Trigger warning: In today’s Isn’t it Queer? I will be discussing transphobia and gender discrimination. In some of the content, I pull from examples of parents or loved ones who make judgments of gender which may be triggering for some individuals.
There is a painful beauty in the necessity of social deviance and in breaking gender norms in order to become our authentic selves. Many individuals experience years of excruciating gender conditioning, especially when we brave the gender “deviance” necessary to become who we feel we are on the inside; i.e. “You look prettier in a dress,” “I don’t know, you just look too…girly…can’t you wear the baggier jeans honey?” “I don’t know what you are trying to prove by not wearing make-up, it just makes you look like an angry bitch.” The early conditioning, littered with misogyny and gender discrimination, plants seeds of shame and fear in our ideas of self. Members of the trans community also face degrading judgment in the form of outright transphobic statements; “You are my daughter, you can’t be a man,” or “ewww! that is disgusting, what happens to their genitals?”, creating a foundation riddled with fear of isolation from family members, and the very real possibility of not being able to find work and stability because we want our inner gender identity to match our visible exterior.
“When the Japanese mend broken objects they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold, because they believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” – Barbara Bloom
So here is my light bulb moment! We can and are finding ways to take care of ourselves and our communities using art, self care, therapy, yoga, and human connection. We are finding our fissures and breaks and casting them in the gold of our authenticity. All corn aside, we need to celebrate our painful transitions into our real selves as being gorgeous acts of androgynous alchemy. Taking our traumas, processing them, and using the hurt to fuel or drive our passions and pursuits can turn the tables on systematic oppression for our own self empowerment. In further tangential pondering, this artistic thinking can help us reframe concepts such as ‘transitioning,’ to be so much more substantial, and less black and white, than “getting a sex change.” How powerful would it be if we viewed transitioning as being lucky. What other humans get to watch their coming of age, and transition into becoming their authentic selves, physically as well as emotionally? Explicitly said, the function of this reframing is not to invalidate the immense pain of being repudiated by a culture or to play down systematic oppression, but instead the reframe is meant to be a function of empowerment for the individual’s emotional growth. To help us feel healthy and whole, we need healthy and whole perspectives on what it means to be who we are, whether that is trans, bi, gender queer, etc.
These are some artists, performance artists, and photographers that are busy demonstrating the earthy, real beauty of gender fluidity, trans identity, and gender non-conformity. I hope these pieces move you to tears, like they did for me:
Jana Marcus’s Transfigurations, is a photography-interview project that aims to illuminate the Trans perspective, using insightful information from the personal anecdotes of trans individuals. These personal accounts are movingly penetrative and offer a more complex depiction of fluidity in the identities and experiences of trans individuals. To view the project visit Jana Marcus’s website: Transfigurations.
So to leave on an alliterative note, the world of trans, gender non-conforming art and activism is alive with variety. New bold spirits brave enough to turn their pain into inspiring testimonials and social commentary, emerge every day.
So my lovely gender warriors, one last question: In what way can your pain power your passion?
-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,
Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.
“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”
Today’s Mental Health Mash-Up Ep5 is about Visibility. Skye and Traci will discuss the changing nature of queer/trans visibility in the media, the way we are in control and not in control of our visibility and the choices we make about our visibility that may or may not feel good to our bodies, brains, hearts and spirits.
Skye is a youth worker, educator, activist and white transmasculine human. Traci is a therapist, yoga teacher, educator and queer vegan femme-inist of color. They reside, practice, navigate, process, survive and flourish in the Southern California area.
There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.
We hope that you’ve all been safe and well this past week! On today’s podcast we’re talking about the complexities and intracies of disclosure and how we can make it more affirming for those of us doing the disclosure.
We’ll start with a word to our allies and the 3 C’s of being safe places for folks to disclose to:
Be Conscious- Check your privilege, know this is difficult and know that you don’t have the right to this information.
Be Considerate- Can you help everyone navigate physical environment safely, are you a safe person generally and are you using affirming and non-normative language?
Get Consent- If someone has disclosed to you, they have disclosed to YOU only. Be respectful and honor this information.
We’ll also discuss planning the best structure for our disclosure, getting clear on our needs, getting clear on the space we have to educate others and how to communicate everything clearly and succinctly.
Here are some of the links that we mention in our podcast:
We’re really excited to share a new project a couple of us have been dreaming up!
The idea for The Mental Health Mash-Up came up for Skye and me as we were talking about the complicated intersection of being bodies, brains, hearts and spirits in this big, beautiful and sometimes chaotic world.
We wanted to explore the way we understand, experience and talk about mental health, how this is seen through the lens of our queerness and how our queerness is seen through the lens of mental health.
We wanted a place where we could discuss the struggles and complexities of being queer so we could honor how it affects our well-being and our access and understanding of “being well” in positive and negative ways.
We wanted to have a place for community dialogue and process where we could sit down, have a cup a coffee and… just figure stuff out together.
Thus, The Mental Health Mashup was born! This podcast is part information, discussion, healing circle and support and process group and we’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment or send us an email if you’d like to get involved, have a topic/question or just want to let us know that you’re out there in the universe, a big mash-up of body, brain, heart and spirit, trying to make it through this rough and tumble journey of life!
Enjoy our first episode!
Mental Health Mash-Up Ep. 1: Gendered Expectations + The Self-Made Man
In this episode Skye and Traci will discuss the objective of their workshop, titled Taming the Hulk: Temperance for the Transmasculine Journey, which aims to deconstruct the intersection between gendered expectations and the creation of identity for transmasculine individuals by looking at:
The exploration and uncovering of one’s most authentic masculine identity
The complications of how “passing” and one’s attachment to passing fits into this identity
How to integrate what the world tells us about ourselves with the men we see ourselves to be
We hope you enjoy and we’d love to hear your thoughts!