THERE’S NOT A STAR IN HEAVEN THAT WE CAN’T REACH
My galaxy of queerdom, of freedom, of destroying oppression with a (body, gender, trans, love, sex) positive agenda
Here is how the internship scam works. It’s not about a “skills” gap. It’s about a morality gap.
1) Make higher education worthless by redefining “skill” as a specific corporate contribution. Tell young people they have no skills.
2) With “skill” irrelevant, require experience. Make internship sole path to experience. Make internships unpaid, locking out all but rich.
3) End on the job training for entry level jobs. Educated told skills are irrelevant. Uneducated told they have no way to obtain skills.
4) As wealthy progress on professional career path, middle and lower class youth take service jobs to pay off massive educational debt.
5) Make these part-time jobs not “count” on resume. Hire on prestige, not skill or education. Punish those who need to work to survive.
6) Punish young people who never found any kind of work the hardest. Make them untouchables — unhireable.
7) Tell wealthy people they are “privileged” to be working 40 hrs/week for free. Don’t tell them what kind of “privileged” it is.
8) Make status quo commentary written by unpaid interns or people hiring unpaid interns. They will tell you it’s your fault.
9) Young people, it is not your fault. Speak out. Fight back. Bankrupt the prestige economy.
Over the past two years, I’ve shared a lot of space with cisgender feminists who are seeking to add a trans voice to their panel, event, or conference. I can often sense that these feminists’ hearts are in the right place with regards to trans issues. They’re trying and their effort is real but they’re still struggling to work past some conceptual issues that might affect their language.
So let’s start with the language and work backwards. Trans-inclusive cisgender feminists still have some pretty pernicious habits of language that stubbornly persist in their vocabulary.
Many friends and colleagues have written or tweeted about this problematic language but, much like I did in this frequently shared post on the sex/gender distinction, I wanted to compose a handy reference for cisgender feminists who know they want to be trans-inclusive and have learned some basic vocabulary, but want to learn “how to talk about it” without setting off any alarm bells.
1) Please remove the phrases “female-identified,” “male-identified,””female-bodied,” and “male-bodied” from your vocabulary.
These phrases are my number one pet peeve. Often the people using them think that they’re being really good by using these phrases instead of saying “women” and “men.” What they don’t know is that these phrases have a troubled, transphobic history and carry a lot of conceptual baggage. In their current instantiation, people who use these phrases are often just hypercorrecting, using language that is technically incorrect because it “sounds good.”
But why are they bad? “Female-identified” is a phrase that needlessly divides women with different body types from one another. When combined with language like “female-bodied,” “female-identified” carries with it the suggestion that women without vaginas are not really women, that they only identify as such in spite of their “male” bodies.
Bodies, furthermore, are not inherently male or female. Sex assignment is a social process governed largely by more-or-less arbitrary medical conventions surrounding ideal, normative genital appearance and heterosexual reproductive viability. The rigidity of our society’s two-sex system is by no means a natural outgrowth of our bodily characteristics: it’s our commitment to a two-gender system mapped in reverse onto our bodies.
“But chromsomes!” you might say. Nope. The things that you have learned and internalized about the sex of the human body are so affected by our social ideologies that they cannot be separated from them.
Even if distinctions like male/female-bodied vs. male/female identified were non-invasive or politically expedient (they’re neither), they also are semantically meaningless when we consider the full range of bodies that the category women includes. An intersex woman, for example, might not have a body that correlates with the full connotations of the phrase “female-bodied,” but may not have born with a penis, either.
Transgender women who have undergone genital reassignment surgery also frustrate the way in which “female-bodied” is used as a distinction between cisgender and transgender women: they have breasts, they have vaginas, and their bodies do not natively produce substantial quantities of testosterone. They don’t have a uterus, sure, but many cisgender women are born without a uterus as well.
By conventional and socially dominant methods of visible measurement, these bodies are female. But I’m pretty sure that people who use the phrase “female-bodied” are intending to exclude these bodies when they deploy that language.
