TRANSCRIPT: Chase Strangio, The Future Of Trans Documentary

Imara Jones:

We’re with Chase Strangio, who is the Deputy Director of Transgender Justice at the ACLU, to talk about trans futures and what a trans future looks like. Now, Chase normally doesn’t have a lot of time to think about the future, so ensconced in the present and battling in the present for our rights. But we think that in this moment that we have where there’s tremendous backlash and oppression, that contemplating what our futures look like is actually a radical act to imagine ourselves in the future that people are trying to erase us from. So we’re thrilled to sit down with you, Chase, because apart of fighting so much in the present is for us to have a future. So I think that it’s important for us to think about this. So there are lots of issues that we’re gonna talk about that are really important. But in order to talk about the future, I always start with everyone to start in the past. And I’m wondering for you if there was a time growing up when you could imagine yourself as the person that you were.

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, I mean, I think what’s so magical about being alive for me today is that I don’t remember being a young person imagining myself in the future. And there was no time that I can recall now where I was like, I’m gonna grow up and have a full life, or even imagining myself as an adult. And there were so many reasons for that. But part of what drives me today is the fact that I get to be here in this world, embodying the body that I want to have and fighting to create more space for people to imagine themselves and not grow up in a way where the idea of a future seems so tenuous. So I had no concept of what it would be like to be an older version of myself. And so I just get to be grateful for the fact that I’m here.

Imara Jones:

So how did then did you make a way for yourself? How did you then create your life if you didn’t have a sense of how you would end up or what you necessarily were working towards?

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, I mean, I had a lot of access and privilege, so I think being a white person in a wealthy community with a good public education system I was able to sort of use my fear about myself to just hide a lot and just be like, well, I’ll just focus on school. And so I was like, that was my defense mechanism. And so I put a lot of pressure on myself. I sort of kept myself out of any sort of reflection of who I was. It was just like, oh, I have to achieve and be self-sufficient, but I don’t even know what that means. And then I think that there were people who challenged me along the way, who helped me see that I had all this access and I had a responsibility to use my access into institutions of power to start to really challenge them. And the more I understood systems of power, the more I understood how they were operating on my body and my existence as well. And so I think I started to imagine how I might use the information that I was getting through school and through the spaces that I had access to to sort of start to break down the systems of power that were keeping so many people that I cared about down. And through that, I was able to say, oh, I can inhabit my body in a different way. I can be a different person. And then the more I came to sort of terms of who I am, the more empowered I became to sort of name that nothing that I thought was necessary and true sort of had to be that way. And sort of now I just keep trying to push myself to learn and challenge what I’ve been told is sort of a necessary function of how systems work when I’m like, no, those are deliberate ideological systems of power that are designed to make us think that we can’t imagine a more beautiful future and fight for the idea that we can break that down.

Imara Jones:

So is it that because you were a nerd, no, is it because–

Chase Strangio:

Yeah.

Imara Jones:

Is it because your life was educational, academic intellectual early on that the more you understood yourself in that way that it created the space for you to become more emotionally deep and then to expand into your trans identity, is that how it worked?

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, I mean, it’s hard. ‘Cause I think, looking back, it’s so hard to really know because we impose the future on the, we impose the present on the past. Yeah, I mean, I had to sort of intellectually understand what was possible before I could sort of incorporate it emotionally into my existence. And yeah, I was a huge nerd. I was really closed off. I was really depressed. I was struggling with escape through drugs, alcohol, other things, and sort of all of the trauma, the cumulative trauma of my life, that then I tried to counteract with like intellectual sort of pursuits and sort of what I sort of understood to be academic success as my escape; and then starting to sort of come into being a more whole person through a lot of different work and meeting people and realizing that there were more opportunities for me; and that also within that I could challenge the expectations I was putting on myself about sort of how the world had to be.

Imara Jones:

And how you had to be in it.

Chase Strangio:

And how I had to be in it, exactly.

