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“When Women Become Men at Wellesley” stinks.

“When Women Become Men at Wellesley” stinks. published on No Comments on “When Women Become Men at Wellesley” stinks.

Yet again, the New York Times writes about trans male students at women’s colleges like Wellesley. And yet again the article reeks of false attempts at even-handedness that really demonstrate the paper’s absolute cluelessness about writing about trans people.

The headline alone has problems. God forbid the NYT just title the article something straightforward like "Controversy over Trans Male Students at Women’s Colleges." Nope, instead they resort to Ye Olde Binarie Termes that sensationalize the lives of the trans male students as strange voyages across gender and, incidentally, reinforce the supposed male/female dichotomy by not even using the adjective "trans" to describe the students.

As I read the article, in which many present and past students, as well as faculty, decried the presence of trans male students on campus as a detriment to "sisterhood," I got the sense that the NYT sympathized with them. For example, a [cis male] professor, commenting on being asked to make his examples and pronouns more inclusive, is quoted as saying, "“All my life here, … I’ve been compelled to use the female pronoun more generously to get away from the sexist ‘he.’ I think it’s important to evoke the idea that women are part of humanity." Like many antitrans people cited in the story, he perceives equality and respect as a zero-sum game in which he cannot respect trans male students by using inclusive language because that would somehow diminish the "humanity" of the cis female students. The article itself supports this incredulous, contemptuous point of view when it claims that trans students receive "disproportionate attention" on campus. Darn minorities — how dare they agitate for equal rights? They should shut up and go away.

The NYT literally has no clue about how to write about trans people, and it even admits this. The article itself closes by saying, "…[I]t’s difficult to distinguish in the cacophony each of the words shouted atop one another. What is clear is that whatever word each person is hollering is immensely significant as a proclamation of existence, even if it’s hard to make out what anyone else is saying." Despite the acknowledgment that "a proclamation of existence" should be respected, the comparison of this controversy to an unintelligible "cacophony" reminds me of the scornful ways in which U.S. citizens refer to speakers of foreign languages. When one of the most respected and influential news publications in the country basically goes, "What you’re saying is too complicated so LAH LAH LAH I CAN’T HEAR YOOOOOU!!!" we clearly have a problem, and it’s not the "trans question." It’s the "cis question," as in, "Why don’t cis people think of trans people as fellow human beings worthy of dignity and respect?"

P.S. The controversy over trans male students at women’s colleges becomes more problematic when one realizes that trans female students do not figure into this uproar at all. The people interviewed seem ardently convinced that there are no trans woman whatsoever on their campuses. I suspect, however, that they do exist, but they are probably keeping their heads down in fear of being hit by collateral damage from the arguments about the presence of trans male students. The rather disingenuous and transmisogynist erasure of trans female students makes me wonder if the cis resistance here comes largely from reactionary, unexamined transphobia.

This entry was originally posted at http://modernwizard.dreamwidth.org/1693818.html. You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

Cards Against Humanity and the insidious trap of hipster prejudice

Cards Against Humanity and the insidious trap of hipster prejudice published on 1 Comment on Cards Against Humanity and the insidious trap of hipster prejudice

For those of you not up on the latest hip party game for people in their 20s and 30s, let me introduce you to Cards Against Humanity. Essentially a group form of multiple choice Mad Libs, this game features a bunch of black cards, which contain sentences with key nouns left out, and a bunch of white cards, which contain nouns or noun phrases. Each player draws a hand of 10 white cards, and then everyone gets a chance to read a black card aloud. After a card is read, players choose from their hand the white card that they think best completes the sentence. These cards are distributed to the reader anonymously. The reader reads the selections aloud and selects the one they like best. The player whose white card is chosen wins the black card. All players draw another white card to keep their hand up to 10, and the role of reading black cards passes to the next player.

In concept, Cards Against Humanity is the sort of game I love. There’s no competition and no real winning or losing. The game emphasizes creativity and amusement instead of points and strategy. It’s the type of game that grows exponentially more hilarious with more and more players, and it sparks very interesting side conversations when people ask or joke about each other’s choices.

In practice, however, I find Cards Against Humanity very problematic in terms of content and framing. The black cards, with their framing sentences, feature mostly topical references familiar to people in their 20s and 30s. Examples include: "What does Prince insist on being included in his dressing room?" and "What does Obama do to unwind?" Fine, no big deal.

