Lisa joins us from Questioning Transphobia:

After working through a handful of articles from Questioning Transgender Politics I feel like I’m repeating myself often in responses because they’re repeating themselves often. I feel like I should deconstruct all of the articles there, but I also felt - while working on part 2 of Sex, Lies, etc. yesterday that I was just running over the same ground over and over again.

The problem is just that bigotry isn’t imaginative. It draws from one poisoned well over and over again. It doesn’t matter what the motivations or the history behind discrimination against a particular oppressed group, the language used is always very similar. The paternalism, the condescension, the vicious attacks, they always take the same forms.

Similarly, the denials take the same forms: There’s no such thing as transphobia, or racism ended in the 60s. Sometimes they say you’re just being oversensitive or you won’t earn any sympathy from me with a tone like that. Maybe they’ll offer up a nasty stereotype to dismiss your voice. A favorite by transphobic radical feminists is that trans women are too assertive and take up too much space.

I know I’ve pointed to Nezua’s glosario, especially the wite-magic attax. He also wrote a series of posts* titled The White Lens. These posts explain viewing the world through a lens of white supremacy, but you can describe this in terms of heterosupremacy, cissexual supremacy, class supremacy, ableist supremacy, and so on - and since privileges intersect as much as oppressions do (as well as intersecting with each other), all of these affect how people view each other. As Nezua says,

When I say “White,” I speak of a system of oppression and bias and judgement that is inculcated into our minds from the very first days, and in ways that are amazingly subtle. All the more subtle is a teaching when it is never stated directly, and all the harder to root out.

Many who hold bigoted ideas will say “I’m not opposed to your rights,” or “I’m an ally,” or “I’m not transphobic, transgender people just say that about me because they can’t handle what I have to say.” This is on a few different levels: The basic one is that most people just plain won’t own their own bigotry. They’ll use the wite magic attax to make it your fault. Beyond that, to most people, their own bigotry is invisible to them. Their lenses won’t allow them to see it. Because being oppressive is harmless to them and rarely has consequences, there’s no point for them to even look for it.

What can be frustrating is meeting someone who experiences one form of oppression but will mimic that oppression down to the last pixel when discussing another oppression. When I see this, I want to ask “How can you not see what you’re doing here is exactly what’s been done to you?” but they always have reasons - their own wite-magic attax - as to why the oppression they inflict on you is okay, while the oppression inflicted upon them is an outrage. Donna at The Silence of our Friends discusses this particular issue with regards to white feminists vs. men and women of color vs. white feminists.

An even more frustrating kind of bigotry is when you encounter someone who is part of an oppressed group and agrees with the oppression focused on that group. In a previous post, I discuss a trans woman’s assertion that trans women can never be women. She’s decided to participate in the oppression of trans women for the sake of approval from cis women, and sets out to validate every negative stereotype they hold about trans women in exchange for a pat on the head. She tokenizes herself for conditional acceptance.

But what gets said is always the same dehumanizing, marginalizing, silencing treatment. Black women have had to deal with ungendering in ways similar to trans women - not seen as feminine enough, seen as masculine, loud, and aggressive, for example. People with visible disabilities are interrogated about their medical histories even more aggressively than trans people are about the shape of our genitals. It’s the same insults, over and over and over again. There’s nothing new, nothing interesting, and nothing exciting about this material. The same invalidation, the same appropriation, the same impositions.

The same violence.

So, if I can’t get to a new article to deconstruct every day, I’m just a little burnt out from reading it all. I’m also wondering if my analyses help to counter transphobia and transmisogyny, or of they’re only good for some catharsis.

Anyway, sorry for the short post. I’ll be back to the usual tomorrow. Hopefully I can find something about “butch flight” to tear into. It’d be a minor change of pace, at least.

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