Saturday, April 22, 2006

Blog Against Heteronormativity Day

Other bloggers participating in Blogging Against Normativity today.

In my American Indian Women class we discussed the topic of Two-Spirited people in American Indian tradition. We also talked about it in contrast to the more western/contemporary Third Gender term (not that existing outside of the gender binary is anything new of course).

What I found intersting about the discussion was the ways in which American Indian and non-American Indian folx who identify outside of the western gender binary assert themselves within society. The argument was that American Indians tend to reestablish already existing traditional roles within their historical communities. Two-Spirited folx tend to seek those roles that continue to keep traditional identities alive. In some AI communities your work and/or spiritual essence for example determine your gender. There are also more than just two genders in many AI traditional communities. So there are not just a variance of gender possibilities within these communities but there are also already prescribed roles for each of these genders, not just validating their identities but also incorporating them as functioning members of society (in many instances as medicine people and mediators between genders in community and marriage disputes for example). So their identities include more than just sexual desire (don't you hate it when people assume or think that your sexual identity is EVERYTHING you are?). So today American Indians many times choose to reassert themselves into their communities as opposed to negating themselves from it.

The Third Gender idea tends to separate the experience of gender variance away from one's community. I understand too that communities that have internalized oppressive western notions of heteronormativity perpetuate this by marginalizing those who do not fall into those assumed norms. Also many American Indian communities have interalized these norms themselves and marginalize their own community members, so this is not to say that all Two-Spirited folx have it that easy (sometimes they leave the rez in fear of physical attacks). But the reason this topic interests me is two things:

One: Finding solutions by encouraging our communities to understand how heteronormativity is a tool of oppression that we have internalized among all the other stuff, which in turn usually corelate to heteronormativity itself (sexism, patriarchy, sexual assault and its assertion of power, ect). We should understand that discarding heteronormative ideals is a healing process, not just for those who exist outside of the western gender binary and those who feel sexual desire for not just/other than those of the opposite gender, but for the whole community. Perhaps if heteronormative values and messages were non-existent our youth would grow up with more options of self-identity and less emotional/psychological complexes.

Two: (Not that "one" doesn't apply to this group because it does.) The tendency for white Third Gender folx to pretend that because they don't identify within the gender binary that they qualify for exemption from white privilege. I don't see many Third Gender white folx doing much work around understanding and eradicating white supremacy/racism and white privilege. Instead of taking the idea of reasserting themselves into their communities and initiating healing processes, I see the tendency to disown and deny any historical access to white privilege and create a separate "race" of people they consider to be right alongside the historical exprience of people of color. Of course this does not apply to ALL Third Gender white folx (because I know some myself that are doing anti-white supremacy work) but I would like to see those numbers grow.

Well here is a link to one of the articles we read on Two-Spirit folx in American Indian communities.. Hope this topic gets folx thinking as well.. http://eres.sfsu.edu/eres/docs/20259/ais_420_f8_1.pdf

Tigera

1 comment:

vegankid said...

hello, tigera!

brownfemipower has mentioned you a few times now and when i saw your comment over on her blog, i had to come check you out. Glad i did! As a genderQueer transsexual, this definitely speaks to me. I just wanted to let you know that there are some of us White trans folks who are working to eradicate White Supremacy and other forms of oppression. I would agree that there aren't enough of us, and that is is vital for us White folks to talk more about our unearned privileges and the social systems that give us so much power over others despite our identies as gender-variant, which denies us power in the dominant culture. Thank you for bringing that up. Oh, in addition to me, i know that piny (of feministe) and jay sennet are two other White tranny bloggers who are dedicated to fighting White Supremacy (and i am so glad to have met them online).

One detail that i do take issue with is that us genderQueer folks are fighting for a third gender. I don't really want a thrid gender so much as i want a multiplicity of genders. I want people to be able to define their own gender without having to fit neatly into a box. One problem i've had with some trans folks is a dictation of what constitutes trans identity. As if someone isn't "trans enough" if they don't fit certain requirements. For me, that just perpetuates the same old fucked up pattern of not allowing others the right to self-determination and self-identity.

On the same page as you, however, i also notice A LOT of trans folks denying their male privileges or passing privileges. This is something i talk about from time to time, but i really think that trans folks really need to talk more honestly about our socialization processes. Too often we believe that we are working outside the dominant culture's socialization process just because we vocally and physically challenge it. That's bullshit.

Well, thanks! I look forward to reading more often.