It’s the white noun cards, though, that drive me up the wall. If they contained only generically amusing phrases such as "murder most foul," "inappropriate yodeling" and "licking things to claim them as your own," I wouldn’t object. But no, those cards are a distinct minority. The white cards focus heavily on topics apparently considered taboo or difficult to discuss by the white, straight, cis, male, bourgeois creator, including people of color ["brown people," "the hard-working Mexican"], people with disabilities ["amputees," "Stephen Hawking talking dirty," "a robust Mongoloid," "a spastic nerd," "the profoundly handicapped"], queer people ["the gays," "praying the gay away"], fat people ["feeding Rosie O’Donnell," "the morbidly obese," "home video of Oprah sobbing into a Lean Cuisine"], gender-nonconforming people ["passable transvestites"], genocide ["inappropriately timed Holocaust jokes," "helplessly giggling at the mention of Hutus and Tutsis"], Muslims ["Allah [praise be unto him!]," "72 virgins"], poor people ["poor people," "homeless people"], old people ["Grandma," "hospice care"], child abuse ["child abuse"], rape ["surprise sex"], paraphilias ["German dungeon porn"] and crap ["fiery poops"]. I could go on, but then I’d be quoting the entire suite of white cards.

Cards Against Humanity glancingly acknowledges the problematic structure of its game by billing its audience as "horrible people." "It’s as despicable and awkward as you and your friends," crows the main page of the game’s Web site. Of course, below this description are various cool publications and people praising the game, so clearly the game’s creators see being "despicable and awkward" as a coveted, desirable status. They quote condemnations from the Chicago Tribune ["absurd"], The Economist ["unforgivable"] and NPR ["bad"] in contrast with praise from INC ["hilarious"] and Boing Boing ["funny"]. Thus they associate criticism with old-fashioned, conservative, humorless media outlets full of old people and appreciation with the young, hip, cool crowd. To be "despicable and awkward," then, is ultimately to be cool. 

What does Cards Against Humanity’s concept of coolness — that is, their idea of rebranded despicability qua awesomeness — entail? Basically it means laughing at anyone who’s not a straight, white, cis, bourgeois, hipster dude [like the creator]. Don’t try to tell me that, because the game has white cards like "white privilege," it actually critiques those who are discomfited by the concept. No, it doesn’t, not when the majority of cards make marginalized people who lack privilege into punchline after punchline after punchline.

If you’re still not convinced, let me break it down to you with a single example: the white card that has the phrase "passable transvestites." There is so much wrong with this card that it’s hard to know where to start. Well, to begin with, clearly someone thought this phrase worthy of inclusion into the deck of white cards, meaning that someone perceived it as shocking, racy, funny and potentially ridiculous. So what’s shocking, racy and entertaining about "passable transvestites?" Yeah, a gender nonconforming person who goes out in public en femme so that they avoid being clocked always makes me laugh. The stats on trans and other gender nonconforming people being harassed, assaulted and killed provide comic relief every time I read them. The outdated language on this white card — the vexed concept of "passable," coupled with the no-longer-used, clinical-sounding "transvestite" — signals that the game’s creators are hung up on old-fashioned binaries of gender presentation, the transgression of which they find hilarious and pathetic, instead of a matter of life and death.

I can make the same points about Cards Against Humanity’s treatment of people with disabilities, the prejudice against whom can be summed up in a single white card: "Stephen Hawking talking dirty." Yup, yup, of course, people who are neuroatypical, emotionally atypical and physically atypical to the extent that society doesn’t really know how to accommodate them — they’re comedy gold! I mean, really — can you imagine a man with paralysis talking dirty? First of all, he’d be doing it with the help of his computer, which is inherently hilarious, you know, because he can’t really talk. Second of all, it would imply that he, despite being unable to move parts of his body, has active sexual desires and interests, which is a shock, because no paralyzed person has ever had sexual interests and agency before — ever! They’re just…like… wheelchair-bound automatons. Yeah, "the profoundly handicapped" are a gas all right. Yet again, Cards Against Humanity’s decision to employee the passe and offensive term "handicapped" shows that they’re not interested in mocking prejudice, but in perpetuating it.

EDIT: As rosettanettle points out in a comment on my LJ crosspost, the creator of Cards Against Humanity expressed regret for the "passable transvestites" white card, which is now no longer included in decks. This does not, however, negate any of my points. If anything, it reinforces them, since the creator’s expression of "regret," which came only because he was called on his transphobia, comes across as less a regret of treasuring bigoted tenets and more a regret at getting caught. I also suspect his theatrical Tumblr photoset of him lighting the card on fire of being a self-aggrandizing performance so that he may be showered with praise about what an enlightened ally he is. Why do straight, cis, white, middle-class dudes think they deserve extra special plaudits for meeting minimum standards of decency? "Despicable," indeed.

