On debunking 'trans' myths and normalizing whiteness
November 5, 2012
|So, this article: [Top Ten Myths about Transgender People||Adios Barbie](http://www.adiosbarbie.com/2012/11/top-ten-myths-about-transgender-people/) was written as a means to debunk some common myths about trans people.|
Originally, I wasn’t going to say much about the article ‘cause it mostly speaks to a white centric view of trans experiences.
First, one of the comments struck a chord with me, something I’ve talked around but not explicitly discussed anywhere (as far as I can remember). She writes in myth 2:
This can be confusing to us who inhabit more traditional gender roles, but to transgender people, it is not confusing. It is just who they are.
This alone lets you know that this is a white centric view of gender and what being ‘trans’ is. My gender is traditional. Indeed, there are many poc genders called ‘trans’ by white people that are traditional. This feeds into the white/modern belief that people like me are new or a contemporary phenomena. Erasing the long history of our participation in our communities and our contributions to the world.
However, I want to also question how in this quote and how I’ve seen it used elsewhere, ‘traditional’ =/= more valid or legitimate. That I happen to know my roots and am learning more of my history does not make my gender any more real or legit than anyone else’s. Framing gender as traditional vs. non-traditional invokes too much of a value system and isn’t really a useful way to go about it.
For more evidence of the white-centrism of this ‘myth’ busting is Myth #4, wherein she continues the rather un-nuanced position that gender and sexuality are unrelated things. (I’ve elsewhere commented on why this is a problem). I always have problems with articles like this because she is clearly taking on an authoritative role, busting myths, while all it does is legitimize some frameworks for understanding gender and marginalizing others.
Busting one myth to uphold another isn’t useful. Nor is this kind of misinformation very educational for people who know little about the issues.
And don’t think I missed the tokenizing mention of non-western societies at the end. Which while romanticizing stuff she clearly knows nothing about, also perpetuates the myth of the noble savage.
Perfectly normal? No. Saying this only serves to hide the difficulties that genderescent, trans, third gender, etc. people in non-western countries face, usually as a result of colonialism.
My gender might have a greater level of recognition and acceptance in the Philippines (for a given value of ‘acceptance’), but it doesn’t change the problems bakla and/or trans women and/or trans feminine people in the Philippines have with changing their IDs. With maintaining employment. With sex tourism and exploitation. With marginalization.
Romanticizing it and using it as a rhetorical point while adding to hegemonic white trans myth making only makes you look racist and exploitative.
We aren’t footnotes for white liberation.