Hip-hop, trans people, and a glimpse of a hopeful future


#1

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#2
News flash, mainstream media: it’s not that great anywhere for trans people and those who love us.

Twenty years ago, at an event at a Unitarian Church, a transgender friend asked me if I would guard the bathroom door while he was in there. Part of me thought this was irrational. It was early, there were only about five of us there, and, to all outward appearances, my friend was the man he had, internally, always been. Later that evening a stranger would look at my friend, who was wearing a suit and tie, and ask, “Dude, why so formal? Did you just come from work?” But I was happy to help. In spite of my ignorance of transgender issues I understood, as much as I could, not having lived in fear all my life as he had, his concerns.

Let me repeat: this was twenty years ago. I’m glad things have gotten better. I love this article, because if it hadn’t been here I might never have read about Mister Cee, and because I think there’s so much here that needs to be said, and so much more dialogue that is needed. But I’m still disheartened by how little progress seems to have been made. And I’m a cisgender person who’s outside looking in. I can’t imagine how difficult it must still be for most transgender people.


#3

Would interest in transsexuals be something like a kink or a fetish, or is it more of an orientation? Also, the hip-hop relation is quite interesting: I thought of ton-loc immediatly but didn’t know it was a running theme. Is it unique to hiphop? Take a Walk on the Wild Side and Lola come to mind, but the experience isn’t presented so negatively (even Dude Looks Like a Lady isn’t)


#4

I realize the trangender community is very large and very diverse, but keep in mind that for many the term “transsexual” is offensive. And, if my understanding of the difference between kinks, fetishes, and orientations is correct, being attracted to transgender people would be an orientation. I think of fetishes especially as being a certain attraction to an object. It’s an important distinction given that some men see transgender individuals as “faceless and interchangeable”, and we’re talking about people. Although as the article mentions, there are men who “were not specifically seeking out a relationship with a trans woman, but they were not put off when they found out” as well as those who “don’t distinguish…or they appreciate both types of women”. It could be, especially in the cases of such men, that “orientation” is much more fluid than is normally thought.

And thanks for mentioning “Lola”…one of my favorite songs, and one of my favorite bands. Ray Davies has said that the song’s origin came from a friend chatting up an attractive girl, only to be surprised when he saw she had a five o’clock shadow. I don’t know the rest of the story, but I like to think it had a happy ending.

You’ve reminded me that gender fluidity was a big thing in the glam rock era–the most obvious example being David Bowie, although a few years later there’d be Boy George and Pete Burns of Dead Or Alive. I wonder if, at the time, such gender fluidity was played up for shock value.


#5

Please also keep in mind, there are people attracted to transgendered folk, and there are jerks that objectify and fetishize us for it in creepy ways. Some of the transwomen I know have a hard time weeding out the creepers because they suck.

When I saw this article come through on my reader, I thought it was from some of my trans blogs. It’s nice to see it on something more mainstream. I think the bigotry trans folks deal with will only be lessoned if we are not treated as dirty little secrets, and erased, but discussed in mainstream media. (You know, as other than jokes, etc.)


#6

This is something I thought about while reading that “despite a huge population with some level of sexual interest in trans people, it’s the rare person who discusses this interest openly”. Aside from the fact that there’s still a stigma attached to anyone whose sexual attractions are “different” it must be difficult for those who don’t want to be jerks who are attracted to transgender people to say so without sounding like or coming across as a jerk. The old line “gentlemen prefer blondes”, bland as it may seem, is objectifying, but admitting an attraction to transgender people becomes even more so. Because they are so often shunned some transgender people turn to sex work, which reduces them to sex objects and further pushes them to the periphery.

That’s why I’m glad this story came out, and that it’s being widely discussed, but I’d also like to see more. It’s one thing to hear from a guy who’s admitting his attraction, but I’d really like to see more mainstream media treatment of transgender people as people.

And with that I’ll shut up.


#7

Well, what’s the difference? Seems to me not much, besides the connotations.

As an aside, “transgender” is generally preferred to “transsexual”: it’s more accurate and is usually considered more respectful.


#8

My understanding has always been that “transsexual” refers to a specific portion of the transgender popoulation, namely those who seek to change their sex to match their gender identity. So to me it’s kind of an “all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares” situation. So one can say “transgender” to be safe, but it’s a very non-specific term that encompasses many, many different kinds of gender variance.


