Ask @cusutrans:

Any thoughts on the rediculousness that is the Drop the T petition?

Heya! this article is a good'un: http://getrealcambridge.com/2015/11/14/support-the-t-solidarity/
Basically the whole "gender and sexuality are different separate things!!!" concept is relatively very very recent and very white-western-specific. There are also, even specifically within US/UK history, pinpointable moments - eg depathologisation of homosexuality - where cis LGB people deliberately made the decision to leave trans people behind in the queer rights movement (which was often, until the 80s/90s, just called "gay rights" - this didn't just refer to cis gay people but used to apply to a whole nebula of identities/expressions/behaviours/principles!) and therefore this whole petition thing and the ideas surrounding it are just playing back into those same trans exclusionary ideas.

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OK thanks. It's just that I am unable to attend events in certain circumstanes, e.g. where people will be bringing their own food, due to sensory issues, and am not sure whether this would constitute an access requirement or is just something I should "get over"!

Ah no that's definitely definitely an access issue! As an autistic person I feel you v much on that (eg where there are overwhelming food smells and stuff!). That's definitely a valid thing to bring up as part of access, and if you have any suggestions as to how we can address this re access statements other than stating whether there will or will not be food/drink, do let me know!

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Hi, I'm not sure how much control you have over this, but as you've been talking quite a lot about accessibility for the TAM events on facebook, I wondered whether you were talking mainly or exclusively about physical/hearing/sight?

Hi! So the base we've been using for accessibility for TAM events is the Disabled Students Campaign accessibility statement generator here: http://www.disabled.cusu.cam.ac.uk/resources/access-info/
The DSC use a definition of disability that does mean anything, physical/mental/both, that might lead someone to self-define as disabled. As such we've paid attention to physical accessibility (wheelchair/level access, hearing loops, etc) but also to accessibility in terms of mental health, e.g. whether there is a quiet space available at events. We also try and use trigger warnings during our events where they are necessary.
We're totally open to suggestions of how we can do accessibility better/more holistically, so if you have any, or think there's stuff we're missing, please do let us know!

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"I'm pretty sure I can't be romantically attracted to men" - what I really meant was, how can that be possible, given that men have literally nothing in common but being men? As in, if you manage to view people as their true gender, then why would anyone be attracted to just some genders?

I don't understand this question. I've had relationships/interactions of various kinds with men who are trans and cis, men who are gay and straight and bi and pan and questioning, and what links them all is that they identify as men.
I see them as men because they are men, and I personally am not romantically attracted to them. I can't guarantee whether that will change or not, of course, but it's the one thing they share so far.
"Nothing in common but being men" is, actually, a Thing. It's somewhat hard to describe or explain in abstraction, and the only way I can really give to experience what I'm saying about seeing others' genders - and this NOT actually then making gender seem unimportant or irrelevant at all - is to keep deconstructing your ideas of gender and your own cissexism, as I'm still doing.
But I don't see how romantic attraction orientation is particularly linked with anything other than gender? Apart from, like, personality? Which is the same whether you see someone's actual gender or not.
Sexual attraction is a slightly different question, of course. Lots of the cissexism that arises from discussions of sexual orientation is attraction to/preferences for certain body types, body parts, etc. That isn't so much true with romantic orientation (in cases where they can be separated, which isn't for everyone).
I don't know. Why is anything a 'turn-on' or a 'turn-off', whether romantically or sexually or platonically or otherwise? Some things can be explained by an actual *dislike* of certain traits or whatever, but not all things, by any means. Gender is one of those. I'd guess the vast majority of people "see" gender in some form, whether they're seeing it "wrong" or "right" (or "sort of a bit ok" - I doubt many people see it perfectly "right" including me!), and that perception informs our attractions, or lack of them. I still "see" gender as much as I always have, I just see it differently, with different parameters and different norms, informed by people's own self-identification. And it still informs how and whether I'm attracted, or not, to people.
Sorry that this is a really rambly/confused answer - I don't know if my autism is making this a trickier question to answer :')

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just ordered a binder for the first time after months of thinking about it. I really really want one and can't wait to experiment with it but as soon as I ordered it I felt sick/ guilty/ like I've done something wrong. also I'm not sure what my gender is- I openly ID as cis but think I'm genderfluid

The reason it took me so long to ID as non binary was guilt. I was scared of appropriating an identity or oppression that wasn't mine. I STILL get self doubt thoughts where I tell myself I'm not "really trans" - everyone does. The world gives us this incredibly powerful impetus to be "normal" and make us feel like imposters if we seek anything outside of that. It's bullshit. I promise you don't ever have to feel guilty - the ONLY thing that defines you is you. You can choose how to ID, or not to at all, and it's still all valid and presenting in any way at all doesn't invalidate that (nor does being open or otherwise). There is nothing to appropriate or feel guilty for. <3

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How does being "heterosexual" or "homosexual" or having any other preference for particular genders make any sense? I thought that literally the only thing that all people of one gender have in common was identifying as that gender, which to me seems a very strange reason to be attracted to someone.

