riseofthecommonwoodpile:

A thing that Green Day and Henry Rollins (and most white punk guys tbh) share is that they never emotionally matured past like age 18 because they were in an environment that rewarded their immature but passionate anger and negativity, so now you’ve got a whole generation of 40 year old white punks who are just embarrassments in everything they do

(Reblogged from nextyearsgirl)

Anonymous said: What can people who do transition (and don't intend to detransition) can do to support detransitioners?

redressalert:

Hey anon,

You’re really sweet; thank you for this thoughtful message.

I’m gonna assume you’re ftm and go from there. 

I’d say the biggest thing is to understand—as I do—that we’re not enemies; we’re actually not fundamentally different from each other. We’re the same group of people. It’s not the case that detransitioners just aren’t and were never really trans people. We were. It’s not the case that you can pick out certain characteristics of a person and use them to predict who will stay transitioned; you can’t.

We have the same “stuff,” we’re just handling it differently at this moment. I used to be where you are, and under the right set of pressures I could go back. (I hope that never happens, because it would take something pretty heinous at this point to push me there, but I say this in the recognition that we’re not really different.) Likewise, you could find yourself where I am in the future. I think that knowledge underlies the real uneasiness that is usually present between our “two” groups.

Because while we’re not enemies, it can be really awkward to interact with each other. We have a lot of the same “stuff,” so we can trip each other’s wires very easily. I get that. I’m willing to own my part of that awkwardness and welcome ftms to own theirs. I look at mine pretty carefully and keep current with it as best I can. For me, the most volatile part is when I get triggered by interacting with old ways of thinking/self-concept that I have had to work very hard to get out of. I imagine for ftms it is probably something like, feeling threatened that a lot of what detransitioners talk about specifically names the pressures that these coping mechanisms are built to contain—and that’s no joke, people don’t make such sophisticated containers unless we have stuff that really requires it. My “stuff” was downright nuclear and it needed a serious containment protocol—so I get it. It’s actually generally not a good idea to discard any coping mechanism if you don’t have something adequate to replace it with. I learned that in trauma recovery and in recovery recovery; it’s quite applicable here, too.

This blog isn’t about trying to get ftms to detransition. That’s not my goal. I only offer my detransitioning ESH (experience, strength, and hope—12 step term) to women who ask for it because they have decided they want to do this. To ftms, I say—cope however you need to cope with this fucked up world, and know that I will be in your corner pulling for you to survive—while at the same time trying to help build a world with better options for us all. Because I do think it’s untenable that ftm transition is being medicalized in wholly irresponsible and dangerous ways—that scares me, and I care about that a lot. It’s not okay that we have been treated as “not even lab rats” and endangered by those who claim to be helping.

It might be offensive to you, but in my world these are terms of respect and recognition: I understand you as part of a tradition of passing women and I will always see you as my sister. Whatever images those words (women, sister) may evoke in dominant culture, in my meaning they have plenty of room for you, exactly the way you are right now, however that looks. I’m not talking about “gender” when I use those words; I’m talking about what you and I have in common. Neither of us were the daughter that our parents wanted and expected us to be. We weren’t what the world had in mind when it put those words and roles on us. But here we are. Any “incongruity” isn’t real. We’re real.

If ftms and detransitioners could bridge across that feeling of mutual threat and be real with each other—unguarded, disarmed, and radically honest—I wonder what we’d be capable of.

I’m not sure I answered your question, but I hope I haven’t alienated you too much and I hope you get that I care about you, too.

You were brave and generous to ask this and I appreciate it a lot.

(Reblogged from redressalert)

Keep your identity diversified!

plansfornigel:

Keep your identity diversified!

August 17, 2014 by Joel Nowak

This is a reply to a recent comment from a thread about why it is important for some that their neo vagina be accepted by others as not being significantly different from a natal woman’s vagina. I am hoping to make more progress with my inbox tomorrow before starting school on monday. (I got a few out today.)

I have a few last thoughts and then I really need to take a break from talking about the “is a neo vagina the same as a natal vagina” business. In short what I want to say is that that if you have modified your genitals and they are now the way you want them, that is the important thing. People can say it is a mutilation but they can also say that an ear piercing is a mutilation if they want. In the end the only person who gets to judge if it is a mutilation or not is you. When it comes to your own body and how you want to relate to it – the only opinion that matters is your own.