What’s the solution to all this confusion? It’s easier than you might think. “Women” is a category that includes a variety of gender expressions and bodies. It will do just fine when you want to talk about women. “Men” is a category that includes a variety of gender expressions and bodies. It will do just fine when you want to talk about men.
You might not think it’s that simple, however. Feminism and other progressive political movements rightly engage with bodies in their political activism. Feminism, for example, focuses on reproductive justice and healthcare. How can we talk about sex, bodies, and reproduction without drawing lines between transgender women and cisgender women’s bodies?
Easy. When you want to talk about gender, talk about gender. When you want to talk about body politics, talk about bodies. If you want to talk about issues that affect people with vaginas, for example, you’re talking about both men and women.
And, as Katherine Cross observes on Feministing, feminism should fully integrate a focus on transgender women’s reproductive rights and healthcare with a focus on issues like abortion and birth control. Trans women’s bodies are women’s bodies and they deserve a place in the mainstream of feminist body politics and reproductive justice efforts.
To summarize, then, phrases like “female-identified” and “female-bodied” are biologically reductionist, needlessly divisive, and functionally meaningless. If you feel like they are necessary to engage in your form of feminist body politics, it’s time to shake up your body politics. EIther way, please quit using these phrases.
2) Please do not list “women” and “trans women” as different categories when listing marginalized groups or talking about oppression.
Separating out “trans women” from “women” carries with it the suggestion that a “trans woman” is not a woman unmodified, that she is a different kind of person entirely. “Women” is allowed to stand alone as an unquestioned and unmarked category while “trans women” are marked as the Other to a de facto group of cisgender women.
This linguistic habit also runs the risk of suggesting that trans women do not experience the same marginalization that women do. I most recently heard it used in the context of “I know what it’s like to be a woman but I don’t know what it’s like to be a trans woman.”
While there are forms of oppression that are unique to transgender people, transgender women share in cisgender women’s oppression. Sexual and domestic violence, street harassment, employment discrimination, body image issues, lack of access to reproductive health care, eating disorders, self-harm, the list goes on; if it affects cisgender women, it affects transgender women, too.
Furthermore, if you utter the word “women,” you are already including transgender women by definition. At that point, it’s up to you to be sure that your feminist politics also includes issues that acutely affect transgender women in particular such as police harassment, stop and frisk laws, gender identity inclusion in civil rights legislation, access to trans-inclusive healthcare, etc.
In some contexts where it’s necessary to highlight your own privilege, it might be worthwhile to note that you are unaware of the added layers of marginalization that transgender women experience. But do not do this at the expense of disavowing the common struggles of women, unmarked, unmodified, transgender and cisgender alike.
When you must speak to the specific issues that affect cisgender women and transgender women respectively, don’t leave your own womanhood unmarked while marking a transgender woman’s womanhood.
Transgender women’s particular struggles are yours too as a fellow woman; they’re not mythical, comprehension-defying.forms of oppression. If you’re a cisgender woman, you don’t get to speak from experience about transgender women’s specific oppression, true, nor do you have the authority to prescribe directions for transfeminist politics, but you also don’t get to mark transgender issues as a very important special interest compartment of feminism. They’re your issues, too.
3) Please do not self-label as “cisgender” unless you are directly commenting on your own privilege.
There are moments when one’s cisgender status needs to be acknowledged. When making claims about transgender people or speaking about transfeminist politics, it’s probably useful to let your audience know the location from which you’re speaking.
But don’t drop your “cisgender” status so much that it becomes an empty disclaimer. You do need to consider issues of authority and perspective, but please be aware that constantly reminding everyone that you’re cisgender is a way of highlighting differences between women rather than building community among them.
This is why I generally advise other women not to disclose their cisgender status on Facebook now that gender options have expanded unless they primarily use their Facebook as a political platform and feel it necessary to disclose their position of privilege.
4) Don’t make distinctions between sex and gender or use phrases like “biological woman” or “biowoman.”
The general lesson across all these points is: don’t draw distinctions between cisgender and transgender women unless you have to. When you do need to draw these distinctions, don’t use language that ties specific genders to specific kinds of bodies.
