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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Exploring transgender identity in India with Fulbright artist Carrie Fonder - AnnArbor.com

Artist Carrie Fonder is currently in Mumbai, India on a Fulbright Scholarship to study the role of the feminine in Indian art. She is in the midst of creating an artwork out of a rickshaw, a small motorized taxi on three wheels, that comments on transgender men in India. Once the rickshaw sculpture — titled Trans-Co — is complete, she plans to exhibit it in India before shipping it to the United States.

The artist's interest in gender expression is laudable, but I note that the article refers to people who are living as female as "transgender men." That is, of course, a major faux pas as it considered by many to disrespect the individual's gender identity. Instead, they should be referred to as "transgender women."

The artist's interest in thinking critically about oppressive gender binaries is also laudable. I am concerned, however, by the suggestion that her subjects are "customizing" their gender and are "really" males, regardless of how they "present" themselves.

Exploring transgender identity in India with Fulbright artist Carrie Fonder - AnnArbor.com

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