If you’ve been on the internet lately you’ve probably seen this fan created image featuring Deadpool. Some critics of the image have called it transphobic. I had to think about this one — why would this be transphobic? Some said maybe because they talked specifically to men? I guess that kind of makes sense, the perception that the only people who have external genitalia (penises) are men is reductive and ignores trans men so, sure, OK. When I posted this a friend of mine brought up that this could be a body negative post.
For cis men I have heard the argument that women don’t have to deal with this, and that’s just incorrect because bras, and if anything the dance belt gives a nice substantial, but obscured, bump. Another option would be to use a drag queen trick of a “gaff.” Feel free to look that one up but the essential idea of the gaff is to facilitate tucking of the penis. It’s an option, but not one that every cis man will be interested in.
For a trans woman and as a trans woman I have in the past worn a gaff and it works to suppress the bump your external genitals create. There are many trans individuals who feel that there should be a certain pride in the bump that is produced when wearing a skirt, not because they are exhibitionist perverts, but because wearing items like a gaff (but unlike a dance belt) or other external genitalia suppressing clothing can’t be worn by everyone. It’s not as effective for all genitalia. Compound that with the fact that trans women are usually shamed for their inability to tuck or completely eliminate that bump without doing harm to themselves.
The idea of trans pride through hinting at genetalia is not something I fully agree with, but again we’re talking about hints, not loose external genitalia, but something similar to the existence of breasts (but not nipples!) does make a certain amount of sense. This is especially true since one of the ways transphobes try to shame us is by endlessly searching for that bump, further sexualizing trans women and reducing them to only their genitalia. So if some trans people want to try and take that back as a point of pride I’m not going to fault the philosophy, but as a society this example is, as another friend pointed out, similar to a problem people with internal genitalia (vaginas) are faced with that we commonly call camel toe.
This argument is also talking more about what we wear everyday as opposed to cosplaying a male superhero character. With these skin-tight suits they show everything, which is why dancers wear dance belts. Yes that is still the argument that we should be ashamed. If we want to make the case that we are a puritanical society and that Europe is more comfortable with nudity, OK, sure, a sweeping generalization about Europeans but that’s what some have suggested. If we feel this way then we can certainly work toward more body positive things but this doesn’t seem like the right way to go about it.
If we want a society where nipples, genitals, and other things are tolerated, embraced, or ignored as a society, I’m not opposed but I don’t think actively, intentionally, showing your genitals in a skin tight suit is the right way to advocate this. People can disagree with me but putting everything on display is not OK.
See Ashley Lauren Rogers in PASS/FAIL as part of the Transgender Theatre Festival at The Brick in Brooklyn NY, June 11, 19, and 20.