Change Your World-NOT your Body

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"The Emperor's New Gender" by Alix Dobkin

A decade old article but speaks to today more than ever...full article here

I hadn't thought about that old story for many years until Elana Dykewomon told me of a similar experience at a reading only weeks ago of San Francisco Jewish Lesbian writers.  When she spoke the name of her new poem (Butch resisting the pressure to change gender) a group of transgendered individuals and their supporters got to their feet and left the theater.  Had they stayed they might have learned what this award winning writer and long time survivor of Lesbian community struggles (since before some of them were born) had to say, proving that closed minds are not limited to anti-Semites.
Experiences such as these and others have prompted this extensive preface to my (next) column on transgender, particularly FTM (female to male).  I am well aware of how volatile an issue it is in our community and how personal it can feel.
Jim Fouratt, long time activist, writer, independent thinker and faery has lately taken quite the trashing for his forthright critique of Genderpac's  "ruthless and aggressive attack in the gay and lesbian community based on gender bias..."  Jim and I agree that, "once again men are defining who and what women are."

"FTM" means women, usually young, who undergo hormone injections, sometimes breast reduction ("top") surgery in their pursuit of "maleness."  Reservations about this procedure, when voiced at all, are frequently answered with hostility and charges of "discrimination," discouraging even further candid exploration of the "transgender" vogue and it's meteoric rise to the top of the "queer" order.

When at the end of a butch/FTM panel I asked how constructed "males" felt about the lifelong commitment to the medical establishment and their utter dependence on doctors and drug companies for their identities, the only response was a noticeable chill in the room.  If I was FTM I wouldn't want to think about that either.

Everywhere at the conference young FTM's defied gender roles and "performed" "masculinities."  But say, isn't  "masculine" a construct preserving male rule?  And isn't being/creating our own individual version of a woman what lesbians have always been about?  So why would a Lesbian embodying infinite female potential ever think she needs to be - or actually could be(a biological impossibility) - a man?  Impatience for male power and privilege combined with monumental lack of faith in the future of women could explain it.  But "woman" is much bigger and expansive than a stunted masculinist vision of female possibility.

Can you conceive a population more exquisitely groomed to "change gender" than the generation informed by deconstructionist Queer Studies?  In the blur of "Gender," represented as little more than a "social construct," injustice might easily be confused with inconvenience.  To girls confronting their powerlessness, scant attention paid to "gender's" political roots and historic consequences leaves "masculinities" looking good, and personal adjustment through technology even better.  Hey, why not jump at the chance to escape "gender distress" - the universal female condition forever afflicting "the second sex"?  How instantly gratifying, how perfectly consumer friendly.  This postmodern all-American quick fix comes complete with academic sanction.

In today's "LGBT" hierarchy the last may indeed be first, but beneath the surface of lock-step acceptance lies an unspoken universe of discomfort.  Doubts and qualms fill the closets of newly silent Lesbians and gay men now afraid of being labeled "bigoted."  Rather than injure feelings or appear oppressive toward a sexual minority, many remain silent, unwilling to deviate "...from the politically correct gender rhetoric (which) subjects one to being called and dismissed as transphobic," as long time gay activist and independent thinker, Jim Fouratt, writes.

Alix Dobkin was on the cusp of whats become a trans trend or as I've heard other lesbians calling ftM now, the Flavor of The Month club. Too bad more lesbians werent listening ten years ago, a lot of lives could have been spared from the butcher's cleaver. Luckily more and more lesbians today are paying attention and are lending our voices to each others and finally having the shear courage to say....NO!


1 comment:

  1. Yes, this IS a fantastic article, and somewhere's I printed it out years ago....and I so agree with to see her at SF Dyke March this year and bought her new book, had her sign it....another truthsayer who won't take to being silenced either! To see her and Phranc, a REAL BUTCH DYKE on stage together was so fantastic, I felt I had FINALLY arrived at Dyke March, after all these years attending! Finally, a Dyke March for DYKES! What a concept!
    -Alixx Rock on!


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