“just your average straight white guy with a cunt”

Posted: January 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

I am enjoying Valentine’s ‘Imagining Transgender’. It is the best text on male gender variance that I have found. He deconstructs transgender identity politics from the space created by Michel Foucault and Judith Butler. It has helped me refine how I feel about the Transexual narrative. This narrative as I see it in Julia Serano’s ‘the Whipping Girl’ says:

1) There are two genders, Male and Female. These are ‘true’ genders. Everyone is ‘really’ one or the other.

2) Some people are assigned the ‘wrong’ gender at birth based upon sex characteristics. This causes psychological pain.

3) SRS (sex reassignment surgery), plastic surgery and hormones can bring can bring a person’s physical sex in alignment with h/er ‘true’ sex.

4) It is a form of violence to not attribute question the truth claim of the chosen gender.

I have embraced an aternate Foucaultian discourse that identity categories like Gender, Sex, Sexuality or Transgender are created through micro-political processes (Latour and ANT for exploration of the mechanisms).

I do not recognize any claims to the truth of a gender. All genders are constructed. From this standpoint I see hormones and SRS as body modifications. That is great. Tattoos piercings and hormones. You have control over your own body. But I consider someone who explores a gender outside the binary to have an equally ‘true’ gender as someone who uses medical technology to take on a ‘classical’ gender.

Valentine the gender activist Riki Wilchins. I think she captures the gist of this post-identity politics view of gender. In her email sig she used to describe herself as “just your average straight white guy with a cunt.”

  1. julian says:

    It’s interesting to hear a similar opinion from a no-ho, no-op genderqueer person. I completely agree with a lot of your opinions on the “truth” of gender. I don’t think there is such a thing as a “true” gender. I also think that any one, trans, genderqueer, etc, who explores gender whether they eventually present a “classical” gender, is “outside the binary.” I personally wish to eventually “present” physically a “classical” gender, but that doesn’t mean that internally I am anything like that. Does that make sense. I fear that I’m rambling. This post got a strong emotional response out of me, both positive and negative, and I seemed to have had a hard time articulating it…

  2. Jasper Gregory says:

    Thanks for your response Julian. I really like your point that any one who explores gender is outside the binary. I am now presenting as more male than a month ago, but it is a queer male gender.
    I feel like the point I am trying to make are very tricky to articulate without hurting feelings. I do not want to privilege third genders over classical genders, but I think that ‘The Whipping Girl’ represents a strain of thinking that privileges “classical” gender-shifts as “real”, partly because of attribution of masculinity and femininity to “T” and estrogen respectively.
    Since I am not even sure I agree there is such a thing as masculinity I disagree.

    I have a hard time articulating this post as well. I keep editing the hell out of my sentences. I would be very interested to hear from others on the subject of this post.

  3. juliandarling says:

    I totally agree– I found the Whipping Girl problematic in many ways, mostly because Serrano tends to devalue the transmale experience, and says very problematic things about transmen in general.

    And totally concur that there is no such thing as masculinity. As I form a male identity I find that masculinity is just a farce. I don’t wish to devalue anyone’s femininity, but when I presented as female, I found femininity unreal as well. I probably had a different experience as well, though.

  4. Jasper Gregory says:

    I did not notice Serano devaluing the transmale experience. It is different when you are the one being referred to. I wonder how many other people feel that Haberstam is constantly devaluing (me) while valorizing female masculinity in a Queer place and Time.
    I think Serano is really pushing MTF identity politics which are entangled with the problematic concept of “real woman.” In her frame transmen should embrace the “real man” identity and stop going to women’s spaces.
    I think it is an example of how identity/recognition politics are self defeating.

  5. […] wardrobe has made some pretty controversial things about gender and transwomen. From “just your average straight white guy with a cunt“: “I do not recognize any claims to the truth of a gender. All genders are constructed. […]

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