DaphneToday’s Q&A is with Daphne Shaed, transsexual woman living on Vancouver Island. Daphne is an activist for trans rights, women’s rights, and an advocate for social justice, anti-violence, and social equality. She writes a very engaging and personal blog as well as has been featured in a number of recent news and radio stories.

Jes: What are some of the positive things that have come from being so open about your life?

Daphne: Being open about myself in both my public and private life has given me a lot of freedom. I spent so much time, and money, hiding behind layers of make-up and evading spaces so I could pass, or at least have a subjective sense of passing. Being closed is a defense mechanism as much as it is a part of our culture. Our culture punishes deviance and difference with informal rules and we are also taught to punish ourselves through shame and emotional mechanisms.

Being open, claiming myself and my identity with conviction and honesty disarms many of the social mechanisms. I am a woman with a penis and that is just fine. I am a transsexual and that is just fine. In claiming these identities readily and shamelessly I hope to normalize it, make it accepted rather than tolerated. Being open may also allows for others to claim their own identities. I know one person who has benefited greatly from my being so open, and that person is me.

Jes: Have you faced any negative repercussions either online or in real life? If so, how do you handle those?

Daphne: Yes I have faced negative repercussions. I have experienced discrimination, passive/aggressive bullying, threats, hate mail, negative comments, and stares and glares. It is difficult sometimes, I have people in my life that I rely on a lot to be my guardians.

I am a pacifist and so my techniques to approach situations that are inclined toward the negative are to either not respond at all, or to engage in discourse(if the negativity is verbal or written commentary). Discourse usually involves a kind of Socratic approach. Feigning bewilderment and requesting explanation without being confrontational, which allows a deconstruction of the comment(s) and illuminates the offensive or absurd nature of the comment(s).

Jes: What are some of your favorite resources about trans*, queer and/or social justice issues that our readers should check out?

Daphne: I am really a reader of the written word in the format of paper books. I love the smell of a book, the feel, the weight of a good book. Most of my reading is research for myself and my own writing. Here are some good books that are always on my desk:

  • Roughgarden, Joan. Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People. Berkeley: University of California, 2004. Print.
  • Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “sex” New York: Routledge, 1993. Print.
  • Herdt, Gilbert H. Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History. New York: Zone, 1994. Print.
[Ed. note: For a longer list of Daphne’s favourite books, see the end of the interview.]

Jes: What’s your favourite thing about Victoria’s queer community? What’s one thing you’d change?

Daphne: The queer community in Victoria is friendly. I would like to see a lot more free activities and some more workshops in the area. I see some workshops advertised and unfortunately they seem to be aimed at people with more disposable incomes. I understand that things cost money, but, sliding scales could be used or a number of reserved free seats for low income persons.

Jes: Anything else you’d like to add?

Daphne: I am not an accredited profession in the sociological field, I am, however, an experienced social actor. I am passionate about gender, social justice, and hope to become an educator and participant in changing the social landscape toward equity between all peoples. Gender is a defining dimension in our social, cultural, and family identity that is present in our public and private lives. It intersects with race, ethnicity, economic class, religion, and many other identities. Many of these attributes are used as tools of oppression. We need to recreate the foundations that our society, that our culture rests upon. We must evolve and mature and find an ideology that fosters egalitarianism rather than oppression and destruction through difference.

Check out Daphne’s blog or follow her on twitter.

More books from Daphne’s reading list:

  • Barry, Kathleen. Female Sexual Slavery. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1979. Print.
  • Beauvoir, Simone De. The Second Sex;. New York: Knopf, 1953. Print.
  • Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990. Print.
  • Currah, Paisley, Richard M. Juang, and Shannon Minter. Transgender Rights. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2006. Print.
  • Douglas, Carol Anne. Love and Politics: Radical Feminist and Lesbian Theories. San Francisco: Ism, 1990. Print.
  • Elliott, Jean Leonard., and Augie Fleras. Unequal Relations: An Introduction to Race and Ethnic Dynamics in Canada. Scarborough, Ont.: Prentice-Hall Canada, 1992. Print.
  • Greer, Germaine. The Female Eunuch. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971. Print.
  • Heath, Rachel Ann. The Praeger Handbook of Transsexuality: Changing Gender to Match Mindset. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006. Print.
  • Howson, Alexandra. Embodying Gender. London: SAGE, 2005. Print.
  • Namaste, Viviane K. Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions, and Imperialism. Toronto: Women’s, 2005. Print.
  • Rudacille, Deborah. The Riddle of Gender: Science, Activism, and Transgender Rights. New York: Pantheon, 2005. Print.
  • Totman, Richard. The Third Sex: Kathoey : Thailand’s Ladyboys. London: Souvenir, 2003. Print.
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary, and Carol Poston. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, the
  • Wollstonecraft Debate, Criticism. New York: Norton, 1988. Print.