— Whipping Girl, Julia Serano
Those who think this conversation, as it comes from trans women, is problematic often frame it within the terms of “shaming” those who wouldn’t sleep with trans* women either just as a result of their bigotry, or as a means to coercion.
Now, I’ve already unpacked how ridiculous most of this is re:shaming or coercion, or that it’s even related to individual sex acts or individuals flirting or any of that. You can read my previous posts. I’m very through.
Anyway, I want to address specifically the idea of “shaming” a cis person by calling them bigoted (always THEIR word, not ours) or transphobic (almost always their word, never mine) or cissexist (my word) or transmisogynistic (definately our word)… That calling a cis person any of these things is sufficient to resulting in a changed behaviour, social ostracization, or any sort of consequences. That there is a sufficent aversion, within the queer community, to being cissexist, transphobic, transmisogynistic, etc.; That it is so bad, that if you are revealed to be one of these things you will be blackballed.
But no, it’s ridiculous. Sorry, there is NO power in those words against cis people. If there was, then we wouldn’t be having the conversation about the larger issues of the culture of shame, disgust, and toxicity to us, our lover and our potential lovers. We wouldn’t be having the conversation about how our bodies are universally disgusting among nearly ALL demographics. We wouldn’t be discussing that even within queer women’s communities we’re still a punchline, that we’re still shameful…
So what I’m saying, is that not only is the argument ridiculous on it’s face because NO ONE is suggesting a trans woman carry around pamphlets on the “cotton ceiling” to hand out to anyone who turns down her advances (and by the way, in these conversations is anyone a bit alarmed at the way it’s always framed as the trans woman as the initiator of all this? Is it anyone else’s experience that I’m usually the one that’s hit on by someone, before I disclose to them and they then release upon me their cissexist tripe? But that might be something for another post…) It’s not only ridiculous on it’s face because we’re not talking about individuals, or individual desire. It’s not only ridiculous on it’s face because you are telling me about how YOU are or aren’t interested in trans women (guess what, no one asked you, and we don’t really care… It reminds me that the first that that ANY guy says in a conversation about body policing/fat shaming/skinny shaming is what HE thinks is attractive. Because we weren’t asking him specifically, we weren’t taking a poll… It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s something that bugs me, that these things always just turn into a poll of who is or isn’t interested or who does or doesn’t include trans women as potential partners…)
But it’s also ridiculous because of the absurd notion that someone being labelled as “not being attracted to trans women” or “cissexist” or “transphobic” would actually be something that the larger queer women’s community would care about. Because if that was our actual plan? to somehow coerce people due to a campaign of shame? That would be the worst plan in the world, because it just plain wouldn’t work. Because if it worked, we wouldn’t need to do it.
[TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, violent threats, sexual aggression, degendering, and objectification]
[Note: While I was writing this piece I got a phone call from a semi-distant male acquaintance (a former associate of a sibling) who is aware of my trans* status for one reason or another. At any rate, the phone call started out fairly benign until it turned into the sort of high pressure conversation that happens when a man is trying to pressure a woman into sex. Lots of questions, asking for details they don’t deserve, etc. And once it got to the point where it seemed like I was likely to get off the phone, since I was juust about to head to bed (read:I was getting the threatening/high pressure sex vibe from him), he dropped the bomb of “I want you to cum inside me” upon which an appalled and shocked me shouted “I’m hanging up now.” And of course my phone is pretty loud so in the 5 seconds it took me to move the phone away from my face and hit “end” I heard the foulest, filthiest, and most threatening shit I’ve ever heard in my life. Oh wait, not it wasn’t it was par for the fucking course all the while he degendered me. But it was pretty terrifying and awful. It’s always unsettling to hear someone’s threat screaming threat of rape and perhaps assault after they’ve been turned down, even if they have little ability to act it out.
Why do I mention this? Because this kind of thing? THIS is what you’re fucking comparing the “cotton ceiling” conversation to. When you do that, you’re erasing the fact that I’ve had conversations like the one I just had end way worse than me getting to hang up on someone. When you do that, you’re making light of the fact that we actually are fucking victims. To compare the desire to have a larger conversation on the CULTURE of shame disgust and toxicity in the queer women’s community to things like what I just fucking experienced? I don’t know, I just think that you’d feel some guilt over that…]