Liveblogging: #wam09gnc: Gender, Non-conformity & the Media session

At WAM and settling in for the 11 am session with Julia Serano, Jack Aponte(angrybrownbutch), Miriam Zoila Perez and Kate Bovitch. This is the one that focuses on the reality and representations of transgendered people in the media as well as the intersection of gender non-coforming identities and feminist spaces.  The audience–about 75 people out an an expected attendance for today of 550–is mostly under 30, which makes me feel like there is alot about more for me to learn about younger womens perceptions of gender and identity (just as these is around sexuality and identity).

Miriam: Thinking about gender variant people and their roles in our culture; introducing herself as Cuban/Hispanic and an activist, gender/queer blogger. #wam09gnc–Miriam Perez-can people who are gender queer or not woman identitifed sign up for the terms womens space etc? Good question

Julia Serano-transwoman and gender variant person who has faced misogny as both a woman and as a transperson on the transfemine spectrum , as she says. Within a feminist context, there is a tendency she says for women to see transwomen-especially M to F-as outside of their concerns or experience.  Julia Serano: all gender variant people experience transphobia-media focuses on trans feminine side(men in drag jokes). She identifies and lives as a woman, but she is also a trans activist and experiences transphobia–discrimination from yet another angle. media erases diverse voices, says Julia Serano,our images are distorted-even feminists may not get transwomen & the issues.  Transpeople are also objectified and sexualized just as women are, and we need to see this–how images are manipulated and how genital issues are focused on, very sexalized, not a focus on identity.

@angrybrownbutch: organizer, activist, blogger, brooklyn, NYC-slp.org (Brooklyn in teh house). If she gets to identity her own gender, gender queer butch is preferred. Shes check woman over man, but she likes male pronouns. People want to put you one place or another, even out of good politics.”   At the end of the day, Jack feels discrimination as both a woman and a gender queer person and she feels her community is under the womens umbrella, thats where she feels roots and kinship.  BUT…some people feel her gender presentation means she is disowning that. (this is a great point).

#wam09 #wam09gnc: @angrybrownbutch: Online doesnt convey enough of who you are–@womenwhotech & @drupalchix are difficult choices for her–and she sees herself as a gender marginalized person in the broader community.

RT @randomdeanna @boricuajack: i don’t want to squeeze myself into a gender binary just for kinship purposes #wam09 #wam09gnc

Miriam: There are the issues about feminists writing about trans people–do you need to be part of an identity group to talk about it? NO, and yet everyone has a gender identity  Talking about gender is beneficial to everyone; I try to talk about gender in a much broader way and reflect on how mainstream media reinforces gender stereotypes and what is sterotypical and problematic about how gender is framed. (Susan sez: This is another really good point..we make too many assumptions in our wish to divide things neatly.)

Julia: What does it mean to be a good ally to any community you dont personally identify with but wish to support? Listen, educate yourself. With gender issues, the issues that get focused on are those the non trans people find appealing…Always focusing in transition and usrgery feels sensationalist. With feminists or the greater queer community the issues are distinct but perhaps nut really central–ex-talk about mutual issues around feminism, but little on the way transpeople are judged as mentally disordered to get medical support for how you understand themselves…this is huge in the trans community, but largely ignored in the broader progressive community.  Ask people what issues are most important to them, not what you find compelling.

@angrybrownbutch: there is no one trans answer–but dialogue and listening matter. So does sharing your access-guest blogs. Share your platform to create and support communications.
If we have power, we have priviledge.

Kate: How about that language thing? Miriam: I came out as queer when I was 20, 4 years ago, and she didnt know lesbians in her town; she wasnt Ellen, so she wasnt a lesbian (laugh). Her coming out process was aided in college where she met other gender non conforming women–that had to proceed sexual issues–the movement of LBQTI and feminism is bringing the gender conversation not only in queer spaces but in a broader space…feminism drives her as a core (I love this, says Susan).

Miriam: the 70s feminists felt they were coming together as women, we are evolving now around identity/gender fluidity etc; she sees older women she meets as afraid of losing the word women as part of their feminist identity.”We can no longer assume what everyone means when we say the word woman”

 (Susan sez: I can tell I live in rhe Bay area because I accept everyone as a woman who tells me she is one).

Julia: Feminism for me is a movement to end sexism, not a movement focused only on women. transphobia is sexism. needs to be a shift from “lets have a dialogue & educate” to recgnzing ppl shld know better now

Audience question: How do we engage with communities of color on these issues?
@angrybrownbutch: Are communities of color worse? Well, lecturing wont work. Historically, gender was more diverse in Hispanic communities…but for queer and trans orgs, dont show all white people, have people who are identifiable with the community….This can be someone you love or who lives next door.

Julia: Trans should not be depicted as a white thing; violence against gender non conforming youth is disproportionately against people of color. But this doesnt get enough attention, she says.

Miriam: As a Latina, some people think queerness is a white thing, and gender nonconforming is a white thing, but thats tied to colonialism,which stamped out gender diversity. Language is hard because queer identity for her has been assimilated in a white context. Gender queer feels like a white word, how to translate that into her community is a question.

Self-identified hetrosexual ally to gay, trans and queer people in audience is asking if her perception transfolk are recipients of more intrusive questions–is this true and how to deal with it?  Julia says : Dont need to focus on body issues, on the same old same old who do you sleep with, when did you transition, when did you know–arent people ready to move beyond these same questions the media always asks?

never had anybody call me he who hasn’t known that I was trans -Julia Serano

a question on generational issues: second and third wave feminists seen as opposed, but Miriam wants to build o
n what has come before (Susan sez: this is a vague answer, maybe we need alot more time on this one, generational lines…).

Jack: Transphobia is not age related.

Great point from Julia Serano: Dont assume about gender and sexuality based on impressions you have, its marginalizing.