I know that I’m always bugging you, whether for your numbers so that I can get added to your seemingly infinite lists of booty calls or because I’m calling you out for whatever form of misogyny has me angry today, but we need to talk. Again. Here’s the thing: in the past couple of years, you’ve really made some strides in recognizing that trans women get the fuzzy end of the Queer Community lollipop. And that’s great. I’m glad that you’re starting to see what we’ve been talking about for the past thirty years.
But I need you all to commit to something for me. I know, I know — you have commitment issues. Believe me, after the 14 trans guys I’ve dated over the last two years, I know all about your commitment issues. But I really need you to do this for me. I’m not going to sugar it by saying that it’s going to be easy, either. This one takes some real commitment.
Here’s what I’m asking for: stop speaking at/performing at/having your art featured in conferences, panel discussions, art shows, rock shows, and any other event that says it’s about “gender” or “trans people” or even “queer people” but does not actively include trans women.
Take a moment. Breathe. Ground. Centre.
“But how will I ever have my art shown again?!” you ask in horror, while silently wondering how you’ll get laid without the Queer Points you earn from having your stuff everywhere the cool queers are.
To this I can only reply, “Welcome to our world.”
Here’s the thing: if you are putting on or participating in shows/conferences/events that are about “trans people,” and no trans women are significantly involved? Those sausage-less-fests are contributing to the marginalization of trans women who are supposedly part of your community. And that marginalization translates into our higher vulnerability to many things, not the least of which being intimate partner violence and suicidality. And it’s just a shitty thing to do.
Don’t want to stop doing these events? Ok, I’m willing to give you an option. I’m a giver, as my previously mentioned laundry list of exboyfriends can surely attest.
Call it something else. It’s very simple. If you event is called, say, “TRANS/gender/ART,” rename it to what it actually is “MASC/fest.” I actually am not opposed to that. Everyone knows I enjoy a good MASC/fest. I could go for one right now, as a matter of fact (call me maybe?). If we start to call things as they are, at least then we’ll all know what we really mean. Clarity is adjacent to Godliness.
Start asking questions. If cis queer or trans masc organizers come to you and ask you to be in their show/conference/event, ask who else is featured. Ask if trans women have been included in the organizing in any way. And, if they haven’t been, ask why. You might hear a lot of borderline horrifying things about trans women with that last question. I’ve heard them when I’ve asked, and you’d think they’d at least feign ignorance around me as a known trans lady. I can only imagine what they’ll say to you.
If you’re not willing to make this commitment, please consider not calling yourself an ally to trans women. And in doing so, please stop invoking Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, and the litany of each year’s murdered trans women (mostly sex workers and mostly women of colour) that we call TDOR.
~Your Girl Friday (after your date with your Other Girl Friday, of course)