SURVEIL AND CONTROL

By : Grace Riah

4 min read




Calculated campaigns of misinformation and incendiary accusations by the state and right-wing factions are white supremacist tactics used to obliterate trans and queer people and consolidate cishetero power. The onslaught of anti-trans bills currently circulating the US legislature follow a history of racism and transphobia in modern medicine, predominantly due to the emergence of a political project known as eugenics in the 19th century. This pseudoscience bore the notion of “biological essentialism”, a justification for discrimination based not on scientific evidence, but rather bodily myths crafted by cis white men in power as “biological truths” constructing divisions of race and sex. White women were labeled imperative to continuing the “white race” thus intertwining their reproductive capabilities with their “biological value”, a continued justification for the discrimination of trans women as “not real women''.


Cis white women and children have historically been used as rhetorical props to strengthen white patriarchal power. The notion of “grooming” is a recycled conservative attack which falsely claims LGBTQ people are an inherent sexualized threat to children. In the 1970s and 80s, daycares were demonized as epicenters of satanic grooming as a reactionary to women entering the workforce en masse and therefore threatening the patriarchal family structure. “Bathroom bills” centered around the myth of the predatory trans woman are an obviously transphobic and hollow call for the protection of cis women. This is a hypocritical concern in a heteropatriarchal society in which actual survivors of sexual assault are dismissed and their perpetrators promoted. Gender non-conformity is seen as a greater threat to the patriarchal cishetero regime than the pandemic of sexual assault because it actively opposes antiquated gender norms that directly perpetuate rape culture itself.


These bills are not an aberration, but a state funded project to eradicate trans people of color. Everyday violence is perpetuated by its systematic exclusion of an intersecting unprotected class to employment, housing, health care and other human rights. Black trans women endure the most vicious forms of anti-trans and homophobic violence in our ruthlessly anti-black and gendered culture. Ayesha A. Siddiqi writes that, “Visibility in a surveillance state is not power. “As representational politics are applied as the salve, the violent pushback gains intensity. Proud Boys who beat protesters and politicians who target trans youth are the brutal and banal embodiment of a violently gendered system that kills marginalized people daily.


In Atmospheres of Violence, Alex A. Stanley writes, “Thinking violence as individual acts versus an epistemic force works to support the normative and normalizing structures of public pain.” Often in the aftermath of brutal and publicized acts of anti-trans violence those on the periphery make the call to “not normalize this”. This sentiment does little but provide shallow comfort to those of us who live just outside this terror. What is “normal” in a fracturing empire too proud and cowardly to confront the lies of its past or these moments that cruelly cycle on? These hideous and hateful ideologies will be hard torn away by our halfhearted opposition to them. The cishetero patriarchy is reliant on our participation in a gendered structure of society that it claims is “natural”, but in reality it is a fabricated hierarchy of oppression.


—Grace Raih



* Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper April #145 2022


 

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