HE always-awesome Susan Stryker weighs into the ENDA ‘debate’. Personally, I’m just a wee bit taken with her refusal to bow to the ‘don’t use academic terms’ rule that seems to rule public debate these days:
Gender and sexuality are like two lines intersecting on a graph, and trying to make them parallel undoes the very notion of homo-, hetero- or bisexuality. Now here’s the rub — but it requires another of those fancy words my academic colleagues and I like to throw around: heteronormativity [<—–see? look! There it is!!], the idea that whatever straight people do is really what’s what, and that whatever anybody else does is deviant to some degree. To want to have sex with somebody of the same gender violates heteronormative expectations of gender behavior as much as it does heteronormative expectations of sexual behavior. Simply put: Real men don’t suck cock. Nor do they use the word “fabulous” when describing a pair of women’s shoes. Nor do they keep a picture of their husband pinned to the wall of their office cubicle. All of the above violates conventional or stereotypical expectations of proper masculine gender, and as Lambda Legal‘s preliminary analysis of ENDA makes clear, none would be protected under the rubric of sexual orientation alone. It’s OK to be gay, in other words, just so long as you don’t act like a fag.
I’m also impressed, counter to a whole lot of commenters, that she refused to ‘play nice.’ It would have been easy to write the nice, polite, reasonable defense but instead her response shows that the transphobia being articulated (by Aravois amongst others) is far from ‘nice’ and far from ‘reasonable, but can be figured as such because it’s so mainstream. Her delightfully sharp tone can only be configured as ‘snarkiness,’ whilst his is not, because the context is already transphobic.
… and all of that is quite aside from the headiness of reading her fierce, articulate and incisive defense of keeping the T in GLBT and refusing to cede ground to those who seek to slice and dice a movement that’s (perhaps not always, but often) been about protecting difference, on the grounds of them being just far too different. There’s something truly heinous about claiming similarity to and therefore legitimacy from the mainstream on the basis of not being as different (or abnormal, apparently, say some of the comments) as they are, because look at how weird and wacky they are. It’s the guilt and innocence logic at work again, this time to split a movement that never needed to be premised on sameness anyway. And it never ceases to horrify.