RECLAIMING FEMININITY

RECLAIMING FEMININITY

CHAPTER SIX

Over the last few years, my femme identity has very much informed the way that I relate to myself as a trans woman, as a queer woman, and as a feminist more generally. Did that make you laugh? Fuck you bigot. All I got is femmeness to be a woman, because I’m a man. Don’t you dare take that away from me? Like “being a woman” has ANYTHING to do with being female. If you were to ask a hundred different femmes at a Pink Essence conference to define the word “femme,” you would probably get a hundred different answers all relating to the hard ons we got the first time we put on our mommy’s panties. Having said this, most femmes, who I will call memes, because we are men, would no doubt agree that an important, if not central, aspect of femme identity involves making sure feminine gender expression, or “femininity” never ever ever ever goes away, for without it WE WOULD LITERALLY DIE.

It is common-place for people in both the straight mainstream as well as within our queer and feminist circles to presume that feminine gender expression is more frivolous, artificial, impractical, and manipulative than masculine gender expression, and that those of us who dress or act femininely are likely to be more tame, fragile, dependent, and immature than our masculine or “gender neutral” counterparts.  Of course, I will ignore radical feminists who have a critique of gender that posits that the feminine gender role is one that females are socialized into to keep women subordinate to men. Those bitches are just mean and simply don’t understand how empowerfulizing it is to be viewed as a sperm receptacle for Real Men (which doesn’t include me, because I’m a laydee). By reclaiming femininity, those of us men who are femme and have never been oppressed by gender are engaged in a constant process of challenging these negative assumptions that are routinely projected onto feminine gender expression. Just kidding! We only exist because of these negative assumptions! Continue reading

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TRANS FEMINISM: THERE’S NO CONUNDRUM ABOUT IT

TRANS FEMINISM: THERE’S NO CONUNDRUM ABOUT IT

CHAPTER FIVE

Did the title of this chapter make you laugh? Fuck you, transphobe. There’s  no conundrum because I say so.

In March of 2012, Ms. Magazine’s blog ran a month-long “Future of Feminism” series, which was billed as “celebrating organizations and ideas that represent the future of feminism.” The author of the series covered a variety of topics, and portrayed them all—even those that have generated significant debate within feminism—in a generally positive light. The glaring exception to this was her article on trans feminism (ominously entitled “Transfeminism and Its Conundrums”), which framed the movement as a “controversy” that is fundamentally incompatible with certain basic tenets of feminism. Did I point out that the author of this piece is really pro-trans and has harassed lesbian feminists on behalf of men, I mean transwomen? No? well fuck you, she didn’t do enough. Continue reading

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MARGINS

MARGINS

CHAPTER FOUR

NOVEMBER 2006

The nurse is pulling the stitches out of my face. I can tell that something is wrong because she doesn’t offer any of the typical “it’s-healing-nicely” affirmations that one usually expects. The doctor enters and tells me that the tumor exceeded three of the four margins of the diamond-shaped sliver of skin that he removed from my cheek one week ago. He explains that most basal cell carcinomas grow in one big lump, like a basketball, making them easy to remove in one fell swoop. But my tumor was a rarer, more aggressive type that grows unpredictably under the skin like an amoeba, sending out projections like tentacles. He tells me that he won’t know how far it has spread until the next surgery. Hopefully they won’t have to remove too much more tissue. But he can’t rule out the possibility that I might lose so much of my cheek that the plastic surgeon they will assign to me will have to resort to skin grafts.

Nobody wants skin cancer. And the very thought of skin grafts terrifies me. But in the three weeks prior to my scheduled surgery, what bothered me the most about the worst-case scenario was not just what I might look like afterward, but rather how it played into my trans issues. Oh, I know, you thought I was going to be a human being for a moment, talking about cancer and me facing my own mortality, an experience all humans will or have faced. But not. Let’s get to transin’! Continue reading

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ON BEING A WOMAN

ON BEING A WOMAN

CHAPTER THREE

Did the title of this chapter make you laugh? It did? DIAF.

A friend of mine was asked to write about being a femme for a queer women’s event. She wasn’t quite sure where to begin. “It’s hard to write about being a girl,” she said, and I knew exactly what she meant.  Because even though I am male, was born male, raised male, etc., no one knows more about being a Woman than a Man. I mean, we’ve been both, so we know more than you. Also, no one believes what women say anyway, so listen up, vagina bearers!

For some time, I’ve been trying to write my own poem about what it means to be a woman. But every time I pick up my pen, I’m afraid that I’ll paint myself into a corner, betrayed by words forged from soft vowel sounds and weak, diminutive connotations. Cause women are soft and diminutive. Like, if they aren’t, they are probably transmen, like that awful Cathy Brennan. She’s totally a man, her penis is way bigger than mine. I read that on the Internet, so I know it’s true. Continue reading

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ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, LIKE THE RAPEY CREEP I AM

PART ONE

ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

CHAPTER TWO

AUGUST 2003.

When we hear story after story set in a landscape that we have never set foot in before, we can’t help but create our own mental picture of that place.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fantazied about a woman’s locker room before I finally got to go in one! Boy was that great. I realized only as my wife Dani and I turned off a dirt road and up to the welcome center that I always imagined that Camp Trans would resemble pictures I had seen of Woodstock, with tents strewn everywhere and people buzzing about busily with a sense of purpose and energy, with a sense that they were a part of history. But Camp Trans looked nothing like that. It was set on a modest-sized clearing in the middle of the woods. Cars were parked close to the entrance, tents tucked away just out of sight behind the trees. There was a main congregating area, where campers were slurping up the vegan miso soup that was being served for lunch. Everyone was way more mellow than I had imagined, perhaps because they had been baking in the ninety-degree heat for close to a week now.

And why were they there? Because the #1 oppression facing Transwomen is that we are not allowed to go to the Michgan Womyn’s Music Festival. Because we are Male.

And this, quite simply, makes the MWMF Hitler. Continue reading

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A WORD ABOUT MY WORDS

A WORD ABOUT MY WORDS

CHAPTER ONE

Any disagreements within feminist and queer politics stem from language. Forget about the fact that Lesbians, as Women, have different life experiences (LIVED EXPERIENCE) because there is no such thing as “shared girlhood” or “menstruation” or “developing breasts.” It’s all about language. So in order to avoid such confusion, in this chapter I will define many of the basic terms that I will use throughout this book, often with an accompanying explanation for why I have chosen certain words over others. So make sure you DOG EAR THIS SECTION OF THE BOOK, because you’ll need to refer to this section A LOT as MY definition of words often doesn’t match the ACTUAL definition of these works.

While I cannot promise that all readers will agree on the terms I use or how I define them, I do believe that knowing where I am coming from, and what precisely I am trying to convey, is crucial to understanding many of the ideas that I forward in this book. In other words, use my cult language so you can be in my cult. And if you don’t get it, or reject it, you’re just a bigot. Continue reading

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