Today, I’m at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, and attended Ida Hammer’s workshop, “Loving Ourselves: Healing Strategies for Trans Women”. There was something I wanted to say about language, but considering the audience present, I decided not to speak up about it for fear of causing a disruption, not because what I have to say is problematic, but because there were certain members of the audience who I believe would have vehemently disagreed with me, and I didn’t feel like going down that path could possibly result in a productive discussion. Here is what I wanted to say:
“Embodied in all the language we use when talking about the issues trans women face in our lives is an implicit assumption of cisnormativity. All of the terminology that is customarily used by us, or when others refer to us, was either generated by a cis-dominant, cis-centered culture without our input, or was created only as a reaction to that culture.
It is extremely frustrating that we are forced to use this language, because if we reject this language, we cannot be understood by those we most need and want to reach, and therefore, have effectively no voice at all. However, what results is a community of women that cannot even agree on the meanings of the words we have available to us to describe our selves, our place in society and the universe, and our struggle for a legitimate existance whose value is recognised beyond the borders of our own community on its own merits without the implied necessity for validation from the cisnormative system which seeks our utter destruction.”
- Gemma Seymour-Amper, 31 May 2012