Imara Jones:

Unlike when you were growing up, as an adult, as a trans adult right now, do you imagine a future for yourself?

Chase Strangio:

I think that imagining a future is a practice and I don’t have a lot of experience with that practice. So I still live very much in sort of the present. I struggle, I’m like, do I have plans for the future? Do I think about the future? And I don’t really. And I know that that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I believe in a future and I believe in creating a future and I don’t necessarily have a practice of situating myself in it, but I believe in fighting for it. And as a parent, I’m directly imagining like the future that I want for my child. And as an advocate, I’m imagining the future I wanna co-create and build with our communities. But I don’t necessarily have a good practice of situating like myself as a self into like a trajectory into the future because it just wasn’t part of what I did for my life.

Imara Jones:

How has being a parent changed your focus on fighting for the future? Or is that something you would’ve done anyway in that attitude? Or is it a propellant? Like what role does parenting have in that?

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, I mean, obviously like, I think when you’re watching a young person grow and sort of understand the world and want to have a place in the world, I think the biggest change for me is having a different relationship to climate justice, which I think the sensibility of young people to, even very young kids, and my kid is seven and has an unbelievable awareness about what, how we are acting as beings on the planet, and actually my vision of what it means to fight for the future can’t be extricated from actually maintaining a physical place to live, that has changed a lot being a parent and sort of watching the sensibility of young people. And then as an advocate, I was driven already. And then having a child, who is gonna live in the world, obviously changes that but I feel like it’s bigger than any individual and it’s not necessarily about just creating a world I want my child to live in, which of course I do, but I also think it’s so much bigger than that.

Imara Jones:

When you imagine the future for trans people, the future that you wanna create, what do you imagine?

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, for me, I start, and sort of the thing that drives me and my work the most, is working to build a way for us to challenge the notion that our bodies are inherently sexed in particular ways and in binary ways. And I think so much of the violence that we see in the world in general is about enforcement of sort of norms of bodily configurations that are tied to systems of power connected to race and geography and borders and colonialism and gender. And that denaturalizing our understanding of we have these bodies and that we get to decide sort of the meaning that is attached to them. And the more we see that to the state in particular, the more violence that we’re gonna see enacted on our community. So my vision for the future is that our work is always holding a central goal of enacting true and meaningful self-determination and bodily autonomy that breaks down the notion that there’s such a thing as a male body or a female body, that there’s such an imperative in government or anywhere else to name what is a healthy or natural or properly functioning body. And so using the lessons of our trans ancestors, of disability justice, of racial justice movements to say, we are gonna claim the truth of our bodies, we are gonna understand our own sort of collective responsibility for keeping each other alive, and the state is gonna be a partner in that. And the state has a responsibility to provide goods and needs, but the state cannot decide who we are and the state cannot limit our ability to collectively care for and save ourselves.

Imara Jones:

So this central idea where we have a future where we accept and embrace the idea where there’s no such thing specifically as a male or a female body is, for a lot of people, absolutely terrifying.

Chase Strangio:

Mm-hmm, yeah. And including some trans people who were like, I wanna name my body as such. And I get that.

Imara Jones:

So for the people for whom it’s terrifying, I was gonna say for the cis people for whom it’s terrifying, you said we should think about trans people so we’ll do that. So for everyone who is terrified of that idea of that possibility in the future, what do you say to them? What would you say to them?

Chase Strangio:

I think that what I try to start with is just, when talking to individuals like, how do you know what your gender is, sort of with cis people, let’s say. I’ll ask, how you identify, let’s say. I’m a man, let’s say. I’m like, well, how do you know? And then people struggle with that question. And so then it’s, well, I know because someone told me.

Imara Jones:

I was gonna say that.

