Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Spirit and The Flesh

A real dialogue on trans issues

Intolerant film "The Gendercator" brought out the best in community response

By Zak Szymanski

OPINION What I love about the queers in this town is just how messy and offensive we allow one another to be in our unified goal of relentlessly trying to strengthen our community. In some circles, the evolution of dyke space into a multigender population of transsexuals, genderqueers, femmes, tg-butches, bisexuals, lesbians, and men of all birth sexes has led to tension about queer visibility and discussions about misogyny, privilege, and appropriation. I am frequently pissed but never lacking for a group of people who will continue to engage the issues and attempt imperfect solutions no matter how hurt they have become in the process.

And yet, during Pride season there will be countless potentially offensive voices we will not hear. The ex-gay and right-wing Christian movements — arguably homosexual communities in their own right — will not be given unchallenged space at our events, and there won't be an uproar that these views should be included for the purpose of "fostering dialogue." As many journalists and artists can attest, ensuring the free exchange of ideas often means knowing what to leave out.

Still, it was predictable that supporters of lesbian director Catherine Crouch's film The Gendercator would claim censorship and blame transgender community allies for "silencing dialogue" when the Frameline International LGBT Film Festival decided last month to pull this film from its June schedule. It was a setup; victims could either remain silent during an attack or speak up and "prove" that they have malicious intentions to take over the world.

For those unfamiliar with The Gendercator, a quick look at Crouch's film summary and deliberately defamatory director's note says it all: Trans people are the product of "distorted cultural norms" who uphold antigay values and change their sex "instead of working to change the world." Male-identified trans people are altered lesbians, despite the fact that many have never held that identity. And not even the femme dykes are safe, considering Crouch's tomboy-or-else definition of acceptable queerdom.

Crouch says the film comes from her anxiety about what she perceives as the loss of gender-variant women and the rise of binary gender norms. But the film itself strikes a different note, depicting trans bodies as sci-fi horrors and trans characters as coercive perpetrators of nonconsensual body invasions — all the familiar rhetoric used to justify antitrans violence and deny basic civil rights. . . .

India: A boon to members of third sex

A boon to members of third sex

MADURAI: Now, transgenders can be allowed entry into co-educational colleges, with the Higher Education department expected to issue an order for the same within a week.

Educationalists and the student community here have appreciated the move, as it could pave the way assimilating members of the third sex into society.

According to educationalists, the decision to provide a third entry for transgenders while specifying the sex of the candidate on the college application forms is revolutionary.

"They are like any other human beings. Giving their sexual identity an official recognition will help people understand them better," said P Marthamuthu, Vice-Chancellor, Madurai Kamaraj University.

"Though their physical appearance and behavioural patterns are different from those of other sexes, the transgenders are in no way less competent in the knowledge sphere," he added.

R Raja Govindasamy, Principalin- charge, Thiagarajar College, said that the Government could provide reservation benefits to encourage them to pursue their education.

They might face discrimination at the initial stage, he said, adding that regular counselling for both transgenders and other students could bridge the psychological gap between them. . . .

Tattle | Kit Kat Dolls' 'talent' not welcome on this show

By Howard Gensler

At least they were the front-runners until Friday. That's when the Dolls got the boot after News of the World reported three of them actually were prostitutes. The problem arose when the group's transvestite lead singer Vanilla Lush (aka Cindy) invited a News of the World reporter up to the group's hotel room for a little pay-for-play. "I can only see you for a short time," "Cindy" said. "It's going to cost you £1,000 in cash if you want to (bleep) me tonight darling. I have to be up early because I'm performing live tomorrow . . . in the semis of 'Britain's Got Talent.'

Who knew the talent?

News of the World also reported transvestite band mate Alekssandra offered "her"-self for spanking and whipping and band mate Toni (aka Eva) claimed on the Internet to be an "active pre-op transsexual with very soft skin and natural pert breasts."

The Kit Kat Dolls last wowed the nation and judges Simon "the Scowl" Cowell, Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden with their version of "Don't Cha" by The Pussycat Dolls, who merely writhe like prostitutes. After that performance, Cowell said, "Great act. Love the attitude!"

He was not so happy when he learned of the Dolls' second jobs.

"[Simon] considers it a serious blow to the integrity of the contest," said an insider. It was the show's second scandal. Earlier an impressionist quit after he was found to be on Britain's Sex Offenders' Register.