Tag Archives: transwoman

REWARDS WHERE DUE

Sabrina Pandora

So here of late transwomen have taken a bit of a beating in the news, it seems.  There was the SNL “Estro-Maxx” skit which featured bearded guys in dresses mocking the hormone treatment of transsexuals.  Hey, lookie there, what a surprise, here we are again- the punchline of a joke.  Ha ha,  Look at the funny bearded men in dresses growing breasts.  They aren’t making much of an effort, just growing boobs and wearing dresses, and it’s funny because that’s what MtF transsexuals are, see?.  It am funny, am it not?

Yeah.  Belittling the struggle of transsexuals is super funny, so long as you view them as something other than, yannow, human.  I know.  We’re oversensitive and need to grow a sense of humor.  Here, have a laugh on me.

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/estro-maxx/1279560/

Again, I have to point out… if it was a commercial about taking a drug to make black people become more white, would it still be funny?  Watching them wearing hip hop clothes with perhaps some awful plaid Bermuda shorts and white knee socks?

So then we move on to The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  Craig loves the gays.  Craig is sensitive to the gays and their plight.  So that’s why we get his “half-sister” played by a bearded hairy man in a skirt named “Peg”.  We get jokes about his naughty bits being on display while he sits there in a skirt with his legs open, he gets called a “he-she”, and it’s all oh so funny, isn’t it?  So long as being a transsexual is a joke, then you betcha.  It’s freaking hilarious.  Here, look for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1J1TDKptQs

Oh yeah, that was a barrel of laughs right there.  But is it really a serious problem?  To answer this, I think that Meghan Stabler, a member of the board of directors of the HRC of all places managed to sum it up best.

“We should all be shocked and appalled with what was coming out in the
current narrative of comedy. The lives of gay and lesbian people are
being woven into the fabric of TV shows such as GLEE and Modern
Family. Even though we have a long way to go before full rights are
afforded to us, we can still be shown as equals to our peers. Comedy’s
ability to mock that part of our community has significantly lessened,
but has it done so at the risk of emphasizing the focus on the
transgender community?

I think it has, and it needs to stop.

To many of us who have journeyed along the deeply emotional and
stressful path to transition our gender, the parody and acting
portraits were utterly offensive. Hidden behind and along that journey
is significant stress, deep emotion, extreme risk and even worse —
suicide or homicide.

To live our lives authentically takes deep courage mirrored with the
real fears and deep-rooted societal prejudices that all too often
manifest themselves as workplace bigotry, un- and under-employment,
loss of family and friends, and most unfortunately, harassment and
homicides.

Some will likely argue that the portrayal was humorous, a joke, but in
true comedy there is always a punchline. Unfortunately for this one,
and for us, there was no punchline, unless you regard transition as a
joke and therefore transgender people as a human punchline. In doing
so, the comic must also understand that in conveying it as humorous
comes the risk that sometimes transgender people will be the punching
bag.”

But then we get to the Living Social Super Bowl commercial.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33jb2Ns7yaQ

Now, at first, I wanted to sigh and call it yet another cheap shot at our expense.

But then I started looking at it and considering it.

The big burly lumberjack starts getting great deals.  They open his horizons.  He moves fluidly from one experience to the next, exploring life and tasting the sweetness of it until finally we see him as a transwoman, elegant, well-dressed, hair done up nicely, makeup just right for the occasion.  She appears to be happy, confident and in control of her life.  She comments that Living Social helped her blossom, and changed her life.  And it could change yours too.

There is no mean, harsh jab here.  There is no belittlement, no human punchline.  There is no lack of a joke if you are trans.  Only a montage of the journey of one man to discover all that life has to offer and exploring what he wants from it and who he wants to be… and eventually finding herself.  It is a transwoman being shown with dignity… yes, with some humor, but it is still better treatment of the condition than I think I’ve seen in a very long time.

We are quick to come to the forefront and say when we are angry.  When we see oppression, we jump to the defense, because people need to understand that it is wrong, and that we will not sit quietly and be mocked.  We are human beings and deserve respect.  Yes, we are quick to fight, because it is still so much a part of who we are, and who we must be in a world where we have so few rights and we are fifth class citizens.

But let us not be so confrontational as to forget to take the time to thank those who see that struggle and turn a kind and even eye to it for us.  To those who might show us in a kinder and nobler light.  To those who may see us not as a joke, but instead as brave and courageous explorers of the human experience.  When someone takes the time to show us in such a light, let us take that same time that we would to vociferously defend ourselves, and instead thank those who see us as people.

So thank you, Living Social.  Thank you for painting us in a positive light.  Thank you for not making us a punchline in an unfunny joke.

Thank you for seeing and portraying us as human beings.

Written by TQ Nation Contributor:
Sabrina Pandora

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment, Spout Out, Support

Macho Men & The Femme Factor

Sabrina Pandora

I’ve noticed that there seems to be a bit of a division in the trans community, such as it were.  I thought I’d take today to comment on it.

Y’see, there are certain inequalities that exist in the trans community.  Well, let’s be honest, there are a lot of them, but today we’re going to examine one so that I can move on to my point.  And that inequality is in passing.

