Monday, November 5, 2012


So Twitter has become something of a lifeline for me. Well, that's probably not the word I'm looking for—perhaps "home forum" would be more apt. I have a number of trans women for friends, now, where before I had met perhaps one (out of 30 or so), personally, whom I could call a kindred spirit. So that's good.

The problem, though, with having a clique (in the very best sense of the word) of trans women who connect primarily via Twitter is that the medium is simply unsuitable for certain types of communication.  For instance, say I have a couple paragraphs of detailed answer (I mean, this is me after all) to some question. What if I want to deliver the answer in the form of an answer—as opposed to polishing it into a simple expository form and posting it here—and haven't access to email? What if I post it via a number of tweets? What a mess!

This happened enough times, yesterday, that I feel the need to try again. So here are a couple of rants, slightly edited and reprinted in long form, as prose.

First, during a conversation re: Jackie Green …

(the tweet to which I was replying): well I'm glad that video hasn't melted you all into seething pools of jealousy. :)
I grappled with that inevitable melt for a few years and I finally solved it. I talked about it with my partner one evening. She reflected on her own experience (as a woman and professional engineer in tech). She told me "I just think, well, I'm glad I was born in the 70s and not in the 60s or 50s."

I was so mortified. We've all heard bits of <awesometweep>'s story. And as a student of our history, I can vouch for her story being perfectly normal. The generation before us, the survivors: give them love, give them respect. They. Have. Earned It.

Oh great. Now I feel like a crotchety old granddam. GET OFFA MAH LAWN, KIDS! IN MY DAY …

But, seriously: that settled the melting bit: Today's young (teens and younger) trans girls can transition because we exist.

Of course, I apologized for that particular tweet-flood and moved on.

However, it was not much later that some troubling reflection on privilege and TWoC—and the recent, nasty, transphobic screed by C. Benvenuto (published by the Guardian, whose editorial standards are clearly nonexistent)—led me to post an abbreviated version of the following. (warning, some strong language)

So. My daughter attends a public (in the U.S. sense) elementary school; it has two "programs", a Japanese bilingual program, which draws students city-wide, and an English-only program which preferentially places students from the surrounding housing projects—predominantly children from African-American families and immigrants from the Middle East. Yes, this is so totally a San Francisco type of school.

Anyway, there's a poem written on the wall of the Kindergarten/1st-grade hallway, right by the school entrance. You may have encountered it elsewhere; it reads …

Rosa sat so Martin could walk.
Martin walked so Barack could run.
Barack ran so our children can fly.
Now. Here I am: privileged, well-educated, well-paid whitey. I feel like absolute shit appropriating anything so fundamentally bound to African-American disenfranchisement and that community's struggles for equality and Justice.


Trans women and girls are systematically, unquestioningly stripped of every privilege but race and family (if there's even that—c.f. Trans Women of Color and the tragic population of homeless transgender youth). If we aren't among the lucky few with family support or hard-won material resources, and if we can't game the system—and without privilege, who can?—we are regularly routed into base labor and sex work. When we seek to have lives outside of the scrabble for survival, we are regularly brutalized or killed solely for presuming to be real people and the abusers and murderers walk free.

… The hell? No, wait: THE HELL? FUCK THAT.

I'm no chicken little. I do have some idea of how privileged I am. I know that with an Ivy education, a broad CV, highly-employable skills, and savings in the bank, I'm probably safe and secure, despite my earnest invective. But I know people, people I could have been, who are not so fortunate. There are people I care for deeply whose lives and hopes may yet be stripped-away by a hostile and faithless society. There are children I know and love—mine and others'—who one day may begin to queerly blossom, only to be crushed--erased, even.

And so I'm being a privileged asshole, and appropriating the sense of that poem. We have to live.

We have to live because my son and daughter may well be gender-fluid. We have to live because many children today kill themselves rather than do this, rather than try to be real.

We have to live because there's nobody else who will stop the C. Benvenutos of 2032 from having an unchallenged pulpit. We have to live so that someday, maybe, nobody will have to hurt like this, be afraid like this, be broken this way.

We have to live.

And every teen trans girl I see today, untouched by androgens, having suffered but one puberty, tells me that I'm doing what's right. Not 2nd best. Not consolation, not also-ran. The Right Thing.

We have to live so that they can thrive.

… and as I said, at the end of that rant, "Holy crap! See? I told you I'd fly off the handle after reading the Benvenuto screed. It just took half a day to precipitate."

No comments: