Thursday, October 9, 2014
That Awkward Moment
I wanted to do a quick post about this thing that happens a lot, which is probably quite clear to you if you are a white trans woman, or spend much time with one. I've illustrated it courtesy Bitstrips (click to see a larger version). It's a window into the ways that intersectionality and the consumptive chaining of varieties of marginalization work, even when the only people you have interacting are white women.
The scenario goes like this: young white cis women meet a white trans woman. Because her trans status is in some way visible to them, they do not treat her as they would other women they encounter. Instead, they treat her as a drag queen--as if she were some hyper-gay man performing femininity for their entertainment. Their framework for acting flamboyantly gay is some sort of urban femme minstrelsy, so they greet her through an awkward performance of tropes of fierce black femininity. And for good measure, they treat her body as sexualized public property, perhaps by slapping her on the rump.
It's horribly cringeworthy. It's cissexism piled on transmisogyny topped with misogynoir. But the young white cis women involved think they're being supportive and progressive, and an attempt to call them on any of the many problematic layers of their greeting results in defensiveness and hurt feelings.