by Jazmine Jagger
by Jazmine Jagger
The year of 2017 did not get off to the best of starts for trans and gender nonconforming people. 2017 wasn’t even five days old when a dangerously savage smear campaign raised its head from the bowels of the internet. It’s not the typical kind of trolling trans people have experienced before. It’s dangerously different.
Trigger warnings for child sexual abuse, pedophilia normalization, gaslighting, transmisogyny, and gender misappropriation.
With a title like that, you already know that what I’m about to reveal to you, Dear Reader, is not something I easily admit. It’s a confession of sorts. You see, I wouldn’t wish being transgender on anyone.
And I mean anyone.
Being transgender means showing the world who you are on the inside, in spite (and because) of the gender of the shell you have. Some trans folks know at a very young age; some discover later on; some are neither male, nor female; some are both; some ignore gender altogether. But there is one constant: We all spend an incredible amount of time considering gender.
Why is my body this way?
Why can’t I wear what I want?
But I’m not a (boy/girl)!
These are things we as trans people ponder. We dive into the gender spectrum and try to find our color in it. And it’s never what our doctors and parents declared on our birthdays. We struggle to find out why we’re so unlike the alleged members of our “own sex”. We struggle to discover the roots of kinks we discover later in life. We don’t wonder who we are.
We know who we are. We wonder why we are this way.
Something just doesn’t fit. Or it fits a different way. Or maybe it can be redesigned to fit.
There are those who would accuse any trans person as trying to redesign themselves, perhaps even for nefarious reasons. Some would claim trans people “try to remake God’s design” and are therefore abominations. Others may say “live and let live” yet turn a blind eye to the rampant persecution of trans people by those who feel our very existence is a threat.
We threaten it all.
We threaten the patriarchy. We threaten the binary concept of gender. We’re willing to give up privilege, and live with the consequences. Many of us turn to sex work just to survive. Most of us know the risks before we come out. We could literally lose everything simply to be who we are. So why the fuck would anyone transition?
There is only one answer: We cannot accept that society reduced who we are when it stapled an M or an F to us at birth. We know ourselves better than those who would force such roles upon us. We transcend our labels. We know that version of us isn’t true. For this, we’re perceived as a threat. But this piece wasn’t going to be about the binary, or the gender spectrum, or anything political. It was about a secret. My secret.
My secret is that I wish I didn’t ponder such things; that I didn’t question gender; that I could just be someone who accepted the M or F without further consideration.
I wish I could have been born cis.
But I’m happy that I was born trans.
I’ve had some issues lately that have prevented me from interviewing as often as I’d like to, including being without a computer for several months. A more common issue has been having my not having a consistent internet connection. To guarantee a consistent connection, I’ve set up a Patreon account located here. I have set the monthly goal for the cost of my connection, but you can donate any amount monthly to help keep TransEthics operating. Please visit the page for reward information.
I’ve been nominated for Best Internet Personality in the 2016 Transgender Erotica Awards!
Honestly, I’d been dreading watching Jeffrey Tambor’s Emmy acceptance speech. Not because I didn’t enjoy Amazon’s production Transparent, but because of the standard in Hollywood which consistently gives roles of trasnsgender women to cisgender men. I understand that they needed a “big name” to try to attract viewers, but many in the transgender community are simply fed up with this practice.
That being said, I seriously almost didn’t make it past Jimmy Kimmel’s introduction. I found his eating of the card and implication that he could then arbitrarily choose whomever he wanted to win unfunny and distasteful. It seemed to de-legitimize the award itself. Furthermore, I was more than a little angry about his remark that maybe “it’s time a woman won this (the Best Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy).” Continue reading
Most of you have probably noticed that I haven’t posted an interview since early July. Shortly after that, I began writing articles for TransGlobal Magazine, so I put TransEthics on the back burner for a while. Then it happened: I had a complete breakdown. For reasons I shan’t fully disclose, my PTSD got the best of me. There was one week when I did little but cry and sleep. I just couldn’t function at all. It was a beautiful Summer weather-wise, but in my world it was a long, dark, wet winter. I couldn’t stop it. Dysphoria had its way with me, and I could do very little.
