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Letter from a trans man to the old sexual regime

A reaction to the alleged "Puritanism" of the MeToo movement.


Ladies and gentlemen, and the others.

In the midst of the mutual accusations of sexual harassment policy, I like to take the floor as the smuggler between the two worlds, "men" and "women". These are two worlds that did not have to exist, but which some make every effort to keep apart by a kind of gender Berlin wall. And I do it to bring you tidings about it objet trouvà © or rather sewed horse lost during transport of the contraband goods. *

Here I am not talking as a man belonging to the ruling class, that is, as those who are assigned a boy's gender at birth, and then raised to members of the ruling class, that is, as those who are left with a right or may rather be required to exercise masculine sovereignty (and here we have the key to an interesting analysis). And I do not speak as a woman either, since I have deliberately and politically abandoned such political and social embodiment. I express myself here as a trans human. Therefore, I do not in any way claim to represent any collective size. Neither do I speak as heterosexual or as gay, nor would I be able to do so, even though I know and reside in both positions, as these categories become obsolete when trans. I speak as an offender of the gender, as a refugee from sexuality, as a system critic of the gender difference regime, and therefore sometimes have to be clumsy as there is a lack of preconceived codes.

And I speak as the self-imposed experimental man of sexual politics who is about to make a non-thematic experience of living on both sides of the wall and who has now been back and forth so many times every day that he starts to get really tired, ladies and gentlemen, of the unwilling rigidity of the codes and of the desire imposed by the heteropatriarchal regime. So let me say, from the other side of the wall, that things are much worse off than my experience as a lesbian woman had allowed me to imagine. Since I started living in the men's world as if I were a man (and fully conscious of embodying political fiction), I have been able to find that the ruling (masculine and heterosexual) class will not give up its privileges because we send out a lot of tweets and shout out every now and then.

I speak as an overflow from gender, as a refugee from sexuality, as a system critic of the gender difference regime.

After the sexual and the revolutions of the anti-colonial revolution of the last century, heteropatriarchs have initiated a project on counter-reform, which is now supported by the "feminine" voices that continue to be "taken on" and "disturbed". It will be a millennial war, that is, the longest war, since it relates to the policies of reproduction as well as the process by which a human body constitutes itself as a sovereign subject. In fact, it will be the most important of all wars, since what is at stake is neither the territory nor the city, but the body, the desire and the life.

It is characteristic of humanity's position in our technopatriarchal and heterocentric societies that masculine sovereignty is determined by the legitimate use of violence technologies (against women, against children, against non-white men, against animals and against the planet as a whole). If we now read Weber with Butler, we can say that masculinity is in the same relation to society as the state does to the nation: they are the legitimate holders and practitioners of violence. This violence finds its expression thus: socially as a form of restraint, economically as a form of privilege and sexually as a form of aggression and rape. Conversely, female sovereignty is linked to women's ability to give birth to children. Women are sexually and socially subjugated and only mothers are sovereign. Within this regime, masculinity is determined necropolitically by men's right to inflict death, while femininity is determined biopolitically by women's duty to give life. One could say that the necropolitan heterosexuality consists in a utopia about an eroticization of the pairing between Robocop and Alien, if one tries otherwise to assume that with some luck one of the two will be able to enjoy it.

