Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nuts and Bolts: Now Ending Transmisogyny From a New Location

In case it isn't blatantly obvious, Nuts and Bolts has now moved to wordpress. The URL is almost unchanged: just replace the ".blogspot." with ".wordpress." and all that. This will give me access to new features I didn't have on the blogger blog, and is just easier for me as I no longer have to maintain two gmail accounts.
If I was on your blogroll at another place, please make sure to adjust it to the wordpress site.
link to old blogger: nutsandboltsoftrans.blogspot.com
link to new Wordpress: http://nutsandboltsoftrans.wordpress.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Comments: Now less impossible!

I just realized that my comments were open only to registered users, which I didn't mean to do. This should now be fixed...

A Feminist Argument for Clothing-Optional Society

I unfucking hate clothing. It's the most restrictive, oppressive thing in the world--the fact that I'm forced into these tubes of wool, cotton, or whatever, bothers me to no end. The reason I'm talking about this here on Nuts and Bolts is twofold; clothing which is designed for ladies is invariably more restrictive, form-fitting, and body-policing than that which is designed for menfolk, and clothing for both sexes is designed with cis people in mind. Add these together, and we come to the realization that I'd probably feel a lot better about clothing if lady clothing wasn't designed to make me unhappy about my broad shoulders, my exterior genitalia, and my still-kinda-awkward midsection.

But what about other people? Isn't birthday suit the kind of attire you tend to wear in groups, like black tie? Shouldn't we be concerned about our naked bodies making other people uncomfortable? No, my delicious little readers, this is not how feminism works. The combined factors of not being able to properly draw the line, the right to bodily autonomy, and the fact that nudity is a decision made about yourself, make this so.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Adventures in Kyriarchy: Women-only Spaces Exclude More than Just Transladies

So, I've swung the holy hammer of feminism around a few times on Nuts and Bolts now. I ended up focusing a lot more on horizontal oppression/kyriarchy than people expected me to, which is partially because it isn't so much the white, able, Christian, straight, cissexual, cisgender, middle-class men that scare me, or even the people that are only one step away from that. In fact, the people one step away from that, have actually tended to be some of the most understanding and liberationist folk in my life--a particular friend of mine, who I will nickname C to avoid calling him out, breaks only the "able" part of that paradigm and yet is easily the cis ally whom I expect to make the most difference in life. The true Kyriarchs, though, rare as they are, usually are still jerks, but like I said, rare. The realization of how much people at or near the top of the pyramid really don't scare me can be credited to this Womanist Musings post.

My favorite feminist writer, Audre Lorde, is probably best known for the act, in literary form, of standing up and shouting to feminists to stop being jerks about race and orientation. To this day, while feminism has associated quite nicely with the lesbian movement (to the point where the lesbian-feminist movement developed some problems of its own with regards to trans ladies, ladies of color, kinky ladies, and sex worker ladies), feminism still struggles with the issue of race. Trans women of the feminist variety are no exception to this (yes, we're slightly better about it, but that's not good enough). To this end, I would like to swing the holy hammer of feminism at you, my trans-liberation-supporting readers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Language Matters: Building a Liberation Movement that Doesn't Hurt

Language is really interesting. Through such quotes as "the pen is mightier than the sword," famous humans have long insisted that language is far more powerful than any other capability humans possess. That's still true today. Words can end a conflict that guns and bombs never could. Even when the Americans committed nuclear-powered atrocities on Japanese cities, it was words, not bullets, that negotiated to end the war. It is clear to myself, and to other pacifists, that there is little which can be accomplished by the fist that cannot be accomplished by the tongue (I can think of one thing, but it has very little to do with fighting).

Feminists, and other liberationists, could learn a lot from pacifists, and pacifists could learn a lot from their own philosophy. As Asher Bauer suggested in his piece on microaggressions (which can be found in the sidebar blogroll), more violence is done to oppressed folk by the words of privileged people, than by the bodies of privileged people. For every trans woman murdered by a cis man enraged because the woman he was attracted to had a slight anatomical difference than what he expected, more will take their own lives rather than face the violence that the speech of others inflicts upon them.

