Friday, June 18, 2010

I Need Some Advice:Trans Women That Are Parents

I am currently working on a very large project. I am working very hard to make it as inclusive as possible, because I find that when books about marginalized women are written, certain women become invisible.  When I began my first attempt at research, I found much to my surprise that there was only one book written by a trans woman.  All of the movies I have seen on the subject reflect a caricature, rather than a real person.
This presents quite the quandary. 

I have reached out on twitter, and so far two trans women have agreed to speak to me, but I found myself thinking about the cisgender privilege that I have.  If there are not already a lot of books on the topic of trans women that are parents, what business do I have being one of the first people to write about this publicly?  Far too often cis people are asked to speak about or for trans people, as though they don't have their own voice and this is an act of erasure and bigotry.

So, this clearly leaves me in an incredible bind.  Do I continue to do the research and speak to trans women, writing an account based in the stories that they tell me, or do I drop the subject entirely and narrow my focus for fear of claiming expert status in a group I don't belong to?   When I first started this project, this was not a dilemma  that I expected to cross.  I imagined writing a truly intersectional piece, that focused on my commitment to ensure equal representation of all women.

I know that when I call out privileged writers for their exclusion, it is based in the fact that marginalized people have long written about their various experiences, and to find this truth challenged within my own work was startling to me.  Even if I push forward and include trans women in this piece, from the lack of information out there, it is clear that this is a subject matter that should be extensively covered.  Can the two or three chapters that I am planning really offer the substantive comment that is required?  Is some really better than none at all, when some will most definitely be infused with my cisgender privilege?

I wrote this post to ask for your input directly.  If you know of any books or documentaries on the subject of trans women that are parenting, I would really appreciate it if you would leave me a link or a name in the comment section.  The last thing that I want to do is speak for a community that I don't belong to, or even presume that I have that right to speak at all considering that there are so few publications by trans women themselves.  I find that sometimes one has no choice but to ask questions, and therefore; I  am publicly asking what approach would be the most acceptable?  Should I attempt to write about trans women and parenting, or leave this issue alone until trans women have spoken for themselves in multiple volumes?