Summer Rerun Season

Gosh, I wonder what is driving his insecurity about other people being born seemingly male and turning out instead to be girls. It’s just too hard to figure out.

Kevin “I’m Still Having Difficulty With The Fact That Penis Don’t Confer Magical Powers” Williamson, National Trans* Panic*:
Laverne Cox is Not a Woman

Check one. Check Two.

Is this thing on? Oh, hey, everybody, welcome to the all new Sadly, No, lovingly transplanted from its old cyber location due to… reasons. Reasons one should best not think of, also if the cops asked, my name is Jonah Goldberg, got it? Awesome.

Anyways, I guess every wingnut on the planet is looking at the writing on the wall about their growing irrelevancy in a modern pluralistic society, because there is a massive uptick in tired recycled pieces from the usual sources. And though I can dream of the day when those driveling incompetents have to compete in the same “meritocracy” they set for the rest of us and experience for themselves the “job creating” joys that being crushed under the economy’s spiked stilettos brings, it is sadly a dream far off in the future.

In the meantime, we get treated to a “lovely” clip show of each of these fucking ghoulish fuckwads’ “greatest hits” while they harass the interns to write and submit resumes for them.

And today’s a beauty of a post, coming fresh from Vagina-fearing wanna-be white guy Kevin D. Williamson, who has yet another appeal on behalf of biology (no no, not the one where he wants to pretend that being manlier will somehow produce manlier sperm capable of producing only men… yeah, this guy is essentially a 21st century version of Henry VIII) against those eeeeeevil trannies and their crazy voodoo hoodoo.

Shorter (or the last port before Jungle):

  • Trans* People are still a literally mythic invention by feminists and hippies.

I feel like we’ve been here before. Have we been here before? Yeah, we’ve been here before.

Huh, apparently Williamson’s pathetic offensive rail against nature on behalf of his personal “Save the Penises” campaign (huh, it’s almost like his sole defining trait is fearing for the loss of manhoods, but if that was the case then… [look back up to picture] ohhhhhhh…) must have temporarily bumped up his star in the professional bigot circuit as Williamson has decided to try and see if that lightning can strike twice by doing a fast search and replace on that old post.

But as much fun as it would be to don ye old chainmail bikini and pose atop the winged unicorn ala Frazetta, I’m afraid I just don’t have a wealth of new vitriol to add since the last time he dragged us along on this drug-fueled nostalgia trip.

Yes, it’s transphobic. Yes, it’s deeply ignorant of how gender and biology works. Yes, it’s still trying to angrily assert a trans* free world as more and more people demonstrate that trans* people exist and have always existed. Yes, it still has those random paeans to ancient greek myths which just opens to uncomfortable questions about exactly what ol’ Kev is taking away from those old stories of Zeus molesting women as animals. Yes, it conveniently seems to forget that non-binary individuals and trans* guys exist. Yup, it still seems to have never heard of the concept of intersex. Yes, it still views penises as more real of people than the trans* women they are sometimes attached to (oh hey, another thing the queer rights and abortion access people have in common). And oh, yes, it is still a transparent ploy to shift the anti-gay bucks in the direction of the fresh new hate while it’s still socially acceptable to profit over it.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a National Review article if it wasn’t dripping with deliberate, intentional, and above all, aggressive ignorance as if one could literally choke reality out with enough concentrated weaponized stupid.

And sure, I’ll probably weigh in here or there if Kev can muster a second argument beyond “trans* people are the literal manifestation of my deepest insecurities about social emaculation”, but for the meat (ha) of this piece, I want to try to add a desperate dash of something new like a “The Wire” in a sea of “Two and a Half Men”, but without the brilliant Emmy-award winning writing (so more like a slightly redder form of graffiti on the bathroom stall).

Instead, I want to use Kevin’s little insecure rant at the Gods for afflicting him with a world with trans* people in it to talk about something some of you have requested. That being, some unfiltered moments of what exactly it feels like to be trans* in this cisAmerica. Because, much like this piece and the ever-growing flood we’re sure to soon get on this topic, the worst part of dealing with a transphobic world is just how repetitive and all-encompassing it feels…

So yeah, if you’d rather not sail these waters, there’s the last port. For everyone else… over the waterfall we go.

The world is abuzz with news that actor Laverne Cox has become the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine.

Oh, but first, a little background information.

Laverne Cox is a trans* woman actor on the Netflix show “Orange is the new Black” which is a fairly interesting deconstruction of our prison-industrial complex and the sort of casual bigotries used to enforce these prison systems used more as a means to punish minority status than to perform any duty even approaching the notion of rehabilitation. Oh, yeah, and it’s absolutely dripping with lesbians, so there’s that as well.

Anyways, Laverne Cox has been making some big headlines lately because of the fact that she’s one of the first trans* people (and especially one of the first trans* people of color (though there is always the one butch assassin from the 5th season of The Wire)) to not only be a major role on an American TV show, but also to play a trans* person on said show.

And as if that would not be trailblazing enough, Laverne Cox apparently didn’t get the message that the first black X is always supposed to be obsessively deferent to white and normative society less the door shut against everyone else in the ringing condemnation of angry white assholes everywhere and so has been on a tear calling out a lot of the entrenched media stupidity surrounding trans* people and trans* bodies.

The most awesome being her calling out Katie Couric on one of those brainless morning shows for the way the media somehow thinks its appropriate to ask extensive questions about the state of one’s junk that would never ever be asked of any cis person anywhere (though it would be hilarious if it did. Mr. Senator, I must ask, does your dick bend to the left?). And topping that by highlighting the often uncommented on amounts of trans* women of color who are murdered every year (they make up the majority of the Day of Remembrance list) and the disproportionate way black women are punished when they defend themselves as compared to white men.

