math teacher and his favoured students who got extra attention… the only way I could ever shut them up was by being the smartest kid in the room. And so I was, and I demonstrated it at every turn…

            So when CAFAB folx complain that they’ve been told to shut up to a degree particular to them, I have to take exception… trans women aren’t read unquestioningly as male before we transition and we learn, like other women learn, how to negotiate that.

            • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

              Precisely. You spoke to this so much better than I could. Thanks.

          • Wendy

            I find it interesting how invested you are in stereotypes of young mtf=good, older mtf=bad.

            • wtf is an mtf?

              I don’t know of any trans woman who was ever male. Presumed male, perhaps, but never male…

              (Though if there is a way to make males into females, you’ll let us lesbians know, right? Dating pool could stand to be a little deeper.)

              • Wendy

                You are correct about the mtf thing Valerie. I was typing in haste and I guess old habits die hard. I was thinking CAMAB. Thanks for correcting me.

                • No problem… I find that the closer in institutional proximity I am to gatekeepers, the more frequently I hear that acronym… even from some pretty awesome transfeminists. Institutional memory is deep indeed.

                  PS: Let me know if anything comes up on the making males into females front.

                  No hetero. :P

            • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

              Well . . .

              There are no overarching stereotypes being constructed here. I am speaking to my specific experiences in the geographies I knew and describing the attendant social and institutional barriers prevalent at that time for someone, a CAMAB trans woman, in my shoes. At the time, I was in my twenties. I came out in my teens at a time when I knew no other women with this shared experience.

              At that time, and in designated trans-feminine spaces, my body and I signified either an inexplicable threat to or a signifier of self-hate for the trans people operating and controlling these spaces. The trans people operating and controlling these spaces were CAMAB trans people; zero of them had transitioned in their teens or their twenties, and few had done so under the age of 40 (and none under 35). I recognize and understand why and how it was nigh impossible for these women to come out when they were in their teens and twenties (no thanks to a transmisogyny and patriarchy endemic to the “gender clinics” of that era), but affirming this history did not give them a carte blanche to treat CAMAB trans people a generation or more later than them as detestable, objectified, or worthless. These spaces similarly dis-welcomed CAFAB trans people through de facto and systemic dismissal of them as signifiers of an articulation of gender and of a neurological sex which they themselves felt was unfathomable for anyone to be (i.e., “Why on earth would anyone want to ‘become’ a man?” was their recurring, silencing remark). I’d say this was an uncommon display of transmisandry on their behalf and totally uncalled for. So what to do when trans-balling happens to different trans population segments? We ally together until one of those segments feels they’re ready to break into their own. This is what CAFAB trans people began doing after about 1998. After then, younger CAMAB trans people were isolated: by elder CAMAB trans people for being an object of resentment; by CAFAB trans people for corralling all CAMAB trans people as one big oppressive family.

              Beyond these experiences, I see no stereotypes.

          • I really love what you wrote here. The comparison of the way trans men are in queer (dyke) spaces to second wave lesbian separatism is dead on and not an angle I had thought about before. I don’t think I have anything to add, but just wanted to thank you for your awesome response!

            • *second wave feminist lesbian separatism, I mean

        • Dom Inic

          Totally agree with that jack. :) yay.

        • Kelsey

          Not calling BS for fear of looking like a bigot gives me flashbacks to my “tolerant liberal” upbringing.

          • That is, hands down, one of the best unintended side-effects of my transition… I no longer lose every political pissing contest at the hands of people more interested in me shutting up than actual discussion.

            To be sure, I still think class matters most, and I am most assuredly an educated proletarian, but yeah.

        • J.A. B.

          And this, exactly, is why I am so thankful to you for having written this article. It seems like preaching to the choir, though. I have no doubt that the vast majority of people who read this article were people who already agreed with it, and that not many minds have been changed.

        • J.A. B.

          (disclaimer: sorry for the late comment)

          dude Jack, I totally understand that you’re being legit about this, which is why your trans male presence doesn’t make me uncomfortable at all, unlike that of several *aydyns whom I’ve noticed. and I’m very thankful to you for doing exactly that thing you describe, about using your privilege to make other people feel like they have ‘permission’ to speak up. that’s the only way privileges should ever be used really, and it’s pretty great.

          so thanks a lot for that. Really, from the bottom of my heart, Thanks.

      • LAvenger

        >J.A.B.
        You call it “not passing”. I call it “the cissexuals refusal to accept you”.

        You call it “male privelege” to be misgendered, referred to as a man, grouped together with men, everything you say is interpreted as if a man said it, and not given the chance to form a community with your sisters? That’s privelege? Sounds like hell.

      • aimee

        you DO NOT have male privilege, you are a woman. Privilege is NOT passing. A trans man could be walking tits out, lipstick, no testosterone, in a dress and heels, and he still has male privilege.

        • I think you’re referring to trans women as trans men which is a) incorrect and b) fucked up.

          Also, you seem to think that male privilege is some kind of original sin, that people who are born with a penis can never escape it, and people who are born without will never know its corruption. This is also a) incorrect and b) fucked up.

          • I thought that at first, but if you scroll up to see which post Aimee is actually replying to, Aimee’s post makes a little more sense in context. It’s this post:

            J.A. B. September 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm

            I am sometimes afraid to call trans boys out on anything, because I (a trans woman) don’t pass and still get male privilege, so I’m afraid everyone will fall over that and get angry at me. And because I never see anyone else doing it either, that means trans boys can get away with pretty much anything, without it even being questioned.

            • Ah ha. My apologies to Aimee.

    • FYI There is also a shitshow on tumblr now of some folks being like “Um, I’m afraid of getting assaulted/raped because I HAVE BEEN” in response to this post. I think it overlooks the point of the post but I also can’t help but see their point. Here’s where I encountered the node: http://lindentea.tumblr.com/post/9910379308/tw-rape-anti-trans-violence-for-the-love-of

      Thoughts, anyone?

      • thanks for sharing that. it’s actually funny (well, it’s really not), like a week after i submitted this essay (i submitted it like a month ago), a group of guys threatened to kill me at a gas station and tried to follow me in their truck when i tried to get the hell out of there and nothing ended up happening, but it really terrified me.

        Stuff like that has happened to me tons of times before, but i was always in the safety of living on either coast (Portland, Oregon and Providence, Rhode Island) where it was pretty clear nothing was going to happen because of there being people around or because of what neighborhood i was in or something like that.

        living in Detroit, now, where I am in a city that is big but not well populated and is in the Midwest, not one of the coasts, it was a really different experience. i felt humiliated and actually scared. i guess it was kind of made me think about a lot of things and made me think about this essay.

        i do think statistics show that trans women, particularly trans women of color and particularly those who are involved in the sex industry are much more likely to be victims of transphobic violence, but that doesn’t mean that violence doesn’t happen to all sorts of people, trans men included, and that doesn’t make that violence any less real and horrifying.

        at the same time, i do think a lot of trans men sensationalize and appropriate stories of violence against trans women. that’s real and that’s the huge issue that i was trying to get at in my essay. at the same time, i really didn’t mean to dismiss any kind of violence people have experienced and i think i would have written a couple parts of the essay a little differently (but maybe not that differently) had i been writing/editing it in the week that followed being threatened by those guys.

        i will point out, however, that i really did not experience my run-in with those guys as any form of transphobic violence–they did not read me as trans and made it very clear that their problem with me was that i was gay (well, they used slightly more colorful language and, of course, could only perceive me as gay, although they were quite accurately perceptive) and that i did not meet their standards of masculinity. I honestly don’t think trans men are on any scarey douchey guys in Detroits’ radar. but violence is violence and i’m not sure it totally mattered whether they were targeting me because i’m trans or because i’m gay, although i think i would have felt infinitely more humiliated if they were targeting me because i’m trans, to be honest.

        • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

          And that’s just it: once douchey cis dudes in a Midwestern or southern town are sensitized on what what to look for in a trans person, everything changes.

          It goes from violence-upon-discovery (usually in passionate moments or emergency medical situations) to packs of cis guys (and now chicks, as Chrissy Polis can attest) actually seeking out trans people to attack into submission or extinction.

          Until now, this has mostly impacted trans women. But if cis packs (see what I did there?) start knowing how to pick out trans men, then it’s going to be a faecal show of awful. Perhaps the only variation I could imagine is a gang of pissed off trans guys bum-rushing a pack of cis dudes caught in the act of terrorizing a solo trans guy.

          • i don’t know. perhaps you are right, but i think that the way that people see gender (especially in the midwest), that’s a long way off. dudes are going to see trans men and think we are gay men or lesbians if they think anything at all, at least for a long time.

            maybe that’s the difference i’m discovering about living in the midwest, though, cause i feel like being a trans person was more part of my day to day life on the west coast–in the midwest, no one ever reads me as trans, and it’s not because they are more accepting or enlightened, it is because they don’t care enough about queer or trans stuff to even have that on their radar. it’s a kind of weird privilege. because i’m sure if those guys were bashing on me for being a trans man, it would have looked different than them bashing on me for being gay.

            i don’t really want (or intend) to live my life based on fear of something that might happen or something that could hypothetically happen in the future. i think i probably have to be a little more careful than i was before those guys at the gas station gave me a wake-up call. but being afraid of detroit or being afraid of driving around by myself or being afraid of gas stations seems so boring and not how i want to be. i kind of wonder how people successfully create a balance of being cautious but not being scared.

        • SoF

          I believe that it makes a huge difference if you get harassed for being seen as a trans guy or as gay. The bros you are decribing are not just appropriating trans women’s experiences, they are also often appropriating gay (cis and trans) men’s experiences, by playing with terms like faggot and sissy while functioning as straight men in society.
          see for example here: http://www.bilerico.com/2009/10/i_have_a_problem_with_faggots.php

      • I had a negative response to the original post for the reason you just cited, Kelsey, even though I agree with Jack’s larger point that trans women aren’t getting nearly enough air-time. In particular, I thought of this incident from 2010 of a white, trans man getting gruesomely assaulted in a college men’s room.

        Very, very large trigger warning: http://tranifesto.com/2010/05/08/violence-against-colle-carpenter-reflects-our-ongoing-dehumanization/

        I don’t think making fun of people for fearing physical violence is a productive way of addressing the problem of transmisogyny.

        • SoF

          I understand your problem, Julian, but there is a difference between fearing violence and experiencing it on a regular basis. Many trans men come with a heritage of experiencing violence when still passing as women, or specifically butch women. It’s natural that they fear violence. Also, trans men who are perceived as, or actually are gay, experience regular violence, like cis gay and gay looking men do. Statistically, the danger for a perceived straight white middle class man isn’t as big as for other groups.

          • SoF

            Oh dear me, it’s Lucian, not Julian. What was I thinking *blushes*

          • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

            Lest we forget, many trans women come with a heritage of experiencing violence (physical, sexual, and/or emotional) when they were trying to pass as boys. It was their plainly visible vulnerability which made them magnets of abuse in the first place because, after all, boys are not permitted to be vulnerable.

            Also lest we forget, that abuse ratchets skyward once a trans woman does transition. If she is read as trans, she will be verbally and physically assaulted to the point of being emotionally scarred and physically disfigured; if she is read as cis and then outed, she will be physically assaulted to the point of becoming a casualty (it’s much less likely she’ll be sexually assaulted, because her killer ascribes any sexual contact with her as “gay”).

            Let’s not lose sight on how and why TDOR became so urgent in the first place.

            • This especially the early violence bit. Something the radicalfeminists (as opposed to radical feminists) seem to miss when they invoke male privilege narratives.

          • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

            May I rephrase the last sentence?

            Yes, it’s important when someone like Colle Carpenter is attacked, and yes, trans guys are susceptible to cis-on-trans violence. Let’s, however, not lose sight on how and why TDOR became so urgent in the first place.

            • I agree with SOF, Valerie, and Blayden above that statistically, trans women experience significantly more violence than trans men. This part of the essay didn’t sit well with me though:

              “It doesn’t just bother me that Aydyn & Jaydyn & Caydyn & Gaydyn have actually deluded themselves and really believe their sensationalized fantasy that they will be murdered for trying to go to the bathroom, in spite of the fact that, as a trans man who probably looks a lot like Aydyn & friends, I can say pretty confidently that that’s not something I’ve ever worried about in real life.”

              A lower rate of violence in comparison to trans women does not mean no rate of violence in comparison to the general population.

              Again, I agree with the main point of this essay, which is that trans women are getting their voices drowned out by trans men who are claiming to speak for everyone.

              • True, but to be sure, for the numbers TDOR reports to be remotely worrisome, we’d have to have an incidence of transition back at 1 in 1-2ooo instead of the 1 in 250 and falling that recent evidence suggests.

                We’re mourning an epidemic of murder that represents about 60% the expected amount of murders given the trans population as a percentage of the population as a whole.

                • I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but I actually didn’t understand the MATH in this comment. I want to, though! Would you be willing to explain that a little more slowly for my math-challenged brain? (I am not disputing the point you’re making, I actually just suck at math.)

                  • Quick math:
                    Global population: 6,775 million
                    Old trans prevalence: 1 in 2000 or 3.38 million globally
                    New trans prevalence: 1 in 250 or 27.1 million globally
                    Trans murders recorded in 2010: 180

                    Global average murder rate: 7.6 per 100,000
                    Trans murder rate (by old prevalence): 5.3 per 100,000
                    Trans murder rate (by new prevalence): 0.6 per 100,000

                    Now of course there are several flaws with this analysis. For one, trans murders are not effectively recorded, and in some areas of the world they are hardly recorded at all. It would make more sense to look at one specific geographic region that has more effective records and run this calculation there. I don’t have that breakdown of numbers, but perhaps that’s what Valerie is doing to get the 60% of expected murder number.

                    Beyond that, the TDOR list attempts to specifically be murders motivated by anti-trans bigotry, erring on the side of inclusion when there are little or no details about the crime’s motivation. For all we know, these are the murders that the trans population faces *in addition* to the average rate. The inescapable problem with this math is that the list was never meant to be exhaustive and shouldn’t be used as an estimate of our murder rate.

                    It’s just like a year ago when there was a string of gay youth committing suicide. The community reacted and mourned due to the sudden visibility of the issue and because that is how humans respond to death, not because 3-5 suicides in a couple months represents a huge portion of the global average.

  2. Thank you for speaking up, this is a huge problem even in ultra tolerant spaces like Portland OR. I for one cannot stand the “wink and a nudge” style with which it is perpetrated.

    • Thanks! And yeah, I am very familiar with the way this is an issue in Portland, as I just moved back to Detroit after living in Portland for 5 years. Although there are tons of rad folks in Portland who will call bullshit, so once I found them I didn’t always feel like I was the only one.

      • Can you introduce me to them? Because I’ve learned to stay away from PDX queer spaces for just this reason. The first people to ever give me shit for being trans were PDX Community queers. There were plenty of nifty folk down in the Bay, but now that I’m up here again, I’m kind of afraid to try and track down any other queer people to hang out with.

        • if you email me (you can find my email burried in a video on my blog, which my name on here links to), i can maybe point you in the right direction, assuming the person/people I have in mind consent. I don’t live there anymore, so I’m a little out of that scene, otherwise I’d maybe be a little more useful in that department

          • I was being tongue in cheek here, but thanks for the offer.

