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What’s the Harm in “Female-Bodied”?

Guest post by America Yamaguchi

[CN: sexual assault]

 

“Female-bodied” is a term that is endlessly harmful.

It reduces cisgender women to their uterus. While childbearing is a massively important component of patriarchal harm, it goes far beyond that. It is also harmful to insist that childbearing or a uterus is what makes a woman a woman, both to trans people of all genders, and to cisgender women who are infertile for any reason. It compounds a major source of psychological distress to cis women who cannot have children. By the standards of “female-bodied” to mean the uterine body plan, a cisgender woman who is missing any aspect or has a dysfunction by any part, is bound to feel like less of a woman. Thus, this term directly attacks the womanhood of a variety of cis women as well as trans women.

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What’s the Harm in “Female-Bodied”?

Hewing the Heuristic

I know someone who regularly visits the strangest, most extreme corners of the Internet, to experience a kind of macabre bemusement.  They flit from Canadian Association for Equality to A Voice for Men to Return of Kings; they follow trails that start at Fox News and end at Stormfront or r/coontown; they learn about Gamergate by letting Vivian James lead them from TotalBiscuit deep into the places where the movement-that-wasn’t bleeds into these and other right-wing hate groups.

It’s an interesting and rather informative approach.  For people with the stomach to view and cogitate over that level of violence-fomenting hatred, there probably isn’t a better way to see the clear links between the more extreme versions and the ones that more pointedly bring themselves mainstream attention.  It’s a way to remind oneself that the quieter, front-facing versions are direct gateways into deeper wells of horror, and that the worse versions of all these things are worse as a matter of degree, not kind.

The thing is, this kind of searching also leads one into the weird, anti-scientific, decidedly baffling underbelly of many other movements as well, including movements that are utterly benign.

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Hewing the Heuristic

The Shoes Are Not Impractical – You Are

[Spoilers for Jurassic World follow]

Jurassic World is a spectacular film.  The scale of the resurrected-dinosaur franchise did not appreciably increase with the previous two sequels two decades ago, but here, it swells to encompass a larger ecology of reborn dinosaurs, a larger setting, and a larger cinematic vision, which is a fitting continuation to the spectacle of its forebears.  Less fortunately, that larger scale has pushed the franchise away from its suspenseful, adventure-film roots toward creature-feature garishness.  At least they added or restored several characters of color and acknowledged in-universe that their undead sauropsids often bear only superficial resemblance to their ostensible forebears.

As much as the biologist in me was shrieking the whole time, the movie had one joyous redeeming feature, and that was Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, Claire Dearing.

Claire Dearing looking sarcastically on. From MovieWeb.com.

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The Shoes Are Not Impractical – You Are

Lovecraft Letters 1: The Beautiful Disaster of Your Eyes

Men.  What are they even?  So many of them are so, SO bad at sending OkCupid and similar missives that one wonders if they aren’t any of various Lovecraftian monsters pretending at typewritten humanity in order to seduce lovely victims.

In this ongoing project, I take examples of dating-profile ridiculousness and weave it into the all-caps messages such eldritch abominations might send.  Our first example is a little too solicitous of a contact’s eyes.

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Lovecraft Letters 1: The Beautiful Disaster of Your Eyes

Sorting

I have a lot of sorting to do.

I have an underwear drawer to sort.  I have a closet to sort.  I have a bathroom to sort.  I have habits and patterns and assumptions and expectations to sort.  I have friends and relatives to sort.

I have twenty-seven years of memories to sort.

A few days ago, I took the most public step so far in my social transition and I changed the gender line on my Facebook profile from “male” to “female.”  From now on, Facebook will not misgender me: people will be prompted to post on her wall, look at what she has posted, tag her in photos.  I made a life event post out of it, and the collected well-wishing of 150 people of varying levels of closeness to me was a welcome reminder that, where I go, I do not need to go alone.

I needed that.  The self-actualization on which I embarked a few months ago is the single most terrifying thing I have ever done.  A dozen awkward courtships, becoming an atheist, admitting my disinterest in medical school, moving 1600 kilometers away from my family, enduring being grilled by professors until they were impressed enough to turn my nascent MSc into a Ph.D. in waiting, learning the hard way that one of Mom’s six siblings is too toxic a person to have in my life any more than absolutely necessary, recognizing my autism without a formal diagnosis—none of that compares to the thrumming, thrilling existential terror before me now.

I am not even talking about how I am a trans woman of color, and the biggest protection I have from the world’s desire to murder women like me is an ambiguous complexion and a well-off background.

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Sorting

Love That Does Not Accept Me

Let’s get one thing clear

When someone you know tells you something big, like say, “I’m trans,” these are some appropriate responses:

“Wow, congrats on figuring yourself out!”

“Should I start using new pronouns?”

“Wow, um, it’ll take me a bit to process this, but I’ll try.”

“Cool! I’ve never known a trans person before and I have loads of questions. Let me know if they’re getting too personal, okay? I know this is probably the single most intense conversation you’ve ever had. including that time you were threatened by a vagrant wielding a Bible and a pacemaker scar in the trash room of your building, so I don’t want to make this even scarier for you.”

“You know, I/someone I know is getting rid of some old clothes and cheap jewelry. I can let them know you’re interested and see if they’ll let you pick through them first.”

 

Depending on your relationship to that person, this might also be an appropriate response:

“Sick! Sick and ungodly! You’ll burn for not fulfilling your righteous godly destiny you abomination unto the Lord!”

Provided you’re someone whose connection to the person talking to you is mostly self-contained (unlike, say, family), this can be an appropriate response because it lets them know you’re an unenlightened, trans-antagonistic piece of shit and they will lose nothing of value by cutting all ties with you.

 

The following are not appropriate responses.

Continue reading “Love That Does Not Accept Me”

Love That Does Not Accept Me