Sunday, January 26, 2014

Transgender media discourse blues

The complete Dr. V response archive (for now)
Second, while I agree with much of what is written below, I think a big point is being missed here about journalistic responsibility. I haven’t seen it expressed yet, anyhow.

It’s pretty simple: I can totally understand Hannan not knowing anything about the transgender community. Journalists regularly face subject matters about which they possess little to no background knowledge. Navigating that material and emerging on the other side with a well-written, well-researched story is a good portion of what we do every day.

However, you have to know your blind spots. It should not have mattered that Hannan and the Grantland team did not know anything about transgender issues. It should have only mattered that they knew that they didn’t know anything about transgender issues. When that happens as a journalist, you do your due diligence. You cover your ass. You find someone who knows what you don’t, and you make damn sure that by the time you publish your story, you’ve filled in the gaps in your knowledge.
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues Pitchfork review
But identity is a different thing entirely—it's what houses ideology, where ideology goes to gather agency and dig roots. In a rare act, Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! draw a hard line between these concepts with their sixth studio album Transgender Dysphoria Blues. It’s almost kismet for a band who’s been lambasted for not committing to their ideologies to make an album about a real identity crisis. Grace came out as transgender in 2012, and started writing these songs around that period. They were built out from raw acoustic folk punk into 10 songs of slapdash glam punk that carry great urgency, even those songs that don’t directly concern Grace’s journey. She makes all that cis punk sound limp in comparison.
Transgender student rights law triggers sharp divide
Backers of the referendum campaign, who call themselves Privacy for All Students, label Ammiano's measure the "Coed Restroom Bill" and say it enables deluded or deceptive boys to infiltrate school facilities reserved for girls.

"It allows a boy to play on a girl's team ... based on his mental dysphoria of thinking of himself as a girl," said Dacus, whose organization is urging parents to tell their local schools they want their children's privacy protected.

Frank Schubert, who led the 2008 initiative campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California and is in line to manage the referendum campaign if it makes the ballot, put it more bluntly in a blog in August after Gov. Jerry Brown signed Ammiano's bill. 
"There is no such thing as 'gender identity' any more than there is 'ethnic identity.' There is only gender," which is fixed at birth, Schubert wrote.
After 20 years, transgender inmate is a step closer to surgery
Ever since she was convicted of a brutal murder in 1992, Michelle Kosilek has known that she'd be stuck in prison for the rest of her life.

That she can live with. The harder part was feeling she was stuck for life in the wrong body, says her attorney, Joseph Sulman.

"It's horrible," Sulman says. "I don't like to use the word 'torture,' but it's, you know, emotional claustrophobia and ... constant anxiety."
Is Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club” our era’s Mammy in GWTW — or not?
Perhaps Rayon is really our era’s equivalent of Mammy in GONE WITH THE WIND. Mammy was a beautifully acted, lovingly created stereotype that was inadvertently but inevitably condescending, which people at the time could not recognize but that we can see with embarrassed immediacy.

I’m not sure. I’m not even sure it matters. Hattie McDaniel — who won the supporting actress Oscar — and Jared Leto were both impeccable in their performances, and I think Rayon, to the extent that Rayon is in the public consciousness, is probably a good thing. Then again, I suspect that critics would have said the same for Mammy in 1939.
On Jared Leto and Dallas Buyers Club
Recently, on the nationally television Golden Globe Awards, Jared Leto gave an acceptance speech when he was blessed enough to be honored for his performance in Dallas Buyer's Club. He spoke about shaving his legs, he spoke about his backside in his bikini, and he spoke about a Brazilian wax he never got because it seemed to be too much trouble. What he didn't speak about was the transgender woman he played, or the millions of other transgender people in the audience, or the hundreds of millions of people around the world who are living with and dying from the AIDS virus.

What Mr. Leto did was try desperately to distance himself from the person he portrayed. He did not want it to be known that he had anything in common with Rayon. There were absolutely no similarities, and so consequently, he had no responsibility. He owed nothing to no one. After all, that wasn't him. It was someone else. What Mr. Leto doesn't seem to quite grasp yet, is that there is no such thing as character. It doesn't exist. When you rise up to the challenges of bringing an imaginary circumstance given to you by an author to life by being who you are authentically, you don't do it by becoming someone else. No one ever does that. I've been in the theatre since 1968, and never once have I seen an actor sit backstage smoking while his Character goes on to give a performance. If that's happening to someone, they are either lying, or they need medication.

So Mr. Leto's attempts at trying to escape the part of himself he revealed on screen, not only failed, they were dangerous and selfish.

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