lisa-frankPeople’s relationships with tools change over time.

I covered my laptop with a bunch of Lisa Frank stickers because it would make writing really bitter and angry shit very difficult when I have a kitten or a puppy that’s rainbow covered looking up at me. It would make it a little easier to lighten the fuck up. It’s somewhat more difficult with social networking. There’s constant immediacy. For all one-hundred and eighty Lisa Frank Stickers I have on this fucker, I’d need a ballpark twenty for every shitty thing on social media I read. Right now, I’m working towards changing the relationship in my own sphere of the world. Touching more bases with comic book press and creators, as the field of comics is quite chock full of all sorts of interesting personalities with all their own ideologies and perspectives. I saw one in particular that really inspired a strong response and boded ill for the previously espoused ideas.

After quoting that many times in rapid succession, my time with Twitter over the years tells me that Mr. Conway is trying to coax a response, given that he isn’t citing newer posts. The author, Ms. Houxbois, responds:

To tie this up, his response and the exchange (or rather, rote quoting from Mr Conway) seemed a microcosm of awful liberal responses to criticism with a sort of all or nothing attitude from the supposed ally.

Some time after the exchange, Emma wrote a rather scathing review of the work, taking the writer Paul Jenkins (The Sentry, Hellblazer) to task over the content of the creator-owned work ALTERS. The subject matter is as such: a closeted transgender woman is only presenting as female with her alter ego, a superhero with a really Roman Catholic inspired design with an impractical skirt. On its surface, that doesn’t seem far outside the realm of the exploratory nature of comics. Shit, Frank Miller spent a whole career putting swastikas on shit, and we all ate it up.

When writing this, my initial follow up to this image was then showing Mr. Conway’s fuckin’ boneheaded responses some more, but we’ve gotta change our collective relationship with how we look at these problems. Instead, let’s look at material conditions, as adult are wont to do.

As you might’ve guessed from this exchange, Ms. Houxbois is a trans woman. She has a stake in this that Gerry Conway does not have. If we get beyond these names and name association and the levels of trust people give said names it plays out like:
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cistran

It’s difficult nowadays to see beyond this hilariously awful discussion pattern when a cis dude talks to a woman, cis or trans. Even worse, there’s the cardinal sin of asking to tell our own stories on our own terms if we are the narrators. For clarity, you gotta look at other examples out in the wild. Grab some fucking Tums to brace for Piers Morgan and Janet Mock’s lovely exchange that is as pleasurable as a fucking frontal lobe lobotomy or having your fingernails ripped off with pliers.

It was 2014, love was free, and we didn’t know that Trump would actually be taken seriously by the white supremacist populace of America. Piers Morgan invites Janet Mock on to talk about her memoir Redefining Realness. In skateboarding terms, he then proceeds to faceplant and eat shit big time with a bizarre focus on Mock pre-transition. It’s probably best recounted in this Advocate piece by Parker Molloy. We’ll stick to the cited tweets.

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I’m immediately reminded of the age old “welcome to being a woman” platitude you’ll hear trotted out. She tells her story on air and questions Morgan within the framework of hard talk. Usually, when a cis media personality acts this way towards trans people, it’s chalked up to simply being hard talk or “asking the hard questions.” The sympathy is immediately supposed to be levied towards the person interviewing the freakish trans person. 

piers

What’s awful is, Janet Mock got off easier than most people in that scenario and actually took the boots to that awful man with his awful fucking accent. Piers Morgan sounds like he’s attended a Pickup Artist convention and got drunk during karaoke.

In comics, trans creatives are hidden like diamonds or pearls or packets of DMT. Right now they’re sought after as a commodity that everyone wants for free, or the lowest price humanly possible. It’s because right now we’re one of the leading voices of the national zeitgeist for unfortunate reasons. Black trans women get murdered on the reg. Cis scumbags strip our kids naked, and there’s a few new television programs with trans characters, as well as documentary programs.

With that level of exposure, it’s this writer’s opinion that what comes next is about who tells that story and who sets the terms for that story. It is not the Janet Mocks. It is the Piers Morgans.

They are everywhere, pig snouted and Legion. The trans narrative is one of who eats and who is eaten.  The Trans Body Is Consumed. 

The roles trans women are allowed to play on television all explicitly involve tragedy and destruction. You are either a street corner tranny, a shemale prisoner, or a he-she Best Friend That’s A Girl Now. You don’t get a say, because the producers and the television heads have to make shit that doesn’t challenge a largely boring heteronormative viewership. Even Transparent has awful heterosexual subplots, and there are a bunch of trans people on that. And Jeffrey Tambor. He’s a cis guy. Please remember this. I hate you.

