Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Was NOT Born This Way

Every time I come back from a queer space I'm stuck in a particular mindset. It becomes incredibly hard for me to interact to the rest of the world with anything except disdain. This mindset makes it hard to do school work, to talk to people that aren't Queer, and sometimes to feel anything other than anger. Basic functions of the world like money and clothing take on a sickly look. My social cohesiveness breaks down completely. I want to spit at people and deface billboards.

Every single person in the world should feel this way.

This is a fury that the world beats out of oppressed people on a daily basis. It denies the validity of our anger. Mainstream US society maintains that there is something disruptive about an angry black woman and something natural about being sexually assaulted. That it is unnatural to be Trans* but natural to experience "Trans Panic" and murder a Trans* person. Debt resistance is against the law but there have still been no prosecutions of bank CEOs that approved illegal credit default swaps and left millions homeless. The United States is claiming more indigenous land in Guam to facilitate a new Korean War, food prices are low because of slave labor, and it's illegal in more cities every day for homeless people to sleep anywhere other than too-small, underfunded, often-abusive shelters. We are expected to live with these realities because they serve the status quo of the privileged. They determine what is right, natural, and acceptable. All resistance is ridiculed, infiltrated by FBI, beaten by police, and derided by capitalist media outlets.

Quite frankly I'm sick of being spit on, and I want to spit back. 

To that effect I need to address a gross discourse that gets bandied about by the last people that should be embracing it. Let me be absolutely clear: every time someone says "born this way" a Queer person dies. They curl up into their closet, certain that if they were "really" Queer they would know it by now, unequivocally, and the fact that they have doubts is evidence of their simply being the straight, cisgender person everyone always told them they were. All of their feelings are chocked up to the same feelings of same-sex attraction that evangelicals claim everyone feels the first time they're caught having a gay affair. The lack of "acceptable" narrative from their birth ("I've always liked boys/girls", "I've always felt like I was really a man/woman" are the only "acceptable" narratives) means that someone questioning their sexuality or gender identity must be wrong. They're not just hearing the messages from the homophobic preachers, they're hearing the homophobia and transphobia from themselves and from the Queer community telling them their fluidity is problematic. We are actively culling our own ranks by regurgitating -phobic discourses to people that may well BE us if only they knew there was an option open.

The terms heterosexual and cisgender actually came about after the terms homosexual and transgender, but these identities were all created by cisgender heterosexuals (CisHets) in order to police the lines of "natural decency." The line in the sand was biological absolutism. The CisHet definition from the start was that everyone is born CisHet and anyone that was anything else had chosen that form of deviance. This paved the way for "corrective" treatments, Queer bashing, imprisonment, chemical castration, the asylum eras, and denial of basic human rights to shelter, sustenance, and bodily autonomy.

"We were born this way" is not designed to contest these designations but to echo them. As if somehow insisting that biological absolutism exists will turn it into a shield instead of a bludgeon. Let me assure you, as a Pagan, oppressors have no qualms about accepting choice so long as you choose to be one of the members of the oppressive group. There is no power structure in the United States targeting Christianity even though they aren't "born that way." This is the essence of the problem. We're arguing with CisHet people about the basis for our identities instead of arguing that they shouldn't have the right to question our identities regardless of their origin. Instead of demanding that church and state recognize our inborn queerness and stop harming us for something that isn't our fault we should be asking why they get to define who is acceptably subject to violence. We're arguing to a referee that plays on the other team.

By accepting at face value the way in which oppressive groups have framed our existence we will never be liberated from that oppression. Again: oppression is not derived on the basis of choice or non-choice, it is derived from a perceived superiority of some groups over others and the empowerment of that superiority through systemic reinforcement. The high school bully and conservative politician don't actually care if we're born this way or not, they're trying to beat our identities out of us because they simply aren't acceptable things to be. It may be scary for those bullies to hear that their own sense of identity is questionable, and that they're just as likely to be Queer or Trans* as the people they're oppressing, but they ARE just as likely and placating them isn't going to stop the violence. Arguing for this sense of absolutism IS violence. It is the basis for violence. Violence is excused because the superiority of one group over another is preserved and that is all that group needs to legitimize their violence.

I'd like to take a moment to address concerns that what I'm saying may be disempowering to Trans* people that need to assuage cisgender society in order to receive backing for medical aspects of transition. I realize what I'm saying may sound like "you weren't really born the wrong gender, you're making it up" and I want to make absolutely clear that I am not arguing that. Instead, what I am arguing is that the cisgender establishment getting to decide whether your narrative is "acceptable" or not, whether you're "Trans enough" is obscene. I am not suggesting that transitioning reinforced gender binarism, or that by claiming that narrative in order to get the go-ahead to transition (or because the standard narrative does fit your real experiences) that you are somehow betraying yourselves and Trans* people everywhere. I recognize the need to maintain legitimacy in situations in which it presents violence. My argument is entirely with the long term discussion that is held around these issues. I'm calling for an end to "Harry Benjamin Syndrome" Syndrome (and for people to read everything Natalie Reed has ever written because she has probably said all this much better than I'm saying it at least twice by now).

I don't have similar assurances for LGB people. "Born this way" may build sympathy with some of the oppressive elements of our society but a gentler tyranny still leaves us with the boot tenderly pressed against our throats. It's time we stop begging the church and the state to stop slandering and beating us and start to stand up and loudly demand the rights we deserve. All of them, not just marriage. When we started this fight, really got going, in the 60's we recognized that the boot stomping on us, and we didn't try to reason with it, we tried to get it off of us. This included anti-governmental rhetoric, and quite frankly it aught to come back. Does that sound scary? Does picking a fight with the government, Occupying Queer, sound like a step too far? That should give you some idea of how very little this mainstreaming argument accomplishes. It is not a threat to the power that continues to beat down on us.

I am not content with the way I was born. I am not willing to define myself as a temporarily depressed heterosexual, out to make my way as close to the standard as I can. I am Queer because everyone should be Queer. Everyone, regardless of their object choice, should reject the standards by which straight is defined. It needs to be torn down, completely dismantled, and all of its power stripped from it with the same force and vitriol that its existence has inflicted on us. We need to get rid of "straight." Not the word, that's not good enough, and not the people (I'm not talking about violence against all straight people, if that isn't already clear), but the power structure that creates straight and "other." Every person in the world deserves the ability to be Queer, to defy normativity, to deconstruct their gender, love, body, sex, and desires and wear them in strips around their bodies like a rainbow flag. I made myself this way, and you can make yourself you.

So quit basing yourselves on the rhetoric of a people that are not you. We should be indoctrinating children by being proud and open even in front of curious little eyes. We should be blowing up the nuclear family by living the lives we want and resisting state violence against queer families. We need to stop holding bible studies to better argue that our identities don't displease the Christian god and start leaving churches that refuse to foster us for who we are, regardless of why we are. We need to stop allowing cisgender standards of care to be the only respected standards of care and cisgender-approved Trans* narratives to be the only Trans* narratives. We should admit that we are destructive to society because our society is broken, cruel, and needs to be put out of its misery. We need to get off of defense and onto offense or we'll never stop being left on fences.

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