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Lady Gaga sets the record straight

March 12, 2010

This used to be an article criticizing transmisogyny in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video. A LOT of people read it, more than anything else I’d ever written here. After a while, though, it became clear people were linking to it and sharing it not to criticize the transmisogyny, but to criticize Lady Gaga. The vast majority of hits to this page have been cis people using it as a “source” to argue with other cis people. ABOUT LADY GAGA. Yawn doesn’t begin to describe it.

So I’ve taken it down, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. We’ve all got better things to talk about than another rich, white pop star.

gtj, 2013/11/06

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74 Comments leave one →
  1. lisa permalink
    March 12, 2010 10:27 am

    yea, i saw this last night and was not impressed.

  2. Skrappy permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:02 am

    I, for one, am not convinced that she has some trans-phobic anxiety. I think it is more likely that she is trying to point out how ridiculous and stupid those rumors were/are. It’s not an “I’m a woman! I’m a woman! Look! See! You can still like me!” thing but more of a “You stupid fucking idiots, this matters not. You want to see my vadge? Fine. I don’t care because you are stupid.” I mean, which one is more consistent with her persona? I’d say the latter.

    I think it’s telling that she said her vagina was offended, but not once did she say she was offended. I think that’s a subtle but important distinction. If we flip it the other way, it’s incredibly offensive when others insist transwomen do not have true vaginas, they are not true women. Why is Lady Gaga’s vagina not afforded this? Is her vagina somehow less because it is cis?

    I could be wrong. I’m not trans, but I do identify as genderqueer, so take it as you will.

  3. March 12, 2010 11:25 am

    well THAT was disappointing. i hoped she would be better than that.

  4. March 12, 2010 11:42 am

    thanks! thanks! thanks!
    i was so offended by the whole prison scenario as well. the way the space is sexualized, glamourized and exoticized – completely erasing the really fucked up ways the prison system operates.

    she is stripped in her cell by the guards – how sexy? bullshit. this is a horrible reality that people have to deal with in prison all the time.
    and the guards stripping her are trans women? WTF – way to perpetuate transphobic stereotypes that foster hate in people.

    oh, i could keep going on but i won’t.

    thanks!

  5. queenemily permalink
    March 12, 2010 12:08 pm

    Yeah, bloody marvelous eh. She loves them gays, but HEAVEN FORBID any cis woman shoulder for a second the weight of a being seen as a trans woman.

  6. March 12, 2010 12:26 pm

    Yeah. I’ve argued before that the butt of the “lady gaga has a penis” meme wasn’t lady gaga at all, but trans women. I mean, it seems pretty obvious to me. I haven’t watched that video, but… it’s a bummer to be proved right. I guess that’s what I (we) expect, though, if I may allude.

  7. Sas permalink
    March 12, 2010 2:38 pm

    While the message is problematic and Lady Gaga definitely needs a trans woman to educate her ass, I have to say I’m not convinced the guards were trans women. They seemed like cis woman pro bodybuilders to me.

    That doesn’t make the video less objectionable for other reasons, but at least it would be less directly offensive than if she’d purposefully enlisted trans women to deliver those lines.

  8. March 12, 2010 9:13 pm

    IF she really didn’t care, she wouldn’t bother addressing it at all. This is shite. Yeah, next.

  9. March 12, 2010 9:22 pm

    I’m somehow not surprised.

    I agree there’s anxiety here about being seen as a trans woman. And I think there’s a pretty clear cultural thing where when cis people are seen as or treated like trans people that it’s the worst most horrible thing ever, but that it’s still okay to treat trans people like that.

    It’s like how cis people will spend ages agonizing over “What if trans kids aren’t really trans? Won’t you damage them forever by letting them present as another gender?” but never seem to care even a tiny bit about forcing trans kids to present as the wrong gender for as long as possible.

  10. Garry permalink
    March 13, 2010 2:44 pm

    Also, prison fetishism.

  11. estrobutch permalink
    March 14, 2010 12:36 am

    Sas,
    your missing the point. its not about whehter there trans women or your idea in your head of what cis women who look like trans women are–body builders (what if they were fucking trans women body builders huh?) Its about the role there supposed to play in the fucking video.

  12. estrobutch permalink
    March 14, 2010 12:42 am

    what? are you crying cisphobia on behalf of Lady Gaga’s vag? Even if your twisted reverse transphobia were true-how bout we just take this angle–that its transphobic because she’s saying I’m not trans female because I have a vagina.

    being genderqueer and not transsexual means that your just as ignorant and privileged as any other cissexual.

    and I think her personality is to mask her insecurity with a fuck you I don’t give a fuck exterior.

  13. March 14, 2010 2:29 am

    It’s worth pointing out that one of the prison guards is played by Jane Trcka, a professional bodybuilder. As far as I know, she’s cis — but she is also best known for playing “Miss Mann” in Scary Movie, a recurring joke character where the sole joke is that she’s a trans woman gym teacher who has a creepy and fetishistic interest in her female students. There’s nothing wrong with being a female body builder, but in that case, the film used Trcka’s gender expression (she’s a really buff lady with a deep voice) to stereotype and mock trans women. Telephone… a repeat of the same? Or is she actually portraying a female bodybuilder? I’d say trans woman is the more prominent stereotype for “hyper-masculine woman” in society at large. But the video does also have some more obviously “prison butch” characters too.

    I was more grossed out by the “sexy prison” crap than the genders of characters in the video, to be honest.

