Tag Archives: Kate Bornstein

Risk, Subversion and/or Death in Queer Portraiture

Paper presented at the Next Wave Risk Talkers Forum
Down & Dirty: Sex/Gender/Media,
Melbourne, Sunday May 23, 2010.

Vision is always a question of the power to see — and perhaps of the violence implicit in our visualizing practices. With whose blood were my eyes crafted? Donna Haraway1

What I’m interested in is the hostility with which gender ambiguous bodies are stared at, the actuality of violence against those bodies, and the ways visual – and performative – arts subvert, reinforce or simply avoid these real life threats that trans and gender ambiguous people live with.

To transgender studies, the photographic portrait provides a crucial argument for visibility and the centrality of corporeality [the body] to that discipline and ontology. As trans theorist Susan Stryker proclaims: ‘[Transgender studies] helps correct an all-too-common critical failure to recognize “the body” not as one (already constituted) object of knowledge among others, but rather as the contingent ground of all our knowledge, and of all our knowing.’2 That is, that our bodies tell (our) stories.

Transgender bodies disrupt expectations of sex and gender, and their photographic (re)presentations can be seen as damaging to, and damaged by, the ‘proper’ order of gender. Explicit gender ambiguity in queer portraiture troubles dominant concepts of sex and gender as stable and biologically determined, challenging the reader to (re)consider the immutability and safety of their own gender.  Or at least that’s the idea.

The figuration of the transgender as powerfully subversive was asserted by Judith Butler in Gender Trouble, where she used transgender subjectivities to show how gender is performatively (re)produced, thus rendering queer a gay and lesbian overlap through cross-gendered identifications.3 Butler went on in Bodies That Matter to suggest that while transgenderism was queering, it was in transsexuality that queer found its limit: bodily alterations that seek to (re)establish sexed stability or coherence reinforce gender normativity.4 That is, Butler argues that sex reassignment surgery (SRS) is not queer.

Trans theorist Jay Prosser critiques this theorisation of transsexual bodies – and I agree with him – arguing that Butler undermines the queer potential of SRS and marks out as transgressive that which makes the subject’s real life most unsafe [gender ambiguity].5 And it’s this risk that I think we need to take note of.

Jake Wotherspoon, Fiona, 2009

While portraits of gender ambiguous bodies confront us with the mutability of that which is supposedly stable [gender], there is a danger in idolising images of transgender bodies which place subversive power on instability and fragmentation. Transsexual portraits of bodies (re)made whole can emphasise integrity and cohesion while maintaining subversively queer force in their relation to technologies and the subject’s defiance of expectations of gender and sex as biologically determined. That is, I’m arguing for the consideration, rather than exclusion, of transsexual – transitioned – bodies in queer art.

Photographs are always and only fragments – moments past (dead) – and this is particularly salient to trans portraiture, where figurative violence is decidedly more likely to be(come) literal. In order to create sustainable images of queer ontologies, there needs to be value and pride re-established on images of queer bodies which emphasise unity and solidity, and recognition and appreciation of the queer power of transsexed bodies, as well as transgender bodies.

Trans Portraiture

Kate Bornstein, 2005 (Vintage)

Max Valerio, 2006 (Avolon)

The common tendency for trans theorists and writers to include photographic portraits in their work highlights the centrality of the body in trans story-telling, redressing histories of invisibility and concealment, as well as the potential violence of ‘revelation’.6 The text is, by definition, disembodied and the inclusion of photographs attempts to reify this disjuncture. Portraiture serves to unify this ambivalent subject and ‘insist[s] on continuity in spite of change.’7 Transsexuality, afterall, both relies on and defies calls to visibility. Pictures of passing transsexuals that call attention to their transsexual history (in title or series context), draw attention to the need for visibility even for those who are invisible (who “pass”).

