Policing

In the trans session (and I was the only self-identified transwoman there, old decayed me), all the questions seemed to come down to policing; how does it feel to be policed, who polices trans expression, and what is their interest in policing trans expression?

There was agreement that gay and lesbian people seem to have a big interest in policing trans. They feel the need to out us, to try and make sure that we are firmly anchored to our birth sex. Is that because they need to stay anchored to their birth sex, or because they need to stay anchored to their desire?

This week I saw a snip of the Will & Grace where Jack is freaked because he was turned on by a lap dancer at Stan’s bachelor party. Karen is freaked because she can’t turn Jack on, but all is right when the stripper is revealed as a transsexual saving for her “snippity-doo-dah day.” Jack wouldn’t be the only person who needs to keep trannys located so they don’t “accidentally” sleep with us.

There was also a sense that feminists have some interest in policing womanhood, from defectors who show that womanhood isn’t forever (transmen) and those who might want to enter womanspace (transwomen.) We didn’t talk about how trannys need to police gender, like the SSS troops who kept crossdressers straight men.

Sadly Jessica Pettitt‘s day of trans inclusion tomorrow looks like another exercise in policing, at least from the handouts in our binder.

I guess people think that if Gay and Lesbian are policed boxes, and bisexual is a crossing of that box, well trans must be one of those boxes, too. The handouts start with a list of labels (Crossdresser, Drag Queen, etc) and go downhill from there.

I am lead to understand that Ms. Pettitt’s partner is a transman, and that is at the heart of her credentials.

It seems to me that her presentation is about dequeering trans, and while I know many transpeople who find that a worthy goal, to me it misses the point of all this work, moving to claim identity and self past the normative, boxed and expected.

I may well be wrong here, and may get lots more from her presentation than her hard-milled handouts suggest.

But sometimes, I just get sick of the prospect of less empowerment and more policing.

Sometimes.

One thought on “Policing”

  1. Even in my most tolerant moments, there remains some part of me that needs to “package” or” box” (by setting definable boundaries)what ever it is I am trying to exercise that tolerance towards. Though I’m not usually conscious of it, I package myself in a similar way all the time. I just don’t seem to resent it as much when I do it to myself.

    I don’t think it is either possible or desirable to exercise absolute tolerance. It implies having to “tolerate” the absolutely intolerable. So I compromise as best I can, by trying to keep the packaging flexible to allow for additional understanding to be possible if and when it occurs.

    I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in hoping to comprehend what I am empowering before I empower it. Empowering the wrong emotions, anger or jealousy, for instance has caused much of the pain in my life. Policing myself seems to be a necessary responsibility to achieving my own empowerment. But it is not an easy necessity to meet.

    It is so much more difficult when interacting with others. It takes tremendous trust to assume that others will be equally concerned about being personally responsible. And tremendous faith that they will exercise that responsibility towards themselves and others.

    The whole basis of identification, particularly for political viability, requires inherent exclusions. I deine who I am, as much by a negating definition, of who I decide I am not, as by anything else I might affirmatively define about my self. In the end, however it is still all my own moment to moment actions which prove or belie the truth of any of my definitions of self. Wearying as it can be, I don’t see any way out of that responsibility.

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