AN OPEN LETTER TO PEOPLE INTERESTED IN CONSUMING MY BODY: THE ONLY CRIME THAT ALWAYS WARRANTS DEATH IS RAPE.
Last semester, I undertook a project called “FANTASY CUNTBOY” where I entered Grindr, a hookup app for gay men, disclosed that I was transgender, and asked users for responses. I was met with threats of violence, of rape, of death by nearly every user who messaged me. I received hundreds of responses without having sent a single message first. All this violence was propagated on the fact that I was a transgender person entering a space assumed by its users to be cis and thus free of the mutation of transness. This led my interests to how this sort of an intervention would shift if the space entered was one that didn’t preclude transness.
In creating this project, “An Open Letter to People Interested in Consuming My Body” as a sort of continuation of that research, I entered LEX, a dating app by and for trans people that uses only text and focuses on a lo-fi, conversational mode of interaction. In my weeks of participating in the space in a few forms (posting and liking others’ posts), I received only two responses despite having a global reach. This is not a failure. Conversely, it shows the attitudes of people towards people who are like them—further, it shows the attitudes of people whose access to space has always been fraught and limited towards others. That is to say, the lack of responses shows the social conditioning that trans and queer people have undergone that has told them that their access to space is inherently predatory and thus, they should be denied space and movement.
The most appropriate way to present this project seemed to me to be one where I wasn’t exploiting the people who did (or didn’t) message me, one where I was using my findings as research, and one that reflected (both in form and content) the environment the research took place in—that is to say, one where I was returning the favor of allotting others space. Thus, I wrote this open letter to discuss the variance between cis-maleness and noncis-nonmaleness in interaction. While none of what I found surprised me, I know that others need to be told these things to make the realities of transness clear. My interest in these projects comes from both a personal interest in how I am seen—what does my body say to others? what do people gather from their assumptions of my form? what rights are others given by my transness?—and from how environment influences interaction.