Well, Feministing don’t like it, but i’m not so sure. The “it” in question is a somewhat gushy piece in the NY Times about the transition of Chastity Bono to Chaz.
Yes. I can see its faults. And i can see why Feministing really, really didn’t like the writer’s confession that she was led to spew out a load of quite bizarre questions. Or, as Feministing put it, the most ridiculously ignorant and straight-up asinine questions you could imagine:
“Could it be possible that the fact that Chaz is now a man is somehow Cher’s fault? Did the toxic culture of celebrity damage Chastity/Chaz’s gender identity? Did Cher’s almost drag-queenlike hyper-female persona somehow devour Chastity’s emerging femininity? Could Chaz’s transition have been motivated by gender-bent Oedipal revenge? Is he reclaiming the childhood attention his superstar mother always diverted?
“I had to ask: It is remotely possible that he needed to make the transition because his mom is Cher?”
This, the writer explains, is because of the reaction by her herself: the coolness and the disconcertedness from an individual otherwise put forward as a supposed gay icon.
Perhaps its because i tend to give writers the benefit of the doubt. Sure: this is a pretty uncomfortable passage, if that is what the article is about. But in fact, the whole article – and it has to be taken as a whole, both in terms of narrative and style – is a conceit.
Its a particular form of Hollywood/fashion writing, in which the gush is definitely par for the course and, although the questions may appear to be discomforting, they are bracketed with the writer’s supposed Damascene moment: she admits, early in the piece that, “despite being a lifelong liberal from San Francisco and friendly with a number of transgender people”, she still found the film as unsettling as it was inspiring.
She “came away forced to confront a whole swag-bag full of transphobias that [she] didn’t know [she]’d had.”
Which, for my money, more than makes up for the supposedly transphobic outburst later. She’s outing herself, admitting to having imperfectly understood – and now to understanding better.
I can live with that.
I also found myself smiling at comment and quotes attributed to Chaz.
The writer claims:
Being in-between genders, Chaz said, was far more difficult than becoming a man. He was a misfit. Now, he said, he is treated much better by people, especially men.
She adds (quoting from Chaz himself):
“I expected to feel better and happier, but I really underestimated the impact my transition would have. I didn’t realize that life could be this easy, that I could ever feel this comfortable. It was unimaginable.”
And that, if you just reverse the genders, is pretty much what i feel now. Word for word. I expected to feel better and happier. I didn’t realise that life could be this easy…that i could ever feel this comfortable.
And that, i guess, is the crux of everything i am going thru now. Close friends, when i first started to transition said one thing over and over: how suddenly comfortable with myself i was. How i’d found my own skin at last.
And really, that’s all there is to it.
For all the trials and tribulations of transition: the hormones and sore boobs and the terror of transition to come. For all that i am at last comfortable in myself, with myself, in a way i never, ever was before.