I don’t understand why people obsess over biological sex so much,
when cyborg sex is way cooler.
(It’s also the only thing that has real binary involved.)
The Start-to-Hate Review System
with special guest Black Dahlia Parton
The year 2000 carried with it so much promise: A brighter future, the end of the world as we know it, and widespread panic as people realized they will eventually have to differentiate between 1920 and 2020. Newspapers printed the last original Peanuts comic strip, the first long-term crew arrived at the International Space Station, and in the dark recesses of the fledgling internet, a site called Old Man Murray published the Crate Review System, a satirical video game review article.
The Crate Review System, also known as “Start-to-Crate”, made light of the most aggravating and persistent stain in the rich tapestry of video games: the ubiquitous crate. Every game has them, and to the sophisticated gamer, they stick out like a sore thumb. The Start-to-Crate system rated games based on how long it took for the player to find a crate. The longer it took, the better the game.
I had no interest in Peanuts at the time and didn’t give a hoot about the ISS, but I was a hardcore gamer and loved this article. Inspired by this jab at a beloved medium, I now propose the Start to Hate Review System. The concept is simple: Rate media based on how long it takes to encounter something bigoted. The longer it takes, the better the media. No surprise, the Crate Review System itself doesn’t fare well.
Want to know (part of) why trans women weren’t engaged in the early AIDS activism movement? Think about it. Take, for example, activist Vito Russo who was a major part of ACT UP NYC. He was also the guy who tried to physically prevent groundbreaking trans activist Sylvia Rivera from speaking at Gay Pride in, I think, 1973.
Early AIDS activism had its base in gay organizations, which by the early 1980s, when the epidemic began, had already pushed out all of the trans women who had helped found those organizations. The gay men had pushed out trans women/drag queens for being too anti-assimilationist, and lesbians had spent most of the 1970s aggressively attacking trans women’s existence through separatist lesbian radical feminist politics. Again, Sylvia Rivera and the New York scene are the perfect example, especially given that we can say with surety that NYC was the epicentre of AIDS activism during the plague years.
If we look to Canada, we can see evidence that the situation was the same here in 1993 through the first issue of Xanthra Phillipa MacKay and Mirha-Soleil Ross’ (writing under the pseudonym Jeanne B.) Gendertrash From Hell zine. In this zine, one art piece by Xanthra reads:
WHEN DO WE
IS KILLING US
This is followed by a list of “What we have” vs. “What we need” which, under the “What we have” column, includes the lines “no studies of our own, no programs of our own, no hospices of our own, no support groups of our own.” (As an aside, the back cover also reads “Cause we’re just as queer as dykes and fags, maybe even more so!”)
The fact that Xanthra and Mirha-Soleil were talking about this in 1993, 11 years after the beginning of the Plague, nearing the end of what is termed the Plague Years, is extremely telling of the lack of interaction between the mainstream HIV/AIDS movement (primarily driven by gay cis men) and the trans community (at the time primarily lead by sex working trans women).
These are some of the thoughts swirling around my head these days. Maybe I’ll turn this into a full-length article for PrettyQueer.com or something.
It’s Not What You’re Told, It’s What You Listen To: Internalized Heterosexism
I keep telling myself that I should be attracted to guys, and that the only reason I’m not is because of my history. Then I talk to other survivors who are straight women or gay men and who still date men, and their perspective is very different. I think I need to just accept that I’m not interested in dating men. I’m only rarely sexually interested in them. I’m maybe 90% interested in women and feminine-spectrum nonbinary people, and then it tapers off quickly the more masculine things get. Basically, I round down to being a lesbian.
The ciscentric narrative thinks that I should be conflicted over having an attraction to men, but even before transition I was struggling with my attraction to other women. I had a brief window where I was in denial about everything–my sexual identity, my orientation, and sex in general–and during that phase I did struggle with being interested in guys, but that was in addition to repressing everything else as well. The majority of my time has been spent dating other girls, feeling weird about it, and not understanding why.
I get surprised that I’m insecure about being a lesbian, because of that ciscentric narrative. It’s like that quote I recently reblogged that ends with, “In that moment, I forgot I exist”. Cisnormativity says that I should have approached sex “as a guy” first, which means I might feel insecure being a gay guy but dating women should feel natural and acceptable, because socialization. But that’s not how it worked for me. I did have crushes on guys growing up, and I did feel insecure about them, but that insecurity is filed under the same trepidation I had about expressing my femininity and my femaleness. The shame I felt for being a lesbian goes deeper. My attraction to guys was shameful only externally, it was about how other people (incorrectly) saw me. The stigma I felt for my attraction to girls affected me on a much deeper level. It made me feel dirty to my core.