(This is a C&P from an aged LJ post, inspired by some tangenteering on someone else’s FB. I’m posting it here because I’m not sure that adding to the tangenteering will help, although that does mean that half the people involved won’t be able to see it. Such is FB.)
I’m a hacker, in the sense that I fiddle about with (mostly) computers in order to get them to do interesting things. There are a whole set of tropes and commonalities that were detailed in the new hacker’s dictionary. And, even though the data was collected by a white middle-class US libertarian gun-fondler, it was instantly familiar to someone from rural Gloucestershire and thus mostly unexposed to US academic culture.
Sometimes, people from the television try to make documentaries about hackers. They are all dreadful, entirely miss most of the points, and contain the usual hateful stereotype shots of green-on-black screens reflected in spectacles, facile explanations from alleged experts, and a weird kind of ‘media gaze’ in which the subjects are portrayed as not actually real people like you and me.
I’m also a (recovering?) goth. In that I tend(ed) to wear a lot of black and listen(ed) to doomy, angular and intransigent music with roots both dyed and firmly (post)punk influenced. As I imagine are many of my splendid friends.
Sometimes, people from the television try to make documentaries about goths. They are all dreadful, entirely miss most of the points, and contain the usual hateful stereotype shots of people staring in mirrors, facile explanations from alleged experts, and a weird kind of ‘media gaze’ in which the subjects are portrayed as not actually real people like you and me.
So I was in the audience for A Panel where a white cis (het?) author was so pleased with themselves for having ‘watched loads of documentaries’ about ‘the transgendered’ before writing a trans character…
You can draw your own conclusions. I did.
Later: It’s taken me the best part of a day to work out the point that has been missing from this lo the past four years.
Were one the sort of person who read a lot, and were perhaps struggling with feelings/ideas that you’d not yet got names for, one might go digging in one’s favoured genre for some sort of representation. However, if the stuff you found was some grim cis-originated shite-awful stereotype malarkey, you might just think ‘well fuck this’ and not think about it for a few more years.
I mean. Hypothetically.
Ok. Not hypothetically.
It is just down to my usual impeccable comedy timing that I discovered books written by actual trans people more or less as I’d already accepted what an awful lot of other people had already worked out. (‘Yes you are trans enough’, Dreadnought/Sovereign, 99Erics, Tiny pieces of skull, …)
Luckily for the younger persons, they don’t seem over-invested in whatever terrible arse the UK telly/print media vomit up because they can SMS a trans friend - ‘WTF?’, ‘(eyeroll emoji)’, ‘IKR’, ‘cis people gonna cis.’ etc - and not pay any further attention.
Representation matters. Bullshit stereotypes have consequences. As indeed does thinking you can get away w/no research, because a subject-matter expert will be along to take your trousers down.
… And it’s taken me about this long to get up enough of a head of steam to write a story featuring a trans character, because the absolute fucking last thing I want to do is make someone else wince/cringe the way I did on reading cis-centric representations of trans people.]