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Декабрь 10, 2009


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01:15 pm - Fuck You Reloaded

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.

With love,

Anne

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[User Picture]
From:ishai_wallace
Date:Декабрь 14, 2009 01:17 pm
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We don't know each other but oh, oh I hear you. A number of times recently, I've helped trans people and LGBTQ youth develop personal means of deciding if a particular study is of benefit to themselves/a broader group of trans people, helping them assess if a study is worth their participation or not.

That said, I have been encouraging transpeople in Ontario to participate int the TransPulse survey, which I think is a particularly excellent example of research by transpeople for transpeople. More on that here: http://transpulse.ca/

Your post reminded me of an exchange I had with a student recently. She sent me a request, to which I responded in detail, and to which I have heard nothing back. I'm going to post my responce here, because it is nice to share:

Thanks for the rant.
___________________________________________________________________________
Hi Steph,

I'm not sure if we know each other - if we do would you remind me of our connection?

Also, while I understand your project, I'm not sure what you are asking for. Are you asking me to be in the film?, are you asking me to ask my partner to be in the film? are you asking me to pass it on to other people who are partnered with trans people?

Before I considered participating, or passed it on to others, there is some additional information I would need to know and some questions I would want answered. I think some of the answers as to why you are having difficulty finding participants is in what you sent me and how you talk about the project. Here's what I would need to have answered/addressed:

1. It would be nice to know what your connection (personal, community or academic) is to trans issues. You are likely to find that many people are warmer in their responses if they know what your motivations are and if you have a personal connection to the issue. Basically, why are you a credible and trustworthy person to create this work?

2. You also don't state what you intend to do with the film, other than presumably submit it for marks and some unnamed festivals. You are asking for 6 to 12 hours of people's time - plus travel time, and that's a sizeable request. Many people may not be willing to do that just for your benefit, especially if they do not know you. If they feel there is a benefit to them or to a larger group, they may be more willing to participate. Are people compensated for their time? Will you be making the film available to community groups or SOFFAs? Do you have an organization willing to vouch for you and help distribute your work? Which festivals do you be submitting the final film to? Will you be holding public showings? What's the incentive for participants?

3. You talk about the "queer and trans community" and "the LGBT(...) community" and I would challenge you that such a community does not exist. There are queer and trans communities. Many trans people and their partners do not identify as queer or LGB and your identification of one presumably homogeneous community may be a barrier to participation. Additionally, many trans people do not feel welcomed or included in broader queer of LGB communities, even if they self identify as queer of LGBT, or even if they belonged to such communities prior to transition. Referring to a single community suggests you are unfamiliar with the reality of trans people and their partners' lives and may turn off potential participants. Please let me know why you chose to refer to a single community and if you feel that is true in light of the above.

more in the next comment.....
[User Picture]
From:ishai_wallace
Date:Декабрь 14, 2009 01:17 pm
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4. Finally, the overall tone of what you are looking for feels problematic to me. It feels like you are anticipating people feeling shame, or embarrassment about "the struggles and hardships of being the partner of a trans person". You say that "it can be completely anonymous" which I suspect that you are saying to encourage people to participate, - but you do not also offer that people could be open, visible and identifiable. What about people who are proud to be in relationships with trans people? What about people who feel that secrecy itself is a problem? What about people who want to celebrate the advantages and richness of being in relationships with a transperson? There are already a considerable number of films and books written by partners and family of transpeople about how difficult it has been for them to have a loved one transition. Many of these are very hurtful and transphobic. I believe these materials may be cathartic for the writers/film makers, but that they are damaging to transpeople, and to people who find that a loved one is about to transition. It's important to recognise that while there are stories by trans people, there are still many more stories out there by cis people about trans people. You may find that supportive partners of transpeople are not interested in creating a film which will further hurt their partner and communities that they may belong to. I would also question your statement that partners of trans people are "people who stand behind and act as a support system for these people." I think this is true in an ideal relationship, but it is certainly not universally true. Many people talk about couples "transitioning together" and supporting each other through that. Certainly there are people who prevent their partners from transitioning, people who abuse their trans partners, people who demand their trans partners live in the closet and people who physically hurt or dump their trans partners when they come out as trans. In presenting the partners as "people who stand behind and act as a support system for these people." you are making heroes out of the partners, and villainizing the trans people, or suggesting all trans people are in need of support. None of that feels comfortable. If this is the direction you want to take with your film, I will not be able to help you, if this is not what you meant, you may want to do some more research and think about what you are in fact looking to create.
[User Picture]
From:ambrmerlinus
Date:Декабрь 14, 2009 10:46 pm
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Fucking. Love. This.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:Декабрь 15, 2009 12:22 am

Smerp!

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Oh, Anne, I'm going to have to quote you in my thesis! Am I on your list of trans women in grad school?

In love and rage,
~Kaitlyn
From:jake_pyne
Date:Декабрь 15, 2009 03:36 am

Trans Researchers

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Hi, well said. I thought you might be interested to see some research coming from trans people. I work for a study called Trans PULSE, here's a short youtube video about it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqbVw4Vzpi4

www.transpulse.ca

[User Picture]
From:tagonist
Date:Декабрь 16, 2009 02:44 pm

Re: Trans Researchers

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Well, its Canadian, which means I automatically don't understand exactly what's going on (different power relationships between academia, providers, and public policy, not to mention a completely different social service infrastructure) but if it were in the US... I mean, I guess there's a missing step I'm not following:

Step 1) Confirm the obvious, with statistical sampling methods applied, etc.

