Heritage, authenticity, allies

Mask in the LouvreBlogging, not writing- thinking this through-

I get angry, but one of my angriest times was two straight people telling a room of mostly straight people all about trans folk. They had trans friends, apparently. I went to the microphone and expostulated, and thereafter the impression people had of me was my anger. I am clear on this. I get to use the word “tranny”, speculate that I am a man, really, or write on the flaws of the Medical Model- coming up- and you don’t. Not unless you’re trans, not even if you are gay. If you imagine you have something in common with trans women, or have thought about transitioning but haven’t, you get to say what that’s like for you, but not for anyone else- “No-one should do it” arguments I despise particularly. If you’re gay, you get a little more leeway than if you’re straight.

Yes, you may have trans friends, or do Queer Studies, but if you get one tiny thing wrong– you have no right to do that.

I have been reading a slavery novel. More on that too, later, perhaps. Octavia Butler, African-American, set it in 2030 not 1830, when the economy of the US has collapsed. Her protagonist, Olamina, has one thing in common with her that I know- that both get relief from writing about their issues- so speculate she has others. I wondered why. Perhaps she was used to SF, perhaps she thought people would read an SF novel who would not read a slavery novel, perhaps she wanted 1990s people, not 19th century people, as characters- but perhaps there were heritage problems. (Blogging, now.) That suffering is not hers, even though she was a descendant. We need the voices of the real people, to honour rather than to interpret.

Duncan Campbell, saying the Nigerian constitution remained colonialist, bothered me. A Yoruba who has read Edward Said on Orientalism can criticise it like that, perhaps, but not a white Glaswegian. Voltaire is the heritage of the whole world, not just Les Demoiselles d'AvignonEurope. And- Campbell was arguing that. These African art works should be interpreted and shown by Africans considering their origin, not Europeans.

What of the- — – Marbles? Prospect debated it this month. One, calling them Elgin, said Greek Orthodox despising a pagan temple blew it up in 1670, the Turks were destroying them, and Greek air pollution would have finished the job. The Ottomans, having been in power for centuries, were the legitimate government. The other, calling them Parthenon, called the Ottomans the “occupying power”, and Lord Elgin a looter who bribed the guards. H cut through this- where should they be, now? Or- who has the connection to 5th century BCE Athenian culture?

This subject is too big for me. I want accuracy, if you talk about me, more so, for me, but do not know what accuracy would even mean, a post-colonial academic understanding of pre-colonial ways of being. In the Scottish Country Dancing, I noticed the English were better at it, taking more care. For us, it was just something we did. The converts were so self-conscious.

2 thoughts on “Heritage, authenticity, allies

  1. Yikes, it’s really hard to hear people spouting ignorance. A very deep rage rises up in me when people say crap about trans people and/or transitioning. It’s a misinformed world. Good on your for speaking up–it isn’t easy, but it is valuable and necessary.


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