But here’s the thing, if your goal is to convince everyone on the planet that a neo vagina is the same thing as a natal vagina that is a fools errand. Even if you are able to convince some people of the validity of your argument there is always going to be the next person you will then need to talk to and try to convince. That is just reality. So here is another significant way in which transwomen are DIFFERENT from natal women. (Not worse. Not better. Just different.) While you can’t overlook the fact that many natal women also have their own “femaleness” questioned on a regular basis – it is a very different kind of questioning than that faced by transwomen. For the natal woman, it is based on cultural expectations – and (with the exception of certain women born intersexed) it is not a “literal” questioning. For transwomen, it is very literal and often an expressed refutation of their “femaleness” coming from those who have a different criteria than the transwoman does for what they consider male or female. And as much as you or any trans person wishes that this wasn’t so, this is one thing that you can’t do anything about other than silence them (or live your life in a way that is less of a big deal for them and for you … I’ll get to that in a moment.)

I know that is hard to deal with. I spent hours and hours ruminating and trying to convince myself that the definition of gender that I was building my transition on was logical and true. For me, I couldn’t do it. That was the one piece that my entire transition depended on – my being able to convince myself that people’s sex can be truly “reassigned” (or corrected after being “assigned” the wrong one at birth – I am not talking about intersex conditions here.) When I realized that I couldn’t convince myself of this that was where the house of cards that my transition was built upon fell down and I knew I would have to rethink some pretty major things about how I was living my life. In my case it led me down the path of retransition – there were a lot of reasons why living as a male again were appealing to me. That was just my choice though. know that many other transwomen have gotten to this point as well but have learned to accept and even celebrate this reality.

Here is what I worry about. When your entire identity is built upon something that is still very speculative (i.e. the various theories about the nature of transgenderism) or cannot be sustained without forcing others to accept the validity of something that they do not believe to be true, then you are in a dangerous spot. We need our identities. It is good if they are flexible, but we need them to be solid. Having them knocked out from under us can be devastating. So that is why I worry when I see more and more people trying to make sure that nothing can challenge their gendered identity by enacting laws, or trying to silence others who they feel are a threat. That is just not going to be sustainable in the long run. It is not realistic. I think it is dangerous.

But here is the important thing that I think some trans people need to be mindful of. Your identity is much more than if your are “truly” male or “truly” female. There is so much else to it – literally everything else about ourselves that makes us who we are. And that is solid. It is always going to be there. But just like someone who believes their entire identity is built upon a certain career and then they get fired – the consequences of having that shaken can be devastating. I don’t want to see people get themselves into that position. I basically have been there and it is not a fun place to be. Some trans people (who knows, maybe even most) will never really face that – but again, with the large numbers of people who have transitioned recently – I am confident that quite a few will face some sort of identity vacuum after coming to their own conclusion that they have not really changed their sex. And for those who come to this very personal conclusion I think it is important that they are able to transition to a new way of how they wish to define themselves in terms of gender, whatever that may be. I am absolutely positive that if we can continue to create a climate where it easier for these people to find their way, real lives are going to be saved.

It starts with realizing that there can be new narratives for transwomen (and transmen) going forward living in their chosen gender. It includes people who decide to retransition talking about it. This is about creating more options and maybe trying to help people realize that a lot of the more militant trans-activism that is going on right now is actually creating an environment where it is harder for people to thrive and be safe.

Flexibility good.

Rigidity bad.

We need more options – not less.

Ok … now please Michele – can we take a break from the vagina stuff for just a bit?

(Reblogged from plansfornigel)

noyau-rationnel:

Cristan Williams’ terf series on the TransAdvocate has been unsurprisingly ridiculous so far, but she said something so revealing in the article posted yesterday, "Critical of ‘Gender Critical’": “While working to understand, deconstruct and attack how power is oppressively contextualized within the collective experience of gender is critically necessary, useful and beneficial work, framing gender itself – and not oppressive power contextualization – as the problem is a bit like saying that all forms of currency itself – not crony capitalism, etc – is the problem.”

