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<nettime> FOR TOTAL GENDER LIBERATION, take 2
lotu5 on Sun, 25 Nov 2007 10:39:20 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> FOR TOTAL GENDER LIBERATION, take 2


 From http://technotrannyslut.com

The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine who’s very involved
in “the queer community” in San Diego and she said “wouldn’t it be
cool if we did a fashion show, but all the models were lined up from
the most masculine FtoM person all the way to the most femmy drag
queen, with a bunch of androgynous people in the middle, and people
wouldn’t be able to tell who was who?”

To which I replied, “yeah, that would be cool, except that it
reinforces the idea that our only options are on a spectrum from male
to female. What about people who identify as something outside of the
spectrum, like bunnies or dragons?”

At which point she said “no, no, no, those things aren’t genders,
they’re species, you can be a male dragon or a female bunny.” I
went on to explain that I have friends who identify as bunnies,
thunderbunnies to be specific, and that Riki Wilchins explains this
idea in the intro to the book Genderqueer: Voices from Beyond the
Sexual Binary [http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9781555837303-1].
There, Riki rejects the idea that gender is a spectrum, because it is
still a spectrum anchored by a binary of male and female.

Ultimately, it got to the point where I was arguing that we just don’t
have the language yet for the world we want, but she wasn’t buying it.

Which brings me to this blog post. My friend
DJ Queen B wrote this awesome blog post
[http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=16004
7403&blogID=330260233&indicate=1] yesterday. Sorry, you have to be
on myspace and her friend to read it, and she’s working on getting a
wordpress blog, but I’ll post a quote here:

“Am I becoming a shifting self? A hybrid being, a fluid traveling
through and through? I am at the crossroads, the in between space
where nothing and everything makes a fucking statement. Yet I am
struggling to breed honor and value. Am I becoming a shifting self?
I’ve stood on the borderlands for the entire time I have been in this
consciousness, I inhabit the third space, yet somehow this borderland
seems to continue to expand.”

I thought her post was beautiful and also hit on a lot of things I’ve
been thinking about a lot lately. The post is generally about her
frustration with people asking her to label and categorize herself for
them. To which I replied:

“This is awesome. I have a ton to say about this, but mostly FUCK
YEAH. I’m so with you on this. I’ve been thinking about and struggling
with the whole deal of people asking me questions and trying to label
me and I’ve come to the conclusion that I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO BE
WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT ON ANY GIVEN DAY. I think today the word is
pomo-homo, but tomorrow it might be romance-chasing-slut. Pipi has a
ton to say on this topic too, from her own experience and her friends
from oly. Overall, I’m so happy to be coming into that place of
freedom, rejecting restrictions, embracing the daily fucking struggle
and challenge and exploring away. I totally share that feeling that
you expressed here of standing on the borderlands only to see them
expanding before you in every direction, and of choosing a place of
flux as my identity, which is something I’ve felt about myself for a
long time.”

KRS One said somewhere something about life being an artistic process
of creating yourself and I like that, but I never could find the exact
quote.”

The other day I was talking to Private Pipi about this conversation
about dragons and bunnies and she told me about friends of hers from
Olympia, Washington, who definitely identify as whatever they want
on whatever day and are constantly changing and making up words and
combinations like transexxxual-flirt-kitty.

Which is exactly how I feel. I refuse to succumb to some category. I
don’t identify as MtoF because that would be accepting that I was ever
M and that I want to be F. I don’t identify as MtoX either, because
that still denies the fluidity and complexity of my gender expression
throughout my life that has brought me to this point where what I want
it Total Gender Liberation. I identify as transgender, crossing gender
borders, in whatever configuration I can imagine each day.

So I was asking Pipi, who has studied more of feminism and queer
theory than myself, if she considers this desire for Total Gender
Liberation as part of a history and trajectory of feminism or of
something else. Why is it that we have a concept like Feminism but
concepts like Queer Theory or Trans Liberation just don’t match up in
terms of their resonance as a political movement and set of beliefs.
Do I just not know the word? Or is this movement of radical queer
action, loving and thinking more recent or just not as accepted in
academia or in political movements? I read Leslie Feinberg’s amazing
book Transgender Warriors, so I’m familiar with some of the long,
ancient history of transgender people, but I’m talking about language
here and it seems like the language for this movement towards gender
and sexual liberation is still being developed, although I guess it
always will.

Yet, while I want everyone to be able to have whatever gender they
can imagine and want to imagine gender more as a ball of spaghetti
(really, as a multiplicity) than as a spectrum, I don’t fall for the
idea that FtoM people or MtoF people are “stuck in the binary”. I
definitely think there is something more going on, and I recently
found a great quote on that topic.

I’ve been reading Shoshana Felman’s book The Scandal of the Speaking
Body: Don Juan with J.L. Austin, or Seduction in Two Languages
[http://www.powells.com/biblio/61-9780804744539-1] , which my advisor
Avital Ronell, suggested I read for my thesis. In it, I came across
this:

"Benveniste, as linguist, establishes a limit in order to respect
it, that is in order to de-fine: to classify, to distinguish, to
construct. Austin, on the other hand, like Don Juan, establishes a
limit only to transgress it, that is, to in-fine: to declassify, to
disarticulate, to deconstruct."

That, I think, is a brilliant explanation of the operation of gender
for many transgender and genderqueer people. While there are many
different experiences and it is important not to essentialize one, and
many transgender people want to pass, I think that even in passing,
transgender people in effect trans-gress gender, they break down
the biology-gender link, they subvert the very concept of masculine
or feminine by disarticulating them from sex, which is how those
categories are defined in the first place, they play with gender in
a way that brings it into the forefront at the same time that it
deconstructs it, takes away its limiting power, shifts it into new
uses.

In Hardt and Negri’s Empire, they claim “A new nomad horde, a new
race of barbarians, will arise to invade or evacuate Empire… These
barbaric deployments work on human relations in general, but we can
recognize them today first and foremost in corporeal relations and
configurations of gender and sexuality.” Similarly, Giorgio Agamben
claims that the most important political goal is to find new ways
to make the human body inoperative, in the sense that poetry makes
language inoperative, to find new uses for the human body. In our
summer seminar at EGS [http://egs.edu], he jokingly said that we
should make everything inoperative, even pissing. I asked him if he
thought that transgender people who identify not as man or woman but
as “something else” are doing what he is talking about and he affirmed
“yes, isn’t that exactly the definition of inoperativity!”

I agree strongly that new bodily practices are needed in order to move
into new worlds beyond the injustice of the present one. I think that
our queer communities, in thinking beyond the current limitations of
language and imagining new conceptions of the body, sexuality and
desire offer a serious hope for creating these other worlds we’ve been
talking about for such a long time. Those other worlds are sprouting,
its just a matter of letting them grow and finding out what we can
imagine.


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