            • April,

              I’ve found a really cool group of queers in North Portland that are very accepting of trans women. It all started for me when I got up enough courage to go BENT — a queer dance night up in NoPo. Since, I’ve gotten to know quite a few people now and even got invited to DJ one of their parties. I feel like I’m a part of the community.

      • Coxy Rawr Michael

        Whenever I hear some white queer talking about moving to Portland, I assume it’s because they want to be among their white brethren, because there are more white queers in portland than there are people of color. I wish them good luck in their separatist project in getting away from the rest of us. None of you white people INTEND to do this, but it’s what it amounts to and it’s sort of hilarious whenever I hear one of you say that you’re committed to anti-racism, and you also wish you could move to Portland, thus making the blinding whiteness of that city even more pristine.

        This is pretty much common knowledge about Portland, isn’t it? When I was growing up, Portland was where the racist skins came to visit from and beat up people. And even Wikipedia says: “While Portland’s diversity was historically comparable to metro Seattle and Salt Lake City, those areas grew more diverse in the late 1990s and 2000s. Portland not only remains white, but migration to Portland is disproportionately white, at least partly because Portland is attractive to young college-educated Americans, a group which is overwhelmingly white.”

        IT’S GETTING WHITER ALL THE TIME! I am not surprised you couldn’t find any trans women of color.

        You also lived in Providence which is also mostly (but less) white, right. Now you live in Detroit again, which is 90% people of color? (Although maybe you live in the suburbs.)

        And it’s in Detroit where you feel scared. Huh.

        • I didn’t say I felt scared in Detroit, I said some dudes threatened to kill me. I don’t really want to feel scared anywhere, and for the most part I don’t. Getting threatened by those guys made me feel like there are some things I’m taking for granted that I probably shouldn’t and that I need to be a little more careful, but I’m definitely not scared of Detroit, I love Detroit. I grew up in the suburbs, but I don’t think I could ever live in any suburb as an adult so, yes, I live in Detroit.

          I also didn’t say that I couldn’t find any trans women of color in Portland, I said that trans women of colors’ experiences got appropriated by white trans men and those same women got pushed out of spaces where their experiences were being used. It’s true that Portland is really white. Providence is less white than Portland, but a lot whiter than Detroit. I moved to Providence for college and knew basically nothing about it before moving there, but yeah, I moved to Portland partially because it was really queer (but mostly because I have family there who I wanted to reconnect with) and part of Portland being really queer is a direct result of white queer folks gentrifying the neighborhoods where people of color have historically lived, and gentrification really sucks.

        • You know what’s really obnoxious? The implication that people who make choices that are different than the one you would make are obviously doing so for nefarious reasons. You should stop doing that. It makes you look like an asshole.

        • PissyQWOC

          I haven’t ever commented here, but I have to just AMEN this comment about Portland as a white queer haven.

          As a queer woman of color, I am consistently astounded by the way that white queers who flock to Portland loooove to talk a good game about their anti-racist credentials, all the while never acknowledging that their voluntary migration to an incredibly white and super racist city that I have NEVER heard a good thing about from my queer POC friends might be part of the problem.

          I mean, I get it – people hate to take macro-level responsibility for the potentially oppressive impact of their individual choices, but god damn. Once in my life, I would love to hear from a white queer who claims anti-racist politics what the draw is…

          • Class.

            Doesn’t make it any less contemptible but you compare Portland’s 72,000 per annum median family income to Wayne County’s 64,400 and there’s a lot of well-fed university grads making up that difference.

            Portland is ever-so-slightly an enclave of smug middle-class leftists…

            “Watching roaches climb the wall, if you called your dad he could stop it all…”

            That’s why… same reason Vancouver, with all it’s painful transmisogyny and unaffordable housing is still in vogue over Winnipeg’s pretty friggin’ awesome alternative community…

            The same reason the independent movie theaters and their patrons are on the South side of the North Saskatchewan river in Edmonton, gentrifying Whyte Avenue instead of clustering around the much more culturally hetrogenous 124th Street and Avenue of Nations (107th Ave)

            It’s not black people they’re afraid of… it’s involuntarily poor people. Emphasis on the involuntarily.

            Sometimes the colour that people care most about is green.

            • pissyqwoc

              “It’s not black people they’re afraid of…”

              That’s certainly not what the few black folks I know in Portland say. Not at all.

              • Fair enough… but is that perhaps part of the compartmentalization of classism and its continuing racist implications?

                Again, I tend to follow the money… and the comfy professional-class radicals tend to be white radicals because, again, being white and being professional-class are also well-correlated.

                Vicious cycle that… but then, I’m not here to lecture someone on their lives, just when it comes to larger structural analysis to say that a lot of systems that have racist implications are ostensibly colourblind but clearly classist.

                “Marriage dear
                is not the answer
                single queers
                still get cancer.”

          • I’m a white queer, so I’ll give it a shot:

            Portland is a cheap city that’s great for a young (poor-ish) queer person to move to. That’s the appeal. Being white probably helps, as we don’t have to deal with what racists there are, I’ll cop to that. I read a note from a POC in the alt weekly’s letter’s to the editor section that said there weren’t any more racists in Portland than where he came from, but that racists in Portland were way more chickenshit and passive aggressive about being racist, so that might make it more frustrating that it would otherwise be. I will say, however, I know queer POCs in the area who like it fine. It seems plausible that the ones who like it probably stay, and the ones who don’t leave and tell everyone not to go.

            Yes, it IS super white (but not, I think, as much as some people make it out to be; my apartment building is about 2/3rds Latino), but I don’t think it’s fair to mean that automatically makes it super racist too, or that it makes it the responsibility of white queers to avoid contributing to that demographic trend.

          • D

            I split my time between Philadelphia and Detroit, but I’d like to move to Portland for a time. Not because it’s queer, or white, or whatever, but because there are so many vegans. There’s an entirely vegan grocery store. That’s 100% of the draw for me.

            • Philly & Detroit?! I’m in Detroit, I haven’t been here super long so I only know a handful of rad queer folks

        • SOPH

          whoa, it seems you really touched a nerve here. respect.

  3. jay

    Truth,

  4. Cat Castro

    Thank you!

    I couldn’t agree more. Being a transwoman of color, I’m usually astonished by the performances that occur during these events, especially during The Trans Day of Remembrance. Here a group of white privileged college-educated trans people speak out on oppression, but it often feels like they’re co-opting an oppression that has no basis of a reality for them. They’re calling out the names of the dead. All those names seem to belong to transwomen of color, not once did I hear “Jayden, Ayden, or Gayden” mentioned – but it’s usually Jayden or Ayden or Gayden that seem to be the authority of oppression. What do they have common with a transwoman of color who is working the streets just to survive? When I used to live in Atlanta, I asked the other transgirls of color if they were going to any Trans Day of Remembrance event. They all looked confused. Then one girl said, “We don’t got time to remember, we’re too busy surviving.” So, if you have the ability to mourn in a college-setting, surrounded by a group of white people, and if you come from a middle-class family that is paying for you to attend college – chances are you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Stop co-opting someone else’s experience. As someone who is a transwoman of color who has a college degree, who “passes” very well, I understand my own privileges … but I can tell you I’m not going to be a victim. I’m not worried about being bashed because let’s be honest … people aren’t being targeted just ’cause they’re Trans, they’re being targeted because they’re poor, homeless, or simply because they’re people of color. Look at that list and you’ll see a whole lot of transpeople of color who didn’t just die because they were trans, they died for many reasons – having the privilege to mourn and perform not being one of them. / end rant.

    • yes!!!! I love what you said about not being a victim. because a lot of times, I think the trans-man-douchbaggery of appropriating other people’s experiences is all about some sort of desire to be seen as a victim. like they get off on it.

      • Poison Girl

        Well said.

