Monday, July 09, 2012

How to intervene

I'm still thinking about that dental assistant who did the blood oxygen test on one of my fingers, and then said: you must sleep really well. Sometimes I feel like I spend so much time in this bed, lying here, relaxing, trying to relax, trying to get back to that place that felt so good, or out of that place that feels so awful no back to that place that feels so good, okay? And then I get up, and all I feel is this headache, I'm so proud of this headache.

I look up the word parataxis – all it means is placing two sentences or phrases together without conjunctions separating them, and I thought it would be some lovely new form of transportation on the Venetian canals. Time outside buildings; time inside buildings. I have a new camera, but I can't figure out how to upload the photos. Soon, I hope, soon.

But can you believe I bought that horrible Danny Tenaglia Global Underground London mix that I once threw out the window. I couldn't help it – it was used, and I didn't remember it. Now I do. My apartment is too close to ground level to throw things out the window.

Alex and I were having this conversation about some drag night in Seattle called Hey Tranny It’s Tranny, and how people are trying to get them to change the name because they think it's transphobic. AndI don't necessarily find the word tranny to be transphobic at all. Like anything else, it depends how you use it. There's a lot of effort in many trans circles right now to police the usage of that particular word, but I don't think this really does anything to challenge transphobia. I'd much rather hear exactly how this particular drag night is transphobic, and how to intervene.

And then I'm watching this movie called Wildness about a Latina drag/trans bar in LA and gentrification through a particular performance night and there's a lot that's interesting about this movie, but at the moment I just want to focus on one particular scene where they are filming James St. James walking around for some video talk show he must have in LA. You remember James St. James, right? He was the New York City club kid who wrote a book called Disco Bloodbath about that world and Michael Alig, the notorious clubkid murderer – that’s his claim to fame.

So here he is in LA, walking outside interviewing people for his talkshow, and he starts by asking another fag: have you ever fucked a tranny? James St. James is wearing full face makeup and perhaps a wig, although I guess he’s supposed to look like a “man.” Later in the footage, he’s chasing this one particularly glamorous young trans woman around the bar, trying to feel her up. It's one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen.

James St. James might not identify as a drag queen, but this is such a startling example of drag transphobia. I don't think it's the word tranny that matters, it's the way he wields it as some kind of fetishized expletive for consumer consumption. He could easily do the same thing by saying "transgender woman." It's what's behind the words that makes the difference.

And yes, this type of transphobia is rampant in many drag settings – as is unquestioning racism, misogyny, fat-phobia, ableism, etc. All of this I know, and it's one of the reasons I've avoided those types of settings for the most part for so many years, and I guess that's why its hideousness shook me so much in this instance. Sometimes I think there's this artificial effort by some trans spokespeople to police the boundaries between drag queens and trans women, when often these identities intermingle, and have always intermingled. But it's moments like these that remind me where the policing starts.

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