Heterosexuality is not just as Monique Wittig has demonstrated, a government regime; it is also a desire policy. It is a distinctive feature of the regime that it is embodied in a process of seduction and romantic dependence between "free" sexual actors. The positions like Robocop or Alien are not individually chosen, nor are they conscious. Necropolitan heterosexuality constitutes a governmental practice that those who rule (the men) do not impose on the governed (the women), but is rather an epistemology that, through internal regulation, defines the definitions and positions that apply to men and women, respectively. Such governmental practice does not take the form of a law, but of an unwritten norm, that is, of a transaction of movements and codes that causes a division between the unlawful and the unlawful within the practice of sexuality. This kind of sexual servitude rests on a seduction aesthetic, on the stylization of desire, and on a historically constructed and codified dominion that eroticizes and perpetuates the power difference. It is this policy of desire that keeps the "old sex" regime alive despite all the laws of democratization and women empowerment**) by women. Such a necropolitan heterosexual regime is as degrading and destructive as slavery and bondage were in the Enlightenment era. The process of detecting and making visible violence that we are experiencing now is part of a sexual revolution that is as unstoppable as it is slow and intricate. Queer feminism placed the epistemological transformation as the prerequisite for change in society. It was about raising the issue of bipartisan epistemology and about the naturalization of gender by claiming that there is an unlimited diversity of genders, gender differences and sexualities.

Today we understand that the operational transformation is as important as the epistemological transformation: the desire must change. One must learn to crave sexual freedom. For years, queer culture has constituted a laboratory for discovering new aesthetics for system-critical sexualities that have faced the subjectivities and desires of ruling heterosexual necropolis. Many of us have long since abandoned the aesthetics of Robocop-Alien. Together with Joan Nestle, Pat Califia and Gayle Rubin, together with Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens, with Guillaume Dustan and Virginie Despentes butch fives and the BDSM cultures learned that sexuality is a political theater in which it is the desire and not the anatomy that writes the manuscript. Within the theatrical fiction of sexuality, it is possible to have a desire for licking shoe soles, to be penetrated by all body openings or to chase one's lover into the forest as if he were a sexual prey. However, there are two distinctive markers that distinguish cross-sexuality from the heterosexual norm of old times: the consent and the non-natural nature of sexual positions. The equality of the body and the redistribution of power.

The grotesque aesthetics of necropolitan heterosexuality place the men in the position of the aggressor and the women in the victim, who are either painfully grateful or joyfully shy.

As a transmand I identify with the ruling masculinity and with its necropolitan provision. The most intrusive does not consist in defending what we are (men or women), but in rejecting it to de-identify ourselves with the political coercion that leads us to crave the norm and reproduce it. Our political practice consists in disobedience to the norms of gender and sexuality. I've been a lesbian for most of my life and then trans for the last five years. I'm as far from your heterosexual aesthetic as a Buddhist monk who levitates in Lhassa is from a Rema-1000 supermarket. Your old sexual regime can't give me a trigger. It can't excite me to "touch anyone" at all. It is of no interest whatsoever to be able to get out of my sexual misery by hand-shaking a woman's ass in a public transport. I feel no desire at all for the erotic sexual kitch you suggest: that some guys can take advantage of their power position to have sex and take someone on the ass. The grotesque and killing aesthetics of necropolitan heterosexuality make me nauseous: It is an aesthetic that in turn naturalises the gender difference and places the men in the position of the aggressor and the women in the position of the victim, who are either painfully grateful or terribly embarrassed.

Whenever possible To claim that in queer and trans culture we bicker better and more, it is firstly because we have moved sexuality out of the field of reproduction, and then, and especially because we have detached ourselves from the dominion of the gender difference. By that I do not say that queer and transfeminist culture can evade any form of violence. There is no sexuality without shadow pages. But there is no need for the shadow side, that is, inequality and violence, to become dominant and determine the whole sexuality.

Male and female representatives of the old sexual regime: Try to control your shadow sites and have fun with itand let's bury our dead. Enjoy your domination aesthetic, but don't try to make your aesthetic a thing. And then, let us bounce from our desire policy without men and without women, without penis and without vagina, without ax and without rifle.

* "Objet trouvé", really the "found object": an art category whereby an existing object is exhibited in an artistic context. "Sujet perdu", really "lost subject", then constitutes a verbal and a slip of meaning. 

Printed by permission of Libération (17.1.2018). Translated from the French by Carsten Juhl.
Precadio is an author, philosopher, curator focusing on identity, gender, pornography, architecture and sexuality. Residing in Barcelona.

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