Ive been researching the history of clinical psychoanalytic writing on transvestism, and for some reason a scene from the Devil Wears Prada keeps coming into my mind – where Miranda lays out the history of Andy’s cerulean top in a total unapologetic and evenhanded smack down. Arguably, one of the best scenes in this badass movie.
I’ve come up with some associations to share.
I think what Maranda does here, is trace an invisibilized genealogy and shows us how even the colour blue has a history that is welded to power. And I guess as I work on my dissertation research, can’t help but think about this in relation to knowledge production surrounding trans people and the discourse of the university. Some white rich guy like Robert Stoller (in this metaphor Oscar De La Renta) comes up with a psychoanalytic explanation for gender identity or sexual pathology (cerulean dresses), the idea floats around, is picked up and remoulded, passed through the hands of many other thinkers, and eventually comes out many other ends – found in the “casual corner store clearance bin,” which could perhaps be homonormativity or homonationalism. Really if we are creating a hierarchy of ideas we could end up at any point, as hierarchy is relative. Let’s not invite Jordan Peterson into this conversation.
But what Miranda leaves out is that Stoller and De La Renta often take these “designs” from somewhere else – and in particular from those minoritarian communities who form ideas or resistances seen as overly radical, unwieldy, aberrant, perverse, repackaged and made digestible for those with social status lends authority. These ideas are often seen as a part of their own genius, their capacity to think outside of the box, and imagine something novel. This one way that colonization and racism function seamlessly too – ideas, culture, knowledge that is considered backwards in the hands of people of colour and indigenous people is held in high regard when appropriated by white folks. And in Robert Stoller’s case, these ideas were borrowed from his patients – trans & intersex folks who stories and dreams (actual dreams!) can be found in the psychoanalytic studies used to condemn them.
So these were our ideas, bodies, and experiences to begin with – keep refinding and rewriting.