Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…


cylon ‘skin-jobs’ and rights of personhood

a while back a sci-fi series called ‘caprica’ aired. i followed it religiously well before i had seen even one ‘battlestar galactica’. being a big science fiction fan it is strange that i’d never bothered to watch ‘bsg’ but perhaps the word ‘battle’ in the title was enough to put me off.

‘caprica’ came, then went the way of many shows i’ve liked. it was discontinued. since the action in caprica occurs well before the ‘galactica’, about 60 years, no mention is made to ‘battlestar galactica’. then an acquaintance from a book club i belonged mentioned ‘battlestar galactica” after i used and explicative i’d learned from ‘caprica…(it was ‘fracking’ and has nothing to do with natural gas)

so i’ve been watching “battlestar galactica”.

for those who haven’t ever seen the series, cylons are robots with artificial intelligence. they became ‘self-aware’ and eventually were able to synthesize human bodies to house their consciousness, but flesh and blood bodies are easily injured and damaged to the point of non-functioning state. for this reason, they have ‘resurrection’ bodies just like the one that ‘died’ into which to upload their consciousness. there are 12 different cylon ‘human-like’ models. ‘skin-job’ is a derogatory slur used by humans when referring to these beings. altho even worse ones are often used.

for the most part, human beings and cylon humans are at war. but the loathing that humans feel for them seems to go deeper than just their dark, mutual history, a history from which it could be argued that cylons, subsequent to their creation having been enslaved and oppressed by humans have the more justifiable position.

when humans finally learn that some cylons have human bodies, can reason and communicate, feel pain and emotions, have memories, a sense of right and wrong, this does nothing to change the prejudice. instead they loathe them all the more vehemently, and fear them. but because the cylon models are indistinguishable from humans, some people fall in love with them without realising that they’ve been intimate with a ‘skin job’. and at least one such relationship resulted in the cylon model becoming pregnant and giving birth to a baby.

humans do not allow personhood to cylon “skin-jobs”. they are considered machines, despite the fact that they are flesh and blood, have memories, emotions.

being a poet, primarily, and thus wont to see analogies and metaphor, i began to see a commonality shared by trans-women and human-form cylons. that being, no matter how hard either may try, they will not be granted personhood. a cylon, despite fighting side by side for the humans with whom they live, are still viewed as ‘less than’, or ‘other than’ human. the trans-women, despite being relegated to a place lower than cis-women in society, despite going to much trouble to be women, despite having the same emotions, pain, as their sisters are denied womanhood.

so i say to my cis-sisters: “we are not now, nor have we ever been at war with, or attacked by transgender women. they share the plight women share and suffer things we will (thankfully) never know! how can we deny them personhood?, womenhood?!”

my daughter is not a cylon. she will not be resurrected into another body. but she is also NOT a male! she is a beautiful transgender and affirmed female. one who has, since she was 3 years old, been a real girl, despite the body she into which she was “uploaded”. one who has already suffered discrimination for being a girl, when she could have told the bully “i am not just a ‘stupid girl’!”. she will earn the same amount less than a man that any other woman will. she will be even more likely to be raped or abused than any other woman. so how dare you? my sisters. how dare you deny her the womanhood into which you were entitled by mere accident of birth?!


radical history of transgenderism…reblogged from natalie reed

it is very important to remember the history of a struggle for rights and freedoms. to that end this is an elegant and wonderful reminder of the path of liberation for transgender (and other) people. after all, none of us is free ’til all of us are free.

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reblogged from Natalie Reed: 5 ways cis-feminists can help build trans-inclusivity

another excellent read…with insights to spread about freely in order to broaden awareness of how to benefit folk in the transgender community.

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rites of passing vs rights of personhood

there are alot of words that have specific meaning to those who are transgender. like ‘passing’ and ‘disclosure’. i dislike both of these words. as the parent of a transgender daughter, and the long time friend to a couple of transwomen, the import and impact of these words is clear to me.

passing means being judged to be ‘feminine’ enough in appearance to have some modicum of acceptance as female. unfortunately, this ‘modicum’ is not the same as real acceptance as a woman, but only a grudging allowance that one looks ‘good enough’ to be deemed feminine.

the rites of passing for transgender women are very detailed. there must be a ‘feminine’ voice, no visible ‘adam’s apple’, a feminine walk and poise, make-up and clothing. in addition, in order to be thought ‘passing’ validation must be awarded by the cis-gender, male-dominated societal norms that dictate and oppress cis-gender women as well.

