TESTO JUNKIE is just gender SUPERSIZE ME
by Maz Murray
Can cis people stop asking me if I’ve read testo junkie please? Obviously I have, it’s what turned me trans lol.
Na, I read that book in art school and it put me off being trans for another good year and a half. The effect it seems to have had is cis women saying they’re curious to try T. Ok I’ll hook you up yeh - just lemme wait 4 years for the GIC to return my phone calls.
Exclusive excerpt of testo junkie found on the exposed floorboards of Preciado’s study:
Me and jemima met at my Airbnb in Zurich, where I was staying for the duration of the conference. Her eyes locked on to mine instantly and we talked about the failings of Derrida for hours. It got late, and I knew I had a few important emails to send which the Bordeaux had turned in to a distant howling. ‘I have to go to my room’ I said. ‘I’ll come with you’ said jemima. I fucked her up the arse even tho she is a cis with my largest black dildo, named Andre 3000 as a cutting retort to the fetishisation of black masculinity in proximity to white femininity. We are both white but ~I~ am TRANS. As she came her hands curled around the mid range sheets, a result of cuts to the academy’s budget. ‘I think... I think I might be non binary’ she (now they through the power of my mutant cock) gasped. I went to the ensuite and washed Andre, then sat down with the strap still on to finish my admin. Perhaps it was Andre’s presence which ensured my grant application’s success, or perhaps it was my own fearless brilliance
Tired of reading all this (lol I barely read any I just watch riverdale) queer writing that’s packing unchecked class positionality and whiteness (;
It’s not that fun to read babe
Ur not good at writing just cuz ur queer
U just have time to write cuz ur posh
What separates all this from a sex change story in the centrefold of Take a Break?
The pay grade, mostly
It’s this kinda stuff that makes even ME secretly suspicious that being queer and trans is some kinda bourgeois conspiracy
Feels like it’s being used to make a mockery of us but the academics don’t notice because they have no sense of humour
And of course no one else really notices because no one really reads this shit
The thing is, I’m not saying testo junkie is a bad book. It’s not. I enjoyed it. It was somewhat engaging, I learnt stuff about the pill and got to avoid actually reading Foucault.
But the chat around it was pretty bad, and people STILL asking me about it 10 years after Preciado originally published is not my favourite
I think people misunderstand the text, and don’t know that Preciado IS A TRANS MAN.
People see me, trying to be trans
And think hey, here’s someone who did it better, why don’t you read this?
Here’s someone who was a gEnDeR hAcKeR - that’s cool! This person doesn’t BELIEVE in gender, they’re not taking t as part of transition, they’re doing it for ~the culture
Here’s a person we can still call she and deadname - right?
They don’t realise that even if your intention is to take t as part of a gonzo journalism project, after a few months or years are you really not just ~also somewhat trans?
As ALC said in her critique of Jill Soloways memoir: being trans because you want the attention doesn’t make you “not really” trans; it just makes you annoying.
And Preciado wasn’t pretending to be trans, if anything he was pretending not be trans so cis people would listen. A lot of cis people seem to read the text and think Paul is above being trans or ascended simply transness because he wrote a book that wasn’t all about how he hated wearing dresses as a child. https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/ppvx38/beatriz-preciado-testo-junkie-interview-199
Tbf, When I first read testo junkie I didn’t even clock that Paul (Beatriz on the cover of my edition) was trans - I just thought it was a wacky academic doing wacky academic stuff for a good angle and ergo a book deal. And that seems to be a common misinterpretation: http://tohumagazine.com/article/how-testo-junkie-transforms-you
I don’t really think the cis are on a level for Testo Junkie to be their main reference to trans life, but they read it and think they know more about gender than me.
I truly can see why ppl like it tho because its not as horribly depressing as most other loud trans narratives, and I guess it makes being trans seem kinda cool and even like something a cis person would do!
Most of the very little trans media there is (overwhelmingly made by the cis lezbereal) positions transness as so incredibly other, defined by its bizarreness in comparison to cisness. To be trans is to want to mutilate your genitalia, risk a beating, lie, scheme and lose your family. These mainstream representations hide beneath the cloak of realism, awarness-raising, sympathy, but exist to reassure the cis that they are not trans. Which has the added bonus of reassuring the trans that they are not trans.