This entry was originally posted at http://modernwizard.dreamwidth.org/1676643.html. You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

Poser 8 is so racist [and misogynist and anti-androgyny and anti-trans, not to mention ableist]…

Poser 8 is so racist [and misogynist and anti-androgyny and anti-trans, not to mention ableist]… published on 2 Comments on Poser 8 is so racist [and misogynist and anti-androgyny and anti-trans, not to mention ableist]…

The default shading colors for its 3-D digital human models make the people look Caucasian. Like this:

Continue reading Poser 8 is so racist [and misogynist and anti-androgyny and anti-trans, not to mention ableist]…

Someone’s jealous…

Someone’s jealous… published on 2 Comments on Someone’s jealous…

On the off-topic section of the MWD board, a repainter of 1:6 figs asked why some people “hated” repaints. Most of the respondents replied that they loved repaints, naysayers be damned. The only truly negative comment came from one “Daniel Wickson” who wrote:

Lack of artistic talent translates into any medium even lil’ dollies At least yours aren’t yarn haired tr*****s.

I starred out the slur that he used for trans people. >:(

Given that my subtitle on that forum is “Transgender[izer]” and that LHF featured several characters with yarn hair, as well as trans characters [but no trans characters with yarn hair], I strongly suspect that the poster was referring to me and my dollies. ^_^

He’s just jealous ’cause he lacks my imagination.

Let’s play a game.

Let’s play a game. published on No Comments on Let’s play a game.

I’ll say a phrase, and you tell me the first words that come to your mind.

Okay? Ready? Here we go:

“Lesbian vampire erotica.”

Continue reading Let’s play a game.

The leadership of the Boy Scouts of America reminds me of the leadership of the Catholic Church.

The leadership of the Boy Scouts of America reminds me of the leadership of the Catholic Church. published on No Comments on The leadership of the Boy Scouts of America reminds me of the leadership of the Catholic Church.

Both organizations piss and moan obsessively about the evils of queer sexuality and trans identities while refusing to recognize the reality: namely, that queer and/or trans people exist within their ranks and that “ACK COOTIES GET IT AWAY!!!” is not a compassionate, acceptable, morally defensible┬áto address these people.

I’m going to talk about the Boy Scouts because I have more experience with them than with Catholics. Sometimes I think that what happens in BSA hierarchy and what happens in local BSA troops are completely different. For example, all my family members involved in BSA describe an enjoyable experience of making friends, playing with their peers, going on adventures and learning fascinating things. I will not claim that everyone’s BSA experience is like this, but I will note that, in my admittedly unscientific sample, nobody mentions “pissing and moaning obsessively about the evils of queer sexuality and trans identities” as a primary pursuit.

What is wrong with the BSA leadership? Why are they so pathologically focused on what a very small number of people do with their bodies? Don’t they have better things to do, like run the damn organization?

S/He by Jesse Green: oh God, it’s so HARD being cis!

S/He by Jesse Green: oh God, it’s so HARD being cis! published on 1 Comment on S/He by Jesse Green: oh God, it’s so HARD being cis!

New York magazine has a feature about families with trans children. The subhead summarizes the article's angle: "Parents of transgender children are faced with a difficult decision, and it’s one they have to make sooner than they ever imagined." In other words, when their child announces a trans identity, how do the parents respond? Do they give their child anti-puberty Lupron shots? Do they research surgery on secondary sex characteristics before 18? Do they support their child's social transition at school and elsewhere? Or do they hold back?

When you think about it, this is nothing new. Parents, children have been deviating from your expectations from the beginning of time!! This feature articulates an age-old tension that just happens to manifest around gender identity. In pretty much every case, the best resolution for this tension is for the parents to accept their children as they are, not as they wish their children to be. For our purposes, this means that parents of trans children should respect their children's trans identities and support them in their transitions to the extent that they are able [with the recognition that drugs and surgery are a) not for all, b) pants-wettingly expensive and c) of course not covered by our wonderful patchwork insurance options in this country].

Frankly, I don't care about this story. It's just another whine about how hard it is for cis people to accept trans people, with the added unequal power dynamics of the cis people being parents to the trans people, who are their kids.

Get over yourselves, cis people; you're on the losing side of history. Trans people have always existed and will continue to exist, and your hand-wringing will avail you nothing. Sit down; shut up, and accept it.

Reasons that Dan Savage is a shit.

Reasons that Dan Savage is a shit. published on No Comments on Reasons that Dan Savage is a shit.

Dan Savage, a gay male advice columnist who writes for the Seattle Stranger, has some cachet among liberals/Democrats/progressives as being queer-friendly, pro-kink and open-minded, but he still has lots of privilege as a thin, white, rich, cis, married, U.S. man. I’ve collected several criticisms of his advice which should make you think long and hard before calling this columnist helpful, progressive and open-minded. In no particular order…here they are…
Continue reading Reasons that Dan Savage is a shit.

Law and Order: SVU hates twins and trans people!

Law and Order: SVU hates twins and trans people! published on No Comments on Law and Order: SVU hates twins and trans people!

