I refuse to justfy my existence to you.

Below is something I wrote in the comment sections of Feministe and Alas, A Blog several years ago.  I modified it slightly from the original posts, but the basic ideas remain the same.  For those of you who are new to this topic, cis means “not trans” or “not transgender.”

You know, trans folk wind up spending a lot of time trying to justify why we exist.  We spend a lot time proving that we are as real and as worthy of respect as cis people.

Enough is enough.

I do not feel bound by any obligation to prove the full extent of my selfhood or my womanhood to other people.  My perspective on this matter can be summarized as follows:

1) Being queer (trans, gender variant, gay, bi etc.) is often an indelible characteristic of a person’s persona.  It doesn’t go away even when people are screaming that you are miserable freak.

2) Being queer often has its roots in some set of phenomena that occurred early in a person’s life. (Perhaps in the womb, perhaps later, who knows?)  The chain of causality starts so early, that few people have any direct knowledge of what precisely happened.

3) Regardless of the cause, not being able to act on one’s sexual orientation or gender orientation or bodily orientation causes great distress—to the point of severe depression and self-destructive behavior.

4) You could apply #1 and #2 to straight people and cis people as well.  However, no one gets called a freak for being straight or cis.  Until LGB people became openly vocal, most people weren’t concerned about why people are attracted to a particular sex or gender.  Until trans people became openly vocal, most people weren’t concerned about what leads a person to say “I am a man” or “I am a woman” or “I am neither.”  Womanhood and manhood were taken for granted.

5) Straight people do not generally experience #3 in relation to their sexual orientation because their ways of being receive social sanction as “normalcy.”  Similar to straight people, cis people do not generally experience #3 in relation to their gender identities because their ways of being receive social sanction as “normalcy.”  Hence, in their respective contexts, neither straight people nor cis people have to respond to the command, “Justify your existence!”  They do not have to scrabble around for convenient scientific or social theories to justify leading their lives free from harassment.

6) With respect to their sexual orientation, straight people do not have to concern themselves with numbers 1 through 3.  This is a sign of socially sanctioned privilege.

7) With respect to their gender identities, cis people do not have to concern themselves with numbers 1 through 3.  This too is a sign of socially sanctioned privilege.

Why I exist shouldn’t matter.  I have a right to live my life.  I have a right to not have to worry about numbers 1 through 3.  Cis people don’t have to.  Straight people don’t have to.  So, why should I?  I have a right to be who and what makes sense to me—so long as my actions do not harm others.  I have a right to have my identity as a woman and a lesbian be as respected as cis people’s gender identities and straight people’s sexual orientation.

So, you are feeling uncomfortable because my life doesn’t fit into your notion of the world?  Let me cry you a river.

~ by timberwraith on May 26, 2009.

15 Responses to “I refuse to justfy my existence to you.”

  1. I have a right to have my identity as a woman and a lesbian be as respected as cis people’s gender identities and straight people’s sexual orientation.

    Fuck. Yes. Sing it, sister.

  2. :) Thanks.

    I was inspired to repost this because of yet another messed up comment thread at Feministing. The thread, as usual, has been derailed by several transphobic comments. The yummy cherry on top of the transphobic sundae occurred when one of my favorite trolls, mAndrea, showed up and started spewing her brand of hatred, saying that there was good reason to “question the validity of transgenderism.”

    I’ve been traveling through feminist bloglandia for the better part of this decade. There has been considerable improvement in some quarters, but even so, the same hateful discussions crop up again and again.

  3. Oh hey it’s m Andrea, I wonder if she’s up to any good? :roll eyes:

  4. LOL. Yes, of course she is.

    Radical feminism’s stalwart super hero has swooped in to defend cis women from the evil transgender menace once again. Thank Goddess, she was there to save the day. Our city is safe once again.

  5. I think the funniest thing about m Andrea is that she thinks that she’s so fucking brave, daring to deconstruct transgender.

    I’m not going to lie that there aren’t issues with the community because nobody can quite agree on anything, but then again I kind of doubt her good faith on this given her propensity to say “men in frocks.”

    I don’t even wear dresses. :)

  6. I confess to wearing dresses… once every several years. When I do show up in a dress, people are like, “Who are you and what did you do with my friend?” ;)

    To a certain extent, the lack of agreement is healthy since it indicates a diversity of thought.