  14. March 14, 2010 10:09 am

    The thing is, I have no idea what role those characters are supposed to play in the video, because the entire video is an incoherent aesthetic mess of visual tropes and references. It’s like the director just opened the pop closet and threw everything on the bedroom floor and was like “that’s a wrap!” It’s a lot easier and more productive to build a meaningful critique of something that’s not just semi-random noise.

  15. Sas permalink
    March 14, 2010 10:15 am

    estrobutch,

    They definitely could be trans women for all I know. But MY point was that what role they are playing is ambiguous. There’s nothing in the video that confirms the guards are supposed to be trans, and I think the makers of the video are unsubtle enough that they wouldn’t have left any doubt. As Holly points out, one is a cis bodybuilder who has been used to mock trans women, but there’s no way to tell if that was the point here. When I did a little searching to try and find out more, the descriptions I saw of the video mentioned the guards but didn’t mention them being trans, so apparently at least some cis people are not interpreting it that way either.

    If an interview with Gaga or one of the other video creators makes it explicit, then fine, but until then I’m just wary of reading too much into it when there’s plenty of more blatant stuff to challenge.

  16. Skrappy permalink
    March 14, 2010 11:43 am

    I find it pretty offensive that because I do not identify as trans that I’m automatically ignorant and privileged. That’s a pretty large assumption you’re making there. I’m all for equality, but the moment you place one thing over another, that is automatically hateful and unbecoming of any argument that should ever be considered valid. Hate is hate, it doesn’t matter which way it goes.

    Also, I think you missed the point of my argument entirely because you were too busy being all “zomg, not trans means automatically wrong and stupid!”

    My point is, I think pretty much everyone on the planet would be offended if you were told you are not what you are. If someone says to an transwomen “You don’t have a vagina, you definitely have a penis” that’s offensive. How is that not just as offensive when the victim is not trans? Are you suggesting that transwomen’s vaginas really do belong in some other category than the vagina’s of ciswomen?

  17. March 14, 2010 3:46 pm

    (There’s no option to “reply” to your later post, so I’m replying here, but this is a response to your second one, fyi.)

    Leaving your over-the-top defensiveness about being called out for potential privilege aside, I’ll respond directly to your point:

    No. Not everyone would be “offended” if they were told they were not what they are. If I was told “Hey, you’re German” I wouldn’t be offended, I would just say “No, I’m not.” If I was told “Hey, you’re 34,” again, it wouldn’t be OFFENSIVE. It would just be incorrect. Same if I was told something false about my body – if someone told me I only had one kidney, I would correct them if it mattered for some reason, or otherwise I would just ignore them. There would be no offense taken, because there’s nothing OFFENSIVE about being called any of those things incorrectly.

    And that’s the point here (for me, anyway): the fact that Lady Gaga took OFFENSE matters. The fact that being called trans is “offensive” is the exact problem – it means there’s something wrong with being trans. Being called trans incorrectly shouldn’t be any more offensive than when people think my heritage is German when it’s actually British, or when they guess my age wrong, or whatever. The fact that Lady Gaga not only took OFFENSE to gossipy rumours about what is or isn’t in her pants, but then did a whole opening to her video about it, perpetuates the idea that being called trans incorrectly is something to respond to, and something to be offended by.

    Interestingly enough, just now when I gave my cis-gendered straight boyfriend the general gist of the video and the background, he immediately identified this problem and acknowledged how fucked up it was. So, while being genderqueer or cis-gendered doesn’t ever make one immune to being ignorant or privileged, it also doesn’t mean you have to be. As long as you’re willing to listen.

  18. March 14, 2010 10:08 pm

    I find it pretty offensive that because I do not identify as trans that I’m automatically ignorant and privileged.

    Lulz. Of course you are and your posts highlight both! Anyone who comes to a -ism blog and has the cheek to engage in some tedious and low level “derailing for dummies” is made ignorant and is actively engaging in all manner of privileged fuckery in order to silence -ism voices.

    Taking a hot bag of “no thanks” on that shit.

    As for the crotchgate foolishness in the video. I kept waiting for the chic and awe of Gaga to dazzle me and it failed to do so. If this is considered edgy and progressive I would hate to see what’s passing for boring and derivative.

    And do not get me started on Beyonce’s horrible acting. She had like THREE lines and delivered them with all the emotion of an airline security employee.

  19. Michelle permalink
    March 15, 2010 12:57 am

    I don’t like Lady Gaga. But I think I like the comments here even less. Yeah, sometimes people get my gender wrong. But if they keep doing it after I’ve corrected them, I’d get agitated. Lady Gaga was the target of trans-misogyny even though she’s cissexual. Why? I guess because people sense something non-conforming about her.

    But I don’t think there’s anything supremacist about liking your own body. She’s not flashing herself to irk trans folk. It’s her body and her body image they’re messing with. She has a right to defend her identity. There’s nothing wrong with being a man, or a woman, or cis or trans. But I think we all want people to see our true selves, don’t we? Maybe she just strongly identifies with her body. I can’t really relate to that, but it is physiological not just a privilege.

    Aside from that, it sorta seems like to me she saying “doing whatever the hell I want = empowerment”, which I don’t agree with…there needs to be more to it than that. Plus this music’s awful. Really? A song about getting too many phone calls?

    Estrobutch,

    Not having a widely known gender to identify as, as is the case with genderqueers, is not exactly loaded with privilege. And not all genderqueers are cissexual just as not all transgender people are transsexual. Really now. This is basic stuff.

  20. badhedgehog permalink
    March 15, 2010 10:39 am

    By putting the shot and the line in the video, she’s using trans women to fan her own flames. And that’s not cool.