While I generally give most cisgender feminists who use this language the benefit of a doubt, I do want to mark a troubling mindset that often lurks behind these phrases and linguistic habits. If you’ve read through this article, clearly see what’s been happening with your language, and you’re ready to change it, congratulations! My work here is done.
If you were still encountering some internal resistance as you scrolled through this piece, read on:
Some cisgender feminists want to practice trans-inclusive politics, they know how to repeat the mantra “trans women are women” like it’s their job, but somewhere in their heart of hearts, they still approach a transgender woman on an interpersonal level as a different kind of woman. Somewhere, it still matters to them what kind of genitals another woman has. Somewhere, they don’t feel a transgender woman as their sister, they see her as an asterisk.
If this is you, you’ve got some internal work to do that goes beyond your use of language. You have to ask yourself what womanhood means to you, you have to internalize what it means for you personally that the category of “woman” includes people without vaginas or people who did not have them since birth, you have to examine and challenge your own cisnormative feelings of entitlement to know the intimate details of other women’s bodies. You have to figure out a way not just to say that transgender women are women, but to embrace transgender women as such in a way that is not tokenistic, condescending, or hollow. If this describes your position, start with the language and let your heart follow.
A lovely follower just asked me this question, and since I love to procrastinate thought I would make a little guide because I get these questions a lot.
Question: “Hey Majestic! I was wondering if you had any tips for how to look awesome in clothing that is more masculine when your body is fat and AFAB? Your outfits always look incredible (of course plenty of them aren’t masculine, I know) and I’m super envious - I feel like I have no idea how to dress myself in a way that can reflect my muddled genderqueer identity and still look fancy and hot”
Answer: Finding clothes that I love and feel good in is one of the most frustrating things I deal with on a day to day. It is especially hard for me because I pretty much only thrift my clothes (with a few exceptions) and I am obsessed with fashion. A good and super concentrated example of how annoying this has been can be found looking back on my experiences trying to find an outfit for my recent big gay weddin. Like, I had to somehow cram my fat genderqueer body into my baggage about what I was supposed to look like on that day and that was complicated by the fact that NOTHING I wanted came in my size and everything that did fit poorly. Because I am so obsessed with thrifting I got everything I could at thrift stores but bought pants (which I hacked into shorts last minute with the help of Jlux). I had a mad camel toe on the day of the wedding because my pants were huge and baggy in the crotch and I was wearing shit that we had dyed and added on to, made ourselves and sewn together and I STILL didn’t like my outfit that much. Having unique style as a fat genderqueer is a hard road, as there are so few options for us, but with some dedication you can make it work. I will say though, style and thrifting are huge passions of mine (and doing it on a dimestore diamond budget) so like, would say that you do have to dedicate some energy to this if you want to make it work.
Someone asked me a while back some thrifting tips and I wrote:
try everything on, look through everything carefully, go during the week, disregard preconceived notions about what counts as clothes, be willing to restyle + add new flare, look at the heart and potential of each garment, take risks, never surrenderrrrrrrrrrrr
** In this context I would add: try a mix of masculine and feminine clothing together and let your imagination run wild, you might surprise yourself at the amazing things you create
My tips for dressing your body as a fat genderqueer follow:
1) Wear a binder. I feel complicated about posting this. Binding definitely isn’t for everyone, and it can be really bad for your health, but it helps for me. I bind a lot even though it fucks up my body and I get my binders from underworks. Binding changes the shape of my body and makes me feel more genderqueer in what I am wearing. I’ve been trying lately to reclaim my rack, which has felt pretty fun and I recommend it to people who want show their ta-tas more love. (reclaiming your rack can look like anything you want, like writing them a love letter or having a sexual partner love on them to outfits that showcase exorbitant amounts of sideboob)
2) Find a tailor. If I had a lot of money, (or if you do) I would recommend this very much. I buy a lot of stuff with the intention of altering it (a.k.a. batting my eyelashes at jessica and offering her gifts until she agrees to help me/do it for me). Not everything will fit right away, but sometimes you can fix/cut or alter stuff and make it work for you.
