[-empyre-] (no subject)

Rian Ciela Visscher Hammond rian.ciela.viss at gmail.com
Fri Sep 13 12:41:03 AEST 2019

Echoing Jaimes' sentiments, this is my first time posting in this listserve
(thnx Shu Lea for the invite) and I am also so warmed to see this
discussion. (also, hi Jaimes! I am recognizing your name from your BMA
exhibit queer interiors, nice to see another Baltimorean :D)

I have not read any of your books yet Sandy, but was exposed to your work a
couple years ago through some quotations in the book, "Gendering Drugs:
Feminist Studies of Pharmaceuticals" which I was parsing through. Searching
your name through the text in google books I found the specific excerpt:

“Writing three years before Hausman, in The Empire Strikes Back: A
Posttransexual Manifesto (1992), trans woman and lesbian-feminist Sandy
Stone highlighted the way in which many trans people feel the need to
present a “correct” personal history in order to secure hormonal and
surgical intervention from the medical profession. Omitting details of
experience such as sexual habits and adhering to a “sanctioned” version of
transsexual subjectivity may increase the chances of securing medical
assistance, Stone argues, but comes at the cost of recognizing
“intertextuality” (i.e., the “multiple permeabilities of the boundary and
subject position”) (Stone 1992: 166). Stone urges trans people not to omit
aspects of their experience, encouraging them to forgo passing,

’to be consciously ‘read’, to read oneself aloud—and by this troubling and
productive reading, to begin to write oneself into the discourses by which
one has been written in effect, then, to become a (look out—dare I say it
again?) posttranssexual. (Stone 1992: 168)’

For her, these are important steps toward unsettling the cultural
ascendancy in narratives of gender. Indeed, Stone (1992: 164) suggests that
speaking honestly of trans experience articulates a position outside binary
gender discourse.”

I loved this ~ and it lingered in my mind getting abstracted over time to
something along the lines of, "Trans people need to tell their own stories.
We need to tell our stories ourselves."

I see this pressure to conform to a particular medical narrative as
lessening with the WPATH and diagnostic language shifts and as informed
consent approaches spread...

When I first decided to access hormones through a doctor (2016) I remember
the anxiety that my personal narrative would disqualify me. I have never
felt like either a man or a woman, and I didn't see taking estrogen as a
way to “become a woman” for myself. I am also a survivor of childhood
sexual abuse so there was this fear that somehow this would be revealed and
render my desires false or pathological in some way. It definitely played a
huge role in the way my internalized transphobia expressed when I was
younger and pre-transition. I had internalized this narrative that somehow
my desire was twisted by childhood trauma, and I resisted my feelings of
transness for a long time. I actually remember at one point in my early 20s
thinking -- "I'm not trans, I just have low testosterone! I just need to
start lifting weights and getting my T levels up because there must be some
biochemical imbalance in my brain." Is very funny for me now to think about
that moment from where I'm at ~ the futility of it. Observing cis hetero
male friends, trying to take up mannerisms, attitudes, perform their
masculinity. That was my drag -- felt like drag always for me.

Sandy, re. your response to McKenzie's question, "*what do you think about
the internet-spawned trans culture that sprang up, maybe mostly via
tumblr?" *~~ what would be an example of the more extreme ones that you
don't always agree with?

Rian Ciela Visscher Hammond
Pronouns: they/them/theirs

Transdisciplinary Artist and Researcher - http://ryanhammond.us
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