Sunday, April 8, 2012

A few definitions

I had someone call me on the fact that some of the words I use aren't always in common usage so I thought I would start a definitions list. Given how busy this last weekend has been and my upcoming surgery this seemed right up my alley for something I could do during the 6 hours or so of riding in a car I had over the last weekend. If you see any errors in this list or have things you think should be added, let me know! I am always up for corrections and comments. 

Asexual - a person who doesn't feel sexual attraction towards other people
Agendered - a person who feels they have no gender
ASAB - assigned sex at birth - afab or amab for female/male
Appropriation - taking something from another persons identity that isn't a part of yours.
Body map - a persons internal map of what their body should look like. A person generally experiences some level of dysphoria if this doesn't match their body.
BDSM - bondage, discipline, dominance/submission, sadomasochism
Busted language - language that is oppressive to another group of people
Cis - an overarching term for people whose asab and gender identity match
Cis sexual - a person whose body map matches their body
Cis gendered - a person whose asab matches their gender identity
CASAB - coercively assigned sex at birth
Demisexual - a person who is sexually attracted to people only after getting to know them
Dysphoria - the feeling that something isn't right with your body, either something is there and shouldn't be or something is missing
Erasure - the systematic failure to have things a person can identify with in the culture, e.g.  Not having trans* people represented in schools
Fetish/paraphilia - something that is typically non sexual that arouses a person or is required for sexual gratification
Grey-asexual  - a person who isn't sexually attracted to people the majority of time
Gender fluid - a person who feels their gender is variable and doesn't fit in the binary
Gender queer - a person who feels their gender doesn't fit in the binary
Gender fuck - a person who intentionally expresses their gender to play with people's preconceptions
Heterosexual - a person who is sexually attracted to what is considered the opposite sex
Homosexual - a person who is sexually attracted to the same sex
Intersex - a person who, at birth, the doctors determined their genitalia was "ambiguous." typically doctors would "correct" the ambiguation, thankfully this is being done less and less. Often this leads to ASAB becoming CASAB.
Misgendering - not using the correct gender signifiers for a person
Neutrois - a person who is agendered and experiences dysphoria
Passing - trying to appear as another gender than your asab, e.g. Afab Trying to pass as a male
Queer - a person who feels that modern societal norms don't fit them for their gender, sexuality or expression thereof. Also a political ideology
Sapiosexual - a person who is sexually attracted to intelligence
Sadomasochism - a person who enjoys giving (sadism) and receiving (masochism) pain
Trans* - the overarching term for a person whose asab doesn't match their gender identity
Trans sexual - a person who is trans* and has or intends to have gender alignment surgery or hormones
Trans gender - a person who is trans* and does not intend to have gender alignment surgery or hormones at this time
Tokenizing - having one person represent a whole group

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On Passing

Why do so many trans sites and trans people seem so concerned with “passing?” I don't get it and yet I fall prey to it as well. Sometimes the overarching concern is to be attributed as cis but sometimes the effort seems to be in deliberately being either misgendered or confusing. I know the second part if a choice (though in my gender classes I have felt pressure to 'show' my gender fluidity, which is ridiculous) but it's the first one, the pressure to be attributed as cisgender that really gets me.

I understand wanting to appear cis for safety reasons. There is a huge privilege you gain by being perceived as a part of the typical cis binary. This helps smooth the way in so many ways that cis people likely don't realize. Just not having the thread of being harmed, verbally or physically, by appearing cis (or at least lessening that threat) is likely worth it for many trans and non-binary people. There isn't anything wrong with choosing to accept a certain level of misgendering and dysphoria for safety reasons. That being said, it is an individuals choice to make and one which shouldn't be a decision which others try to influence.

Unfortunately the pressure to 'pass' is something that a lot of people, trans and cis both, put on trans people who aren't passing or who don't 'fir' a mold for their identity. For example, currently the 'in' thing for gender queer people is a kind of hardcore androgyny. Those who don't fit that are questioned to see if they are “real” gender queers or if they are faking it. Unfuck that, a person's gender expression doesn't necessarily equate to their gender identity for one and for two holy no true Scotsman fallacy badman. They aren't “real” gender queers if they don't “fit” a preset idea of what a gender queer person “should” be. That's bullshit flat out. The range of “acceptable” presentation for cis males and especially cis females is massive. Why do those who aren't cis and who aren't binary have such a narrow range of acceptance?

Just look at the difference between a cis female and a trans female. The cis person can range in gender expression from a super femininity to the most hardcore butch and they are still accepted as female. Their femininity, may be questioned, their orientation may be questioned, but almost never their gender. Now for the trans person, unless their gender expression is what is typically considered feminine or they pass well and no one knows their trans history their gender is regularly questioned and is often rejected, even by other trans people. Hell, likely especially by other trans people. I have heard more trans people accuse those of us who aren't trying to pass of “making trans people look bad.” No we aren't, those who insist on being in a box of trans expressions with no deviations are.

This behavior is ridiculous, those who are trans have every gender expression represented just as cis people do but this policing of what is a “true” trans or gender queer or neutrois expression is just horizontal oppression and merely perpetuates the idea that if you don't “fit” you are other. As a whole trans* people are already showing that cis ideals aren't working, non-binary people are showing that binarist ideals aren't working. Rather than accepting that peoples expression needs to “fit” to their gender identity we need to allow for people to express themselves and their gender how they feel is right for them not for some ideal of gender. The cis privilege of gender expression needs to be taken up by trans* people. No matter your gender identity cis male or trans gender queer you should not be condemned for your choice of expression of that gender. We need to move away form this oppressive dialogue of passing and allow people to freely express who they are.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A bit about reclaiming words

The only thing that gives me pause about reclaiming words that I, in my target group identities have had used against me is the fear that the privileged people who hear my reclaimed words will think to themselves “Well they use that word why can't I?”. Words have contexts, histories and meanings and we need to be careful of that. We need to realize that when people are reclaiming that it can be a perilous time for them because the words still hurt and the words are hard to use and the words remind us every damn time we use them that we are oppressed.

It is worth it though. It is worth taking back the power and the hurt and the glory and the pain to fully live. To not let a word with history and power over us hurt us anymore. It is not something that can be done for another person though. They have to do it themselves. A person has to find their words that they want to empower themselves with and if those words need to be reclaimed from their oppressors, more power to them.

It is their choice though. What words, what sounds, what sights, smells and feelings they want to reclaim. What they have the ability to handle right now to reclaim. That needs to be respected. For me, personally, I love the word 'cunt' for my reproductive organs because it's something that has been used to demean me in the past. HOWEVER I know that a lot of people, especially a lot of people with vaginas or who other perceive as having vaginas really really don't like that word. So I don't use it a lot and if I know someone has a problem with it then I will do my best not to squick them in their space.

On my pages, in my blog, and in my head however it is mine and because of that I am empowered.

If that is how a person is reclaiming then awesome.
If that is how a person is using it then awesome.
If that is how a person is being empowered by it then awesome.

I have however seen supposed reclaiming that is harmful.

I have seen people 'reclaim' words used against them and then turn around and horizontally oppress other people in their own target group, with their own identity, with the very word they say they are reclaiming. If the word is still being used to harm, to hold someone down, to trigger bad memories, to attack, then it is not being reclaimed it is being propagated.

Reclamation is not about stealing power from others it is about empowering ourselves so that the words with their whole history of harm and abuse of our own people aren't hurting. When we used these words to harm people who have had them used as weapons by oppressors already we are setting that process back.

That is the difference to me.