And… well, it’s hard to explain what it is to put up with an endless stream of Jared Letos and “hilarious” depictions of what a freak you are, and then stumble onto Laverne Cox.

She’s not just badass, she’s a fucking time traveler. Like she stumbled through a time portal from a magic future time after trans* rights have completed their cycle and trans* icons and actors are as common as gay ones now and has decided to say fuck it with adapting to the times. And I think that’s why she’s been able to make such an impact, because general culture is not quite sure what to do with this uppity creature who refuses to play the game set for her in order to “protect” her future career.

So yeah, the backlash against her is not exactly something I’ve been failing to expect.

If I understand the current state of the ever-shifting ethic and rhetoric of transgenderism, that is not quite true: Bradley Manning, whom we are expected now to call Chelsea, beat Cox to the punch by some time. Manning’s announcement of his intention to begin living his life as a woman and to undergo so-called sex-reassignment surgery came after Time’s story, but, given that we are expected to defer to all subjective experience in the matter of gender identity, it could not possibly be the case that Manning is a transgendered person today but was not at the time of the Time cover simply because Time was unaware of the fact, unless the issuance of a press release is now a critical step in the evolutionary process.

And before I full jump over the rocks, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the time to highlight possibly the first and only time, Kevin Williamson will ever be right in his life.

Sure, he stumbled onto it in the most accident of accidents as an attempt to pull a “gotcha” on those dastardly queer people walking hand in hand with Dorothy, but hey, it’s still stumbling, however improbably on a correct answer. Trans* people have indeed always been whatever gender is in their gender identity regardless of whether or not they’ve managed to figure it out yet.

I am a trans* woman now, yes, but I was also a trans* woman when I was a younger lass trying to figure out what was wrong with me, when I was a child, wondering what the other children at school were reacting to to make them abandon me, when I was a zygo-ha, fuck no, I wasn’t even alive then. I hadn’t yet existed. But for those moments where I was a full human being, I was a woman. I was trans*. Even when I had no access to the words to know what was going on.

Though the words and some genuine concepts could have fucking helped… oh hey, there’s that cliff of repeats, and so I must disappear into my memories.

As I wrote at the time of the Manning announcement, Bradley Manning is not a woman. Neither is Laverne Cox.

Cox, a fine actor, has become a spokesman — no doubt he would object to the term — for trans people, whose characteristics may include a wide variety of self-conceptions and physical traits.

As I’ve noted in other locations, it took me a long time to figure out what I was. It didn’t help that I was asexual as well, and thus lacked the seemingly standard experience of realizing I was “liking” boys or girls in the “wrong way”. Not that, I would have wished on myself the experiences I have heard of those who dated those they were attracted to and having it all feel wrong and unsatisfying. And it certainly didn’t help that I wasn’t the stereotype sold to me of what a trans* woman was like. I didn’t grow up playing in my mom’s pumps and dresses. Hell, my mom was a hippie artist, I’m not even sure she owns much in the way of dresses and certainly was never big on the concept of high-heeled shoes.

Then, as now, I was kind of agendered, trying mostly to hide my shape from myself by any means necessary, often using colorful and baggy shirts and shorts in much the way a trans* man often does. Then as now, I occasionally liked sports. I loved science and learning and video games and teaching and all manner of strong gendered expectation never sat right with me. Masculinity or femininity in their stereotyped forms were never in any way appealing to me.

I never wanted to put on makeup and I still stubbornly refuse to ever touch the stuff. I didn’t want to be a fainting belle of the ball or earn the respect or sexual envy of douchey boys. Nor did I want to become the kind of young sexual predator that was sold to me as the expectation of what it meant to be a “guy”.

Not that there weren’t real clues, stripped away of the narrative of what a “real” trans* person is supposed to look like. The way I was uncomfortable in my own skin. The way that I found ways to avoid catching my own face in the mirror. The way I showered without opening my eyes when scrubbing myself. The way things seemed off.

Others noticed. That’s the part of the narrative that often gets left off. Other kids notice when something isn’t quite right. And being a trans* ace lesbo, even if I didn’t know any of those terms and was doing my best to ape heterosexual mannerisms, was something that made me infamous. At the time, the other kids interpreted it as gay. And gave me the standard beatdown reserved for other queers. I was pummeled, yes. But mostly, I was messed with emotionally. All of my supposed friends abandoned me save one.

The first time I ever played a female character in D&D, it served as my favorite character and I felt genuinely sucky when I lost the opportunity quickly in due to the stupidity of another player. Later on I asked for the opportunity to make a new character a woman. It was turned down even though another player was allowed. Once again, others smelled something on me that I could not.

In college, the clues grew closer together as I began to find myself drawn to feminist and queer communities. I was oddly obsessed with lesbian culture, finding something there that called to me. I was drawn to heroines who exhibited lives similar to suffering dysphoria. And I brought up the possibility in my mind, often, dismissing it due to my failures to be feminine in any way as if that had any effect on the reality of my brain’s mental sex.

Katie Couric famously asked him about whether he had undergone surgical alteration, and he rejected the question as invasive, though what counts as invasive when you are being interviewed by Katie Couric about features of your sexual identity is open to interpretation.

The concern everyone seems to have for a bit of flesh has often confused me. Maybe one could blame the asexuality, as that part never seemed necessary in the first place. When I was young, I was told that because I was uncircumcised, I needed to clean myself thoroughly when I bathed, so I always have, though I was never able to look down while doing it.

But despite that reality of physical dysphoria, the feeling of creeping horror that often occurs when I try and focus on that aspect of myself, much of corrective surgery never held much attraction to me and still doesn’t. Breast augmentation, while I would never disparage other trans* women who pursued it, horrifies me personally and the results look deeply unsettling and evocative of the same wasted privilege and casual misogyny that makes beauty an industry. And the less thought put to tracheal shaves and facial feminization in my mind, the better.

