Despite flirting with fluorescent hair-dye, and other temporary signs of the queer anti-establishment prowess, transgenderists actually adore institutional validation.
In fact, they seek it. They demand it, adorn themselves with it like medals purchased from a pawn shop, and then demand some more.
Thus, success in trans terms invariably coincides with the stuff society insists are the indicators/symptoms of neoliberal accomplishment: trans people in the military; or appearing cropped and photoshopped on magazine covers; and — coup de foudre — primetime telly, including collaborating with the same network that brought us 19 Kids and Counting.
Every weekly listicle on “How to be an awesome trans ally” has, as a midpoint, the rejection of the “you’re so brave narrative” as exoticizing “inspiration porn“. But the status quo dispenses Courage Awards to trans “heroes” as if they were from a gold-star Pez dispenser.
In transgender parlance, they like to call all of this visibility. Really, however, it’s just limelight … virtually indistinguishable from any other sensationalistic seizure when the marginal is staged for public spectacle. Trans activists insist always, this is about self-definition — but really it’s more about collusion, with whatever vector of validation offers prestige, money, and publicity. Which of course is “self-definition” — through wealth and fame.