Dating And “Disclosure”
Crossposted to The Spectrum Cafe.
There’s a funny thing in the United States (and in a few other places too). It’s called a right to privacy. It isn’t perfect. After all, any right will have some limitations to account for clashes of rights. But for the most part, we all have a right to not disclose medical history, personal info or anything that would not threaten the life or health of someone to people we meet and know. Even in ethics, privacy is considered a major necessity and was the original basis behind abortion option rights (before bodily domain became a major player through McFall v Shimp), the basis behind many of the laws regulating police activity and governmental monitoring and a huge number of laws related to people’s information, companies and the internet. Even now, ethics forbids sharing information about people that is considered private (or coercing them to share it), even in situations where the law does not back such protections. We like our privacy. And we seem to mostly support the privacy of others.
Yanno, as long as they’re cis.
Enter the raging fuckery storm that is “dating and disclosure”, an ethics farce perpetrated by a cissexist, homophobic world bound and determined to dehumanize the fuck out of those scary trans people.
Now, I won’t mince words. The New York Times is a shitrag on a good day and a transphobic as fuck one in all zones of evaluation. And Randy Cohen is not only a stupid fuckjob, but one who has written for the notoriously cissexist David Letterman show, something that no doubt raises some concerns about his position as an “ethicist” writer on this topic. But it isn’t just the maelstrom of fail that is NYT or writers for the Letterman Combine of Uselessness. This is a common problem.
Let’s give you a rundown of how this works:
- Fuckhead cisgender person is afraid of trans people/being thought of as gay/magically becoming gay/having sex with a trans person.
- Fuckhead cis person discovers that their vaunted ability to detect trans folk is in fact a myth and that we come in all shapes and sizes
- Fuckhead cis person panics.
- Fuckhead cis person forgets about right to privacy for anyone of transsexual variety (medical records privacy, bodily privacy) and transgender cissexual people (bodily privacy) through selective memory
- Fuckhead cis person demands all trans people of any stripe disclose our birth sex assignment (often referred to by said fuckhead as our “real” sex/”true” sex/”actual” gender/”our gender”/”our sex”/etc)
See? Very easy to summarize. Because you see, it is a very simple inclination. And no matter how much concern troll bullshit a given cis person (or collaborator douchebag double agent trans person) coats it in, it comes to the exact same thing. People don’t fucking understand how sexuality works, won’t fucking accept that we are, fully, completely, genuinely and totally the gender AND sex (since sex is broken cissexist language) that we say we are and feel that their personal discomfort/gay and trans panic/bigoted bullshit (as the case may be) that arises from these two previous failures of their comprehension outweighs not only our right to privacy but our safety and well being.
So it isn’t hard to see that this is total bullshit, totally and completely.
So do we wanna talk about real ethics when it comes to dating and disclosure? Let’s use that STI analogy in a more proper fashion. STIs are dangerous to the health of an individual you’re going to sleep with. Guess what else is dangerous to health of a trans person you may be trying to sleep with, cis people? Your bigotry. That’s right, many trans people are murdered, harassed, assaulted and mistreated after a cis person finds out we’re trans in a dating or sexual involvement. Which means that cissexism is a very real and serious danger to trans folk in general (and even more dangerous to trans folk with other intersections of kyriarchy, like race or disability).
So, much like disclosing that you have a sexually transmitted infection to your possible partners, cis people (not trans people) should disclose to anyone they’re about to sleep with or date if they have any sort of cissexist issues with trans people in any way shape or form. Just in case they’re about to sleep with a trans person who could be endangered by their views. This rule applies to any and all cis people. It is simply the most ethically sound option. In fact, it should apply to every branching axis of kyriarchy. Are you racist? You need to share that fact with anyone you date in case your racism would affect them (even people who appear white since after all, many folks may appear white without being white). Are you prone to ableism? Share that fact with anyone you date before you date them, as per proper ethics, because you never know if someone has a less apparent disability or if the person with disabilities you’re about to date may be hurt by your bigotry. Got classism? Homophobia/biphobia? Sexist views? Oh well, you have to disclose that because well, you could end up harming someone, much like if you hide an STI from a potential partner.
That is the sort of disclosure that should be in place for dating and sex. Cis people, white people, abled people, thin people, middle class to rich people, ANYONE WITH A PRIVILEGE AXIS AND BIGOTRY ON THAT AXIS should disclose that bigotry to anyone before you date them. After all, if privacy can be dropped for just discomfort, the truly harmful aspects of your bigotry make it far more viable and ethical for you to disclose then for us. So get to it cis people. Start disclosing. We deserve to know and you don’t deserve to hide it.
It’s the ethical thing to do.
Filed under: activism, rant | 28 Comments
Tags: bullshit, cissexism, fuck this fuckery, privilege, society, transgender