the rituals and necessities to achieve ‘feminine appearance’ are time-consuming and expensive. as every cis-woman knows, in order to be deemed ‘feminine’ the body must be ridded of hair, smooth as a pre-pubescent girl. one must attend to details such as applying mascara and lipstick, and learn to negotiate one’s surroundings in shoes that are uncomfortable and unhealthy, while donning ‘appropriate’ gender-specific attire. i wont go into all the particulars of poise and composure here, as i presume that my readers are familiar with western patriarchal paradigms for acceptible female behaviour and appearance.

for transgender women all these rituals must be accomplished without the slightest error in order to be judged by others as ‘passing’. and then, should a girl be particularly good at ‘passing’, she had better also be very good at knowing the unwritten rules about disclosure, lest she be deemed ‘deceitful’ or blamed for her own attack or rape. in other words ‘passing’ results in responsibility to ‘disclose’. but not ‘passing’ is unacceptable…it’s a trap either way.

as a cis-woman, despite my unconventional appearance, my non-traditional way of dressing, my habit of neither shaving my body hair nor applying make-up, i ‘pass’. there’s no judgment of my personhood as a woman, although it may be decided that i’m not ‘feminine’. a transgender woman who affected a similar self-expression would not be considered ‘passing’, would be denied personhood on her terms and not accepted as a woman.

the terms masculine and feminine are by-products of a binary mindset. they are the result of a long history of patriarchal values imposed upon society. they say much about what the dominant culture thinks of women and their place in relation to men but do little to define actual persons. they are masks given each to wear dependent upon one’s genital presentation at birth. terms such as these are meant to put us each in our place, in much the same way that other assignations lock one into their proper ‘class’ or race.

where in all of this can the ‘rights of personhood’ be found? how can it be that in the 21st century society is fraught with ways by which it can deny self-definition and self-determination to its members? how can we begin to extend rights of personhood when there is so much of judgment and reluctance to accept what is deemed as ‘strange’ or ‘other than’.

the vice-president recently made comments that subject of ‘transgender rights’ is the civil rights issue of today. no doubt this is true, because whereas lgbt rights movements have made many gains for the other folk represented by the letters of that acronym, the T folk continue to struggle for the most basic rights of personhood.

i have no answers.

my daughter doesn’t seem to be anymore interested in wearing make-up or jewelry than am i. she doesn’t like to wear frilly attire, isn’t afraid of spiders and wants to marry a woman someday. i would like to imagine a world wherein she wont be denied her right to personhood simply because she rejects (as do i) the parameters of what it means to be feminine, a world wherein ‘rites of passing’ are inconsequential to her being accepted as the girl she’s always been.


“transition as transaction: the commodification of womanhood”

this entire article by natalie reed resonates with my own frustrated sensibilities concerning patriarchal estimations of what is or isn’t womanly. but an even more extreme mirror is held up to transgender women, even within their own community.

it is called “passing”

i have been meaning to post about this, because it tends to bother me on a regular basis, when coming across mention being made in blogs, articles or conversations. and i will speak my thoughts in my next entry. for now, enjoy the clarity that is natalie reed’s mind.

i can’t and wont speak for transgender women…they have their own voice. and to many of them it is important to “pass”.

still, i refuse to think of my sisters in terms of whether or not they “pass”. the soul within them is their womanhood…despite external appearances.


reblogged from natalie reed…’de-transitioning’

i put the article before my post, for a good reason.
it is important that people understand that i, as a cis-gendered woman, no matter that i am raising a transgender daughter, would be just another ‘gatekeeper’ did i not give credit where it is due.

some folk on a parents of transgender children chat site to which i subscribe have recently posted on forum that their previously transitioned kids have done an about-face. this despite the support of their family. whenever i read about this, my mind goes two ways.

first, i am embarrassed to admit, i think that i would be totally okay with it did my daughter decide that she isn’t really a girl. that she is, after all, a boy. altho i would wonder why she were changing her mind. it would be in so many ways a relief. not because of the cost in money and time invested in going forward with the puberty blockers, cross hormones and surgical procedures, or the legal name and gender changes. but because if she could live as the boy her body declares her to be she would be more safe. she wouldn’t be singled out by bigots and haters, trolls and bullies…at least not just for ‘being’.

the second way my mind goes upon hearing about young people deciding to ‘de-transition’ is addressed in the article. what sort of psychic pain at being ‘different’, or rejection by peers, or sense of fearing never being accepted into their perceived gender might be behind their change of heart. does it just seem as if it is “all too much”, overwhelming? a sort of suspiciousness enters my thought upon hearing about this which belies my cis-gender privelege…as if it were my place to judge the person’s motives.

