Julia Serano · 390 pages
Rating: (4.8K votes)
“It is offensive that so many people feel that it is okay to publicly refer to transsexuals as being “pre-op” or “post-op” when it would so clearly be degrading and demeaning to regularly describe all boys and men as being either “circumcised” or “uncircumcised.”
“The hardest part has been learning how to take myself seriously when the entire world is constantly telling me that femininity is always inferior to masculinity”
“In trans women's eyes, I see a wisdom that can only come from having to fight for your right to be recognized as female, a raw strength that only comes fro unabashedly asserting your right to be feminine in an inhospitable world.”
“When the Majority of jokes made at the expense of trans people center on "men wearing dresses" or "men who want their penises cut off" that is not transphobia- it is trans-misogyny. When the majority of violence and sexual assaults omitted against trans people is directed at trans women, that is not transphobia- it is trans-misogyny.”
“I am rather disturbed by the fact that so many people—who are neither medical professionals nor trans themselves—would want to hear all of the gory details regarding transsexual physical transformations, or would feel that they have any right to ask us about the state of our genitals.”
“The greatest barrier preventing us from fully challenging sexism is the pervasive antifeminine sentiment that runs wild in both the straight and queer communities, targeting people of all genders and sexualities. The only realistic way to address this issue is to work toward empowering femininity itself. We must rightly recognize that feminine expression is strong, daring, and brave - that it is powerful - and not in an enchanting, enticing, or supernatural sort of way, but in a tangible, practical way that facilitates openness, creativity, and honest expression. We must move beyond seeing femininity as helpless and dependent, or merely as masculinity's sidekick, and instead acknowledge that feminine expression exists of its own accord and brings its own rewards to those who naturally gravitate toward it. By embracing femininity, feminism will finally be able to reach out to the vast majority of feminine women who have felt alienated by the movement in the past.”
“My friend, still seemingly perplexed, asked me "So if it's not about genitals, what is it about trans women's bodies that you find so attractive?"
I paused for a second to consider the question. Then I replied that it is almost always their eyes.
When I look into them, I see both endless strength and inconsolable sadness.
I see someone who has overcome humiliation and abuses that would flatten the average person.
I see a woman who was made to feel shame for her desires and yet had the courage to pursue them anyway.
I see a woman who was forced against her will into boyhood, who held on to a dream that everybody in her life desperately tried to beat out of her, who refused to listen to the endless stream of people who told her that who she was and what she wanted was impossible.
When I look into a trans woman's eyes, I see a profound appreciation for how fucking empowering it can be to be female, an appreciation that seems lost on many cissexual women who sadly take their female identities and anatomies for granted, or who perpetually seek to cast themselves as victims rather than instigators.
In trans women's eyes, I see a wisdom that can only come from having to fight for your right to be recognised as female, a raw strength that only comes from unabashedly asserting your right to be feminine in an inhospitable world.
In a trans woman's eyes, I see someone who understands that, in a culture that's seemingly fuelled on male homophobic hysteria, choosing to be female and openly expressing one's femininity is not a sign of frivolousness, weakness or passivity, it is a fucking badge of courage.
Everybody loves to say that drag queens are "fabulous", but nobody seems to get the fact that trans women are fucking badass!”
“[U]ntil feminists work to empower femininity and pry it away from the insipid, inferior meanings that plague it - weakness, helplessness, fragility, passivity, frivolity, and artificiality - those meanings will continue to haunt every person who is female and/or feminine.”
“Many of us reject all of the inferior meanings and connotations that others project onto femininity - that it is weak, artificial, frivolous, demure, and passive - because for us, there has been no act more bold and daring than embracing our own femininity. In a world that is awash in antifeminine sentiment, we understand that embracing and empowering femininity can potentially be one of the most transformative and revolutionary acts imaginable.”
“Male pride is not really about pride. It's about fear - the fear of being seen as feminine. And that's why "girl stuff" is so dangerous. And as long as most men remain deathly afraid of it, they'll continue to take it out on the rest of us.”
