Like the fantastic Netflix 2020 documentary “Disclosure” Highlights in poignant detail, media portrayals of trans people have long been rooted in monstrosity and the idea of femininity (and manhood) failed. Of the rampaging murderer posing as a mother in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”” in ’90s talk shows (“My boyfriend is really a girl!”), gender diversity – common throughout human history – has been widely portrayed as either the sinister stuff of nightmares, or like the shocking fodder of the tabloids.
Learning to tell a story that didn’t start with ‘born in the wrong body’ and to recognize the rich and long history of the trans experience would become as much a part of my transition as the synthetic hormone I hoped would be. it would widen the muscles in my back and deepen the sound of my voice. I was convinced that the ominous otherworldly account attributed to my body in the popular imagination was not the truth. And I began to realize that my experience offered some insight into how the genre operates on all body.
We are all in a constant phase of negotiation with political and cultural forces that try to shape us into simple and translatable packages. Trans people, by necessity, are more aware of these strengths; that fluidity is a force, and it gave us the opportunity to question the stories about gender ‘biology’ that are so fundamental to American culture: do we all really want to co-sign the idea that a womb , and therefore potential, do we define femininity? When a non-binary person gives birth to a child, why must the birth certificate dictate that the person who gave birth is a “mother”, and what exactly does being a “mother” mean? ? What could it mean for all parents if “mother” and “father” were not such separate categories in child rearing? Who benefits from their continued separation?
Despite growing interest in our lives over the past decade, being the trans flagship of the “future of the genre” generally makes us the subjects, not the authors, of our stories. As we became more visible, trans people have appeared in a glut of stories with headlines such as “Transgender Love: When Husband Become Wife”. These tended to focus less on our experience as trans people and more on the alleged suffering of our parents and partners. Our families were complained about their bad luck or celebrated for the enduring strength of their love, while the trans person in question was casually dehumanized. (“Don’t look at them as freaks,” the wife of a trans woman suggested in a TV report.) Widespread, anthropological interest in otherwise ordinary trans lives was less of a concern to us than gender anxiety. wide – for better or, generally, for worse.
While the much more recent three-dimensional representations of trans people are certainly a balm, it’s also crucial not to underestimate the effects of these more disturbing takes. Today, only three in 10 Americans say they know a trans person, and twin experts and advocates the continuing epidemic of violence against trans people (especially black trans women and other trans women of color) with these dehumanizing portrayals of our lives.
In 2015, a year after that Coverage of Time “Transgender Tipping Point” and amid the urgent, intersectional calls for action against systemic racism championed by Black Lives Matter, I was working in another newsroom in New York City, unpacking the “masculinity crisis” continues from my perspective as a still new (and white) man. My beard had come by then, and years of socializing as a cis-passing man after three decades as a queer feminist had left me with questions about the deep relationship between masculinity and violence, and my own latent prejudices.
As the country was in the grip of pre-Trump rage, I had questions about the world I lived in now, such as “Why won’t anyone touch me?” And “Am I sexist?” As a newcomer to this busy landscape, I took my own masculinity into account in a very public experience: I learned to box, spending months grappling with other men in a Manhattan boxing gym. , learning the rituals of the men’s locker room and interviewing sociologists and biologists and psychologists with every “newbie” question I had about masculinity along the way. I became the first trans man to fight at Madison Square Garden. I wrote the story of my fight in 2016 and then wrote a book, “Amateur,” which broadened my examination of American masculinity.