  21. Femme permalink
    March 15, 2010 9:54 pm

    Have you seen her photoshoot with the dildo down her pants that was supposed to look like her own?

    Have you seen the footage of her live where she’s pretending to jack off and she’s talking about how big her dick is?

    Obviously she’s embracing the rumors. What kind of pop star, in this day and age, would take pictures of themselves with a dildo in their pants?

    Lady Gaga has always been a supporter of the LBGT community. You should do a little more research before assuming that she’s trying to offend the very fans she supports.

  22. estrobutch permalink
    March 16, 2010 4:35 am

    yeah thanks for educating my genderqueer transsexual ass about how it really is. I had no fucking idea.

    nobody got gaga’s gender wrong. they’re were rumors she was trans/ had “a dick”. if she just wanted to set the record straight about her body (a real generous interpretation) she could have done it without the dick commentary. instead she made it real clear she was doing her typical shit of covering her insecurity with “provocative” fuck you i don’t give a fuck horseshit.

  23. estrobutch permalink
    March 16, 2010 4:39 am

    yeah good point. I’m more annoyed seeing cis ppl debate if the guards are trans then what the video meant anyways.

  24. estrobutch permalink
    March 16, 2010 4:41 am

    heres the other side of it tho–if cis ppl are watching the video and interpreting them as trans women its having a negative impact on actual trans women. what they meant doesn’t make life any easier for the women it impacts.

  25. estrobutch permalink
    March 16, 2010 4:44 am

    you said “i’m not trans”. not much room for assumption there. I *am* genderqueer so I’m in a pretty good position to compare and contrast and consequently judge your ass based on the opinions you expressed.

  26. estrobutch permalink
    March 16, 2010 4:59 am

    yeah I guess I’m with you on that. the prison slumming and sexifying of abuse is a lot more fucked up then gaga exposing her insecurity and transphobic kneejerking.

  27. March 16, 2010 7:10 am

    I think there’s some real talent there, so I’m disappointed that Gaga’s turning out to be no better than the all the other shameless self-promoters in terms of doing whatever it takes to get noticed.

  28. redheadedbuddha permalink
    March 16, 2010 7:32 am

    In a patriarchal world, power = penis, which leads to all kinds of jokes about women who show power, particularly political and sexual power. People (men and women) are constantly trying to take powerful ciswomen’s vaginas away from them. It makes sense to me, then, that Lady Gaga would see it as an affront. I think the anger should be properly redirected to those who spread such fear-based assumptions or jokes.

    Also, a note on education. Perhaps Lady Gaga (and definitely the rest of America) needs an education regarding transgender issues; however, I don’t see anyone offering to educate in a way that isn’t reactionary and knee-jerk. I hate educating people about heterosexual privilege; I also realize its necessity and that patience and open hands are key to making sure teachable moments are used to teach. We can’t say someone needs to be educated, mark him/her a bigot, refuse to do the educating, and demand that that person change. It simply doesn’t work.

  29. estrobutch permalink
    March 16, 2010 8:04 am

    well instead of saying fuck you to the transphobes who baited her she said “see i’m not like those trans women.”

    and frankly trans women pay a much higher cost being dehumanized for the genitalia they may or may not even have then cis women do. See no one is literally taking “cis women’s vagina’s away from them”. but ppl are literally taking trans women’s lives away from them over there genitalia in ways that cis women never need to face except in superficial ways like lady gaga did.

    as far as your kneejerk comment: you need to back off and give us space for our anger. and sometimes anger does motivate the best approach to take with certain motherfuckers out there. other times its necessary step we need to go thru taking care of ourselves before we have the energy for ignorant asses not unlike yourself. Meanwhile you can read, google repeat in preparation for when a trans person generously offers to school you.

  30. psychgoddess permalink
    March 16, 2010 8:09 am

    I’ll agree with you redheadedbuddha about education. I’ve probably watched this video like 4 or 5 time since it came out already and not once did it ever occur to me how detrimental it could be to the trans community. And I agree if Lady GaGa is going to get pissed at all the ignorant and childish dick jokes she can respond in a more adult way then she did… then again that wouldn’t exactly be her style would it? Anyway, thanks for the eye opener!

  31. Sas permalink
    March 16, 2010 9:10 am

    Estrobutch, since the comment thing above won’t let me reply to your replies directly, I just want to make it clear that I do agree with you on most of the issue. I only wanted to separate the issue of the guard characters’ trans/cis status away from what I consider the more important point of Gaga’s genital defensiveness and insecurity.

    I did take some tiny solace in the fact that the guard said “I told you she didn’t have a dick” rather than “I told you she wasn’t a man.” Not saying that’s a concious acknowledgement of gender identity on the creators’ part, but baby steps, I guess. ;)

  32. redheadedbuddha permalink
    March 16, 2010 9:23 am

    I certainly didn’t mean to take away your anger or your safe space. I know how enraging it is when people come into a safe space and silence. This was not my intent, and I wasn’t criticizing anyone on this blog for his or her anger over Lady Gaga’s carelessness.

    I was, however, criticizing approach. I think Lady Gaga would like to be a friend to transgendered people and doesn’t know how. I think her intention in the video was to problemmatize/blur gender distinctions, and she failed. I would hope, too, that she would be open to a little education, so she can make more sophisticated statements to her very large and even more poorly educated audience. She could be a very close friend, and I think it would be a mistake to shut her out before opening one’s hands with an invitation to learn.

    I don’t have any ideas as to who might do that. I think it would be nice to see.