Chase Strangio:

And that actually is really unsatisfying for people once they’re pushed. I’m like, are you comfortable with the idea that this fundamental thing that you feel like is central to who you are is just a product of something that someone else told you? And then sometimes people will be like, well, I know because I have a penis. And then I’m like, okay, so definitionally the thing that makes you you is your genitals, is that how you wanna organize the world? And I think once we start to really challenge what it is about how we sort ourselves into these categories, it starts to make it clear to people that we’re making choices. And it may be that someone is incredibly attached to their genitals and wants that to be a defining feature and that’s okay. It’s just that it’s also true that other things make up what they believe to be true about themselves in relation to their gender. And so what I want us to get to a point with in society is to be able to talk about sort of our bodies and name sort of how we think about them and how we understand them and what about them makes us scared, or what about them gives us pleasure and what about them is causing us to feel anxious around other people. And I think the more that we can talk about bodies instead of sort of pushing them aside and using euphemisms, I think the more we can actually contend with sort of power, the more we contend with the ways that people hurt each other and that’s actually way bigger than a movement for trans justice. I mean, that’s part of challenging violence at large in society. That’s part of sort of naming the ways that people try to control each other and sort of using ideas of what is a, quote, unquote, normal body have been used, part of eugenics forever. It facilitates white supremacy. It facilitates patriarchy. And part of breaking it down, in my mind, is really sort of challenging what’s underneath, which are political imperatives to maintain power through the myth that things are natural and unchangeable.

Imara Jones:

Mm-hmm. I mean, one of the things that is happening right now is the fact that the people that are afraid of this future are fighting back hard.

Chase Strangio:

Yeah

Imara Jones:

Right? There are movements in states across the country, especially to police the bodies of trans kids, which I find interesting, right? It’s not so much against trans adults so much. The federal government’s doing a good job with that. The states can go after trans kids in terms of making them prove their identity, blocking access to healthcare, a whole host of other things. And it’s interesting because the policing of children is inherently linked to the idea of future possibility, right? You block them as kids and you deny a future. I’m wondering if that’s a link that you see, do you think that’s the link they’re making? Why do you think they’re targeting trans kids at the state level?

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, I mean, I think, for a few reasons. First of all, as a general matter sort of fascist movements and movements of oppression often use sort of the notion of protecting the child as a justification for a violent action. That’s why we’re gonna go to war. That’s why we’re gonna enact these. So it’s a rhetorical device that is, I think, very common. So there’s that. And it’s not about protecting the children. It’s about using people’s reflexive desire to care for children to perpetrate a bigger sort of systematic harm. I also think that part of what we’re seeing is a set of movements that are trying to stop people from being trans. And we know this is not possible. You can’t stop anyone from being trans. That is their goal, however. And they think that if they intervene with young children and make it a crime to affirm and support a young child, that they’re gonna effectuate their goal of stopping people from being trans. And so I think that’s why we’re seeing these massive systemic attacks at the state level that are targeting young people with the goal of criminalizing affirming parents, criminalizing affirming providers, criminalizing the children themselves to try to, what they believe in their mind, stop transness. And that’s why they also use this social contagion rhetoric, this idea that it’s a contagion. If one person is trans and someone else might wanna be trans, then another person might wanna be trans and it feels very out of control to them. And so they’re just like, we gotta stop it. And that is a really dangerous rhetoric that they’re putting out, which is directly designed to create a world where repression of transness is the norm and affirmation of transness is a crime. And I think they are trying to stop us from having a future. And they’re not gonna be successful. Because even if they pass every one of these laws, and they will not because we will stop them; but even if they did, that doesn’t change that we exist. And we will keep being able to prove that we exist, and we will shuttle people out of those states if we have to, but you can’t actually stop the trans people from existing. And so if that’s their goal, they will never achieve it. And we can always continue to sort of build on the legacy of our long history to keep supporting our youth into the future.

Imara Jones:

I mean, it’s also the case with kind of these backlash movements in terms of what you’re describing, is that they operate, the way that they’re fighting is the way that they think about gender, which is it’s an essentialist idea.

Chase Strangio:

Completely.

Imara Jones:

Right? So if we stop the body change, right, we block access to medical treatments, then people won’t be trans, right? It’s a fundamental lack of understanding of what transness is, which is driving the way that they’re choosing to fight.