Yes, Cristan, being gender critical is a bit like recognizing that the problems of capitalism are strictly internal to capitalism, not an accident to be named “crony capitalism” and corrected through reform. Like capitalism, gender is the context or the structure through which this power operates. The structure itself is oppressive. Recognizing the existence and operation of that structure is a crucial part of constructing a liberatory politics. Correctly recognizing the structure does not reify it. As far as I understand it, that is the point of radical feminism, and that is why I’m gender critical.

(Reblogged from noyau-rationnel)

Accept Youself

ommadusk:

I have never ever suggested that transwomen should be ‘demonized’ for being male. Whereas I fully support calling out those who propagate violent and misogynistic abuse directed at women who speak out, for example feminists, in the words of the great Frank Zappa, we ‘are what we is’.

My position on this has been boringly consistent: transwomen are not women, transwomen are biologically male. If you are a transwoman, you are probably thinking ‘that’s not right! It’s not fair!’ or even:

That transwomen are biologically male is morally neutral, it’s not a value statement, it’s not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing: it just is.

I have written before about the state of debate in the trans community which involves no-platforming and censorship of dissenting trans voices, voices that support such ideas that run contrary to wider trans ideas such as:

  • we are sexually dimorphic animals;
  • transwomen are biologically male;
  • sex-based socialisation *is* a thing; and
  • the lived lives of women and transwomen are different.

The wider cult of trans dismiss these four ideas, and will not even come to the table to debate it. This is a problem outside the trans community, as these matters affect women directly (and they are, after all, oppressed under patriarchy) and also within the trans community: how can someone who, for example, transitions as a middle-aged man after having fathered two children suddenly ‘have always been a woman’?

The answer to this, of course, is they haven’t: I know this, you know this, women know this, transactivists know this, everyone knows this. And this is why these ideas are so threatening: trans people know they are true, but the insist everyone else says they believe something different, or else they’ll cry ‘transphobia’.

Why set ourselves an unattainable goal that leads to such life-sucking concepts as ‘I was born with a birth defect’ or ‘my middle finger means I was female in the womb’ or the shockingly anti-feminist ‘I was born with a woman’s brain’? (These may appear improbable, but these assertions are worryingly common).

We live in world that is increasingly libertarian, where we are becoming more free to express ourselves all the time. We should seize this and run with it: express ourselves how we want, enjoy ourselves while we do it, and have a good time.

Look at how the black civil rights movement is remembered now: through brave actions sparked by great figures such as Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. What will be remembered from the trans rights movement? ‘The penis is a female sex organ’. ‘I have always been a woman (in spite of the children I fathered)’ and ‘I was born with a lady brain’. Is that really going to be our legacy?

Whatever we do, we have no right to do it at the expense of anyone else: trying to force ideas that are just plain wrong and use them as the bedrock for a rights movement is dangerous and de-legitimises that same movement. 

It is good that people in wider society can get behind and support the rights of trans individuals, these allies see men becoming women, who are then oppressed. Ironically they are blind to actual women’s oppression, and the rights of women are balanced away from them and towards those who transition.

This, moving the balance of power further from the oppressed class (women) to the oppressor (men) is reactionary (my new favourite word), makes a mock of intersectionality and is completely unnecessary. Transwomen and women should be on the same side, and the onus is on the former to make it so. It is presently our greatest failure.

Transwomen are profoundly affected by gender, and we are allowed to be gender critical: surely having a solid understanding of what gender does to us and what it means, and an acknowledgement of the real reasons this happens can only be good for us? And after all, isn’t transition supposed to be us coming to terms with who we are?

In the words of the great Morrissey of The Smiths, Accept Yourself.

"Who and what to blame?
anything is hard to find
when you will not open your eyes
when will you accept yourself?”

(Reblogged from ommadusk)

On Boycotting Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival

sydscorcher:

As the yearly debate about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival heats up, I have been having a lot of thoughts around boycotts, artists pulling out from the line-up, or artists who have stated they will not play again until the intention of the festival is changed from a gender/sex separate space to only a gender separate space. Artists and trans activists such as Red Durkin have made a lot of statements about why they will not play or why the festival should be boycotted, but I find them to be vague, condescending, emotionally manipulative, and  intentionally inflammatory.