        I was especially horrified by attempts “brighten up TDOR, it’s so negative”. I’ve seen that sentiment around the internet in trans spaces, but last year someone, I forget where, went ahead and held a “celebration” instead of memorial. It had all of the characterizations that you describe-a poetry slam, etc.-with a “positive” spin of course. It made me livid.

        IIRC, it was put on by some clueless cis queer students with a couple of trans dudes enabling them along the way. I know that a few people where to have said to emailed them explaining how fucked up this was and the organizers were pretty puzzled at the reaction.

        I think that in this dynamic that there is a real cultural divide between the trans and cis queer communities. Cis queers are taught through community mythos that being out-not just out, but OUT! is a positive thing and that along with the poltical project of fighting homophobia that you have to project an inherently positive message.

        But for us it’s different, speaking personally, I don’t know if I could claim “trans pride”. Sure, I’m proud that I’ve had the courage to be myself, and that I’ve survived this ride so far. But being trans is something that happened to me and it defies a certain standard queer narrative of:

        the closet—–>self acceptance—–>—–>romantic exploration—–> happiness over the rainbow.

        I think that our “happiness over the rainbow” is a different experience. For me personally, it will be a time where don’t think about gender or my trans status in my daily life.

        And that would get you labeled a closet case in some politicalized queer circles where that goal is associated with shame or not having a politicalized identity.

        But I’ve noticed that a lot of trans men pick up this kind of mentality. I think it’s for reasons you’ve said above, their privilege may make transition not such a traumatic experience for them, especially for a white liberal arts student.* Also, we’ve discussed in the past of how some trans men (many of the same dudes we’re talking about) have kept close ties to lesbian communities and are sometimes closer to those communities than they are a trans communities, so it’s easier to pick up a “yay out out out!” mentality in those spaces, especially when being the token trans bro can become an exulted status in those communities.

        Just some thoughts.

        *Disclosure, I’m a white trans woman who transitioned in college, so I share the same privilege.

        • Interesting point about the pride aspect.

          I have said I am proud to be trans before, but it feels really different and a lot more weighted than saying I feel proud to be queer. It’s a lot less about being proud to be different and more about being proud that I have made it through the awkwardness of transition to the other side where I can be a relatively self-actualized (or on my way to being so) person.

          I don’t tend to deny being trans or try to hide it, but also feel really thankful for the moments in my life when it can be in the background or when people don’t know. I think you’re right about the fact that traditional “LGB” type thinking would be to say that signified some sort of shame or something, but that in the reality of being trans, it’s a really different thing.

          Interesting points

        • It sounds like you may be describing last year’s TDOR at Portland State University. Although possibly not, since if you were, you probably would have mentioned the acrobats in furry costumes.

          • Poison Girl

            Huh, now I remember that there were acrobats mentioned, wasn’t there a comedy routine also? It was probably that incident.

          • Wow, so totally glad I missed that one. Grad school stress FTW.

      • J.A. B.

        I bet getting off to being a victim is something more people do than would be willing to admit, but they should really take it to the bedroom, I think.

    • Poison Girl

      Yes to all this.

    • J.A. B.

      This, I believe, is kind of what makes me feel slightly uncomfortable with Trans Day of Remembrance and other such trans events. I’m glad you worded it, because I couldn’t.

      White folks and other privileged folks should realize we don’t live in a safe, contained world of our own, but in a large world that is full of other people with different experiences…

  5. Jack,

    I know right? Finding, the NoPo radical queer community has been a blessing for me <3 As a community, they stick up for us (trans women) and are totally inclusive.

    • I’m glad you’ve found some rad people in Portland! I was lucky enough to find some rad people right away when I moved there (and continue to collect others here and there), which made it feel a lot less isolating to be one of the people who refused to buy into gross trans man worship culture.

      • Sabrina

        Boy, I need a map, then, ‘cos I’m sure not finding those rad people here in Portland. Read your article just nodding over and over again because I see it here so frequently – in fact, I’m pretty sure I was passed over for a trans-related support job in favor of a Hipster Aydyn, to the point of being pointedly ignored after repeated inquiries just to try and get a straight answer about the hiring process. On the one hand, Portland seems to pride itself on it’s liberality and tolerance, and I’m not real worried about violence here, but at the same time, it seems like the whole city has this veneer-like facade of pretentiousness and hipster-itis that prevents any -REAL- progress from being made because it would take too much away from all the self-promoting posing that goes on.

        • i think i must have gotten really lucky in Portland, sorry you’ve had such a rough time there.

          I also think it’s very possible that you and I got blown off for the same job, cause I had a similar experience with a trans related job I interviewed for in Portland like a year back.

          • Sabrina

            This pretty much sums it up – and explains why I don’t feel particularly represented here:

            http://www.pdx.edu/diversity/profile/smitty-s-buckler

            Aydyn? You decide.

            -Sabrina

            • Jay

              well, his name is Smitty and his haircut is hilarious, so…

              the thing is though, if you scratch any trans guy, you will find some aydyn qualities somewhere. present company included.

              • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

                Astonishingly, I’ve known a scant couple of guys where you could claw to their bone and not find a hint of the *yd*n in them (they are also the only two guys I know who never had prior social or political ties whatsoever to dyke-queer circles before, during, or after transition).

                So, while not 100 per cent, it’s still pretty high up there.

              • Smitty

                I am glad you like my haircut. I’m pretty hilarious. & I think the judgments made here are pretty hilarious. At the time this was written I was helping organize a student lead committee to bring the amazing EmiKo Yama for Trans Day of Remembrance. The year before I brought two transwomen of color, one of whom was an out sex worker for Trans Day of Remembrance. I also brought Katie Bornstein.

                Not that I am trying to say I’m like super cool or anything and I agree with Jack which is why I worked so hard to change that and I took a lot of negative feedback for not bringing “Aydyan” to campus.

                Portland is hard. There are a lot of awesome folks here. I ton of simply amazing transwomen and transmen and other gender variants if you take the time to look and don’t get too quickly jaded or make assumptions about people without knowing anything about them. It is a good way to alienate yourself from those who could be potential allies and/or friends.

                I only tokenized myself to gain exposure for the Queer Organization on campus and honestly… it was horrible because I somehow became the poster child for the campaign. So, yeah thanks for the reminder…

  6. Like.

  7. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    And in other observations, the blue sky from my window looks blue today.

  8. Right on, dude.

    I’m a transwoman. I’d be lying if I said the endless parade of sexy robot ladies and sexy monster girls that comes out of my pencil has nothing to do with my gender issues, but I have other things to say than “hey I’m a girl who was born with a dick feel my pain”.

    I have never gotten involved in trans circles because most of the creative work on display seems to be entirely About The Transition. And is also not exactly, how can I say this politely? Ah, it’s all very much amateur work IMHO.

    The remedy to bad art is not to rail against it. The remedy to bad art is to make GOOD art. Whatever your creative craft is, work like crazy on it. Make stuff that engages your transition openly, make stuff that has it buried a couple layers deep. And stop hanging out in this echo chamber of gender-theory transbros. Tedious gender theorists are tedious no matter what they present as or what’s between their legs. Find some people to hang out with based on a commonality of what you want to create, not based on all being trans.

    Because, dude, it’s a TRANSITION. And transitions are something you FINISH.

    • Word. I’m in art school and I’ve had trouble wanting to make art that reflects my experiences without being good propaganda but bad art. Sometimes the best form of art as activism is to just follow your creative impulses outside of immediate political analysis.

      • Fuck yeah. Make stuff that is so awesome that it doesn’t matter what’s between your legs now or in the past instead of getting caught up in feeling sorry for yourself and going “woe is me”. I’ve *been* stuck there and it sucks so, so, so much.

        Be out about your past, but don’t make it the entirety of your identity; dwelling on the past is boring.

    • Poison Girl

      “I have never gotten involved in trans circles because most of the creative work on display seems to be entirely About The Transition. And is also not exactly, how can I say this politely? Ah, it’s all very much amateur work IMHO.”

