Friday, May 29, 2009

Two Cheers for Monarchy

Over at Shakesville there's a heartwarming post about an openly gay student who was elected prom queen. (You can read the original story here.)

I'm certainly glad to know that a high school can be so accepting; the idea of a student being openly gay at my high school was unthinkable, and that was only--well, more than a decade ago. And I'm really happy that Sergio Garcia can be open, and be himself.

All that said, I'm afraid I have to be a bit of a wet blanket about this. Call me a Humorles Tranny™, but I as a trans woman I see a few complications with this whole thing.

First, I have to wonder: would somebody who was openly trans have been elected prom queen? (Maybe; it happened in Fresno.) Then there is the question of why somebody who doesn't identify as female is even running for prom queen. According to the article, "He thought the role [of prom queen] would suit him better than prom king." Yeah--isn't that kind of the point? I mean, if he had been elected prom king, if the student body would have been happy to put him into that bastion of heterosexism, then you might have something to really talk about.

According to the article, his campaign began as a stunt "but ended up spurring discussion on the campus about gender roles and popularity." Which is really wonderful--we need to have these discussions, especially in high school--but I can't help feeling that it remained something of a stunt til the end.

For example, the article repeatedly makes it clear that despite running for prom queen, Sergio is all man.
"[I'm] not your typical prom queen candidate. There's more to me than meets
the eye."
"He also promised that he would be wearing a suit on prom night, but 'don't
be fooled: Deep down, I am a queen."
"'I don't wish to be a girl,' he told the Los Angeles Times. 'I just wish to
be myself.'"
Call me oversensitive, but I see a lot of subtle trans- and femmephobia in there. There's the clear implication that if he were to wear a dress, that would be somehow wrong. His "more than meets the eye" clearly echoes trans stereotypes in the media, from porn to movies. And fuckall, how am I supposed to read how he doesn't want to be a girl--yet runs for prom queen--as anything other than the idea that a boy who did want to be a girl and run for prom queen would be weird, as opposed to his decidedly non-weird candidacy?

I'm sorry to be coming down so hard on this kid; truth be told, I'm happy that he won, happy he goes to a school that's so accepting, and happy that the reporting on the story doesn't smirk or treat the whole thing as ridiculous.

But compare this nice, respectful story about a clean-cut gay kid who gets to be prom queen with this (triggery) piece about a nice, respectful trans kid who gets elected prom queen. Thrill to the wondrous transphobia: the refusal to use her preferred name (Crystal), the emphasis on her height in heels (cause, you know, she's totes a dude in drag), and fuckitall, the unconscionable refusal to use her preferred pronoun--even after noting she prefers to be called she. You read that story--picked up without comment on a website whose mission statement is "To encourage a world where globalization is not about homogeneity and exploitation, but rather, about diversity and cooperation"--and, if you are like me, you get pissed off and throw a wet blanket on somebody else's party.

Because seriously, great for you Sergio, but am I really supposed to be happy that a guy took another woman's job, even if that job is stupid and heterosexist to begin with?


  1. I'm in total agreement. If an openly gay man was elected prom king -- or, god forbid, if there were two prom kings instead of a king and queen, or two female queens, even! -- then I would count this as significant progress.

    (By the way, I came over here from Tiger Beatdown and I've been loving your writing so far. Keep it up!)

  2. I'd say that the comment about his not being "your typical prom queen candidate", because "there's more to [him] than meets the eye" is more misogynistic than transphobic. Or femmephobic, if you prefer. Because, obviously, there is *not* more to the typical (female) prom queen candidate than meets the eye...