What’s wrong with this picture?

May 4, 2010

Just when you thought that cis people’s crass fixation on trans people’s genitalia could go no further, along comes this article in Argentina’s Momento24 English, demonstrating conclusively that their prurience really knows no bounds:

Barbie changes sex

Image from Momento24 English

Andrea Cano and photographer Manuel Antonio Velandia, after 50 years of Barbie, were responsible for the operation, which ended with the change of sex on the popular doll.

Velandia told the media he “chose to these dolls because they are well known and because they are unrealistic women, that would have waists of 40 cm and breasts of a size of 110 cm.”

And he “found it curious that, as with most of the dolls, Barbies are sexless.”

Andrea Cano revealed that “she had since childhood the fantasy of having a doll that was a transsexual and Barbie gave her that chance.”

Thanks to them, and to Decide-T Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders of Alicante, the exhibition ‘Invisibles: Natures transgressive’ will be held.

Veladia confirms that “this exhibition is recommended for audiences of all ages as we are to put aside the issue of sexuality as a taboo and that children since early know that there is diversity in this area.”

I can understand Mr Velandia’s objection to the unrealistic representation of women that Barbie dolls perpetuate (including the fact that the dolls are anatomically incorrect) – it’s hyper-feminisation personified – but Ms Cano’s “fantasy” of having a doll of a transsexual woman suggests a large degree of objectification, not least because of its upholding of the gender binary.

To complete their bid for winners of today’s round of trans bingo, the thinking behind their dolls sensationalises surgery and defines our identities according to our genital topography – and, in his last quote, Mr Velandia also manages to conflate sexuality with gender identity.

But perhaps the most striking thing about these dolls is that they show how ignorant Mr Velandia and Ms Cano really are about trans bodies: surely a Barbie doll would “transition” to a trans man, not a trans woman?

If I was posting this on Twitter, I’d hashtag it #cisFAIL. Facepalm moment of the day, no question.

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Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia and The F-Word

5 Responses to “What’s wrong with this picture?”

  1. Carrie Says:

    Hands down this is the best post I’ve seen about the most ludicrous thing I have ever seen. Fail indeed.

  2. Ruth Says:

    Oh my word. Fucking epic fail.

  3. William Says:

    After much trying and being accused of being a spammer, I posted this comment on their page:

    I see what you’re trying to do here and I think increasing visibility and acceptance of transsexual people is a valuable and worthwhile thing to do, but I really don’t think this is the way to do it.

    Transsexual women are by no means “unrealistic women” and they do not look like Barbie dolls. This project suggests by implication that trans women are somehow unreal, plastic, fake women like these dolls, that they are just imitations of women and not real women themselves. While I hope this is not what the artist intended, this is what people will see when they see this exhibition.

    Also, the existence of trans people has nothing to do with “sexuality”, it’s to do with gender identity (I apologise if this is a translation error and you meant gender).

    I think children (and adults!) should know about the vast range of bodies that people have but these dolls (the pictured ones, there may be more?) are almost totally unrepresentative of transsexual women’s and men’s bodies, not least because the doll’s bodies are unrealistic to begin with.

    I wish success to this exhibition but I feel it was misguided.

    FYI: I am a trans man, my girlfriend is a trans woman and my fiance is genderqueer.

  4. chartreuseflamethrower Says:

    They’re portraying trans women by sticking a dick on a previously cisnormative woman. That’s accuracy right there…

    I’d also assume that making barbie trans would be an FtM transition- which would be kind of rough considering you’d have to shave down those mammaries (and attach them to Ken- plastic toys do not respond well to sex changes. Maybe we can get some plastic estrogen…)

    It would be great if we had dolls that were trans or anything else, but it’s kind of awkward. How do you make a trans doll? Do you make them pre/non-op, which could come off as portraying trans women as “men in dresses/wigs” (and if so- how do you differentiate between her and a crossdressing/drag queen doll?), make it so that you can transition the doll (and how?).
    For all we know- Doctor Barbie could be a post-op MtF. Ken could be a closet crossdresser (except those damn dresses don’t fit).

  5. Youngsook Says:

    Playing with barbie to increase the visibility of gender diversity? Dismantling master’s house with very master’s tool? Seriously immature objectification from the lack of understanding in trans people.


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