The oppressed will always be the ones doing the most work.
It came to my attention yesterday that FTM magazine was shutting down. And after reading the editor in chief’s reasoning as to why I can’t say that it comes as a shock. White publications often fail to understand that minority contributions should not be one-offs. To show dedication to diversity, entire staff’s must be just that: diverse. The transmasculine community has oft dedicated itself to praising and looking up to the bodies of cis men, or I should say, the members of the trans community who garner the most media attention are the white skin men who adhere to society’s thoughts of what a “real man” looks like. They do so,while erasing the existence of not only POC trans men, but trans women. When you do that and do it continuously, people take notice.
I took notice of FTM Magazine’s exclusion of trans men of color and trans women and swiftly called them out. When this: https://www.ftmmagazine.com/a-brutally-honest-history-of-ftm-magazine/ came across my timeline last night, I took a deep breath and decided to dive in. Midway through I found myself in a position that I feel many POC do when reading the laments of white folks. It was somewhere between laughter, anger, and a massive shrugging of the shoulders mixed with a rolling of the eyes. I am mentioned in the article and therefore feel that I am entitled to give you and Jason a response. Or as Lil John once said: “Don’t start no shit, won’t be no shit.”
White men, it seems whether they be trans or cisgender can not seem to wrap their heads around the absolute importance of upholding POC. They do not wrap their heads around it, because it forces them to challenge their own feelings, their own racism. In this head spinning article Jason, again and again uses analytics to site that when POC were gracing FTM Magazine Instagram likes went down, Facebook shares became nonexistent, and essentially no one seemed to give enough enough of a care about POC content to double click a photo or hit the like button. What Jason fails to understand is, he built a magazine for white people, who wished to see other white people. If you build a base and build a brand people have expectations of what you produce. That is how media works. I would know, I work in it.
Jason repeats AGAIN AND AGAIN that FTM Magazine continually featured white men. In his own words, he says this: “I started hosting community stories on our website and sharing them on social media. What I immediately noticed was that if it wasn’t a shirtless white man, no one cared.” Are you laughing? Are you feeling this? Are you reading a white man say what all POC people in existence know to be reality and are you understanding that this white man is saying this as means for you to feel bad for him? Are you getting all of that? He goes on: <em>”The next issue was a three cover issue because there were a bunch of web series in production. BROTHERS, run by Emmett Jack had open casting calls, used the people who showed up, did a fantastic job and ended up on Amazon Prime they’re so good. The majority of there hatred was because of their lack of representation of the POC community. Fair. Then Seven King came out with a web series based entirely on a group of TMOC and their lives and I watched as less people supported it. Every time we posted about BROTHERS, someone spoke out about it. Every time we posted about Eden’s Garden, no one shared or liked it. So what are we seeing here? That people are unwilling to support TMOC but they have no problem calling the publications out for it. Because you don’t really want more diversity, you want to be the clever guy who called a magazine out for their content. Jake Graf was the other cover and because of his shirtless selfies on Instagram, his issue sold out. (Obviously also because of his amazing film making). – You could literally pick which of the three covers you wanted, and Jake’s sold out. And I have almost 900 more to sell which cost almost $3,900″ </em>
First of all, I would like to call to attention that this piece was written by an Editor in Chief who is issuing his last statement and saying goodbye to his faithful readers. As someone who has been an editor myself, I know what that entails, it’s hard, you have to put your work and the work of others under a microscope. You have to pay attention to grammar and word choice and often are forced to make decisions that may go against what you at first felt was correct. But you do it because you are trying to create a piece that people will not only read once but again, a piece that they will share with their colleagues and friends, a piece that if you’re lucky may be picked up by another publication, expanding your readership. I would like you to re-read the segment of writing above and understand that this is a final copy. This was published. This was published in a piece where someone is questioning why his magazine is failing. If a POC writer wrote this way, which such laissez faire attention to grammar, punctuation and spelling they sure as hell would not have over 47K followers on Instagram. But I digress.
I am a bit confused to the point Jason is making above. BROTHERS faced a ton of scrutiny because it failed to showcase POC, but it was extremely popular because guess what? We live in a racist society that loves to see white folks being white folks. Eden’s Garden did not garner nearly enough attention because it featured QPOC. People are unwilling to support, pay for, promote, and take in the works of POC people because white people value their own work much more than that of POC. FTM Magazine was called out again and again because it failed to actively commit to the inclusion of POC people. Jason’s words speak a very real truth, when he says: “…people are unwilling to support TMOC but they have no problem calling the publications out for it.” What he is not understanding is that these are two very different parties. The folks calling out publications for not including QPOC are the folks who ARE supporting projects like Eden’s Garden, and those people are the folks who do not read FTM magazine nor go out of their way to support projects like BROTHERS. The people “unwilling to support TMOC” are the people who make up FTM Magazines active readership. And thus when a cover randomly had a POC on it, they didn’t hit the like button, because guess what? They don’t “like” black bodies.
Who knew that someone could so succinctly complain about their projects demise, note that they failed to be inclusive to all, and somehow place the blame on POC humans. Ah but here we are. We are at that place where a white person has built a space for other white people and wonders why POC are angry about it, thinks about it for a second, offers some crumbs to the Black community, assumes they’ve done enough, and continues on their way. The problem is, this isn’t 1964. The problem is this isn’t 1700. Black people are no longer here for your crumbs. They certainly aren’t here for crumbs that come off a piece of bread that isn’t even fresh. FTM Magazine was never cutting edge. It was never the hottest loaf of bread out of the oven. White shirtless white dudes that love the gym and love being bro’s. Did you feel my yawn? GQ and Men’s Health have been able to thrive because those who consume them – men – thrive in this patriarchal society. What FTM Magazine failed to realize, is that queer people do not operate in that world. While yes, there are queer folks who love the gym, and yes there are both trans men and trans women who choose to live their lives stealthily (as is their right) but for many of us our queerness, our gayness, and our transness is special. We form comradery over both our love and our hate of our bodies, our very different bodies. We show up for each other. We are active activists because we were born a bit differently than the cis straight folks we walk the streets next to. FTM Magazine never celebrated that. They never celebrated diversity at any level. They never stood up for trans women or femmes. They were a celebration of the white bro. And in 2016 it seems, that finally for the first time in our country’s history the white bro just isn’t who we all wish to worship anymore. Whether they be a cis man, a gay man, or a trans man.