Thursday, October 11, 2012

Quote of the Day

I'm finally getting around to reading Julia Serano's book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. I'm sure I will post a full review when I finish the book, and I've already collected dozens of great quotes from it, but I'd like to highlight the following today:

Of the media and general public's nosy fascination with sex confirmation surgery, she writes:
"Personally, I am not bothered by the technical name of the surgery so much as I am by the fact that it gets so much attention in the media and the general public. After all, as someone who is not a cardiologist nor has ever had a heart condition, I really don't feel any compelling need to know all of the technical names or hear play-by-play accounts of heart surgeries. Nor do I need to know all of the specific names and doses of chemotherapies in order to be touched by the story of someone who has survived cancer. For this reason, I am rather disturbed by the fact that so many people- who are neither medical professionals nor trans themselves- would want to hear all of the gory details regarding transsexual physical transformations, or would feel that they have any right to ask us about the state of our genitals. It is offensive that so many people feel that it is okay to publicly refer to transsexuals as 'pre-op' or 'post-op' when it would so clearly be degrading and demeaning to regularly describe all boys and men as being either 'circumcised' of 'uncircumcised.'"
A few weeks ago, I was at a community meeting and watched somewhat in horror as a liberal, progressive man asked a transgender woman when she "fully transitioned," his assumptions being both that the woman had had surgery and that surgery is the Ultimate End Goal of all trans* people.

Why do people think that is an okay thing to ask, especially in public?

As Serano further notes, people seem especially interested in the state of the genitals of transgender women in particular, wondering if, when, and how the penis has been, as it's often put, "lopped off."

She further contends that this disproportionate interest in the state of the penis is evidence of our phallocentric society that conflates maleness with having a penis and ascribes privileges and essential superior gender differences to those who possess that anatomy. With women and femininity being devalued, many people simply cannot understand why a person would, on purpose, give up such privilege, both symbolically and physically.

No comments: