Monday, April 13, 2009

Short post...

Been thinking on the term subversivism. I've heard a number of genderqueer femmes & trans* female folks say they had problems with it & I began to think about how it's used and what it means. Later, Gauge and I chatted about the term for a bit. Then I read hir post earlier today & decided I should probably getting around to posting my thoughts (when did I last do an actual post here? ^_^;;).

I just reread the chapter "The Future of Queer/Trans Activism", & Ms. Serano ascribes a number of situations to subversivism which I think are more likely trans-misogyny, femmephobia, classism, etc.
Such as, for instance, how many trans* women do not feel comfortable in many queer/trans* spaces.
Well, many trans* women & other mtf spectrum folks I've spoken to mention how trans-misogynist those spaces can be (Ms. Serano actually mentions this on page 352)--people supporting "WBW"-only spaces & no one calls them out, saying sexist things (I've heard about a lot of of experiences with trans* guys doing this; for instance, in LJftm guys always get all offended when they are told not to say bitch), or valuing masculine genderqueer identities over feminine ones (which is not limited to trans* communities; cis* lesbian & cis* gay male communities are also known for this).
I saw one older trans* woman told she shouldn't complain about substances/parties at Camp Trans because CT is for young people (& young people all apparently love to do drugs & party & old people don't)--the ageism was called out, but the fact that someone felt entitled to say such blatent ableism...

If you separate out that which is actually classism/trans-misogyny/ageism/etc, subversivism has been mostly cis* people exotifying genderqueer identities and trying to separate trans* people into "good" and "bad" trans* folk. Yes there are some trans* people who buy into this (but really, whenever a group is being exotified it seems like there are always a few members who are willing to take the superficial power they are given).
Genderqueer people are not the majority & they are not the ones with power; there is no genderqueer privelege. It is cis* people who have made their own theories using genderqueer identities, thoughts, feelings, goals, etc & then use this theory to hurt all trans* people (including genderqueer folks who can't/won't fall into line).

If someone wants a comparison to subversivism, look at political lesbianism.
Certain groups of straight women made their own ideas about lesbian identities, practices, feelings, etc and tried/try to enforce their theories as Real Lesbianism. Yes, some actual lesbian women supported those theories, but lesbians were still not the oppressor group. Actual lesbianism was not truely supported (actually, a lot of f/f sex was attacked for being too male-identified & pornographic) only political-lesbianism was supported.


Anonymous said...

The more I think about it, the more apt I think the political lesbian analogy is. And the identities that Serano looks at particularly subversivist -- masculine genderqueer identities, early in medical transition or no-ho/non-op trans men -- are precisely the ones that cis queers fetishize. Yes, masculinity is rewarded (like everywhere else, as you note), but people don't get real social power out of being fetishized.

GallingGalla said...

clearly i need to reread at least that chapter of whipping girl.

i think that sadly, i have been abscribing subversivism to g/q people instead of recognizing its source with cis people -- and doing this at the same time as my growing increasingly frustrated with the number of cis people who fetishize all trans* & g/q people.

(for those who don't know me, i'm a binary-identified trans woman.)

i *have* seen the trans-misogyny that you are talking about - coming from the mouths of trans* & g/q of all identities, binary-id'd trans women included. s'that the cis chasers that hang around us are *appalled* when that language comes from trans-feminine spectrum people, but go all dewy-ewed with subversivist glory when the exact same language comes from trans-masculine people.

Jay said...

I think that genderqueer people who are also cissexual do get cissexual privilege and perhaps it were they Serano was attempting to skewer. Though I have thought that that chapter is one of the weakest in the book.

It can be very hard to parcel out indeed what is cisgender / gender conforming privilege, what is cissexual privilege, and how we all fit into that.

I don't have a genderqueer identity--I don't want to be in those spaces (ie "women and trans") where perhaps this idea of subversivism has a foothold--but as a trans person sometimes i find myself unwittingly in those spaces.

Serano isn't dogma, though. I don't think anyone is saying she is. She just gave us some more scholarship and popularzied some words to use.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

This genderqueer person knows she gets cissexual privilege. I mean, starting at the really basic stuff like not parsing my menstrual cycle as "Cognitive Dissonance Week", being able to get medical care without arguing about it, having my body match my legal documents ....