Yes, that's right. I am asserting that your words do more damage to me, and my sisters, than your or anyone else's fists ever will. The "Injustice at Every Turn" survey recently concluded that 41% of transgender people have made an attempt on their own lives. Another survey conducted much earlier suggested that a very similar percentage (40%), of which I am a member, will actually do so before the age of 20. All of these factors must be considered without the inclusion of the many silent ones who died before they could tell the world who they were. We don't know how many trans people will succeed in killing themselves, because we don't know how many lie buried with the wrong names on their tombstones, the wrong pronouns in their eulogies, the terrible despair in their final moments. I know many people whose decision to transition literally took place with a gun in their mouths. That 41% can only possibly mean those of us who tried and failed.

We need to stop this. Trans people have historically been marked, as a demographic, by our relative scarcity. It probably doesn't help that many of us are gone without ever having been counted among our sisters and brothers. Suicide is a response to an intolerable world, an act which shows unacceptable abuse beforehand, and is an unacceptable outcome of life to anybody interested in human rights. 

I would not go so far as to propose that the sole cause of trans suicide is cis-centric feminist discourse. Ciscentric feminism either makes me view the writer with disappointment, if zie is simply not watching hir words, or contempt, if zie is a "WBW-only," "radical" ignoramus. However, even I need a discourse I can retreat into when the patriarchal world, which is less gentle than the careless third-waver, and less irrelevant than the ignorant second-waver. It is not ciscentric feminism which causes my oppression by words, but rather, it is ciscentric feminism which keeps me from finding sanctuary.

Next time you think about making some clever statement about genitals, or talking about trans women, or equating "women" with "people who have vaginas/uteruses/ovaries," or defining "lesbian" as "person who noms vaginas," think a little harder. You might just save somebody's life, if you think harder often enough.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tales of a Trans Girlhood #1: Crystal Clear

I'd like to start a series of posts about trans girlhood, which hopefully will bring some slightly lighter (but still radically founded) content to Nuts and Bolts. My aim is to challenge ciscentric definitions of childhood and of gender, and to show why it is not merely enough to settle for an ex post facto lip service to trans existence and experience, but that we must understand the root flaws in a culture which assigns an identity at birth and subsequently programs those identities for its own purposes.


Like many young folks of my generation, I was hit by the Pokemon craze. My first exposure to it was way back when it first struck America, at first with the trading card game. This was easily the first true social activity I had become interested in, as until then I had been an introverted girl more interested in video games, something that had initially arisen when my first friend, Lucy, was separated from me--my acting out in an an attempt to be the boy I was expected to be, had gotten me taken out of the school we went to and put into a private education. When my next friend, Miranda, was taken out of my school because of an argument between parents, I retreated entirely into the video game world, my only social life being the occasional video games with a friend named Jon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Being gay: Not just for people with matching 'nads anymore

Today, we're going to talk about how being gay no longer means having genitals that look like your partner's. In reality, there have been gay couples with non-matching genitals for at least 40 years, but we'll save that for "transpeople aren't new and you owe us for Stonewall, dammit." This is probably going to be the first of many posts I'm going to make that's written with the intent to target a specific minority of my audience, which is to say that this will make a lot more sense if you've actually been in the situations it talks about.

(Note: for the purposes of this article, post-op trans women may consider themselves to fill either the cis or trans roles in the relationship, as there are compelling reasons to choose either which are more properly discussed by an actual post-op trans woman)

A person who I have come to call my girlfriend says this about it: "The way you can be attracted to a person's gender is not distinctly tied to a person's gonads...trans ladies are ladies too and I like ladies...ladies == ladies. Therefore, I can like trans ladies. Sadly, that's not the way all people feel, but that's the way I feel about it." Basically, the existence of trans people, or more importantly, the existence of a discourse which is inclusive to trans people, has resulted in lesbian relationships wherein the genitals of one partner do not match those of the other, being commonplace (The same is of course true about gay male relationships, but since my project here is to create a respectful discourse focused on trans women, I'm going to center this on woman/woman relationships). When you recognize attraction to people as ultimately being based on characteristics you can see (presented gender, gendered facial features and body shape), rather than the parts commonly assumed to assign the values of those seen characteristics (which are hidden in the little 'nads compartment until you've already been attracted to them enough to make them want to show you), then this is a possibility you may need to consider.