A friend recently posted a video “6 Things Trans Women Want You to Know” with Carmen Carrera.
DISCLAIMER: I am a trans ally. My first and favorite dormmate was mid transition and shared a lot with me. I had MANY conversations with others who did not support or understand his gender identity. I am fully supportive of others’ gender identities wherever they fall on the gender spectrum. (Hopefully this doesn’t just sound like “But I totally have a black friend”… because that’s not how I mean it.)
HOWEVER, while I mostly really like this video and am all for more visibility and acceptance for transgender peeps, I feel this video was mildly offensive or ignorant (hoping the latter) in places – and felt motivated to blog about it.
The 6 things Miss Carmen wanted to talk about as a trans woman:
#1 – We don’t like being misgendered
Yeah, totally get it. Everyone is on board.
#2 – Gender identity isn’t tied to sexual orientation
Yup, we’re all thumbs ups and high fives out here. Gender identity and sexual orientation are totally separate.
#3 – You don’t have to have a uterus to be a woman
Yaaay! Wait…. can we clarify this?
“I feel like it’s rude to tell me I’m not a woman because I don’t menstruate, not only to trans women but just to women in general.”
Really? It’s rude to women to acknowledge the fact that all cisgender women have this crazy bodily system that effects our lives in a pretty fundamental and really regular (hopefully) way?
I am all for using the pronouns that make someone comfortable, but as someone who has been a woman my entire life, with all the built-in ups and downs… I find it just as disrespectful and dismissive for a trans woman to say that she understands my life as a cis woman as it is for me to say I understand her life as a trans woman.
I do believe that Carmen is a woman and should be regarded as such. She IS a trans woman and no one can tell her otherwise.
But she isn’t a cis woman. And that’s totally cool.
It is not dissimilar to people who change their appearance to be a different race (check out Rachel Dolezal) and then say they understand how it is to be that race. Perhaps they now know how strangers will treat members of that race, they have a little taste of what its like. However, to miss the huge part of a gender or racial identity that starts at birth and is part of your identity for your entire life is to truly discount part of what it means to be human in that skin. It also discounts what it means to be human in your own skin by dismissing the things that only exist in a trans skin.
I am absolutely in favor of everyone doing what makes them comfortable and I have absolutely no problem using whatever pronouns float someone’s boat and recognizing them as the gender they are. 110%!
But it’s sad to discount the life experience of womanhood by saying “Not having a uterus or a period or children doesn’t make me not a woman”. It doesn’t make you not a woman, but it makes you a trans woman and not a cis woman. Do not strive to be something you are not. Be who YOU are.
Be proud of who you are. Be proud of who others are. Ask for empathy and respect, but also give empathy and respect. Ask others to see you as a transgender woman, but understand that you will never understand the true experience inside a cisgender woman’s skin and please be understanding when people struggle with a new concept and a new pronoun.
#4 – Trans women are figuring it out along the way
“I wasn’t fortunate enough to have preparation for being a woman growing up”
I find it pretty strange for you to assume women receive training on how to be women. There is no right way to be a woman. There is no right way to be a man. This is not a binary system (we only have one sun :P). There is no handbook!
Remember that time that humans are humans and while gender does influence your internal and external environment… EVERYONE GETS TO BE AN INDIVIDUAL. FVCK your notion of WOMAN TRAINING. Many MANY people struggle with their gender, the cognitive dissonance between expectations and internal truths. Many reject cultural gender norms, question their gender, or rejoice in the norms that fit them and celebrate their gender. There is a whole flavor spectrum of gender and everyone has found their own spot along it (which remains a moving target). There is no training. EVERYONE is figuring it out as they go along. EVERYONE.
#5 – You’d be lucky to hook up with a trans woman
There are problems with this statement. I’m sure Miss Carmen is just making a point with this one and trying to address one of the most dangerous situations for a trans woman… Which is good… I get it.
But then my brain gets all semantic and technical about it: Yeah, you know what it feels like to have a d*ck. But all d*cks are NOT made equal. What works for you may not work for someone else. Great sex is all about comfort, trust, and open communication! Previous experience with one person just simple doesn’t translate to the next….
You know what, never mind. This stream is full of red herrings.
#6 – Respect the privacy of trans people as it might threaten their safety
Totally. Yes. Preach it. Shout it out.
Okay, Miss Carmen brought it back to a serious note that we can all agree on. Again, this is something that is unique to trans gendered women. Cisgender women may have to live with a lot of fear because of their gender and certain fvcked up cultural norms, but we will NEVER have to live with the fear that a transgender woman will. This is another reason that I think it’s a disservice to Carmen to want to be identified as a cisgender woman because it erases so much of the struggle, hardship, and uniqueness about walking in her skin.
It is absolutely heartbreaking that anyone would feel justified murdering a transgender individual in cold blood simply because they are too ignorant and close minded to respect and honor the trans individual.
Everyone is allowed to dress, behave, speak, dance etc however they want – so long as it doesn’t actively harm anyone else. A transgender woman, a cisgender woman, a transgender man, a cisgender man, a gender queer individual – each one could wear sky high heels, a mini skirt, and pasties or utilitarian welding coveralls and work boots or a scuba suit, astronaut suit, power suit, cheerleading uniform…. It doesn’t matter. They are each who they are underneath the outfit. If they go by he, she, they… who cares? They get to be them, and that is fabulous because you get to be you! And no one can tell you otherwise! This doesn’t entitle you to touch, verbally assault, or do any knowing harm to anyone – that’s not included in the “Do You, Boo!” mission statement. But who wants to do that sh*t anyway?
This is perfectly timed for Halloween. I, personally, find the “sexy” version of anything to be an uncreative concept (for anyone) but I also respect everyone’s right to wear ’em loud and wear ’em proud.
But, no matter how sexy the costume, or the person underneath… a costume is NEVER consent. Someone could go as “consent” for Halloween and wear nothing but a bumper sticker that says “YES, OF COURSE” and it’s still just a costume.
Do you, boo. And respect all the other boos out there.