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posted by [personal profile] eftychia at 05:25am on 2010-08-11

[A long entry today where you usually expect something shorter, thus the multiple cuts. (I hope I didn't screw up any of the formatting.) After I had stuck one of the following quotes into the queue, several other relevant ones that seem to help explain each other (see end-note) popped up in other places, so I'm putting them all here on the same day in the hope that the shared framework will make it clearer why the dominant cultural narrative is hosed. While all the authors quoted are talking about the same stuff, there are multiple contexts being mixed-and-matched here. (Some quoted passages are responses to one recent offense or another, others address multiple contexts at once. They all wind up making more or less the same point.) If you're inclined to disagree because of something you think is "obvious" from a dominant-group perspective, please read the conversations these quotes are pulled from, before chiming in (see end-note).]

"at what point in a dating relationship do you disclose your virulent transphobia?

"i mean, on the first date do you say 'oh wow, i'd totally kill you if you've ever had a vagina'? or do you wait until the intimate action is about to start and say 'if that isn't a flesh and blood cock you got there, i'm gonna bash your face in' as you're pulling down his zipper with your teeth?

"i mean, it's important that you're honest. trans people need to know who they're about to have sex with, and if you pose as someone who isn't transphobic but really are, then is it really consensual??

"no trans person would consent to sex with someone as transphobic as you -- i hope you carry around hardcopies of this thread just in case, so you don't rape any trans people fraudulently."

-- [info] kynn, 2010-07-09

"There's a funny thing in the United States (and in a few other places too). It's called a right to privacy. It isn't perfect. After all, any right will have some limitations to account for clashes of rights. But for the most part, we all have a right to not disclose medical history, personal info or anything that would not threaten the life or health of someone to people we meet and know. [...] Even now, ethics forbids sharing information about people that is considered private (or coercing them to share it), even in situations where the law does not back such protections. We like our privacy. And we seem to mostly support the privacy of others.

"Yanno, as long as they're cis.

"Enter the raging fuckery storm that is 'dating and disclosure', an ethics farce perpetrated by a cissexist, homophobic world bound and determined to dehumanize the fuck out of those scary trans people."

-- Genderbitch, 2010-07-12

"[...] When you start taking someone's clothes off and what you find isn't the expectation in your brain and you're not into it anymore? You know what you do? You cool things off, explain what's not your bag, and call them a cab.

"Here's what you don't do: You don't berate a woman for false advertising because it turns our she was wearing a water bra. You don't hand a woman a razor, shove her into the shower and tell her to groom herself better because her choices related to how much hair she likes to keep on her body don't work for you. [...]

"So when a trans person doesn't disclose to you right off? When you don't find out until after or during your moment of desiring them, or kissing them, or engaging in sex with them? Guess what? You didn't get raped. Or tricked. Or used.

"What you got was a moment with someone hoping, not just that you'd still like them when you found out, but that you wouldn't beat them to death for wanting someone for which you might not get societal approval points for having.


"And you know what the best response is if you suddenly find yourself wanting someone and hating yourself for it? Don't fuck them. And if you do it anyway or change your mind later, and can't get over your shit? The best response is not making completely inaccurate, devaluing, dehumanizing statements about fucking rape."

-- [info] rm, 2010-08-07

"For the record, things you should disclose to a new partner before having casual sex with them for the first time: If you have any STDs, if you have any other partners, if your significant other is likely to barge in and aim a shotgun at your head, and, if you are taking them home with you, whether you have any sort of animals to which they might have a deadly allergy. Things that you do not need to disclose: The shape of your genitals, your ethnicity, your religion, whether you've done your taxes yet this year, whether zombies or pirates would win in a fight, whether you're ever going to give them up or let them down. The former is life-or-death stuff directly related to sex. The latter is typically nice to know when you're sleeping with someone, but we takes our chances and part of life's adventure is discovering things we don't know about our fuckbuddies, pleasant and otherwise." -- [info] sabotabby, 2010-07-22

"This is how cis columnists talk about how trans people are discreditable and dishonest if we don't admit up front that we're trans, or at least say so within the first few dates. This is how cis people describe that having sex with a trans person who doesn't disclose is akin to rape or exposure to STDs. Cis people, on the contrary, are never expected to disclose their transphobia and unwillingness to date a trans person on any date. Cis people never feel the urge to say, 'Oh, by the way? If you're trans, I will bash your head in with a fire extinguisher.' And yet who takes the blame?


"And as much as we talk about these things, these conversations fail to convey any amount of depth about the variety of trans people's lives. It presumes [[...] and [...]] It presumes that trans people who are gendered incorrectly and recognized as trans are not often almost immediately subjected to hate speech and harassment, let alone threatened or even outright assault and violence. [...] To these cis people, apparently her very existence is too offensive for them to bear.

"And that's what it comes down to. It's not about honesty, it's not about disclosure, it's about existence. Often, cis people see trans people as unbearable and intolerable just because of who we are, where we dare to go, who we dare to talk to, who we dare to find attractive, where we dare to work, what clothes we dare to wear, which street we dare to walk down. That we dare to breathe and speak, and be present.

"So the problem is never 'she lied to him' or any of that nonsense. The problem is that she's trans and tried to live like a cis person, and that's just not acceptable."

-- Lisa Harney, 2010-07-23 [original includes supporting links not duplicated here]

"No one comments on things that cisfolk don't disclose because that never seems to come into it, mainly it seems, because it's cisfolk who are creating the narratives." -- Laura Ess, 2010-07-24

"Also? Before anyone makes another annoying analogy, yes, it's reasonable and appropriate to hope/expect/desire someone disclosure their STD-status to you.