3) Know your shirt size. I have to thrift like mad to find mens button ups and vests that fit but the search has payed off and I have some solid pieces that I really love. Once you find out your “men’s size” in shirts, (i’m like a 17-ish) it will be easier to thrift for these things. Pick up everything you see that you like and try it on, some days nothing will fit me, other days I find like 5+ things.
4) Don’t forget the “ladies” section of the store. I always search through all of the ladies stuff because certain men’s clothes actually don’t fit my body at all (PANTS, UGH). I’ve found some killer pieces that read as masculine but are actually vintage women’s plus or just women’s clothing. Some of the best suit jackets I have found were in the ladies section and Jessica just got me this beautiful white silk blouse with a pearled collar. It fits well until you get to the last button, and I think I will try to let out the fabric around the button to give myself more room. If that fails, I’m just going to make a collar out of it, or only wear it with super high-waisted shit. Make these garments work for you, not the other way around.
5) Look at the plus size fatshion stores around and see if anything they have works for you. I fucking loooove love love Redress NYC - they have lots of different styles, its queer femme run and they offer “butch” fat fashions as well. Chubby Cartwheels has some super cute leggings that I would consider purchasing if I had any money whatsoever and Domino Dollhouse has a wicked new line out with tons of options for really hot outfits including a really beautiful polkadot blouse, which again, if I could afford I would own instantly. Forever 21 and ASOS (clearance) are by far the cheapest and I LOVE to lurk etsy and Redress for an excellent selection of vintage plus size. Also, I have to buy women’s pants because men’s pants don’t fit me. I have found that old navy jeggings fit me the best and have big pockets for my big ass (I hate tiny pockets/pockets with designs SO MUCH).
6) ACCESORIZE! Accessories don’t come in sizes (well…except for shoes and rings — RUDE), which rules. That means scarves, shoes, ties, jewelry, glitter and more are all fair game in creating a look that reflects the complicated nature of your gender. Same goes for makeup! Try a little glitter on its own, or some blush with a more masculine outfit. Sometimes a little eye makeup or a dark or bright lip can go a long way in making you feel like the hawtest genderqueer babe of all time.
7). Play dress up as much as possible for self care and new ideas. Not only is dress up a super important form of self care that I engage in at least once a week, it helps you understand where you are going on your gender journey and what works for you. It is also a good time to try things out that you are scared to try on a rushed Monday morning and it can give you some solid ideas for new outfits (or makeup!).
This is all I can think of right now. If you have something to add please reblog or reply to add your advice. Good luck hotties! Don’t take any shit from other people and don’t be scared to take chances.
All my love,
this is oldddd! but I updated it slightly for modern times (some of the plus size lines I refer to are out of date) but I get this question A LOT.
First…. Many Indigenous Nations have calendars which have
been counting the years for a very long time. I am aware that
the calendar of the Mohawk Indian Nation has been counting
the winters for over 33,120 years. This pre-dates the so-called
‘land-bridge’ of the Bering Strait theory, unless, of course, the
Bering Strait scientists decide to move their interestingly illusive
time period for “early migration” of Indians back to 40,000 years!
Many American Indian early histories tell of events that took
place on this Turtle continent (North America) long before any
so-called ice age. But, for political reasons, these histories
have been mostly ignored. You see, the Bering Strait, in truth,
is a theory that was born of the politics and propaganda of
early America. In the midst of the American ‘Manifest Destiny’
social climate, the Bering Strait theory provided a ‘scientific’
means to justify the taking of ancestral Indian lands. In short,
the mythical theory eased the conscience, as it was a way for
land hungry immigrants to believe that, because Indian people
were only ‘recent inhabitants’ of this land , it was not really their
‘homeland’. Therefore Indians were, in their minds, not any more
the ‘original people’ of this land than they were. This was, and
still is, the political power of the infamous ‘Bering Strait theory’.
The B.S. (Bering Strait) Myth
By John Two-Hawks
The Bering Strait Theory was made to make colonialism seem less like exploitation.
Wow, definitely did not know this but definitely makes all of the sense in the world. One thing I try to teach my students is that every piece of information was created by someone. Whether it is numbers, words, or pictures they are all susceptible to the filters of people. That, in conjunction with the our culture of racism (to say the least) means we must question everything.