  33. Ectobob permalink
    March 16, 2010 1:23 pm

    I guess I don’t see how certain people are reading “fuck transwomen” in Lady Gaga showing her genitalia to put a rumor to rest. It actually says more “shut the fuck up transphobes” to me. The *way* she said it could have been better, but given her personality, it makes sense for her to settle a genitalia argument by flashing her genitalia. “I think you have a penis.” “What? No I don’t. See? I only have a vagina. It’s offended that you think it’s something it’s not.”

    It was a joke. The only way I can think that the prison sequence was offensive is if I were grasping at straws to be offended at something. The video was intentionally over the top in everything it did. She and Beyonce kill an entire diner full of people and then dance in American flag apparel for fuck’s sake. Absolutely nothing in that video should be taken seriously.

    I haven’t the faintest idea where people are getting that she’s insecure about *anything*. Have you seen her personality? You *have* to be really fucking secure about yourself to do the things she does.

    If someone can calmly and rationally refute me on anything I said, please do. Screaming at me that “you don’t understand us and never will so I won’t explain my feelings to you” gets nobody anywhere, though.

  34. Skrappy permalink
    March 16, 2010 3:56 pm

    I would concur with you on your analysis that being called German when you’re English can and cannot be offensive. It’s all about context though. Based on my ethnic heritage though, I would be very offended if someone called me German, but that might have something to do with the fact that the Nazis murdered several members of my family (we’re Sinti).

    And given that it’s about context, it’s highly likely that I contextualize Lady Gaga very differently than you. For instance, I went to college with her before she dropped out and became the blonde musical robot she is today. So when I think about Lady Gaga, I have a deeper breadth of history to recall in terms of how she presents herself than those who never knew Stefani.

    Regardless of what I have to say, it’s clear that the trans community has decided to take offense over this. I honestly don’t see why, because, to get down to it, I don’t think she was ever offended by those rumors, period. She said something flippant one time and it’s now some big joke to her. Is it funny on all levels? No. But it’s now part of the lore that surrounds her as public figure.

    I also don’t think the “yo, here’s my vadge” shot was in response to those rumors either. As someone who read a lot about those rumors thanks to me ONTD obsession, that didn’t even cross my radar when I saw it.

    Of course, someone will point out that I’m not trans and argue that’s why I didn’t see it. Do that if you want, but that’s a pretty sad worldview to have if you think the only way you can ever look at anything is from one angle.

  35. March 16, 2010 4:48 pm

    This post and all comments made me think about this from a different perspective and gave me serious food for thought. I work hard to recognize the privilege and ignorance in which I exist so I can do something about it, so thank you for sharing your thoughts. I would not have seen it this way without all of your commentary. I will definitely be sharing this perspective with people I know to at least challenge them to think about it from some of your perspectives, as I was challenged to do so.

  36. Captain Obvious permalink
    March 17, 2010 12:59 pm

    There are a few factual errors and assumptions made in the original post, which call into question the validity of its conclusions:

    1. The prison guards are not trans women; they are butch cis women.
    2. Where are the “drag queens” in this video? Are you referring to the women you thought were trans as “drag queens”? Do I need to explain how problematic that is?
    3. The rumours surrounding Lady Gaga have been overwhelmingly that she is intersex; not that she is trans.
    4. If you have read or seen any of Lady Gaga’s responses to the intersex rumours, describing her reaction as “anxiety” is patently ridiculous. She has joked about it and intentionally not denied it or acknowledged it — not out of fear, but because it is a ridiculous question to ask. As explained below, she still doesn’t even definitively answer the question in this video.

    Fatshionista had a great analysis posted here: http://www.fatshionista.com/cms/index.php?option=com_mojo&Itemid=69&p=357

    In the comments section, she explains how this scene is not a denial of the intersex rumour, but rather a visual representation of the sex rumours and a comment on the celebrity culture that produced it:

    “…I feel like the context is way too involved for me to just accept this at face value. We get Lady Gaga being forcibly stripped — which seems to be a theme for her — by two authority figures. However, their authority is ultimately subversive — they’re wearing edited uniforms, and the reaction is one of disappointment: too bad.

    “It’s also worth noting that folks who are intersexed are not necessarily instantly recognizable as such, certainly not without a non-blurred look at their junk (and sometimes not even then), which I think is being lost in the existing conversations. I realize the focus on Lady Gaga’s dick rumors have focused on the concept from a trans perspective, which is absolutely understandable and appropriate, but I personally think the intersex angle is being ignored, especially considering the rumor has never been that Gaga is transgendered, but that she is a “hermophrodite” [sic]. This is related to trans politics, for sure, but the prospect of Gaga’s sex being explicitly neither male NOR female also has its own unique set of cultural baggage that’s being overlooked, in my opinion.

    “Therefore, I’d argue that the blurring preserves the question instead of giving an answer. Now, I am disinclined to believe that Gaga is actually intersexed, but the way she chooses (or doesn’t — I think her intention here is actually less important than how the scene ultimately functions) to toy with this idea is really interesting to me.”

    As a final note, can we please keep the hostility in these comments to a minimum? I realize people are passionate about this subject, but calling someone “cissupremacist” and ignorant just because they announce their cis identity is problematic and not helpful. I doubt anyone participating in this discussion is coming from a hateful perspective, and while most of us are coming from positions of privilege in one way or another, that doesn’t make anyone evil.

