Dear Trans Media Advocacy —
After speaking briefly with Janet Mock, I want to extend my support on behalf of the Cisnormativity project to the open letter / press release you are now drafting. This press release is in response to Sarah Maslin Nir’s piece in The New York Times on trans women of color — literally, New Yorker subjects — being reduced to contemptible objects of bemusement.
That Carolyn Ryan, Metro desk editor for a paper of record (for not only New York City, but also for the United States) green-lighted a fluff piece on trans women (on #girlslikeus), without even scratching the root causes for why these women find themselves susceptible on Christopher Street (in masculinized nightspace), does nothing to escalate the urgency of protecting New York’s most vulnerable citizens from material harm; from systemic discrimination; and from institutionally-sanctioned ridicule — of which The New York Times operates as a fourth estate.
From this, The New York Times willfully fails to produce a humanizing climate for trans people — which in turn vets a template for other local American papers to perpetuate against trans people and, egregiously so, trans women of color.
We are not amused. Should Trans Media Advocacy benefit from an additional signatory, you have one in the Cisnormativity project.
Editor, Cisnormativity blog
|||| Patience Newbury, Editor
[ spoken audio of the editorial ]
OK. I don’t quit.
I’ve been thinking a lot since revisiting this declarative. Originally, it was simply, “I quit.”
When I was swayed back to this trans conversation just over a year ago, I felt pretty hesitant. This hesitation was not formed in some vacuum. This hesitation was informed by my own history of experiential knowledge — a battery of bad wisdom which nearly did me in. I still don’t talk publicly about those experiences, and for a very good reason. It makes up part of a narrative which can never really be heard contiguously so long as I’m alive.
|||| Patience Newbury
On Reddit, after Erica’s debut piece was filed, a trans woman felt aggrieved by having to read that a girl in her mid-teens had transitioned with EEI during the pre-WWW 1990s, at an age before she herself could. I called foul on this because, quite bluntly, every trans narrative is valid, and no less valid than any other. She had no authority to deny Erica or anyone else of their trans narrative on any grounds.
Eventually, we learnt the trans woman making this grievance was not someone who voiced themselves well into their last cisnormative corridor as we expected. I made this error because the internalized trans misogyny and internalized cissexism this woman was spewing was very boilerplate to much of I’ve heard over more than half my own life from many trans women who did not get to assert their transition during one of the first three cisnormative corridors.
It was only after a little more reading before I realized this fury toward Erica was coming from a 20-year-old who first tried to say something at 13 but was denied by her parents until the third cisnormative corridor. She eventually grasped what I was trying to say. I had affirmed her trauma, but what I said to her sank in. Her response was a hope that more people might read what I was trying to tell her. While I expressed my doubt about this, I will at least try to pass it along on the Cisnormativity blog.
For those without time to read below the fold: cis people don’t want us to ever transition, no matter the corridor. Cis people stand back and watch as a faceless assailant — the endogenous endocrine system — brutalizes during first puberty the bodies of trans children who never offered consent to permit that violence to ever happen to them. It is a violence whose physical scars stay visible for the rest of their lives (and whose psychic scars remain hidden). Cis people, when they can see them, use those scars to stigmatize trans people. Cis people are complicit in allowing a violent attack to happen when they ignore a trans person’s voiced assertion to transition, especially when they are still a minor. This is why Alex Kaminsky’s heavily publicized narrative is so horrifying to watch in real time. It is akin to idly reporting on a public raping as ordered by a quote-unquote justice system. It is horrifying because it is a trauma (and even barbarism) so many trans people have survived (and so many more have not).
But please, read below the fold. Continue reading
[Ed. note: delivered to Automattic Inc., 8 September 2011]
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Hello Automattic, et al. —
It was brought to our attention that a blog account on your WordPress.com service by the name of “GenderTrender” [http://gende----nder.wordpress.com] has issued what appears to be an exposure list, or “hit list” of select individuals for whom that blog’s administrator is impelling readers to act on a vow of physical contact. The list in question — [linked here] — would, as a plain reading, indicate a call-to-action which could result in the specific harm of the individuals itemized and profiled on that list. Continue reading