Straight Up | Issue 5

Straight Up | Issue 5

Glitter Bomb

In case you missed it, this week’s NZ trans-queer news was over the “glitter bombing” of feminist writer and commentator Germaine Greer.

The action was undertaken once again by the Wellington-based Queer Avengers, who tipped glitter all over the seated septuagenarian, who appeared stunned in the photos taken afterwards. The “bombing” was in response to comments Greer has made as recently as 2009 about the “delusion” of trans women who she stated, “seem to … be some kind of ghastly parody, though it isn’t polite to say so”. Greer’s comments are a part of a wider picture, a hardy strand of transphobic feminism that has been rooted in place for decades.

Feminists like Greer refuse to acknowledge that trans women – women who were assigned as male at birth, but have since transitioned – are women. I agree with the avengers, transphobic feminists seem to have failed to learn the lessons of their own struggle. Really transphobic feminism is at its best when it is being deconstructed in feminist theory textbooks.

If I am honest though, I remain uncomfortable about bombing of any kind. Part of me would prefer to talk (even with the obtuse and intransigent) at all times. There is something in holding to a process even as we agitate for change. Perhaps we could find common ground, or at least agree to disagree, but make sure that Greer appreciates the harm her comments cause, to (trans)feminism(s). On the other hand, a quick sprinkling by the glitter fairies delivers a shock to Greer, and draws mass media attention to the issues that trans women across Aotearoa continue to negotiate. It doesn’t cause any permanent damage, and definitely improved Greer’s drab outfit. On balance, I think I side with the bombers, but continue to hold my discomfort.

While Germaine Greer does contribute to the negative climate of hate and misinformation that exists around trans people, for me a more pressing issue that has come up recently is the experience of trans folks in NZ prisons. I went to a prison lately to do some education work, and was shocked by what I heard. Ladies – imagine for one moment being put in a men’s prison, strip-searched by male guards, subject to harassment and sexual assault by fellow inmates, continually referred to using the incorrect pronoun “he”. There has been a petition going around about this issue – I encourage you to sign it. If nothing comes of the petition, perhaps Minister of Corrections Anne Tolley could be the next target for some glittery action?

<3 La Di Da
This article first appeared in Issue 5, 2012.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 25th March 2012 by La Dida.