This is a tricky question for me as a bisexual who has no preference other than that I'm pretty sure I can't be romantically attracted to men, but I'll give it a go.
People (cis or trans, tbh) who haven't spent that much time with trans people or in trans communities seem to always have this hangup about gender. Like, if people don't look like what we're taught from birth a person of their gender looks like, you're worried about accidentally misgendering them, or not seeing them as their gender (which is, yknow, understandable. We're all socialised into the cisnormative bullshit).
The weird thing is that people don't, like... see *beyond* this? You don't look forward and see a day where you'll have deconstructed stereotypical gender assumptions far enough to automatically see people as their actual genders once you know them. Idk, am I right? Does that just seem unreachable, or is there another reason why not?
Anyway, as a trans person who was totally in this place a little over a year ago, I can tell you that with time, your perception DOES change. You do, genuinely, learn to see women as women, men as men, and everyone else as neither +/ whatever gender they are. Never mind if they have boobs or not, long hair or not, if they have a full-ass beard or not. Stereotypically gendered parts of people's appearances lose their importance in determining how you understand someone's gender.
Obviously I'm not saying this is super smooth sailing or that I don't still make cissexist assumptions about gender (I do, especially strangers' genders) BUT it does happen, especially when you get to know someone. My brain sees no contradiction in looking at multiple people of the same gender - some of whom (I hate this word) """""pass""""" as their gender in everyday society, some of whom get double-takes or are read ambiguously, some of whom are literally never read as anything other than their gender assigned at birth - and reading them all, instinctively, as the same gender. Because they are that gender.
I'm not saying there isn't a hell of a lot of deconstruction of our cultural understandings of sexuality that *needs* to happen, but sexuality under straight/gay frameworks can and does still apply, where people want it to.

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i feel really bad about myself because if i could be interested in touching penises in a sexual context, i would. penises just kinda look like feet or potatoes, and i'm not going to be mean to someone for having an extra foot, but giving foot rubs does nothing for me. (1/2)

(2/2) like i recognize that this preference is wrong and i wanna unlearn it. i've tried hypnosis but that just gave me a migrane. any tips for making my sexual desires more open & progressive?
Firstly, thinking of your own sexual desires as "progressive" is kinda... weird? Also *preferences*, in and of themselves, are less the "wrong" thing than the assumptions everyone makes when asking the am-I-transphobic-for-this-sexual-attraction question.
I've found some really really good answers to the am-I-transphobic-for-this-sexual-attraction question, so I'm just gonna link those here:
http://tobitastic.tumblr.com/post/123904581326/on-the-topic-of-is-this-transphobic-im-ftm
http://tobitastic.tumblr.com/post/124934130446/so-am-i-wrong-if-im-attracted-to-trans-and-cis
http://tobitastic.tumblr.com/post/126347834906/using-the-vaginas-are-a-turnoff-and-depending-on
http://tobitastic.tumblr.com/post/123914624506/is-this-something-that-you-think-i-am-doing

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Sorry if this sounds TERFY but I'm confused. When someone says, "I identify as a woman" what are they identifying with, if not gender stereotypes? And if a woman is anyone who identifies as one, doesn't that mean woman is meaningless, so people are identifying with a vague abstract concept?

You'd have to ask a woman, to be honest. Not just a trans woman, for that matter - if people are ok with you asking questions about their gender (check!), ask anyone, cis or trans or neither. And yes, a woman is anyone who identifies as one, but I'd say it's arguable that the act of identifying in and of itself lends meaning to the concept or womanhood? On the flip side, would it matter if woman & man were "meaningless" words? Welcome to gender (which is also a vague abstract concept, incidentally).

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Thanks for the links regarding gender and colonialism, after reading them it seems to me that the western binary understanding's dominance in societal understanding and language make it hard to accurately portray other cultural understandings of gender. Is there a way to explain to people (cont...)

