A lot has happened since we first published our cursory glance at Transethnicity on the third, but since then we’ve been properly checked-out in a 4th of July haze of barbecue, wandering through the woods, and pretending to be Sasquatches.
So it was a pleasant surprise to see that a link to our piece made it to Fark’s front page, that Prince Koyangi dropped the rouse, admitted to being three people, and the story was further investigated by Beta Beat.
In their admission, Prince Koyangi defends their motives by saying,
“I find it so utterly absurd that a movement whose original purpose was to defend the rights of POC, trans* individuals, and other oppressed groups has been co-opted by people who believe they are dragons or that they have Homestuck characters living inside their head. It’s hilarious to me. It’s also incredibly offensive. I think what happened is that the SJ movement’s message of acceptance was somehow generalized to mean that if you don’t accept everything, you are a bigot —and the outcasts of the internet, the furries, the soulbonders, latched onto that, because they had finally found a place where no one could make fun of them. A “safe space”, if you will.
But it’s completely stupid (tw: ableism) and it trivializes the struggles of people who actually suffer from oppression (people laughing at you on the internet is not oppression). It also enables unhealthy escapist attitudes and, in some cases, severe mental illness. One of our more fervent supporters is a diagnosed schizophrenic, who’s chalked up their schizophrenic delusions to their identity as a “multiple system”. Don’t tell them to get treatment, or you’re being oppressive! In short: the Tumblr SJ community has turned into a giant joke.”
While it may have been their intention to demonstrate the ridiculousness of transethnics, otherkins, “multiple systems,” and other misappropriations of social justice, not everyone who read their story engaged with it that way.
Some bloggers, like Free Northerner, saw this as an opportunity to equate transethnics and transabled with transgendered people.
“What is fundamentally different between a man who thinks he’s a woman and a caucasion who thinks he’s black?
How is the transgender person who wants to mutilate himself because he thinks he’s a woman when biologically he’s not, different from the able-bodied person who want to mutilate himself because he thinks he’s disabled, when biologically he’s not?
It’s logically contradictory.”
First, I should explain what a person who describes themselves as “transabled” is. In many cases, this is someone who is able-bodied, but wishes they were paralyzed and/or missing a limb. This is a real condition recognized by the medical community known more commonly as Body integrity identity disorder. People diagnosed with BIID are often treated with psychotherapy and medication to keep them from intentionally injuring themselves. Few if any doctors support amputation in BIID sufferers.
Now, back to the question posed by Free Northerner. How is being transabled any different from being transgendered?
Now, I’m far from being an expert on the subject, but what I do know is that there have been people born with a variety of congenital intersexed characteristics longer than there have been people. There are those like Caster Semenya, a woman with testicles where her ovaries should be. There are people like Cheryl Chase, a woman born with ambiguous genitalia which doctors selected for her. Those are just a couple recent examples of people with physiologically intersexed traits, and many transgendered people have no visible physiological basis. Historically, many societies created niches for people described as Third Gender, Two-Spirit, or anything that didn’t fit neatly within the typical gender binary.
There are many things I don’t know about transgendered people. Some are born with intersexed genitalia, and some don’t. Some get gender reassignment surgery while some never do. But I do know that the broad range of issues within the transgender umbrella are far from comparable to psychosis like BIID and misinterpretations of transethnicity like Prince Koyangi.