Sunday, June 17, 2007
Reviewed by Julie Foster
Sunday, June 17, 2007
A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
By Julia Serano
SEAL PRESS; 390 PAGES; $15.95 PAPERBACK
Femininity is under attack, and not just from the usual culprits. According to writer, biologist and spoken-word artist Julia Serano, in our society being feminine is still second rate. And in her erudite and entertaining analysis of the issue, nobody gets away without a "shame on you" for perpetrating these calcified notions of womanhood.
"This scapegoating of those who express femininity can be seen not only in the male-centered mainstream, but in the queer community, where 'effeminate' gay men have been accused of holding back the gay rights movement, and where femme dykes have been accused of being the 'Uncle Toms' of the lesbian movement. Even many feminists buy into traditionally sexist notions about femininity."
The seed for this noteworthy collection of essays, "Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity," took root after Serano attended Camp Trans in 2003. Serano, who lives in Oakland, explains that she had the good fortune to have transitioned in one of the "trans-friendliest places on the planet." Though the process wasn't easy, Serano was able to keep her wife, her friends, her housing and her job. Still, she was cognizant of the prejudice toward transsexual women. . . .
by Arsham Parsi
translated by Morteza
How would you like to introduce yourself?
My name on my ID is of no importance, but I'm known as Sayeh. I'm 26 years old and I'm a transsexual. I left Iran a year ago and I now live in Turkey. Could you please give me a tranquilizer please? I can't think clearly. I am angry, I'm confused.
Why are you angry?
I'm in a country which does not support me. It has attached the term 'refugee'on me. I neither know its language nor can understand its people and they can't understand me either. Being a trans here is similar to being a trans in Iran. Although its government might be free (democratic) but its people are the same sort of people (as in Iran). They do not care at all.
What is your problem at the moment?
I have a lot of problems. The day I got here, the Turkish police told me that I should not leave this place frequently because if people realize my problem they will beat me. Initially, I listened to their advice and did not go out. I did not have a job. I did not have a home. I suffered so much. Now they are asking me for a residency fee. Everything about Turkey is difficult. You are a refugee. Nobody supports you financially and you frequently need to go to the police and give signatures. You are not a citizen and you can't even make (official) complaints about anyone. I was beaten severely by some drunk Iranian men. I went to the police to file a complaint about them. I was told that we (the men and I) are all Iranians and if I file a complaint there will be headaches (complications) for all of us. I was threatened to death and was beaten but I couldn't complain about the incident. They told me that they will cut my throat.
The Iranian refugees did?
Yes. The police can not do anything to them because they are refugees here.They told me that they will cut my throat and kill me. I can't leave the house. I have financial problems. I don't have money to buy hormones. My body needs hormones. I don't have male hormones. When I get sick I can't go to the hospital. I don't have money to go to Ankara. I had problems finding a place to live and I didn't know where to sleep. Everyone says that it is not their problem. Then for what reason am I here? The Iranian government is very similar to you (the Turkish government). They restrict the places you can go. Even when you have your identification card on you, they still don't let you go to certain places. It is true that I'm a refugee but I need people/the society to understand me. Is it possible for one to not leave his/her living place just because she has been informed by the police that she might get beaten? A person needs to feel that there are people who might be willing to help her/him. There were certain constraints in Iran and there are some different constraints here. I believe that a fundamentalist or a Muslim country will never be able to deal with issues like this (transsexuality). . . .
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Four years after UCSF officials successfully defended the controversial work of an AIDS researcher under attack by a Republican-controlled Congress, the university is ousting the veteran professor, leaving up to $1 million in his grant money unspent and the future of HIV prevention programs for transgender people in doubt.
Tooru Nemoto, 56, is a Japanese citizen and longtime U.S. resident. He has been studying Asian and transgender AIDS issues for much of his 16-year career at UCSF, and he charges that the university's decision not to renew his contract is motivated by racial prejudice, and lack of concern about his transgender clientele. . . .