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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Breakdown: The XTra Doesn't Speak For Me Edition

  XTra is a Canadian news outlet that proudly proclaims itself to be our premier source of LGBT- related news. Since the long-gone days of The Body Politic, XTra has certainly been at the forefront of queer media here and is also gaining a global audience, ready to soak in everything from political happenings to interviews with their favourite avant-garde artists. And with due respect to all of the good things XTra has accomplished in the past, they have done some things in recent years that range from baffling to horrifying.

  Today marks International Women's Day- a day to spark dialogue and profess appreciation; one to protest abuses and call for action. I would expect XTra to shine the light on lesbian rape victims in South Africa, trans women incarcerated overseas, or at the very least, odes to all of the mothers that made the writers possible. But when I opened XTra's Twitter feed this morning, they linked to this video.

  I'll begin by saying that nothing contained in this video speaks for me. I have no desire to steal women's spaces, let alone a most important day on the calendar. Not only does this glorify the co-opting of women's spaces by trans* men, but reinforces many radfem tropes, namely that we're often simply unhappy dykes. It's this kind of thinking that kept me from transitioning until later in my life. Being a trans* person is not a choice, and having problematic misogynist Buck Angel telling kids they aren't really thinking things through; that he is a man but they aren't reinforces stereotypes and can cause serious distress in the younger trans* population. Coming out as the human being I am took years of thought and involved substance abuse, self-harm, psychiatric hospital commitments, and worse. But, on to the most important thing...

XTra promoted this as a piece about trans* men being part of the lesbian community, and they did it on International Women's Day. They spliced together clips about men to post a piece on a day reserved for women. Every other day of the year is for men in our society, so they have hundreds of other days to air this offensive piece, but they chose this for a reason. They did it to erase women from the picture, and that's so manifestly atrocious that I can barely come up with the words to convey how I and other thinking members of our community feel.

I'll end by telling you wonderful mamas out there that I do not want to occupy your pubs, spaces, days, or festivals. There are some places, designed to be safe, where I do not belong. While it is important for gay, trans*, and nonconforming men to have harm-free arenas to be themselves, invading those designated for women, particularly lesbians, is wrong. Theft of space marginalizes women, especially in a day and age where many of these events exclude trans* women . If Buck is right about only one thing, it is the fact that gender does not involve what you carry below the belt. If you identify as a man and wish to be perceived as one, you aren't a lesbian. Period.

Shame on XTra and any of the men who knew they were going to be a part of this insulting farce. Most of us want to foster unity among queers and we're not going to do so while our media outlets are categorizing trans* men as dykes and trans* women as secretly male. So here's a big fat moon to XTra for their stupid stunt and much love to all of the wonderful women harmed by a segment of queer culture that still views male as the ideal.

Now go hug your girl, daughter, mum, or best friend. She deserves it. It's her day.

1 comment:

  1. Based on the rest of the story, I'm guessing the reporter told Buck Angel the butch lesbians are disappearing and asked for his reaction. He should know better. He's gay (mostly) and never IDed as lesbian, so seems to be in the story by virtue of being the most well-known trans man willing to talk to them. I have no problem with a story about how many trans men used to ID as butch and how they relate to the community now, but this was bullshit transphobic alarmism.

    The bias of the piece was a bit hidden, but it's really telling they let people assert that our butch lesbians are being pressured into men, but only spoke to people who were speculating about what others felt. This idea was presented unopposed and without evidence.


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