Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Play it again, Sam

There're some aggressively fauxgressive stink bombs being dropped in the comments at Leona Lo's blog.

You may recall Most Insightful Blogger Sam Ho, who previously came by the barn to express his deep concern that clubs might make less money if they stopped being nasty to trans people. (Maybe they would. Boo fucking hoo.)

Sam asked Leona to seek submissions and responses from trans people in service of some website project he's working on, to "debunk (damaging/hurtful/insensitive) myths people hold of folks who are LGBT". In response to this, Samantha, who is trans, kindly offers her perspective.

Get this - an actual member of the actual community you seek to help, giving you her take! She's talking from a lifetime of experience with an issue you, as a straight cis man, can only ever really know second-hand. This is a good opportunity to learn and improve your project. Right? Right???


Sam engages nothing at all Samantha says, instead choosing to lecture her on Reel Praktikull Activistyism. The first step to doing this is talk over others:
categories to me and you are meaningless. but to think like that isolates us from the business of making change.
Actually, Samantha didn't say anything about categories being meaningless. In fact, she begins by specifically questioning this point. But good job on erasing her actual point of view and substituting your imaginary one.

The second step is to have no bloody idea what you're talking about:
i don’t think we’re employing the gay/straight dichotomy in our thinkstraight campaign. since categories tend to fuck us up, we should fuck them back (in the academic sense). in having the queer-straight alliance, “queer” and “straight” do not mean what they are. for instance, “straight” represents cisgender/sexed persons who identify as heterosexual. and “queer” also encompasses people who are questioning, as well as people who know live in their correct gender and who identify transsexuality as a phase they have long left; not all post-op transsexuals acknowledge their trans past, so they can identify as “straight” and/or “queer”.
Let me parse that for you. Sam isn't "employing the gay/straight dichotomy" because he's saying that all people who aren't cis and straight are "queer": i.e. the word is divided into cis-and-straight-folks and everyone else is this great big queery lump, no matter how they choose to define or describe themselves.

No matter that a gay cis woman has a different social situation from a straight trans man who has a different social situation from a bisexual cis man who has a different social situation from a questioning trans woman.

No, they're all Not Like Sam, so they're this uniform porridgelike audience to whom he can pontificate without knowing his elbow from his asshole.

Let me highlight this sentence for you again, because it's so mind-bogglingly ignorant:
not all post-op transsexuals acknowledge their trans past, so they can identify as “straight” and/or “queer”
Most Insightful Sam, the reason why ALL trans people (regardless of what's between their legs) can identify as "straight" or "queer" or having any other sexual orientation imaginable is because whether you're trans has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. Whether you "acknowledge your trans past" (whatever that means) has bugger all (no pun intended) to do with whether you are straight or gay. They are totally different issues. As Samantha tried to tell you from the beginning.

Sam isn't just ignorant and wrong. We're all ignorant and wrong sometimes. But Sam is also breathtakingly arrogantly wrong, and patronising.
activism now is not about bulldozing or being hotheaded, but about making change with friendship and smiles, and not taking everything so seriously and personally.
I like "friendship and smiles" as much as the next person, but when people are murdered and excluded on the basis of a form of discrimination that will never ever come within a galaxy's length of your experience, telling them not to take it "seriously and personally" is the height of callousness.

The final word must go to Edward Flaherty:
You couldn't get a clue during the clue mating season in a field full of horny clues if you smeared your body with clue musk and did the clue mating dance.

1 comment:

  1. Long discussion on the ST forum... http://comment.straitstimes.com/showthread.php?t=28506


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