Chase Strangio:

And the incoherence of their arguments. Like, some of the bills are written where they’re like, sexual identity is chromosomes and we will block you from changing your sexual identity. And it’s like, okay, fine. Well, no one’s trying to change their chromosomes.

Imara Jones:

Correct.

Chase Strangio:

You know, as written, it’s totally incoherent.

Imara Jones:

Right.

Chase Strangio:

And they don’t even understand it. And one of the things that I often point to you is that when we litigate in these contexts, on these two schools for example, over their sort of, quote, unquote, biological sex policies, will be like, well, what is biological sex? And they’ll say, it’s what’s on a person’s birth certificate? And then we’ll present them with someone who’s changed their birth certificate. And they’re like, oh no, no, that’s not what we mean. We mean genitals. And you’re like, okay, well, here are the people with a range of genitals, where do they, and they’re like, no, no, that’s not what we mean. And it’s an ever-shifting target. Because it’s an ideological concept, not a sort of scientific one in the way that they’re presenting.

Imara Jones:

That’s right. That’s right. I tell people this all the time. So the person, the doctor who created the test for the Olympics in the 1960s to determine who’s a man or a woman has asked them to stop using the test because he says that, biologically, there’s no fixed way to determine the difference between men and women. There’s no scientific way to do it.

Chase Strangio:

And certainly not by one marker. It’s like there are lots of markers and our bodies are variable across a lot of different metrics. And that’s just how it works. There’s a whole continuum on each marker of anything that would be considered a sex-based characteristic. And so you cannot say biological sex and think that that has a coherent meaning.

Imara Jones:

And that it’s fixed.

Chase Strangio:

And that it’s fixed.

Imara Jones:

Yeah. Who’s writing these bills?

Chase Strangio:

So I think what’s true about how these movements are sort of spreading into the states is that there are goals that groups of anti-LGBTQ organizations have, and they meet, and they come up with their priorities, and they draft legislation probably, or at least model types of legislation, and then they go out into the states where certain people, who are lawmakers who wanna push these types of things, then will adopt a version of the bills. And the groups that are definitely behind it are Alliance Defending Freedom, Heritage Foundation, the different family policy institute type groups that exist on a national level and with–

Imara Jones:

Focus on the Family.

Chase Strangio:

Yeah. And Focus on the Family, probably. I haven’t heard as much about them in recent years because I think a lot more resources have been directed to Heritage, to Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF, Alliance Defending Freedom, has a huge legal network. They bring litigation. They push policy. They’ve been instrumental at partnering with the anti-trans feminist people. And so there’s lots of those groups, and then they meet, and they’re very well-funded, and they support pushing the bills across the country. And not only that, supporting litigation to fight good policies. So they’ll have lawsuits on behalf of cis students, doing a school that has an inclusive policy. They’ll defend the baker in Colorado that won’t make the cake for the same-sex couple. So all of those things are very well-coordinated on the policy and litigation side from a few sort of very well-resourced shops.

Imara Jones:

And so it is organized, right?

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, I mean, I assume it’s organized. I mean, it’s certainly coordinated, and I don’t know, but they meet. And yes, there is a plan and they’re implementing it, just like we have our plan and are trying to implement.

Imara Jones:

Right, to the extent that there is coordination and similarities, there’s some amount of organizations.

Chase Strangio:

Yes, no, totally. I mean, they’re doing things to work together, yes.

Imara Jones:

Right, what do you think they really think they’re doing?

Chase Strangio:

I mean, I think some of them think some things and others think other things. And I don’t know what people truly believe. But I think some of them, at least, as far as I can tell, believe in implementing a world in which sort of men and women have very narrow, specific social and legal definitions and roles in society that are not just about our bodies, but about our behaviors and that there are no continuums, that there are binaries, that men must be a certain way, women must be a certain way. And the policies that disrupt that natural order, which comes very much from Judeo-Christian and, in practice, Christian framework of the family and men and women, they’re implementing that through the legal system and that is their goal, as I see it. It’s hard, given sort of the arguments that we see, to not just sort of think of it as some analog to like “The Handmaid’s Tale” where that’s —

Imara Jones:

That’s their vision.

