August 29, 2015
So, this summer is turning out to have an interesting trend of white cis gays finally catching up to white cis lesbians in their declaration that they are not cis and that being called cis hurts their feelings. The first thing I read on this was the story of Jeff White, who hated being called ‘cis’ so much that he destroyed his entire life over it. Then, yesterday, I read another article with a similar white cis gay tears about being called cis. Now, it’s unclear how the latter story will play out. I’m sure there are more than enough trans ppl calling him (rightly) out on his transmisogyny and privilege. Whether or not he’ll likewise run screaming from the reality that white cis gays can no longer say whatever they want without consequence remains to be seen.
But I wanted to take a moment to identify and recognize this trend because we are going to see more of it. Jeff White’s case is especially noteworthy because he was the founder/director of a putatively lgbt non-profit. He was a leader. Now, J Nelson Aviance’s article is a little more interesting bc he attempts to use academic jargon and whatnot to justify his point of view. Whereas White’s position is mostly ‘u don’t get to define me bc i’m a white man and what i say is the law!’.
A large part of Aviance’s point is similar (this is basically all he’s saying in the first few paragraphs of the article). But what I’m interested in is statements like this:
That includes recognizing that as a queer person, I’m automatically not inhabiting the normative roles society has constructed for those with a penis.
Because the thing is, is that he isn’t exactly wrong about this (although according to trans and cis queer orthodoxy, what he is saying is wrong).
What this statement is getting at is the firm distinction drawn within both queer and trans/gender theory that sexuality and gender are two different things that are unrelated. Or, if related, this relationship isn’t substantive in ways that would validate Aviance’s statement.
However, as anyone who’s been following my writing on this stuff for a while will know, this gender-sexuality distinction is a relatively recent political innovation, rather than theoretical or evidence-based. The gay rights movement, Gay Inc, begins at precisely the moment that white cis gays like Aviance decided that drawing a firm line between ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ would allow them to exploit twoc labour while disenfranchising us from their homonationalist agenda, just a few short years after Stonewall.
And so, for the past 40+ years cis gays like Aviance have been pushing a politically motivated doctrine that they aren’t like the gross trannies whose backs they stand on as a way to assimilate to dominant cis-hetero culture.
This is the history that Aviance is ignorant about. It’s also why he’s wrong and unable to reject being called ‘cis’. Of course, he ends up blaming trans ppl since we are always to blame for white cis gay problems, right?
But the reality is, Aviance, is that your are cis. Not because you necessarily occupy a normative gender (I’m willing to concede that a lot of gay men do not) but because your predecessors helped create and craft current gender discourse by insisting that trans people, as a whole, have nothing to do with gays like you. And as distressing as you and White might find that this intentional political action on your part is now coming to bite you in the ass, this still doesn’t mean you get to back peddle and deny your privilege. A privilege you literally created out of nothing and have been using against trans people for decades.
Unfortunately, this is your cis bed and you’re going to have to lie in it.
a gif of bubbles on a pogo stick and smiling evilly