Coming out is a strategic move, yet by announcing one’s transsexuality (or trans history) the person ‘undoes the realness’ that is the ‘aim of transition’.8 The tension between ‘revelation and concealment,’ between in/visibility, is complex: ‘[the portrait’s] primary function is to expose the transsexual body; yet how to achieve this when transsexuality on the body is that which by definition is to be concealed?’9

Sara Davidmann, Robert, 2004

Photographer Sara Davidmann argues that trans portraiture, particularly of naked bodies, provides a safe visibility for trans people, and that photographs of private atypical visualisations of gender taken into the public realm [exhibited] constitute an intervention that facilitates a questioning of pre-conceptions of gender and of the body, contesting the boundaries of these binaries, and presents a challenge to the gender system.10

Trans theorist Jay Prosser asserts that trans portraits always force us to question our own gendered state of being, as he asks: How is our reading of the transsexual invested in and produced by our own gendered and sexual subject positioning, our own identifications and desires? Photographs of the transsexual, particularly of the transsexual in transition, push us up against the limits of gendered representation: the limits of what gender we can consign to representation, of what we can process as identity in the visual.11

For Prosser ‘we can only look at the transsexual, then, if we look at how we look.’ While the trans portrait forces us to consider the nuances of gender, I am arguing that it does not necessarily follow that the reader will focus this attention on themselves.12 What guarantees that the image will provoke such a self-reflection? It is painfully possible that it will in fact have the opposite effect: the reader re-establishing the stability of their own gender and their own body in its appropriateness up against the inappropriate freakishness of the portrait they stare at.

Catherine Opie, Jake, 1991

Catherine Opie‘s 1991 series Being and Having contests the centrality of the power of the viewer to gaze unscrupulated at the portrait. Jake stares down at us, head tilted back as if to say ‘who the fuck do you think you are to look at me?’ confronting us with our own ability to slip out of the ordered and ‘proper’ categories of ‘man’ or ‘woman.’

Queer theorist Jack Halberstam argues that: The power of the gaze in an Opie portrait always and literally rests with the image: the perpetual stare challenges the spectator’s own sense of gender congruity, and even self, and it does indeed replicate with a difference the hostile stares that the model probably faces everyday in the street.13

Visibility for trans people is desperately important, but the fetishisation of our bodies is just as concerning. Just as the objectification of women’s bodies in photography has been analysed as double (by the male gaze and the camera), so too is the transgender body objectified and othered in dominant discourse.14 In seeking out the curve of the jawline, the broadness of the shoulders, the thickness of the neck, trans portraits expose our investments in these distinctions (and their stability). To Opie’s photographs, Halberstam argues that the royal colouring of the backgrounds forces the stare of the spectator to be ‘admiring and appreciative rather than simply objectifying and voyeuristic.’15 But really, we can only hope.

In Butler’s formulation of the transgender, and in Prosser and Halberstam’s readings of it: the image of the transsexual is set up in opposition to both nontransgender gender normativity [the normative male or female] and transgender gender ambiguity [the genderqueer]. This serves to create a clear hierarchy which values transgender identities more highly and ‘locates transgressive value in that which makes the subject’s real life most unsafe.’16 In this way the nontranssexed body is privileged eroding the queer potential of sex reassignment surgery.17 SRS becomes a tool of gender conformity and normativity: a not so queer moment. And it is this marking out of subversion to exclude transsexual bodies that I’m arguing against.

Risk

This idealisation of ‘gender incongruence assumes one has the luxury to take on the gender order.’18 The ability to exist in a ambiguously gendered state in a tenuous one at best, more often it is simply an impossibility.

We are all taught that those of us who are most visibly different will encounter discrimination, hostility and violence.19 Violence against transgender people is not only frequent but underreported and anti-trans sentiment is institutionalised within the system of law enforcement. Social sanctioning acts to preserve the boundaries of gender and cultural pressures are often at the forefront of our internalized anxieties about gender ambiguity; individuals are punished or rewarded according to our adhesion to social expectations of gender.20 And ‘[w]e’re taught to pay attention to humiliation, because it can be enforced by violence.’21 The GenderPAC Survey of Transgender Violence reinforces this statistically, finding that over 60% of respondents had experienced assault, and that harassment and violence were often manifested in schools, churches, police and health care professionals.22

The threat of violence is a devastating and constant consideration in trans lives. By placing subversive value on that which puts us at the highest risk of violence, we – artists – risk overwriting the reality of violence to such an existence.

The relationship of queer embodiment to physical violence and death creates queer and trans portraits as powerfully defiant. In this way, the presentation of the trans body in photography – or other visual or performance arts – lays bare the strength of trans subjects as we face death in violating the social order of gender and sex.