However, as queerness becomes too cool and people get bored, it’s important to recognise elements of transness being cool and worth co-opting too. And to know it’s not enough to just support the fun cool bits of being trans: the non binary social media influencers and their Essie sponsorships, the gender neutral clothing ranges that consist mainly of scarves, the cast of Pose and the odd trans masc model. As the pronoun badges get handed out, the cis begin to think of themselves as gender experts because of a misunderstanding of Judith butler their friend relayed to them, and they won’t hesitate to correct you with a Testo Junkie quote to back them up.
Cis people keep doing this thing with me where they’ll be describing an interaction with a stranger and say ‘This woman- OH. SORRY. I mean, this ~person~’
This absolute Chad came up to me at work and asked where the toilets where and I pointed him towards the line of toilets at the back of the building
My colleague jumped on me
‘wHICH TOILETS did you SEND that ~person~ TO?????’
I said that the head of our department was a cis man and my colleague said
‘Oh? How do You KNOW????’
‘YOu cANT assUME’ she’ll say (and it’s usually a cis woman tbh), a flicker of amusement and smugness and fear behind the eyes. Sometimes i just wanna say oi get my pronouns out ur mouth - ur not my mate
Its easier for the cis institution to just assume a possiblity for *gender neutrality* - it means they don’t have to think about all the complications inherent in gender variance and the real issues facing trans people in access, in safety. To assume the possibility of a neutral state excuses you from thinking about the different levels we’re at, that the support a trans woman needs may be very different from what a non-medicalised afab non binary person needs. If institutions co-opt a warped form of inclusivity that ends up as 'everyone should just LOVE their body and all we need to do is have a pronoun badge', then they can continue letting the NHS’s provision of gender based care fail people. Pronouns are free, hormones and surgery aren’t.
Testo junkie’s we’re all on hormones sweatty they’re turning the frogs gay vibe doesnt do much to counter this
All v cute to think hey we r all trans! But really, thats kinda sad. Cuz if we’re all trans then that’s a lot of ppl closeted n not doing much about it. So many times before I came out I’d share my gender feelings and people would say oh I think lots of people feel like that, I feel like that sometimes, it’s not a big deal (i.e. dw ur not trans!). And it took me ages to realise that hey, it’s not a big deal but it also kind of is! And I need to do something about this, and if you feel the same as me you might want to as well, or that actually, you probably don’t quite feel the same as me, and I can’t just get over it through self acceptance or looking at a music video with a conventionally attractive enby in it, and that’s ok! We r both fine n valid tbh.
I often think about this in relation to a mainstream depiction of transmascs from last year. In the Sabrina reboot her trans bestie Theo tries to use magic to transition and gets TURNED INTO A TREE AND HAS TO AMPUTATE HIS ARM - all as a lesson in loving himself as he is. Hmm, or you could just let him transition? Idk, maybe the special effects team don’t have the budget to mimic the effects of T, or the cis writers don’t want to have to deal with the complications of incorporating physical transition in to world where magic exists, or deal with the trans undertones of shape-shifiting lore. Trans stories these days have all the subtlety of a morality play.
I’m sick of rich pricks with dramedys based on their life getting the monopoly on being problematic. It’d be cool to see a mainstream show deal with the conflicting feelings involved in medically transitioning - is my dysphoria from me or from society etc etc, will medical transition stop my dysphoria (possibly not tbh). But u rlly don’t have to turn me into a tree to get that point across.
I’m hardly the first to notice that visibility alone has done worse than nothing for trans people.
Maybe Testo Junkie made me feel like I could, or rather sHOULD get a book deal out of my transition, and The Argonauts made me feel like I should be good at anal sex (correct)
But examples like these also made cis ppl act like they know better than me cuz they’ve read a fuckin book.
Its no fun when ur lived experience exists largely in bullshit academia or, well, tabloids. The addition of (trans)trend(er)-chasing representation is maybe a little better, but not much. It’s all so pious and worthy and disingenuous. The representation alone isn’t rlly going to help, so at least let it come from a variety of actual trans people, and let it be funny and silly and stupid and problematic but in the good way. There’s this immense pressure to represent the community correctly, that you’re always out educating people and you need to reinforce just HOW MUCH the trans are suffering, or HOW WACKY the gender binary is, and how incredibly VALID one’s siblings are, and if you fuck up you’re responisble for the literal deaths of trans people (side note: the trans people dying are trans women of colour often engaged in survival sex work, so stop claiming this oppression if that’s not you). Let me take the piss out of myself, ffs. (hannah gadsby emerges from the shadows and gets STARED DOWN)
A lot of trans people have a great sense of humour because you kinda have to develop one to cope! And tbh being trans can be pretty wacky n funny! Lots of potential for dark humour there!
