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Note: the following is an archival post of my recent blog piece at Huffington Post.
Earlier this week, Piers Morgan interviewed transgender advocate Janet Mock for his CNN show, focusing on her new book, Redefining Realness. The interview quickly set off a critical response on social media as Morgan focused his questions on Mock’s transition history and the moment she came out to her partner as transgender. The captioning on the program (and Piers Morgan’s tweet to promote the interview) referred to her as formerly being a “boy,” and Morgan himself used similar language throughout the interview. He also referred to Mock’s male-typical birth name several times.
When I watched the interview, it felt like the questions towards the beginning of the interview, focusing on Mock’s gender expression through adolescence, were leading specifically towards one of the media’s favorite tropes regarding trans women: surgical status. When Morgan actually asked the question, it came out about as awkwardly as one could imagine: Read the rest of this entry »
Earlier this month, the Advocate published a piece from long-time trans activist Riki Wilchins titled “Transgender Dinosaurs and the Rise of the Genderqueers.” While Riki has a long history of trans activism, this piece has not been received very well by more than a few in the trans communities. Jake Pyne quickly put together a strong critique of Riki’s Advocate piece that appears at prettyqueer. I wrote part of my own response as a comment on Jake’s piece, but I decided after the fact to extrapolate my thoughts a bit and post them here.
In her recent piece, Riki Wilchins speaks of a first meeting with a young, beautiful trans girl of 13 years who will have the opportunity to obtain androgen blockers to delay the onset of puberty, which will give her a better opportunity to make decisions about her medical future when she is ready down the road. Riki comments that since her transition so far has been supported so well, she didn’t recognize this girl as the person she had intended to meet (she assumed that the young lady must have been cis).
It’s probably understandable that Riki might have expected to meet someone that she more immediately recognizes as trans, however from this point Riki proceeds to make a bizarre assertion: it’s not simply that she failed to recognize the young woman as transgender, it’s that the woman in question simply isn’t transgender at all. Indeed, she explicitly states this claim.
Further, Riki quickly tangles up this question she has created about the young trans woman’s identity with her own narrative as a lifelong trans activist. She states: