Monday, April 29, 2013

On Poison

Some online friends were discussing video games we played as kids. This prompted me to start looking up some of the games I played, and one of them was Final Fight 2 (because it had a female playable character). As I was wikiing the game, I started reading about the character “Poison” from the original Final Fight.
I’d heard of Poison before, but I’d never read anything about her history. So I eventually ended up here and read this:
“However—and while the exacts of the decision are still a little hazy—before Final Fight was released in the West, Capcom decided that players outside of their home territory wouldn’t take too kindly to beating up a girl. So, a decision was made: The character of Poison would now be considered transgender. Though the logic seems rather unfortunate, it’s said that the idea was that punching a woman wouldn’t be acceptable, but punch a woman who used to be a man would be.”

That about says it all, doesn’t it? It would be too “beyond the pale” to have the hero commit violence against a "real" woman (that's the villain's job), but if we turn the character into a trans woman then go right ahead!

The rest of the article is somewhat sympathetic to trans women, although it continually persists throughout with a dichotomy of "real women" vs. "transvestite/trans woman/whatever." The question of whether the character could be "a real woman" and trans simply doesn't occur to anyone involved.

Ultimately, though, the specific instance is immaterial. This kind of thing happens all the time in all kinds of spaces. What's noteworthy to me is how I respond to it.

It's just so... defeating. It feels like an immense effort just to keep writing this because I want to stop and either hide or go and feel miserable instead of engaging this idea more. It's terrifying, significantly because no one hardly ever has these conversations to my face (so I can never tell what people are really thinking), but I'm also quite positive that they occur all the time. That there's this constant refrain of "real woman" vs "trans woman" and I'm always on the "losing side."

And it hurts that I even feel like being "trans" is the "losing side." It hurts that I have internalized this bullshit so much that my primary response whenever I read this shit is to feel so incredibly bad because I'm reminded of how I can never be "real." And I'll look at the angles on my face and I'll reflect on the male reverberations still in my voice and I'll think about how so often I still just feel like an impostor pretending to be a girl who honestly doesn't know what the hell "she's" doing. And I start to find myself reminding myself that no matter what I do, say, think, feel, identify, I will always be "marked as male" like a stain I can't scrub out. A stain that even people who are "accepting" and "open-minded" will reinforce and reapply, intentionally or unintentionally. That I am fundamentally wrong and repugnant and quintessentially undesirable on a genetic level.

"Poison" indeed.

And I wonder why am I not angry? Why am I letting the dominant group win? Why am I buying into their transmisogynistic bullshit?

And I think it's because I fear they're right. Or, if they're not right, then at least I fear they're so ingrained that there's nothing I can do to escape. They'll always resurface, always return. Again and again and again. I simply can't escape. And I just can't fight them off myself. I can't do it. I just can't do it. I can't.

I'll write more soon. This isn't the end. But goddamn if it doesn't feel like defeat all the same.

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