Tag Archives: transgender

Even Amidst Fierce Flames… #TransLivesMatter

An ardent fan of FX’s POSE, watching Paris is Burning further cements the extent to which we are all indebted, culturally, to those who simultaneously thrive and struggle in subcultural realms. It is fair to say that the riches they magically produce from next to nothing to put on a Ball, for instance (admittedly, sometimes through criminal means), or to form a family House, both, in part, to provide structure and meaning for the younger generation but also to validate their own existence, succinctly demonstrates the wastefulness of our society, where the mainstream fails to recognise the true value of such activity – instead occupied with figuring out how best to plunder it for financial gain. At least that’s my cynical view of things.

In previous posts, on the subject of House music’s origins in Chicago, I discuss my own purposeful, carefully planned pilgrimage to The Warehouse, 206 S. Jefferson St., and the debt that I feel towards the pioneers of the genre – again, those bringing something new and vibrant into the world, and often with very little at their disposal. While there, in passing (queuing for coffee) I chat with kids busy with their preparations for Pride weekend, some of whom possibly too young and confident to have given much thought to those that came before them – although they were thoughtful enough to make me aware of the areas I shouldn’t wander into in Chicago. Kids dressed in tutus, boob tubes, and wild, colourful adornments and even wilder hairdos, far more concerned with the violence that I might experience than for their own safety, which is kind of a nice thing – that they don’t live in fear of what someone might do just because they are seen to be different by a minority of hateful people with skewed perspectives.

And so the point of this post is the deep sadness that I experienced as Paris is Burning draws to a close. Somewhat naïve, and occasionally hopeful, despite my cynicism, I wasn’t prepared for news of Venus Xtravaganza’s murder. I’d already ‘lived’ that when Candy dies in a similar manner in POSE. Sitting/laying on a bed talking about her hopes and dreams of a domesticated life with a husband out in the suburbs may sound a little bit cliché, but that was Venus’ dream, and for someone forced to move away (or to feel like they’re forced to move away to save a family the embarrassment of having to explain away the fact that Thomas Pellagatti doesn’t exist anymore – Venus Xtravaganza has taken over) in her early teens, to a life where someone ends up seeing you as literally so worthless that they’ll strangle you and leave your dead body under a bed, not to be found for around four days, is way more than sad. It is fair to say that in Venus we see (if we so choose) a Golden Lotus that endures.


Louis Theroux (@louistheroux) and his Transgender Kids

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Did anyone else pick up on the kind of indoctrination, propaganda, call it what you will, that came to the fore when Louis talked to Camille in her room? W/r/t the nature versus nurture, essentialist versus non-essentialist arguments that rage back and forth, it was interesting to note Camille acting out her own version of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance – this is the indoctrination, propaganda, call it what you will, aforementioned. Camille wants to be a girl. Camille sees Lady Gaga – a girl in Camille’s eyes. Camille clearly likes what she sees. Camille mimics Lady Gaga. Gender perpetuates itself through this mimicking. Arguments that “girls like pink, want to dress up and look pretty because it’s ‘hard-wired'” cannot hold up when we, from a very young age, usually pre-speech, are fed images that uphold gender stereotypes (via TV, internet, basically any form of screen relaying images).


Louis Theroux (@louistheroux) and his Transgender Kids

There’s a great debate going on at the moment w/r/t (@louistheroux) Louis Theroux’s Transgender Kids, shown at 9pm (GMT) on BBC 2, Sunday 5th March 2015 (US Link) (UK Link). See this Reddit subreddit (r/Documentaries) for more details:

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Aside from the obvious points that people will undoubtedly get stuck on – arbitrary markers of gender; is the documentary biased in anyway?; gender dichotomy versus gender fluidity; and so on… – there’s an interesting question that crops up, and, should you choose to consider it, it’s a question that starts to break down a lot of the ‘common sense’ arguments that we structure our lives by. The question, as I understand it, is:

Should a child be allowed to make a decision that will ultimately determine its own future, in a most serious and profound way?

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We seem, as a society, to have a particular problem with acknowledging a child’s wish – if that wish is something more taxing than being allowed to choose ice cream over a piece of fruit, for example. We constantly fall back on the position that a child’s brain is not ‘developed’ enough to make serious decisions, and so as adults we take away any autonomy they have and instead, make decisions for them.

Now, let’s consider how we adults use our brains, if we purport to be so gifted at knowing what’s ‘right.’ We:

  • Go around trying to amass personal wealth whilst millions starve
  • We support, or are apathetic towards, governments that stock pile weapons and spend billions on warfare, whilst millions starve
  • We watch TV, play games, go on holidays, and entertain ourselves in myriad ways, whilst millions starve
  • And do a whole host of stupid, banal, and reprehensible things, whilst millions starve

In contrast to this ‘traditional’ way of thinking, let’s consider the message that came through from Theroux’s documentary. It was a message that a child can make a serious and profound decision about its own life. It was a message that a child can make such a decision before said child is indoctrinated into the very real gender binary structure that floods those early years (pink/blue, pretty/handsome, rough ‘n’ tumble/delicate). It is a refreshing change to see children’s thoughts, wishes, and beliefs being taken seriously. And who is to say that that’s not the way things should be?

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And did we notice how important the use of pronouns became in the documentary footage?


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