writer, performer and activist Julia Serano's blog! most posts will focus on gender & sexuality; trans, queer & feminist politics; music & performance; and other stuff that interests or concerns me. find out more about my various creative endeavors at juliaserano.com
So this morning I sent out my monthly(ish) email update, it has info about my Portland & Seattle book readings this week, links to interviews, reviews, excerpts from my new book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive, a World AIDS Day reading I am in, and more!
So in an earlier post, I discussed the concept of myriad double standards that I forward in Excluded. The idea
is quite simple: Generally within feminism and queer activism, we have a fixed
idea of the system that we are challenging—e.g., the patriarchy,
heteronormativity, the gender binary, kyriarchy, and so on. Being fixed models,
each of these acknowledges certain forms of sexism and marginalization while
overlooking or dismissing others. The forms of sexism and marginalization that
are ignored tend to become points of exclusion—for instance, if your concept of
“patriarchy” does not include transphobia/cissexism, then your movement will
exclude trans people; if your concept of “the gender binary” does not include biphobia/monosexism, then your movement will exclude bisexuals. And so on.
So in Excluded, I
introduce the term “gender artifactualism” to describe, “the tendency to conceptualize and depict
gender as being primarily or entirely a cultural artifact.”[p.117] Gender
artifactualist viewpoints are pervasive within feminist and queer activism, and
within the academic fields of Women’s/Gender Studies, Queer Theory, Sociology, certain
subfields of Psychology, and in the Humanities more generally.
[note added November, 2016: This essay now appears as a chapter in my third book Outspoken: A Decade of Transgender Activism and Trans Feminism] Within the activist circles I run in, I routinely hear
people accuse others of appropriation,
or claim that certain behaviors or endeavors are appropriative. I myself have written about how certain people
(e.g., cisgender academics and media producers) sometimes appropriate transgender
identities and experiences (discussed more below). So I am certainly
sympathetic to the concept.
At the same time, however, I have seen the concept of
appropriation used (or misused) in order to undermine marginalized groups as
well. For instance, cisgender feminists have long accused trans women of “appropriating female dress” or “appropriating women’s identities”—indeed, if you click
the link you will see that this was part of the justification for why Sylvia
Rivera was kicked off the stage at a 1973 Pride rally in New York City. On
Cathy Brennan’s anti-trans-dyke website “Pretendbians” (which I refuse to link
to), the byline at the top of the webpage says: “We don't hate you, we hate
appropriation”—the implication being that trans women cannot ever be actual
lesbians, but rather we can only appropriate lesbian identities and culture.
So in the last few days, I've sent out news/invites to my new book release and tour to my email list and Twitter & Facebook accounts. For those who aren't "socially connected" to me in those ways, all the pertinent info is listed here. (and btw, if you want to join my email list, you can do so here.)
So last week, my new book,
Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive,
was reviewed in Publisher's Weekly - you can read the review here.
It is generally positive and I am pretty happy with it! However, there is one
line in the review that I feel misconstrues what I was trying to say in the
book. Namely, the reviewer describes my supposed ‘denial of the existence of a
“gender system”’ and how it ‘flies in the face of much social research.’
I could imagine that people
who read that review without having read the whole book might presume that I am
denying that gender norms, assumptions, stereotypes, etc., often work together
in a coordinated way to legitimize certain people but not others. Or that I am
denying that gender-based oppression is institutionalized and entrenched in our
culture. I can assure you that I do not deny any of these things.
First, I have a brand new email list! If you sign up for it, you will receive monthly(ish) updates about all my upcoming performances and speaking events, newly released books, articles, music, and other projects. No spam, I promise.
While feminist and queer/LGBTQIA+ movements are designed to challenge sexism, they often simultaneously police gender and sexuality—sometimes just as fiercely as the straight-male-centric mainstream does. Here, acclaimed feminist and queer activist Julia Serano chronicles this problem of exclusion within these movements. She advocates for a more holistic approach to fighting sexism that avoids these pitfalls, and offers new ways of thinking about gender, sexuality, and sexism that foster inclusivity rather than exclusivity.
Note added 12-18-13: The following piece was one that I hastily wrote and blog-published back in July. It was meant to critique a growing tendency among *some* trans people to reduce all experiences of gender and sexism down to a singular cis-versus-trans axis. As with cis feminists who view the world solely through a male-versus-female mindset, or cis gay men and lesbians who reduce everything down to a heterosexual-versus-homosexual mindset, such singular-axis views can (and often do) erase many people's experiences with marginalization. (I discuss this phenomenon at great length in Excluded.)
Be sure to buy tickets soon for Girl Talk's big 5th anniversary show, which takes place next Thursday, June 27th, in San Francisco!
As some of you know, Girl Talk is a (primarily) spoken word show that fosters dialogue about the many relationships (partners, lovers, friends, & allies) shared by queer trans women, queer cis women, and genderqueer folks (full description below). It is co-curated by myself, Gina de Vries and Elena Rose. This year's cast includes the three of us, plus Dominika Bednarska, DavEnd, Dr. Carol Queen, Jos Truitt, and Tara Hardy!
Speaking thereof, I will be participating in two Pride month events:
1) Thursday, June 27th will be Girl Talk's big 5 year anniversary show! For those unfamiliar with the show, it is an annual spoken word show (with some music and other art/performances) designed to foster dialogue about the many relationships (partners, lovers, friends, & allies) shared by queer trans women, queer cis women, and genderqueer folks.
OK, so I deleted the original post that used to reside here. It was a desperate attempt on my part to crowdsource contacting a publisher about a permissions request.
For those of you who have never attempted to contact a large publisher about using a brief excerpt of their work, it can be harrowing. Usually they have webforms asking for a ton of information, or an email address for you to submit your request to, but with no other way of contacting them in person (e.g., a phone number). It's a lot like applying for jobs, except that instead of getting employment, you get permission to use a quote.
I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now, as an explanation and reference for what I’ve been calling FAAB-mentality (described below). I originally wrote and performed this piece for the fourth annual installment ofGirl Talk: A Cis and Trans Woman Dialogue in March 2012. Post-note 3-8-13: I added a few clarifying notes at the end of the piece.
I read blogs. And an unfortunate consequence of reading blogs is that sometimes you stumble upon statements that make you upset. Lately, I’ve been dwelling over one single sentence from a blog post that I read a few months ago. The author was a femme-identified cis woman who described her identity this way:
Hey folks, for those who are (relatively) local, I will be giving a presentation at Stanford University tomorrow (Jan. 15th)! It is a variant of my "Putting the Feminine Back into Feminism" talk, with some bonus spoken word. All the details can be found at this website, and are also pasted below...