Friday, June 08, 2007

sci fi foolishness

So I'm going to see some some movies on Saturday with the Transmasculine Community Network (aka all my buddies). There are four films being shown (Gender Redesigner, Bro Crush, F Scott Fitzgerald Slept Here , and Kaden) and it's only 7 bucks for students (13 for everyone else, at the AMC Lowes on 34th Street at 8th Ave. Details, tickets, etc

I'm looking forward to going to the movies with friends, and supporting the community, especially since at least one of the movies was written or directed or acted in by various friends of mine. But I was also a little hesitant when I first saw the invite, because (as I mentioned last post, I think) I've been feeling myself pull back a bit from 'the transmasculine community' lately. I tried to pull the feeling apart a bit in therapy yesterday, and I got some ideas, but I still can't totally pin it down.

I think part is coming from a feeling of being tired of being Trans with a capital T. It was a hard year or two while I came out and got my bearings and got transition up and rolling, and it was draining, and I'm tired of it. Now that my transition is taking up less personal energy, I'm feeling the urge to let it totally die down, to just...ignore it for a while.

Then there comes this big wave of guilt, because I know that the fact that I can choose to ignore it is due almost entirely to my newfound passing privilege: the fact that I get read as male consistently, and (for the most part) have the luxury of checking out...something I couldn't do pre-transition, and many many other folks can't do.

Amy reminded me that there's an ebb and flow to everything, and that it's reasonable for me to be tired of spending a lot of energy on trans stuff, and that not going to one event (or even lots of events) isn't going to cause me to lose my place in the trans community.

And I think a larger part of it is a desire to shut the door on that chapter of my life for a little while...the early transition angst chapter. I unequivocally want to see the short films being shown, partly because they're the work of my friends, but partly because they seem to be something definitively different than the standard 'transition documentary' which is what the feature film is. I had a gut reaction flinch to the description of that film...I don't really want to see a documentary about one person coming out as trans and then beginning medical transition.

Why not? Maybe because I just finished living that story, and don't particularly want to relive it through someone else's lens just yet. Maybe because I'm grouchy and irritable these days, with less patience for things that make me uncomfortable...or movies that remind me of past and sort-of-still-present discomforts.


All that personal stuff aside, I'm also somewhat ambivalent about supporting this festival, due to some hullabaloo about a transphobic movie that was shown a few days ago. As my buddy Pete pointed out, there's some bullshit afoot . "NewFest, an LGB and supposedly T film festival, proceeded to show The Gendercator [link to Director's website] in New York this evening, despite outcry from trans activists and allies and the fact that it was pulled from NewFest in San Fransisco."

The director's note, from the website, reads:
Things are getting very strange for women these days. More and more often we see young heterosexual women carving their bodies into porno Barbie dolls and lesbian women altering themselves into transmen. Our distorted cultural norms are making women feel compelled to use medical advances to change themselves, instead of working to change the world. This is one story, showing one possible scary future. I am hopeful that this story will foster discussion about female body modification and medical ethics.

So basically, a parable about how we trans folks really ARE part of that evil transsexual empire that Janice Raymond got so worked up about in 1979. Great.

So yeah, plenty of more articulate and intelligent things have been written about this already (check out the Susan Stryker comments Pete links to), but I've got to throw a few more of my own cents into the mix.

This film is ridiculous for a variety of reasons, not least of which is once again, the notion that being trans = anti-feminist, patriarchal, repressively binary. Please. My transmasculinity is not impinging on your gender freedom. I'm not denying the patriarchy or colluding with it by living my life in a fully realized, satisfactory manner.

Also, as Pete says, this notion that butch lesbians are being pressured to transition is one that I've never encountered. I certainly have noticed (and remarked upon here in this blog) how there are master narratives within the transmasculine community as within any other, with various notions of the "best" ways to transition being privileged above others, and hierarchies built into the community. It's important to note, however, that a lot of that is anti-trans baggage coming from society at large, being perpetuated by people (trans and non-trans alike) who don't have the time (or perhaps, sometimes, the social agency/necessary privilege) to examine and deconstruct those notions.

This film is masquerading as 'a sci-fi satire' but (as best as I can say based on what I've read, having not actually seen it) seems to be mostly a tirade against transsexuality, coming from someone who is taking some basic misinformed assumptions and running away with them. The director writes that she wants to foster discussion, and I think that indeed it needs to be discussed, so that it can be picked apart and revealed for what it is.

So while I'm a huge free speech advocate, I don't believe that this film has a place at an avowedly LGBT positive film festival. (Though I can't say that I'm surprised that a transphobic film slipped through the cracks, since it seems the T is once again mostly an afterthought in this festival.) I think that it's not appropriate for films with anti-trans morals to be shown at a festival supposedly celebrating and bolstering (however belatedly) the trans community. The film's anti-trans rhetoric cuts more deeply when it's lent validity by appearing in a supposedly safe space, and I think that i is unacceptable for NewFest to have shown it anyway.

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