Chase Strangio:

That’s their vision. And they’re pretty brazen about it.

Imara Jones:

Yeah, that doesn’t scare them. They look at “The Handmaid’s Tale” and they go, oh, right.

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, that seems right.

Imara Jones:

Yeah, they’re like, yeah. You know, Ginni Thomas looks at it and goes, what of Clarence, or whatever. She’s like totally–

Chase Strangio:

I mean, yeah–

Imara Jones:

You know she’s hugely involved in the anti-trans movement.

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, she’s hugely involved and she’s completely public about it and was very clear about her ideological position. Yeah, and involved in all of the sort of connected aspects of the far-right movements in the United States, which I think are well-connected in a variety of degrees. I mean, you can see that the similarity, even coming from the federal executive, between sort of how the Muslim ban gets pushed out, with how the census question gets pushed out, with how the anti-trans military ban gets pushed out these are coordinated and similar strategies to enforce exclusionary and binary construction of the citizen, both as a sort of legal concept of the U.S. citizen, but also as like appropriate citizen of the world and of the United States and designed to definitionally exclude people from that.

Imara Jones:

A part of this, like, toxic stew of people who are fighting in an organized way against trans people are TERFs, right? Women who are feminists, who are obsessed with trans and believe that trans undermines the gender binary and therefore the ability to advance the role of women in society, making a mockery of women, et cetera. That’s their summation of their thoughts. And we were talking before we started filming about their obsession with you, right, TERF’s obsession with Chase. And I’m wondering if you can just reflect again of why you think that is. I mean, what’s fascinating is that they seem to have no sense of contradiction between advocating for a world of gender equality and gender equity and of gender opportunity and at the same time oppressing trans people.

Chase Strangio:

Yeah. I mean, I think we’re living in this time where we’re seeing the rise of this sort of trans exclusionary radical feminists, TERFs, and they call themselves gender critical feminists, which is completely absurd because I don’t see what’s critical about their thought at all.

Imara Jones:

Well, anyone who thinks about gender is critical–

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, and yes, and they’re certainly critical of trans people existing. So maybe that’s what they’re going for. But there’s a huge rise of the movement in the UK, which is being sort of transported to the United States. And they do have a very strong reaction to me. I think part of it is that I speak publicly a lot about the body and it infuriates them. I think they want to sort of define womanhood in incredibly restrictive ways. And so they believe that the very idea of challenging our assumptions about what constitutes like a woman’s body and a man’s body as like an assault on womanhood, when actually it’s an assault on power and the ways in which the power structures have actually constrained everyone’s ability to have bodily autonomy, which is central to say reproductive justice and control over reproduction which one would think that would be important to any movement that claims to be a movement for gender justice. So they hate that I do that. I think they are particularly angry at transmasculine people. I mean, they direct a lot of violence to the bodies of trans-femme people and sort of this idea that transwomen are men and that’s their operating framework. I think that the way they think of someone like me is I have betrayed my womanhood and that I mutilated myself. They use a lot of language about mutilation. They talk about how I push mutilation off of women’s bodies. But they don’t really have a concept of agency and self-determination in this framework. And so they’ll align themselves with groups that are principally focused on stripping access to abortion, reproductive healthcare, bodily autonomy for people to make their own decisions about whether and when to have children, for example, in the service of saying that it’s because we have to protect women from trans ideology when what they’re actually doing is defining woman as a person with a vagina capable of menstruating and bearing children and then partnering with people who believe that the state should take away people’s reproductive control and autonomy. And so, to me, it’s such an anti-feminist approach to everything and it betrays the idea that it’s even about trans people at all. It’s actually about aligning with power, which is why so many of the leaders are white women, white cis women, who have, not all of them, but many who already have a sort of an instinct to align with power in the service of their interests as white people and it really is just another manifestation of sort of ceding self-determination and notions of autonomy and agency to the state which ultimately just hurts everyone. So they do hate me. They harass me online. They write petitions to have me fired. They’ll do a whole host of things. But at the end of the day, I would rather be a target of their hate than have them continue to push it out on other people, particularly on trans-femme people, who, I think, like for whom the vitriol is particular egregious.

