We teach ourselves techniques of dress

It was all a mistake about the proletariat and the means of production and all that. It turns out it’s trans people who are the true proletariat and cis people who live off their exploited labor.

Transition is work. Transition is the labour that continually gives birth to gender, that produces liveably gendered lives under intolerable conditions. And the workplace of gender, like any workplace, cannot be borne except through self-abnegation, exhaustion, lies, glimpses of satisfaction strung out along the working week, alienation, and endless work.

I’m not clear on where we go to buy the gender that they produce with the labour of transition, but I’m deeply sympathetic about the endless work. (Most of that work is shouting at women on Twitter, I guess?)

We teach ourselves techniques of dress from online tutorials and whispered conversations. We write dissertation-length posts on support forums detailing self-medication hormone regimes. We order multiple binders and gaffs from exploitative internet retailers and submit the return labels before anyone notices. We labour for hours before the mirror to bring to the inclusive workplace a gender which can be named, respected, spoken with pronouns, paraded in front of diversity working groups.

Hm. I thought there already was a gender or two in the workplace. Is the idea that trans genders were needed for the sake of keeping diversity working groups occupied? But isn’t that a tiny bit…circular?

We teach doctors our medical pathways and pretend to be attentive when they repeat our knowledge back to us. We tweet messages in support of the liberal recognition schemes cooked up by our middle-managers to ensure our compliant participation in the workplace, the household, the nuclear family. We perform reason and tolerance, we absorb the hate and shame of our antagonists, we are the dump for all the sexual anxiety and gender horror of a society sickened by its own creations. We are sex workers. (Decrim now!) We make your entertainment, your food, your computers, your care packages, your websites, your education system, your knowledge, your play, your city.

Really? As such? That is, trans people alone make our entertainment, our food, our computers, our care packages, our websites, our education system, our knowledge, our play, our city?

Interesting if true, because I thought it was trans people as part of the larger body known as people, as opposed to trans people only. If the point is that it’s trans people as part of the larger body known as people, then…ok? And? What new thing have we learned here?

Marked by capitalism as those with too much gender and too little, we work a second shift, a third shift, a fourth, to acquire the resources necessary to produce our genders, to produce genders survivable under capitalism, at least for another year. And further, as those whom capitalism has produced through its cisheteropatriarchal division of sex classes and gendered labour, whom capitalism has spat out as the uncosted externality of gender, we labour to produce the very gender on which capitalism depends. You live in our work.

So…there’s an invisible army of trans people laboring (underground is it?) to produce gender, which the rest of us simply put on and wear unthinkingly, heedless of the millions of tormented peasants toiling away at their…lathes? Drills? Coal faces?…to produce that which we wear in all our arrogance and cissitude.

Our care work is unpaid. Our medical expertise is unpaid. Our gender production is unpaid. Our advocacy is unpaid. Our training is unpaid. Our support work is unpaid. Our teaching is unpaid. Our writing is unpaid.

Well…lots of things are unpaid. Lots of activities are unpaid, because lots of activities are not transactional in the first place, and because some potentially payable activities aren’t performed well enough to be paid. I would put the “medical expertise” of random trans activists in the latter category.

Everywhere there are trans people, there are people communally producing transitions. In trans communities, we teach each other the skills of dress, voice, deportment, body modification and self-imagining which are essential to liveable trans lives.

Ohhhh, that’s what the labour is. Not toiling underground at a workbench but telling each other how to Talk Like a Gurl. What’s the going rate for that? $500 an hour?

There’s miles and miles more of it. There’s a list of Acknowledgements at the end, one paragraph of which especially caught my attention:

I learned the term “sur-thrivance” from a group exhibition by Indigenous artists, Two-Spirit Sur-Thrivance and the Art of Interrupting Narratives, at the gallery Never Apart in unceded Kahnawake Mohawk Territory on the island of Tiohtiake.

Mmhmm. Always appropriate something from someone indigenous; that’ll fetch’em or I don’t know Arkansas.

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