Well I was enlightened yesterday on a few things by Stephen in his intense blog, Super-Mattachine, which is blowing my mind right now. Here's a quote from his article about WeHappyTrans--
In this article in the Advocate, where the media attention to my video began, all of the focus is on me as an individual: my parentage, my “journey,” my gender, my sexuality. There is almost no talk about WeHappyTrans as a project, no mention of its creators, Jen and Noah, just the cursory explanation that it’s “a website dedicated to allowing transgender people to share their positive experiences.” In other words, the Advocate wants you to think that WeHappyTrans exists just so that trans people can talk about our feelings. This makes sense in the cis narrative of transness.This is especially compelling to me because, while I've always been interested in trans representations in the media, this is a more nuanced view of trans media coverage than I've detected before. To my thinking it does ring true, but I'd argue that there wasn't much thought given to presentation of WeHappyTrans at all past the fact that Stephen participated in it.
He makes reference to this later in the post with this passage--
Then there’s another choice that the Advocate made: they picked my video, not one of the many others on the site, and billed me as “Warren Beatty and Annette Bening’s Transgender Son.” , Because within a cisnormative narrative, a trans person cannot have value on their own. Their ideas are relevant only when they are connected to cis people, especially well known cis people. News about celebrities makes for hits, and hits make for ad revenue. Obviously, like anyone, I don’t appreciate only being valued in relation to my parents–how would it feel if you were always talked about as an extension of your parents?–but it’s also insidious beyond that.I hesitated to add this passage because I respect Ira's frustration with being known solely as the "Transgender Son of Celebrities," but I included it since, well, he wrote it. Also because I'm impressed at his ability to navigate his own path in the context of this.
If my work is so banal that it’s only of interest because my cis parents make movies, why report on it at all? When I’m billed as the “Transgender Son of Celebrities,” it implies that the work I do isn’t valuable or important. After all, if it were, would you need the added draw of my parents’ famous names to click the link?
And the good news is that, even if it's his connection to celebrity that draws attention to him, he's making good impressions on his own merits. The blogosphere seems to love him; I did a search and saw fawning posts from Gawker and LAist (the latter of which called his famous parents "irrelevant"). Further, banal is the last word I would use to describe his blog, which calls out media bias and racial and transphobic injustice (specifically in the case of CeCe McDonald, another situation I was enlightened about through reading Ira's blog).
In short, I'm a new fan. You should read his stuff.
And his observations inspire some other thoughts about all this business of narrative -- trans, cis, and otherwise. More on that in a bit.