Beards and Vaginas: You Can Have it All!

I stumbled across this ad on Instagram yesterday for a dating site called LumberMatch, whose header on its website actually says: “Men all over the world are growing their beards, getting tattoos and styling their hair.  There are people all over the world who love guys like us.”

IMG_7152First of all, it sounds pretty stupid if you ask me. Men are growing beards, getting tattoos, and styling their hair? Um, yes? Because men are people and people do these things? Such a weird thing to say, isn’t it? Anyway, if you can get past the idiocy of the premise of LumberMatch, you might be lucky enough to see an ad like this.

Yup, this is totally true. Some of us shave both, actually.  But let’s make it clear– I don’t shave ALL of my face. Just around the edges of my totally badass trans beard, to keep it neat.

Yeah, I have a badass beard. I also have a vagina. I’m transgender. My anatomy does not dictate my gender, and my beard is just as real as a cisgender man’s beard. In fact, my beard is better than a lot of cis guys’ beards. But really, who is keeping score?

This ad is offensive for a lot of reasons, but I’m going to stick with the first 3 that come to mind:

1. It’s ignorant of and offensive to trans men. It implies that you can’t have both a manly beard and a vagina. This is simply untrue, as me and the multitude of other beardy trans guys evidence.

2. It’s misogynist. The tone of this ad is very woman-hating or at least woman-shaming, implying that vaginas are the antithesis of what beards represent. Beards are rugged and tough. Vaginas belong where beards don’t– on the not-rugged, not-tough.

I’m not sure that the folks who created this ad have ever come in close contact with a vagina, because if they had they would know that the vagina is one of the toughest, strongest, most resilient things on the planet. Vaginas have withstood intrusion and examination and attempted control and hate and scrutiny for a few millennia and still keep going. They are strong. They are wonderful. They are tough with or without beards. They are quietly powerful.

3. It shames men for things they can’t control. Beards are a product of genetics, plain and simple. Beards spring from DNA, not a hidden hot spring of masculinity. Plenty non-masculine folks can grow amazing beards, while many very rugged guys have little to no facial hair at all.

Your ability to grow a beard says nothing about your character, your strength, or your ability to kill a bear with your own hands. It means you have DNA. Congratulations. Thinking that something so arbitrary makes one manly is silly– that would be like saying that someone with Hitchhiker’s Thumb is somehow more naturally masculine. It’s not, though it makes it that much easier for apeish, misogynistic a-holes to stick it up their own butts.

Seriously, though. Stop equating facial hair to superiority and vaginas to weakness. We can do better.

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Trans is not a Costume

Hello friends.  Happy October!

For those of you who don’t know me personally, or semi-well, let me tell you a little factoid about me: I LOVE OCTOBER.

October is a great month. All of the following contribute to why I think it’s the best month of the year:

  1. My birthday is in October. Duh.
  2. Halloween is in October.  I have a deep, long love for Halloween– it’s my favorite holiday pretty much since birth. I was also supposed to be born on Halloween. It is also just a great f*cking holiday because it involves costumes, over indulgence, pumpkin art, and parties.
  3. It is called October because under the original Roman calendar, it was the 8th month of the year (before July and August were added– thanks Ceasar boys!)

IMG_7064I love October because Halloween, and I love Halloween because costumes. I delight in planning and executing my costume each year and anyone who knows me can attest that I tend to have some pretty good ones.  So imagine how bummed I was when I stumbled upon this photo in my Facebook feed today.

UGH. SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY.

This is super not okay.  Really, it’s not. Dressing up as pre-transition or post-transition Caitlyn Jenner (not as Bruce, because it’s pretty rude to Dead Name people) is not okay.  Spirit Halloween store (where the photo was taken) cannot try to make this okay by calling it “Celebrating an American Icon.”  Caitlyn Jenner is not one of the founding fathers or Abraham Lincoln, or any other “American Icon” folks dress up as for Halloween.  She is a living breathing person. She is a person who has had the hefty job of coming out as transgender under the scrutiny of the free internet-reality tv-loving world.

Yes, she is brave. Yes, she could be considered a hero. But you know and I know that is not what this Halloween costume is about.  If that were true, we would have Amelia Earhart and Harriet Tubman costumes for sale to the mainstream public, too.  No, this is about us collectively mocking Caitlyn by empowering cisgender men to emulate her.  We, as Americans, are so threatened by Caitlyn’s transition and our collective masculinity is so fragile that we must bring her down a notch in order to put ourselves at ease.  We must remind ourselves that she’s really just a man in a dress, right? We definitely must make her un-sexy– she was getting to hot for comfort.

And maybe, just maybe, on some level, it makes those who choose to don that costume feel a little bit softer, a little bit sexier.  If we pretend we are making fun of her, then it’s okay to be feminine and pretty, and we can have our cake and eat it too. I get it– sometimes doing something different, something forbidden is hot. But you know what?  If that’s it, then just buy any other female-designed costume in Spirit and get your kicks.  Be a sexy nurse.  Be a Bunny.  Be Catwoman (boy you know you want to put on that jumpsuit).

Don’t pretend to be a real, live trans person who has gone to great lengths to become her true self and to not be exactly what you want her to be, which is just some guy in a dress.  She is a human– even if she doesn’t care personally, there are trans kids out there watching you.  They see you laughing at her. They internalize it.  It hurts them.  Bullying is deadly for trans kids.  Suicide is common.  This normalizes mocking and joking about trans people.  It normalizes cruel jokes.  This. Is. Not. Okay.

If you know anyone contemplating this choice, please educate them. We must do better, and if everyone who knows better speaks up, we will. Be excellent to each other.