Thursday, September 4, 2014

Excluded excerpt of the day: Proud to be a trans woman

So my most recent book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive came out a year ago this month! To celebrate this fact, throughout this month I will post a series of excerpts and essays related to the book.

So today’s excerpt comes from the first full chapter in the book, called “On the Outside Looking In.” It is about my experience at Camp Trans in 2003, back during a time when most queer/trans spaces (including that space) tended to be dominated by trans male/masculine folks and cis queer women (this is still sometimes true today, albeit less so than it used to be). The excerpt is from the very end of the piece, and takes place at the end of an emotional and often tumultuous week (for me personally, at least), and immediately after a Camp Trans performance event in which I performed my spoken word piece Cocky.

And after releasing all of this pent-up tension and frustration, I had one of those rare moments of clarity. It happened just after my performance, when one of my new friends, Lauren, came over to give me a hug. She said, “Your piece made me proud to be a trans woman.” And her words were so moving because I had never heard them spoken before. “Proud to be a trans woman.” And as I looked around the camp at all of the female-assigned queer women and folks on the FTM spectrum, I realized that in some ways I am very different from them—not because of my biology or socialization, but because of the direction of my transition and the perspective it has given me.

I am a transsexual in a dyke community where most women have not had to fight for their right to be recognized as female—it is merely something they’ve taken for granted. And I am a woman in a segment of the trans community dominated by folks on the FTM spectrum who have never experienced the special social stigma that is reserved for feminine transgender expression and for those who transition to female. My experiences as a trans woman have given me a valid and unique understanding of what it means to be both female and feminine—a perspective that many women here at Michigan seem unable or unwilling to comprehend.

At Camp Trans, I learned to be proud that I am a trans woman. And when I describe myself with the word “trans,” it does not necessarily signify that I transgress the gender binary, but that I straddle two identities—transsexual and woman—that others insist are in opposition to each other. And I will continue to work for trans woman–inclusion at Michigan, because this is my dyke community too. And I know that it will not be easy, and plenty of people will try to make me feel like an alien in my own community. But I will take on their prejudices with my own unique perspective because sometimes you see things more clearly when you’ve been made to feel like you are on the outside looking in.

(note: this chapter was originally written to be a spoken word piece, and video excerpts of my performance of it in 2005 (which includes the above passage) can be found here

More excerpts to come! And you can find out more about the book (including reviews, interviews, and more excerpts) at my Excluded webpage.

[note: If you appreciate my work and want to see more of it, please check out my Patreon page]

1 comment:

  1. This is just what I needed to read right now. :')
    I hate the ideology that Transwomen are any less woman then those who were simply born that way. The way I see it, factual or not, I am more woman then they. For most of them, if they were born a man they couldn't lay claim to their radical feminism obviously because they exclude male participation. But, whether I'm born boy or girl, I will always be a woman because that is who I am on the inside.