TW: violence, misgendering, anger, transphobia
I awoke about a week ago to my usual morning ritual: 11 AM (I work during the evenings, ok?), make coffee, yoghurt and cereal (that day was red velvet cake-flavor I believe), and youtubes and facebooks in bed. And then I saw this video. With so many people, all of them not trans women, saying “yeah fuck that guy!”
My first reaction was in earnest. Yeah. This guy was a transphobe. This guy misgendered that trans woman and called her awful names. That trans woman was justified in physically resisting that man’s verbal assault.
I was angry. I’ve seen other trans women being beaten on youtube. I’ve seen other trans women being jailed, put in solitary confinement in a male housing unit, and grossly and inhumanely treated. I’ve heard of many, many trans women murdered all over the world. But this is not restorative justice. This isn’t a moment of celebration. This is anger, and it hurts everyone involved.
It hurts me because “tranny beats a dude” is sensationalist fodder for the cisgender white world. “A trans woman of color beats this white dude! How outrageous! It’s if this person isn’t even human!”
It hurts me because my “allies” and friends have point-blank celebrated it because it looks “radical” and justified without knowing at all what being misgendered and ridiculed on a daily basis is like.
It hurts me to be critical of this because I really don’t know what this woman was going through when she chose to lash out at this asshole. I don’t pretend to understand being a trans woman of color is like, but I know as a trans woman this does not help us out. Not the act, but the way it was published online and how the cissexual world restamps it not an act of resistance but one of ugly violence.
There are serious problems in this. How can restorative justice exist between two strangers in a subway tunnel? What is the use of violence as resistance? What do trans women do if we are threatened?
We need a better way to resist. And I’m not saying that it’s up to “the trannies” to keep our anger in check. I’m saying that it’s up to all of us: allies, assholes, and general public. We need more constructive justice. Justice that hits down to the bone that feels much deeper than a fist punch. One that resonates deeply and dismantles ideas, not just bodies.
I look forward to that day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about feminist anger and solidarity - in no small part because of a recent online kerfuffle about shaming formula feeding mothers. I won’t rehash the whole debate here; if you’re interested you can follow the links and look back on my Twitter feed.