      As another trans woman artist, I find this interesting. And I agree to a great extent. Quite frankly, I haven’t seen much work by trans artists that isn’t distinctly different than what has been made by cis artists about us. A little less othering, chaserish, and stereotyping-yes.

      But I don’t see much going on out that is speaking with a distinct voice-saying “this is my experience that isn’t a cis projection of what cis people think it is” It’s like people are putting out certain narratives about certain focuses because it’s what a cis audience expects and they’re to afraid to shoot for a higher target.

      And I feel shitty about it in my own art, my photography is not about personal narratives, even though I’ve thought about doing stuff about my experience.

      Why I don’t is because I don’t think most people around here would “get it”, I’d be engaging both in discussions about gender-and a discussion not about gender, on a level that they couldn’t see because they expect a gender narrative to take a certain form.

      Another reason is that, I don’t want to be stereotyped as the Local Token Tran Artist, who’s art is supposed to be somehow involve my trans status, or a comment on something about gender.8 I think if I got pigeonholed like that I would just give photography up. I don’t think I could stand people continuously wanting a statement on something I only have so much to express about a couple of times.

      But it’s awesome to meet another trans woman artist.

      *Which is a common thing with cis people, we’re expected to have some kind of insight or enlighted view in to gender. And the truth is that I don’t have much to say beyond my experience, and that’s not anymore enlightened because I’ve “live in both worlds derp”

      • This thread is making me think…. maybe we should curate a show (online prob) of art by trans artists… or make some better way for us to network with one another… Hmm.

      • Not wanting to be stereotyped as the Local Token Trans Artist. Oh god yes. Part of why I’ve always been reluctant to promote my work to the local queer/trans community is that I don’t want to develop a rep as a transperson first, and an artist second. Another part is that I feel like it would be TOO EASY. I don’t want people to look at my art because it’s from someone who is exotic and a member of a now-fashionably disadvantaged class of outsiders, I want them to look at it because it is awesome work that stands up to any other pro’s work without knowing a single thing about the artist or their history.

        Also I think there are about ten jokes to be made about transition and they’ve all been made a dozen times already. n.n

      • Also you should totally not feel obligated to do work About The Transition. If you do feel that way then have a drink and lie down for a while, see if it passes. *grin* If it sticks around for a week or so then I guess you have to engage the issue somehow, good luck in finding a way that feels honest and works for you as Art.

        But tell the stories you’re INTERESTED in telling, not the ones you feel obligated to. Or don’t tell any stories at all, “hey look at this isn’t it pretty?” is perfectly valid as a work’s main intent IMHO.

  9. ts

    thanks for writing this, Jack. I’m a white college-educated trans/genderqueer person perceived as male, and this has invited me to think about my participation in Portland’s TDOR (as a performer no less.)

    though my intentions have always been to recognize/call out these dynamics (trans male-centrism, white supremacy, co-opting the experiences of trans women of color, and broadly excluding trans women) it’s very likely that I’m one of the folks you’re speaking of. and it’s very likely that I’m unintentionally reinforcing these dynamics. I really appreciate how you’ve laid this all out.

    • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

      Now that this has been brought to your attention by a trans contemporary whom you’ve heard, what next do you think may come of it? What might trans women in your locality come to anticipate, if anything at all?

      • ts

        great questions. I intend to be more intentional about how I participate in TDOR. since my main role has been as a performer, this looks like turning down an invitation to perform and strongly suggesting other performers I know who identify as trans women and/or POC. this also looks like taking a critical look at my performances broadly in terms of how I’m talking about my own experience/identity or co-opting that of others. also, I’ll continue listening to (and asking, if I know it’s consensual) trans women and POC about how I can act in solidarity rather than making assumptions about that.

        • billie rain

          “turning down an invitation to perform and strongly suggesting other performers I know who identify as trans women and/or POC.”

          i support this idea very much. if these voices are being excluded and you have the resources to help solve that problem, i think it is appropriate to use your resources (such as being asked to speak in public) to that end. best to you.

    • You shouldn’t bow out (or bough out?) of the event cause even if you are or have been one of the Aydyn crew, all dropping out would do is make room for another Aydyn (no offense to people whose actual name is some variation of Aydyn) to come in, you know? But if you stay involved, you have the opportunity to turn that around and change the culture in the event and really challenge some of the stuff that happens at events like that all the time!

    • Be an example of what you would like to see in others.

      • ts

        Autumn and Jack – I agree with both of you, especially making change as part of organizing or participating in TDOR. but I think in terms of performing, even before reading this, it’s made sense for me to move out of the spotlight and help make room for others. for the past 3-4 years in Portland, the same 5 or 6 people (slightly more trans men than trans women, almost everyone white, non-disabled, class privileged) are asked to speak or perform. I’m one of these people, and I think on some levels the organizers don’t know who else to ask, so I will make some suggestions.

        • that’s so rad! and sets a great example that you would be willing to step down from preforming and use your power/access to the stage as a way to make room for performers whose voices haven’t been heard.

          i don’t live in Portland anymore, but a huge piece of my heart is still there, so I would be so beyond excited to hear about awesome changes like this happening at trans events in Portland!

  10. hey could i get aydyn’s number?
    hit me with those 7 digits

  11. Morgan M. Page

    This is so incredibly perfect.
    xox
    ~M

    • Thanks Morgan, that means a lot coming from you, as I really admire everything you’ve written on here!

  12. I feel like reading this article verbatim for this years Day of Remembrance on my campus, but coming from a trans woman, that would all just sound like pedantic, whiny girl shit to the people it’s directed at, and they’d be blissfully oblivious to the irony of this.

    Thank you.

    • (To be clear, I haven’t met the trans guys who will be there this year so it might be an unnecessary message for the ones there now. But for each of the trans guys I know from off campus that are awesome, I know two who act like trans women are beneath notice.)

  13. Thanks jack, well kinda

    Jack i wrote a long email i want you to read it privately, so please email me.

    But for here i thank you for what you say which is so true, but you also know your fighting for us poor MTFs at camp trans has been another way you have used us MTFs and left us post op MTFs out of the party. You see jack we do respect the womyn at MWMF. We never wanted to force ourselves on anyone. Camp trans has been our worst enemy. Its almost like it was planned that way. We knew not to be sharing about our penis at fest. We know the pain women/womyn have suffered for eons. So i do hope what you say you learned, was learned from your mistake in helping us poor MTFs at camp trans.

    • lol

    • Aww… boo hoo… we don’t let you define womonhood as possession of a vagina…

      I begin to wonder if the operative essentialists need their vaginas to mean something because they’ve found it gave them no body-map relief, and they need it to be more than a twenty-thousand-dollar piercing.

      I know womyn who are post-operative and happy, and they’re equally, if less viscerally, offended by the argument that accepting all trans womyn as womyn somehow cheapens their womonhood.

      If anything it strengthens it.

      If the metric for womonhood hinges on either assignment or satisfying specific medical criterion, then the second class is highly conditional… and the first class treats non-operative trans men as womyn, which is offensive on many levels. (No matter how much radfem tail CAFAB-doods can get as a result.)

      So would you rather have your womonhood defined by an expensive procedure, or by yourself? Your identity. Your life, the way you experienced it, whether you were predominantly called boy or girl when you were young, whether you even believed it yourself at the time.

      I tend to think that’s a better way to describe womonhood than a fierce defense of how the legos MUST fit together.

    • I saw the comment you made on my blog and didn’t approve it or engage for a reason. It’s easy enough to track down my email address if you want, but I really have no desire to debate the MWMF WBW intention with anyone who seeks to exclude trans women from any women only space or encourage trans women (or anyone really) to be ashamed of their bodies. Conversations like that are going nowhere and I’ve had that conversation a billion times. So feel free to email me–but there’s a chance I will choose not to engage.

