scarelyquinn: Scary (Default)
Last time I posted an entry, I was talking about what brought me to the choice I've made. The things that informed me when I was thinking about my gender, how natural it felt to be a guy after all. I suppose I didn't have anything more to say, but the last week of news has left me and every other Trans person, advocate, ally, and their mates talking, and it's just about time I said something myself.

First off, let's get one things straight: I have not read Julie Burchill's column in The Observer, a defense of her (equally mouthy) friend Suzanne Moore who had opened her mouth wrongly and been assualted by Trans people telling her she was wrong. I haven't read any of the tweets, all I have is a few quotes taken from that article by its sister publication, The Guardian, but those have made me pretty angry.

It's got me thinking about language, and humour, and all the ways we use to mark and describe ourselves in the world. As always, I can't speak for anybody except for myself when I say that I am not a 'bed-wetter in a bad wig' as Burchill seems to want to tar all Trans people. For one thing, who wears a wig to bed? What does nocturnal enuresis have to do with Trans? Speaking personally, all the bad wigs that have ever been in my house went packing when my ex-wife did, the ones *I* own are gorgeous. Though I think one of them still has a little stage blood in it from a photoshoot.... Which is of course besides the point.

The point is more that people get to choose how they describe themselves. Everywhere we are asked to sum ourselves up, to encapsulate ourselves somehow in a few sentences or words. Whether you're writing a personal statement for UCAS, a job application, a short bio for Twitter or a little data for a dating site, you have to somehow take all the messy complicated things that make you You and force them into words, and that's hard to do. It's worse still when you have to do it for somebody else, and when you get into describing a whole load of people who have one thing in common (that they are not gender-normative as you see it,) then it gets trickier and trickier.

When Julie Burchill wrote her nasty little piece on how some Trans people that neither of them knew hurt her friend's feelings, she was herself angry and probably irrational. I've come to expect that from her, and I imagine most people have too. I often debate the difference between action and motive with Mista J, who takes the opposite view to me that it's the actions that matter. Burchill's actions were horrendous, and there is no way she should have been allowed a public forum to spew misguided hate at a group of people she clearly had no knowledge of. In this case, I would have to say her motive was equally bad - she was angry, so she took it out on others. Like all bullies.

It's the language that she used which has so many people upset. 'Chop your balls off' 'Shut up and get over it,' charming little gems that caused deep hurt in the Trans community. It got me thinking about how I describe myself, and more than that it made me realise how lucky I am to be confident and happy in my gender role as a man. A man who was born in a female body and had the luxury of a supportive partner when they came out Trans. To Mista J, I am normal, I have always been male to them and I don't need an operation or hormones to change that. The acceptance that I got from them is what has made me go out into the world and say 'screw what you think, this is me' and that has meant I have been cushioned from the pain that non-recognition of gender can bring to so many people in transition. Being treated as normal from the start gave me the strength to carry that normality out into the workplace, into society, and into every area of my life - I am what I am, and you can accept it or not but I'm not going to go away. 

Reading today's commentary in The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/22/voices-from-trans-community-prejudice) I also feel lucky to be living in an age where I can be so open. It wasn't even a decade ago that it became illegal to fire a Trans person from employment for no other reason than their being Trans. If I had been living my life as it is now in that time, then it would have been a lot harder. In all probablility, I would have kept fighting, but all the confidence in the world is not enough to stop the law. I'm grateful that I have never suffered abuse or discrimination because I an openly Transgender, that I feel confident enough to just tell people and correct them when they get my gender wrong. In many cases, they don't know because nobody has ever told them. So tell them, boys girls and everyone else. Fear of the unknown is a terrible thing, knowledge shines a light into that darkness and if people are reasonable, they will realise that what you have in your pants is nothing to them and go about their lives in peace.

I treat my gender, as I treat most things in my life, with the blackest shde of humour I can muster. Another phrase used by Burchill in her inflammatory polemic was 'chicks with dicks' - a phrase which I personally find absolutely charming. When it's used as an attack, as in this case it was, then yes it's awful. But what if you're genderqueered in one of the even less acknowledged ways? What if you genuinely are happy being totally female in appearance but having a penis? Considering yourself a woman, being a woman, and not thinking that your penis is an impediment to that? Because it isn't and it shouldn't be, and in that case I actively encourage you to use a phrase like 'chick with a dick' much as I thoroughly enjoy describing myself as 'cock in a frock' when I decide to wear one. And yes, one day I do plan to climb Ullaru in a dress.

Knowledge is one way of beating down barriers of fear and ignorance, humour is another. I personally feel that we can reclaim phrases like this in the same was The Vagina Monologues has helped us to reclaim the word 'cunt' as a joyful, enjoyable term for a very enjoyable part of the human body. I have jumped up and down and led 150 people chanting CUNT at the top of their voices, and I found it exhilirating and hilarious, wonderful and empowering. I'm not a woman, but I love my cunt and just for now, I have no plans to do anything about it. Neither do I have any plans to stop reffering to myself as a dirty kinky tranny-boy who loves his nail-varnish and eyeliner, no way.

