12/17/12

Why I support Levi Pine

Today's guest post is from a good friend and author who has graciously agreed to write in response to a earlier controversial post on planetransgender.

Zoe E Whitten is the author over 30 books, including Sandy Morrison and the Pack of Pussies, The Life and Death of a Sex Doll, Zombie Punter, and Confessions of a Zombie Lover. When she isn’t writing fiction, she can usually be found on  Twitter  ranting incoherently about isms and bullying.

Why I support Levi Pine

by Zoe E Whitten

After a brief discussion this weekend on Twitter, Kelli invited me to send a guest post on her article about Levi Pine, and I’m going to disagree with her assessment of the case and explain why I can’t accept her thinking about how trans rights should be presented to cisgender folks.

I don’t believe Levi Pine is wrong for making a discrimination case because it is discrimination to suggest that a trans person should have to use a separate but equal shower facility. If we replaced trans man with black man and suggested that it would be immoral for little white boys to see adult black naked men in the same setting of a public shower, the inherent prejudice of such an arrangement would be obvious, and no one would stand for it.

That some trans people agree that it is immoral for us to be nude around children suggests that we are internalizing guilt for the stereotype that we’re one step up from child molesters, and it’s not a healthy mindset for us to be taking on. Our transitions are all about shedding societal expectations and guilt, but what do non-ops of either gender do if they decide they’re happy without a lower surgery? Do we tell them they aren’t fit for society while passing post-ops are okay? All that’s going to do is create a class of have-nots within our movement, and we already lack the clout not to be forced in GL lobbies that rarely represent our best interests.

I also think it’s hypocritical of cisgender folks to suggest that exposing young boys to nude cis men is okay, but them seeing a trans man’s vagina is immoral. Nudity around children is either immoral in all cases, or it isn’t in all cases, full stop. To suggest that a trans person’s nudity is somehow different from a cis person’s is asking us to voluntarily accept a prejudice held against us and our bodies. We should be proud of who we are and of our struggles against gender prejudice. Anything less is like keeping a toe in the closet because we’re supposed to be ashamed of our genitals.

We shouldn’t accept this idea temporarily to advance our cause either, because we’ve been fighting since the 60s over the same basic issues over and over, with both straights and with our GL allies. If we accept that it’s not right for us to shower in public, we’re sliding down a slope toward accepting that we can’t use public toilets in our chosen gender either. And honestly, I’m getting sick of people throwing “confusion of the kids” in our faces as an excuse for why we can’t have equal rights.

Returning to a black civil rights analogy, this is like suggesting that maybe we should ride at the back of the bus another decade, just in case it might change someone’s mind about us. But civil rights history should have taught us by now, you don’t confront prejudice by agreeing to accept a stereotype, not even temporarily to placate an enemy. You move to the front of the bus and make a scene. You go get in the shower where you feel you belong, and you don’t accept a separate but equal offering for a private isolating shower.

I think the real problem is, people sometimes forget that we are in a civil rights fight. Not a debate, and not a discourse. This being a fight, it’s okay to offend our opponents without it hurting our current position one way or the other. They have no problems offending us with insults and physical attacks, so it doesn’t make sense to be accommodating on this one issue. We’re on the losing side no matter what, so why should we accept the idea that there’s something shameful about our bodies when what we’re fighting for is to remove these social stigmas?

Moreover, accepting this idea that our nude pre-op bodies are immoral means post-ops end up abandoning non-ops. It’s a divide and conquer strategy being used against us, and I cannot accept that we walk away from so many of our brothers and sisters for the sake of political expediency. We didn’t like when the gay lobbies did it to us with ENDA over and over, so let’s not make the same mistake within our own ranks.

We should be pushing this issue just as strongly as gays push their marriage agenda. There is nothing to be ashamed of in being trans, and there is nothing immoral about our bodies, non-op or not. To suggest otherwise is to internalize the hatred cast upon us by society, and I am done bearing the burdens of their hate simply for being born.

Is Levi Pine’s case an “agenda killer”? Only if your agenda was playing nice to prejudiced people in the hopes of them one day hating you less. But my agenda is getting up in peoples’ faces and reminding them that there’s nothing wrong with us. Which is why I feel this is another prejudice that we should work against, not embrace and compromise on. We should be thanking Levi for having the guts to stand up to societal bullying, not tsking him for embarrassing us with his “immoral” naked body.



1 comment:

tashax23 said...

You make excellent points and, as a post-op, I have no intention of abandoning the fight. On the contrary, it is more important to me than ever. The fact is, as a pre-op, I never felt comfortable showering in public, or even using a locker room. Call it shame, but it didn't feel right to me...I didn't want the attention. But the fact is, as you say, this is about nudity and what we pretent to tolerate is acceptable and where we pretend to tolerate it being acceptable. If we accept naked bodies in front of our children, we accept that there is nothing shameful about naked bodies. If the naked bodies in question cause our children to question, as a parent if a naked body caused my son or daughter to question, I would answer them. There is nothing harmful about seeing naked bodies, no matter how they are gendered. As a society, we need to move towards this, not away from it.

We should not be ashamed of the naked trans body because it is just as valid as a naked cis body. If, as a parent, you feel otherwise, keep your kids out of locker rooms because you may not be ready to answer any of their questions. Don't get me started on the differences between Jewish and Gentile genitalia...