Hey everyone! It’s been a while–as it turns out, being a college student requires a great deal of time and intellectual energy! But we have something we need to talk about.
Recently, I was approached by Avital Norman Natham at Ms. Magazine about being included in a series of blog posts she’s creating for Ms. called “The Femisphere.” She’s highlighting the oft overlooked sections of the feminist blogging world–mama bloggers, for example–and plans to create a post about trans feminist bloggers soon. She’d like me to be included. We would be doing a roundtable discussion with other trans bloggers about trans feminism on the internet, as far as I can see.
Now, I’m a fairly intelligent trans guy with a blog who has read a lot of bell hooks and Judith Butler, but there are a lot of those, and let’s be real: if I weren’t the son of actors, I probably would not receive an invitation to participate in this. (Or maybe I would and that’s self doubt talking, but either way, that’s the feeling I get.) I don’t want to behave in an entitled manner. I don’t want to strut into the world expecting people to listen to what I have to say when I am working my thoughts out and unlearning my fucked up shit just as much as the next white guy.
I have other concerns about working with Ms, or indeed most outlets that aren’t my blog–on top of not wanting to appear entitled, with Ms. there’s a long history of transmisogyny to consider. (To be clear–in our correspondence, Avital has owned this fact about the magazine and expressed the desire to fix the problem. The last thing I want to do is be unpleasant about Avital, who was very kind even to ask me to participate here.) One of the magazine’s cofounders, Gloria Steinem, was and to all appearances still is a committed transmisogynist. I say this as someone who’s valued her non-trans related work over the years, mind you, but the woman said stuff like this:
Instead of serving more lifesaving but often less lucrative needs for their surgical and hormone-therapy skills, some physicians are aiding individuals who are desperately trying to conform to an unjust society. It’s a small group of successful physicians she [Janice Raymond] names ‘the transsexual empire’.
And that essay’s still out there, being published and distributed in editions of Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. Of course, institutions can move beyond their roots, but it’s hard. For example, my now heavily granola crunchy college was founded by a committed sexist and racist, and while much has changed, it’s still a place where students of color are frequently erased, ignored, and disrespected; it still remains economically inaccessible to many due to (I’m not kidding) the explicit and profoundly fucked up intentions of our asshole founder. So you see what I mean about institutions, participating in them, and considering critically to what degree one should participate.
More recently, Ms. published this blog post about the apparent “conundrums” in trans feminism. It’s written by a cis woman–WHY?!–and, as I remarked on Twitter, one only finds conundrums in trans feminism if one admits the possibility that trans women may not be women, in which case HI YOU’RE A TRANSMISOGYNIST do not pass go do not collect 200 anti-capitalist intersectionality points. But then! They published this dazzling rebuttal by Julia Serano, so there is room to grow in terms of Ms. dealing with their transmisogyny and unfucking what’s fucked up.
So what do you think? I really want to be transparent with my readers and have a symbiotic relationship with you all. Avital has been very kind to me in terms of how much I insist on thinking about doing things like this, and I appreciate that. (She was referred to me by the sparkly Avory Faucette, who organizes #transchat and #queerchat on Twitter, and is absolutely magic.)
Right now, here’s what I’m thinking: Am I the voice that’s needed here? Can I maybe be just one voice among many? The majority of those voices need to be trans women, because those are the voices that need to be heard in trans feminism most. (If there aren’t more trans female voices involved in this roundtable than people of other identities, I am not okay with doing it, to be totally clear.) So tell me what you think.
Can I help here? What should I do?
ETA: I’ve ended up deciding to participate, based on my own thoughts about it and your input. It looks like the trans female voices are going to way outnumber the male ones, thankfully, plus some non-binary representation! Thank you all for being so affirming and willing to help me out with decisions!