A note about The Deviated Norm

This here is a low traffic blog on topics close to my heart. As such, comments and engagement on old posts are always welcome and will be responded to. Except! for comments on old posts telling me to lighten up, not take things so seriously, or let things go, 'cause that shit's just plain ironic. Those comments will get a suggestion to visit Derailing for Dummies.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Compare and Contrast: A Study in Two Blogs

Oh blog reading folkz, I'm rather pissed right now. The other night I noticed that a queer/gay blog I usually like had posted yet another post about Tiwonge Chimbalanga that said she was a man.
So, being pissed at the time, I wrote a comment on slap upside the head saying as much (and explaining that it was angering to have her misgendered and having the struggle of trans* people coopted and erased by queer/gay people).
The comment was in moderation (it was technically in a "guestbook" area since the blog doesn't have commenting enabled), so I went to bed.
I check my email last night and get:
Hi there!

Aw, give me the benefit of the doubt before you chew into me, alright? :)

I do trans* stories whenever I see them, and certainly would have
mentioned that Tiwonge isn't a man if I had known. As it stands, I've read
multiple mainstream news stories about the couple, but your angry letter is
the first I've heard of this, so I think it's unfair to say that I'm
"misgendering" or "falling into the erasure" of anyone. I haven't met the
two, after all. :)

I'll look a lot more into this tonight; having the mainstream media
misidentify Steven and Tiwonge's relationship is a story in itself!
So I wrote back in INCREDIBLY even tones. I didn't call him on the tone argument, or the "but be nice to the 'allies' or else we can't possibly be allies,"-ing or the fact that the story isn't that the "mainstream" media is reporting badly, but that ALL MEDIA (other than explicitly trans* friendly media, and frankly including lots of "GLB, supposedly T" media) has been doing this, OR the fact that maybe he needs to learn to read trans* friendly blogs to learn true information about trans* people (dude, if you want to be an ally, GO TO WHERE THE OPPRESSED ARE).
Nope, I recommended a blog post that would clear up his misconceptions and then wrote:
It's great that you're interested in doing perhaps a post about misgendering by the mainstream media (and just about all the activist orgs that publicized this in the first place).

However, you did misgender Tiwonge (since you said she was a man, and she isn't), and you did contribute to the erasure of trans* identities/people (since she's a trans woman and you implied she was a cis man), even if you didn't intend to. It sucks (I'm sure you're not someone who likes to think you're contributing to oppression), but it happened, and saying it was unfair of me to point it out doesn't make it better, and ignores that truth.

I will say that my tone last night was angry. It was angry because yours is one of the few explicitly queer/gay blogs I read with any regularity, (since I generally enjoy it, and generally don't enjoy many others for their explicit and implicit transphobia), and it was a big frustration for me to realize after seeing this "gay marriage" narrative played up in Every Single media report on the topic of Tiwonge that you were doing it too, and that all the gay media seemed to also be doing it. So I suppose you could see it as unfair that *your* particular blog became the "straw that broke the camel's back" but I see it as far more unfair that even on a blog that I normally feel comfortable on, I (and presumably any other trans* person who knew about the truth of the story) was made to feel unwelcome.

In other words: you stepped on my metaphorical foot (and quite a few others), it's great that you didn't mean to, but that doesn't make it stop hurting.

Thanks for listening,
The Deviant E
This morning I awake to this piece of flaming pile of nonpology crap:
Hey there,

Factual errors happen now and then on the site; particularly ones like this which are present in multiple, reputable news sources.

Blogging is not terrifically rewarding for the amount of work involved, especially when it involves original full-colour illustrations, paid hosting, etc. I admit there was an error, but the accusitory language is unfair.

I do welcome all factual corrections, and unfortunately there will be opportunities for more, but please be friendly about them and give me the benefit of the doubt. (At least until I prove otherwise. ;)
AND I go to check the website and find that
A) my initial comment was not approved from moderation, so no one knows that he was called out on this
B) he has posted another post about Tiwonge, this time burying her gender till the end to make a dramatic reveal about "mainstream media"
C) he has not posted an apology or acknowledged that this was information he could have had weeks ago, had he *looked*
D) he has said that "word has gotten out" that Tiwonge identifies as a woman, without mentioning where possibly such word could have come from (it's like magic "word" that appears on it's own)!