As such, my transition up to now has been marked by natural growth. My tits have grown to a size and shape where I can actually look into the mirror for the first time and not be horrified. My clit has shrunk and become more in shape. My face goes sans makeup. And that decision has been reacted to poorly by society, because trans* women are supposed to be extra feminine as compared to cis women, more plastic and plastered so as to justify viewing them as artificial.

As if any woman, no matter how many surgeries or how much makeup was in any remote way artificial. It is only recently that I’ve even begun seriously contemplating the most minor of gender affirming surgeries and that has mostly been out of deference to my health.

And yet, the spectre of surgery has shrouded my life as a trans* person. It was the central motif of my uncle’s response to my coming out. Bitter angry confusion at how anyone could “mutilate” their junk. It is the most common response from randoms on the street. Again, confusion and anger that I could be, in the words of the most recent guy who got in my face about it, “a faggot willing to cut himself up”.

Other people have always thought more about my dick than I ever could. It is how I am defined and how I am regularly dismissed. A year ago, walking with my lovers from pride and a man demanded I stop and explain the words of pride I carried, including trans*. When I explained, his only frame of reference was that I had a penis.

It is a strange bit of sympathetic magic that should cover this little bit of unused flesh (and it is not only my asexuality that has made that area so unused, many trans* people find those parts uncomfortable and physically dysphoric to use) as if it was more biology and more authoritative than one’s gender or one’s brain. And people find it so disturbing that so minor of changes can remove that go to as if it didn’t exist, because it never really existed as a wanted extension or intrusion of one’s self.

And so, despite the fact that no one would tell a recovering testicular cancer cis patient that they are no longer a man or a hysterectomy cis outpatient that they are no longer a woman, many are quick to note that those aspects should define those of us who are trans* and the surgeries are thus locked behind key and made into a dehumanizing game of chase the blade so as to make this minor irrelevancy into something grand and consuming so as to pretend that these small bits of skin or organ flesh are somehow worth anything at all except to those who possess them.

Couric was roundly denounced for the question and for using “transgenders” as a noun, and God help her if she had misdeployed a pronoun, which is now considered practically a hate crime.

The hate crime statistics can be relayed a million times. And should. By percentage of total population targeted, there is no group, except maybe sex workers or unarmed black teenagers that is more targeted for random hate crimes of murder and violence. But it really doesn’t speak to how it colors every trip out. Every errant comment uttered. Every aggressive reaction. Every bout of laughter.

Shortly before I moved into this area, a trans* activist was murdered. There was no reports I saw of her murderer being captured or indeed anyone seeming to care enough to find them. She was walking home from a volunteering shift when someone decided to shoot her on the street. The concept that I could die for walking around as myself is one I am deeply aware of every time I go out and has bred a tired fatalism about it. If someone were to gun me down, it wouldn’t be an aberration, it would be a statistic and another name read out in November.

And it’s not like it’s a concern, however little I try and let it concern me, that is entirely a product of statistics and the theoretical. I have been spat upon, I’ve been called all manner of interesting name on the street, and I’ve seen intense hate. I’ve stared down a group of neo-nazis on a bus while wearing a skirt. And I’ve become hyper-aware of my surroundings at all time and to what others are saying. Because these threats and negative reactions are not uncommon or infrequent by any stretch of the imagination when I’m out as myself. And especially when I’m by myself.

But it may be the moments where I am not, that are the most awkward to handle. Just this last Friday, I went out for late night food with my girlfriend and a car full of drunks rolled up to the light at which we were at. I was cuddling her close as I double as a radiator and the guy in the back yelled out his window for us to make out, mistaking us for a cis lesbian couple. Unfortunately, the two girls in the car were less drunk and commented that “I was one of those freaks” with it being in no way subtle that I was being communicated as trans*. The last thing I heard from the guy who initially demanded we make out was his wondering if they should turn around and do something to stop that. That being me. Existing.

They didn’t turn back of course. Which is good. The thing I’ve never been able to handle well is putting others at risk for aspects of myself. But it is not an uncommon occurrence that that sort of thing happens and it’s a risk I run more and more now that the time on hormones has made it easier for me to “pass” as myself.

They warn you that you can be targeted for turning a man on who then reads you as trans*, but they leave off the part where this happens no matter what you do, how you act, whether you even show any interest. The victim blaming intent is there to reduce and terrify any trans* woman who thinks of flirting, of dressing sexy, of being just like the cis girls. But the justification is giving to the violent that any “deceived” boner is a justification for blood and violence for having one’s “masculinity” threatened by such attraction.

The phenomenon of the transgendered person is a thoroughly modern one,

I am reminded of a common minor game of thought experiment I participated in once. The game was to name a time period you would have loved to have lived in. The other participants were cis and white and named all sorts of times filled with interesting culture and art.

I said the future, because it was the only time besides the present I could imagine living in where what I am wasn’t a walking death sentence. Even though I left the last part off, the game trailed off there.

I had sucked the fun out of it.

not in the sense that such conditions did not exist in the past — Cassius Dio relates a horrifying tale of an attempted sex-change operation — but because we in the 21st century have regressed to a very primitive understanding of reality, namely the sympathetic magic described by James George Frazer in The Golden Bough.

Jeanne D’Arc, more commonly known as Joan of Arc was my first trans* hero. I was still a kid, still in middle school and I was obsessed with just how brave and powerful they were. I still have my first feminist t-shirt, a picture of Jeanne and the caption “Joan of Arc: Medieval Feminist”. When growing up, almost all of my most potent fictional heroes were women. Certainly they were the ones I formed the strongest bonds with and identified the most strongly with.

