for future thought -- gender discourse beyond whiteness
December 16, 2012
I posted a link (on tumblr) to this story about trans women in India seeking entrance to the Ayyappan Temple, where only men are allowed to enter. There is just soooo much going on in this story that demonstrates so clearly how white trans/gender discourse erases and excludes poc gender systems that something like this story is almost incoherent.
I’m still not even sure what to think about this. But. I want to keep this in my mind. So here are the facts:
- Ayyappan Temple at Sabarimala in Kerala does not allow women between 10 and 50 to enter.
- The article is written in english.
- It uses the word ‘transgender’ to describe the women.
- Some women have been attending by changing into men’s clothing.
- The women would like to attend the temple without having to wear men’s clothing (ie., a sari and not a shirt and dhoti).
- One argument: gov’t accepts them as trans, thus they should be allowed to attend in a sari.
- Second arument: they do not experience menstruation, thus they should be allowed into the temple.
- The ban on women between 10-50 is related to menstruation.
- However, temple officials also base the ban on gender expression.
- This article, I almost feel, would be more coherent if written in the regional language and not using words like ‘transgender.’
- Would they allow trans men to attend presenting as men, despite the apparent connection menstruation?
- What does all this really say about how poc gender systems can work and opperate?
- Is the use of ‘transgender’ useful in this article?
My real only firm comment I have, so far, is that the use of english and white trans/gender words in this article essentially creates a conceptual framework that renders this subject and event incoherent.
This will be on my mind for a very long time.