Friday, February 25, 2011

Being Trans Is Not a Punchline

Today's Failbook fail: Lady GaGa's Perfume.

You know, Failbook's fails have been pretty minor for the last couple weeks. It was getting to the point where I was wondering if they had decided to cast off the Dark Side and actually respect human beings.

Then I saw today's fail and I was like, "LOL, they got me, ROFL."

Someone mentions that Lady Gaga (which is, BTW, the correct capitalization of her stage name) is making a perfume called "Blood and Semen." (I have no idea if this is true, and I don't give a shit if it is.) Someone of course makes a crack about how she should use her own semen in it.

I have to phrase what I want to say here very carefully, because it could easily be read by fucknecks as being anti-trans. I want to be clear: there is nothing wrong with being trans. This is obvious to all people who are not jackasses.

However, there is obviously something wrong with wielding accusations of being trans (or gay) as though those accusations are insults and/or punchlines. For the people who've been hiding under a rock for the past three years, Lady Gaga is an immensely successful pop icon, and because she is a successful woman, people "accuse" her of being a transwoman. She is in fact a ciswoman.

There's something insidious and awful about denying people's right to label themselves, for starters. And, of course, only gayness/transness are used as punchlines. Let's try to imagine the opposite scenario with a famous gay person (I would use a famous trans person, but I honestly cannot think of a transperson with the level of public visibility necessary to make this analogy work):

Rando: "Hey, I hear Ellen DeGeneres is starring in a kids' movie where she's married to Colin Firth and their kids get into wacky hijinks." [Ed. note: I clearly just pulled this out of my ass, but N.B. I love Colin Firth.]
Jackass: "Ohmigod, I knew it, this just proves Ellen is a straight!! She's always acting so straight, you know? I know she's says she's a lesbian, but Christ, you can feel the straight vibes just pouring off her."

No. This is clearly ridiculous. We only feel the need to snipe at the people we feel are transgressing the normal bounds of sexuality and gender, try and herd them into their so-called rightful place, way on the edge of the map. To many, being called "gay" or "trans" is punishment for not conforming. And therefore it is an insult, because to deviate from the "normal" course of having your gender line up with your genitals/chromosomes/upbringing (there are many ways of being trans), and having your sexual desire focus upon a lifelong monogamous partnership with a member of the opposite sex, is horrifying to jackasses everywhere.

So Lady Gaga, in all her non-conforming glory, must be herded to the edge of the map, confined to Transworld. That's her punishment. Because for many (most?) people, it is punishment.

I can't wait for the day when someone's sexuality or gender identity is a non-issue. A part of who they are? Absolutely. But as unrelated to others' reactions and judgments as the color of their eyes.

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