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 and Laverne Cox 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 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. 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 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?
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