  14. Snarkysmachine

    “It’s not that I have anything against spoken word poetry, it’s the whole tone that trans bro communities and the communities that worship them exude. This unspoken idea that only an elite group of trans men, who look a certain way, dress a certain way, pass a certain way, date a certain type of people, etc. really get taken seriously or given the time of day. And there’s this arrogant tone in there that everyone else, specifically trans women, don’t “get” it, are not “enlightened,” and that it is the job of trans men to tell them what their life experiences really are.”

    I’ve observed this in quite a few spaces. Wondering why most of the speakers were white and most of the names of folks being remembered were not.

  15. far too long and rambling. You make a big deal out of all the other trans guys getting laid, and complain about not getting the same treatment as them because you’re fat and because the others are misogynist, and this gets them laid, so only bad people get laid n your story, and it’s so much better to be fat, alone and self-righteous.
    It kind of looks like sour grapes, guy.

    • Dom Inic

      gross, you totally missed the whole point.
      this is not about who gets laid more, or what size a person is.

      it’s about not being a dick to trans women.

      maybe you should look at yourself, and see if you are like “aydyn” or not.

      • well, your piece is also about having a few pot shots at trans guys who are at least having a go in terms of community participation, and who don’t deserve to be dissed because they are getting laid and you are not, a point I did not invent, a point you made.
        Maybe you should check out who I am instead of assuming I may be like “aydyn”. I googled you before I posted my critique in defense of the trans men you describe and deride.

        • Jack doesn’t say shit about his own scorecard, you’re just making crap up.

          • It’s fairly strongly implied with his story about how all the other trans guys in his story are going to get laid, contrasted with his complaint that (and i quote the author) “there are things that push me out of that group, like the fact that I’m fat and the fact that I don’t pass “enough.””
            I don’t think i was drawing too long a bow in assuming the author put these various pieces of information in to build a particular story in the reader’s mind. As always, however, YMMV.

            • Being pushed out of a group of douchebro trans men doesn’t equate to being involuntarily celibate except in your fevered imagination. That’s pretty much exactly like saying guys who aren’t members of frat houses can’t get any.

              • Jack made the point these guys were guaranteed to get laid. Why did Jack make this point? He made this point about each and every trans guy he named. It’s hard to see it as irrelevant.

                • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

                  Well, it offers me an idea that these *ayd*ns performed and, in turn, appropriated the victims of trans violence — that is, trans women and gender-varying CAMAB folks, well over 95 percent of all the victims registered. It wasn’t for the fame or the, uh, money, but it was for the attention-gushing it earned them as sensitive, new-aged guys (“isn’t he just dreamy!”) speaking on behalf of (and for) women, consequently making the ceremony about their performances instead. The attention garnered them a sympathy they aimed for in order to (preferably) get some tail. That misplaced sympathy should have been humbly re-directed by them towards the dead trans women, dead CAMAB genderqueer people, and even the trans women still alive. They should have rhetorically implored the audience how they — as pale-skinned CAFAB men and as the privileged class of the trans world today (who incidentally can afford to show their faces publicly without instant social blow-back) — can work to protect the CAMAB ladies and gender outlaws from such wanton harm and hostile social climate.

                  Instead, they probably got laid by the circle-jerking fan queers who specifically came to see them — not to solemnly remember why they were all supposed to be there in the first place. My guess is that nearly every one of those fan queers were CAFAB women, men, and genderqueer folk. Well, here’s a hint: they were supposed to be there primarily for the CAMAB victims. They as CAFAB people were supposed to be there to remember on behalf of the living CAMAB people (who ironically couldn’t feel safe or afford to be out enough to openly grieve for and remember victims who in one important way were much like themselves: victims punished for being CAMAB and for embracing either femininity, womanhood, and/or working towards a morphologically female body).

                  This kind of show should have never happened the way it did. It was, however, the symptom of the much more chronic issue of transmisogyny and trans-balling (trans blackballing) of CAMAB trans people by CAFAB trans people at the institutional, social, and cultural level concerning well-understood, well-documented public health threats facing CAMAB people.

                  * CAFAB: coercively assigned female at birth
                  * CAMAB: coercively assigned male at birth

                  • i pray this is a troll. of course any bona fide trans supporter wouldn’t want to cause violence to the feelings of trans folk by referring to them with a gender label they don’t identify with. If it’s not a troll, and CAFAB and CAMAB are sincere concoctions, then I weep for your children.

                  • I often wonder how much of the Trans Masculine Royalty Effect is classic Dudes > Chicks and how much of it has to do with the fact that testosterone causes the face and body to change in a way that is -usually- much more obvious going into it than trying to get away from it (in other words, “passability”).

                    • I’m not trying to be snarky, I’m genuinely curious. My trans fem friends seem much more visible on the whole than my trans masc friends after a few years of hormones. Does that have an impact on these dynamics?

                    • It might… it might also be that female hormone mix is harder to ‘get right’ and doctors who could care less about trans people have their neglect show up more frequently with us trans women.

                      I’ve seen too many women who show visible improvement after the introduction of more than blockers, or appropriate estrogen levels, or progesterones, to assume that it’s innate… and yeah, while somewhat upsetting, it is true that after HRT, as it currently stands, it’s easier to be read as cis if one is a man.

                    • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

                      Well, it didn’t dawn until now that you were responding to what I’d posted. And I didn’t really disagree with what this reply here offered.

                      I don’t really know on what side this is that royalty effect and what of this is endocrine consequences. I suspect those consequences, mapped onto one’s body, can guide or point other people towards a storehouse of expectations built atop those cursory, mapped conclusions, based on what they can pick out in that person’s morphology.

        • Dom Inic

          obviously you didn’t look me up, because if you had, you would notice that I’M NOT JACK.

          and sometimes trans guys need to be taken down a peg or two, as a trans guy… i think i would know.

          • sorry, my bad. i confused Dom with Jack. Lot to read here, and I missed a beat, sorry. But fuck it, if you’re active in trans politics, how can you not know who I am?

            • Dom Inic

              i don’t give a shit who anyone is.
              i didn’t bother to look you up.

              what you did in the past or who you are isn’t gonna stop me from thinking that the words coming out of your computer are busted.

            • OMG I’m sorry, I obviously had abrain fart, anything within ten paragraphs of “don’t you know who i am” should be ignored, except for this abject apology and a sheepish excuse of massive egomanical malfunction, my bad :(
              as you were…

              • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

                If that was a massive egomanical malfunction, then I’m sort of scared to find out what your fully functioning egomania is like.

              • It happens… You’re like, the third person this month who’s pulled ‘don’t you know who I am?!’ and I think it means an awful lot that you said sorry.

            • Oh my, your ego is darling and precious.

            • lol

              who are you

  16. Pony

    I love it when stuff that trans women have been saying for years gets regurgitated by trans men and everybody eats it up.

    • Dom Inic

      when a trans woman says it, it’s whiny and petty

      when a trans guy says it, it’s enlightening and everyone listens.

      gross, huh… so, what are we gonna do to fix it? maybe start valuing and listening to our trans sisters?!? hmmm…

      • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

        That would be revolutionary.

        • Dom Inic

          i know, right?

          i’m such a revolutionary, something about you tells me that you probably are too…

          • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

            I’m a quiet [r]evolutionary. I tend to stir things up behind the scenes.

  17. S.R.

    If you get cis pussy because of this article, I’mma shit on this website and the world, basically.

    • haha! almost no one in Detroit reads stuff like this, so I don’t think there’s any danger of that.

      • Dom Inic

        what about trans hotness? does that count?
        because this article is reminding me of that crush i had on you jack… :P

        • aw, shucks. there’s not much of that in Detroit either (except Madison!)

