Transman or Transcendental?
The last week at RC4 featured a barrage of cryptic, and equally intriguing posters along the walls and elevators of the building. G Spot, a community of students who promote diversity and inclusivity, ran an awareness campaign in support of transgenderism using pictures of ordinary men and women such that the viewer would question their limited conception of gender and sexuality. In response, Rakesh Prabhakaran’17, created a series of parody posters of absurd scenarios with tag lines similar to those of G Spot’s.
Presented below are the justifications of both the G Spot staff and Rakesh. Whether one is more provocative than the other, and whether the parody is distasteful is for you to judge. It is presented to you here because there is a conversation that needs to be had – about gender issues, free speech, and the line between comedy and insult.
In a written statement from the G Spot community:
“Our world is heavily gendered, yet not everyone conforms to the public perception of gender. Nor does everyone fit nicely into the female/male binary. We put up the posters to start a conversation within the community about gender identity and expression, in the lead up to a panel discussion we are organizing for 18 September. Does the term “trans man/ trans woman” refer to the gender assigned to a person at birth, or the gender they identify as? Why do many instinctively wonder if one is a “boy or girl” if they see someone who looks different? What exactly is a girl or a boy supposed to look like? What if there are more than two genders?”
In an interview with Rakesh Prabhakaran, Class of ’17, creator of parody posters:
“It was first and foremost, for fun, simply for fun, not with malicious intent, and just out of pure lightheartedness. In addition, I talked to someone a day after the G-Spot posters were put up and they showed me the [Facebook] confessions page and an individual’s negative reaction to the G-Spot’s publicity in the elevator because his/her religious values were not in line with what the posters were pushing forward.
It seems like people have been easily offended by this campaign but what G-spot is doing is really good, they’re putting a debatable issue out — some people don’t feel the same about it but what the group is doing is trying to spread its cause in a non-harmful, Millian manner. In the same way, though the parody posters are lighthearted and possibly crude, it is meant to be satirical and make you reflect on both posters and simply see both as differing views in this important discussion.”