Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coming Out for Your Entertainment?

The newest trans-media craze has hit. A semi-celebrity, who I am not naming, has come out as trans and announced his transition. Clearly the announcement was made to circumvent a mass-media fest. In his announcement he also specifically requested privacy. Of course he’s not getting it. Who’s surprised?

I realize the media sensationalizes the most minimal things for entertainment. That said, I have found particular attention is paid to queer and trans concerns. The media either crucifies the person or tries to highlight how amazingly normal the person is (in effort to be supportive to the poor, gay soul). Who would ever think a queer person could be well-adjusted? Holy heterosexist, Batman!

In the case of this person coming out, some news articles have been surprisingly well written and mostly focused on actual trans issues. However, the majority are full of the expected trans-ignorant language like using the wrong pronoun and terms like “gender switching/swapping,” “Girl Boy,” “she/ he,” “it,” and my favorite-“wow.”

A person's coming out story should not be a opportunity for public commentary and fascination, as if the person were growing a new limb. Being trans doesn’t make you magic. Believe me I wish it did, but it doesn’t. Yes, it is hard to come out and it is hard to transition. Yes, we are a greatly ignored population and there is little education about us. That doesn’t give anyone the right to turn us into a spectacle.

There is public habit of making representatives out of people just because they are different. There is no consent in this iconization, only the assumption that if you are different you must want to be talked about. So often marginalized populations are labeled, boxed, and then expected to present their experience for the sake of “educating” others. What people want isn’t education, its entertainment. When someone finds out I’m trans they don’t want to discuss gender theory with me. They want to know what my body looks like, how I have sex, and if I’ve had “the surgery.” They want to hear about how depressing my life is so they can feel like a supporter when they tell me how brave I am.

The reality is that I’m no braver than anyone else. I think that we all are brave for surviving in this fucked up world, queer or not. People need to look past the labels and see the person behind it. Sensationalizing those who are different is a form of societal oppression.

Midwest GenderQueer


Michael Chanak Jr said...

You dear JAC are far wiser than your earth years.


Jazmine said...

It's tough, because transitioning at some level necessitates a public element in order to recognize--or, make intelligible--the transition itself. I think most people are so unable to digest 'news'/information/entertainment without spectacle that Chaz's situation doesn't really represent anything unique.

Saying that, Butler provides some illumination via Bornstein:
"to go from F to M, or from M to F, is not necessarily to stay within the binary frame of gender, but to engage transformation itself as the meaning of gender. In some ways it is now Kate Bornstein who carries the legacy of Simone de Beauvoir: If one is not a woman, but rather becomes one, then becoming is the vehicle of gender itself" (UG, p65).

This is certainly a compelling argument for making transitions VISIBLE publicly.

Juliet said...

Why are we not saying this persons name if its alreay in the media? I agree it shouldn't be the "big story", but I'm confused, I mean, we know who it is. Plus, how does a semi-celebrity announce this and then ask for privacy? Isn't that a oxymoron?

Jackkaeden said...

His publicist announced it and he said that he would not be doing any interviews on his transition. It would be one thing if he came out on Oprah looking for attention, but it seems more like he just stated what was going in the hopes of quieting the rumors that were already going around.