Between transmen and transwomen there is a very, very clear division on this, and it has been pretty accepted, so I don’t feel as though I am overstepping my bounds in making this observation.  Transmen have an easier time of it when it comes to passing than transwomen, at least on casual inspection.  After all, a short haircut, men’s clothes, a binder and a little bit of swagger can go a long ways.  Add a little facial hair to that equation and very few people really question what’s under there.  They are far more likely to jump to the conclusion ‘gay man’ then they are ‘trans man’.

But for transwomen it is usually a whole lot harder.  Trying to dress up a Y chromosome in a pretty package and make it look X so that society won’t freak out, discriminate and laugh at you is a whole lot harder.  This is arguable, but again, I’m pretty sure that I’m on target here.

So with that logical assumption made, we move on to my next observation, which is segregation between the gender fences in the trans community.  How often do you see transmen and transwomen hanging out together?  Seems pretty seldom.  Transwomen and transmen flock together all right (so long as the trans women are all either unpassable or uncaring- but that’s a column for another time).  But the intermingling just doesn’t seem to happen.  Now why is that?

Observation has told me that it is the Passing Prejudice.  The rule that says that if you are trans and you spend time with someone who does not pass well enough, then you are instead making yourself suspect as well and bringing down your own passability.  Now, mind you, this rule also applies to straights who hang out with non-passable transfolk, but somehow it usually doesn’t bother them as much.  Go figure.

Because as mentioned earlier, transmen often pass reasonably easily, whereas transwomen do not.  So in order to keep themselves from being ‘read’, they avoid their opposite numbers when they can, and certainly don’t make a habit of socializing with them.  Besides, there is that not-so-vague and not-so-quiet notion that has been circulated that transmen somehow view their sisters in transition as somehow idiotic and ridiculous.  As they are working so hard to distance themselves from stereotypically feminine behavior, habits and lifestyle, transwomen are often rushing headlong to embrace it, some at a breakneck pace.  It just makes no sense to many transmen, and much like so many activists look at the overblown drag queens on floats in parades and shake their heads that these are their representatives to the community and how they are viewed by the world at large, so too do the transmen look at the 50 year old transwoman in the too-short vinyl skirt and six inch heels and fishnet top and bra with a bedraggled wig and sigh.

But there’s something that they are missing out on, and I think that it is important enough to mention and shed a little light upon.

You see, transwomen are a huge resource for transmen that are being largely ignored.  Yes, they do tend to have their idiosyncrasies and they do have their moments, but there is a simple fact that most transmen seem to overlook when considering them.  You see, transmen, particularly when they are first starting out, do not usually have an understanding of the nuances of masculine society.  They do not understand the subtle body language, the power of a nod up or down when passing another man, the difference in the way that a self-confident man walks versus an angry man or an effeminate man.

Sure, we can argue all day about the definitions of masculinity and how it is up to the individual to define that for themselves.  You betcha, that is quite true.  But the reality of the situation is that while society has some pretty preset and concrete ideas of what is femininity, it has even stronger ideas about masculinity.  And they are very simple, very basic and very, very concrete.

And transwomen know them better than anyone else in the world.

Why?  Because they did not come naturally to them… they had to learn to emulate those masculine behaviors and adhere to those masculine codes in order to learn to survive in the society that they never chose, but was thrust upon them.  Crossing your legs the right way, keeping those hand gestures tight and firm, portraying the acceptable emotional states… all of these things and so many more are all something that transwomen had to learn, because for so many of them, it did not come naturally.  They had to ape the men around them, and often through ridicule and hazing did they find what was acceptable.

So when they encounter transmen, here is a golden opportunity.  Any transwoman who had to unlearn behaviors and body language could potentially make a fantastic tutor for transmen who are trying to hone their own masculine behaviors.  Just as walking in heels takes practice and comes with a learning curve, so too does walking in sneakers as a guy, or cowboy boots.  Women walk with their elbows in, one of the keys of feminine body language, whereas men bow their elbows out to take up more space and appear larger.  Women run their fingers through their hair one way, men do it another.  Seldom will you see a woman rubbing the scruff of her chin while thinking, whereas men seldom play with their lower lip when in thought.

All of these subtle nuances that could be transferred… lost.  And I imagine that there is some teaching to go in the other direction too, but on that I can’t speak… after all, I know a few transmen in passing, but I can’t say that I am close friends with a single one.  Why?  Because I am a transwoman.  I am high femme, and I’ve yet to meet a transman who thought I had a single solitary thing to offer him, forget about actually befriending me and spending time around me.  And apparently in this I am not alone, as I poll other transwomen that I know, and find that while we know others of our own estrogen-fueled tribe, the testosterone tribe is unknown to us all.

So here’s the call to our brothers in transition… in many cases, we’re here, we know, and we can be an invaluable resource for you if you can get over stubborn pride and seek us out.  We spent years pretending to be men, so we know a bit about the subject of outward shows of masculinity.  Perhaps we might be able to help you become the man that you want to be… and perhaps you might be able to steer us away from floral prints and leather miniskirts.

 

Written by Sabrina Pandora

TQ Nation contributor

5 Comments

Filed under Spout Out, Support