What Trans Looks Like…


[NB: This is a social media post shared on my Facebook feed on 26 Jan.2016]

12552577_10153920992401098_3191786102860268282_nFew things in life are more fulfilling than affirming one’s true self, discovering, and living to the full, who one really is. It is among the most (if not the most) liberating of acts, a process of defining, or (to borrow from Janet Mock) redefining realness. This evening [26 Jan.2016], this is how I attended a jam-packed event on the legacy of the past and the path forward at the Canada Room at Queen’s University, in the presence of PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, representatives of political parties, civil society activists and academics. Queen’s (and all the universities I have been through – in France and in the UK) has been a place where white privilege, racial hierarchies, cis heteropartriarchal attitudes, the cisgender gaze, microagressions and occasional insults  have never been too far from my lived experience in the past. It was tremendously liberating to affirm my real self, out in the open, at a relatively high-profile event, linked directly to my academic specialisation of politics of deeply divided societies. There is an assumption out there, oftentimes taken for granted, that gender-plural/trans/queer/non-binary people only specialise in trans/queer issues. I won’t tell the number of times I have recently been asked [by random folks at conference lunches etc.] if my PhD was in gender studies. This is also akin to the view, popular in politics and international studies circles, that puts social science scholars of colour from the global South into boxes, blindly assuming that they only specialise in the politics and societies of their respective countries. To those who uphold such drivel, cross-cutting area studies, immersing in a culture, society and polity that’s not one’s own and producing serious scholarship, sure that’s a ‘white [cis] man [& to a lesser extent white {cis} woman] thing’. I have spent the last 5-6 years of my life mostly trying to demonstrate by example that it bloody not is the case. I couldn’t be bothered counting the number of times I’ve been asked ‘why’ (with bemused eyes) I’m studying the politics and political history of Northern Ireland…

Of course us trans folk are keen about issues and research areas that concern us, and research topics related to the histories, lived experiences and challenges facing global trans/queer/gender-plural communities. Developments within the interdisciplinary area of ‘Transgender Studies’ is to be welcomed wholeheartedly, and everyone in the Trans community, irrespective of their gender identity, pronouns used, age, level of formal education, or any other criterion under the sun, has a tremendous contribution to make to Trans Studies. This, however, does not mean that trans researchers’ academics’ work is only limited to Trans Studies. A trans person can, has all the potential to, is fully entitled to, and most certainly should definitely specialise in any subject they wish to specialise themselves in, and excel in any field of professional expertise they choose. We have every right to live our lives, free our bodies and unlearn from colonially imposed, patriarchal, outdated and oppressive gender stratifications, working tirelessly towards, and in our own lives being the very embodiment of, liberation.

This, beyond anything, is what trans looks like.

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This entry was posted in queer/trans/non-binary academics, redefining realness, Trans politics, trans/queer liberation, transgender studies, un-learning and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What Trans Looks Like…

  1. Reblogged this on Fairy JerBear's Queer/Trans Musings From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM and commented:
    A super inspirational Trans Visability post!

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