Step 2) [A MIRACLE OCCURS]

Step 3) Better health care, better job opportunities, better hormones, all suddenly come into being.

I just don't see how lack of information about transphobia is the problem. Are Canadian ministers sitting on their hands, saying "gee, we'd like to help these people with jobs programs, but we don't yet believe they're having a rough time, mostly because the data with which we have already been presented are subject to charges of sampling bias, to which this study will clearly be immune." I'm not sure how anyone whose mind hasn't already been changed will be changed here.

This isn't an argument for stasis, and in a country which has something of an intact safety net, like Canada, it certainly doesn't mean that improving the circumstances for trans people is somehow out of reach. I just feel like the solution lies with public policy, not with Science. That is, somebody needs to make the powers that be accountable to the information they already have, rather than adding more data to the "ignore" pile in the corner.

I like the advert, though. Trans people with south african accents? Seriously? I have to nitpick the "language translation is available" segment because the arabic (correctly translated as "al 'arabiyah") is written left-to-right and without ligatures, but that's easy enough to correct. Still, on the whole it seems like people with decent goals. Just... maybe I can't quite get behind that step 2 yet.

Actually, let me revise that slightly. I do see one very good possible outcome from this study, which is that once its been completed, it will presumably be presented by the same people who are hawking it in the video. So, the assorted ministers of hand-sitting will be confronted, in a professional setting, by people they would otherwise love to ridicule, presenting data yes, but with more weight to the medium than the message?

Of course, how it works in this country is that studies of this sort, when brought to legislators, are dumped on the newest and least-popular policy aide, torn from his coffee-making reveries to listen disrepectfully to the TDOL presenters... but I like to imagine Canadians are somehow more decent as a whole.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:Декабрь 15, 2009 11:15 pm
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thank you for narrating! please put this somewhere public before privatizing. like on a toll free line.
[User Picture]
From:taxishoes
Date:Декабрь 16, 2009 03:05 am
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I was linked here and mostly I want to say: right on!

And:

Why do non-trans people have such a big fucking problem with us?

I want to do this study!

Also, I have noticed a new trend of some people actually paying trans people as research subjects, which is why I do (sadly) participate: I need the money. Many research studies will disqualify you from participation if they know you are transsexual, or even transgender in the case of some psychological studies. So if you're marginally employed in a town with lots of schools/hospitals and using studies as a way to make up gaps, trans studies that pay . . . well, I go for it. But I realize why this is problematic. But I need money.
[User Picture]
From:tagonist
Date:Декабрь 16, 2009 02:28 pm
(Link)
Wait, that sounds like Philly. The only other place I've ever seen medical studies listed in the paper was Austin Texas, and that was before PPD relocated... to Philly. Are you here?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:Декабрь 28, 2009 05:36 pm

gAyla

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fucking amazing. thank you for this.
serials.
[User Picture]
From:kittenmommy
Date:Февраль 15, 2010 04:47 am
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Hell, I've probably helped as many non-trans people finish grad school as I've seen trans women friends commit suicide

This is one of the saddest things I've read in my entire life.
[User Picture]
From:transboywonder
Date:Март 16, 2010 03:49 am
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I applaud you for this.
Thank you for posting it publicly. I know a few grad students who need to read this. Thank you, again.
[User Picture]
From:sable_twilight
Date:Март 17, 2010 01:28 am
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Well written. Thank you.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:Апрель 4, 2010 11:28 pm
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Though I read this some time ago, here's a belated thank you.

Also a thank you for the zines you put out ("Unapologetic: The Journal of Irresponsible Gender"). They were really important to me.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:Ноябрь 10, 2010 02:48 pm

Knowledge is NEVER unimportant!

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What really bugs me about this article is that Anne has no conception that studying trans people will actually bring us closer to a change in social policy that will change society. Yes, it might take a while, but that's how things are. Look at the studies done by Evelyn Hooker in the the 1960's on gay men that showed that homosexuality isn't a mental disease. Her studies led to removing homosexuality from the Manual of Mental Disorders in the 70's. Studies are important and they give us the information to craft social policy. So if she doesn't want to participate in the studies, fine, but she should know that knowledge is never unimportant. Where did we get the stat that the average monthly income for an MTF is ~$500? From a study. Anyways, long rant, but this article bugs me!
[User Picture]
From:harpsi_fizz
Date:Ноябрь 13, 2010 04:53 am

I'm reblogging this alright... Oh, boy am I reblogging this.

(Link)
*Blink*

And people wonder:
(a)why I want to go stealth
(b)why we lose our allies
(c) why we have such poor representation

I'm not a self-loathing transsexual. It's all you other transsexuals I hate.
[User Picture]
From:godoftherain
Date:Февраль 14, 2011 05:20 am
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Thank you for this.

This reminds me of very early into my transition. I was in a smallish town, and when I was coming out all of a sudden a lot of (well intentioned!) queer media people wanted to put me into documentaries and on the radio and a bunch of garbage.

I was 14 and they wanted to film my life and my transition.

there is sometimes a fine line between support and exploitation; but thankfully self-delusion is pretty obvious.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:Февраль 19, 2011 09:15 am

Hello, world!

(Link)
How do you do?

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