Death

To photographic theorist Roland Barthes, every photograph contains this catastrophe‘ of Time; a tension between preservation and the coming of death.23 While the subject of a photograph may or may not be dead, the moment in which the picture was captured is past – dead – and draws attention to the passage of Time as the nearing of death. This notion of the photograph’s ‘that-has-been,’ interrupts any contemplation of the picture’s narrative with the catastrophe ‘that is dead and that is going to die’,24 and this seizes us to rethink the text.

This interruption Barthes names the photograph’s punctum, that which breaks or punctuates its narrative content. Barthes infers that punctum is necessarily that which leads to the contemplation of something else, that cannot be named and makes him linger on the photograph: ‘the punctum has, more or less potentially, a power of expansion. This power is very often metonymic.’25

Here, Time is an ever present punctum.

The notion of the image as referencing death renders the photograph as both damaged and damaging thing, confronting the reader with hir own impending death. What I am arguing is that this reference to death takes on a new and poignant meaning in queer portraiture, where the subject’s real life is threatened with the knowledge of anti-trans violence.

Integrity and Subversion: A Queer Conundrum?

Kael T. Block. Self-portrait, 2005

The queer fixation with transgender ambiguity and disorder has eroded the appreciation and consideration of transsexual bodies as unified subjectivities and still powerfully subversive. Kael T. Block‘s series xx boys resists this postulation by focusing instead on pride forged through integrity. As its description declares: ‘[an xx boy is] F2M, [a] Gender Pirate, [o]ne whose genre capsizes the binary, one who creates his own beauty and body, one who created his identity without paying conventions from a sovereign gender system.’26 Although the gender system cannot be thrown aside, Block’s intentions to capture images of transmen without stringent, or preconceived, borders of who that might include indulges this consideration of queer subversion as potentially transsexual or gender ambiguous.

In this self-portrait, Block exhibits (his) maleness not as invisibility but as alterity. His body is resolutely masculine and male. It is only in/on the site of his top surgery scars, and in the reader’s ability to recognise them as such, that his transsexual ontology (and history) is made apparent; that is, a queer punctum. Halberstam suggests that it is this relationship to technology which is (subversively) significant: ‘[the] body situated in an immediate and visceral relation to the technologies – guns, scalpels, cars, paintbrushes – that have marked, hurt, changed, imprinted, and brutally reconstructed it.’27 Though his maleness and masculinity is not in question or dislocation, rather his relationship to technology marks/makes his body transgressive. In blending his body into the background through the matching designs of his tattoos and the wallpaper, Block presents a resolute image of wholeness, strength and integrity. Block represents (his) transsexual ontology as precisely not fragmented, yet the presentation of his surgery scars mark him explicitly as queer in his refusal to be bound by the limitations of his assigned (at birth) sex and the feminist and queer discourses which dismiss the transgressive potential of SRS.

The series as a whole serves to redress the delineation of transsexual from transgendered, as to Block xx boys are who they say they are, sometimes with surgery scars and sometimes without. Block’s emphasis on beauty through pride demands a strength and self-esteem of a subject intact.

Conclusion

By idolising images of ruptured and dislocated bodies we risk idealising our own fragmentation and disintegration. Rather, we need images which point to our potential to stick together, that reaffirm our desires for our bodies as mutable and whole. The potential of a project like Block’s shows us that queer subversion on the body can be transsexed or transgender. While images of ‘gender incongruous’ transgender bodies present queer punctum as the nuances of gender-crossing, images of transsexed bodies are able to interrupt understandings of sex-determined gender through the relationships to technology which mark the body.

So I have said 2 things:

  • that there is a danger in glorifying gender ambiguity (in art) without consideration for the real-life threats that gender ambiguous people live with.
  • And that by limiting what we consider to be transgressive to the exclusion of transsexual bodies and lives, we invalidate the suffering and subversive force of those lives.

While transsexual and transgender bodies have the potential to queer understandings of seeing and being seen, as well as concepts of gender and the body, we need to remember that ‘[t]hese are claims on people’s lives.’28

These are things which we – as young artists, and especially as artists of “the body” – need to be thinking about.

Thanks to the rest of the panel: Rinske Ginsberg, Zahra Stardust & Eric Bridgeman.

Reference as: Attitude, Max. “Risk, Subversion and/or Death in Queer Portraiture.” Paper presented at Down and Dirty, Next Wave Festival, Melbourne, May 23, 2010. https://maxattitude.wordpress.com.