Contrast that my friends with something from Shakesville:
On a blog post about a study finding that children raised by lesbian couples are more well adjusted then their peers raised by straight couples, someone wrote something talking about how fundies would hate it because there needs to be "penis owning person" in the house.

I wrote a comment reminding people that penises and xy chromosomes do not a man make (and lack of penises and xx chromosomes do not a woman make). It was published.
The response?
TheDeviantE:Thanks,for the privilege check,comment fixed now.-;-@ a rose to say sorry.
And what do you know, but the comment has been changed (to indicate cis-male manly man man-ness as opposed to "penis having"ness) but the person very explicitly put in there a tag saying "Edited for gender-essentialist language"

There was no foot stamping, no "but we're on the same side, [smiley that feels really insincere because I'm rejecting your points]". The comment *went through*, it was fixed! and in a way that acknowledged the fuck up in the first place.

It's almost like... on this *other* blog, people are actually allies and respond accordingly when called out.

So, what to do folks?
I've already posted in public some of the private correspondence (not that the email address of his is secret or anything), which some might deem a breach of ettiqutte. I do so because slap upside the head won't acknowledge his own culpability in his blog either by posting my original comment or by acknowleding it in a post of his (oh, in my comment I asked him to please post a *retraction*, you know, something that acknowledges information was wrong by saying "we done screwed up"?). So I really feel like any ettiquette breach is a tiny little piss beside his ocean of othering.
So question time: Do I continue trying to dialogue being OH SO FUCKING REASONABLE? Do I remain silent and stop reading his blog, since I doubt he'll acknowledge my reasons if I give them? Do I tell him off in an email, getting angry again and telling him I'll not be reading his blog (and a whole other set of things), in the hopes of giving him a parting shot of information and a reminder that it isn't all just peachy? Do I juggle elephants?

You tell me.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tiwonge Chimbalanga Is A Woman

Ok folks, I'm a little tired, a little behind on schoolwork (ok, a lot behind on school work), needing to have laid my head down on the pillow hours ago, and more than a lot pissed.

Because: Tiwonge Chimbalanga is a woman and she has been for years.
Say it with me folks! Tiwonge Chimbalanga, the (sole) female partner in a couple who were recently convicted of "homosexuality" in Malawi is a woman. Her nickname is "Aunt Tiwo." Notice the "aunt" in "Aunt Tiwo?" Tiwonge Chimbalanga is a woman.

FUCK. I mean, how many times do I need to repeat this until it sinks in in the mainstream, (and more importantly damnit, gay) media? I'm so sick of this cooptation of the struggles of trans* people (and let's be honest with ourselves, it's actually mostly the struggles of trans* women that are being coopted, and it's mostly trans* women of color who are at greatest risk of physical violence).

10 times? 100 times? I'll do it! You won't like it but I will. Because Tiwonge Chimbalanga deserves to not have one more slight thrust upon her. It was wrong of the Malawi government to attempt to jail her and her partner Steven, and it would *also* be wrong for the government to have done that if she was man. But she isn't. She's a woman. Tiwonge Chimbalanga is a woman.

Should I write a fucking song about it? I'm afraid it's pretty boring, I haven't really worked out the chord structure, melody line, or the verses, so far it's just aproximately 20 choruses of "Tiwonge is a woman" (3 times each chorus) and then at the end when performing you're required to get really angry and throw a vase full of flowers against the wall on the last line. The flowers represent humanity's attempts to pretty up bigotry. Ok, so it's mostly a performance piece. It'll be opening in NY in a month, along with my other piece "ARRRRRGGGGHHHHH: A Musing on Things that Piss Me Off"

A partial rundown of what I'm talking about: Questioning Transphobia quotes numerous articles that totally misgender Tiwonge Slap upside the head continues to repeatedly post about "gay" couple in Malawi that Tiwonge is part of (which is what set off this particular tirade), and now a random list of blogs that are queer/gay identified that just popped up when I ran a quick search that all either report on the "gay" couple without explaining the truth, or actively call Tiwonge a man.

Why yes. I am angry I just searched and found not a single LGBT (a lot of them say they are fucking LGBT on them!) blog that even mentioned preferred pronouns or the fact that "gay" is the wrong way to describe a straight relationship between Tiwonge Chimbalanga (who is a woman) and Steven Monjeza.