Imara Jones:

This idea of a lack of agency that they have, I think, is particularly interesting because it continues a 19th century version of womanhood that was very much in sway that women needed to be protected, that women were weak. And as you say, that seems to be at the very, at the very heart of it, contradictory to everything that feminists is supposed to stand for it.

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, everything is such a contradiction. They’ll get up and say that if a transperson can claim their identity, then sex has no meaning and we can’t define women in the way that we want to, which is someone who can reproduce and bear children. And so it’s just this very circular thing where it’s like, no, we don’t wanna be defined by this thing, but also we’re gonna go ahead and weaponize that very definition in the service of excluding others. And before the supreme court arguments on the cases about whether federal law is going to continue to protect LGBTQ people, there was this great piece by this woman named Irin Carmon, and she sort of said at the end that the so-called feminists, who are so quick to try to close the door behind them, are gonna soon find themselves on the other side of that door. These lines they’re drawing, they’re gonna hurt themselves in the end. When you start drawing people out of the category of woman, that ultimately, that’s gonna hurt you too. And I think that’s where their contradiction and the incoherence of their arguments is in no way self-serving. And that we have an imperative to join movements to challenge the ways in which certain notions of gender are deployed in very hurtful and violent ways.

Imara Jones:

There’s no way to be biologically determinist and believe in the freedom of all people.

Chase Strangio:

No, you can’t.

Imara Jones:

You can’t, you can’t. Fundamentally, it’s not gonna work.

Chase Strangio:

It’s not gonna work. And ultimately, particularly when you’re willing to take that biological determinism and seed all of it to the state to then decide what to do with it.

Imara Jones:

Correct, correct.

Chase Strangio:

I mean, that is eugenics, that is the history of slavery, mass incarceration, of genocide. I mean, that is a dangerous imperative and one that they seem more than willing to sign up for just because they’re so afraid that a transperson gets to name their truth. I mean, that’s deep.

Imara Jones:

And in where we began in a different way, you mentioned that the future that you’re fighting for is one in which the idea of man and woman, male and female as fixed bodies doesn’t exist. And so I want you to talk a little bit about what that actually means for that future. What possibilities does that create? That you described the thing that isn’t absent, but what is the thing that is then present?

Chase Strangio:

I mean, for me, what we create is sort of the ability to sort of imagine and build systems that truly are about supporting each other’s ability to grow and live and have our needs met. And so if you think about, like if you look at young children, I saw a headline today that was like, girls start thinking boys are smarter than them at age six. And that if we denaturalize the notion of like, who is even a girl and who is even a boy, how do we sort of help a person grow into the idea that they have a self and then they have an ability to connect to others and care for others and care for themselves and sort of identify their needs not tied to these imposed notions of how they have to be because of, I mean, let’s face it, their genitals, that we may be able to build a sort of more creative possibility for the future where we’re able to sort of think about how can we connect with each other and how can we have caretaking systems that we put in place and that actually support our ability to name who we are and who we wanna be, both with respect to how we inhabit our bodies but then how we interact with others. And so obviously this is not something that’s gonna change anytime soon, but what I hope to sort of move us to is challenging ourselves every day to think about why we assume things to be true and what would it mean to sort of let go of some of those assumptions and what would it mean if we integrated letting go in our caretaking of young children, in our systems of education, in our systems of government and start to direct policymaking, direct interaction and coming from a different place instead of being so wedded to and restrictively tied to certain binaries and sort of how they have to or should operate. And I think it would just open up so many possibilities for people to be less anxious, to be kinder, to build more creatively.

