on nonbinary 'invisibility'
December 6, 2013
nica recently shared with me this thing of some non-binary person asserting that ‘trans(asterisk)” was something that only non-binary people should use. and that binary trans ppl using that are erasing nonbinary ppl? Or that not using it is erasing nonbinary people? i can”t really reconstruct this argument because it was absurd and i was busy laughing.
in terms of calls for inclusion and calls for action from the nonbinary community, the topic of visibility often comes up. visibility is one of those really pernicious notions because not only do most people misunderstand what visibility is about (or ought to be about) but because they most often see hyper visilibility and, in their bitter envy, decide that this is what their goal should be and something worth working towards.
of course, this is wrong. Hyper-visibility is not a desirable thing. Ask any Black person. And this topic of visibility often comes up in racial discussions. light-skin mixed-with-white poc (like me) will come out and be all “i”m poc tooooooo! and no one pays attention to my experiences of racism!!!!!!”. and it is simply fucking ridiculous and always ends up mobilizing anti-Blackness in some important way.
the thing about ppl who constantly call for visibility is that they never actually clearly outline…. who they want to see them. Whose gaze are they hopping to attract? Who is not seeing them?
so often, the goal appears to be the oppressive gaze. they want to be seen and recognized by power. they want their identities and selves to be given shape and form in the eyes of their oppressors. they appear to legitimately think that, unless power sees them, they don”t exist.
and that this is what is desired is clear when these ppl constantly point to hyper visiable groups as examples of people who are ‘visible,” who have the ‘privilege” of being seen by power. they point to these groups and talk about how we (in the case of trans women) take up too much space and don”t allow others to be seen….
except that hyper visibility is surveillance. it is dissection. it is violation. it is what allows so many of us to die and mostly by virtue of our deaths, become ‘visible.” the fact that i”m seen, is often why i can”t fucking bring myself to leave the house.
these nonbinary people are often fucking wrong about their level of visibility. and it doesn”t surprise me that i most often see this coming from white people, which is kinda amusing given that white nonbinary ppl actually benefit from the binary. but all these white nonbinary ppl dying to be seen by the oppressive gaze……..
not realizing that, actually, ‘nonbinary” ppl have been visible for centuries. that out in the colonies where transmisogyny and binarism was born, and white ppl were busy coercively naming some of us as ‘third genders”
THAT ‘NONBINARY” PPL HAVE BEEN VISIBLE TO POWER FOR CENTURIES AND DYING BECAUSE OF THIS
and we are still dying. and often dying not only via transmisogyny, cissexism, and binarism, but dying as part of larger projects of colonialism and genocide. from which: white nonbinary ppl are reaping many hearty benefits.
but of course, instead of, idk, fucking realizing any of this, fucking white (and often dfab) nonbinary ppl are too busy eating the shit of patriarchy and colonialism to give even a solitary fuck about the ppl in ‘their community” dying and suffering because of the visibility they crave and envy.