Looking back, it seems amazing that Jeanne’s trans*-ness has not yet become a more dominant part of the historical record. Dressing so deliberately so as to be read as male, with a name so easily in the French pronunciation, mistaken for a common boy’s name. It is a wonder if we had our “modern sickness” if Jeanne would have been recognized in life. It is a wonder if Jeanne lived in the future, if they would have never been targeted at all for elimination.

The obsession with policing language on the theory that language mystically shapes reality is itself ancient — see the Old Testament — and sympathetic magic proceeds along similar lines, using imitation and related techniques as a means of controlling reality. The most famous example of this is the voodoo doll. If an effigy can be made sufficiently like the reality it is intended to represent, then it becomes, for the mystical purposes at hand, a reality in its own right. The infinite malleability of the postmodern idea of “gender,” as opposed to the stubborn concreteness of sex, is precisely the reason the concept was invented. For all of the high-academic theory attached to the question, it is simply a mystical exercise in rearranging words to rearrange reality. Facebook now has a few score options for describing one’s gender or sex, and no doubt they will soon match the number of names for the Almighty in one of the old mystery cults.

One of my closest friends now is intersex as was one of my students a year ago, and, I strongly suspect, a very recent one of my students in the last few months. I have never had my karyotype tested, but I doubt that was the case for me.

In some areas of the trans* community, especially in the generation slightly before mine, intersex trans* people have become almost an uncomfortable fetish object, praised and envied for their unparalleled ability to “pass”. Luckily, that has pretty much faded, at least from those parts of the trans* community I call home, as has the pedastalization of the concept of “passing”. Whether or not one “passes” in general society is no longer held up as the gold standard that one must aim towards and fitting into a strict heteronormative exaggeration of gender is no longer seen as a goal worth pursuing.

And that is only the result of a groundswell of genderqueer and gender-non-conforming trans* people coming out and rejecting explicitly the model set for us, which was a privilege only possible because of those members of the generation before mine who created enough organizations and education to make it possible for a trans* person to exist, long-term as someone out and visible.

I do not begrudge those who followed the request, to those who could take that easier path, or those who want to eventually reach the day when they can just be treated the same as any other cis woman without that constant threat of violence, discrimination, hate, and ill treatment.

It is not a path I could take. And that mythology that it was the only path kept me from self-awareness for so long. I am still grateful to Julia Serrano and to my partner for recommending her book to me for it was the first work I had ever encountered that said that trans* women much like cis women before them could be butch and stocky and muscled. That people shaped like me and born like I was could be women.

Regardless of the question of whether he has had his genitals amputated, Cox is not a woman, but an effigy of a woman. Sex is a biological reality, and it is not subordinate to subjective impressions, no matter how intense those impressions are, how sincerely they are held, or how painful they make facing the biological facts of life. No hormone injection or surgical mutilation is sufficient to change that.

It is amazing how much my body has changed in such a short time, from my daily cocktail of pills. And then again, as a biologist, it really doesn’t. I mean, hormones triggering cascade is pretty much the sole reason for the illusion of secondary and primary sex characteristics.

I note the youngest trans* kids in my classes. The ones with supportive parents and I look forward to when they come of age and lend their voices. Trans* kids who were able to figure it out in time to never have gone through the wrong puberty before the right one. The ones who weren’t forced to endure a nightmare before their body started producing the right “-ones”. And I imagine how the bigots of today will freak to behold them. How it will so simply put lie to the notion of “immutability”.

I look in the mirror today and I can do that. I can look at my body and not feel that instantaneous overpowering urge to turn away in shame and sadness. I can go to a dungeon and I can be the focus of an action that brings me real emotional joy, because I can have my focus drawn to an aspect of my body that is not physically dysphoric. That in fact resolves physical dysphoria. I can experience intimate touch without feeling that everything is wrong.

When I first came out, I shaved my body religiously, my surrender to the expectations of gender I had to pay to be seen as what I was. Now, I don’t. Because I’ve always been that hairy legged feminist who was my hippie wiccan mother’s daughter and I can feel okay. My hair is soft and light and looks feminine from a distance. I used to see the flicker in another’s eyes when I wore skirts, as their minds sought to erase and assert my maleness. Now, people are starting to call me ma’am when I’m wearing skirts and even in the job where I am closeted, those same perceptive kids as yesteryear are constantly asking me whether I am a boy or a girl.

It is such a small thing to the world. To be seen as what I am. To be able to have that without compromising who I am and the sort of dykey tomboy feminist stereotype stuff that makes me up. It has such little impact on whether others can get their bread, love their families, drive their cars. And yet, it is… so so powerful for me. I know not all trans* people bother, but for me, these magic boob pills have given me a comfort with my physical self I never thought I would ever have. And while I am still beset by the same advertising blitz of learned body shame as any other cis girl, it is a feeling that is so comforting and centering that it is a wonder that I so regularly suffered not having it for so long. That I convinced myself that that daily pain and alienation was normal, or worse, my deserved fate for being “different”

And yet, the changes are also so resisted by so many it impacts so little. In the same way, it seems to the first women who wore pants or to those brave queers of generations past who braved all manner of harassment and violence for wearing short hair and guyish clothes or long hair and pretty flowing colors. What I am doing is small in reality, but in metaphor…

Oh, my, it shatters the strict binary that we are demanded to heed in all our actions. To reinforce the lie that there is some grand separation between what is possible for men and what is possible for women.

And the price paid for that is the suffering of all those who do not fit neatly into the correct box, all those with claim to the trans* umbrella. So those invested in a giant gap that has never truly existed so deep in nature can continue to pretend it is that which is natural and that my natural arising is the aberration.

Genital amputation and mutilation is the extreme expression of the phenomenon, but it is hardly outside the mainstream of contemporary medical practice. The trans self-conception, if the autobiographical literature is any guide, is partly a feeling that one should be living one’s life as a member of the opposite sex and partly a delusion that one is in fact a member of the opposite sex at some level of reality that transcends the biological facts in question. There are many possible therapeutic responses to that condition, but the offer to amputate healthy organs in the service of a delusional tendency is the moral equivalent of meeting a man who believes he is Jesus and inquiring as to whether his insurance plan covers crucifixion.

And it is that pressure that becomes overwhelming to live under. I remember coming back from Denmark, a land where most people shrugged when I walked around with a skirt and where a gendered bathroom was a rarity at best and an obscenity at worst. And I remember just how much the notion of intensely gendered everything justified a new type of social interaction. One where people not only felt justified, but almost obligated to enforce the binary and a false separation of gender. Not just in those gendered spaces, but everywhere… though those gendered spaces were the worst.

See, the bathroom debate often remains on the abstract, at least from the trans* perspective, but the reality of the bathroom issue is a zone of life where we honestly have to debate whether it is more worth it to piss our pants or risk a violent encounter.

In my life, I have been grateful to have developed a bladder like a steel trap… well, I say that as if it was a genetic trait, but it is entirely possible it was learned in my schoolyard days as a means of avoiding having to encounter that painful reminder of what I was assumed to be.

Either way, I try not to ever end up in a situation where I have to pee in public if I can at all avoid it and I’m not the only trans* person who does likewise. Not because we fear we’ll be overcome by our wicked sex organs and molest all the cispeople. But rather because entering a bathroom, ANY bathroom, is a calculated risk.

And those times when I’ve been unable to avoid them, because of long trips, or simply because it’s been well past 24 hours since I’ve last used one, it’s been a learned trauma. There are plenty of stories I could choose here. There was the woman who yelled at me “women’s, women’s” and seemed to wait outside my stall forever and who I was genuinely concerned would try and break in. There was a set of Orange County mallrats who I ducked past before they could form their assumptions and start something. Even then, I barely dodged a confrontation that could easily have turned ugly. There was standing in a long line inside the restroom area as I hid my face and hoped for the best.

But of all the stories, the worst are the ones I do the math for and decide to go into the men’s instead. Cause yeah, I’m in the wrong place. And passing the little stick-man in the doorframe is physically painful in a way I wasn’t prepared for when coming home. It actually hurts to do it. To the point where I have to look at the woman’s sign whispering “women’s, women’s, women’s” in order to be able to do it. And being in the spaces where it is communicated to be unsafe makes it even more unsafe to be deferring to public opinion. To stand in the wrong line with skirt on while surrounded by those of… shall we say, unevolved opinions is one of the most prominent ways I was trained to learn fear. Fear I do not want inside me and have spent much of my life trying to eliminate.

Though even they pale in the guilt I feel for the moments when I was forced by school system or company policy to reinforce that fucking narratives surrounding bathrooms and literally having no available recourse to help those outside the binary. I am most haunted by an intersex kid in my last summer set of classes who never felt comfortable going with anyone else and was clearly upset and pained by that same diabolical set of expectation that I am and bound by the closet from interfering and helping them out. This is the price of the fear of dying in the streets.

This seems to me a very different sort of phenomenon from simple homosexuality (though, for the record, I believe that our neat little categories of sexual orientation are yet another substitution of the conceptual for the actual, human sexual behavior being more complex and varied than the rhetoric of sexual orientation can accommodate). The question of the status of gay people interacts with politics to the extent that it in some cases challenges existing family law, but homosexual acts as such seem to me a matter that is obviously, and almost by definition, private. The mass delusion that we are inculcating on the question of transgendered people is a different sort of matter, to the extent that it would impose on society at large an obligation — possibly a legal obligation under civil-rights law, one that already is emerging — to treat delusion as fact, or at the very least to agree to make subjective impressions superordinate to biological fact in matters both public and private.

And that trained fear is something that has only grown as society has become more and more insistent that I fit the prescribed performance, regardless of how much it hurts me to do so. I have written enough about being discriminated out of my job. And I have also written about receiving the same subtle diner and shop discrimination and intentional poor service that many people of color can attest to in. I have written about poor familial reactions to coming out. I have written about the way that my relationships have been viewed suspiciously because of who I am. I have written about the constant barrage of outrage, double takes, nasty looks, bitter comments, and pointed laughter directed at me every time I walk out as myself (and make no mistake, it happens every time I go out in public as myself. Every. Time.).**

But one of the worst things recently has been putting myself back in the closet for financial survival. And the reason it is so terrible is that the closet is one of those subtle oppressions that so many see as painless and invisible. And thus it’s hard to explain exactly how this continued state of affair is draining my will to live and my love for a job I have loved since I was a little kid.

To start every day with a lie, to give in to society’s terroristic demands, to have to endure with a smile on my face as I am addressed relentlessly to the wrong pronouns, the wrong gender designation, feels like I am back in high school. A knotted band of embarrassed fury and deep repressed depression. And it’s something, perhaps one has to experience to understand.

I have no doubts that despite Kev’s dismissive attitude towards pronouns, that he would not fare half as well or respond half as gracefully to a single day of being addressed constantly as if he was a woman and treated accordingly. To being constantly corrected on his insistence that no, he was to be referred to as she, and more point in fact, that he was supposed to act happy about it or lose his job.

No, I have no doubt he wouldn’t make one day, much less years, with little sight on the horizon of this changing.

And yet, trans* people are routinely expected to do this simply to make other people feel more comfortable about the fact that they were born lucky enough that their gender identity matched their bodies. We’re expected to suffer in silence, so dicks like this can continue to pretend we are some mythic and ancient mythology instead of the real breathing people we are, who just want the same right to live and love and be seen as what we are as anyone else.

As a matter of government, I have little or no desire to police how Cox or any other man or woman conducts his or her personal life. But having a culture organized around the elevation of unreality over reality in the service of Eros, who is a sometimes savage god, is not only irrational but antirational.

