On Ciswashing

On Ciswashing

Before I knew I was trans
I objected to casting cis men
as trans women
(diego, eddie, etc)
or vice versa
(scarlett, hilary, et al)
on these grounds:
How dare you profit off the stories
of marginalized people
without employing them?
The same argument you’d make
in any pro-representation debate
I ran into the usual arguments that there are no bankable trans actors as if
loss-leaders
& corporate star-making
& artists like Laverne
didn’t even exist.
I was told
that “the industry is what it is”
as if structural resistance to change
somehow excuses you from trying.
I was asked:
isn’t it better that trans stories are being told imperfectly?
would you rather them not be told at all?
I think I hedged and said
Thank you for the progress,
but pushing for more
is the only way to make things better.

 Now I understand myself
and I reject your progress.
When you cast a cis man as a trans woman
(or vice versa)
you are telling us that
our voices
our bone structure
& our genitals
all matter more to your little movie
than the gender that compels our very selves
to rebel against all three.
You are telling us
that you only pretend to understand
the difference between a trans woman
and a man in drag
that you see this life we fight and die for
as performance
and not the potentially fatal act
of radical authenticity
that our community knows it to be.
You are telling us
however woke you think you are
that you see trans women
as men becoming girls
instead of girls
who finally quit playing boy.

 Our stories
are worth more
than the mediocre bootlegs
you forge our signature on
and sell to cis people
so they can feel like heroes
without lifting a finger.
I know you will find
a million and one reasons
not to believe me
but until you understand why casting
hilary as Brandon
and eddie as Lili
is an act of violence
against the community you claim to be uplifting
against audience members trapped in closets they don’t know exist
against the dead trans folks you can’t stop re-killing onscreen
you need to keep your hands off
our fucking lives.

Insomnia 1

Insomnia 1