Stop Playing Dress-Up With My Oppression

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CONTENT NOTE: fabulousphobia, non-binary erasure, femmephobia, transphobia, appropriation, assault, suicide, unemployment

Source: http://www.cityonahillpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/QFS3.jpg?w=582

[Image description: A stage covered in glittery confetti (which is also falling through the air) has humans dressed in colorful clothes and balloons behind the confetti in the foreground.]

Well, now I understand why people talk about drag shows as violent.

I am not a costume.

I am not your exotic fabulosity.

I am not a joke.

My gender isn’t something to be played with by people who have better genders to put on when the sun rises. My life is not your dress-up.

But my oppression has become a mannequin for your fashion show.

You might get high off the crowd’s love, but no one cheers me on when I show up at the office in an orange trenchcoat.

When I get dressed, it’s not a moment to broaden my horizons.

No, when I get dressed, it’s a fucking panic attack.

My clothes are not a performance. My gender is not a farce. This isn’t a show that will be over at the end of the night.

This is me.

I am real.

This is not cis voyeurism into trans experience. This is my daily life.

My outfits are not fabulous for your commodification or appropriation. Fabulous has become so over- and wrongly- used (do you say I am fabulous when I show up in court as myself?) that I say it isn’t my word at all. It’s yours.

I am rad, but because I am me. For me, my outfits are quotidian, and every one I wear, whether it’s Carhartts and plaid or feather boas and striped socks, is me. All of them are fabulous.

I am not only fabulous sometimes. There is no “fabulous” uniform. I am not fabulous today and drab tomorrow. I am both fabulous and boring every day.

I may panic more when getting dressed, but I don’t need your objectification of my gender expression making that harder.

It is me,

it is mine,

I am whole.

Don’t make that struggle yours by wearing my clothes as a costume and laughing at how open-minded you are. Laughing at how silly you look in all

that

glitter,

all those bright colors.

Why is it that you get more support for looking like me for one night than I do in my entire lifetime?

If you really want to take up the mantle with us, try working to end our suicide or unemployment or assault rates.

Not wearing our clothes.

If you cared about that half as much as you did about us looking fabulous, we’d be in a fucking different place by now.

Think about that before your next drag show, your next fashion show, your next roundup of performed gender.

Who is this for?

Why are you doing this?

What reasons are helpful?

Which ones hurt?

And let me just be. I shouldn’t have to see myself paraded every which way, every sashay, myself snatched in every laugh and cheer.

This is for you.

You do this for fun. To joke at ridiculous and strangeness, what you see as an exaggeration.

I do this to live.

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Part 2: Monica Roberts, Dr. Kortney Ziegler, and Black Girl Dangerous

#blacklivesmatter, activism, ally, appropriation, cissexism, ftm, mtf, queer people of color, racism, trans people of color, transgender, transphobia, white supremacy

TRIGGER WARNING: racism in the trans community, violence against trans people of color, criminalization of trans people of color, cultural appropriation

See this post (“White Silence and Black Deaths”) for an introduction to the many parts of this post. I feel almost embarrassed to be signal boosting these rad people on my blog–they already have so much wider of an audience. But they are wonderful people to learn from. If you don’t know about these folks already, you should check them out!

Transgriot:

Monica Roberts on racist attacks within the trans community against Janet Mock and Laverne Cox in her article “Why You All So ‘Scurred’ of Black Trans People Owning Their Power?”

“We have been asking for years to be included in trans leadership ranks that look like a Republican Party convention and you keep ignoring or dismissing our concerns and requests to do so.  We are suffering with a 26% unemployment rate in Black Transworld and near genocidal levels of anti-trans violence being aimed at us that needs to be dealt with now, not 5, 10 or 50 years from now.

For the last 61 years the trans narrative has centered on whiteness.  The transfeminine one has like in the parent society, white transwomen being the penultimate in beauty and femininity while Black transwomen are belittled, denigrated and murdered along with our trans Latina sisters.

“…I am Black first, trans second.  If I had any doubts about where I stand in that regard as a member of the trans community, I get a reminder of it every time I call out the bigoted and racist bull feces that occasionally pops up in our trans community ranks and you angrily hiss back I’m ‘angry’ or ‘playing the race card’ for simply for being willing to call your unacknowledged white privileged behinds out.

“…It was past time for Black transpeople to close ranks, lift each other up as white transpeople have done for the last six decades, have those trans conversations in our Black SGL and cis communities, and do the education because we are the people best suited to discuss trans issues in our community.

“…If you fear the rise of the New Black Transwoman and the New Black Transman because of your unacknowledged privilege, have several seats.  You can #bemad and #staymad about it.

“We would rather work together to build community with our white trans brothers and sisters and our cis, bi  and SGL allies to advance our common goal of human rights for all.  

“But we Black transpeople will no longer do so as a disrespected junior partner that you throw under the bus every time our opponents wave an opportunity in front of your noses to get your lost platinum white privilege levels back.
Dr. Kortney Ziegler:

He has his own blog (linked above) and here is an article that was also published on The Advocate. It’s called “The Peculiarity of Black Trans Male Privilege:”

“Although I’m less likely to be sexually assaulted because of the ways in which I present my gender, this privilege is in exchange for becoming a visible target of racist practices designed to police young black manhood. Policies such as “stop and frisk” and the sanctioned citizen killings of young black men like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis have forced me to learn new ways to manage my body to attract the least amount of attention. I am constantly learning new social cues to present myself as less threatening, less aggressive, and less criminal, to challenge the irrational fear of black masculinity that can literally end my life.”

Black Girl Dangerous

This is on Black Girl Dangerous, which posts articles by queer and trans people of color. From a conversation between Mia McKenzie and Janani Balasubramanian…

Mia: “At that moment I sort of realized how much queerness is blackness, and the ways that we express queerness, that’s a Black vernacular.  That’s a way that’s very very connected to Black culture, and the ways that queer culture has just sort of taken as it will from Black culture without a lot of acknowledgement of Black culture, just completely appropriated from it.  And not only without acknowledgement of it, but without even respect for it.  You can have the same person, like a Black woman in the inner city saying something or dressing in a particular way, having a certain way of expressing herself. You can take that exact same expression and put it on a white gay man and it’s so much more acceptable.”

Janani: “And marketable.”

Autostraddle (signal boost):

Also, Autostraddle has an article that highlights 50 zines by queer (and trans) people of color: http://www.autostraddle.com/50-zines-by-queer-people-of-color-184692/