So I had heard a while ago that Thomas Beatie — a celebrity transman — is a mixie much like myself. He too has a white mama, an Asian daddy, and originally, an Asian surname. He too was born with all the plumbing to make and be pregnant with a baby. He too made the decision to get folks to recognize him as male. So I get the whole need to change your gender thing. However, I’m not sure why he changed his name to something rid of all associations to his Filipino heritage. I too had the option to change my name to rid myself of my Asian ethnic associations, however, I didn’t based on the fact that so often trans folks of colour are told they are doing a white thing by being trans. As if the gender binaries of male and female were a universal thing, common and rigidly adhered to in every culture.
I wanted to keep my Asian association when renaming myself, to let people know that just because I’m trans doesn’t mean I’m white. There is a rich history of third gender or other wise non-male and non-female specific people within many cultures, including pre-Spanish Philippines. The rich history includes these societies valuing these people specifically because they are outside the norm of gender. Often times, folks like this would be held in high regard, chosen for positions of spiritual power and authority. However, rigid reforms in gender occurring in the white west, coupled with the need to topple indigenous authority figures influenced European colonizers to seek out and destroy these people. Violent and strategic colonization means that history validating Thomas’s and my trans experience as Asian genderf*ckers now is hard to come by. Transphobia is rampant in former colonized places, as a legacy of colonialism.
And now, because of this erased history, it is our very Asianness that is often used against us to make transphobic and racist comments: “Oh it must be hard with your Baachan more so than on your mom’s side,” “Hey, we don’t do that kind of freaky shit, we’re Asian.” Which makes me sad. Maybe it doesn’t make Thomas as sad as me, what with now two little ones to worry about, not to mention his book tour and the other burdens that fame and fortune bring.