The Law and Order: SVU ep “Identity” [season 6, ep 12], summarized earlier, features a bitten penis, gangbanging, homeless women, ID theft, an anti-graffitti task force, a pair of unusually identical twins, a sex therapist, a secret language, possible incest, violent siblings, possible lesbianism, unethical investigation of medical records, non-consensual gender reassignment of a minor, molestation by therapist and, finally, “the perfect crime.” Now that I’ve summarized the plot for you, I’m exhausted. No, seriously, it’s time to examine some of the deleterious assumptions at work in your average SVU ep.

Thesis: SVU pathologizes everything in sight.

Continue reading Law and Order: SVU hates twins and trans people!

How much plot can YOU cram into 42 minutes? Or, Law and Order: SVU’s tale of the psycho twins

How much plot can YOU cram into 42 minutes? Or, Law and Order: SVU’s tale of the psycho twins published on 1 Comment on How much plot can YOU cram into 42 minutes? Or, Law and Order: SVU’s tale of the psycho twins

I've been watching a lot of Law and Order: SVU lately [enough to realize that the script writers have an unhealthy obsession with prison rape jokes, which they are apparently contractually obligated to shoehorn in once per episode]. Among the many eps that I've watched is "Identity," ep 12 from season 6. I remember enjoying this ep especially because it features a pair of identical twins, of which I am one, as you no doubt know. I also remember this ep for its particularly exploitative and melodramatic plot twists. Heck, this thing has enough melodrama and occurrences for an entire season of a show! Let me summarize for you…

A corpse drops off the top of a building right through the windshield of some guys with blue balls. Stabler, Benson and the ME wonder who the dead chump is. His bling labeled "SCA" seems to be a clue. Also someone bit his penis real hard. DUNT DUNT! Continue reading How much plot can YOU cram into 42 minutes? Or, Law and Order: SVU’s tale of the psycho twins

Marginalization of 3-D homosexuals — and where are the 3-D crossdressers?

Marginalization of 3-D homosexuals — and where are the 3-D crossdressers? published on 2 Comments on Marginalization of 3-D homosexuals — and where are the 3-D crossdressers?

I’ve discovered something interesting about the distribution and availability of heterosexual couples poses and homosexual couples poses for Daz.

Hetero couples poses can be downloaded for free from Renderosity. They also appear on the official Daz Web site, where you can buy the Pure Romanze set of props and poses. It consists of a gazebo, a pergola and 10 couples poses of demure, starry-eyed romance. There’s also a Budding Romance hetero couple pose, depicting mostly hugs, cuddling and other affectionate behavior.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that hetero couples poses are obviously posted and freely available. They also range from mildly romantic (like the Pure Romanze set) to sexually explicit.

In contrast, I have only found homo couples poses on Renderotica [warning: this is a pretty boring site that leans heavily on stereotypical porn wear for female characters, stereotypical BDSM props and silly, silly animations] and similar age-limited sites for Poser porn. As can be expected from the general tenor of such sites, most of the homo couples poses are sexually explicit. I have yet to find a couples pose set for homos that contains casual affection or romance. Anyway, it seems that homo couples poses exist only on porn sites where you have to pay for them. They are not freely available.

Given the distribution of hetero and homo couples poses, it’s very clear to me that Daz [the developers of the program] and the general user community assumes the hetero orientation of the 3-D people you create. This is not surprising; when I was more active in Men With Dolls, people’s dolls were generally assumed hetero until proved otherwise, kind of the way it is with people. Hetero is the default orientation, so I refuse to make a stink about that assumption. It’s rampant in this world and in digital worlds.

What pisses me off is the sexualization and marginalization of homo couples. The appearance of homo couples poses solely on porn sites implies that all homos do is have sex. While we queers do make queer desire our defining feature of our sexual orientation, our queerness is not necessarily the overriding feature of our lives. Even in the case of queer activists and artists who make a living out of identity politics, they [we] do much more than have queer sex. The placement of homo couples poses on porn sites accentuates sex to the detriment of any other aspect of queer life, while simultaneously making queer couples seem pornographic, potentially objectionable and obscene, like the surrounding material.

And while I’m ranting about Renderotica [and similar sites], I would just like to ask where the 3-D crossdressers are, specifically the male ones. There is a huge interest in male crossdressing porn, which also shades into forced feminization, transgender, she-male, etc. porn. Surprisingly enough, I haven’t seen those themes represented at all. Am I the only Daz user who wants to use CrossDresser to put a male character in clothes designed for female characters? [And I’m not talking about men in fantasy robes; that’s boring.]

EDIT: Okay, I found some homo couples poses on Renderosity. Here’s Gals 1 poses with lesbian romantic poses. Here’s MM3 Guy Poses 1 with gay romantic poses. I think my point still holds, though, since I stumbled upon these just by chance.

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