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Friday, September 14, 2012

Comment Of The Year Edition

A friend of mine, sitting close by, was born in 1963. He's a tough farm boy who has always stood up for the underdog. He might have involuntarily become the first dude in Canada to be a public high school straight ally.

Picture this: 1978, a kid smaller than he, outed as gay, wee tiny dude. Kid is gonna get shit kicked like he has every day since grade 9. Friend stands up and says " he might be queer, but you guys are assholes". He takes the lumps for the kid and does for every queer kid in his school regardless of others calling him a homo or whatever. See, he stood up and said it was wrong...and he still does.

To this day, the simple farm boy and stock car racer loathes what Republicans preach. He votes NDP in Canada and Democrat in the states, thanking his dual citizenship. He loves people as they are. To him, the substance of a man is measured by his deeds and not his race, religion, or sexual orientation.

And this brings me back to a comment made by a reader; one I knew in high school. She made a difference in my life and helps others now.

Here she is:

who are we talking about? I don't need to know, I don't like them already... Bullying is the most cowardly act that I have been witnessed to and victim to. People that bully behind the cloak of the internet are the worst possible kind. Cowards. I wish I could talk to all teenagers and children being bullied and let them know that it does end, it does get better. The losers that bully you in school usually hit their peak in high school. How sad for them! They go on trying to relive their 'glory days', and usually end up sucking at life.

One of the stories of overcoming bullies actually involves you Mika, but I'm not sure if you remember it. I remember walking in on you being bullied in the stairwell at CCI by a guy that was three times your size. He was grilling you about your sexual preference and asking you extremely inappropriate questions. I remember he had you cornered and there were people standing all around, joining in, and I went through the crowd and told you to come outside with me. One of the girls in the crowd grabbed me and said 'Mandy, don't you know she's a lesbian, if people see you with her, they'll think you're one too'. I remember thinking, 'all of you are just so sad and pathetic'. Being bullied as a kid put a huge scar on me, on the outside and the inside. Thankfully, I was able to get through it. People that are bullies in their adult life make me think the way I did on that day. You are all so sad and pathetic....

Sunday, September 9, 2012

More Bang From Buck

TW: 18+ violence including murder, female genital mutilation, transphobia, cissexism, pornography, graphic language

Buck Angel is a well-known man, both inside and outside of the transsexual community. He's a globe-trotting speaker and award-winning adult film star, and as something of a rarity, he's granted tons of interviews for print as well as television media. And whether or not you like the guy (I find him abrasive, uneducated, and arrogant), a lot of trans kids look up to him as some sort of pioneer and role model; moreover, the outside world often bases their perception of trans men on that of the planet's most vocal trans dude.

Here's the thing: Buck says a lot of shit that is highly problematic, and sometimes outright dangerous. He's told younger trans guys to be happy little butch lesbians, defended the use of a horribly transphobic slur, and now he's reduced trans women to a sum of their parts, effectively blaming victims for their own injuries at the hands of cis people. In an interview with an online dating forum, the porn star blurted out this lovely rant that is sure to shock anyone with a sense of compassion:

That brings up the question of disclosure, which seems like a difficult one. What’s the best point, if you do just meet someone in a bar, to reveal that you’re trans?
I’m a huge advocate for disclosure, because I believe a lot of people get themselves in bad situations because they do not disclose. For example, trans women who might hook up with a cis-gendered guy and then he goes home with her and finds out she has a penis and flips out and beats her up or kills her. That’s horrible, and I really believe by not disclosing it’s very disrespectful to the other person because they might not be into it and it makes them feel very freaked out about themselves. Disclosure is huge for me, and how do you do that in a bar situation? You’re right, it’s very strange. For me, how I always did it was if I knew it was going to turn into a sexual situation, immediately, immediately, I would say, “I need to let you know about this situation.” But the dating site puts it right out there: I’m a man with a vagina!

One issue with the perspective of Buck Angel is that all-in-all he caters to fetishists and curiosity-seekers for a living. Almost everyone he encounters sexually knows exactly what to expect because they've seen every manner of porn stud and starlet fuck him. Buck has very little fear of ever winding up in a situation where he may not be expecting nookie and shit just happens. And as a macho white male, his chances of being attacked on the street by a stranger for being trans are near zero.

The fact is that, while there have been trans men killed for "disrespecting" our cissexist society, the vast majority of victims are women, and they're often of colour. Often times, a rapist or murderer intentionally seeks out transgender victims because they're easy targets for their sociopathic leanings. All they have to do is say that the girl didn't disclose or invent some other stupid reason to justify their crimes and try for a light sentence. This is exactly what happened in 1996 when a guy sought out 3 people (including 2 I knew personally), assuming they were all trans, and shot them to death. He claimed that it was the will of God. Now, in this instance the court didn't buy it and handed Marcello Palma 3 life sentences, but the audacity of his defense is worth remembering. The reason why the defense was even introduced was because it had worked before. Cis folks just do not like trans people, as so inelegantly explained by Buck Angel himself.

A continuing issue I find with the entire article is the overwhelming gender and physical attribute essentialism. Buck mentions the abuse of trans women, but reduces them to a singular body part that they may or may not possess, as if possessing one specific body part means that harm against her is somehow excusable. Additionally, he seems to believe in this as well as statements made in other interviews, that all 'good' trans men have vaginas. This isn't true for many trans guys to be sure, but also for some cis women! Due to metaodioplasty, phalloplasty, cancer, prolapse, or any number of reasons both elective and not, a trans guy might not have exactly what you would expect in the basement, and that's just fine and dandy.
Hell, I'll admit that even before transition, I didn't exactly have Playboy model netherbits. Should I have been beaten or killed for not disclosing this? How about survivors of female genital mutilation? The intersexed? Post-operative trans people? Should they meet the angry fist as well? Where the Hell do we draw the line here?

Buck often mentions disrespect. So what of it? As a visibly trans dude who is active in the Aboriginal community in a small town, I'm subject to constant disrespect that ranges from backstabbing chatter to death threats. I'm called names and I've been harassed by the police. There have been innumerable things done to myself and others on this island that would most certainly fall under the category of disrespect, and you and I know that if I beat or killed one, let alone all of the people, who engaged in this behaviour, I'd be locked up for the remainder of my days.

Numerous trans women have stated in their written and spoken word that they do not trust the men of our small community, and Buck Angel's opinions are often used as an example. Not only does he not think before he speaks, but he becomes angry when someone points out that he may have said or done something absolutely destructive. It's not his occupation that makes him immoral- adult stars like Nina Hartley, Annie Sprinkle, and Drew Deveaux are only a few examples of film sex stars who continuously offer up evidence for the fact that intellect can indeed exist amongst those who work in a much-maligned industry. Porn stars are not idiots, even if Buck Angel is.

Buck Angel should not be looked at to represent sex workers, transgender people, or even men at large. He perpetuates stereotypes, affirms misogyny, and degrades those he claims to defend. Buck is not a role model for anyone and he most certainly does not speak for me.