Sunday, September 2, 2007

worn out, money and the double bind

I am getting worn out from thinking about trans stuff so much. It's frustrating: trans folks tend to burn out on activism because doing trans activism specifically means having the same conversations ("Is Michfest REALLY such a big deal?" "What exactly do hormones do?" "Here is some theory I have about what being actively transsexual is like, and that's what my experience is going to be like when I transition, and I want to talk about it a lot but not hearing anybody whose experience contradicts it.") over and over again, to the point that you're just, like, well fuck, I understand being trans well enough to get by for myself; do I really need to keep doing this?

And of course SOMEbody needs to keep doing it. Otherwise we get an internet full of white women who don't understand white privilege making policy decisions for the rest of us, putting up a weird public face for the rest of us, and not understanding why their movement feels oppressive, even to them.

Which is annoying.

But anyway, I've been trying to dip my foot into the great salty lake of 'I'm just a normal lezzie punker girl who gets read as a boy occasionally,' whereas, for the last couple years, I've been (necessarily, I'll admit) living in the 24-7-trans-activist puddle. Which- I don't want to say anything bad. It's just that analyzing trans stuff, reading trueselves (whose name, to begin with, gives you the impression of the dominant perspective, but which still is the least awful internet trans community I've found, outside of livejournal, which I'm not gonna count really because 1. livejournal is blogs and 2. livejournal transfolks are often SUPER SUPER AWFUL), checking the camp trans organizing listserv, and thinking about how I'm being read, all a bahundred times a day, they've become like a compulsion. One I'm exhausted by. I guess compulsions are like that, huh? They exhaust you?

My point is just: if I'm going to be able to keep doing activism, being visible in the community and, y'know, not fade into the wallpaper like folks tend to do, I need to change the way I relate to trans stuff. I'm not sure how, exactly, that looks.

Also, my bank took about five hundred dollars in overdraft fees out of my account. Do I look like the sort of fucker who can afford five hundred dollars in overdraft fees? Nobody tells you that they're charging you a hundred and fifty dollars a day- 27 each time you debit a two-dollar burrito. They just let you keep doing it until days and days later you log into your bank account online at work and wonder, innocently, what the parenthesis around your balance mean, and why the number is hundreds higher than you expected.


Also? Let me tell you something else. You know the argument that trans woman excluders like to make about how trans women internalize male privilege and then can never get rid of it? I have a different problem that I see way, WAY more often, that it feels like nobody ever talks about. What about the thing where, way before she comes out, a trans woman is being read as a guy, and trying to be read as a guy, and everybody's trying to attribute all this male privilege to her- by the goddam buttload- but it feels super gross to her? And she doesn't have the framework to go, 'oh, clearly i need to behave in a manner rooted in general anti-oppression work and therefore flatten, as best I can on my small scale, the privilege hill that I'm on top of,' so instead, she just shrugs it off? Learns to be a wishy-washy milquetoast who doesn't really have opinions about stuff, lets other folks be in charge of where they eat lunch and hang out and what movie they see and whether they go to protests or McDonald's? Because I see that a lot more: trans women who've internalized, deeply and a long time ago, that accepting male privilege feels shitty and so learns to shrug it off ineffectually and like a friggin wuss?

Not to use the word "wuss."

This dovetails nicely into the trans woman's double bind- the one that says, if you're assertive, you are holding onto male energy, and if you're passive, you've internalized problematic social norms about women being passive, emulated them, and continue to oppress other folks with 'em. Which is stupid. How many trans women can't stand up for themselves, like, ever? It's gross.

Anyway, whatever. My point is just, this is what I think about all the time, when I'd be much happier thinking things like Man, I sure like doin' it.


mordacious said...

I keep having to rewrite the first sentence of this comment because it isn't coming out right; I keep comparing trans activism to all kinds of ill formed metaphors. But like- "okay, how many conversations in my life is this going to be?"

Ouish said...

Sometimes I fantisize about being a punk (okay, alternative) rocker, and in one recent fantasy I wrote a song called "Wuss" that was both about how I liked being feminine (turning the pejorative around) and how much I wanted to have/liked having a wuss.

ellie g said...

a while back i started banging on about how everybody should have male privaledge. i mean, male privaledge gets you places, right? so why not bottle it and give it to *every* man, woman and child!

when i said stuff like this people kinda ignored me.

so hearing you on finding sane ground inbetween being trans and not getting, you know, exhausted by it.