      • Morgan M. Page

        Let’s be real, you’d totally get (my) trans pussy from this article. ;)

        ~M

        • that maybe made my day :)

          • This exchange right here was so cute it actually made me blush. I’m not being sarcastic. I’m actually blushing.

  18. RJ

    Nice post! I feel much the same way.

    And gawd help ya if you’re “just” genderqueer/genderblending in a trans bro space…

  19. J.A. B.

    I am a trans woman who sometimes feels like a trans man. That has always struck me as bizarre, because I’m clearly not a trans man.
    This piece makes me understand exactly why I feel that way, and how things work in some of these communities. Thanks for writing this.

  20. Thanks for posting this, I laughed a lot and it distracted me yesterday when I was dealing with some really difficult things. I’ve definitely been to plenty of events like this and it is strangely validating to hear this critique coming from a trans guy rather than myself and other women.

    Also, in pointing out these dynamics, I’d like to remind people to not to fall into the trap of only discussing the trans bros at their events and forgetting about the trans women who did participate. As a trans woman of color involved in the sex industry who spoke for an hour at last year’s pdx tdor about racism, classism, the experience of sex workers, immigrants, the effects of transmisogyny, and the dehumanizing tactics of hypersexualization/asexualization of trans women, I can’t help but notice that the 8 minute act by furry acrobats is getting a lot more mention than my talk or the other trans woman performer who was there.

    • ts

      right on Tobi. I was actually thinking about this last night and realized that I had relegated all of my Portland TDOR experience to 2006-2009, and I remembered you and Gepetta headlining at last year’s TDOR (you two were beyond amazing.) my impression was that the organizers were specifically trying to centralize the lives and experiences of trans women of color, and I felt that overall the event was a vast improvement from years past, particularly because of the performers and speakers. if you’re up for sharing, I’m curious what your perspective on that event was?

      • Honestly, when I was asked to do a screening of my porn for tdor, my first response was along the lines of “Wait, what?” The more we talked about it (and we talked a lot about it in the run up), I realized how in line that is with my work and my thinking around trans women’s sexuality. That combating unrealistic images of trans women’s sexuality is an important part of combating the dehumanization that allows for violence to occur.

        I’ve been in a lot of tdor events over the years, and I could understand the intention of not wanting to simply mire people in depressive sadness — my previous year’s tdor was filled with cis folks feeling bad for the poor trans folks as if it was a rite of passage. It left me with the feeling as if they needed to punish themselves and make themselves feel sad and depressed to make up for their privilege or something. I saw it mostly as my task to tie the two pieces together. To transmute the sadness and depression to anger and action, and then allow the other performers to bring in a range of other emotions as well. Having performances lead to a fuller expression of trans experience rather than the common tdor experience of only hearing how trans people die.

        I didn’t expect it to be perfect, but I was really appreciative of what the organizers were trying to do with it.

        • ts

          thanks so much for sharing this. and regarding images of trans women’s sexuality, cis guilt, holding sadness, action, and more: I don’t have adequate words to say how squarely and awesomely this resonates. yes.

  21. vivian

    Have things really changed that much in the past 10 years?
    When I started thinking about transition, back in 2002, my impression was the trans groups and trans organizations were run by trans women, usually white trans women over 40. Groups were dominated by trans women. When trans men (usually younger) came to a group they were tokenized by some of the trans women who would then complain later that no trans guys wanted to be a part of the group.
    In 2005, I took a break from trans spaces and haven’t been back much. It sounds like since I left, the situation has been flipped on its head and the trans men have taken over. What happened??

    • “back in 2002, my impression was the trans groups and trans organizations were run by trans women, usually white trans women over 40. ”

      While there is a lot of geographic variation in this pattern, I think it’s important to note each of the identities you listed here and note that it was not just trans men who felt uncomfortable in those spaces. Younger trans women, trans women of color, gender non-conforming trans women, and so on have similarly felt not welcome or tokenized in those spaces. When I was coming out in 2002, I was warned away from one. I heard stories of belittlement and ridicule if you didn’t want to wear a dress and makeup everyday. The degree to which trans men didn’t feel comfortable in those groups, neither did all the trans women my age that I knew – and some older trans women I knew as well.

      So when folks created trans men’s groups to be the counterpart to the white trans women over 40 groups, a lot of trans women ended up not having a place.

      Additionally and separately, trans men were becoming fetishized and hyper valued within queer women’s community. I can’t tell you the why or how, but it’s that response and having a bunch of adoring fans — er, allies — that has solidified the dynamic Jack is writing about.

      • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

        Good points, and these were many of the same areas I mentioned yesterday in a (admittedly long reply) post to jackrad which is still “awaiting moderation”. Geography and cohorts were big factors. In 2002, if you were a trans woman under, say, 30 or even 35, your options for community connections and social resources could be quite few to nil depending on where you were living. Nearly everything then was geared for mid-stream/mid-life trans women, and as young trans women (and men), they weren’t our biggest fans at all.

        The tl;dr of the posting “awaiting moderation” was that it was a very isolating time to be a younger trans woman, which only worsened after CAFAB guys responsively created trans space which didn’t consider the presence of trans women as a particularly valid one.

  22. I’m sorry to admit that I didn’t read this article until somebody brought it up on my Tumblr Dashboard. Now that I have, thank you Jack! I am pleased to report that to my knowledge, I have no witnessed this sort of behavior, but I have no doubt that it exists. The trans community on Tumblr seems to be heavily weighted toward trans men, and some of them…well, let’s just say that they have a lot to learn.

  23. This is really awesome… and part of why I always feel discomfiture when there’s a ‘women and trans’ group… as though there’s some special form of maleness that’s somehow okay or sprinkled with third-wave feminist brownie-points when it’s not cis. But that’s a rant for another day.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this. It was good.

  24. Leigh-Ann

    It was like the author took the words right out of my mind. I am participating in an African Transgender Exchange program and in actual fact we are having the program in Cape Town, South africa at the moment. There is ten trans men compared to four trans women. I always have to fight just to get my comments in sideways. Its disgust and I echo the writers sentiment: it makes me want to vomit!

    • Wendy

      “I am participating in an African Transgender Exchange program”

      What is this program you speak of? It sounds interesting.

  25. Em

    Well done.

  26. Gaydyn!

  27. Ransom

    I had the ‘fortune’ of meeting a guy kind of like this recently.
    Friend of a friend kind of thing. I was with said friend, and another friend who does drag at a local gay bar, and friend A met this ‘bro’ kid, introduced him to Drag Friend and myself. Bro Kid was a total douchebag to all of us, but especially Drag Friend.

    Drag Friend, on the other hand, is probably the sweetest person I’ve ever met. And just stood there and took it, which pissed me right the hell off.

    • We probably could have a thread just on douchey transbros couldn’t we?

      Maybe balance out the threads on operative-essentialist trans women who make my head hurt?

  28. We’ve made plenty of “Aydyn” jokes around my dining room table, too, so I laughed along, because I’ve been to (and avoided like Walmart) such events. I joke about an allergy to spoken word performances, but it’s really this self-congratulatory stew I avoid.
    What I would love to hear more from you about is the experiences you allude to that gave you an “in” with the trans people you mention: people of color, sex workers, the self-educated. What made you something other than “an Aydyn”? The young, proto-Aydyns want to know.

    • Young Proto-*Aydyns!

      That’s a great question. Which requires a possibly complicated and long-winded response.

      When I first came out and started transitioning, I took advice from various trans (mostly trans man) communities on livejournal (my only real connection to trans folks my age then, with a few long distance irl friends) and started seeing a gender therapist with the end goal of seeing him for as little time as possible and saying whatever I needed to say to get letters from him authorizing me for transition related stuff that requires letters.

      the therapist who came highly recommended and I ended up seeing was a creepy horrible douche, as it turned out. he made it clear that in order to convince him to give me the letters, i needed to be douchey and kind of misogynistic. I was 19 and really didn’t have anyone to talk to about any of that, and so i tried to play that part for him, only it started to seep into my life outside of seeing him. I recognized when this started to happen, got really freaked out and that really was probably the thing that made things click in terms of feminism being an important, central value, not just this thing I agreed with, so I decided that nothing was worth sacraficing my morals/values (not in a creepy family values way).