"But guess what? Being trans is not a communicable disease. Neither is having small tits or hairy legs. You aren't owed this information in advance because you are not actually harmed by not having it."

-- [info] rm, 2010-08-07

"So do we wanna talk about real ethics when it comes to dating and disclosure? Let's use that STI analogy in a more proper fashion. STIs are dangerous to the health of an individual you're going to sleep with. Guess what else is dangerous to health of a trans person you may be trying to sleep with, cis people? Your bigotry. That's right, many trans people are murdered, harassed, assaulted and mistreated after a cis person finds out we're trans in a dating or sexual involvement. Which means that cissexism is a very real and serious danger to trans folk in general (and even more dangerous to trans folk with other intersections of kyriarchy, like race or disability).

"So, much like disclosing that you have a sexually transmitted infection to your possible partners, cis people (not trans people) should disclose to anyone they're about to sleep with or date if they have any sort of cissexist issues with trans people in any way shape or form. Just in case they're about to sleep with a trans person who could be endangered by their views. This rule applies to any and all cis people. It is simply the most ethically sound option. In fact, it should apply to every branching axis of kyriarchy. Are you racist? You need to share that fact with anyone you date in case your racism would affect them (even people who appear white since after all, many folks may appear white without being white). Are you prone to ableism? Share that fact with anyone you date before you date them, as per proper ethics, because you never know if someone has a less apparent disability or if the person with disabilities you're about to date may be hurt by your bigotry. Got classism? Homophobia/biphobia? Sexist views? Oh well, you have to disclose that because well, you could end up harming someone, much like if you hide an STI from a potential partner.

"[...] After all, if privacy can be dropped for just discomfort, the truly harmful aspects of your bigotry make it far more viable and ethical for you to disclose [than] for us."

-- Genderbitch 2010-07-12

"Hypothetical: Seven of your great-grandparents are Caucasian. One of your great-grandparents is African-American. You have blue eyes and straight, light-brown hair. You have consensual sex with a Caucasian woman. Afterwards while conversing you mention that you have some non-white ancestry, and she calls you a disgusting Octoroon, calls the police, and tries to get you arrested as a rapist. Is it your fault for not assuming in advance that she was a horrible racist piece of filth and disclosing the ethnicity of all eight grandparents pre-emptively? Or should people in this society treat those who deny the humanity and equality of other people as the ones with the problems, and not allow them indulgence or special consideration for their irrational hatred?" -- [info] askeladden, 2010-08-07

"So, if we're going to ever have a useful conversation about disclosure? It has to start there. It can't be a debate about when or if trans people should tell cis people that they're trans. It can't focus on the needs and problems of trans people with reliable passing privilege (or who are assumed to have that passing privilege). It can't even be about disclosure because disclosure is not the problem. It has to be about the fact that transphobia is a systematic, institutionalized force, and its primary purpose is to deny us the right to exist." -- Lisa Harney, 2010-07-23 [original includes relevant link not duplicated here]

[If you think there's an obvious and simple rule to follow regarding disclosure, I'm going to have to ask you to do a lot of background reading on the subject before saying anything (especially since this'll probably get posted while I'm out of town). This is something that has been talked about and talked about and talked about and talked about within trans communities, it's something trans people think about and worry about a lot from both directions*, and you won't often see a trans person tossing in an opinion who hasn't already been through various debates and flamewars on the subject already, and/or had relevant personal experiences, so odds are high that whatever clear-cut solution you want to suggest is something we've already thought of and argued to death from eight different points of view. (As evidenced above, some cis people have also thought this through pretty thoroughly.) Seriously. (Please also note, in the discussions some of these are from, there are other Big Issues -- side issues and layers -- that colour the different debates interestingly.)]

[*] By which I mean both the pre-transition/pre-coming-out question of "when do I warn them that I don't see myself as the gender they see me as?", and the post-transition question of "do I need to tell them I used to have a different name and presentation / [have|used to have] genitals different from what they [expect|see on me now]; and if so, when?" (Note that I am seriously oversimplifying here to try to keep this short, since the quotes themselves are already long and I've just assigned y'all a big pile o' homework.)

There are 6 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
posted by [personal profile] skreidle at 12:53pm on 2010-08-11
Fascinating and troubling.

Also, LJ cut/link needs work.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
posted by [personal profile] firecat at 10:06pm on 2010-08-11
Excellent collection of quotes. May I link to it?
eftychia: Female (Venus) symbol, with a transistor symbol inside the circle part (TransSister)
posted by [personal profile] eftychia at 04:27am on 2010-08-16
Link away! (Checking in from a Subway on my way home from Pennsic.)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
posted by [personal profile] stardreamer at 07:39am on 2010-08-16
When you start taking someone's clothes off and what you find isn't the expectation in your brain and you're not into it anymore? You know what you do? You cool things off, explain what's not your bag, and call them a cab.

Sort of like "if he/she changes hir mind after things have been building up for a while, what do you do?", given the difference in viewpoint.
jesse_the_k: barcode version of jesse-the-k.dreamwidth.org (JK OpenID barcode)
posted by [personal profile] jesse_the_k at 01:34am on 2010-08-18
Thank you for this useful, educational, and heart-breaking precis of the ongoing conversation.
posted by (anonymous) at 05:54pm on 2010-08-18
Well, I've worried about the same thing from a bisexual standpoint, but given my parameters it's unlikely to come to physical violence if I guess wrong...



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