  37. estrobutch permalink
    March 18, 2010 5:28 am

    cissupremacist is not a hostile word towards cis ppl. its a tool for describing power that can destroy trans ppl lives. its hostility is toward the violence that cis ppl can do to us.

    this is its own point. I’m not trying to make it about the video itself just you–how do you know that the guards are cis or trans? I hope its not because there “butch” (and how do you know that?). Maybe you have inside knowledge about what gender they were assigned at birth but I’m guessing your just going on the fact that no mention is made of there trans/cis status and therefore there cis. because a cis woman is just a woman and a trans woman always has to be a *trans* woman, never just a woman.

  38. voz permalink
    March 18, 2010 1:09 pm

    ¡dios Mio! …the cissplaining here blows my effin mind.

    Let’s break it down:

    Trans women raise awareness of marginalization.

    Cis people come bounding along to tell trans women what shit really means.

    Cis people whinge about how unfairly they are treated (lolwhut?)

    Cis people then proceed to tell trans women we don’t know what the fuck we’re talking about.

    Cis people finish the job by cissplaining what trans women need to do about it, cuz nothing makes you an expert on trans women like NOT BEING ONE, amirite?

    lather rinse repeat.

    My heart goes out to all of you (you know who you are) who have the patience to deal with this shit.

  39. March 19, 2010 2:51 pm

    I am really saddened at all of the cis folks who are saying that this discussion is somehow “oppressive” to cis people. And yet you can’t see how gudbuytjane and others (and I include myself in this category) might not have been too jazzed about Lady Gaga’s making a “joke” at the expense of actual trans* people by re-centering herself, and her own status as a cis woman? Hint: It is not up to you, as a cis person, to tell trans* folks that they should not be offended by this or that they are interpreting it the wrong way, or whatever. (Lest anyone think that I am white-knighting here, I recently experienced quite a bit of able-splaining, personal attacks, and accusations of “not getting it” from many commenters on my FWD post on Amanda Palmer and Evelyn Evelyn; though this situation and that one are by no means the *exact* same, I think the tendency for people in the majority to show up and ‘splain away as to why we are “interpreting things the wrong way”–the right way, of course, is the way that the cis or able majority interprets things!–can be similar at times, as are some of their tactics.)

    Thank you for this post, gudbuytjane, and for putting into words what many of us felt while watching the video.

  40. March 21, 2010 2:11 am

    I came across this article when I did a google search for “trans community response to Lady Gaga’s Telephone video.” I am not a member of the trans community but the reason why I was searching on this topic is because I too found the video to portray transgender/sexual people in a not so positive light. I actually have a music blog and wrote an article about this idea after Gaga declared her video “ground breaking” because it included transgender/sexual & gay themes. I found this comment especially discerning because I though she did a poor job with her portrayal of the trans community. I have gotten a lot of flack for having this opinion. Please take a moment and read my article and tell me what you think: http://mosuniverse.com/blogs/taj/2010/03/lady-gaga-thinks-shes-ground-breaking-thanks-to-trans/

  41. Paul Henne permalink
    March 21, 2010 4:48 pm

    I think that you see Gaga as a conventional pop star, while she is much different than any conventional, wanna-be-Britney type. She is the truly ironic artist. Check this out:

    http://hennepm.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/lady-gaga-the-brilliant-video-star-or-the-fame-monster/

    As for the gender issues, I think that the vagina flashing in the video has to do with celebrity gossip rather than gender issues. She uses drag, furthermore, to destroy feminine stereotypes and nudity to ironically combat the empowerment of women through sexual clothing.

  42. Sas permalink
    March 22, 2010 3:03 pm

    In light of this news I withdraw my previous caveat about the guards. :P I suppose I was just hoping she wasn’t actually thinking of trans women at all, but I guess she was in fact thinking of us, with explotation in mind. Ah well.

  43. lindsey permalink
    March 25, 2010 6:16 am

    It is likley that the comments about lady gaga having a dick have come from heterosexual women out of envy of her. Lets face it many transwomen end up looking more attractive then average cis women. A lot of it is to do with there highet, most models are tall with long legs and slim hips and most transwomen are tall with long legs and slim hips. It just happens that female hormones cause bones to not grow as long and also cause the hip bones to widen. So cis women who are exposed to them during puberty are less likley to have these model like features. Genetics and nutrition also play a big part.

    This idea that cis people benefit from trans peoples oppression does not make sense to me. There are not enought transpeople for this to be the case. It could be said that men benefit from womens oppression or that white people benefit from racism because it can bee seen how. It works by men getting more of there share while women get less, white countrys growing richer.

    I am a cis lesbian my partner is a transwoman, i do not benefit from any transphobia she faces. When out we walk together hand in hand, i have taken her to women only events, including a social group i attend. I have not had anyone say anything to us. I admit in some places i have noticed people looking at her in ways i dont like. These people have been mostly women in places like cafes, cinama etc. But once i catch them they look away, i do not know if thats my cis gender priviledge or what. Something i have noticed is that men do not bother us, in past relationships with other cis women or when out with my friend who is another cis woman i have noticed men more likley to take an interest. Infact ive noticed people ask me less questions about my sexuality in general since ive been seeing my current partner. Also people are being nicer to my partner at work since she has been seeing me, she also says people respond to her better if i go with her to things, this appears to be the case at the doctors. There was a doctor that used to be off with her, at one time shouting at her, he is fine with her when im in the room.

    My partner is special though, she does not wear lots of make up, does not try to hard to pass, wears trousers with fitted t shirts most of the time. She does not think she has to dress as a doll or sleep with men to prove she is a woman. I will be honest, i dont have much time for straight transwomen (or straight cis women for that matter), the personality of straight women is different. There is no point saying that all transwomen should be able to attend lesbian events just because there trans, if there straight they do not belong there, simple as.

