Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

One of the things I hate most is when people talk about shit they know nothing about as though they’re experts. We’ve all witnessed it. And Julia Serano is a woman after my own heart as far as this goes. Because there are certain experiences that need to be lived in order to be properly and fully understood. Here she is calling out all the so-called “experts” on gender and transsexuality for their ignorance and hypocrisies, and you can feel her anger.

So is this a book by an angry lesbian feminist? Yes. But the more you pay attention the more you’ll realize that this is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s very much a good thing. Because one thing I didn’t expect this book to be was sad. To learn about all the ignorance this subject is steeped in and the very real negative effects this has on the great many people living it day in and day out is nothing if not upsetting. If the revelations herein don’t upset you, then I have to wonder how much you really care about this subject, and why then you decided to pick up this book. It should also be said that issues of feminism affect men, and likewise issues of transsexuality affect cis people. We’re all part of this world together and we don’t live in a vacuum.

This is a relatively new kind of gender-studies book in that it’s written by a feminist lesbian trans woman. This is a look not from the outside in, but from the inside out from someone who is in a position to experience discrimination, often perhaps unintentional, due to her inclusion in three different groups. To use the language of Hubbub‘s Emily Cockayne, she is an inpert, as opposed to an expert, as she relates to us her knowledge from first hand experience. She’s incredibly intelligent and makes her points very well, but she’s also completely unashamed of herself, and her personality – and anger – reverberate through the pages. This woman has earned her attitude and the right to speak authoritatively on this subject, and it’s for this reason that I really love this book.

Not only is this book heavily saturated in personality and real-life experience, but it brings to mind issues that many of us have probably not considered, as well as how these issues effect all of us as a whole. Julia Serano opens up and allows us to take a deeply personal look into her life as she experiences it and experienced it during the various stages that she went through on her journey to becoming the person she is today. This might sound especially appealing to those very curious people who want a look into something somewhat “taboo,” but while it’s definitely interesting, it also has a way of deeply humanizing this subject, and in the process showing us how very important it is for this to be done. Julia Serano is not only incredibly smart, but incredibly brave, not just in that she has been extraordinarily true to herself but in that she’s offered us the chance to see things from her own perspective in such an unashamedly honest way. By the end of the book you’ll no doubt see femininity and LGBT* issues from an entirely new perspective, and this to me is what makes this book an utter success.

Have a look at the video below for a discussion with Julia about her book.

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Androgynous Style

Whether you’re agender, third gender, both genders, or just looking to explore new style territory, androgynous style can be a challenge. But for women, this can be easier to pull off for than for men. Not that men should ever be concerned about what others think either! And while this post is primarily geared towards bio-women, bio-men may find something useful in this as well. Androgyny is for everyone after all. Now, I’ve come to understand that those who really aren’t looking for a feminine style tend to dress a little… lazy. I don’t mean this as a judgement. But when you’re unsure or just a little apathetic, jeans and tshirts can get you into a bit of a rut. Here are some fresh ideas, along with some basics for those looking to try this out for the first time.

First of all, the most important thing I think to ask yourself is – What elements of my current style would I keep if I suddenly woke up in a man’s (or woman’s) body? Even if your answer includes dresses and skirts, these things are part of your style that really fit you and represent who you are. Keep them, no matter how girly (or masculine) they may be. Your answer to this may change day to day and that’s ok too. I know for a fact that if I was a dude I would totally still rock long pointed nails, though I may be more bothered by it when a fresh dye-job stains them pink. Also not such a great idea for job interviews.

Clothes. While I still recommend clothing made for women as they’re tailored to the shape of your body, we’re lucky that unlike it was in the past, it’s easy to find women’s clothes that are inspired by menswear. There are also varying degrees of this and in various styles. We can easily find traditional and edgy suits, boyfriend jeans, and unisex items like tshirts and sweaters, and button downs in any store. Trench coats and pea coats are universally flattering. For underneath, minimizing bras and shapewear for the hips will help streamline those curves, should you so desire.

Accessories. You might not want to wear a tie in the traditional way, but have you thought about wearing one as a belt? Sweater vests look awesome on anyone, and while you may want to skip jewelry altogether, keeping things basic or edgy is a way to make it work with this style. Unisex perfume is available at various shops such as Goth Rosary. Newsboy hats are adorable and dapper. And call me a hipster, but I love pocket watches. I’ve also been known to wear a black underbust corset (of course) in the style of a waistcoat. For many of us, ditching a bag isn’t an option, but you don’t have to carry a traditional purse. Book bags and laptop bags can be carried by anyone. My own favorites are messenger bags because I can wear them instead of carrying them and they’re big enough for my books and all the garbage that eventually piles up inside. These bags also tend to appear much more simple and casual than girly. My new one has a ouija board design.

Hair. You don’t have to get a pixie cut, though I have to say this is gorgeous. Women don’t have a monopoly on long hair, so keep that in mind. For style, simple and natural does the trick. If you like curling your hair, go for tousled waves over perfect ringlets. Bed-head, slicked back, a classic low ponytail or just regular ol’ down are easy. Some other fun options are a pompadour with a ponytail or french twist, or hidden under a hat. If you have long hair and want to fake a cut, sweep your hair back and over your head so that the ends fall down your forehead like bangs. Use a firm headband to hold this in place. Then hide the the majority of it with a hat, and style the front however you like, such as side-swept, bed-head, or spikey. For color consider going all natural, super natural-looking, or try bright and fun colors like blue and green. I’d stay away from natural colors in unnatural shades, like the type of thing you get with brands like Feria.

Makeup. Of course, skipping makeup altogether is the most obvious option, but some of us just aren’t that brave or laid back. To bring out your best without obviously having anything on, try BB cream or a light foundation, translucent powder, and some light bronzer on your temples and under your cheek bones for dimension and contouring. If a more obvious look is more your style, try a bold eye in a neutral color like black or grey, and keep lips looking more natural with a clear or neutral lip balm.

While there’s plenty other info out there on feminine looks inspired by men, there’s an unfortunate lack for those who just want to appear truly androgynous. So if you have any ideas or tips to share please comment or share some pics! Let’s brainstorm this up.