Chelsea Manning is pretty cool, huh?

Tl;dr Support Chelsea Manning, an actual trans woman, and not some cis man making art out of her.

 

Chelsea Manning is saying good shit on twitter.

Manning is running for US Senate. If you have the funds, you can donate to her campaign.

 

She doesn’t need me to write this. I need to write this to clear out my own anger.

 

While I was researching my recent post on men and masculinity in dance (and why it’s a big fucking problem), I stumbled upon the existence of this very interesting piece by Mark Dendy on Chelsea Manning. Full disclosure, I have a bit of a personal vendetta against Dendy because he was once tasked with giving feedback to me in a public setting. He listed out everything I wanted an audience to get out of a piece and then informed that he didn’t “get” it. Full disclosure, I don’t take kindly to older cis men talking to me in a patronizing way because they expect my art to be something it isn’t. And, a side note, I’m also super suspicious of any cis man that does drag.

 

Now, I didn’t see this piece. I learned about it three years after it was performed. But, I can’t help but look at the promotional materials used and feel a little nauseous. What right does a cis man have to tell a trans woman’s story, particularly a part of her story that is so focused and obsessed with her transition? What right does a cis man have to use a trans woman’s story to explore his own theory around the personal and political? What right does a cis man have to exploit a trans woman to juxtapose “secrets of state” and “biological secrets, of being transsexual”? (video with the quotes here if you don’t believe me).

 

The more I read the description, watch the promo video, and read reviews, the more I believe that Dendy is a cis person that looked at Chelsea Manning and went “hey! That’s interesting” and didn’t bother to really engage with transness before bashing into his Interesting project and then justified it with a lot of nice-sounding language. Fuck academic language as a form of legitimation.

 

Can I prove it? I could if I wanted to.

 

I originally wanted to. I wanted to do a full, clear analysis of this bullshit. I wanted to use it as an example of how far off course dance is when it comes to discussions around gender and transness. I wanted to use it to show how alienating it is to be trans when some incredibly well-respected people in the dance community are pulling this kind of shit.

 

But, the thing is, it happened three years ago, I already knew Dendy wasn’t my cup of tea, and Chelsea is doing great work telling her own story. There’s nothing I could say that would actually challenge Dendy or fix a past performance, except for this:

 

Chelsea is saying good shit on twitter.

Manning is running for US Senate. If you have the funds, you can donate to her campaign.

 

Support the hell out of Chelsea and fuck any cis man that tries to exploit her.

 

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