      Meanwhile, I really craved other trans friends. I started finally meeting other trans guys and started to notice that it was really hard to impossible to get in with them without losing myself, so I chose myself and my values–i didn’t write trans man communities off right away, because I wanted to fit somewhere, but i just felt kind of isolated. I never specifically preferred to be friends with trans men over trans women, that’s just kind of where I had an “in”–probably for a lot of the same reasons mentioned in another comment

      i went to Camp Trans for the first time in 2005. I felt really awkward and unincluded, but also felt connected to a couple people (i found out later that the few people I connected with felt the same isolation/awkwardness that i did). Most of the people I ended up connecting with my first year were trans women, in retrospect.

      When they asked for volunteers a couple months later, I volunteered, which soon meant that i was an organizer, although i never intended to be one. I had major conflict with one of the other organizers, initially–one of the people I had connected with or at least really liked at actual camp that summer–and as we hashed it out, it turned out we made the best team ever. As our working relationship developed, I came to respect her and her rad (transfeminist ideas/attitude) probably more than anyone else anywhere ever and she became one of my best friends and the person who i saw as “my people” and over time that friendship turned into a whole group of people i see as “my people.” they were mostly trans women (though there have been a select few trans men in that group over the years) and they had all felt some form of isolation or irritation with gross cliquiness and douchebaggery in trans communities put forth by trans bro culture. i feel fiercely loyal to those individuals as a group of friends, but also feel like who i am is so deeply rooted in the ideas we’ve talked about and shared.

      so, yeah, is that what you were asking? cause that’s the heart of what made me committed to not being an “*aydyn”

      • J.A. B.

        You are a pretty cool guy.

    • SoF

      “I joke about an allergy to spoken word performances, but it’s really this self-congratulatory stew I avoid.”

      This (which I couldn’t put into words before)

  29. Sam

    I think you have written a very important piece of writing here. It is good you have made this available for others to read and hopefully learn from. You definately do have some very valid points here. I personally have not been to these events and do feel that it is a bit different here in Australia with less trans awareness that in the states but I do know the type you are talking about. I think these people often need to be better educated with this, so this article is a good start. The one part I do have to say I disagree with however is where you stated that transguys do not have safety concerns. I agree that it is not that of even slightly comparable a transwomens experience. I completely understand and validate the experience, severity and frequency is not near as much of a concern. However, I do have to say I found what you said to be offensive. At times, I have felt extremely intimidated and threatened going into a busy toilet especially in the rough parts of the city. This is something that has given me great anxiety and fear of both physical and or sexual abuse- events of which has occured with transmen. I really hope that no transguy who has been assaulted in this situation reads your article because that was very insensitive and naive to generalise like that. That may be your experience but its not everybody’s. Perhaps it may have been better for you to simply state that a transman cannot compare his safety with that of a transwoman, rather than eliminate the possibility of it occuring for transguys at all. I do think it is great what you have done here and I truly respect the various points you raised with evey other aspect of your article but please dont simply dismiss the fear of what a transguy can experience also. Lastly, I agree that transmen can not speak on behalf of transwomen and state their experiences of the same, though I also dont feel that any one person can claim their experience the same as another, whether be a part of the same group of not. Overall, a terrific article though.

  30. bonk

    good post. your ending reminds me of another article a few weeks back (forget the name or by whom) by an mtf who talked about the pressure from ftm’s to explain why their groups do not include many mtf’s. (and i think in the comments she was actually criticized for “giving up”).

    i think one problem with discussing race is that, although people are starting to wrap their head around the idea that “gender issues affect everyone” (including MEN), race is still largely seen as something that can only be brought up by a person whose body visibly matches the race being mentioned. clearly, race – like gender – is not always about a person’s looks. and racial oppression certainly requires the “oppressors” to get their shit together – which means talking about race. it’s a step required to breaking the habit of taking certain privileges for granted. the problem, like you identified, is that it’s still usually still wrapped up in language that prioritizes “the body” over “context.” and in the end, it is really social context we need to be talking about. race and gender are social/cultural issues.

    there is a serious need to move away from discussing identities as coming from the body.

    bro trans-men poets of popularity are more likely to be tapping into a more dominant ideology that relies on confusing identity with the body.

  31. Elliott

    This is great. When I was younger, I thought I was the only person who felt this way–it’s a fucking relief to know there are other trans men who are embarrassed. And admittedly, it made me think about even some of my own behavior (ie. worrying for no reason in the bathroom). Thank you for writing.

    • thanks! i’m glad you enjoyed it

  32. molly

    Wow, I was looking for this exactly, someone to express my thoughts about trans bro communities! It was a great piece, thank you. You described the situation perfectly. As a cis woman though, I never say anything because I feel it is not my place.

  33. I’ve never been to a TDOR event, somehow, but I’ve had this same experience at a very well known trans health conference. At one point I was in the lobby and could see nearly all of the attendees milling about–the trans guyz and fan club were in little groups approaching huddles, and the middle aged white trans women were islands unto themselves. In the conference workshops, people overlooked the comments and contributions to discussion from these women, yet pontificated about the statements made by the cool-looking trans men. It was the last time I went to a trans conference. We really have to do better.

  34. Hannah Rossiter

    I have found being a transwoman, especially someone who transitioned in their late thirties. That my transition, sexual orientation and gender expression is somehow less authentic than those who have transitioned at an younger age or have been involved in the trans community for a longer time.

    While I have not experienced any transmisandry from transmen, I have experienced latent transphobia from cis partners and cis friends of transpeople as well as from some transwomen. I have involved in the organisation of two TDOR’s and attended three TDOR’s in the last four years. Despite my contribution to the trans community, I am still seen as an outsider and as someone who should never challenge her betters. That some people within the trans community see older trans people as the enemy.

    It is hard to be part of a community that makes you feel ashamed to belong to that community.

  35. This. Is. Everything.

    Seriously, where has this blog post been all my life?

  36. Bazz

    I don’t see this as a trans* problem, I see this as a “bro” problem– *those* kind of bro’s. They act exactly the same as their CIS counterparts: Douchy, exploitative, and not even slightly interested in hearing what anyone else has to say (unless it’s about how bro-tastic they are). I don’t see any way to stop it. At least not until they lose their trust funds, or people stop clapping.

    Anyway, I hear what you are saying here, and I’m glad that there are people who are not afraid to say it.

    I do need to mention that I disagree very strongly with one of your statements, though. The fear of being murdered *is* a reality for many FTM guys– especially those of us who are not white or rich enough to be in more untouchable positions in life. Of course the majority of MTF ladies have much higher risk (and I worry about a few of my trans women friends). But that does not mean our experiences should be discounted… No matter how many trans bro’s capitalize on it to bring attention to themselves.

    • Kate

      Maybe two trans murders over the last two years – not two in every hundred, even, but TWO – were of trans guys, and unlike the trans women who get murdered literally on a daily basis, the media was careful to respect their identities and pronouns. So no, trans guys do not have a statistically significant risk of murder. Regardless of skin color.

  37. This was so perfectly succinct, so well-written. I am not in a position to have written it but I am in a position to begin putting my finger on hypocrisy and exclusion within the queer community and of mouthy people pulling their differentness around themselves like a blanket made of blinking lights while claiming they are scared. Sometimes it feels genuine and sometimes it feels disingenuous, like a young person from a very privileged family speaking out against capitalism and speaking for those living in poverty… all the while accepting money from their parents off of which they live. Blech.

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