23 February 2007


It's a word that clearly describes the prejudices around me right now.

It is heteronormativity that prevents my folks from seeing my true gender identity - since I like women and technical things, I can't possibly have a female gender identity, they say. They even went as far as saying that if I liked men, they would do everything to help out my transition into womanhood.

It's heteronormativity that makes homosexuality a capital offense in Iran - unless the person in question wants to change his/her gender and become a heterosexual in the new gender, in which case the government is far more accepting.

Heteronormativity is also a severe problem even in East Asian societies, including Thailand and China, mistakenly identified by Westerners as gay-friendly; most gay men I've known from these societies live out their lives as hyper-feminine men. That, or the appearance of womanhood but a male identity at the core. (I've read quite a few interviews of Thai kathoeys, and many indeed fall into this category.) There are some high-profile, socially well-accepted, female-identified transgender women in these societies (examples include Jin Xing in China, and Harisu in South Korea), but they are accepted only because they fit the hyper-feminine heteronormative ideal, and would've had far worse fates if they did not fit in. There is a reason why "tranny dykes," like me, are a common phenomenon in the West, but virtually unheard of in Asia (or even Asian communities in the West, for that matter).

I just read through a Wikipedia article on this subject, and it's a disturbing read - especially when it comes to violence against transgender women, and the society's indifference to it (thank you, Rudy Giuliani, despite being a crossdresser yourself). In fact, Giuliani's transphobia will make its way into my novel, where a transgender character is murdered in NYC in 2001; all these hate crime reports will give me an idea on how the character will die, and how frustrating the authorities will prove to be for the surviving significant other.

Heteronormativity, like homophobia, must go.

Wikipedia: heteronormativity
Wikipedia: kathoey
Southern Poverty Law Center on transphobic hate crimes in DC