The artists statements, while varied, all imply that any connection to MWMF and Lisa Vogel is untenable. This claim deserves deconstruction. Let’s try playing Ok Cupid! With this situation, shall we? Let’s imagine that artists and venue owners fill out a political survey and the results will show the percentage of friend/enemy each match is. We will start with Lisa Vogel and the Indigo Girls.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to guess that Lisa Vogel, Amy Ray, and Emily Saliers agree on most subjects, except for the fact that Lisa Vogel believes sex is a class, that the female sex is a subjugated class, and therefore believes that separate space can be framed by that class. Since the Indigo Girls indicated they would play again if the intention was changed to one only based on gender, we can assume that they do support class-based separate space. That leaves us with Lisa Vogel believes sex is a class, and Indigo Girls do not. I will  estimate that the test will put them at 99% friends, and 1% enemy.

Being from New Orleans, my next selection will be a venue Indigo Girls often play here, Tipitina’s. Tips is owned by Roland V. Karnatowski III. He is a white, heterosexual, wealthy male who owns somewhere around 7,000 rental properties around the Gulf Coast. His landlord practices are questionable (google search yourself) and the Tipitina’s Foundation (a charity) scores so low on finances and transparency, it certainly makes a thinking person wonder what’s going on there. As a straight, white, male, I doubt he has ever spent much time thinking about the benefits of class-based space. Karnatowski has the privilege of not speaking his intentions about anything, unlike Lisa Vogel. Beyond that, since he will take anyone’s money at the door, I guess that makes him a good and enlightened guy. Is that the bar we are setting? Someone who is willing to  profit off anyone?

Do we even need to think about who these venue owners might vote for, or who might make the greater contribution to the Lesbian community or the GBT community? Do silence and capitalism trump the contributions and integrity of an outspoken and compassionate community member like Lisa Vogel? Of course, artists can refuse to play for anyone, but if one does choose to set a political bar on that choice and the bar is set at Lisa Vogel, the bar has been set extremely high. I have to assume that this bar will be applied to everyone, and not just one lesbian who has stated her intention for a sex and gender based space. In the case of Roland Karnatowski III, it is clear he falls below that bar. He makes zero contribution to the Lesbian and GBT communities, has questionable practices as a landlord with working class people, has supported political candidates accused of racism…what do we think? Let’s go with 5% friend and 95% enemy.  Goodbye Tipitina’s!

Lisa Vogel and many womyn who support the festival understand that each of us- not just the performers among us – is responsible for the way our money affects our community. This is why MWMF has no corporate sponsorship. None. This isn’t Lilith Fair or Dinah Shore. Politics and capitalism are hopelessly intertwined, especially in the U.S. Once upon a time, we were much more thoughtful about politics and our money. I don’t see much of a discussion happening about how our dollars are circulating when we buy a ticket to MWMF versus when we purchase a ticket to a show at a place like Tipitina’s. Where are our dollars causing the most good and where are they causing the most damage? Capitalism permeates everything, and those who are ignoring this cannot stand up to their  own moral high-grounding.

When politics lead someone to a place where they call for and/or participate in a boycott against an event like MWMF, I have to seriously question those politics. Boycotting is a strong weapon, one that has serious consequences.  Boycotting MWMF is not political. It is female socialization. It is internalized misogyny. I reject this as political. For myself, I will put my dollars in the hands of MWMF without hesitation and with total confidence. The boycotting artists have made me think more carefully about the other places I put my money. After looking at the venues and their owners in New Orleans and stacking them up against MWMF, I will not be going to many shows other than at festival. I will support the artists I love in other ways, such as buying their  music directly or contributing to musicians’ funding campaigns.

Why is all of this important? Your money is political. Everyone in the community should be thinking about the impact of their dollars, especially if they are supporting or contributing in any way to the boycott against MWMF. The Indigo Girls are looking me in the eye and asking me to refuse my money to Lisa Vogel while having no problem asking  me to give it to Roland V. Karnatowski III. Girls, we have a problem.

