Friday, August 21, 2009

Singer Kat DeLuna's body is apparently up for debate

Possible trigger warning for transmisogyny.

Oh, jeez:

There are approximately eleventy things wrong here, so to kick things off:

Guess what: if Kat DeLuna wants to put something in her pants, it belongs there, because SHE put it there or it is a part of HER body. You don't get to decide what belongs with respect to a woman's body, MediaTakeOut.

I take issue with the idea that famous women’s genitals must be perfectly smooth and without bumps or anything jarring whenever they wear standard-issue pop star pants. Not all genitals are the same - even the sex organs of cis women come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and colors. No one comes off a factory line. There’s no reason to expect that the tight shorts that many entertainers wear are always going to make their nether regions look like Barbie’s.

To take up the more pressing issue of transmisogyny and race, I’m going to quote from Monica of TransGriot’s post on Ciara:
But I and many transwomen have a major problem with peeps ignorantly calling cisgender women 'trannies' to be insulting. If they're doing it to call these women 'ugly' or 'less feminine', maybe its because they have insecurities about their own gender identities, androgynous features they possess or they secretly want to date and have intimate relationships with transwomen.

The other thing I get irritated about is that as if Black cisgender women didn't have enough historical baggage to deal with concerning the Eurocentric beauty standard they've struggled against for centuries, now they get whacked with this as well.

Too many times and far too often Black cisgender women get whacked with that 'tranny' tag. Besides, if you haters haven't noticed, some of my sisters can more than hold their own in the beauty department as well.
The timing of this example of cissexism comes soon after the Lady Gaga-is-intersex debacle. Eli of The Incredible Shrinking Phallus wrote then:
What did happen is that Lady Gaga opted not to wear underwear and when getting off of a motorcycle resulted in a quick flash, it suddenly became okay for footage of her genitals to be circulated, presumably without her consent under titles like “Lady Gaga has a penis? Lady Gaga is a man?”, “Proof!! LADY GAGA is a MAN!”, or “Breaking news: Lady GaGa is actually a MAN!” and marked with pop-ups encouraging us to view “some of the funniest drunken shamings” on the internet. That’s not coming out. That’s exploitation, predicated on the belief that women’s and genitals that are “abnormal” or unexpected in any way are public property.
Other people’s bodies – their histories with their bodies, the makeup of their bodies – are no one’s business but their own. Yes, even if they are famous. Women, cis and (especially) trans, are constantly told that they do not have a right to their own bodies – that they are public property, up for debate, subject to the ownership of others. This is particularly true of women of color like Kat DeLuna – their bodies are constructed (in both historical and modern contexts) as the explicit property of others. They are not allowed privacy, or allowed to define their own gender – both private citizens and public figures are demanded to live up to the binary of assigned sexes.



  1. I have a theory that all of this obsessing over genitalia is directly related to the homophobic male fear of being attracted to a man. (sarcasm)Obviously, it's critical to scrutinize the contents of everyone's underpants, because everyone knows that sneaky sneaky men like to dress up as women to TRICK PEOPLE!(/sarcasm)

    And, conversely, insistence that female athletes like Caster Semenya are really male stems from the idea that there's simply no way a woman could be that terrific at running, so, obviously, she's a man.

  2. I am reading this article, and seeing a lovely rebuttal to frausallybenz's troubling piece on Caster Semenya.

    Thank you.

    That said, the temptation to center cis concerns about (presumably) cis women whose cis privilege is being threatened while dismissing trans concerns in feminist discussions is an old and tired failing of feminist discussions of gender. The name of that game is appropriation: using trans oppression, and presumably cis people's brushes with transmisogyistic oppression to talk about homophobia and or sexism. This is theft, pure and simple, and you see it everywhere, like in the comment above.

    Thank you again for not falling into the "ZOMG! they are treating a cis woman like a tr***y! How dare they!!!11!eleventyone" trap. Asking "what can that tell us about everything BUT trans lives is insulting in the highest degree, and you avoided that pitfall nicely. Very few people do.

    Trans issues and invalidation of any gender identities through transmisogyny (learn and use that word, please!) are not tools for cis feminists to wield whenever they have a point about women and body standards to make, nor is it a handy tool to illustrate homophobia and its effects on non trans people. Feminist writing has a very very long history of this kind of exploitation and it is literally second nature and automatic to just about any feminist writing out there. I did not see that here, and quite frankly, it woke my ass right up.

    Props for not fucking this up in the usual way cis feminists do. Nicely done.

  3. And there I go ruining everything with my hamfisted comment. Thank you for the privilege check, Voz.

  4. RMJ: Thank you for spending as much time as you've been spending on cis privilege and related issues that affect trans-peoples' lives.

    One thing I noticed in the early days of my transition is that when other women asked about it, they wanted to know more about my feelings and relationships. On the other hand, men wanted to know more about my body, and my genitalia in particular.

    I'm looking at those outfits and recalling how, during the first two years I lived full-time as a woman, I almost always wore A-line skirts and dresses. I didn't mind: I like the style, and people have told me that it flatters my figure. But the truth is that it also doesn't draw people's eyes toward the wearer's crotch.

    Now that I have just had my surgery, I am curious to see whether I will regain some of the cis privilege by which I lived as a man. I don't expect to get back all of the privilege I lost, and I don't expect that whatever (if anything) I might regain will be exactly like what I had.

    I must say: I never knew what privilege I had as a white, presumably heterosexual male, until I lost it. I now know that privilege is something you don't know you've had until you lose it. Then again, privilege may make our lives more convenient, but it doesn't make them worth living.

    Keep up the excellent work, RMJ!

  5. >>Trans issues and invalidation of any gender identities through transmisogyny (learn and use that word, please!) are not tools for cis feminists to wield whenever they have a point about women and body standards to make, nor is it a handy tool to illustrate homophobia and its effects on non trans people.

    Nothing to add here. Just wanted to say "word" to this.

    Also, thanks for linking to my blog post!


  6. Nothing more to add that you or other commenters haven't said already. Great post.


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