    I have attended trans groups with my girlfriend, at these groups ive met other transwomen and noticed that i do not get on with any of the straight ones, they are just like straight cis women in there personalitys i.e carnt take a joke from a woman it has to come from a man, notice what someone is wearing before they notice them, whisper things but forget that they are looking at the person they are whispering about, all typical straight woman traits. One time i heard a group of straight transwomen bitching about my girlfriend saying she does not know how to dress. I wonder if they would have said that about a cis woman? No, they only said it about my girlfriend because she looks hotter in her cargo pants then they could ever hope to in (or out) all the dresses a girl could wish for.

  44. estrobutch permalink
    March 25, 2010 7:28 am

    you do get benefits from cissexism. for example from a trans perspective, never having to be chronically misgendered on the basis of what gender was assigned to you at birth is a huge privilege. not having to internalize that so it continures to weigh on you even after you transition is maybe an even bigger privilege.

    the fact that trans medical care is not actually centered around the needs of trans ppl but actually around protecting cis ppl is another huge privilege.

    and why do you feel the need to compound trans and woman together but not cis and woman? Figure out what your protecting by doing that and you’ll probably find some other privileges that come at trans ppl’s expense.

  45. Sas permalink
    March 25, 2010 10:11 am

    Wow. As a straight trans woman, I must say that I doubt I’d get along with you much either, if you’re going to assume I want to be a dress-up barbie doll and that I think I have to sleep with men is to cement my womanhood (rather than, you know, that I just have a sexual orientation like every other human being). Here’s a link that might be helpful.

  46. lindsey permalink
    March 26, 2010 6:03 am

    Cis people get miss gendered if they dont dress and act in the way society states is correct for there gender.

    The way i wrote cis woman and transwoman is not for any reason. I am just used to seeing transwoman as one word, ciswoman sounds odd. To be honest i think it is stupid that born women should be relabled to ciswomen and end up sounding like some fatty acid or aminoacid in a chemists text book. It just does not sound as good as transwoman. Transmen seem to just get on with there lives and most i know dont go about complaining about things or focus on weather cismen should be called cis men or men. I think that female hormones do things to the mind that arnt always good, i have wondered what it would be like to have my brain clear of eastrogen and have testosterone for a day.

    The politics is what causes so many people to hate transpeople. Politics that want to blame every cis person for transphobia just because we do not experience it. I think society is too focused on gender, people are too focused on wanting to know everyones gender.

    If someone wants to call me a transmisogynist then cool.

  47. jayinchicago permalink
    March 26, 2010 1:57 pm

    I would like to reply to something you (or someone else with your name) responded with below. You said: “The politics is what causes so many people to hate transpeople. Politics that want to blame every cis person for transphobia just because we do not experience it”

    Who exactly should we blame for transphobia? If cis people didn’t create transphobia and cissexism, transphobia and cissexism wouldn’t exist. If you hate transphobia and the “politics” around trans people pointing it out, the onus is on YOU to dismantle the system of cissexism.

  48. March 27, 2010 5:47 pm

    The role they’re playing? Every butch women’s prison guard ever. Think Caged Heat, Sybil Danning in Reform School Girls, etc. Like you said, it’s all about the intertextuality and references.

    I didn’t read them as trans. Maybe it’s a “seeing what you want to see” thing, because this old dyke read them as bull-dykes of the sadistic sort.

  49. March 27, 2010 5:48 pm

    BTW, here by way of Pursuit of Harpyness

  50. Scout Sprout permalink
    March 29, 2010 10:00 am

    this is a really great article! thanx for posting!

  51. March 30, 2010 9:48 am

    Wow. Some of these comments are atrocious…

    First of all, whenever there is oppression, there is privilege. That is, if X people are oppressed, then anyone who is not X benefits from this oppression.

    As a cis woman, I am more likely to obtain services with dignity, than if I were trans.
    As a cis woman, I am less likely to have my gender questions than if I were trans.
    As a cis woman, I am more likely to get a job than if I were trans.
    As a cis woman, I am more likely to have others call me by my proper gender.
    As a cis woman, I am less likely to be targeted by transphobic hate crimes.

    Need I go on?

    And yes, people can be both privileged and oppressed (and we usually are). Recognizing our privilege does not erase any oppression we may face (e.g. sexism, ableism, racism). And for people who experience multiple oppressions (e.g. transwomen of Colour, lesbians with disabilities), these oppressions compound each other.

    It is not up to trans people to educate us cis people. It is not their job to be less angry or change how they articulate their feelings and opinions in order to make cis people feel more comfortable.

    It has been my experience that when someone of a marginalised group says “This is oppressive” rather than argue why it isn’t the case, we can learn.

    I believe women when they say they experience sexism. I believe People of Colour when they experience racism. And I believe transwomen when they say they experience transmisogyny.

    When we say “this isn’t oppression” we are refusing to learn. And then to expect transpeople to educate us when we aren’t willing to hear what they have to say, well, that is downright insulting.

  52. Julisa permalink
    March 30, 2010 10:30 am

    Hi, I found your blog from Feministe. I just have one quick question: “she’s able-bodied, cis, blonde, thin, and conventionally attractive”…these are all true, but did you ever take into account that she is Italian without any altered features? Also that she may-or-may not have a mental disorder, etc.? Ableism doesn’t simply refer to being physically-able, persons with mental illnesses/disorders, just as myself, also face prejudices.

