Julia Serano was at the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday, April 22, lecturing on transsexual and transfeminine perspectives on feminism. Serano is the author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman On Sexism And The Scapegoating Of Feminity, and she regularly lectures on the intersections of being transgender and identifying and being perceived as female.
One interesting point that Serano brought up was the idea of facsimilation in regards to having a queer identity. Her example of this was the illegalization of gay marriage in most the the U.S.: Gay marriage is just an inferior copy of and is not as good as a heterosexual marriage. This is why people are always asking lesbian couples “Who is the butch?” or “Who is the man?” because gay couples still have to fit into the dominant/submissive roles typical of heterosexual couples because a gay couple is just an inferior copy, but it is still a copy: It’s somewhat similar but not as good. The same facsimilation can be applied to gender.
Serano also presented some staggering statistics that she gathered from the Gay And Lesbian Task Force. Of gender-based violence victims, 91 percent were of color. Sexual orientation factors into this gender-based violence as well: 88 percent of victims were LGBT, 4 percent of victims were heterosexual and 8 percent of victim’s sexual orientations was not known. Of the victims, 92 percent had a male sex but were not presenting a typical male gender.
One other important note was Serano’s idea of trans-sexualition. This explains that transmen are perceived to transition to obtain male privilege, while transwomen are perceived to transition for sexual reasons (i.e. to trick straight men into homosexual relations, to be sex workers or because they are perverts and want to fulfill some bizarre sex fantasy). This is because a woman’s worth is based on her ability to be sexualized by men.
Serano’s final point was probably her best: Transwomen’s issues and feminist issues are linked, and the groups have to work together on activism. Transwomen face double sexism because they are discriminated against because of their trans status and are are oppressed like ciswomen when they are perceived as ciswomen.