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Passing Lies

While trans theorists such as Jack Halberstam, Sandy Stone and Kate Bornstein argue that the notion of passing is singularly unhelpful, idealising gender ambiguity assumes one has the luxury to take on the gender order. The ability to exist in an ambiguously gendered state in a tenuous one at best, more often it is simply an impossibility. ‘Choosing to pass,’ then, needs to be considered in the context that trans ontologies elicit homicidal rage. Desires for invisibility need to be disentangled from affirmations of gendered power asymmetry; that is, transexual desires for the ordinary should not be misconstrued as reinforcing normativity.

you-cannot-pass

Ftm bodies overwhelmingly present either bodily ‘incongruity’ or ambiguity, or bare physical marks of (re)construction,(unlike mtf transexed bodies on which reconstructions are able to be rendered invisible, ftm transexed bodies remain visibly scarred). We are punished or rewarded according to our adhesion to social expectations, especially of gender, and the social penalties for ambiguous, androgynous or ‘incoherent’ gender presentation and performativity tend to be rude or insidious at best, torturous or homicidal at worst. It remains apparent that those of us who are most visibly different encounter discrimination, hostility and violence. Cultural pressures to conform to gendered expectations become internalised and naturalised, creating anxieties about gender ambiguity from ‘everywhere and nowhere’. This occurs through socially organised gender policing in science, law, religion, education systems, art, pornography and economics.

To ftms especially, misrecognition remains powerfully affective in choices about ‘passing’. For the most part ftm ontologies remain unrecognisable to others and this misrecognition presents a(nother) form of oppression. In order to be recognised as men we rely on body modifications via hormone use and/or sex reassignment surgery, and/or enacting socially legible ‘masculine’ behaviour. The ability to relax ‘hypermasculine behaviour’ and still be read as male corresponds to male appearance (‘passing’): what it means to be a man really hinges on just one thing: being (read as) bodily male. In this way, ftm body modifications can allow for breaking hegemonic gender ideals; we can be effeminate feminine men.

As social theorist Michael Warner suggests in his book The Trouble With Normal, ‘nearly everyone, it seems, wants to be normal. And who can blame them, if the alternative is being abnormal, or deviant, or not being one of the rest of us? Put in those terms, there doesn’t seem to be a choice at all.‘ Passing isn’t a lie. Suggesting that it is erases us from being, as though we must be identifiable from nontrans people. Passing is a survival technique. And as I’ve said before: we need to survive.

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Bitch Boi?

Can you still be a bitch if you’re a guy? I don’t know. It’s (a) female power. I was a hard-arse bitchfeminist butch who sometimes played at being feminine when I was a dyke. But now? Well, my femininity’s been re-named effeminacy, and the rest is just fucking obnoxious. Many things change, not just the body (if the body), when one is sex changed. When I’m read as a guy I shut up a lot more. I don’t talk over women the way I would talk over people before. The first time I painted facial hair on my face it was to stop myself getting into a fight with another chick, because I knew with the gender of that face I would never enact violence on another woman.

The thing is: sex matters. The way sex is perceived is a lens through which behaviour is interpreted. If you pass as male because of your body (facial hair being particularly salient in this respect as I’ve noted before), behavioural clues to gender are less important; there is less need for hypermasculine behaviour in order to be recognised as a guy. This is unfortunately complicated by the way in which masculinity is so often defined by misogyny, thus it is harder to pass if one holds and stands up forfeminist values. This is often the justification transguys hold for being as sexist as other guys, but male privilege and power fucks everyone over – trannys shouldn’t be too quick to forget.

As Kate Bornstein notes, “The correct target for any successful transsexual rebellion would be the gender system itself. But transsexuals won’t attack that system until they themselves are free of the need to participate in it… Without the structure of the bi-polar gender system, the power dynamic between men and women shatters.” That said, it is not incidental that when we don’t embrace a gender normative corporealitywe are at the highest risk of violence; liveability is severely affected in such a context, and we need to survive.

Aggression (and even violence) can be subversive for women, undermining the stereotype of women as docile and passive victims. But if male privilege is assuming one has the right to occupy any space or person by whatever means, with or without permission, what really happens when the bitch reappropriates this power? Is to be a bitch, to take mastery in hostility and force, just reinforcing male power and its dominance?

