Message in a bottle

April 16, 2010

Talented, creative & beautifulThere’s an interesting article on the CNN International site about a recently-completed project “that asked transgender, transsexual and questioning people to create a message they wanted others to know”.

Overall, iReporters wanted the world to hear their voices, their stories, and to possibly teach a few people along the way. [A contributor, Oscar Robles] summed up the feelings many transgender people shared through their submissions.

“People get really wrapped up in their minds about people who are queer-identified or trans-identified,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be that big of a deal. Correction, it isn’t that big of a deal.”

Hmm. It is and it isn’t; I think it depends on the individual’s self-perception, as well as how they are perceived by others.

Which seems to lead into the often vexed question of living ‘in stealth’: as Andrea James says at TS Roadmap, “Various levels of stealth have advantages and drawbacks, and one isn’t better than the other. It’s a very personal decision that must be based on your individual needs” – and the article reports a couple of the contributors touching on this point:

Jett Smith […] says that he has worked jobs for months without anyone ever knowing his transgender status, and while he understands the desire to be stealth, he prefers to be upfront about it.


While [Avery] is out at work and says she doesn’t try to hide away, she remarks that her transgender identity isn’t a topic that comes up in general conversation or everyday activities.

It’s encouraging to see that several of the contributors consider their ‘transness’ to be of comparatively little importance in their lives. While that may not be everyone’s experience, it does help to underline the point that the trans community is not some anonymous monolith whose every member unquestioningly complies with imposed cultural stereotypes; we are, each and every one of us, individual human beings whose diversity deserves to be celebrated and included, not ridiculed and marginalised.


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia and The F-Word


12 Responses to “Message in a bottle”

  1. Katie B Says:

    I saw this as well and was heartened by the fact that this article was there at all. My experience 9 years into transition is similar to Jett and Rebecca’s in that I don’t hide my status, but neither do I advertise it nor does it come up in everyday conversation. For me, the only way to stay sane in a world that is ruled by binary gender roles is to just be me and let people see me as the individual human, carbon-based lifeform that I am.

  2. Kinelfire Says:

    It’s good to see an organisation like CNN being used as a platform for trans folks to be encouraged to say “Hi! I’m a person! Who is also trans!”

    It’s another brick out of the wall, right?

    I’m also delighted that Sia (fabulous feminist singer/songwriter that she is) has pinned her colours to the LGBTQI mast. Another reason to like her :)

  3. It should say next to the title: “I also have a dick.”

  4. Helen G Says:

    Jessica Valenti: I’m glad it didn’t say that; I consider language that attempts to reduce us to a collection of body parts to be offensively cissexist.

  5. Nox Says:

    No, it shouldn’t… besides being wrong in more than one case, it’s nearly the opposite of the point being made…

    A persons value (for better or worse) is not based in their anatomy.

  6. cisally Says:

    I hope Jessica Valenti didn’t actually say that… she is awesome and that suggestion is cissexist.

    In a world where we’re still trying to get people to stop giggling and saying “heshe” or only focus on whether or not there is in fact a penis, a collection like this is important — allowing the world to see transpeople as just that — PEOPLE. The focus should be on voices and stories. Not, incessantly, on genitals.

  7. Beck Says:

    Jessica Valenti: sorry, I’m so confused. Why should it say that? I’m trying to imagine what trans-positive work you saw it doing but it just seems transphobic to me… am I missing something? Which title should that go next to?

  8. Beck Says:

    ohhh, I bet you’re right. I bet it was a phony. I feel better now. (about Jessica at least)

  9. Helen G Says:

    Yeah, I’ve been really troubled by it since I let it through the mod queue last night, and the reactions of the commenters following on today haven’t made me feel any easier.

    I’m making enquiries to see if I can find out if it’s genuinely from Jessica or if it’s just some dumbass troll, spoofing her name, URL and email address.

    Will post again in this thread when I find out for sure.

    Thanks for your patience everyone.


  10. Helen G Says:

    Okay, so I’ve had confirmation from a source that I trust, that that comment’s definitely not from Jessica.

    My apologies, everyone; I fucked up with that one.

  11. cisally Says:

    Whew, what a relief! Those jerks. I didn’t think she would have said that, but it was a scary moment when I was questioning one of my role models.

    Thanks Helen, for the investigative work!
    And don’t worry about the slip, the feminist/queer/trans/beautifulpeople blogosphere is such a community that it could have actually been Jessica, so why even take a second glance for a troll?

  12. Adam Says:

    You didn’t fuck up, some wanky piece of scum did something really minging.

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