(Reblogged from sydscorcher)

radscumblr:

Which community standard does that apparently break? The community standard that says women should just sit down, shut up, and accept whatever men tell us? The community standard that says that dissent on the part of women is unacceptable?

(Source: plansfornigel)

(Reblogged from evilfeminist)

queenthingy:

Mirandagate fails us all

queenthingy:

Yesterday, BBC’s Newsnight programme was to host a segment discussing Frank/Kellie Maloney, transgender issues and what it means to be transgender. They invited Miranda Yardley, who was the only one of three transsexual people asked to come on air to actually show up. You can read her version of…

Normally, I don’t respond to criticisms (normally, I don’t get them, or find them). But this post reached quite a few people, having been picked up and tweeted by prolific bloggers, and naturally made its way back to the transgender activists who’re mentioned in passing in it. Who I don’t follow much, but to celebrate the occasion of writing something which people actually read, I ran a search for “QueenThingy TERF” to see if I was being talked about. And, unsurprisingly, I was. 

Above is a screen cap of three comments. They’re taken direct from Twitter’s website, mainly because I’m too lazy to edit it into the order they were sent in, so read them from the bottom to the top. Now, I don’t particularly bother with what people have to say about me normally, but since @zjemptv follows me on Tumblr, and it’s good fun for her to tweet about me to her 7500 followers, I thought it only good spirited to offer this reasoning. 

First up, the accusation that this is “TERF shit.” I’m neither a radical feminist nor trans exclusionary, so I consider this to be a bad start, all told. I also reject the notion that I am “wholly hostile to self determination.” I am not hostile to self determination! My entire life is centred around self determination! I self determined that I am transsexual, and self determined to undergo transition and live life as a trans woman. How on Earth that renders me an opponent of self determination, I do not know. 

My position is presented to be “we define, therefore you are.” This is a little closer to what I’m trying to say, because I don’t think this is a gold standard we can realistically tie ourselves to. Take a theoretical example from my everyday life. I am openly trans, and my friends know and support me as trans. However, my ID to buy alcohol is in my pre-transition name, and to avoid confrontation and the embarrassment of having to explain to the staff, I chose to go out with my friends to a bar in boymode. 

Here, we have three different instances of “self-determination” (remember, I’m the one supposedly denying the agency of others). My own “self determination” is that I am transsexual; to this end, I have announced my transition to my friends, wear predominantly “feminine” attire, have long hair and (in other scenarios) present as female with makeup and other means. I have undeniably self determined that I am transsexual, and am making efforts to transition. I am part time, then, because I am not comfortable doing everything and anything in girlmode quite yet. 

My friends see both ends of that. I hang around with them casually in girlmode, but certain circumstances mean I feel forced to not do that. Their reading of my gender identity is informed not only by what I’m wearing, but their knowledge that I am a MTF transsexual. Their use of my new name and new pronouns follows my preferences, which they know from my actions and my friendship with them. Their “self determination”, then, is to appoint my gender as female, even when I’m not quite presenting as such.

The man who sells me the alcohol and only knows me from my photographic ID does not know my life story, regrettably. He sees my deadname; sees that I look broadly similar today as I did when the photograph was taken, sees my date of birth and uses that to self determine that I am the male identity he is expecting upon his check of my drivers licence. I don’t have time to explain to him that, in fact, I have rejected this identity and would very much prefer him to call me Sarah because I am self defining as female. His “self determination” of my gender is based on what he sees; he does not have time to make a detailed and introspective assessment, because his job is to sell alcohol to those people with the means to do so.

All I am doing is allowing for the fact that, in at least some cases, transition undergoing transsexual women will be read as male. And that is okay! That is not a big scary thing which means the world is going to end soon. That is just how the world operates, whether we stop and tell him that I know myself better than he does or whether we just let it slide because we’d rather go home and get drunk. Who’s agency here am I really denying; moreover, how on Earth is my point of view here, wherein I accept that other people do not share mine and do not have the power to read minds and do not particularly care for whether or not a customer happens to be transitioning, “wholly hostile to self determination”? If anything, I think that demanding the shopkeeper to identify me as female and legislate for his own reaction to me would be totalitarian, narcissistic, and only going to cause further pain for me when (and it will be when) he fails to agree, having not been immersed in the Trans Activism of the internet for five years and not being transsexual himself.

So, really. You know what’s fragile? Misrepresenting my blog and failing to engage in a meaningful way because you don’t understand the nuance of the points I’m trying to make. And let’s not get pretetious here. QueenThingy is not all things to all people, and it does not hold all the answers. Nor indeed am I right all the time. Nor indeed do I claim my ideas to be ironclad. I would now distance myself from my initial reactions to Frank/Kellie Maloney - I don’t think my misgendering in the posts I was making was well founded, and I think the ideas I was having were very raw and anger filled. I was reacting to the news, and not properly thinking about it. I was being overly protectionist of the notion and justifications for transition based on my own life as a transsexual, and I think that was wrong. 

These are conclusions we can only reach through actually talking to each other. But hey, please go on telling people that I’m "brittle as fuck." Go on presenting me as an ideological extremist who’s tied her flag to the mast of TERFism, whatever that is. Please go on telling your followers that I’m “unable to accept someone’s gender.” Please go on pretending that I’m unwilling to talk about things, that i’m about to break on topics, and that I’m your enemy. Because it’s so much fun to get misrepresented in the name of a couple of dozen favourites and a few retweets on Twitter. I really enjoy having my name and ideas dragged through the mud. 

(Reblogged from queenthingy)

Mirandagate: why the BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ pulled trans debate

ommadusk:

image

Last night, I was asked to appear on Newsnight in a debate surrounding the decision by Frank Maloney to tell the world that she now wishes to be known as Kellie Maloney. The piece is on the Daily Mirror website.

When I arrived at the studio, the producer advised me that the two other speakers, Fred McConnell and Paris Lees, had elected to boycott the show. Here are their tweets explaining why they decided to do this:

This is what Ian Katz, the editor of the show, had to say:

I feel very sad that the debate was cancelled because Fred (a transman) and Paris (another transwoman) were unwilling to speak with me. This was a great opportunity to show the country (and the world) that there is intelligent debate to be had around trans issues, and communicate some of the complex ideas and issues that exist within our community to a wider audience. And there would have been three trans people having the debate.

I had prepared some notes in the 90 minutes I was home yesterday (and in that time I managed to shower, do a shop, feed and cuddle my cats and actually have some dinner). Here are the notes, which in something rougher than sketch form set out the debate I would have argued, and these are the three points I wished to bring to the table:

  1. Kellie’s choice to do this is her own personal decision. I know from first-hand experience what a hard road it is to go through this process, and I wish her all happiness for the rest of her life: good on her. It is important that people can lead their lives how they want to, allowing them to exercise their own freedoms. It is very progressive that people can do what they want, and I support this.
  2. In the Daily Mirror piece, Kellie speaks of ‘being born in the wrong body’ and says that she has ‘always known I was a woman’. This raises the question, what does it mean to be a woman? Is Kellie saying that she has a ‘woman’s brain’? What are the implications of asserting that one has a ‘female brain’ for women as a class?
  3. Women are socialised as women, and men as men: if men and women were socialised in the same way, we’d all just be humans! This is an idea at the heart of feminism. At what point does someone who has been socialised as a man, which is a violent socialisation, lay claim to womanhood, lay claim to the places society reserves for women, like toilets, changing rooms? The demand for unrestricted access to female spaces, spaces that exist for the dignity, comfort and protection of women, concerns me greatly. I am not saying that all men are violent, being masculine is not innate (just like being feminine is not innate) and so male violence is not innate.

These are just three points for debate about what it means to be trans. It saddens me we are unable to have this discussion, it sends out the message that the trans community is so uncertain of itself that we are unable to analyse ourselves. This has got to be fundamentally wrong.

It’s unbelievable! Paris Lees is happy to write articles for uber-sexist Vice Magazine about how much she enjoys getting sexually harassed, but is afraid to discuss how some of the most popular trans narratives (eg female brain) have played out in her life, and what their political implications are for feminism.