We need more guys to get their feminist shit together, stand up (against other guys), shut up (and listen when women talk), and (thus) start to define a non-misogynistic masculinity. We need power to be conceived of and employed in other ways.

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To T or not to T?

Facial Hair: Fantasy and Reality

What makes a man?

Sex is (most unfortunately) all too often heralded in popular culture as one’s initiation into manhood, but facial hair is a much more striking sign. A beard or moustache is such a strong signifier of maleness that little else can contradict it. I enjoy the parody and glamour of drag king make up, or eyelash glue  does do the trick (so to speak), but a lack of facial hair combined with a moderate height of 5”5′ means my gender is read as that of a boy, not a man.

cyborg-supermanI grew up from a generally accepted tomboy into a much less accepted tranny boi, but will I want to be a boy forever?

T is often regaled as the journey into manhood for the transguy, for precisely these reasons. Sometimes I long for the relief of passing. Although, of course, it comes with its own pains.

Physically it is not yet possible to trans ftm in the way it is mtf. And it is prohibitively expensive. This reflects the still misogynistic nature of trans surgery, which privileges the male body and creates it as ‘unimitatable’, while it treats the female body as easily (re)constructed, yet for the most part ‘untreatable’.

When someone ‘misreads’ me, I usually turn away in the hope they won’t reconsider as it is in the so-called ‘realisation’ that violence manifests. Or mockery. Or cruelty. The liveability of a genderqueer life is always in question. It can be straining, stressful, frustrating, and sometimes, well, terrifying. As well as daring, fun, fabulous, subversive and socially treacherous.

Hard muscles. A flat chest. Bulging pants. These are things I dream of. But what would it mean for my maleness, my manhood, to be sculptured by surgeons? Kate Bornstein argues that to move from F to M or M to F doesn’t reinforce a binary concept of gender, but rather creates transformation itself as the meaning of gender. Here she carries the legacy of Simone de Beauvoir, that one is not born a woman but becomes one: gender is the act of becoming. And I agree. But the fact remains that the maleness of my body would be crafted and re-created according to standards of gendered beauty that I, theoretically, disapprove of and have for so long openly rejected. This is troubling.

As I have said often to my fellows on the subject of embracing male privileges: one always has the choice about what kind of man one becomes.

Right now my masculinity doesn’t necessitate surgical intervention. But when I gaze at the flat, hard pecs of a guy at the gym, when I watch beads of sweat gather on his chest hair, his grimaced jaw shadowed with stubble – I wonder if I will hold out forever.

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Ask Max

GENDER NEUTRAL PRONOUNS

Chris asked Max on September 29, 2008:

I need you to do me and the English language a favour. Can you come up with a gender neutral singular pronoun? When I write, I tend to use ‘he’ and ‘she’ in equal balance for gender-unspecified singular persons.

I see how and why you would object to this, and I think I do, too. I think this is an interesting exposure of how gender specific language is. Even when the gender isn’t specified, the rules of English compel us to specify one of two genders. Hey look! A microcosm of society!

Problem being, most people solve this (or commit a grammatical error) by referring to ungendered singular persons as ‘they’, which is grammatically incorrect. English specifies three pronouns here: ‘he’ or ‘she’ for singular, and ‘they’ for plural.

I would like to know your thoughts, as a writer and queer activist, on how to solve this dilemma. It is curious that the answer might be the problem. Perhaps ‘they’, ungendered and plural, is fittingly applied to catch gender identity in its plural state. I don’t feel that pluralising gender is any kind of solution, though. Just because you are not male or female, does not mean that you are both male and female. As I understand it, a lot of the notion of queer gender is not deciding between male and female, or even finding a middle ground, but perhaps associating with an ‘other’ that isn’t traditionally recognised. I am ignorant of the current thought on this. I am ignorant of your thoughts on this.

So, solve my linguistic riddle and assuage my grammatical conscience.

Chris

 

Max replied:

ah yes indeed – English does force us into this unfortunate situation. As you have drawn attention to, by forcing us to choose, English (as a language/system) reinforces/perpetuates the gender binary we see in everydaylife. However there are gender neutral pronouns (neologisms) available. 

A trendy set of gender neutral pronouns which are used by trans/gender theorists (including me & Kate Bornstein) is ze/ hir, as in

he, she, ze / him, her, hir / his, hers, hirs

which is pretty sweet in writing because it doesn’t look too weird (though weird enough), but obviously is a bit problematic in speech (hir sounding the same as her), but I’m ok with this. 

