|||| 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.
[Ed. note: This is the opening instalment of a five-part narrative. Subsequent instalments to come. Monica is preparing this narrative as part of a forthcoming book on her life experiences.]
|||| Monica Maldonado
[WARNING: References to rape, physical violence, clinical gatekeeping, and transphobia.]
Personal note: I’ve chosen to tell this story to confront a larger phenomenon — the wholesale exclusion, isolation, desexualization, and near-universal disgust directed at trans women — strictly and specifically through my individual lens. I chose this not because I felt I couldn’t discuss this in more abstract and universal terms, but because I think in this case it’s actually beneficial and it adds to the conversation a narrative context which I feel is often missing. As a result, this narrative is a bit more involved than usual. Rather than continuing to allow cis people to frame this discussion on their terms and making it about them and their sex, it’s time we told our own stories because this has never really been about cis people.
|||| Erica Inchoate
There is this cultural myth amongst trans people, especially amongst trans women, that we are supposed to transition and then move on and have no contact with the quote-unquote “trans community” ever again.
This is a pretty harmful myth, not only because it venerates the traditional doctrine that we must be separated from each other, but also because it prevents safe access to medical care as much as it keeps us from being able to organize and agitate for our rights, inclusion, and dignity. It forces us to deny our trans identities as a precondition for being allowed to keep living. It also puts us in precarious positions where isolation — for many, our only option — can similarly become hazardous for our physical and mental health.
[Ed. note: We are delighted to welcome Monica Maldonado to our crack team of contributors here at Cisnormativity! This is also her debut essay as a trans activist.]
|||| Monica Maldonado
Sitting back and watching the last several months has been an incredible journey.
Frustrating examples of discrimination, oppression, transmisogyny, and transphobia have littered the news cycle more than in previous years. While much of this is simply increased news and social media exposure of trans* issues in the last year (many of these events have been occurring for years), much of it is also backlash against a rise in political awareness of the trans community and social justice workers.
Beyond the backlash, there also has been an awareness which has allowed CAMAB women and GQ people especially to begin standing up in the face of the intersectional oppressions we face. That awareness has been turning a corner, and in just the last few months it feels like the clouds are parting and we can begin seeing the light peek through.
From my perspective, it feels like the time to fight is now. Now more than ever, we have a chance to not only change the world to make our generation’s lives better, but also for the next and the next.
|||| Patience Newbury
The great revelation of 2011: not every child is cisgender, and not every child has a cissexual body.
Stop the presses. Or something.
It should be qualified somewhat: this was the biggest revelation of 2011 to a cisnormative audience and to cis people individually. For trans people who have (with gruelling patience) watched all of this cis fascination over trans children suddenly entering the cisnormative consciousness, one superlative of all superlatives emerged: this was the biggest non-story of our trans lives.
As trans people, we’ve been shrewdly aware of this knowledge for generations. For many, that knowledge is pretty clear throughout our entire conscious lives. For others, it lingers, nudges, and prods in the background until something — a particular event or an epiphany — forces us to confront and affirm it.