When you take what they say about you, the epithets they give you and the insults they hurl, and you accept them and enjoy them for what they are - words that can be accurate and descriptive and enjoyable - then you take away their power. I look forward to a day when we can feel empowered by language to a degree where the vitriol of an idiot like Julie Burchill will just make us laugh, where her hateful words will have no power over us because we know and accept that those words cannot hurt us. I know that day is probably a very very long way off, but you have the right and the responsibility to stand up and be proud of who you are. That begins with not hiding, it's a lot harder for some than others.

I'm not a lucky Transman. I have highly feminine features and childbearing hips, and I really do not pass at all well. I know that sacrificing some things that make me myself - my campness, my expansive gestures, my love of make-up, my Britney Spears fandom - would make me pass a lot more easilly and mean that I would not have to hear things like "Oh, I've never met a lady Johnathan before!" (you still haven't darling, and yes I DID say that to him,) but it's not worth it. What has formed me, what makes me who I am, isn't related to gender. I don't see it that way, and that means I have to be strong enough to correct people constantly. I'm OK with that. When I hear misinformed hate-speeches, I want to laugh and I want to pat them on the head and tell them what Trans people are really like. Most of all right now, I want you to remember the old adage about sticks and stones, and keep being yourself as hard as you possibly can.

This confused and probably confusing rantlet is just my perspective. Disagreement and healthy debate is good, so please diagree with anything you wish to. Just remember always that in the tradition of self-obsessed bloggers everywhere, I'm only talking about myself.

Take good care, and don't forget to laugh at a bully today.
XX
scarelyquinn: Scary (Default)
The original Defense )

SO I should really start this off by pointing out that Obscuritan and I are pretty good friends. He's been living with me for over a year, stuck around through the inevitable drama of being my friend, and has been a fantastic mate to me, which I hope he will continue to be. I say this because once you read this, you'll probably think we friggin' hate one another. We don't - we just have strong opinions, seemingly particularly where Batman is concerned. What is above behind the cut is what HE said, and what is below is the first part of my reply. (Can I point out as well that my name was always Johnathan, and that I only changed my surname from 'Cain' to 'Crane')
So here we go.
Part 1 - My Reply )
And if you were really only reading this for the 'villains' - stay tuned.
scarelyquinn: Scary (Default)
Good morning, Dreamwidth

Since I have a brand-new forum for my self-indulgent solipsism and rabid ravings, I thought I would start by telling you a little bit about what I will be doing around here. Though I rather think 'ravings' covers it quite well. First things first, a few warnings:

1. I'm a transitional male without the option of surgery (I can't have anaesthesia) and as such sometimes get more than a little cantankerous, particularly when somebody calls me 'M'am'

2. Despite the above, I love pretty things and make-up. Post-transition, I would be a transvestite. I do wear men's clothes most of the time, but everybody loves a bit of glamour. If you have a problem with these two going together, you can save it for the jury.

3. I'm bisexual, in a serious relationship with a genderqueered person, and currently monogamous since it suits us both at this time to be so. I am not even slightly shy about sex, have had rather a lot of it with all genders, and am often uneccesarily graphic.

4. I'm also, contrarily, a VERY strong opponent of monogamy as the norm, for reasons which you will soon be sick and tired of hearing.

5. My job means I get covered in blood, spit, snot, urine, faeces, vomit, pus, and any other revolting substance that the human body deigns to produce, on an alarmingly regular basis. I share the details of this, so that you can share my pain and intense need for a bath. If you have a problem... well, then you have a problem.

6. I'm more than slightly given to long, emotive, gothically-valid, woe-filled ramblings about how terrible things have been for me, or how terrible things are for me. Short version? Neglected, bullied child, agoraphobic, clinically depressed, recovering alcoholic, recently divorced, major abandonment issues, horrific self-esteem, body dysmorphia, works a lot of overtime. I'll try EVER so hard to get over myself, but be prepared to use that scroll-button wisely once I get into full flow.

So now that we have that out of the way... I'm mostly going to be using this as a place to bounce my ideas around, try out theories, post the odd academic or less-academic mini-paper, and probably talk increasing amounts about how excited I am about 'The Dark Knight Rises' which I *loathed* the idea of, but am now getting a bit hyped up about. Who knows, I may even use it as motivation to finish some of the many papers I have on the go at the moment.

STARTING WITH... yes Obscuritan, looking at you - that fanboy response to the afforementioned's fanboy defense of the Dork Knight himself. Be afraid.... Oh go on - please? I asked nicely!

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Johnathan Crane

January 2013

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