Originally posted on 4thWaveNow:
This critical comment appeared as part of a Tumblr thread today:
Okay but what you’re describing sounds dangerously close to conversion therapy.
I know a lot of people (especially since John Jolie-Pitt started becoming a big media sensation) think that parents of transgender youth are the ones with all the agency when it comes to their children’s transition. In reality, a lot of us have to *beg* our parents to let/help us transition.
I think what I, and maybe some other parents, are trying to do is suggest that young people explore alternatives before–or better yet, **instead of**–making the huge, permanently life-altering decisions involved in hormones and surgical treatments. And parents like me (and I am not like the religious nuts who talk about sin and hellfire), because we want to protect our kids from making decisions they may regret later, just aren’t down with financing and supporting…
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I’m going home again. I leave today. I’ll fly there and stay with my godmother, Mom’s oldest friend from high school. Mom’s birthday is March 19. Tomorrow. Last year I flew out just for the day to surprise her. She cried when she saw me. Happy tears.
Did I know it would be the last time?
On Monday my friend Vicki will toss some of Mom’s stuff and me into her truck and we’ll drive to Vancouver together. Vicki and i were BEST friends in Jr. High and our first year of high school. She lived downtown, near our jr. high school. We would often go to her house for lunch (i remember Alpha-ghetti — she would barely warm it, because she liked it “al-dente”) so she could make lunch for her younger sister and brother. Her two older brothers were in high school by that time, I think, or had already left school to go to work. They were the kind of kids who were more “pushed out” of school than dropped out. Vicki was–is–a talented artist. she has a good eye and a steady hand, was always drawing pictures of people and horses and fruit and cars. I remember we would listen to Black Sabbath records in the bedroom she shared with her little sister Bev. Until she became a Christian, then she got rid of all her metal records. I wanted them, but she wouldn’t give them to me on account of they were satanic, I guess. oh well. that was forty years ago. I don’t think I ever even liked metal music, I just loved Vicki. One long weekend, our family went to Jasper for the weekend, and I got to invite Vicki to come with us. She remembers it as a week long, but it was only three days. But we packed a lot into those three days. We went horseback riding (I always ended up having an asthma attack when I hung out with horses. But whatever, it was totally worth it) and Dad built huge fires and we burned wieners and marshmallows on sticks and explored the woods and went into town and had at least a week’s worth of adventures in those three days.
I had a crush on her older brother Philip. Vicki’s home wasn’t happy or safe — I won’t tell you all the troubles, ’cause it’s not my story — but I really wanted her to come live with us. Mom said that would be fine with her, but we would have to tell her parents where she was. I don’t remember whether I talked to Vicki about it at all or not. Maybe i just asked Mom and when she said we would have to let Vicki’s folks know I didn’t pursue it with Vicki. I’ll ask Vicki what she remembers when we’re on our road trip next week.
I called Mom’s neighbours Gary and Grace today. I don’t know how many times i picked up the phone to call them, but then i’d just start to cry so I couldn’t bring myself to dial the number (I still say “dial” even though i haven’t had a rotary phone for about 20 years). Gary said, “Every time I go past her parking spot and it’s empty, i get a lump in my throat”. Grace’s voice quavered a bit when she asked if the new people had moved into Mom’s suite. I’ll go see them on Friday, go for lunch or something. They’re good people, and Mom LOVED them. Grace was Mom’s creative co-conspirator. They started up a card-making group on Wednesday afternoons, “Stamping and More”.
I’ve been ticking through old photographs again, That’s Mom in the middle. Jim is on the left, Ed behind her to her right, and Gwladys is the girl in the glasses. Uncle Tom wasn’t born yet, this is Mom’s 9th birthday. the caption on the back says, “one of the boys from the base took this picture” in Grandma’s handwriting. 1943. There was an air force training base near Swift Current. All the boys from Wales came to Dave Morgan’s when they had time off. Ed would come pelting up the road, “Mom! There’s another one coming!” and Grandma would sigh and say, “Dave, go kill another chicken.”
“She didn’t like that,” Mom said one time, “She wanted the chicken to have time to bleed out before she cooked it.” But that was a small thing. The farm was always a place of hospitality. Mom’s house, wherever she was for her whole life, was that as well. home.
I didn’t spill coffee on this, that stain was there long before I came upon the picture.
I’m so sad. It’s okay. It’s the price you pay for loving. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction — it’s just physics. okay. here I go.
phonaesthetica nails it again. thank you.
Originally posted on phonaesthetica:
My parents worked hard to instill good judgment in me, because kids are born with no judgment at all: I will put this dead bug in my mouth! I refuse to wear a jacket in winter! Watch me climb up on the roof and jump off into a pile of sofa pillows I have arranged on the lawn for this purpose!
Judgment – a complex function of the brain’s frontal lobe that includes risk assessment, long-range planning, the determination of similarities and differences between things and events, and an understanding of future consequences resulting from present actions – doesn’t fully develop in humans until our mid-20s. Remember the crazy noises AOL made when you tried to get online in 1997? How you couldn’t be on the phone AND the Internet at the same time? That’s what we’re like! Attempting to connect. Page loading. Page failed to load.
