I haven’t had time to write a coherent response to Tampa 2007 yet, other than more expletives and hair-tearing. So let me direct you to more articulate commentary. Influxus has been drawing attention to some important points about the Cape York Institute, the militarisation of ‘aid’ to indigenous communities, and how that relates to contracts. S0metim3s has been writing similarly great stuff. Meanwhile, Wildly Parenthetical reacts to Howard’s plan for policing indigenous childrens’ bodies with her own affective register, talking about guilt and innocence.
There’s this article in the Village Voice this week about ‘the genderqueer scene’, featuring the story of a lesbian throwing a benefit for her top surgery. On one level, it’s kind of awesome that trans surgery stuff has become visible as a possibility for people who don’t want to go though a whole medico-legal transition, or who don’t see themselves as ‘changing sex’. On another level, I can’t quite bring myself to approve of the article itself without knowing whether people were misquoted or their pronouns were messed with. The NYC trans/genderqueer scene has been the subject of similar mainstream media attention before, with pronoun mistakes and associated errors, along a similar theme of, “Look at the crazy genderqueers! Whatever will they think of next?”
But the internal politics this article sets up are kind of weird. On one hand you have people raising money for surgery because they’re poor; you have genderqueer folks doing surgery; and then, as the voice representing the older, more conservative FTM perspective, you have Buck Angel:
Not everyone thinks the benefit parties are a positive—or necessary—thing. One of the world’s most prominent trans men, porn star Buck Angel, thinks that benefit parties only lessen the seriousness involved in transitioning to a new gender. “Ugh, don’t get me started. That’s my hugest pet peeve,” he says. “You wanna be a man? Act like a man. Men take care of themselves. Very rarely do they fucking beg for money. Get a fucking job and save your money, and save money like a man. Asking a handout for surgery—it really bothers me. It’s just wrong, and it adds to that element of trendiness. It’s ‘Let’s have a boob-removal party!’”
Sure, this is coming from a transman who commodifies his own body in porn films to make a living. I can see how the refusal to participate in gendered capitalist behaviours like saving money and ‘doing it all yourself’ would be galling to someone whose everyday life must totally enmesh consumerism/commodity fetishism with the fact of being trans. But it’s pretty odd how that ‘pet peeve’ — I assume addressed more to transmen and ftm’s doing surgery benefits, not merely genderqueers/dykes who don’t identify as men — sounds here like it’s making a more exclusionary point about how everyone getting top surgery should identify uncomplicatedly as a man. Later in the article, it turns out that Buck is ‘old-fashioned’ about gender and disapproves of the quote unquote ‘ftm fad’. Which as we know, is a ridiculous narrative used to differentiate ‘respectable’, ’serious’ transmen from those supposedly frivolous ‘genderqueer’ wannabes who are just playing with their genders and bodies when they articulate their own complex relationships to desiring or inhabiting masculinity. This makes me glad I never bought any of Buck Angel’s porn.