#9

I think there is a layer of time in the difference in terms. In my gender support groups, older trans folks tend to be more likely to use transsexual, but the younger folks use terms like generic “trans”, transgender, and with a higher number of genderqueer, and nonbinary folks. I think some of it has to do with access to the internet, and how fast information travels that way with younger folks.


#10

I think it is pretty impressive that the interviewer is most concerned with his friend breaking the law and less concerned with who is is breaking it with.


#11

I suppose it just depends with how much one wants to differentiate themselves. I do think word choice is affected by many people thinking erroneously that “transsexual” refers to sexual orientation or activity, so a lot of trans people tend to distance themselves from it. I personally find “transgender” to be a somewhat ineffective word unless one is discussing extremely broad gender variant topics. But, that’s just me. :slight_smile:


#12

just look for personals touting or seeking “straight-acting” as a trait, or gay men requesting “no femmes.” Because of the stigma around a “gay” identity, many men attracted to us seek out trans women who are “passable,” or they parse their desire so only the receptive partner in a sexual act is gay, and the other is straight.

I’m not sure this can be wholly interpreted as a behavior of people with an interest in transpeople, but who nevertheless wish to avoid confronting this interest. More often than not, what I see on online personals sections (e.g. Craigslist) is that there is such an overwhelming number of heterosexual men frequenting them, compared to the availability of cisgendered women of a compatible orientation, that men will, after some time of pursuing only cisgendered women (to no avail), give up and settle for an encounter with a transwoman, pretending that the person they are meeting is a cisgendered female instead; in effect, asking the transwoman to engage in heterosexual roleplay with them.


#13

I can see that.

I was thinking the other day, that folks outside the trans umbrella often see us as one monolithic experience, when in reality there is so much diversity. Different stages, different gender identities, and different race, which effects how society treats us.

I kind of like the explosion of new terminology and identities. It’s really nice to see a non binary approach being accepted.


#14

I found the entire interview incredibly powerful and moving. Much respect to Ebro and Cee.

FWIW I’m genderqueer and I’d guess I’m about Cee’s age. I’m a long-time hip-hop head and I just dug out a 90s-era Cee mixtape and put it in the box. I can’t help but think of how inconceivable this interview and the positive response it’s generated would have been in the year he released the mixtape (1998).

There’s no question that the world still needs to see a lot of learning and change, but sometimes I can’t believe how much things have changed in a positive sense, particularly over the last two years.


#15

Actually I think there is a pretty big difference. I think of kinks and fetishes as focused on the sex act itself while an orientation focused on a particular type of person. So I think the terms actually differ in denotation and not merely connotation.


#16

Doesn’t mean he is Gay, he likes Women with extra. Remember Gender =//= Sex, the two are totally separate. If he was with a FtM that would be more of a homosexual relationship.

There is a lot of Homophobia if the Black/HipHop Community. I would say it is worse for Men, because there have been many Lesbian and Female-to-Male producers, managers, within the Hip Hop Community. However, if you are Male, it isn’t acceptable to be feminine in any way.

So in a way it is a war against femininity within the Hip Hop Community. It is kinda shameful, that other ethnicities other than Black that like Hip Hop and are embraced, except if they’re Queer.

In Hip Hop, Gender is like this. Females are considered “bitches”; Males are considered “Niggas”; if you are anything, but they will call you a “bitch ass nigga” or “faggot”

I’m trans - live in compton, ca, love hip hop, and rock, metal. pop anything. use to do music (tranny bass player ftw!), but no one wanted to work with me. Couldnt pay the bills, decided to do something else in life. But glad to see more men opening up and being honest with themselves. Because I know escorts who you wouldn’t believe give them calls. Athletes and Rapper be frontin’ !

Man dating a MtF = Straight
Woman dating MtF = Lesbian

Hope more Hip Hop listeners would try to understand.

RAPeAndGetAwayWithIt@yahoo.com if anyone in Queer in LA wanna meet up and do music. lol worth a try


#17

I can’t be bothered to keep track of all the different terms for trans/cis/LGBT etc, so I tend to stick with the generic; ‘people’.


#18

I think that’s great until you need to discuss issues that affect a specific group of people.


#19

That’s a nice sentiment as far as not being judgmental about differences, but it makes real-world communication a problem.

“Hey, Bob and Susie are both single and into low-budget horror movies. We should hook them up!”
“Nah, didn’t you know? She’s a person.”


#20

Hmmm. Reminds me too much of white people claiming they “don’t even SEE color! We’re all just human beings!”