Fuck You and Fuck Your Fucking Thesis
Why I Will Not Participate in Trans Studies
Dear Mr. or Ms. Grad Student, I am sorry to report that I will not participate in your study as a data point. I don't understand what you're trying to accomplish. I don't trust you. I don't like you. I don't care if you succeed. In fact, I kind of think you suck. Here's why:
What do you think you're going to do for me? For us? For trans women? Do you think it makes a difference if you study the menstruation needs of trans guys? Or you study trans people's partners' self-declared sexual orientation? How about sexual practices and HIV? How about trans culture and SM, would that change my life? Would that change anyone's life, except maybe to get you a few dates with some svelte transguy? Oh and a book contract, you might get a book contract. And your thesis getting approved could very well land you a post-doc or a teaching position somewhere, certainly aim you for a career... fuck you.
I'm sure you have self-serving justifications. Everybody has self-serving justifications, its how us humans get through the day. But I don't care what they are. You aren't the first, hell you're probably not the first this week, and you probably won't be the last to try to convince me that this particular topic, this particular project, this very one that you thought of, will change the world and make things better. Hell, I've probably helped as many non-trans people finish grad school as I've seen trans women friends commit suicide- let me think about that for a minute, both number in the dozens... and how many people have I seen go through grad school openly as trans women? None. Wait, no, one. No, two. Three? No, just two. Am I supposed to ignore that imbalance and keep pushing you wankers along?
Let me tell you something: trans people have already been studied. We've been interviewed, sampled, tested, cross-referenced, experimented upon, medicated, shocked, examined, and dissected post-mortem. You've looked at our chromosomes, our families, our blood levels, our ring fingers, our mothers' medicine cabinets, and our genitalia (over and over again with the genitalia- stop pushing condoms on us, dumbass, we know what they're for.) You've watched us play with dolls, raise children, fall in love, look at pornography, get sick, die, and commemorate ourselves. You've listened to our ears. You've listened to our fucking ears! But you've never listened to our voices and you need to do that now.
There are already studies about what trans people need. You want them? Go read the needs assessment Michelle O'Brien wrote for THAC in Philadelphia. Go look at the final report of the Sex and Gender Minority Subcommittee of the Mayor's Task Force on Homelessness. Go read that amazing omnibus study the San Francisco public health department commissioned a few years back, the one that found trans women have an average monthly income of $536. Ever seen rents in San Francisco?
So what do people like me need? Not counseling. Not new labels on condoms. Not more doctoral candidates palpating our business. Trans women need, more or less in order: decriminalization, housing, education and employment. As in, not being swept off the street, not being banned from shelters, yes being allowed in GED classes, and, well, employment. Can you provide these? Not as a goddamn researcher, and probably not as a member in good standing of whatever professional body you aspire to join. You want to actually do something as good you say you want to do, drop out, abrogate your loans, and become a social worker. Decriminalization, housing, education and employment. You'd do better to hire one of us as a receptionist.
Oh sure, I'll bet you can find some young trans woman, probably a year or two out of the closet, who will swear to you that if only she had hormones, if only she could get surgery everything would be okay. Its very sweet that you weren't too intimidated to talk to her, but she's wrong. There is not stealth horde of passing women waiting to claim the young after just one more hoop- we are who we are, and we are talking to you right now. Hormones are nice but they won't make you employable. Surgery is great but it won't get the cops off your back. Facial reconstruction won't get you a lover. Decriminalization, housing, education and employment.
Y'know, a thought occurs to me. Everything on that list I keep repeating comes from somewhere else, didja notice? These aren't problems caused by genitalia, or elongated ring fingers. These are problems caused by social conditions, by society, by the people who run the world around us who, funny, look a lot like you. Have you ever considered studying yourselves? Why do non-trans people have such a big fucking problem with us? Why do they care where we shower or whether their IRB sees us hanging around the computer center after hours? Why is it so damned important who we date, or, frankly, whether someone like you is dating one of us or not? Can you tell me that? Why not, Mr. or Ms. Big-Shot Researcher Who Wants To Do Something Good For The World? Too hard to do the... research? I'd love to see an fMRI series of psychology grad students watching a video in which attractive trans women explain to them that their proposal lacks... a bit of depth, maybe it could do with a more developed sense of social context perhaps? Come up with another draft by, lets say, the 16th, can we all meet again on the 16th? How does this essay make you feel: indifferent, mostly indifferent, somewhat indifferent, somewhat angry, or very angry?
And somewhere, I bet, there's a trans guy wondering why people like you who want "to do work around trans issues" always seem to have so many FTMs as friends.
What trans people need is to get through a day without being inspected, not by the guy making change at the Wa Wa and not by the hipster with an academic stipend. We need data, ideas, plans and strategies, but we need to see them coming from people like us, people who don't, right now, seem to make it into your little position of power. We don't need your study, we don't need your thesis, and we really don't need you to graduate and "do good work." And you? You don't need us either. You are pretty much guaranteed a good life with or without my participation in your little project so please- stuff it up your ass. I say this will all the deference the circumstances warrant.