Now that Monica’s finished this series I can finally link the whole thing. This Tumblr post is a link to the last part but the whole series is a must-read. Here are the links to every part with a quotation from each, not meant to be representative of the part but to pique your interest so you read it at the source.
Please put aside some time and energy to read this series. Trans* readers, please be aware that these contain all the usual things that can trigger us.
How Gatekeepers Made Me Hate My Body: Part 1
Trans women are given two options: we are either the mute eunuch, “approximating the appearance of a woman” (as Benjamin said), or we are the supposed pervert or rapist who must be denied access to either medical treatment or social accommodation. Given such little leeway, and the deep stigma ascribed to each of these two options, trans women so often end up very reluctantly going along with the “less frightening” of the two. We become the compulsory eunuch in spite of however uncomfortable it might make us. Both options are non-choices for which the table is stripped by cis people of any other possibilities of what a trans woman could be — or is allowed to be.
How Queer Women Made Me Hate My Body: Part 2
I wasn’t chased away from the community — not directly. I wasn’t directly told I should be disgusted with myself, or that I’d never find a partner who could love me. I was never told directly that a ‘freak’ like me didn’t deserve love. Instead, all the messages added up to an established story — a canon. Once I realized that it wasn’t that we were “threatening” gender or sex as systems; once I realized that it wasn’t that I was transsexual; and once I realized that it was the fact that I was a trans woman, that was when I knew that I wasn’t welcome anywhere.
How Invisibility Made Me Hate My Body: Part 3
Without the capability to interact with queer women’s culture (and without the capability to learn how queer women’s culture differs from straight women’s culture), I had little in common with those who inhabit this culture. This, of course, compounded into a feedback loop: the less I had in common, then the less I could interact, and the less I could interact, then the less I’d have in common moving forward. The truth is, cultural isolation can be painful, especially as it leads to having others interpret you as something or someone you are not — regardless of who you are. In this case, it led to me being read exclusively as a straight woman for years.
How A Second Try Made Me Hate My Body: Part 4
In this context trans women are presented with another impossible scenario in which we are given another reinforcement to the benefits of not only blending as cis, but the double standards and social enforcement against those who do not (by disclosure, ‘visible’ gender variance, or other means). Upon disclosure, either voluntarily or involuntarily through visible variance or other means, a trans woman is paradoxically held to the social rules and standards of both the binary sexes. She is instructed, implicitly, to navigate as a man would, as other women might view her as a potential threat. While at the same time, if she makes these behavioral adjustments, they are judged as signs of her clear ‘maleness’ and her own agreement with these guidelines and the assumptions used to make them.
All of her actions — often due to the observers prior sexual interest pre-disclosure — are suspect, regardless of the reason for them, as evidence of the assertion she’s put in the position of being automatically placed in the position of ‘threat’, or as the perceived perverted rapist rather than the docile and non-threatening eunuch we expect trans women to be. And as such, queer trans women especially are treated as if we have a disease.
My skin was and is treated as toxic, as if the original sin of male assignment is contagious. One of the strangest feelings of all is how all of my sexuality, beauty, character, and uniqueness is stripped away from me all within a few moments. All my mannerisms, communications, and social interactions are judged by a catch-22 of either being a façade or “socialization” without regard to the reality of my personal experience. All of my sexuality is stripped away from me as if I’m no longer a queer woman.
How We All Made Me Hate My Body: Part 5
… I’d argue, that instead we focus on the 4 specific issues that make up the issue brought to light by the conversation:
The Eunuch/Rapist false choice as it applies internally and as an external force applied coercively
Transmisogynistic Sexual Disgust which when externalized by those who experience it results in an enforcement of that disgust on others, society, and standards of beauty. When enforced onto trans women in particular, it becomes an insistence that trans women should feel shame for creating this disgust in others or for being an object of disgust by society. This shame then has a reinforcing impact on trans women and our sexuality
“Aesthetic Brutality” as an aggressive enforcement of ethnocentric, cisnormative and heteronormative/homonormative beauty standards. This results in the us being told to be ashamed or dislike our bodies, not because of others disgust, but because of our bodies non-conformity to their expectations. This applies to genitals, gender presentation, and non-cisnormative features, among other things. While similar to Transmisogynistic Sexual Disgust this is often a result of social pressure and context, while the former is a far more visceral or “gut” reaction.
And cissexism, just plain old cissexism and ignorance which has the interpretation of presuming that trans women are not truly women. That, often due to the eunuch/rapist problem, presumes trans women are, in fact, neutered/lesser men. Ignoring the fact that this plays into sexism with the idea of women just being lesser men as well, this creates a stigma that enforces social discomfort with our sexuality in a much greater way than others.
Thank you, Monica, for writing this.