Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A mission statement of sorts

Biyuti is a bakla Filipina living on stolen Algonquin land. He works to sustain and increase the biyuti of the world through decolonization and through her explorations of the intersections of race with queerness/gender. She also blogs at The Biyuti Collective and you can find her on Twitter: @JustBiyuti 

I mentioned a few posts back that I’d tried engaging the (white) trans* community and that just one week of this utterly exhausted me. The flip side of this are the wonderful TPoC I’ve been interacting with, learning from, and having some great conversations about gender.

These interactions give me so much life because they, unlike the white trans* conversations/interactions I’ve had, make me feel less alone in my struggle to understand and articulate my gender identity.

But it also so aptly demonstrates why the discourse on gender, especially the trans* discourse, so desperately needs to be decolonized. Because too many people of colour are trying to hard to fit into white Euro-American gender roles and identities.

And this failure to fit in and see narratives that we can identify with is so incredibly damaging, because we will never be as authentic as the people for whom the identities and discourse were constructed to represent. We will never find a place in a community that has defined itself and structured itself on the very basic premise of our exclusion and invisibility.

Moreover, seeking to reform or try to create a more ‘inclusive’ trans discourse invariably ends up centering the white trans* person because it places them as the gatekeepers to the community. And this is most certainly a role they seem happy to play. Because every time they call someone out using their construction of the gender discourse, they re-enforce their authority on and their supremacy of this discourse.

My previous posts, to a certain extent, have been piece-by-piece highlighting various aspects of gender theory and trans* discourse that either fail to hold true in non-white Euro-American contexts or, in those contexts, end up excluding or erasing people who fail to meet those standards.

To a certain extent, I can see the parallels with feminism and Womanism. Womanists, from what I’ve been able to tell, are not seeking inclusion in the feminist movement, but are rather having their own movement so that they can work towards their own liberation. This is, from what I can see of feminism, really the only sensible way forward. Because who would want to keep company with radfems? Or to try to seek inclusion in a movement that still supports and validates them?

Us gender variant people of colour need something like Womanism for gender. Not something exclusive of Womanism or in protest, but we need to create a discourse that will centre us and our needs. That will give us space to articulate our narratives, our identities, our selves.

That will actually work towards our liberation and our needs. That will not erase our identities as people of colour and that will fundamentally recognize our need to stand in solidarity with cis people of colour.

Because I do not see this happening with the trans* movement. Not when I can see that many of the active participants have yet to even move past critical race kindergarten.