    See you later, Ellie. I’ve got to go to work and menace the Twin Cities with my evil anti-feminist gender-warping death ray.

  7. Oh you have a tranny beam too? Sweet. You take east coast, I’ll take west coast, it’ll be grand.

  8. To all the haters out there – those last two posts where we reveal our plan?

    Yeah. We’re coming for you. Prepare for the Transsexual Empire.

    Janice Raymond was right.

  9. Actually, I’ve got the Midwest. Someone else will have to take care of Gotham City.

    See ya later.

  10. How on God’s green earth do you find the strength to read the comment threads? I read a post once in a while, but I usually stay well away from the comment threads for this exact reason.

    I have yet to understand why Feministing opened up posting to such a large community when there’s no way they will ever have enough time to properly moderate the multitudes of resulting posts/threads.

    I made the mistake today of reading one comment thread – the one on Animal rights in relations to feminism. If you read through that thread and see how many people are all “feminism is about women and ONLY women” you’ll be saddened. And in many of those posts it is so obvious that the posters clearly mean “my own kind of women”, and they don’t even realise how obvious it is.

    Let’s face it, Feministing is a hostile environment for anyone who’s not white, cis, het, able-bodied, mentally healthy and female.(did I forget something?) So sad…

  11. Oh yes, Feministing has major problems, but it’s certainly not the worst feminist blog out there. They get far, far worse—think of radfem blogs, for instance. For me, it’s a question of relative levels of prejudice. Feministing ventures near the bottom of the range that I can tolerate, but I can still tolerate it. I grew up in an extremely prejudiced family in an extremely prejudiced community. I know that Feministing is no where near that depth of dysfunction. So, I occasionally put on my hip waders and sift through the fetid comment threads looking for an opportunity to toss a useful idea into the mix.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to defend Feministing. There’s no question that they need to clean up their act. I’m simply trying to answer your query as to where I find the strength to read awful comment threads.

  12. Fair enough. I’m not even a target of their prejudice over there, I must just have less patience than you. I know it’s not the worst out there, but at least the radfems are upfront about their hate. Feministing still attempts to be an inclusive site and fails to own up to their responsibility continuously.

    It’s just so seldom I see any thread on Feministing, where my input would make a difference. Either, my thoughts have already been represented by someone else, who needs no convincing, or the thread is exclusively populated by ignoramuses whose eyes won’t be opened by my input anyway.

    The longer I’ve gone without Feministing on my blogroll and regular reading list the more I’ve realised how little they’ve actually meant to me. It’s far too impersonal and hostile a place for me.

    I understand you’ve been through much worse – I suppose that has taught you some skills in dealing with prejudiced people, that I simply have not developed. And with my current lack of spoons I have not the energy to engage and educate or even just read prats, who care nothing for being educated.

    I admire your strength :-)

  13. You know, the funny thing is, as feminist blogs go, Feministing is actually better at dealing with trans issues than many other feminist blogs (that’s why I include them in my blog links). They still suck, but they are better than average. The average is complete silence and/or complete ignorance. Again, it’s all relative.

    It’s very similar to why I support the Democratic party over the Republicans. The Democrats are terrible on countless issues, but the Republicans are infinitely worse. Like the Democrats, Feministing is widely known, has a large base, and is better than other available options. So, I hold my nose and use the tools at my disposal… even if they are coated in slime and in poor repair.

  14. I can understand that. It’s probably easier for me to view Feministing as inconsequential, because it’s US-based and I’m from the other side of the Atlantic and thus the topics on there seldom affect me directly. They usually are about events in the Americas (with some exceptions of course), and so I use them as a news gateway of sorts, but it doesn’t hold any personally relevant interest for me.

    I can afford to not get involved on there, because it’s never felt like a site for me. My reality is too far removed from theirs and so I’ve always felt more like a spectator than anything else.

  15. OK, I stand corrected. I just participated in another f*ked up comment thread at Feministing—this time on the topic of asexuals and asexuality. Similar to threads on other topics concerning marginalized groups, the moderator had nothing to say in response to the paternalistic, privileged remarks of the dominant majority.

    I too have lost my patience with them. I just took Feministing off my blog list. There’s no good in directing people from my own blog into an unfettered pit of hyenas and wolves.

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