(cont) about other gender systems without reverting to language inherently linked to western understandings? Can you suggest ways that people who have grown up with and in societies with a white/western understanding of gender can adapt their language to be moremore inclusive of/sensitive to non-binary/non-western gender identities?
~
Sorry it's taken so long to answer this question - I was trying to ask around to see if anyone knows of any writing on this, but didn't find any. Basically, yeah, this is a massive massive problem with all anthropology etc ever - white people always see things from our viewpoint, always frame things in terms we understand, and in doing so violently erase and harm people of colour.
Basically, my only real suggestion (and bear in mind of course this is coming *from* a white person who's grown up in the UK, so I don't have any further insight than anyone else!) is just to listen to people, and call them what they ask to be called. I know I'm always recommending b binaohan, but they've said some great/helpful stuff relating to this.
Sorry to be super unhelpful!
Thanks for asking the question though! I'll put it into the plan for questions at our Decolonising Gender talk, so hopefully will have a better answer for you after that than I can give!

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Why is gender expression referred to rather than just appearance/personal expression? Doesn't viewing gender expression as a thing force us to rely on and encourage stereotypes? Since there is no right way to be a certain gender, surely the only way to express your gender is to say "I am a ..."?

That's a totally fair and legitimate point, yes. I guess I'd say that.. in an ideal world, that *is* how we'd describe ourselves? But just because clothing etc *shouldn't* be gendered, that doesn't mean it *isn't*.
Also note gender expression isn't necessarily the same as, or even linked to, gender identity. For example, it's often when I feel the closest to being agender (without gender) that I present the most femme (ie stereotypically feminine clothing/makeup/colours etc). Idk why this is exactly, but yeah. They don't have to reflect each other.

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so how long is this apparent process of decolonisation gonna go on for before you admit that this campaign is based on white-centric, racist beliefs? i'm amazed you even dare to mention trans women of colour whilst being totally racist.

Please feel free to elaborate, if you would like to. I don't see the racism in advocating for the acceptance and liberation of a plurality of identities collected under the trans umbrella with prioritisation, as much/often as possible, of tpoc and especially twoc? + note (not as an excuse or a "but I have non white friends" type bs, but insofar as it's relevant to your crit of the campaign) that this campaign is *not* run exclusively by white people.
Like I've said, we're totally welcoming to criticism and being held accountable, especially wrt race stuff (not that any poc are obliged in any way to do this, or do this coherently, of course).
Also note that 100% of the views I & the campaign have espoused on the intersection of trans issues and racial issues stem from the writings of (& interactions with, & input within the campaign of) tpoc. I say this firstly to give credit where it is emphatically due, and secondly to underline that we aren't just making these claims in a vacuum where we think we're right.
I've been rightly called out on speaking too much and linking too little on this account, so here's a link to a doc of stuff on gender + colonialism that I tried to collect recentlyish: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1smTca0oEWlaswpx5uOKEsscEQXhDciG1aBVB3MnxDaY/edit?usp=sharing

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Do you have any advice for a multiple system whose members have different desires for transition?

Honestly, I don’t know. The only advice that comes to mind is the same advice I see multiple systems being given for every decision: talk/communicate amongst yourselves and see if you can find a compromise that works for everyone.
Depending on how you intend to transition, you may find it easier if you’re not open about your multiple status with GPs, GIC staff etc., as – from what I hear – other mental “disorders” are sometimes used as a reason to deny treatment.
I feel like I’m not really offering any advice here. If anyone has links/info/other resources on this, we’d welcome them and would be happy to publish them here.

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Also @ last question: you said that "you admitted you view gender from a white-centric viewpoint, eg a racist one" - I actually said "I don't mean that *I* personally or the campaign necessarily understand gender this way or enforce this understanding on anyone else".

Make No Assumptions
So, no, what I actually do (at least attempt to do) is to constantly decolonising my own understanding of gender, and view constructs as constructs. I don't view gender how UK society at large views gender, and nor does the campaign.

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hold up - you admitted you view gender from a white-centric viewpoint, eg a racist one, but then you say you don't enforce it on anyone else? even though this entire campaign is based on that same white-centric viewpoint?

This campaign is run by people who have mostly grown up under a white-centric understanding of gender, so yes, necessarily, our understandings - as individuals and as a campaign - will always be in need of decolonisation. We don't (I don't think any campaign does) claim to be perfect or above bias, and are always ready and willing to be called out on such where it occurs.
However, the primary goal of this campaign is promoting trans acceptance and liberation, and the right of trans and gnc people to exist and self define in safety. We try as much as possible to center and promote the voices of tpoc, particularly twoc. If you're in cambridge or nearby please do come to the panel on Decolonising Gender that CUSU LGBT+ will be hosting this November.

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I think that the "understanding of gender in a white western context" that you possess is the racist one. Saying 'colonialist sex binary' basically implies that you think non-Western cultures don't understand biology or sex differences in humans.

That's a stretch?
Saying a white western sex/gender binary was colonially enforced doesn't imply that prior/separately to this, non western cultures didn't/don't have their own understandings of sex and gender (they did/do), nor that those weren't/aren't (in some cases very) similar to the current western binaries (some certainly were/are), nor that gendered oppression wouldn't exist if not for binarism (it would).

