The Ministry of Strength

Anyone involved in any sort of emancipatory activism, from flame wars in forums to robust street protesting, is bound to be familiar with the phenomenon I’m about to describe: “What’s the big deal!?” This is most often asked when you broach a subject of media criticism or a critique of seemingly innocuous language. You’re told that it’s ‘not a big deal’ if someone says, say, ‘fag’ persistently in the most derogating way possible. It’s ‘not a big deal’ if a commercial is in any way commodifying or objectifying women. It’s ‘not a big deal’ if, say, a late night talk show host predicates a gag on trans panic. Et cetera. Et cetera. Such is the power of privilege that the obvious, and in any just universe the only needed, answer never occurs to the offender for even a moment. “It’s disrespectful” ought to be enough, yet somehow it never is; so we are left justifying our anger at a seemingly small bit of errata that must appear like a speck of dust in the night to the privileged … [Read more...]

Feminism and I

In my recent writings I have taken great pains to criticise elements of feminism that I believe are failing the women this movement purports to serve. I stand by those challenges and will repeat them so long as there is need for them. But I should also dedicate this space to my own robust support for the ideals that undergird feminism and there is no better place to begin with an introductory question: what does feminism mean to me? What follows is my answer to this question, a modified version of which appeared on Reddit in a thread of the same name. I will not simply trot out the radical cliches about how "feminism is the belief that women are people" and it would take only a few seconds for an observer to note that I most definitely believe in equal opportunity and equality between the sexes. These two statements, for me, go without saying. The deeper definitions for me have more to do with the following: love and respect for yourself as a woman and a willingness to confront … [Read more...]

Out in the Rain: Gender Activism and its Discontents

Last time on Nuclear Unicorn I took down an MRA’s  transphobic blog post on trans peoples’ lives. What was most striking about the article were things I didn’t even get to discuss despite the prodigious girth of my response; chief among them was the fact that the author’s entire supposed purpose in writing it, his thesis, was left largely unproven. It became clear that he was following a very classic pattern that cis people indulge in when criticising trans people publicly. It’s a classic transphobic syllogism: I don’t like x. I also don’t like trans people. Therefore x causes and enables trans people. This idea afflicts most gender activism as trans people of various types tend to be excluded from it or cast as some kind of bogeyman in various gender studies narratives. Some genderqueers, androgynes, and other non-binaries rail against transsexual people for, as they see it, playing into the gender binary. The execrable Julie Bindel, and feminists like her, follow a similar … [Read more...]

Blunted Spearhead: The Cis Man’s Burden

(Trigger Warning: If you find yourself triggered by blatant transphobia, transmisogyny and un/misgendering it’s best to leave this post, for today.) Generally speaking whenever one comes across flagrant transphobia, particularly of the hopelessly cliched variety, it’s best to not waste your time deconstructing it. It’s just another way we, and other people who constantly have to bat away a barrage of clichéd bullshit, are oppressed and held back- compelled to waste our time justifying ourselves and giving 101 lessons to people who probably won’t care to come within a hundred miles of “Getting It”™. But occasionally it serves a useful purpose, and this is one of those times. Our post comes to us from the mystical world of Men’s Rights Activism, a sort of bizarro world where men are oppressed and live under a Matriarchy where women have all the privileges. It’s kind of like the Underdark. That’s the short, brutally unfair summary. As you will see, however, the bizarro world nature … [Read more...]

PC is for Cookie

In one’s travels through the Tubes you’ll often find rather a lot of fecal matter clogging it all up. Perhaps the grandest of these turds is the notion of ‘political correctness.’ There have been long and thoughtful deconstructions of this ultimate, Voltron-like straw man, but suffice it to say: the next time someone chides you for being “PC” just replace ‘politically correct’ with ‘respectful’ in your mind to keep your focus on what it is the speaker is actually trying to communicate. Privilege is many things. Pervasive, invisible, colourless, odourless, noxious. It’s a lot like carbon monoxide. In this particular case, privilege manifests itself as the simple belief that you are entitled to a higher level of respect than other groups of people. At heart, that’s what it’s really about. The idea that being decent and respectful- values many of our parents raised us with- is somehow uncouth or even verboten when one is talking about Black people, or Muslims, or trans people is simply … [Read more...]

