A Transformative Citation

April 17, 2012
“Hearken unto me, fellow creatures. I who have dwelt in a form unmatched with my desire, I whose flesh has become an assemblage of incongruous anatomical parts, I who achieve the similitude of a natural body only through an unnatural process, I offer you this warning: the Nature you bedevil me with is a lie. Do not trust it to protect you from what I represent, for it is a fabrication that cloaks the groundlessness of the privilege you seek to maintain for yourself at my expense. You are as constructed as me; the same anarchic Womb has birthed us both. I call upon you to investigate your nature as I have been compelled to confront mine. I challenge you to risk abjection and flourish as well as have I. Heed my words, and you may well discover the seams and sutures in yourself.”

— Susan Stryker

No More Apologies, Ottawa

April 17, 2012

Tried to post this to http://themendingyear.blogspot.ca/2012/04/april-14-2012.html

I was also there.

There were several symbolic moments, but then, as one of the oppressed–we hardly use that word for trans women–I would have been the one to notice.

It was the moment when the organizers said,”Trans women Go Over There!” which perfectly described the political situation I, and others like me, are placed in. And it was so naturalized, no one, except for myself, notice.

It certainly seemed a whole lot longer than five minutes for the door to the main/public space to open. But then, on this side of the privilege/oppression divide, these things seem only as long as our lives.

Again, the political tin ear of the whole event showed through.

I was wondering when one of the few feminists there, there must have been one or two, would actually say, “the personal is the political.” But, again, that is not what someone on the other side of the privilege/oppression divide would say–the privilege side–applying to themselves in this reverse context.

They got to the point of accepting that some personal introspection might well be desirable, in good liberal fashion, but I actually waited for someone, other than myself, to actually say what clearly is a dirty word: politics.

Almost as dirty as the word: convenience.

For all the hard work and good will/good faith that went into organizing the conference, I was interested in the 4:1 cis to trans ration in the conference (even without the ‘usual suspects’) and the almost reverse ratio at the dance later.

Emotions being the personal thing they are, they are not accessible to public scrutiny.

But then, the keynote speaker, from Toronto, said that emotions are shaped by prejudices. But even the person from Toronto couldn’t bring herself to go to the next step: prejudices are shaped by politics.

To paraphrase what someone once said of theory: you can be for politics, you can be against politics, but you can’t be without politics.

Without a political analysis of privilege/oppression which even feminism can’t apply to itself, and the subjects defined by feminism cannot apply to themselves, either. And those of us who are the subjects of their oppression cannot stand up and defiantly declare our challenge, as feminists once did, such conferences will achieve exactly what this one did: the recreation of the political context.