A reading that I thought was really interesting was Jack Halberstam’s Female Masculinity, more specifically “The Bathroom Problem.” This stuck out to me because it brought up questions I never thought about like how a transgender person has so much trouble using the bathroom. Something that for me I never even have to think about which bathroom I am going to use. It can be confusing if a transgender woman who still has masculine features is trying to use the bathroom. Or even a lesbian woman who appears very masculine; or a person who does not identify as a male or a female. The bathroom is something that for some reason many people take very seriously and insist on separate bathrooms for women and men. Especially today with Trump trying to remove Obama’s protections for transgender student bathrooms and facilities in public schools. He is trying to tamper with state laws, which will remove transgender equality in bathrooms. It is nice to see that many bathrooms at the University of Delaware are for all genders or are gender neutral. I do not understand why there even is a bathroom problem. It should not matter which bathroom anyone decides to use. A transgender man or woman should not be afraid to use the bathroom at school because of the risk of not fitting in or getting bullied. The bathroom should not be a dangerous place for people. Society needs to realize that there should not be a “bathroom problem” because using the bathroom should not be a problem for people who identify as different genders or no gender at all.
While parsing through this week’s readings I found myself consistently struggling with the complex concepts presented in Noble’s “Trans. Panic.”. Noble begins by introducing basic structures of labor and the role of labor in capitalism, using this as the groundwork for understanding the institutionalizing of women’s studies. They make the important distinction between ‘trans’ in the sense of movement across and ‘trans’ in terms of gender identity, however they are closely linked in understanding the role of gender studies within the larger framework of women’s studies. . The exclusion of trans voices and bodies from women’s studies’ curriculum is denying an essential part of its history. Noble makes the argument that women’s studies cannot progress within the academic framework unless it breaks away from the oppressive and hegemonic forces that influence its teachings. In order to do this there must be a trans-ing of women’s studies.
Noble’s article made me reflect on recent events and their importance to the Black liberation movements. Historically, Black LGBTQ+ folks have been excluded and silenced in Black liberation movements. Black lives Matter, a movement started notably by black women – one of which is queer- presents a new and developing front on how to approach activism. Over time social rights movements have ebbed and waned in terms of their strength, starting off strong and then slowly eking out due to a number of reasons. BLM as a movement presents a new sort of front on activism in its stance on inclusion and the uplifting of LGBTQ+ voices, more importantly recognizing the violence faced by Black trans women. By trans-ing the movement we can hope to see a lasting growth that benefits all black lives and not just a cisheterosexual ones.
Of all the readings completed thus far throughout our course, I find “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Dumb?” by Kate Forbes and “Reenfleshing the Bright Boys; Or, How Male Bodies Matter to Feminist Theory” by Calvin Thomas really made me think, even outside the classroom. Forbes really wants nothing more the human diversity to be accepted; which sounds like it could be so simple, but sadly in our day and age, it’s not made simple. The U.S society doesn’t deal with rapidly changing diversity extremely well. She explains how the academy has yet to acknowledge the difficulties associated with queer personal matters, and how also in many cultures don’t place trans people in a position to claim and defend their identities. It’s honestly hard to say that the U.S isn’t starting to fall into that unaccepting culture when it comes to trans people rights. After our discussion on the bathroom issue going on today, I really started thinking – why is it such a big deal? Like we mentioned in class, the justification presented in denying trans people the freedom to use whichever restroom they want hold hardly any evidence to serve as a justification at all. I also really thought deeply about Forbes’ statements, “I am the primary data” and “It is not my job to fit my life into a theory, but the other way around”. Forbes has a first hand account of being a trans gender women in a primarily white man, science department, and it’s pretty disheartening to read that she feels as if the academy trusts gender professors and outside sources more than her first hand accounts; like she said, she is the true data, and people need to stop wearing blinders to this whole situation.
The main take away I left with after reading Thomas’s writing, was a different view of masculinity. Gender and sexuality is closely tied and it’s hard to pull apart an analyze one without the other. In class we made a good point that there isn’t necessarily the same pressure on a lesbian women to not be “too masculine” as there is places on a gay man to not be “too feminine”. Or, how when little girls act tomboyish, it’s seen as cute while if a young boy is wearing dresses and wanting to put on makeup, that might be considered out of the question to some. This alone shows that masculinity is placed highly on a pedestal in our country. It’s fair to say that masculinity is more highly valued than femininity no matter what sexuality.
While you were supposed to have homework posted here for you to read or view for Friday, we’re going spend Friday getting more familiar with the work of Forbes and Noble from Transfeminist Perspectives. Because you don’t have an official homework assignment, please come in ready to ask questions about the readings, or find something recent and relevant that we can connect to the readings.
Remember that Group 3 has a blog post due Friday at 11pm and Groups 1&2 are commenting by 5pm Monday, February 27th.