And that is often a hard request it seems. For reasons that baffle me. Those who would pretend they do not want a government are happy enough to abandon that to police my gender as if a legal authority would change the reality I live with or the fact that many of us try, repeatedly, to live our former lies of a life in deference to society’s callous demands.

It is often assumed to be a sex thing that drives us, as the notion that we simply exist as we are makes them think unfortunate thoughts about their chosen deity’s cruelty as to devise a life as such. That has been laughable to me for obvious reasons.

And is laughable even to those trans* people who are sexuals. Because for so many trans* people, sexual awakenings are tempered by physical dysphoria that makes self-pleasuring painful and many forms of erotic coupling equally so. In some ways, I suppose I am lucky to have never had sexual attraction to others, so as to avoid the pain and attraction of that particular aspect of the trans* experience. But then again, perhaps I am not, for how long lacking that delayed understanding what was going on under my surface.

Either way, fuck, this little shit and his fucked up assertion that anyone would willingly suffer this much of society’s condemnation for a mere fetish or sexual spice.

Cox’s situation gave him an intensely unhappy childhood and led to an eventual suicide attempt, and his story demands our sympathy; times being what they are, we might even offer our indulgence. But neither of those should be allowed to overwhelm the facts, which are not subject to our feelings, however sincere or well intended.

The first times I did self-harm to myself, I was young, still in high school. I was confused about what I was and yeah, I’m one of those statistical numbers that has drifted into the “attempt” side of the equation. I’ve had to develop any number of complex mechanisms to handle it. Methods of locking pain inside of myself for a future day when I am hopefully capable of handling it. Methods of separating myself from tools of self-harm when ideation strikes. And lately, nice shiny happy pills that will hopefully continue not to have the nasty side-effects of my last attempt at that. And yeah, now thanks to Obama and his elderly death camps, I actually have access to mental health resources like a therapist. It’s been awhile since my last bout of stupidity even though that has not meant it hasn’t been a while since I’ve experienced intense trauma or flashbacks from previous traumas or haven’t had to struggle through that black beast that fights to steal my life.

And that’s not an uncommon story among trans* people, for obvious reasons. I volunteer to aid younger trans* students as one of my new things and in the course of that, I get glimpses into their lives and what they have to handle. Many have struggled with depression, not because of their trans*-ness, but rather because of how it is treated. The numbers who have had supposedly loving partners or friends decide to try and “correct” them through rape or been kicked out of their apartments or homes or been disowned by family members or have just had to experience a steady stream of casual societal abuse.

And yet they push on, through far more in a day than Kev here will experience in his life and try and find joy and connection. And they light up to speak about the community that surrounds them and the steps towards resolving dysphoria they have made. Because every step in that direction and every place they can just be themselves without some ignorant fuck exploiting their bad days is something that makes it easier to be the latest target in the hate monetization racket.

And it’s a simple thing to ask for and something worth asking for.

Of all the things I’ve suffered through. Rape, abuse, disownment, discrimination, etc… The one that haunts me the most. The one that drives me on, is a positive one. It was a young trans* girl in one of my classes, in 5th or 6th grade. Her mom asked me to give her some words of encouragement from one trans* person to another. I gave her an “It Gets Better” speech, using myself as an example of what she can be once she is through the various hells of middle school and high school and learning to form her shell around society’s cold indifference and hostility. I told her that she could be anything and people would support her and let her be.

I want to make that a reality for her. I need to make that a reality for her and those like her. Not for myself, but because I want that kid to never need be aware of the rot that lies under the edifice of this house and never have to experience a fuck like this exploiting her sadness to hard-sell a fiction and a series of lies in order to escape his meaningless pathetic insecurity that some lady somewhere is going to steal his penis substitute.

Because she deserves it. They all deserve it.

And if that forward motion makes Kevin scream bloody murder every year on the dot…

So. Be. It.

‘Shorter’ concept created by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton Beard. Who’s looking forward to being the next monetization source for the professional bigot brigade? … Do I have to be? We are aware of all Internet traditions.™

*Williamson also managed to publish the same stream of bullshit as an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times, answering the age-old question: “Who do I got to blow to be published in the dead tree world?” and reminding me that I should be grateful to not have anything to do with that dying medium.

**Note the usage of phrases such as “coming out”, “discrimination”, etc… There is a minority of trans* people, just as there is a minority of asexual people, who wish to claim that being trans* is somehow different enough from being gay that it makes no sense to include us as part of the queer community. That we have nothing in common in our struggles for rights.

I think the minority that makes these arguments are fucking morons. We have such a shared history of how we experience oppression and what we have to do in order to solicit support and love from family members, friends, and society

[update by Provider] The real face of Williamson, Kevin.


You can thank him for Dawsons Creek and the Vampire Diaries.


Comments: 44

Bozo the Cocksucker

This article had a difficult birth. It almost killed the mother. Had to be posted by cesarean section in the end.


Hello? Is this thing on?


Conservatives absolutely cannot deal with ambiguity, nuance, or liminal states, or personal development- everything must fit into a binary, manichean scheme, and change is something to be feared.


Cerberus, you had me in tears by the end.


it is still a transparent ploy to shift the anti-gay bucks in the direction of the fresh new hate while it’s still socially acceptable to profit over it.

This occurred to me, too. As the tide of legal and social acceptence of gays and lesbians begins to overwhelm the hard-core bigots, I fear that will result in even greater visciousness against trans* people in print and in person. Sorry to be Debbie Downer (*)–and I hope I’m wrong!–but its been on my mind.

Now I need to resume reading. So far, this one looks like a prime candidate for the Best of Cerberus anthology.