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If you don't know for sure that gender would still exist without gendered socialisation then isn't it worth considering that gender is a negative outcome of gendered socialisation (which I think you understand as negative in it's current form) and not something to be celebrated?

What would that change, in terms of praxis? There is no point in theorising a world that doesn't exist and acting accordingly. What's important is that trans people, particularly twoc, are dehumanised and murdered NOW. Fighting for acceptance of trans people isn't dependant on any one gender theory.

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"including PoC who would/do identify as cisgender under our understanding of gender" - so you think there is a current, universal understanding of gender? Who do you mean when you say "our"?

No, but there is a mainstream cultural understanding of gender in a white western context (which is imposed on poc) which is what I'm referring to. When I say our, that's what I mean (ie referring to western countries, eg UK where we're based as a campaign, plus taking ownership of the fact that as a white person I benefit from the colonialist gender & sex binary even though I'm non binary) (I don't mean that *I* personally or the campaign necessarily understand gender this way or enforce this understanding on anyone else)

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Many people believe their sexuality to be inherent, and thus based on sex characteristics, as in its biologically ingrained. Are these people TERFS? Particularly should penis bearing lesbians allowed to rip open the cotton ceiling of uterus bearing lesbians and harrass them if they don't comply?

Please stop.
We've said what we're saying on this. We will continue saying it. Stop framing trans women as abusers and harassers of cis women. You are being horribly transmisogynistic.

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Does this campaign support the rights of otherkin?

"rights" as in what? rights to do what?
we haven't entirely discussed it but I think there are three things here:
1) we emphatically aren't those "uugh otherkin/kintype pronouns make it harder for trans ppl to be accepted" ppl because honestly that's exactly what truscum are like with all/most non-binary people and it's tiresome and derailing. cis ppl is responsible for trans oppression NOT other trans ppl or otherkin (apart from where eg white trans ppl are culpable wrt racialised transphobia, trans men in transmisogyny, etc etc)
2) on the other hand, being trans and being otherkin seem to be discussed in tandem so often as though they're the same or even similar things which they really really really are not
3) discussions of otherkin are always massively white-dominated which makes me (a white person who knows not nearly enough abt stuff resembling animal-human spirit connections in non-white cultures) p wary/uncomfortable so god knows how it's likely to make poc feel

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What is the difference in terms of felt experience between when a woman and a non-woman experience misogyny/misdirected misogyny?

honestly? I couldn't tell you. this is partly bc I guess the only way you'd get a valid answer is by asking someone who considers themselves to have been a woman for some of their life and not a woman for some of it.
I did ID as a woman at one time but don't consider myself in retrospect to have actually been one, so this is a tricky q to answer.
in terms of felt experience of misdirected misogyny: it depends if structural, or individual instances. lots of the time it's more dysphoria from being grouped in with women than it is emotional response to the misogyny, or at least personal emotional response - there is still a lot of sadness in terms of empathy for the women who face it.
that's just my super personal answer though (as a genderqueer/fluid/flux person whose ID is mostly neither male nor female at all), the answers given by people of other gender IDs would likely vary.
((note: it should say a *lot* that the worst I've been treated in more recent individual instances is bc of misdirected *transmisogyny*, ie, the perpetrators assumed I was a trans woman. and when I say 'say a lot', I mean about how trans women are treated as opposed to trans men/afab nb ppl, and how much their experiences should be prioritised, both in discussions of transphobia and of misogyny)

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Is the capacity to express (or not express) gender something that is innate only to humans or can other animals experience gender too? Do you know if any studies have been done on this?

I'm afraid I don't, no - let me know if you find any.
One thing I will say is that we should tread carefully wrt equating human experience with animal as it's often dehumanising in transmisogynistic/transphobic ways - eg ppl being like "well I ID as a giraffe!" in response to the concept that gender is self-defined

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@ askers - I was on my phone and accidentally deleted a bunch of questions, sorry!

Make No Assumptions
please feel free to send them again!
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the one I do remember was something along the lines of indigenous gender systems & re that - yes, the white western gender and sex binaries are harmful and erase indigenous and culturally specific genders. no, gender systems pre-colonialism were not all utopian, gendered oppression still existed, gender roles still existed, gender was sometimes still defined by sex (in varying ways), that doesn't mean white supremacist violence didn't (and doesn't still) erase iapoc genders and oppress poc thru gender. lots of poc who ID with indigenous genders have done a lot of good writing on this and on moving forward in gender decolonisation rather than trying to return to pre-colonialist systems (check out b binaohan)

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