(On Tokenization, Art, Inclusion, Assumptions, and Gender as a Skillset for Survival)
There are (again) some folks around, that try to tokenize me and my art by either saying, they are trans (and non-binary and agender) inclusive because of including my art.
No, it takes more, than „just“ including something that I made. Or because I am trans/agender/non-binary. Including (or liking) one trans/agender/non-binary person or their art does not make you anything my dear, sorry.
Some other folks on the other hand try to erase my (trans, agender and non-binary politcal) work by saying, that I am trans masculine and therefor can’t do what I do.
Which I am wondering, what they think it is what I am doing?
Guess what, I am not trans masculine (and never was) and most of those folks, who are saying this about me atm know (or knew) me personally.
So. They know better than that.
To the ones that didn‘t know: Now you know.
I am trans.
I am agender.
I am non binary.
I am pretty aware of the trans masculine privileges I have.
That does not make me trans masculine.
I am trying to use these privileges I have as much as I can.
That still does not make me trans masculine.
(In fact, I have a couple of different identities, with varying/shifting/strategiesed gender/s and pronouns. All depending on the situations or communities I‘m in.
But this is not what I want to talk about right now, but I feel like I cannot not mention it, because sometimes people get confused by the different „informations“ they get about me and/or my art.)
In general nowadays most times I don’t correct people (anymore), neither when it comes to pronouns nor when it comes to my gender.
I am more than tired of this and false perceptions of mine are the smallest problem that I face as a trans/non-binary person.
I’ve had these struggles my whole life, which lasts now longer than most trans peoples lifes of my generation. I am over 40. I fought for (correct) pronouns since I was a child. Trans (not to speak of agender and non-binary) was nothing you could find in any dictionary then and the internet didn’t go public until after I was a grown-up. And still. When I came around the term „trans“, there were not many other trans people to be found (in the internet). And the absence of trans masculine people (in the internet and other media) was impressive.
Nowadays people tend to forget that. (We can talk about how and when trans feminine people were (and still are) portrayed by the media, but that is a whole different story.) Things have changed so much already in my lifetime – if you are young or fresh „out/in the community“ you might not know that. But check it out. Do some research. Talk to some folk. It‘s true.
I am also aware, that any community needs to face and deal with it‘s sexism.
The heightened visibility of people in the (non-„passing“) trans feminine spectrum is rooted in sexism. And the heterosexual „demand“ that women and female folks can and have to be sexualized (to be seen as a women.) But please, not too much in a self-determind way, which is still reserved for men, and men only, trans or not.
There you have it. Self-determination is a gendered thing and seen as masculine. Or only seen as something positive when presented by men.
This was also the same „reason“ trans masculine folks got some visibility the last couple of years. Because „they‘re so hot.“
Both of it, besides the obvious sexism, is showcasing another bias we face here. I‘m not going there right now – but to name some aspects of it: Access and control. „The power of love“, Allyship, othering and „morals“. Whore-antagonism and erasure of knowledge. Ableism and classism. Racism. You get it. The whole spectrum.
People listen to trans masculine people because „they‘re hot“ and don‘t listen to trans feminine people because of the exact same reason. Trans misogyny it is.
I grew up in a rural area.
Gender is something you bend there when it’s necessary, but balance it out when you get the chance.
Gender is, in fact, a matter of survival.
I learned the hard way.
I learned the more „passing“ as masculine I am the more access to safety I got.
This is a skill-set, I view as valuable today and use frequently and freely as I want or might need to.
Same goes for my femininity.
I was and am ripped of it many times.
Back then, when I loved wearing skirts but was being bullied out of wearing them, the many years of being denied a self-determined sexuality up to the present where my emotional and community labour still gets erased on a regular basis.
I never (or only rarely) „passed“ as girl, woman or feminine person. I only started to „pass“ recently and quiet frequently as (some kind of) a bearded woman, I guess.
But still, even most other members of some of the more „gender-sensitive“ communities I frequently visit (and build) don‘t even notice my „feminine doings“. But since I often fail in doing so myself (with myself ands others) I feel like I have no „standing“ to complain. But still it stings.
These skills of community-building, connecting people, doing emotional labour and educational support, talking about unpaid work, dealing with many forms of abuse, strategizing politics and all the other spontaneous and improvised stuff that includes building shit from scratch, all these skills – they are all rendered feminine.
If you are so desperate in putting gendered labels on me, please do it a bit more accurate and maybe a tiny bit more nuanced.
(I just gave you some hints.)
And, at the same time: please don‘t.
Life is strange.
My life is strange.
I faced a lot of street violence because of (unvolunteeringly) being too visible and not being able to do anything about it. I hardly „passed“ as any gender.
Most of this violence happened before I even knew or identified as trans, agender and/or nonbinary. But still I was identified as such.
Nowadays, as I am „out and proud„, I do face way less harassment by strangers. In parts this may be because of the raised awareness of trans people in general, in parts because I am older now and people feel less entitled to police my „gender performance“, or maybe because I hardly go out or use public transportation anymore.
But what I do care about because I am confronted with it quite frequently now are the many false assumptions (about me and others) by my own communities and people who claim to know better.
I do agree, that many non-binary (and agender) people need to learn to deal better with the „passing“-privileges (as many things we‘re not) we have. But this legitimate demand can and should not come with the demand or the costs of the erasure of non-binary/agender people and the specific discrimination and problems we face.
Let me be frank – you/we should know better.
Gender is nothing you can see.
Gender is neither fixed nor (its presenting) not connected to safety and class.
Reducing feminity to appearance is still sexist.
Assumptions are nothing more than well, assumptions.
Privileges are something you have, even if you don‘t identify with them.
Throwing other folks under the bus (on purpose or not) won‘t make anyone’s ride better.
I hope you have a good one.