Michael Spivak suggests and uses the pronouns ey/ em, as in a singular of they/ them, but to me this sounds and looks too weird and people probably won’t know what the fuck you are doing / you can lose the meaning of the whole thing (ze/ hir does look like a pronoun).

Also, Del LaGrace Volcano uses herm/ herm’s – I think that’s pretty cool too.

Volcano says: “Herm is a term that works in some instances better than others. Her and him equals herm, it’s also short for HERMaphroDYKE and is a play on words. I also use male pronouns in my everyday life because that is the gender people see and I don’t have the time or energy to educate every person I meet, some of whom might want to cause me harm if they knew I was a transgendered intersexed queer! However, since what people see is not just a ‘man’ but what looks to them like a short chubby gay man using male pronouns does not guarantee physical safety.” (in G3 Magazine, September, 2008)

All of these however I fear you might not be able to get away with in ‘official’ / formal / legal writing. In which case, I recommend (politically) that you use the feminine she/her throughout. This is because in theworld at large the masculine/male is considered universal. So by using the feminine, you put women back in (to writing/’reality’). By using both, I fear (politically) it comes across as ‘equal’, when things aren’t. (This is also the case (problem) with s/he or (s)he, although there are instances where this may be more appropriate). That is, even if you always used only feminine pronouns, you would not come close to making even the number of feminine and masculine pronouns in use.

When/If you are using it as a universal, I think ze/ hir serves the purpose very well – it draws attention to the way the English language forces us to choose, and defies this expectation. At the same time, if you are referring to someone specifically, ask them. It’s not always obvious which pronoun a person would like to use, and not your place to assume or guess.

Queer love,

Max

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Drag

I don’t have the balls to be a drag king. I wish I did. But I’m something else. Jack Halberstam says he’s an off-stage king and he’s my hero. So maybe I’m one of those too.

Glamour Bois, Brighton
Glamour Bois, Brighton

For a long time I thought drag relied upon the body: ‘sex’, ‘opposition’. But now I think that’s not it at all. That’s precisely what it’s not about. Drag says ‘who cares what’s under the clothes, I look fucking fantastic and you know it!’

Drag works by highlighting the performativity of gender; drawing attention to its ‘unnaturalness’. But whether there’s a female, male, intersexed or trans body underneath, well that’s just not the point.

That a male infant will become a masculine (heterosexual) man is the only trajectory offered by dominant Western ideas on gender. But drag works to break down this assumption, showing us that gender is what we do (and how we look). 

Drag can both subvert gender stereotypes and reinforce them: it inherently calls into question what makes a man and a woman, but in practice provides only the opportunity to destabilise these ideas. Whether or not gender conventions are in fact disrupted is dependent upon the performer, and indeed the audience. It is judgements by individuals that uphold cultural norms; whether a person is transcending (or reinforcing) expectations of gender depends on the interpretation of the audience. Thus, it makes sense to look at individual drag artists and performers to see if (and how) they subvert or reinforce gender stereotypes.

Gender theorist Kate Bornstein suggests ‘It doesn’t really matter what a person decides to do, or how radically a person plays with gender. What matters, I think, is how aware a person is of the options. How sad for a person to be missing out on some expression of identity, just for not knowing there are options.’ 

Heterosexist culture dictates that we must be simply and exclusively either a masculine male man or a feminine female woman. Drag kings and queens, as well as intersexed people, transsexuals, cross dressers, gender benders and other transgendered people, subvert this expectation that gender is (and can ever be) singular or stable. And drag is not limited to a ‘cross-gender’ presentation: queer femmes and male drag kings can say as much about society’s uptight gender philosophies as any male bodied drag queen.

In The Drag King Book, J. Jack Halberstam asks ‘To what degree is the Drag King, like the drag queen, both a revered image of queerness and an image associated with shame?’ And that, really, is still the question. What does it say about ‘us’, about our internalised queerphobia, perhaps, that so many of ‘us’ despise the character in drag?

Most of all drag is about pride. Drag artists scream out a kind of queer pride no once-a-year festival could compete with. And we, the introverted voyeurs, can take vicarious pride in their performance when we lack the balls ourselves to be on stage.

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