“Once I accepted my own transexuality, then it became obvious to me that the question "Why do transsexuals exist?" is not a matter of pure curiosity, but rather an act of nonacceptance, as it invariably occurs in the absence of asking the reciprocal question: "Why do cissexuals exist?" The unceasing search to uncover the cause of transexuality is designed to keep transsexual gender identities in a perpetually questionable state, thereby ensuring that cissexual gender identities continue to be unquestionable.”
“In a world where masculinity is respected and femininity is regularly dismissed, it takes an enormous amount of strength and confidence for any person, whether female- or male-bodied, to embrace their feminine self.”
“Alliance-based activism begins with the recognition that we are all individuals, each with a limited history and experiencing a largely unique set of privileges, expectations, assumptions, and restrictions. Thus, none of us have "superior knowledge" when it comes to sexuality and gender. By calling ourselves an alliance, we explicitly acknowledge that we are working toward a common goal [...], while simultaneously recognizing and respecting our many differences.”
“All that you ever need to know about genitals is that they are made up of flesh, blood, and millions of tiny, restless nerve endings - anything else that you read into them is mere hallucination, a product of your own overactive imagination.”
“But true equality won't come until boys learn to embrace girl stuff as well.”
“No form of gender equity can ever truly be achieved until we first work to empower femininity itself.”
“So long as we refuse to accept that "woman" is a holistic concept, one that includes all people who experience themselves as women, our concept of womanhood will remain a mere reflection of our own personal experiences and biases rather than something based in the truly diverse world that surrounds us.”
“When I made the decision to transition, I honestly had no idea what it would be like for me to live as female. The only thing I knew for sure was that pretending to be male was slowly killing me.”
“The most radical thing that any of us can do is to stop projecting our beliefs about gender onto other people's behaviors and bodies”
“Coming face-to-face with an individual who has crossed class barriers of gender or attractiveness can help us recognize the extent to which our own biases, assumptions, and stereotypes create those class systems in the first place. But rather than question our own value judgments or notice the ways that we treat people differently based on their size, beauty, or gender, most of us reflexively react to these situations in a way that reinforces class boundaries: We focus on the presumed “artificiality” of the transformation the subject has undergone. Playing up the “artificial” aspects of the transformation process gives one the impression that the class barrier itself is “natural,” one that could not have been crossed if it were not for modern medical technology.”
“Of course, it is true that plastic surgeries and sex reassignments are “artificial,” but then again so are the exercise bikes we work out on, the antiwrinkle moisturizers we smear on our faces, the dyes we use to color our hair, the clothes we buy to complement our figures, and the TV shows, movies, magazines, and billboards that bombard us with “ideal” images of gender, size, and beauty that set the standards that we try to live up to in the first place. The class systems based on attractiveness and gender are extraordinarily “artificial”— yet only those practices that seem to subvert those classes (rather than reaffirm them) are ever characterized as such.”
“The thing that always impresses me about human beings is our diversity. Even when we are brought up in similar environments, we still somehow gravitate toward very different careers, hobbies. politics, manners of speaking and acting, aesthetic preferences, and so forth. Maybe this diversity is due to genetic variation. Or maybe, being naturally curious and adaptive creatures, we invariably tend to scatter all over the place, exploiting every niche we can possibly find. Either way, it's fairly obvious that we also end up all over the map when it comes to gender and sexuality.”
“While some male "admirers" of trans women tend to fetishize us for our femininity or our imagined sexual submissiveness, I find trans women hot because we are anything but docile or demure. In order to survive as a trans woman, you must be, by definition, impervious, unflinching, and tenacious. In a culture in which femaleness and femininity are on the receiving end of a seemingly endless smear campaign, there is no act more brave - especially for someone assigned a male sex at birth - than embracing one's femme self.