Dear trans women: I know that confronting reality is scary! But you will feel better for it in the long run. Trans women who are gender-critical are not your enemy, we are just trying to make sense of the world in a way that the trans talking points of fantasy and denial don’t. And it’s obvious that what we’re saying makes sense to you on some level, because if it didn’t you wouldn’t keep blocking us, slandering us, and threatening us.

(Reblogged from ommadusk)

On Selfies, Porn and Balls

Written by Naefearty, originally posted on her blog.

Just one of the things that baffles and distresses many partners of autogynephilic men, is the apparent need these men have for posting “selfies” on social media and file hosting/sharing sites. What gives with the trans and the selfie? Really, what is going on here? Say the word “selfie”, and it probably conjures up a face pic, perhaps. Someone smiling or pouting into the camera, perhaps with a landmark in the background, or a kitten held to the face.

In the case of autogynephiles, these photos go way beyond the flirty head and shoulders shot (that’s when a head is even visible in the photo), and stray into the territory of faux “glamour” shots, or even full on pornography. Often times, it is a disembodied body part – I could pay my rent for a year if I had a penny for every “looking down the stocking clad legs to the shoes” shot. Or a body shot from the neck down. I see two functions for these headless shots. One for the sake of anonymity (what if Bert’s co-workers found that!?), the other because they just don’t “pass” – and anyway, who needs to look at the face when one is banging one out? For the record, my torturer is particularly fond of photographing his repellent, hormone-induced “breasts”, cupped in his hands with his oh so long nails on display. Conjuring up that image is actually making me queasy. Apologies to those of you with a delicate constitution.

Discovering such photos on a phone or a computer, and quite likely (with a bit more digging) hosted in the public domain on sites such as Flickr, is a sick-making experience. In fact, if you are brave, go to Flickr, search for “transgender”, look at what you find.

Reading the comments underneath from similarly deluded men such as “Wow, babe, gorgeous!”, or “Mmmmmm, yummy – show me more, hon.” almost made me vomit on more than one occasion. And no matter how many times I asked him to “STOP THAT SHIT”, it never would. More and more would appear. As usual, my voice may well have not been there.

He would say things like, “I like to look at them when I’m depressed. It cheers me up”, or “Some sites won’t let you join unless you have photographs” (what sites, I would wonder, require members to post semi-nude pictures of yourself??) Or “I like getting feedback as a woman”…. the “validation excuse”, as I called it. The fact that this “feedback” consisted of men (in dresses or otherwise) telling him how much they wanted to “fuck his tight, Tgirl pussy” wasn’t lost on me. This wasn’t the validation of “Hey, you are a strong, gifted woman – I like your character and views on the world!”, this was the “validation” of a porn soaked-man’s idea of what “validation” means to women.

I don’t argue that there are girls and women out in the wider world for whom pleasing the male gaze is a source of validation. Anyone with a smidgeon of feminist consciousness could un-pack the politics behind that. But the fact that this was *the only* form of validation being sought….I told him countless times that I didn’t even want to be friends with the “woman” he thinks he is, let alone a romantic partner. In my time online looking for help with this whole experience, I would often ask these men why they did this. I didn’t ever get what I felt was an honest answer – too invested they were with normalising the obsessions, and papering over the obvious sexual motivations. And over time I saw many partners come into these “support” spaces and ask the same question – “Why does he do that?” Maybe I can’t ever get to the answer of that (I can certainly theorise), but I can speak about the impacts on myself, and on other women who have found themselves dealing with this behaviour in their relationship. I was disgusted and alarmed. I felt betrayed, and gaslighted by the excuses and lies. I felt powerless to stop it. All the female partners I spoke to shared these emotions.

One female partner, who I became quite close to, spoke to me of her disgust at finding a carrier bag under the desk where her husband used the computer with sperm encrusted socks and towels in them. He liked to play the submissive and had many photographs of himself as “Maid M*******” (I don’t want to publish all the name out of discretion for his wife). The socks and towel were from his hours and hours in front of the screen, reading comments and viewing photos that other “maids” and “mistresses” had left under his thousands of photos, and in chat rooms for the perverted.

