The transgender triumph: Identity politics über alles

The transgender triumph: Identity politics über alles

It was the skin ​— ​smooth and hairless as a newborn’s forearm​ — ​that I fastened on when I saw Sara Andrews, the first “transwoman” I had ever met, at the Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club in Boystown, on Chicago’s North Side. The ambiance at the club was glitter balls, silver-leather banquettes, Busby Berkeley dance loops projected onto the walls, and as entertainers a bevy of dressed-to-the-hilt, lip-synching “divas,” as the Kit Kat calls its drag lineup. The Kit Kat is a tourist destination as well as a locals’ favorite, and it was packed, even on a Thursday night. The crowd had two distinct demographic components: at the tables, mostly heterosexual women on a girls’ night out, including a raucous bachelorette party; at the bar, clumps of equally high-spirited gay men in a social world in which the heterosexual ladies on the periphery didn’t exist.

Sara Andrews, in her mid-30s and wearing stilettos and a lush brunette wig, was quite frankly lovely: tall, elegant, and graceful as she wove among the tables so that audience members could tuck dollar bills into her skimpy cheetah-print bodysuit. My idea of a transgender woman had been Jeffrey Tambor playing the fiftysomething dad who puts on makeup and becomes “Maura” in the Golden Globe-winning Amazon series Transparent (modeled on the 2011 coming-out of Transparent creator Jill Soloway’s own father) ​—​ or, possibly, 65-year-old Olympic medalist and Kardashian consort Bruce Jenner, who has had Adam’s apple-reducing surgery and is reportedly undergoing the “transition,” as transgender people call it. Neither the late-middle-aged Tambor (with his string of wives and five children) nor the late-middle-aged Jenner, both with robust physiques and pronounced manjaws, had struck me as especially convincing candidates for femaleness.

Continue reading →

For your convenience, you may leave commments below using either the Spot.IM commenting system or the Facebook commenting system. If Spot.IM is not appearing for you, please disable AdBlock to leave a comment.

Commenting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please hover over that comment, click the ∨ icon, and mark it as spam. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.