ترانسات Transat

الجندر جندرنا

English

Gender Characteristics Police

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By: Khookha Mcqueer

Translated by: Sophia Sherif

Edited by: Lillianne Elkady

My relationship with my beard surpasses the physical and intimate connection between me and my body. Me and my beard are a series of stories that are not only experienced by me or my body but also my community

Prior to announcing my gender identity and my position towards predominant gender norms, I would receive typical, classic comments on how my beard should look like, comments such as “shave”, “trim your beard”, “let it grow “ or “ cut it short “.Although I usually don’t ask for people’s opinions regarding my appearance or my beard, I used to accept these comments even if with discontent

On the other hand, I have always been aware that pressing one’s own taste over other people’s bodies can be really toxic and unhealthy, in ways that are policing or controlling other people’s bodies; and despite my awareness that one’s physical appearance and the way they present is only up to them, I was not affected by any aesthetic comments or opinions about my appearance and beard. That is why I didn’t feel the urge before to write about it

A year ago I started to experience a whole different level of comments, always relating to my facial hair, a broader obsession towards me and my beard that has to also do with aesthetics and culture. That is since I started to openly embrace feminine gender roles with feminist inclinations, the policing obsession with my body has started to be more diversified to include gender, political, cultural, social and aesthetic dimensions and backgrounds

Amongst the comments on that new list that try to control and discipline the way my body and beard look like, comes this simple and straightforward comment “If you really are a woman , why do you keep your beard?”

And this comment is, in fact, one of the nicest articulations of this obsession as some other people express this differently to include a tone of ridiculing, ordering or even humiliating

Differently, what was most interesting regarding the type of gender oppression I am experiencing as a result of being a bearded human being with feminine gender identity, roles and expression (aside from the oppression imposed on our bodies and the policing of our gender that tends to control and bully the way we express ourselves) is a whole new and different group of bullies.This group of stalkers was the most shocking and unexpected as it was the farthest from my imagination to become “gender characteristics police”

I am used to this kind of stereotypical attitude and comments from normal people who are indoctrinated and who hold on to mainstream and normative way of thinking since their opinions, judgements and knowledge only stem from outdated prejudices.Those people whose choices have been highly influenced by the binaries and whose views of gender have been shaped by only the stereotypical man/woman binary

What I am not used to till now is this one comment that I still find to be weird, weird in the way it is said as well as the intentions behind it. A comment which is a manifestation of gender oppression practiced against non binary transfeminine people as it essentially harbors an accusation against them that they choose to embrace the masculine biological characteristics so as to maintain benefiting from male privilege like that privilege that comes with having a beard

Suddenly and for the first time I found myself in conflict between my non binary trans* identity and my feminism, between my feminist fight to expose male privilege and my right to decide what gender expression represents me and in which I feel the most comfortable and for the first time I found myself facing an ”abstract” gender oppression.

When I was accused of benefiting from my beard as a male privilege tool, I decided to put my feminism to an autopsy table and started questioning

How come a feminist/gender theory intended to fight oppression exclude the experiences of non binary trans* people who have always been and are still forced to be marginalized?

There is no doubt that the beard is one of the components of a male normative figure and I don’t deny that it carries with it certain symbolism of male privilege as well as helping in activating and manifesting it. However,some feminists should not forget that these theories were formulated based on the hegemonic relationship and power dynamics between cisgender heterosexual men and women

This theory of privileges that is being projected forcefully on the relationship between non binary transfeminine people and cisgender women leads to a new form of oppression since it ignores the lives, privacy and daily struggles of nonbinary transfeminine people.In addition, it assumes, in theory, that the same power dynamics exist between transfeminine people and cisgender women as between cisgender men and women

It is also presumed by some that transfeminine people are more privileged than cisgender women forgetting that being cisgender is in and of itself a form of privilege.The ways non-binary transfeminine people express their selves and gender are numerous and are not based on one united form of expression when it comes to gender, hence, we can not conclude how privilged people are based on that. Understanding this, the beard is only one of many components and ways of expression that fluctuate between masculinity and femininity. As a result to this the non-binary gender expression is one of the most challenging gender expressions to normativity and also one of the most vulnerable gender expressions as it is constantly being subjected to oppression, discrimination, violence and transphobia

Gendering the discourse on privilege from a feminist perspective needs to be more inclusive, to pay greater recognition to the diverse gender experiences especially those that are most marginalized.In addition, we need more intersectional depth in terms of including privilege, authority and power dynamics between different gender groups while taking into consideration the individuality of those gender experiences and that each personal experience stands out with its own multifaceted, multidimensional and multilayered experience

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*The model in the artwork is the writer themself

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