Imara Jones:

Once you remove the definition and the imposition of these categories on people and who we’re supposed to be, then we actually get to embark on the journey of finding out who we really are.

Chase Strangio:

Yeah, I mean, what a gift. I mean, raising a child, you can see, they don’t know things. Like, we tell them things and that everything that they learn around them, starting at a very young age, three months, let’s say, is sort of building their consciousness. But if you open it up, then there’s so much more that’s possible. I truly believe that our bodies would develop differently if we had a different understanding of them. If you think about, like for me, I spent so much of my life hunched in, to hide who I was, like what would that mean, what would I, how would my body be different if I wasn’t constantly hiding and constantly trying to manage shame and trauma, and that is happening in a multitude of ways and it’s impacting every aspect of our social, our physiological and our sort of structural systems

Imara Jones:

It reminds me of something that Aloha said earlier this week, which is that each of us are infinite ecosystems of possibility, right? And what you’re saying is that removing those barriers allows for those possibilities, the complexity, the intricacy to come forth. And in and of itself, that energetic change will have actual biological ramifications.

Chase Strangio:

I mean, and I believe that. And it’s like we can’t prove it right now. We can’t study it in any way, because we’re so constrained by what we’re even allowed to say, what we’re allowed to study, what we’re allowed to incorporate into systems. But none of that is natural. It’s fixed. We could change any of those things, we choose not to, and then we have to contend with those choices.

Imara Jones:

You know what would be really interesting? This idea, what would women’s bodies be like if they weren’t so policed, right? Because we even know this idea of the, the test in the Olympics, for example, gender testing is for women. Men don’t undergo gender testing, right? It’s about policing in a certain way. Even the TERF language about trans men and transmasculinity, right, is also about the policing of a certain body that was born, assigned female at birth. And so it’s a really fascinating prospect.

Chase Strangio:

And so much about what we believe to be true, about sort of how our bodies work or what is or is not healthy is, completely changes over time and is contingent on political context. Like, I was just talking to an endocrinologist who said that people who menstruate it used to be that that would happen at age 16, and that was the norm, and now the average is like 12 or 13. So these things are changing in response to, nothing is just, it’s gonna be this way because of some chromosomal predetermined set of things, or even it used to be true that everyone smoked when they were pregnant and now that’s seen as like this completely public health crisis. But a whole generation of people were born in that context. But the bioethical sort of norms are deeply politically contingent. And so we have to sort of recognize that. And the idea that, oh, well, in the context of how we talk about athletics and competitive advantage and all of these things related to sex bodies, we don’t know how our bodies would develop. If starting at age three, everyone who was deemed a girl was told that they were less strong than everyone who was deemed a boy and sorted as such. Because as a parent, I can tell you, that that sorting happens at age two and younger. So we can’t know what would happen without that social imposition. We just don’t.

Imara Jones:

It’s actually the first definition that people learn, which is why it’s so strong, right? And so if you don’t have that in the beginning, then you actually have so many possibilities. If you don’t have this limitation, this idea that I can’t, I literally can’t go in this place, I’ve seen kids who are two and a half and three be like standing, girls get in the boys line and be like, oh, I can’t be here. So I have to go to here, because that means I have to go there. Without that, there is infinite possibility.

Chase Strangio:

I think so.

Imara Jones:

Thank you so much for taking the time.

Chase Strangio:

Thanks for talking.

Imara Jones:

It’s really wonderful. Thank you so much. Thank you for all the work that you do and for taking the TERFy and finding the nuts in South Dakota and wherever else they might spring up.

Chase Strangio:

It’s an honor to work with our community. And thank you for talking to me.

Imara Jones:

Thank you.

You can watch the full ‘The Future of Trans’ documentary here: https://youtu.be/kxwjfRsQsfk

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I am going to pin my annual tracker of anti-trans bills. Legislatures are starting early and are extra cruel this year despite the pandemic. The ... judiciary is even more hostile so we need to stop these from passing. I will keep updating as more bills come.

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