I haven’t written this letter yet y’all.
I had started this project as a continuation of collective student activism around the 2016 Korenman lecture – specifically as another shot at influencing the way Dreger thinks of and speaks on autogynephilia. At first I envisioned it as a collectively written open letter, then as a personal open letter, then as a personal closed letter. I worked out a personal justification for each of those shifts (some more convincing than others) – but the truth is it just felt bad. I changed my thesis (for a different course, GWST 495) into a project that celebrated student activism around the Korenman, and structured it in a way that de-centered Dreger. This letter was that project’s horrible negative mirror. It’s been about as fun as that sounds.
Alice Dreger’s website is here, for folks who haven’t read her work before. You certainly don’t have to start now, though.
My first rhetorical pass at Dreger was during the Q & A of the Korenman. I bundled my emotions and injury into a narrative, and just kind of dumped it in front of her. It didn’t work, and I lost a lot of time in the next couple weeks imagining different narratives. At some point I ran out of my own words. I decided to try approaching Dreger with her words. Something something master’s tools, something something master’s house. It’s funny how you can forget yourself sometimes.
Alice Dreger’s Twitter:
(you can google the actual link, if you must)
I spent a lot of time reading folks talk about trans women, around autogynephilia specifically. I didn’t learn whatever lessons I expected from that process. Seeing the hard limits of deconstruction as an argumentative tool might be something I’m grateful for later?
I also spent a lot of time reading Dreger’s twitter. It’s kind of unreal how active she is on twitter. You really get to know someone – reading 15-20 thoughts they have each individual day. In what is hands down the worst part of this entire project, I’LL SOMETIMES SEE SOMETHING AND THINK TO MYSELF, “ALICE DREGER WOULD THINK THAT THAT’S FUNNY.” I’ve come to know (in a small way) someone who’ll never see me. Not a good life choice.
I did change as an activist through this project. I came into my identity as a trans woman sort of recently – and I think a lot of my early approaches toward Dreger were unconsciously shaped by the activism of a small group of trans women activists (who I read about online). I think I used ‘antagonistic toward Alice Dreger’ as a sort of currency toward a ‘real’ trans identity, despite already having a real trans identity. This shaped the work that I did – I think I could have done way more around campus harm reduction if I’d been less singularly focused on Dreger. This whole process has definitely helped me work out some self-hate (and etc) that was holding me back as an activist, and just generally making my life sort of bad. I’m thankful and ready for this to be over in about equal measure.