  53. Julisa permalink
    March 30, 2010 10:51 am

    “It has been my experience that when someone of a marginalised group says “This is oppressive” rather than argue why it isn’t the case, we can learn.”

    Ay, but this is not always the case. One of the reasons I decided to begin commenting on blogs/forums is because of this. Yes, the majority of the times this is true, but not always. Someone who is a part of an oppressed group, just like anyone, has the capacity to be wrong sometimes. Would you consider yourself racist? What if you said something about a particular race/ethnicity of people of which you are not, and I said whatever it is you said was racist (even though it wasn’t to you, and many, many others). Does that make my argument invalid? Would you stand by your word? Every time someone says they are offended, sure, they have a right to be offended, but does that mean that what offends them is necessarily “wrong” or even offensive in and of itself? I dislike how a lot of comments here make it seem as if cis women go throughout this world having it absolutely sooooo easy. Being a trans woman is hard for me simply because I choose to be a trans WOMAN. Being a woman in this world isn’t hard. Once trans men transition they have it a lot easier than us because they pick up the privilege of being a man if they “pass”. And even they, still, face oppression for being a trans man.

  54. estrobutch permalink
    March 30, 2010 10:52 am

    italiphobia?

  55. estrobutch permalink
    March 30, 2010 11:57 am

    thanks for history lesson. thank god were white now.

  56. March 31, 2010 7:06 am

    @ Julisa

    Yes people can be wrong but my experience is that when someone belongs to a marginalized group that I am not a part of, it is my place to be quiet and listen and learn, rather than argue.

    Would I consider myself racist? Absolutely. I live in a racist culture. I have learned racism since I was born. I do anti-racist solidarity work but that doesn’t mean that I don’t do racist things or say racist things. (And sexist things, and transphobic things, etc.) I think we can’t really work on ourselves if we deny the impact of conditioning we have experienced. Sure, it is easy for me to say “I am not ____” but in doing so, I would not be forcing myself to rid myself of this conditioning.

    If someone said something I said was racist, I would listen to them. Except for one instance (when I was doing Palestinian solidarity work), I have found that I agreed with the person calling me out, that the word I was using (or whatever) was racist. It didn’t matter that I didn’t intend to be racist. Intention isn’t a factor.

    RE: “being a woman isn’t hard”, did you mean to say being a woman is hard or isn’t? (Wasn’t sure from your comments). I would argue that women (cis women and transwomen) are absolutely impacted by sexism and transwomen are impacted by dual sexist and transphobic oppression.

  57. leoftmtrans88 permalink
    April 10, 2010 3:19 pm

    I think that you are definitely taking what Skrappy is saying the wrong way. Just because you are genderqueer doesn’t mean you can judge someone. Skrappy’s opinions are just as valuable as anyone else’s. Yes, Skrappy said that s/he is not trans, but you are judging her. I have seen the video quite a few times and I still find it hard to believe that the guards are transwomen. That is not to say that they aren’t. Lady Gaga is known to be different than other people. The media construes what people say. It is possible that “my vagina takes offense” was taken out of context.

    As a “minority” group, transpeople (I am incorporating genderqueer and all other gender variations here) should not be putting each other down. We already get that enough from people that are transphobic. Judging is a way of putting each other down.

  58. MomWithOpinion permalink
    November 14, 2010 2:49 am

    As the mom of a trans-girl, I found this post really interesting. I know I’m probably wrong, here, but a certain line of thinking keeps coming back to me, a different interpretation.

    First of all, I should admit that while I’ve read about this here and there, I may not have all the facts, but it seems to me that Lady Gaga never actually says she’s a cis-woman, only that she’s a real woman. My daughter certainly would tell you this, too. In my daughter’s case, it’s not what’s between her legs that makes her a real woman, she knows this to her core, so she is not lying when she says she’s a real woman.

    Lady Gaga says her vagina would be offended. Who’s to say that she didn’t have that vagina carefully and expertly crafted? Is a surgically created vagina any less a vagina?

    You might say, but what of the pictures of Lady Gaga as a young girl. Well, when my daughter grows-up, the pictures of her will overwhelmingly show a young girl. Even when she dressed as a boy out of the house, she was wearing dresses or fabric wrapped into dresses etc at home all the time from the age of two! If she insists, we’ll hide or even destroy the images of her from a very young age where she looks like a boy.

    The fact is that it is very possible that Lady Gaga is a trans-woman. So many trans children today transition quite young and “go stealth.” They take hormone blockers and when they’re old enough move onto the appropriate hormones and reassignment surgery. Their names and gender are changed on their birth records. They are, for all intents and purposes, real women. And, given the prejudice trans-people face, and the fame Lady Gaga obviously craves, perhaps she has simple decided it’s non of anyone’s business and answers questions “truthfully” without necessarily revealing all.

    I do think that she is trying to push gender boundaries. Her motives may be simply to shock and titillate, and we all know that sex sells, but maybe she is also trying to use her celebrity to put queer sex firmly in the public eye.

    I’m a cis-woman, straight and long married, but I think if I were young now I’d identify as genderqueer. I always thought the whole idea of gender was bullshit – you see, I was never interested in most of the things I was suppose to embrace. Housecleaning and cooking did not turn me on, football and fighting and climbing trees were much more appealing, and make-up, frilly dresses, and dolls made me gag. When I got older, I did embrace a more feminine look, but I liked to wear a man’s pin stripe suit, too, and my idea of a”feminine” look was more drag queen than girly.

