Sunday, August 23, 2009

some transrats

I guess rat gender, like people gender, is less clear than we were led to believe. Thanks, Kalera.


Ryan said...

I wonder where this is. I'd be happy to sell you dumbo rats for much less than that. Your choice of "gender".

Dave said...

Wow. Trans does not equal fake. Transpeople don't need scare quotes around their genders, and reading scare quotes around genders to equal trans, even for a joke, does the same. If anybody said "this is Beth, and she's 'female'", it'd be pretty offensive.

Let's not perpetuate the idea that transpeople are fake men and fake women, k?

bethany said...

Dave, sorry to offend you. I'm generally sensitive to GLBTQ issues, and actually in my head thought a transman might be "female" to some, eh?

Dan said...

As a gay activist I'll vouch for Bethany being friendly to the cause. I took "like people gender, is less clear than we were led to believe" to mean often growing up we are taught a rigid binary model of gender and in reality gender is more complex than that.

bethany said...

Thanks Dan, your reading matches my intention. I was thinking Judith Butler and stuff, but now realize my post is absent that context.

Dave said...

There's no need to apologize (or vouch for anyone). Anyone--gay, straight, ally, trans--can say something potentially offensive and not realize it. It'd be silly to assume that any offense was intended, but it's still important to let people know.

The whole issue of transgendered language is itself pretty fascinating. It's important to avoid language that creates the impression that transpeople are the "other" for the simple reason that in most people's minds, the default is invisible. You have women and transwomen, and men and transmen. This makes transexuality not part of a spectrum of gender identities, but an exception to what's "normal". Recast it in terms of something like race and the problem is more obvious: think how awkward and wrong "men and black men" sounds.

It's not really a linguistic problem faced by most other minority groups; people readily think of whites, males, straights, etc. as distinct groups. (One notable exception is little people--it's pretty common to hear "little people and normal people", and there's really not a good alternative in common usage.)

That's a big part of the reason transpeople are pushing for more widespread acceptance of the term "cisgendered" to identify anyone who isn't trans. Merely having a term that means "not trans" puts everybody on equal footing and makes people more aware that gender identity is something everybody has, not just transpeople.