And unlike those male tranny-chasers who say that they like "T-girls" because we are supposedly "the best of both worlds", I am attracted to trans women because we are all woman! My femaleness is so intense that it has overpowered the trillions of lameass Y chromosomes that sheepishly hide inside the cells of my body. And my femininity is so relentless that it has survived over thirty years of male socialisation and twenty years of testosterone poisoning. Some kinky-identified thrill-seekers may envision trans women as androgyne fuck fantasies, but that's only because they are too self-absorbed to appreciate how completely fucking female we are.”
“Whether unconscious or deliberate, the gatekeepers clearly sought to (1) minimize the number of transsexuals who transitioned, (2) ensure that most people who did transition would not be “gender-ambiguous” in any way, and (3) make certain that those transsexuals who fully transitioned would remain silent about their trans status. These goals were clearly disadvantageous to transsexuals, as they limited trans people’s ability to obtain relief from gender dissonance and served to isolate trans people from one another, thus rendering them invisible. Rather, these goals were primarily designed to protect the cissexual public from their own gender anxiety by ensuring that most cissexuals would never come face-to-face with someone they knew to be transsexual.”
“Imagine un peu ce qui arriverait si, au lieu de baser nos croyances concernant le sexe hétéro sur l’idée que l’homme “pénètre” la femme, nous disions que c’est plutôt le vagin de la femme qui “consomme” le pénis de l’homme. Cette construction créerait un tout autre ensemble de connotations, en ce que la femme deviendrait l’initiatrice active, tandis que l’homme serait le participant passif et réceptif. On voit très facilement comment les hommes et la masculinité pourraient finir par être vus comme dépendants et existant au bénéfice des femmes et de la féminité. De la même manière, si on pensait à certain traits typiquement "féminins", comme d’être émotif et expansif, non pas comme des signes d’insécurité ou de dépendance mais comme des actes audacieux d’auto-expression, alors l’idéal masculin du “beau ténébreux” pourrait sembler timide et insécure en comparaison.”
“Consider that people will talk about the fact that I now "pass" as a woman, but nobody ever asks about how difficult it must have been for me to "pass" as a man before.”
“(...) there are so few words in our language to articulate "body feelings" of any sort. I'm sure that this lack in language is related to our cultural tendency to dismiss or discount the way that our bodies feel to us. Indeed, many of us tend to think of ourselves as brains or souls crammed inside of a shell - a shell that is our body. We delude ourselves into believing that the shell itself is not important, not connected to our consciousness, that it's merely a vessel that contains us, or a vehicle that we move about with our minds. But the truth is, our bodies are inseparable from our minds.”
“(...) many of these comments were unarguable mean-spirited and insulting, and no attempt was made to disguise them as flirting. I was clearly being overtly sexualized by these strangers, and not because I was deemed attractive, but simply because I appeared to be a woman. And the purpose of such blatantly vulgar remarks was not to express attraction or potencially garner my interest, but rather to exert a modicum of control over me: to make me feel uncomfortable, intimidated, angry, or fearful, to force me to look away or to cross the street to avoid their harassment.”
“Hey girls, did you hear the news? It's just been scientifically proven that barrettes are dangerous! So are bracelets and bric-a-brac. It's a fact. And don't be fooled by thick-necked macho men who pretend that "girl stuff" is boring or frivolous, because that's just an act. Because as soon as you ask that guy to hold your purse for a minute, he will start to squirm, as if your handbag were full of worms, as he holds it as far away from his rugged body as possible. Because "girl stuff" is made with the gender equivalent of Kryptonite!”
“I was tired of this silly joking about my 'speaking countenance'. I could keep a secret as well as anyone. Poirot had always persisted in the humiliating belief that I am a transparent character and that anyone can read what is passing in my mind.”
“Home is what you kill for. And I killed for Swift.”
“Conscience doth make cowards of us all.”
“It’s ridiculous. Why should girls be responsible for what boys think and do? Like the boys aren’t able to control themselves?”
“In our lives, we don’t always get what we deserve or what we want. But how we deal with those misfortunes mold our character. As with this second book, time will leap-frog again into the future for book three, where the ramifications of the decisions made here will play out.”
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