For Your Entertainment: part II

HBO is planning a new drama series about a trans-masculine transition. Who else is worried about this?

“T” as the show is known, follows a person who is transitioning from female to male. The creators of the show are the same as those who created “In Treatment” an HBO show that surrounds sessions of psychotherapy. Charming. I’m surely looking forward to how  bunch of non-trans hollywood know-it-alls are going to portray us.

Now, maybe I’m being overly pessimistic.  Just because the popular media has a habit of portraying us as self-hating hideousos, lying tricksters, and fame-seeking sideshow acts doesn’t mean that this new portrayal will be a disaster… It just makes it highly probable.

With the growth of our movement, there is an expected growth of attention. More people will talk about us, more people will wonder about us, more people will hate us, and inevitably, more people will be fascinated with us. I never quite know how to interpret the fascination factor. Should I be flattered that my identity is so interesting? Am I a better person because I am supposed to be more complex and my story is more… entertaining?

As I wrote back in June about growing trans attention, I feel that sensationalizing difference is another form of societal oppression. Making a TV special or going on Oprah where no real information or acceptance is promoted is no different than displaying us in a cage for view. Of course I realize that tons of people and identities are put on display every day. That doesn’t make any one instance more or less acceptable. Most media representation isn’t about helping a movement, its so people can sit in front of their TV and say “Holy shit, what a freak. Glad I’m not like that.” Its so big-wig “non-profits” can get recognition by being seen as an authority as they slap a mental disorder on us. Or so a bunch of bored hipsters can ask invasive questions and claim us as friends for cool points. I fucking hate hipsters….

These people don’t care about us, they are working for their own interests. So, who’s out there working for us? It sure isn’t them. It has to be us. We have to make our own public image, and if people choose to be fascinated by us, we’ll know its because of our hot sexy fabulousness, not because of what Oprah says.

Coming Out for Your Entertainment?

The newest trans-media craze has hit. A semi-celebrity, who I am not naming, has come out as trans and announced his transition. Clearly the announcement was made to circumvent a mass-media fest. In his announcement he also specifically requested privacy. Of course he’s not getting it. Who’s surprised?

I realize the media sensationalizes the most minimal things for entertainment. That said, I have found particular attention is paid to queer and trans concerns. The media either crucifies the person or tries to highlight how amazingly normal the person is (in effort to be supportive to the poor, gay soul). Who would ever think a queer person could be well-adjusted? Holy heterosexist, Batman!

In the case of this person coming out, some news articles have been surprisingly well written and mostly focused on actual trans issues. However, the majority are full of the expected trans-ignorant language like using the wrong pronoun and terms like “gender switching/swapping,” “Girl Boy,” “she/ he,” “it,” and my favorite-“wow.”

A person’s coming out story should not be a opportunity for public commentary and fascination, as if the person were growing a new limb. Being trans doesn’t make you magic. Believe me I wish it did, but it doesn’t. Yes, it is hard to come out and it is hard to transition. Yes, we are a greatly ignored population and there is little education about us. That doesn’t give anyone the right to turn us into a spectacle.

There is public habit of making representatives out of people just because they are different. There is no consent in this iconization, only the assumption that if you are different you must want to be talked about. So often marginalized populations are labeled, boxed, and then expected to present their experience for the sake of “educating” others. What people want isn’t education, its entertainment. When someone finds out I’m trans they don’t want to discuss gender theory with me. They want to know what my body looks like, how I have sex, and if I’ve had “the surgery.” They want to hear about how depressing my life is so they can feel like a supporter when they tell me how brave I am.

The reality is that I’m no braver than anyone else. I think that we all are brave for surviving in this fucked up world, queer or not. People need to look past the labels and see the person behind it. Sensationalizing those who are different is a form of societal oppression.


Ding Dong, the L Word’s Dead

I Hate the L Word – part II

Some of my friends recently had an L Word party to mark the final L Word episode, but it wasn’t a celebratory “Ding dong the witch is dead!” party as I would hope. It was a get together to watch the last episode and mourn the loss of the show.

I realize that the L Word creates visibility for the lesbian community, offers media representation of “homosexual” women, and has hot sex scenes. Knowing all that, it still isn’t a good enough reason for me to understand the support of it.

A lot of my friends groan or give me a silenced look when I get angry for their L Word interests. They act like I shouldn’t be upset about it, like I should let it go. It’s easy for them to overlook the shit the L Word does cause it’s not their identity on the line. If there was something (like a TV show) that was great for me but shitty for my friend, I couldn’t support it in good conscious no matter how much I enjoyed it.

And the L Word’s offensiveness doesn’t just apply to its fictional writing. It is made by shitty people. I heard Rose Troche speak (an L Word writer and director, including the pregnant Max episode) and she is possibly the most offensive person I have ever heard speak in a queer venue. In addition to her outing co-workers and making fun of eating disorders, in the Q&A she stated that she believed that she provided an “accurate representation” of trans-people. What ego-pumping drug is she smoking?

Similarly, I know so many people who identify themselves as trans-allies, but support the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) which makes no sense to me. There are so many little outlets of transphobia hidden everywhere, I understand when it can’t be totally avoided. I have been forced to HRC events because I had to be there to do activist work or for performing. But there is a difference between doing the minimum civil interaction in order to get the job done and just being lazy. I even know transpeople who support transphobic outlets because it is easier than standing against it. It’s easier to just let transphobia and trans-exclusion slide a little. What people are failing to realize is that it affects us all. Transphobia is homophobia. It is all based on societal gender norms.

I understand that just because someone likes the L Word or the HRC, it doesn’t mean they can’t or don’t support trans and genderqueer people. And I know that there is an element of waiting and patience in all activism. Still, I can’t shake the emotional reaction. Every time, I can’t help thinking “How can you do this to me? There is no difference between us. You just have more rights.”

cross-posted on

I hate the L Word

So I recently found out that the transguy on the L Word, Max, is pregnant. Are they kidding me with this shit?

I don’t know why I was at all surprised. Max isn’t so much a transguy as he is a compilation of every negative trans-masculine stereotype imaginable. He’s an insecure, hyper-masculine, misogynistic, homophobic asshole. And it just so happens that the character only turned into an asshole after he came out as trans. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the character projects the most unrealistic, negative physical transition I’ve ever seen of a trans-masculine person in the media. And since the world’s current vision of transguys is Thomas Beatie, why wouldn’t Max follow suit?

People argue that the show doesn’t promote transphobic stereotypes. They say that Max is commonly disliked because he has a bad personality. But every negative comment I’ve heard directed at this character is not about his personality. It has always been about him being trans and in the form of transphobic hate-speech.

I’m not saying TV always has to be realistic or representative. I won’t even lament about how if they wanted a transguy, they should of cast a real transguy. All I’m saying is that the L Word doesn’t make transguys lives any easier. I think it makes things progressively harder.

The L Word deliberately exploits trans-identity for entertainment and everyone just eats it up. If a show negatively portrays lesbian and gay people, people organize massive boycotts and campaigns. No one says anything about putting transgender people down. I mean, why would they? It’s not like we’re real people or anything.

cross-posted on