Amanda Kovattana

Middle-aged musings in interesting times

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Trans In Amandaland

This is as trans as it gets in Amandaland. This would usually be the opening weekend of Frameline, the LGBTQ film festival. So here’s a homemade queer image. It is a recreation of a scene from “Bound” which I saw at Frameline in 1996 with a sold out house. I also created it to hold down the space for a particular niche—that of the masculine woman. It is a niche I’ve been enjoying as a member of an FB group where proud butches come to show off their suits and their haircuts hosted by the Black lesbian owner of the clothing design company Haute Butch.
A niche that was nearly disappeared by the ultra femme representation in The L Word (which we consumed voraciously for its very hot depiction of glamorized lesbians in L.A played by straight women particularly Jennifer Beals). The reboot even more over the top femme glamorous even with addition of a trans man and soft butch wearing Tomboy X boy briefs. I have a stack of those briefs too, but they are not as real as my Fruit of the Loom traditional tightie whities. Real in the sense of honest to god cross dressing. Because there is power in that realness.
I also hold down this space because in a heteronormative, binary world the category has been eclipsed by the trans movement coming into its own and the pressure on non-gender conforming youth to go the trans route especially girls. Thank-you youtube. Because being neither here nor there is too ambiguous for a culture that demands hard line categorical definitions full of color coded pink and blue children’s toys. A culture that demands that either you’re a man or you’re a woman. Gender identity is a spectrum in my mind, not a box to check. And my belief in reincarnation allows for all kinds of overlap in personal gender issues as you go from one sex to another from life to life. That is the underlying explanation for my state of mind on the masculine nature of my self identification. And I wish to hold this ambiguous gender presentation as an option for queer youth.
Thailand which has become the sex change capital of the world has recently forbidden minors to undergo sex changes because too often the minors in question changed their minds. Hint hint. Minors are defined as age 21 if male and 18 if female.
In Asia the cross dressing person has long had a social position and a label. A category that is also represented in the Native American Two Spirit culture. And I would not be surprised if indigenous Africa also had such a category. This is the information I learned at probably six years old which informed me growing up, gave me a space to occupy and giving me maybe a 10-15 year head start in coming out over my American peers.
Western culture has always had non-gender conforming queer folk as well as oppressed gays and lesbian, but as the largely white gay community became more straight presenting assimilationist and more accepted by society, the rest of the community was pushed aside. Some reinvented themselves as trans with their own story of origin of being persons trapped in the wrong body. I’ve gotten into heaps of trouble with my own community in trying to make my case so this is completely my take. But over time the trans position itself became more receptive of gender as a spectrum of presentations (or maybe they were always that way). So I decided to stake my position within the trans community just to hold down my niche which has its own history and cultural representation even in the West. The butch lesbian manager in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel comes to mind here. As does a character in Orange Is The New Black.
And having created this political trans position as the T in the LGBT alphabet and having that category so recently legally recognized by the Supreme Court decision last week we gender queer people are now all protected ironically enough no matter where on the spectrum we fall or whom we love. We shall see anyway. Happy Pride.
(Backdated to reflect date first posted to Facebook.)

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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Black Lives Matter — Redwood City Courthouse

Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25th the citizens sprang into action with a march the following day. I saw that a close friend (a white woman and a community leader) who lived in Minneapolis had attended it. A week later rallies had erupted all over town and when I saw a man I knew from my karate class (a Black musician and teacher) posting about one that was happening that day in Redwood City I decided to go even though I still considered myself to be in quarantine. I just made sure to wear a mask. I didn't make a sign and it was too hot to wear black, but I took my camera and was ready to capture what signs I saw.

The crowd was overwhelmingly white, all in masks and keeping a comfortable distance from each other. I was pleased that there was such a nice turnout by white citizens of all ages and quite a number of young people.
 The speakers who were Black were up on the courthouse steps obscured by the crowd. My karate friend was one of them, but I couldn't see anyone from where I stood. And it was hard to make out what was being said unless they shouted as they did during the kneeling and chanting of George Floyd's name.

 I walked towards the sounds of a drum. I had also heard from my drumming group that there was a rally and thought they might be the source of the drumming, but it turned out to be a Native man in full regalia striking his drum when applause broke out.

At the back of the crowd I found a non-white contingent and was touched at their expressions of solidarity in their signs.

And I was especially pleased to see that an Asian man had given a lot of thought to his sign. "To my fellow Asian Americans" it said and then a quote from Desomond Tutu, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor". In his basket he had bottled water to give out to people. I was glad to see where I could fit in in this new-to-me terrain of protest.

There was a police presence, but not a hostile one. All the windows of businesses were boarded up because apparently from a statement on the flyer requesting that attendees not take out their anger on small businesses it was assumed that they would take out their anger by trashing large businesses.

On my way out I got a second alert on my phone that there was going to be a curfew for two days presumably to make sure that things didn't get out of control. It seemed like a good time to leave.

This post is backdated to reflect my post to Facebook.

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