(*) Not the name I would select if I was trans* !!


those old stories of Zeus molesting women as animals
Rest assured that Zeus was an equal-opportunity rapist.


Cerb: Definately put this one on the Anthology stack. What made this especially powerful for me was the way you counterpointed the story with excerpts of Williamson’s screed … but without directly engaging in the expected savage attack on the bozo. It was such a stark difference. Wonderful writing strategy.

Imo, this is among the finest articles you’ve posted in Sadlyville. I learned a lot from reading it. And I’m going to call my friend Rachel tonight while your words still echo in my head.


This article had a difficult birth. It almost killed the mother. Had to be posted by cesarean section in the end.

No man article of woman born shall harm Macbeth.


Rest assured that Zeus was an equal-opportunity rapist

Ganymede was taken to Olympus by Zeus in the form of a eagle, it was at least a forcible abduction.


I’ve been trying to think of something equivalent to the sheer shitheaded refusal to recognize anyone outside his little bastion of privilege as having any, well, humanity or reality to call little Kevin, but I can’t.

His refusal to recognize Chelsea Manning or Laverne Cox as women, and his obsession with the peni they were born with is more than a little skeevy (it’s probably safe to say that they have no interest in doing anything to yours, shithead). Not to mention jaw-droppingly offensive. I’ll try to keep this in mind the next time I hear of someone bringing up some hurtful issue I had been previously unaware of.


OK, so I’m watching TRMS, and am now horrified anew at the sheer asshatted un- no, anti-American sentiments being spouted on national mass media. Really? You, personally, get to decide just who deserves rescue? Really? Someone’s religion (including no religion) should determine rescue? Never mind that in this case it’s some numbnut’s opinion of what some family looks like they might possibly believe?

Makes me wish for a time machine capable of retrieving one of Teh Blessed Founderz they so claim to revere to pull a “Marshall McLuhan” on them.


That was remarkably brave to write and post, Cerb. Thanks for sharing so much.

Williamson doesn’t deserve five percent of the patient explanation you provided. Of course, he’s a shitstain, so even if he stumbles across this it will have no effect.


I can’t even imagine.

Jr High School was a living hell even as a straight white male (lowest difficulty setting).


Ditto the major’s comment. Very brave posting.


Aww, man, really? Ugh. C’mon, Cerb, you’re killing the sweet dreams part of it’s-dark-out-must-sleep…


you’re killing the sweet dreams part of it’s-dark-out-must-sleep…

Really? I found it inspiring. It gave me insight into something that I have never even had a window into, as a lowest-difficulty-setting guy, gave me respect for the ability of someone like Cerb to survive with that level of resistance, and it ended with a positive vision for how to keep moving the goalposts in service of the future people who will have to deal with these sorts of things.

Kevin Williamson doesn’t have to worry about people cutting his dick off. He probably doesn’t have to worry about people TOUCHING it.


Aww, man, really?

Yeah, so using the gendered ‘man’ part of that comment? Pretty inconsiderate, in light of the fact that the ENTIRE POST deals with Cerb’s problems dealing with that kind of casual gender references.

Unless, of course, you realized that when you made that comment and did it anyway, in which case you’re kind of a shithead.


Eros, who is a sometimes savage god

Alright, who’s going to request that the authorities dig up his backyard?


“Eros, who is a sometimes savage god . . . ”

Williamson is on an Adderall bender?

Is there a leak in the containment room at Sadly No Labs? Did the Sadly lab attendants really eat the whole pot candy bar and and watch with Maureen Dowd?


Pennis aka DA’s nymjacker linked to Hot Air (isn’t that Erick ibn Erick’s patch?):

79% of WaPo/ABC poll respondents hold Obama personally responsible for VA scandal

I must defer to Anatole France on that one: “If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”

As opposed to 100% of Sadly No! commenters who don’t, and never will.

Given that the VA scandal is the result of Republican underfunding of the VA, and of Republican underfunding of two incompetently conducted and dubiously necessary wars, and given that the centrist DINO Obama has his hands full trying to get his actual party to cooperate with him and his nominal party to back him up…


…underfunding of the VA, and of Republican underfunding of two incompetently conducted and dubiously necessary obviously unnecessary wars …



Cerb, that was awesome.

Disclaimer: CIS guy. Mostly straight anymore.

I guess I’m just wired differently than some people, because I have yet, in 40+ years, to figure out what the big fucking problem is. Your gender is yours.

My buddy M(1)? I don’t think I’ve seen him with the same woman twice in 5 years. He’s a better guy than I am in a lot of (stereotypical) ways. My friend M(2)? More than once I’ve told her “You are so fucking girly”. It’s pretty sickening at times, when she won’t stop talking about clothes or shoes, it’s like hanging out with a 45 year old teenager.

Neither was born the gender they now are. Or present as. I don’t know, don’t care, none of my business.

Volunteering to help youth is a huge, huge help. You have no idea. Keep at it.

And this douchebag is (obviously) in the wrong, but there’s less and less of ’em coming up.


in reading the comments on kevin’s piece (of which there are over 7,500?!), they make it all about themselves: ‘i REFUSE’ to call them by the pronouns they desire! i KNOW that if you have a penis you are a man and not a woman! WE MUST WIN THIS FIGHT TO DENY THEIR GENDER!!!11!

there was one sorta decent person over there who has friends (a married couple) which is comprised of a woman and a another woman who is transitioning being a man…he’s pretty much, ‘well, they’re nice people, fun to hang out with, what’s it to me what they want to be called or how they identify, i’ll respect their wishes…’ to which he gets, ‘THEY ARE FREAKS! DON’T FALL VICTIM TO THEIR SHENANIGANS!!! WE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO!!!’

it’s always ALL about them…everyone else is supposed to stfu…

there is one comical poster who is a very bad typist and keeps saying that just because vlad ‘thinks’ he’s a vampire, he REFUSES to pay for ‘his surgery to get a cape and fang…’


And this douchebag is (obviously) in the wrong, but there’s less and less of ‘em coming up.

i certainly hope so…

Big Bad Bald Bastard

Regarding the VA scandal, I have to note that it happened in a red state, it happened right in John “Forrestal Firebug” McCain’s backyard, involving his constituents. McCain did nothing about it, knew nothing about it. He was too busy complaining about the sandwiches in the NBC green room to prevent this disgrace.