Good judgment is a…
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A little while ago, I woke up to the radio announcer promoting a show about writers featuring two women who have turned their backs on their womanhood and rejected solidarity with other women, other lesbians, in order to gain a measure of safety and acceptance and power for themselves. They wrote a book together about their treachery, and are now celebrating its publication.
Of course, they do not see their embrace of gender-neutral pronouns, breast-binding and rejection of their own femaleness (along with femininity) as misogynist. But that’s what it is. The radio announcer said, “Both were raised as girls, but it never really sat well with them”, and then there was a clip of one of them talking about her preference for the (often grammatically noxious) use of the pronoun “they”.
OF COURSE they never liked being girls — I don’t know anyone who did, not really. Some women do like to be girly to an extent — there is some fun to be had in the dressing up part, but god, the pointy shoes, the toxic hair spray, the expectations to take care of everyone everyone — all the children, all the sick people, all the elders, all the men–all the time (and if we get paid for it, we get paid a pittance). Oh, there is so much about being a “proper woman” that is really hard and unfair and painful. And THEN, to add insult to injury, the clothes that women are supposed to wear almost ALWAYS have no proper pockets. And they’re uncomfortable and not as well-made as men’s clothes.
Women are always the ones to make adjustments in order to prevent attack. Carry a whistle, don’t go out alone at night. hell, don’t go out alone. don’t wear the christly clothes that men have designed and relentlessly marketed to us, don’t leave your drink alone, don’t drink, don’t go here, don’t go there, carry this, don’t carry that —
This trans thing is just one more thing women can do to protect ourselves from men’s aggression. Become men, then they won’t hurt us. Then we can also get the stuff that men get — the acknowledgment, the room to move, the attention when we speak, the extra money on our paycheques, the pockets and the sensible shoes. Plus, because men are not trained to pay attention to others as much as women are, they won’t likely notice the female in the locker room. If they do, though, they’ll be pissed. And they’re much more dangerous than are other women (which we know of course, that’s why we do all this elaborate stuff to avoid their wrath).
So there. a couple women who are a bit safer. And they can say, “we’ve never been women, we have always been men” because they didn’t feel comfortable conforming to the feminine gender. Meanwhile, all the other women, (who are ALSO uncomfortable conforming to the feminine gender, by the way), are left in the same rigid social constructs that benefit men (materially, certainly, though the cost to their humanity is great–if they only knew). They’re still cooking most of the meals, changing most of the diapers, making less of the money, and packing themselves and their kids off to transition houses when Prince Charming goes off the rails (again). But our heroes are brave and transgressing binaries by I-dentifying as masculine-ish “theys”. Thereby leading the way.
leading the way backwards. “You’re right,” their ‘choice’ tells everyone, “you’ve been right all along, being a woman is less than being a man. Women are, yes, weaker, dumber, and less important than men”.
If you are female and troubled because you are not allowed to take up your share of public space — don’t bother with all that messy, uncomfortable, complicated political organizing or rape crisis work, or trying to change the gendered, racist, capitalist systems that keep us apart from each other, that increase the pressure of the boot on the necks of our sisters and aunties and neighbours — don’t bother with all that. Bind your breasts, pitch your voice a bit deeper, call yourself Stefan or Logan (Do they ever pick names like Marion or Leslie or even Bill or Roger?) and be a man.
That’s why I call what they’re doing treachery. They can (kind of, almost) pass, and they have race and class on their side, too — they’re using all this to get a bit more for themselves. They’re not doing jackshit to change the conditions of other women’s lives — it’s such an unimaginative solution to women’s oppression*. Building solidarity and organizing politically with other women is really hard and messy and frustrating — but if it wasn’t for the work of women before us, we would not have the vote, or pants, or transition houses or laws that criminalize rape, or access to abortion or credit cards (a dubious benefit, to be sure) or literacy or—
Now i want to be clear — i don’t give a rats ass if they, or any woman, wants to take on a male name, and wear their jeans with the crotch at the knees like the boys do, and take up welding — what really burns my ass is the denial of their femaleness. Why do they not say, “We didn’t like what was expected of girls so we decided to change those expectations for girls”? Why not look around, see where the holes in the walls are, and hammer away at it to make space for other women too? I guess ’cause it’s easier to do the individual thing, and adjust your own behaviour than it is to look for where we benefit, too, and address the contradictions and take responsibility–
Those two, it’s not entirely their fault, their betrayal of women — and i don’t think they’ve chosen an easy road — no woman’s road is easy, well, not many — but the road of the ‘passing for male’ is I think easier. I think it’s kind of comforting for the powerful when the oppressed do something like this, conform to the existing social structures — they’re not rebelling or making waves, they’re just sliding in to a different part of the structure. It’s easier for everyone that way. Except for those who are already on the bottom. Their burden, then, becomes a bit heavier.
*I know there are some trans people who are involved in some political organizing — of course there are — and even some who are gender-critical and working with others to dismantle sexism, address class inequality and interfere with systemic racism — what i am most concerned with here is their utter disrespect for femaleness, and their seeming acceptance of the taken for granted assumptions that patriarchy makes about our ‘essential’ qualities.