    As a young adult, I was able to find people (a group of straight and GBLT kids all into music, art and culture), but before that age I had a hard time fitting in. Elementary school was one long hazing, and while it got better toward the end of high school, I was never exactly popular – tolerated perhaps with a very few friends. Now, I’m very happy with friends and family who are of all shapes, sizes, and predilections. My husband is very masculine but has a very strong feminine side (I’m more likely to say, okay, enough already with the feelings than he is!), and while I think running a business is fun, he would be at sea. He’s a creative artist, instead.

    One other point. I, personally, I’m very ambivalent about “going stealth,” because I think we should all demand that we are accepted for who and what we are. I hated to be told over and over all my life you’re too masculine, you walk like a man, you need to be more feminine and weak to attract a guy. I was who I was and I wanted to be accepted as the strong, independent, somewhat aggressive female I am, not have to play down attributes that would be celebrated if I had a penis. But I’m also old enough and finally wise enough to realize that it is a lot to ask of anyone to put themselves out there for a public hazing. Not everyone is up to the abuse.

  59. Miley permalink
    February 12, 2011 8:41 am

    Im sorry but as a t-girl myself, I have to disagree. Whilst, yes trans women are women, they are not natural women, it hurts me to say it but it’s true; were not real women. Were transwomen. No more no less.

  60. Sammy Jean Huston permalink
    May 8, 2011 9:39 am

    I like LGG but I only wish she could have found her own identity and no be a Madonna wannabe :( I wish she would learn to dance and get a better choreographer sad but true her shows are entertaining skits but to me they look cheap and amateurish. Her music is great but she needs more in the dance and stage performances
    Only my opinion
    Sammy Jean Huston

  61. bad intense permalink
    November 13, 2011 2:01 pm

    in this debate is missing another theory.
    maybe she was a transgender and she is announcing she is post-op.
    how’s that for a conspiracy theory? lol.

  62. Rocky permalink
    May 17, 2012 12:24 pm

    There is a lot of anger here, and that has me hesitant to respond, but I think there is one part of this discussion that is missing, and shockingly so, in my opinion. Part of the issue with Gaga being called “transgender” or “intersex” is the assumption that any woman doing something different than typical; and even though you try to paint her as “more of the same”, that’s clearly untrue, she’s a far cry from popstars past; there has to be something male about her. The idea that she “has a dick” or “once had a dick” is present, in the first place, to remove femininity from her. It’s a form of misogyny of it’s own. The same type of thing was applied to Ciara when she first debuted. Any girl who can compete with men and boys, whether it’s in ideas, physical strength, or even in pushing convention, automatically is made “less of a female”, and these types of rumors are applied. Lady Gaga shouldn’t be hated for affirming that she is, in fact, female. The rumors themselves are transphobic, but painting Gaga as transphobic for attempting to dismiss them is going too far. Trans women are women. But trans women are different from cis women. I understand that this situation may have been taken as hurtful to trans women, but I don’t understand why Lady Gaga should be hated for affirming that she’s a cis woman, and not trans, especially since she did it in a way that is almost a “fuck you” to those who started the rumors in the first place. She wasn’t saying women with vaginas are the only women, or that trans women’s vaginas aren’t true vaginas. I, too, saw it more of a “yes, I have a vagina, now get over it,” than a “no, guise, look, I’m totally a chick, lol, see, I have a vag!” And this situation is a tough situation to be put into, for anyone. On the one hand, if she says “I’m female, I was born female, and I am not trans or intersex,” she offends people. On the other hand, if she says nothing, she affirms the idea that a woman cannot be strong, different, and outside of the normal “female” social norms unless she’s really a man. This is not that a trans woman is a man. This is that the misogynistic idea is that Gaga’s traits “must actually be male traits therefore she’s a man.” The thing about it is that being trans isn’t a problem, it doesn’t make someone “not a woman”, and I don’t think someone as LGBTQ involved as Gaga would believe something like that. I’m not a huge Gaga fan, but I can’t see this video, or her statement, in a transphobic way. I mean, what would you like from her? To claim that she is trans or intersex? Perhaps she could’ve not spoken on the rumors at all… but I don’t think speaking on them makes her transphobic. I think that any person has the same right to be the gender they identify as. She identifies as a woman, and so she should get to express that identity, too. Celebrities have it a lot harder than you realize. They have to deal with these types of things 24/7 (and I’m including you being angry with her for addressing her rumors.) Just like there’s nothing wrong with an actor affirming that he’s straight, there is nothing wrong with Gaga affirming that she’s a cis woman. I think you need to pick your battles, here. There are some definite cases of transphobia that should be addressed, that are far more blatant and awful than this. I’m sure you’re aware of how many trans women of color are murdered each year. Because a pop star didn’t handle something ABOUT HERSELF the way you wanted her to, you’re all up in arms. It’s not like she insulted trans people, or said anything awful about trans people. Gaga is probably one of the more vocal supporters of queer people in general; demonizing her for TRYING to do good is throwing your daggers in the wrong direction. I guarantee that if you told Gaga that this was offensive to the trans community, she would apologize. She’s a pretty good person. And I’m sure you understand that the average person knows next to nothing about transgender people, so things they say and do that you find insensitive, they may not even know is hurtful in any way. Being different sometimes means educating people who aren’t used to people like you (experience tells me this; I’m about as different as they come.) BTW, Gaga isn’t blonde, she wears her hair blonde sometimes, and she doesn’t have conventional beauty, many people even say she’s ugly. I know you’re upset, but you should at least be honest in your criticism of her.

Trackbacks

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  10. Analytic Looks at Criticism of Lady Gaga’s “Trans Rumor” « Speak and Rethink
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