BBBB, I did some reading, and if the conclusion of the Navy is that John McCain didn’t have anything to do with the USS Forrestal fire, that’s good enough for me. There was enough flammable and explosive stuff on the deck of that ship to be a major hazard, the only strange thing about it is that it didn’t happen sooner. And it’s not like there is a deficit of things he actually did for which he can be criticized. The fire on the USS Forrestal was certainly a tragedy, but I don’t think it’s one that can be blamed on John McCain.


It’s nice to see Ville du Sadlie running smoothly again. Was the solution adding additional hamster wheels? Or did you shift over to gerbil technology? Whatever you did, it’s nice to find it working again.


if the conclusion of the Navy is that John McCain didn’t have anything to do with the USS Forrestal fire, that’s good enough for me.

Not taking issue with anything else you wrote, Helmut. I agree with all of it except this sentence. Official reports written in the immediate aftermath of the accident may not have been entirely candid: If I recall correctly, Admiral McCain was still alive, if no longer on active duty. And everyone knew that John was the Admiral’s boy. So perhaps thumbs on the scale? I dunno. (Perhaps it’s that I’ve become skeptical–indeed suspicious–of some contemporary military reports and studies.)


For example, almost everything ‘officially released’ during the Rumsfeld years.


just because vlad ‘thinks’ he’s a vampire, he REFUSES to pay for ‘his surgery to get a cape and fang…’

The plastic fangs are dirt-cheap. For a really good cape, the sky’s the limit, but IIRC they are worn, not surgically attached.

OTOH, if the cape is actually a part of the vampire, that would explain why the bat form doesn’t have a cape. It is subsumed upon transformation.


It’s nice to see Ville du Sadlie running smoothly again. Was the solution adding additional hamster wheels?

I am hoping the solution was to find a permanent solution to our co-dependency infestation.


And everyone knew that John was the Admiral’s boy. So perhaps thumbs on the scale?

The investigation may have been a whitewash, it may not have been. But with such a wealth of crap for which he can be blamed, his experience as a POW and a survivor of the USS Forrestal, are the two incidents for which I am unwilling to criticize the philandering, war mongering, dishonest superannuated hack.


Holy shit, we’re back!

Good thing it’s been a dull couple of weeks in the news, eh?


Hey, hey, hey!

Missed all you swingin’ hepcats!


Ok so, in all seriousness I have an issue here that maybe smart people here can help me with, and that is, if we take the transgendered seriously, it seems that, to be intellectually honest we need to take furries and otherkin seriously as well. If I don’t have a problem with a tweak of brain chemistry making someone feel that their body is wrong with regard to gender, it should follow that I should be open to someone who is more comfortable dressing as an anthropomorphic fox, or saying that they have the soul of an elf. But I just think they’re kind of sad and deluded, and it makes me feel like a bigot.


if the conclusion of the Navy is that John McCain didn’t have anything to do with the USS Forrestal fire, that’s good enough for me

Only YOU can prevent Forrestal fires!

(Sorry about that. Carry on.)


In response to the commenter whose name is a well-done combination of “batshit” and “Violent Femmes fan”:

I’m thinking the first is an inescapable, fundamental part of one’s identity that is visible everywhere one goes, while the other two are strictly about what people do during playtime or on online forums. Furries and cosplayers aren’t being murdered around the world, they’re just being giggled at.


I have been noticing a small but increasingly visible and vocal contingent of anti-trans* gay men on certain GLBT blogs. Some even object to ANY coverage of trans* issues. Unsurprisingly, they sometimes spread out into decrying the attention paid to lesbians, and denying the existence of bisexuals entirely.

It is dismaying. I’m hoping that they eventually get over it, or at least
realize what complete putzes they’re being.


J Neo Marvin skrev:

I’m thinking [trans] is an inescapable, fundamental part of one’s identity that is visible everywhere one goes, while [furry and otherkin] are strictly about what people do during playtime or on online forums.

I dunno, man. Some of these people seem to have species dysphoria as real as any instance of gender dysphoria you’ve ever seen; it’s just that the state of species-conforming surgery is even more primitive than that of GCS.

Furries and cosplayers aren’t being murdered around the world, they’re just being giggled at.

Now this, OTOH, I can’t argue with even if I wanted to.


If laughing at Cigarskunk is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.


It was a good read, Cerb. Heartwrenching stuff. Thank you for writing about it.

I was right to put it off before bedtime, tho. These guys give me heartburn. And they’re broken records, tabooot.


Some otherkin sound like they feel genuine body dysphoria, others say they found out through an online quiz.

Broseidon, God of the Brocean

if we take the transgendered seriously, it seems that, to be intellectually honest we need to take furries and otherkin seriously as well.

What’s the downside to this, apart from feeling silly? If it’s really important to someone else that you identify them as non-human, what’s your (or my) stake in the issue that makes it worthwhile to argue about it?

there was one sorta decent person over there who has friends (a married couple) which is comprised of a woman and a another woman who is transitioning being a man…he’s pretty much, ‘well, they’re nice people, fun to hang out with, what’s it to me what they want to be called or how they identify, i’ll respect their wishes…’ to which he gets, ‘THEY ARE FREAKS! DON’T FALL VICTIM TO THEIR SHENANIGANS!!! WE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO!!!’


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