B.C. on Gender: My Obsession with Riki Anne Wilchins

Bestest Friends

Who is Riki Anne Wilchins?

Riki is an activist who fights gender inequality. Some have labeled her as a post-operative transexual and a lesbian, but Riki isn't interested in labels.

Riki was the founder of the Transexual Menace, the main mover behind Camp Trans and the Executive Director of GenderPAC.

And I've believed for a long time that Riki and I could be the bestest of friends. Or at least we would be if she knew that I existed. :-)

Why Riki is my Goddess!

Here are some totally kewl things that Riki has said.

About labels and identities:

This is a seduction of language, constantly urging you to name the constituency you represent rather than the oppressions you contest. It is through this Faustian bargain that political legitimacy is purchased.

Riki's view of transgendered women at the Michigan Women's Music Festival:

One woman asked me what kind of reaction I wanted from attendees and I answered, "Boredom."

Commenting on the gender system:

Fear, shame, and economic discrimination are the tools the gender system uses to keep us all in binary genders. They are the cost of crossing the line. I am supposed to feel terminally self-conscious, freakish, and alone.

In fact, anyone in their right mind would feel so too. It is not a sign of dysfunction, but a sign of good reality-testing and sensitivity. Someone would have to be totally cut off from their emotions or be in a psychotic break to not feel that way.

Commenting on the death of Matthew Shepard:

What seems unavoidable is the recognition that those singled out for special brutality -- gay men like Mr. Shepard, who are small, slight and gentle [...] -- are most often people who are in some way "visibly" queer; that is, they are those whose bodies or genders don't fit in some way with social conceptions of "real men" or "real women."


Thus, whenever gender is raised as an issue, it is inevitably read down, and written off, as a "transgender." But gender is not a "trans thing." Queer bias crimes, like queer people, have always been about gender, and always will be. When perpetrators look for a target, they don't look for Ellen -- they look for Lea DeLaria.

In fact, stone butches, diesel dykes, nelly fairies, drag and trans people have always been the visible face the gay community showed a hostile world, and more than a few have the scars to prove it. Unfortunately, whenever such crimes are committed, they are immediately claimed by national gay activists as being solely about orientation.

Commenting about her face on the cover of Transgender Tapestry:

It's not that it's not a flattering picture, but I think there is a tendency for us to play up people who look "real" and "pass". I am very worried about pictures of me like that getting out. And I was shocked that it was on the front cover, because I think sometimes it becomes self-opppressive. It's like when black magazines always used to print a front cover with a woman with light skin and narrow noses and "good hair". I think at a certain point we need to learn to celebrate the kinds of faces and bodies that most of us have, and not just those among us who approximate an ideal that originates elsewhere. I don't need to be "just like a real" anything. I want to be "just like" the way we are.

Vogon Poetry

Here is a really really deep poem I wrote for Riki:

I had a dream last night,

I dreamt that you
were naked except
for your big black
(designed by H.R. Giger, no less)

You were with Jonah Goldberg
and you told him to grab his ankles
and when you entered him
(oh, with that dildo)
he squealed like a pig.

Copyright © 1999 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated October 29th, 1999.
Transgender logo Copyright © by Nancy Reynolds Nangeroni, Ninja Design.

Back to my transgender page