Feminism’s Folly

One of the many ironies of the trans life is the fact that oftentimes your worst enemies can be found among the very people you should be able to trust most. One who spends much time in any number of activist circles will not take long to learn this the hard way. The LGBTQ movement as a whole is legendary for its internal strife and battles between cis LGB people who feel the T really ought not be there. Never mind the Q. But today we’re going to focus on the other bastion of sad, activist irony in this sordid and political mess: feminism. Feminism, near and dear to my heart, is a force for good in this world, ultimately. Its basic tenets have lent me much strength in recent years, and a great deal of pride in myself; the perfect antidote to the shame that trans women are so often made to live with. It was second nature for me to find the numerous intersections between feminism and trans activism, and to see how the issues trans women face are often times part and parcel of wider … [Read more...]

For Fuck’s Surgery

(Trigger Warning: This post quotes hateful/transphobic language at points.) Being a young transitioner I’ve gone through a couple of fairly common rites of passage in my quest to live life as myself. One is, of course, TSRoadmap which has acted a sort of bible for transition; information compiled in one place that can help a broad cross section of the community. The other is Lynn Conway’s well known website, the centrepiece of which is the TS Woman Successes page, which is something even I’ve linked to others. The younger ones among us with the privilege of a steady internet connection have probably used these sites in one way or another and we may, perhaps, even remember them fondly in the same way one looks back with a smile at a beloved first grade teacher.  That is certainly my own feeling. To Andrea James in particular, I feel I owe a great debt as her website was one of the first I encountered on this issue and helped me feel less alone. Without TSRoadmap, which I still … [Read more...]

The City of Cis

Endeavouring as ever to prove the veracity of the sentiment behind this journal’s title, reality dealt another interesting pinprick the other day. Apparently the trans-sphere exploded over a series of posts and comments made on Pam’s House Blend, a blog way more popular than this one and with more employees. This link is a very good place to start. Another nuclear situation exploded in the blog-O’Sphere apropos us damn bitchy trans people and all our irritating talk about oppression and what not. Apparently the terms “cissexual” and “cisgendered” are now offensive according to one professional gay man and Autumn Sandeen deigned to agree, fundamentally, with him and his ideological fellow-travelers in a very long blog post meant to rationalise the fundamentally fallacious idea- saying over and over that the term was “weaponised.” At first, I will admit, I wanted to empathise with her. But as I read her links and really absorbed the meaning behind her post, that was quickly … [Read more...]

Invisible Woman

“This is a bill that begins to confuse the gender differences between men and women to the point of trying to allow men to use women's restrooms, and, of course, that means sexual predators going after young children,” Tom Minnery, senior vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family Action, said... (Source.) There are things that words often fail to describe adequately. My reaction to the above quote was one of those things. But I will take a good stab at explaining why this is wrong using my usual flawless logic. First of all, the onus is on the Christian fundamentalists to demonstrate using anything other than tautological bullshit that gender-identity discrimination protection empowers sex offenders. I like to think of myself as a fair minded woman, willing to walk in another person’s shoes for a while (they’re probably less painful than heels for sure). But for the life of me, looking through the eyes of these Christian radicals I still can’t see what they see apropos … [Read more...]

The Trans-feminine Mystique

When I first began writing this journal/blog thingy I wondered in my very first post if I should come out or not; if I should restrain myself from letting that little dirty secret slip into a Google-searchable journal. In the end I realised something rather important, so I just said “fuck it” and wrote that into the very first post. I knew I couldn’t hold that back. It’s in the DNA of this journal’s name, as the first post explained. But what I also realised is that there are still so precious few outlets for trans people to get the message out there. There are certainly more than ever. The Internet has been a remarkable help in this regard. Many books are now on the shelves that are autobiographical, political or both, and that’s a wonderful thing. Yet even so, none of us can name a really good movie that portrayed a trans person sympathetically, seriously, and non-stereotypically, much less a TV show. We are shown as crude caricatures, or with our high heeled legs pointing up … [Read more...]