Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Who Should Speak For Us?

I hear from people that question the right for some people to be a spokesperson for the trans-community. My answer to that is nothing gives them the right to speak for us, so why don’t you speak-up for us.

Many times it is the result of their job that become the voice of the community, Elle Boatman has an Op-Ed article on the Advocate about this,
Op-ed: Trans Glamour Versus Trans Activism
A positive step in transgender visibility doesn't necessarily mean it's a step for transgender activism.

This month 14 self-identified trans women graced a trifold cover of Candy magazine, a self-described “transversal style magazine.” [I wrote about it in my blog here]

It’s gorgeous. Suggestively clad, long-legged women posed in mostly vulnerable and sexualized positions in a color-spanning panorama of stunning trans beauty. It’s the pinnacle of Western fashion and culture — and it’s all transgender women. In that regard, it’s a huge statement that unequivocally screams that trans people can do all the things cisgender (nontrans) people can do — in this case, largely modeling as well as other beauty and entertainment industry professions. We’re not inferior, lesser-than, “others,” or any number of tropes that are heaped unjustly upon the trans* community due to unwarranted stereotypes and prejudice.
Most of these women are actresses, authors, or are in some way young and attractive, and in the public eye.
A significant number of trans people acknowledge this shoot for what it is — unrealistic and unattainable stereotyping that plays to an affluent hetero- and cis-normative culture. Most trans women didn’t win the genetic lottery and many will never be able to afford the intervening procedures that are generally required to attain such external beauty norms. Many trans women have physical traits that are generally considered more masculine: broader shoulders, deeper voices, less pronounced feminine curves. Showing 14 conventionally, if not exceptionally, beautiful trans women and advertising them as the leaders of the trans community only reinforces the “normality” of straight, cisgender society by pandering to the pervasive notion that your worth is intrinsically connected to how easily you can mimic the cisgender, heterosexual ideal.
Back in the post-Stonewall gay and lesbian movement, they didn’t any gay looking, butch looking or trans-looking people in the movement because they wanted to be viewed as “just your typical next door neighbor” the same is true for the photo. But does that make it wrong?

I think like most answers there is no black or white answer, showing gorgeous women might help in getting passed legislation to protect us all but at the same time it marginalizes those who do not integrate into sociality that well.

On the other hand if it was a picture with a broad spectrum of trans-people, will it sell as many magazine and would we still be talking about weeks later?

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