Why is it that one of the lasting artefacts of the culture is still Paris is Burning? It’s down to the joy and humour of the black and latinx trans women featured in the film. Why is it that Pose, in comparison, falls kinda flat? Other than being created by a white cis gay, the (billy porter voice) CATEGORY most want to appropriate ballroom culture, it’s that lack of humour: it picks up a warped collection of phrases ripped from ballroom culture and sprinkles them in to broad american sitcom format. This tension feels most fraught in the killing off of Candy, one of two semi-antagonists who are tempestuous dark skinned black women (hmm), and in having her reappear as useful comic foil. It’s the lack of actual cutting honesty and discomfort. The closest Pose comes in trying to achieve this is pretending Blanca (the main character) isn’t v good looking and doesn’t pass when she clearly is and does: the show uses this bizarre assumption to throw Blanca into constant peril, to which she will shout ‘I am a real woman!’ Who is this learning moment for? I think u kno.
Tbh, i doubt the average cis person off the street seeing MJ Rodriguez on a magazine would know she’s trans ¯\_(0_0)_/¯
The obsessive dialogue around trans women in particular has if anything made it more difficult for trans people to pass
This is what awareness without infrastructure does
The ballroom scene existed before Madonna and (as Pose tries to highlight) continued after the fascination faded. Grassroots culture like this grows from being locked out of the mainstream. Most trans people still are - especially trans people of colour - it’s just getting a bit sketchy to admit that. So they throw some meaningless tokenistic language at it, whilst leaving exclusionary infrastructure intact. Ballroom was able to spring up in part because of abandoned spaces, cheap rents in NYC. Economic conditions remain at the forefront of the majority of trans people’s immediate concerns, and the bitter twist is that those trans people without these economic concerns are the ones that often jump right in to assimilation: because they can.
We must resist this assimilation, and demand real economic change which is what we all fuckin want really! And end to capitalism? Yes plz. Seems unlikely now but what we don’t want is a handful of trans people getting sponsorships for private hormone brands, trans people in adverts for harley street clinic whilst the waiting list for the GIC grows ever longer. Binders in H& and packers in TopMan. Jane Fonda taking T for her sex drive (love u Jane sry) Marsha and Sylvie on a tote bag - not too far away is it.
There will be trans people who are happy with this end point, because they are middle or upper class, white, able-bodied, straight and have benefited from the regime as it stands. The real T(esto Junkie) of it all is that if your trans content has been given a platform, it’s probs because it’s seen to be easily assimilated. It’s unlikely that you’re the reincarnation of Marsha P Johnson if you’re being invited to Uber/Facebook/Google HQ or whatever to lead a talk/reading/workshop/fuckknows. None of the people that put the work in during the struggles of the past got sponsored or tenured. And to an extent this is all fine, we’ve all gotta eat. And I want to hear these voices, if nothing else to know my enemies. If anyone wants to offer me a book deal, i would definitely take it. Capitalism is scratting around in crisis tryna assimilate whatever it can at the moment so it aint always a par on u to be absorbed, just one of the safety mechanisms in place before it defaults to - idk, all out fascism. I just wish ppl would realise that the voices they’re reading are a very select specific few, and that instead of telling me about those voices, trans celebrity voices I would *obviously* already know, they could just listen to me, or another trans person, talk about our own thoughts and experiences, and take our word for it.
In the meantime,
Many trans communities exist online because there’s nowhere safe to go, nowhere free to go, and no time to do it. Thats y some of the real trans shit imho is in MEME PAGES
If I was smarter and more talented this whole piece of writing would fit in to a meme format, but here we are. Apologies. (also, my boo is in to ~nuanced takes)
I mean contrapoints was pretty funny before she got too big and had to become trans jesus
These formats put the memes of production (ew sorry) in the hands of the creators
This is why the algorithm tries to bury them
A bit of humour and humanity amidst the constant demand for trans people to be super serious all the time
Our boy Paul and trans guy super stan Maggie Nelson making trans mascs sound like these serious mystical fuck machines
Quite difficult to live up to tbqh
And before the revolution makes all presentations celebrated and all hormones free and over the counter and all surgeries easily accessible, let’s have a bit of real talk about the situation we’re in and how we feel about it, not just present our best face to the cis.
Google doc of trans stuff that isn't Testo Junkie! Please add >>>