Love Outside of Gender

Our love of gender through our ingrained subscriptions to masculinity and femininity we perform and police oppresses us powerfully and invisibly. Contemporary feminist debate over the meanings of gender reveals the trouble of patriarchy, misogyny and sexism that Butler suggests comes with the narrative of compulsory heterosexuality (1990). Queer theory exposes the idea of sexual orientation as being separate issues to gender identity and gender expression while mainstream media characterises those who deviate from norms as the other attempting to assimilate and subscribe to the same ideals. Ahmed speaks of heteronormativity to be a public comfort as a seamless integration of heterosexual and gender conforming bodies within space where one does no notice this as a world when one has been shaped by it, instead of the discomfort explored by queerness (2004, p. 148).

Present discussions brought upon by hyper-visibility from public figures of the trans movement Hari Nef[1] and Laverne Cox[2] on trans-femininity, intersectionality of race and class with gender, and agender identities in the transgender narrative unpack the world through the four dimensions in Inayatullah’s method of casual layered analysis that inquires into the commonly accepted notions, (social, economic and political) causes of the issue, the cultural lenses and paradigms, and the underlying myth (2008, p. 12).

Cis and heterosexual masses are given humanising understandings that uphold rather than threaten the heteronormative foundations such as what trans activist and author Janet Mock[3] has critiqued of trans bodies described to be trapped that perpetuates a self-hatred in trans youth, which can only be relieved by a transition to the opposite end of the spectrum and reinforces ideas of passing[4]. These trans femme aesthetics for example have been questioned by feminists to suggest that they uphold sexist and patriarchal ideas of femininity, which Hari Nef spells out in her TED Talk[5] these acts of feminising, hormonal therapy and gender reassignment are more often a need for survival and safety rather than identity. There is also tension whereby cisgendered women participate in trans-misogyny emphasised by the misogynist idea of womanhood being defined by vagina and the common narrative of trans and queer femininities as masquerading and imposter to trick and thus, worthy of violence. The onus is on people to change their bodies to authenticate themselves in world that erases their existence instead of having a society shift the idea of norms. A shift to recognising that validation is not needed, everyone exists outside of societal norms and one does not have to be man or women to be coherent. Queer and trans identities are framed by violence – one understands gender by being called a faggot. Gender policing hurts everyone as people hurt others because they are hurt so how do we liberate both victims and perpetrators. How can we love each other hard enough so that there is no need to outsource our trauma or leave the space we exist in? How can our friendships be that therapy? How do we move to a blank slate where we grow into humans rather than man or woman, to self-narrate our bodies and outside of gender?

[1] http://www.lennyletter.com/work/a223/hypervisibility-hari-nef/

[2] http://time.com/132769/transgender-orange-is-the-new-black-laverne-cox-interview/

[3] http://janetmock.com/2012/07/09/josie-romero-dateline-transgender-trapped-body/

[4] http://www.vice.com/read/passing-when-youre-transgender

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0D9QIG36J9Q

References:

Ahmed, S. 2004, ‘Queer Feelings’, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, Routledge, New York, pp. 144 – 167.

Butler, J. 1990, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, Routledge, New York

Inayatullah, S. 2008, ‘Six pillars: futures thinking for transforming’, Foresight, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 4 – 21

 

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One comment

  1. Kenneth’s raises an important issue of how violence frames queer and trans gender identities. How does the nature of mainstream media and decisions within the film industry reinforces negative stereotypes, views and fears on the trans gender community? Recently, actor Jamie Clayton opened up on how disappointing to yet see another film miscasting trans character which resulted in her tweet to be blocked by actor Matt Bomer (who is staring as a trans woman in upcoming film ‘Anything’ which she is referring to). This was a common example of what happens when trans women speak out about such things in the film industry. Jessica Lachenal from pop culture blog ‘The Mary Sue’ highlights the media’s insensitive treatment and reluctance to place women in trans roles and the repercussion of hate crime violence against trans women, in particular sex workers (Around 73% of victims of hate crime homicide in 2013 were trans women according to National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs). Lachenal refers to Jen Richards, a director who openly calls out the damaging trope of trans women in film, who points out cis men playing trans women will directly lead to violence. Most commonly, heterosexual men were the perpetrators of hate crime, retaliating through violence because of repulsion and/or fear for the masculinity. This has been labelled as “trans panic” defence which is used in court today, which legalises the murder of trans women on the basis that the perpetrators was so “panicked” when they learned the other person was trans. It is scary to see that toxic masculinity and demands of men exist and are reinforced by the legal system – when will we be able to love outside gender?

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