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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tyranny of the State and Trans Liberation (2008)

It has become very clear to me over the years that a key tenet to Trans Liberation lies within the liberation of ones self from the tyranny of the State, Religion and Society; and equally important from our own self-imposed tyranny.  And with that said, viewing Trans Liberation within an anarchist lens has proven an invaluable vehicle for my analysis.  As Emma Goldman so eloquently states in her 1911 essay “Anarchism: What It Really Stands For”

Anarchism is the only philosophy that brings to man the consciousness of himself; which maintains that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fulfilled only through man’s subordination. Anarchism is therefore the teacher of the unity of life; not merely in nature, but in man.
The essence of this point was reinforced at a recent demo protesting the hypocrisy of HRC, where one of the chants included the words Fuck You to HRC.  Several people, though one in particular asked with all seriousness “Are we allowed to say that?”  Then when the first police car came, they were convinced that the police were called because of our using the words Fuck You.  And in reality the cops didn’t really give a damn what we were chanting about.  Clearly on the surface this is all kinda silly and a nit; except for the fact that the reaction and fear of this trans person typifies the implicit warnings of Emma Goldman; that the tyranny, or fear of such tyranny, by the State has such a profound impact on our actions and our behaviors.  And this clearly ties in very closely with our goal of achieving true and complete Trans Liberation.
We who defy societies precepts of gender identity and expression challenge, at its core, societal, religious and state demands and constructs.  Yet sadly I fear that we as a truly inherent revolutionary community will seek the safe route of assimilation; as our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have done before us.  Yet through serious self-reflection, political analysis and dialogue, particularly through an anarchist lens, I postulate that we can avoid the same reformist road that the majorative homosexual movement has been trapped in.  To this point, I have remarked over many years how ironic it is that the essence of a transsexual person defies society’s construct of man and woman/masculine and feminine; yet at the same time many in our community work so very hard to subscribe to a binary system that we in our essence defy.  Granted this is a complicated analysis and many reasons for so strongly subscribing back to the binaries (major drivers being safety and survival); though at the same time it is something that we as a community and as individuals must seriously challenge.
If we are to liberate society and ourselves from its tyranny against those who traverse gender and sex, we need to ~ no actually we must ~ liberate ourselves from the mental and physical constructs that manipulate us into subordination for the benefit of the “greater good of society, religion and state”
Speaking to the issue of safety, when I embraced my gender identity I lost so many core things in my life.  And so I fully understand the need to integrate, or more accurately assimilate into our society.  However, over the years I have become more aware that my and our communities’ assimilation is simply subordinating our identities and our essence to the State.  In return we are “allowed” to live within the margins of this society, especially if we are not able to “present” within the acceptable boundaries.  I must admit that many of us, especially those of my age, struggle with a 1950’s societal mentality that was engrained within the deep recesses of our brains as we were young.  Yet I also feel and know that I will not be truly liberated in my gender identity until I personally can liberate myself from subordination to society and to empower my individuality.
For many reasons, I am a strong believer of civil disobedience and direct action ~ when the cause and reasons are just.  However the fear of challenging the State as a non-operative trans person was a significant challenge and barrier to putting my beliefs into actions.  Yet my heart and soul told me that my not acting upon my beliefs was simply allowing the State to control my individual expression preventing my rebellion to a system that works to subjugate my individual identity.  I actually needed to go through a year or two process of dealing with this conscious and subconscious fear of being controlled by the system.  And it turned out through a long and convoluted process; I was able to put my individual beliefs ahead of those of submission to, and fear of, the State’s total control of my gender identity.  Oddly, one night before an affinity group and I were to risk arrest shutting down a Government Building in New York, a dear friend and I saw the opening of V for Vendetta.  And for me the transformation of Evey Hammond was so pivotal to my personal transformation.  For those not familiar with Evey’s transformation, I paste the following from a wiki on V (though in reality one needs to see this transformation for words do not convey the essence of the struggle):

In her cell between multiple bouts of interrogation and torture, Evey finds a letter from an inmate named Valerie, an actress who was imprisoned for being a lesbian. Evey’s interrogator finally gives her a choice of collaboration or death; inspired by Valerie’s courage and quiet defiance, she refuses to give in and is told that she is free. To her shock, Evey learns that her imprisonment was a hoax constructed by V, designed to put her through an ordeal similar to the one that shaped him. He reveals that Valerie was another Larkhill prisoner who died in the cell next to his; the letter that Evey read is the same one that Valerie had passed on to V. Evey’s anger finally gives way to acceptance of her identity and freedom.
At any rate these are my horridly inaccurate words and thoughts to what over the years I am confidently coming to believe is a critical dialogue on the path to realizing complete “Trans Liberation.”  If any of this makes sense, I am hoping to continue a deeper analysis of what this discussion so briefly touches upon.

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