Yet still they insist it is “not about sex”. They insist this to their wives and girlfriends who they tell that it is a result of an innate “femininity”, that they are “born this way”, that they deserve respect and honour for their feminine selves…

And it doesn’t just stop with a few “cheesecake” photos. Like most of the behaviour common to these men, it escalates. More and more photos, more and more sites, more and more fetish. On and on and on. I knew it was never going to stop when I found pictures of his panty encased (sometimes exposed) penis on a photo sharing site. He admitted to me that he had an online “mistress”, and one of his “tasks” was to post a photograph of his penis (and make sure he was wearing underwear of her choosing) any time she asked for it. So this could be several times a day, and even in the middle of the night. He would recieve a text, and he would pop to the bathroom and take a photograph and post it on the site. The mental image of him furiously wanking in a toilet cubicle at work and taking a photograph of the result to post on the internet for all to see won’t ever leave me. It didn’t seem to register with him that this “mistress” was quite probably another fetishist in a dress, and not the woman in the porny images on the profile for “Mistress Carolyne”. It didn’t seem to bother him that once out there, he couldn’t take the photos back. In fact that seemed part of the thrill for him. The “exposure” fantasy so common in these men and their demands for “forced feminisation”. In the end, it is all porn. In the final cut, these men are their own pornography. Viewer, actor and distributor. The male gaze catering to the male gaze.

Another time, he accidentally sent me a mirror shot of himself taken in a toilet cubicle (the kind with a sink and mirror contained within the cubicle) of himself in a corset top with his skirt pulled up exposing his crotch and suspenders. He sent it by SMS. While we were out for an evening. So even when we were having “a couple’s night out” the photo taking and sending wasn’t abated. The sexual haze was strong.
(Who am I kidding? “Nights out” never actually involved me.)

Even prior to the internet, men who think they are women took photographs. The film developed and printed by private and “discreet” services catering to the needs the “fetish community”. There is a long history of this behaviour, and archivists have uncovered photographs of men dressing in clothes normally assigned to women that go back to the earliest days of photography. Some of these were made into postcards for private consumption and sharing. Just as the images produced today are.

More recently there are the photographs discovered in a thrift shop that went on to form the basis of the book Casa Susanna , a collection of photographs of transvestites from the 50s and 60s taken at a hideaway ranch in the Catskills. These photographs are described a “poignant” and “moving” by the gay man who found them and gathered them into book form. The book is now considered a cultural classic, and Harvey Feinstein has even made a play about it. I can’t help but wonder if these men’s wives (likely unaware of their husband’s “hobby”, or living in silent fortitude while their husbands took off for weekends with others who shared their “fantasies”) would have thought these photo’s “poigniant” …

One more story involving photographs. The torturer and I were in a “tranny friendly” bar one time. There were two old transvestites there. One I dubbed Mrs Silk because of his obvious satin fetish. The other I named “Wee Ernest Borgnine” because well, he looked like a short Ernest Borgnine in drag. They asked if they could join our table, so we made room for them.

Ernest Borgnine, pretty much out of nowhere, leant over the table and said to me “Do you like balls?” I must have looked slightly taken aback, since he followed that with “I mean, do you like going to balls?. Still slightly phased, I replied do him that no, balls aren’t really my thing, in fact I don’t think I have even been to or invited to “a ball”. He asked me, “Would you like to see photos?. Not knowing what to say to that I mumbled something like, “Hmm, yeah, s’pose so…”.He produced from his handbag, not a phone with some snaps he had taken stored on it, but a photograph album. In fact I saw in his bag that he had three or four more such albums. He proceeded to show me these photos of himself and other transvestites at what looked like formal functions held in hotels. He wore an impressive arrange of formal gowns, as did his friends. I honestly didn’t know what to say to Ernest Borgnine till he came to one particular photograph. It was of him, in a white halter neck pleated dress posed in Marlyn Munroe’s iconic, legs apart, bent slightly forward pose from “The Seven Year Itch”. His Borgnine face grinning into the camera, a fan heater on the floor in front of him, blowing up the skirt of the dress and showing his skinny man legs encased in nylon. “Um, well, that’s quite a pose”, I said. He beamed and told me that he had even better ones than that to show me, as he reached into his bag for another album.