Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Culturally-Imposed Self Trans-shame?

Ouch! I just realized I haven't posted on here is a while.

One thing I've been struggling a lot with lately is my often default sense of self-shame whenever my own or general transness comes out in discussion in non-LGBT spaces. Why the hell do I fall back on shame as an instinctual emotion in these situations? I'm getting better at suppressing that emotion and not letting it affect my actions, but it's still there, inside me.

This arose recently during a library conference I was attending and presenting at. Just prior to the remote keynote speaker, they played a video I guess promoting the reference service at one college using noir and trans themes. The female librarian was dressed as the male PI and a guy was dressed as the femme fatale. It wasn't that the gender expressions were intentionally humorous or mocking, but it got lots of laughs, which disturbed me at the time. Why should transgender expression automatically be a source of amusement? To me, that's a large part of the problem with getting trans equalities - we aren't taken seriously. On the other hand, I don't think the creator of the video did it intentionally (she was the trans protagonist in it), and it also perhaps made people think outside traditional gender roles, which is a good thing, right? At the time the video was showing, sitting amongst my librarian peers who were oblivious, I felt shame and annoyance, and was on the verge of crying. But why?

Is it some deep-buried self-loathing that goes beyond my transness? Is it a culturally and socially imprinted infection; teaching us from birth to punish and shun any and all "other-ness"? Is it a simple desire to "fit in"? My guess is it's probably a combination of all these and more, but who knows. I guess just being more aware of how I react can help me. What are your experiences and thoughts?