On Trans, Gender, and Body

I tweeted out a post on Mashable this morning and then, after it went out, I wanted to elaborate on why it’s important. This is the tweet:

Gender is not a binary thing

It would be easy to look at that headline and switch off. I don’t care about trans-anything. Those people aren’t like me. There’s nothing for me here. That’s the nice version. The not-so-nice version might get into the mental states of transpeople or the “right-” or “wrongness” of a 14-year-old taking estrogen for hormone replacement treatment. Having met a trans kid who was living as one gender in kindergarten and first grade and then publicly coming out as the opposite gender the next year, I’ve had to take some time to evaluate my own feelings on whether it’s a nature or nurture thing, of whether we are pushing things, and our own agendas onto kids and that this is a decision rather than a part of who they are.

Despite what you may have been told, gender is not a toggle switch. It’s not Green for male and Red for female (see what I did there?). The reason why there has been a marked increase in articles about transgender individuals and issues and more transgender people in the media is because this is a human thing. This is a thing that exists in the grand scope of human existence and it is normal.

It’s a thing that we just accept as a given that people are different. No two people are alike. “Everyone is a unique snowflake” and all that. So why do we assume that the same does not apply to things like gender, like mental health, like sexuality, like autism? There’s more to it than just XX or XY chromosomes, but even within those, there are more variations than just those two. None of these things are on/off, you-have-it-or-you-don’t things. Like everything else that it means to be a living creature on this planet, it’s a spectrum. And it’s that spectrum, that variety, that makes things interesting.

Speaking from a place of extreme privilege

Look, I’m well aware of how easy things are for me just to exist in our society. I will never know how hard it is to be a woman walking down the street, let alone what it means to be a trans woman walking down the street. I’m white, male, cisgendered and (more or less) heterosexual. I have it easier than most, so it’s important to me to take advantage of that privilege and add my voice to these types of issues.

…and so…why that post is important

I have never experienced the feeling of not knowing/understanding/trusting/feeling comfortable in my own skin. I have maybe experienced mild gender dysphoria but it had nothing to do with my identity and everything to do with the expectations and cultural values assigned to men. Men are supposed to be muscular, drink beer, watch football and shoot guns. They harass women, rape, and are physically and emotionally aggressive. They are villains but they are also heroes. They are the center of the story. They are the ones who rescue the princess. They make the rules and run the show. They are presidents, CEOs, prime ministers. I am not, nor will I ever be, any of those things, or those things I might be because of my gender, I do not accept. Ergo, I must not be a “real man.” It was later, after doing an intense study on gender and transgender issues, that I realized that none of that mattered, really, because society’s expectations are stupid and don’t define any of us. But I digress.

The point is, I don’t know what it’s like to be a teenager who feels like she is trapped in the body of a boy and I never will because that’s not me. I only know what it feels like to be a teenager and young adult who has a lot of self-hate having to do with what it means to be the gender that I was born as. But I don’t have to have that common ground to watch that video and realize what just happened. And what’s happening every. single. day. that posts like this and others are published and more awareness is spread around the existence and acceptance of women and transpeople as human beings deserving of equal rights, respect and privilege.

I am well aware of the demographics of my followers on social media and the sorts of folks who will stumble across my blog. Very few of them are around because I talk about gender equality or gender issues. Mostly it’s nerds like me, or people who follow me because I write about soccer or WordPress. And that’s part of what makes it so important that I also talk about stuff like this. Because maybe someone who would never have looked at that video of a transgirl getting her first hormone treatment from her mom and breaking down in tears of gratitude will be able to see it for what it is — a real, human experience, real joy and acceptance. And the more stories like this there are, the more real, human experiences from transfolk and women and people of color we see, the closer we get to a world that I want to live in. One that accepts you for the person you are. Not for what you look like, not for what society expects you to be, not for the things you like or the way you style your hair or your tattoos or piercings or clothing or money or where you live or where you were born or what god you put your faith into or what the motherfucking scale says. Just you. That’s where I want to live.

This just in: Mashable op-ed states the obvious

In a ridiculous, duh-inducing article, author Chris Taylor explains how Apple doesn’t make money on apps because their product focus is in hardware.

*crickets*

This profound insight should surprise exactly no one as anyone who has observed Apple anytime in the last 10 years or so, or — as the author pointed out — pretty much since the first iPod.

The question is not why did Apple make iWork and OSX free, it’s why they didn’t make those things available at a really low cost (say $5) that doesn’t even feel like spending money, and get some cream to skim off the top. The “free” (which is only really free if you buy a new Apple product) thing really says more about how threatened they are feeling by their competitors that they feel the need to throw their productivity suite at people’s faces than it does about being innovative in how they are marketing and selling their products. We should realize by now that when you buy an Apple product, you are buying it because of the device not because of the stuff you can run on the device.

Apple's Backwards Business Model Upends Everything We Know.

WordPress isn’t a commercial success…wait, what?

Read this.  Then come back.  It’s okay, I’ll wait.

WordPress.com Blogs Garnered 23 Billion Pageviews in 2010

It’s the last paragraph the bugs me.

The five-year-old company may be experiencing remarkable growth, but it has yet to become a commercial success. The startup reportedly makes around $1 million per month from premium and hosting services, an inconsequential figure for a company that plays such a central role in web publishing.

Automattic makes $12 million a year spending most of their time developing free software and yet, they aren’t a commercial success?  What? Seriously, what? Matt & crew are some of the biggest and most public advocates for open source and the GPL.  Monetization, while obviously a concern, is not a focus, the focus is creating a great application that millions of people use daily for free.  $12 million a year for a team of maybe a couple dozen full-time employees?  Sounds successful to me.  The fact that they aren’t raking in the dough like Microsoft or Apple is a choice not a byproduct of failed marketing, and were they to go that route, I doubt they’d have the market share that most of that article reveals.

Buh-bye to Wave

In a long line of “wow that’s not really a surprise at all”‘s, Google has dropped (or is dropping, or is no longer actively developing at any rate) Wave. Cause of death: lack of user adoption. In a blog post today, Google announced that, while they still think Wave is awesome, everyone else didn’t immediately agree, so they’re calling it in.

Now my guess is it’ll be integrated into something else. ChromeOS perhaps? A standalone messenger? Upgrade to Gtalk? But I can’t say I’m surprised. As Mashable points out, there was a tremendous buzz that dwindled almost immediately after the official release as everyone collectively scratched their heads and said “wtf?” Some people (notably the guys at Fantasy Brewmasters) made good use of it, but on the whole, Wave was underwhelming. I do hope to see the live writing thing make a comeback. Here’s hoping…

Jane Austen’s Fight Club

This completely made my night.  Wish it was a real film.

Hat tip to @allisonr via @SusanVLewis, but you can also read about it on @Mashable: “Jane Austen’s Fight Club” Fake Trailer Goes Viral [VIDEO]

It does raise an interesting question: the people who don’t think this is funny (or, alternately, bloody brilliant), are they unfamiliar with Fight Club, Jane Austen, or both?  It seems flipping fantastic to me, but I have a deep appreciation for the source materials from which it is derived.  Anyone?