It’s for everyone else to eat. We don’t live in a nation comprised wholly of trans people. So a lot of this stuff is made up for a great deal of the fucking idiots who are gonna watch this and then make the conscious decision that watching a movie makes them a scholar.

If there’s a body similar to yours that’s portrayed, but is a fantasy? It’s not a trans woman. It’s a futa, OR a trap! Everyone gets a say in who you are, how you should feel about something, but certainly not you.

To date, there’s only two transgender character design templates in comics:

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Very subtle, in good taste.

Compelling, Rich, and Deeply Humanizing

Compelling, Rich, and Deeply Humanizing

That’s it. Those are the only designs. Two cis dudes drew these and sat down and said, “Yeah this is the best I can do, where’s my Eisner, and can someone get me my fucking buffalo wings?”

Some of these same guys will go on until they’re blue in the face about equal rights for everybody. Hey, thanks for engendering a culture of really fucking awful expectations in two polar opposite directions, and how we should be thanking them for being brave enough to do that.

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i applaud your courage

The trans body? Is consumed. 

There are gonna be people that portray your experience in media without firsthand knowledge, simply playing at sensationalizing it. Think Eddie Redmanye turning Lili Elbe’s intriguing and uplifting life into a tawdry fucking cliche ridden sob story written by a cis gay dude.  

Food doesn’t get a choice in how it’s eaten or the ethics of how it’s consumed. The trans body is Christ-like, in this way. 

More black trans women are gonna be bludgeoned and stabbed to death, and Latina trans women will be set on fire. It’s cool though, we can’t attack allies. We can’t engage in hard talk. That’s the ghoulishness and danger of the classic liberal groupthink.

Recently, Bill Maher, a libertarian fucking plastic trash bag full of racist ghosts and skunk weed, went off about Democrats having to buck up and put off “boutique issues” like trans equality. We need our own “Will and Grace moment.” Every fucking white moron has to let this insipid sentiment leak out of their lungs and piss through their teeth. Dude, if you actually faced the risk of being raped and burned alive for the crimes of living and breathing air, you might feel a lot fucking differently.

The esteemed men of comics in general, to paint with a broad brush, oftentimes echo these fucking limp, ineffectual sentiments with the same veracity. I shame you. You are a shit ass, crawl underneath your boulder, you stinky little fuck. 

The mechanics of the discussion have to change. We don’t need a fucking Will and Grace moment. We need a watershed “Stop Setting Us On Fire” moment.

Nobody needs you to repeat the same fucking liberal bullshit platitudes. Oh “Hate is hate?” Yo, stupid is also fucking stupid. “Don’t Hurt Allies” or the famous “I’m still learning uwu.” Dude, if you’re still learning, shut the fuck up. Are you that craven, that deranged, that you just wanna be that fucking annoying contrarian in college that presses up his glasses and goes, “Well *snort* actually, Professor?” You wanna be that guy? Nobody wants to be that fucking guy. He doesn’t even wanna be that guy.

The ability to speak on trans issues also comes with the responsibility to shut up when you’re out of your depth. When people talk about their horrible little kids perpetrating mass shootings, I stay quiet, because I didn’t raise a little psychopath that just shoots his classmates. I’d be out of my depth.

It’s not incumbent upon us to teach you for free. I’m writing this because frankly, I’m volunteering. This is a public service announcement, and a lot of comics people are spineless nerds who are easy to cajole, coerce, and bully, given they can’t take basic criticism without going on about the plight of the greasy white man. I will yell at dumb thin-skinned white people until I’m a shrieking skull emanating a high pitched din as the sun burns out.

Unfortunately, nobody will pay any trans person to tell you the best way to shut your stupid fucking mouth, yet strangely every nerd-centric convention wants free consulting for sensitivity training and how to have safe spaces at said events. It would be easier to find a living and breathing unicorn than a job opportunity for people like us.

Job. With money. Sometimes I forget what a hundred dollar bill actually looks like. The 100 is orange now. Pretty fucked up.

Nobody actually wants the change or the safety,  beyond the platitudes. It’d mean telling people to shut the fuck up. Telling people to shut the fuck up about trans experiences when they’re people that don’t have trans experience would change the nature of how the body is consumed, and they want to eat it on their terms. The trans body is the consumed body.

It’s exhausting. The same mistakes are gonna play out over and over again. I’d vomit, but I’ve lost my gag reflex.