it seems clear to me that ziona wont be one of these who reconsider their gender identity at some point and decide that she is a boy after all. but it would be her right to. and altho as her parent i might want to have some explanation, some reason given me to smoothe over my confusion or assuage my suspicions, none would be necessary for me to support her right to self-definition or re-definition.

i am part of the cis-priveleged dominant society…it isn’t for me to say what is the right way to be ‘transgender’. nor is it my place to declare that there is an underclass of ‘not true transgender’ folk, as many within the trans-community feel is their right when a woman doesn’t opt for the ‘surgery’, or falls short of their guidelines for whatever reason.

it is a source of wonder to me that people within one’s community might be so ready to disregard the personal reality of those who share membership therein.

don’t we get enough of that from the oppressors?


sorry, i don’t speak troll

yesterday, and as a result of the evergreen college sauna hoopla and roseanne barr’s reference to the non-incident in her twitter comments, i managed to pick up a troll. he first replied to my twitter comments regarding the issue. i referred him to my blog and the links to stories that covered the subject.

the reply he came back with? “and i refer u to my dick. cus it makes me NOT A WOMAN! even if i wish REALLY hard and play dress-up. #delusional #mentalillness”

at this point it was clear this was not a person who would take in any education on the subject of transgender, and the issue of the evergreen sauna situation was not the basis for his ridiculous remarks. i’ve seen this kind of troll comment on other stories about transgender people. the mere existence of something outside their determined “norm” with regard to gender really sets this type of person to ballistic attack mode.

no amount of links sending this person to the research and scholarly articles written would serve to sway him. informing his type that even the DSM5 has dropped transgender as a specific mental illness or pathology wouldn’t convince him. he had, i think, actually gone to this blog, and had perhaps skimmed a post or two for content, enough to where the issue of the evergreen college event was no longer the point. he had shifted his focus to a personal attack against me, against my daughter and by extension, against anyone who is transgender.

to his rant, i politely responded in the manner appropriate for dealing with people like him, saying simply “i’m sorry. i don’t speak ‘troll’.”

it seems that no matter how much time passes, how ever much understanding increases, a bigot will cleave to his outdated ignorance. this in itself is only slightly disturbing to me. but bigots such as this man no doubt raise children who either acquiesce to his world view and become true bigots in their own right, or are themselves gay or transgender and grow up terrorised by that parent, living in fear of them or standing up to them only to be disowned. it is a story all too common in our society.

yesterday also, i bought a book by molly ringwald, who, it turns out, is a very good writer. the title of it is “when it happens to you: a novel in stories”. one of the stories in the collection, and the reason i bought the book, was titled: “my olivia”. it was the story of a single mom raising a boy who proclaims to be a girl. i don’t know what i expected when i began reading. but i believed it would deal with the topic sensitively.

the mother in the book is indeed supportive of her childs needs, allowing for no haircuts and eventually buying clothing that, in our society, is reserved for a girl. it is not a long story. and i believe says much about how easy it is for humans to place expectations on people and situations, expectations that superimpose fairytale ending, dream-come-true delusions over whatever reality is being experienced. but the part that really touched my soul in deep places was the mother’s response to her own fear after some older bullies have attacked her child in the park one day, seriously enough to have to go to hospital. with fears for her child’s safety uppermost in mind, the mom goes home and gets rid of every last girl article of clothing, or toy. i felt the horror that the child would feel at being betrayed by the only person he/she had in life. i felt the sense of despair the poor thing must’ve felt at imagining a future that excluded her being able to be herself.

i had to put the story down. i was afraid of what would happen next to poor little olivia. when i picked up the kindle to read on, the author describes the situation perfectly. how the child was crushed and began to slowly die that day. (no spoiler here. the book is worth a read)

i know the fear this mother felt. everyday there are stories of transgender people being attacked, killed or just oppressed and denied their place in this world. kids are cruel, bigots lack conscience and it is indeed a dangerous place for people like my daughter. the troll from twitter is a perfect example of just what sort of crazy folk she might have the displeasure to encounter someday. as parents, we can only protect them so far. but i refuse to live life bowing to fear, nor will i teach my daughter to do this. instead, i will make certain, as much as possible, to give her the confidence to be who she is today, and the arsenal she may need tomorrow. which includes ways to responded to bigots and trolls that don’t stoop to their level of crazy.

sometimes simply saying: ‘so sorry, but i don’t speak troll’ is most fitting and very satifying.