Gratitude

                I came into this course while I was just starting to get a grasp on the fact that my gender identity didn’t quite fit the person that I thought I was supposed to be.  I have fought to project this image that I thought other people would see as desirable just for the sake of fitting in. I knew I was different (I wrote a really long email to myself about how I wasn’t male and wasn’t female) but I knew it wasn’t acceptable to just let that show without trying to hide it. So I laid claim to the title of ‘freak’ and described myself as weird while growing my hair out and putting on makeup every morning. I wore dresses and skirts even though they made me incredibly uncomfortable, which is when I discovered my love for brightly colored tights and used them to sit comfortably. Don’t get me wrong, I love to dress up every now and again, but it’s not me every day. Some days I’m suffocated by the existence of my breasts so much so that a binder doesn’t faze me and other days I wonder why I’ve thrown away all my push-up bras.

                So right when I started admitting that all of this might actually be something that I can’t ignore, I started this semester and was excited by the potential that all my classes had. Along the way a teacher decided I was too opinionated for my sex and one of my classes refused to contemplate the words of Foucault, Butler, and Bordo . Lucky for me, I had this class to go to right afterward and that realization basically kept me sane and fighting even when I wanted to storm out of the room screaming.

                This last paper was, while difficult, incredibly cathartic. I finished it with time to spare because I got to write about what I was passionate about. I used sources just to destroy the legitimacy of their points of view. In this class I’ve learned how to use rhetoric to understand how words can oppress without meaning to as well as set people free, with just a little tweaking. I’ve gotten much more thoughtful about every sentence I speak and have learned to listen even harder when someone disagrees with me because even I am not perfect. I learned that I love theory and the way it speaks and that a lot of people struggle with it and I love trying to explain it to them, whether the theory was in this class or not.

                As much as this class has taught me, I will be sad to let it go. However, I know that it has taught me so much that I can’t really be sad that it’s ending.  I can only be grateful to have been a part of it and been able to grow and learn with it. Basically, thanks everyone for aiding in my learning and thank you, Malatino, for giving me the freedom to take what I needed to from this course and really making me want to work to understand everything. I’ll miss you all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTa1NtpSe8s

With gratitude,

Skyler Powell

 

Also, what finals do to me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLvNHvH2bhE

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YOLO

Maybe it’s because I didn’t complete my assigned blog posts. Maybe it’s because the final final final paper I ever turned in as an undergrad was incomplete. Maybe it’s because I haven’t smoked in weeks. Maybe it’s because I just can’t give up on my college career yet.

What I’m tryna say is: I feel like I’m supposed to be writing poetry or sleeping or dancing, but instead I’m writing another blog post for this class. 

So, check out Trans* Success. As you might recall (and since you are probably just Hilary reading at this point, I bet you do), I wrote my final paper for G450 on trans* self-representation and collectivization on Tumblr, and how support networks might be formed and publicized for trans* subjects to better navigate the medical system. This post is a sort of addendum so that I might expand on a blog I didn’t consider in my paper.

I focused on the ways new media helps trans* individuals to self-narrativize outside of institutional forces that require certain ways of being trans*, and gives subjects access to support networks otherwise unavailable. The Trans* Success blog represents an interesting intersection of the ways trans* online self-expression simultaneously works as a form of storytelling and of networking, but with a normativizing impulse symptomatic of neoliberal capitalism (BOOOOOO).

So, trans* Tumbling isn’t all genderfucking accounts-of-self-given-with-a-vengeance. Some of it bespeaks near-LGBT-PRiDE levels of consumer-capitalist-non-activism. Most of Trans* Success is dedicated to the collection of historical gender non-conforming individuals who “made it” in one way or another.

While I’m not convinced queer shame and future-fucking is our gateway to a better today, I’m not sure the uplifting idea of trans* “role models” is a worthwhile (a)historical project. A particularly annoying post is about the book Female-To-Male Transsexuals In Society by Holly Devor, which partakes on a Feinbergian dive through history to claim trans* subjects from the throes of misrecognition. Queering history is for sure cool/sometimes feels like baptizing from beyond the grave, but it also has the danger of naturalizing gender, or gender non-conformativity. For instance, TS writes about this book full of role models, “Perhaps from them, we can gain strength in the knowledge that we are, we have been, and we always will be.”

One of the sections of the site is called “Be The Difference,” which, come on. TS is subscribing to the idea that social change happens at the level of the individual, and the tactics the site encourages are philanthropic at best. “Be The Difference” is a list of links to organizations that foster FTM big brothers/sister or provide books, which is pretty cool. Some of the links are to donation funds for trans* youth in need of shelter or binders or financial support, which is pretty cool. Some of the links include “Shop with LGBT Buyer’s Guide” and “Pass ENDA now,” which is not that cool. The reliance on neoliberal logics (shop like the queerest consumer-capitalist-citizen you can and make sure to get that formal equality!) elides meaningful confrontation with the systems of oppression that distribute wealth upward and insist on gender-conforming subjects who only need protections based on a claimable, rights-deserving identity.

tl;dr Tumblr’s a big place with lots of ways to tell a story, there are lots of ways to be trans*, several of those ways involve practicing neoliberalism, neoliberalism is bad.

Take care!

 Patrick beane

Aftermath

 

Since my presentation was a bit short, I just wanted to talk a little bit about my subject matter.  I studied transgendered children and their place in the foster home.  I talked a lot about these childrens’ lack of agency and what that means for them.  Let’s face it, children aren’t taken seriously anyway.  They say they don’t like a certain type of food, they’re forced to eat it anyways.  They say they want a certain job when they grow up, people don’t take that seriously.  Now, yes I know that children change their minds about million times a day.  So do adults.  My point is, what do the parents of small children, let’s say toddler age and up, decide to take seriously?  If their child says they don’t like broccoli, they probably make them eat it anyway.  If their child says they want to be the “other gender” do they take the child seriously? Or do they just assume that their child is going through some sort of phase or playing some sort of game?  It’s a tough question with no real answer.  It would obviously depend on the parents.  How much the parents listen to their children and how much they brush off as a child’s mindless blabbering.

 

My project was mostly focused on foster care.  Children in foster care are at an even bigger disadvantage.  Foster parents are not always understanding.  They might not even be nice.  If you couple that with a child who is transgendered, the results could be damaging.  That’s not to say that all foster parents are horrible.  When these children are trying to decide what they want for their own lives, they are unable to make their own decisions.  They cannot sign for medical treatments.  They might not even make the minimum age requirement for the procedures that they would want to go through.  It’s also nearly impossible to get access to any of the resources they want without a signature of a parent or guardian.  For children in foster care, this is made even more difficult.

 

I compared children in foster care who lack parental/guardian support to young children from what I’ve been calling “mom blogs” that I found online. Here is an example of one of those mom blogs:

http://mykennedysstory.blogspot.com/

The mother of Kennedy talks about how much she supports her child and accepts him for who he is.  The blog is interesting because the mother talks about how her and her son’s lives have changed and how happy her child is.  She gets some comments from readers- some positive, some negative.  I won’t go in to detail about everything she talks about, but stories like Kennedy’s and other similar ones did make me think about how that relates to children who do not have this type of support.  Children who aren’t as lucky and really have no say in their own lives. 

 

It’s really just sad when you think about it.

 

-Jalyn