Then just I’m coming out of this dark period, my roommate informs me that we’ve been served with an eviction notice. I’m going to be homeless soon. A friend of mine has offered me a place in Virginia. The hardest part will be getting there, Car needs new tires (especially since there’s a good chance of encountering snow in the passes) and gas isn’t cheap for a cross-country trip in a 20 year-old car. A GoFundMe page has been set up and I hope to get what I need to avoid becoming another homeless trans woman.
So to you, my loyal readers, I apologize for not having my shit together. I’ve been trying to be active on Twitter (@TransEthics), but my personal issues have been unwilling to go away. I’m going to pick up this project again once I get settled in Virginia. Too many important things have been happening outside the problems in my mind for this project to fade away. I will be back interviewing soon. I just need a little more time.
Please consider making a donation (either via this page, or the GoFundMe) so I can get to where I need to be, and then I can begin interviewing all those wonderful trans people again. No amount is too small.
Some of you wanted to know more about me. Some of you have even requested that I be interviewed.
Well, I was! Here’s my podcast interview with Kodanonymous!
Some of my followers on Twitter actually want to know more about me: The woman who started TransEthics. One even asked me “When did you realize that you are actually a girl?” That is an excellent question. And since you asked, I’ll lead you on my journey of self-discovery, and finally self-acceptance.
In hindsight, I’ve known since about 3 or 4. I remember wanting my Mom not to cut my hair. (She did anyway… once I even asked if she could put it in pig-tails, but it was too short.) When growing up, doing “boy stuff” always felt wrong to me. I was always very sensitive and emotional. I wasn’t into sports, hated fishing, and the like. Even more I *hated* boy clothes. I’d always wanted to wear dresses and such, and started to do so secretly at about age 7. Continue reading
Considering the interviews I have done so far, it’s clear that most humans are highly sexual creatures. The problem is over the centuries we have been told to repress these feelings, and that they are “wrong” — largely due to what many would claim are archaic monotheistic beliefs. In many ways, the repression of our sexual nature as humans is similar to repressing ones’ feelings when it comes to being transgender.
Society looks at trans people through very strict gender stereotypes: a binary male/female. Anyone having feelings that don’t coincide with one’s assigned birth gender is categorized as a “misfit”, a “freak”, or even in some extreme cases, an “abomination”. So a lot of trans women repress these feelings, often for self-preservation. But just like repressing the sexual nature of humans, it only works for so long.
In the 21st Century, there has been a revolution surrounding transgender people. And like the Trans Women of Color who started the Stonewall Riots, trans people are giving society the finger and being who they truly are. This has not occurred without pushback, however. Trans people are still excluded from equal rights laws and protections that are given to other minorities simply because our gender does not coincide with what society would push onto us.
Trans women are often rejected by their families when they come out. There are people who paint us in an extremely negative light, and even lie about us to perpetuate fear and the idea that “something is wrong” with us. The media then frequently sensationalizes us for a profit. The reality is that hormones are not cheap. Neither are the surgeries some (if not many) of us desire. The stigma of being trans is so much larger than the stigma surrounding sex, and by extension sex work.
It is important to mention that not all trans women have done sex work. However as Janet Mock pointed out in her book Redefining Realness it is an option many trans women turn to in order to afford the costs of transition, if for no other reason than the discrimination and stigma that surrounds being a trans woman makes it difficult to find employment.
Coupled with the stigma behind being transgender, and the perpetuation of negative imagery coming from both the Christian right and radical feminists, many trans women are unable to find employment outside the sex work industry. As Ada Black pointed out in her recent interview, there are trans women who turn to sex work just to be able to afford the basic necessities of life, stating that that it is “heartbreaking”.
So how can we destigmatize sex work? There has been and will always be a demand for it, with humans being sexual creatures. Since sex sells, what’s wrong with buying it? Isn’t supply and demand a fundamental economic factor? If you’re fulfilling a need that can’t be met elsewhere, isn’t that ethical? And as long as capitalism is forcing trans women to pay through the nose for hormones and surgeries, why shouldn’t we use the sex industry as a source for the money we will need? That’s ethical. Isn’t it?