Austen Crowder

Trans feminine empowerment and FYCTC

Filed By Austen Crowder | January 03, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: FYCTC, transgender, Tumblr

Fuck Yeah Cute Trans Chicks. The name speaks for itself.

The brainchild of two trans women, FYCTC started from a simple question: "What sites exist to show how awesome trans women can be?" When few sites came to mind, they started a Tumblr. In the span of two months the site has exploded in popularity; over a thousand people now follow the blog. Their mission:

Too often trans women are berated on our appearance or told that we're ugly. Those of us that blend in are often treated with such phrases as "But you're so pretty, how can you be trans?" or "You're really cute, for a trans girl."

Well it's time to show the world the cuteness that trans women can achieve. Fuck Yeah Cute Trans Chicks dedicates itself to showing that our cuteness and sexiness does not match cisgender expectations and those expectations can fuck right off.

We talk to the blog's creators after the jump.

Part of the blog's charm is its simplicity: twice a day, FYCTC posts a picture of a cute trans girl submitted by readers. There is no comments system beyond tumblr's default "Like" and "Reblog" options, reducing the ability of trolls to take over the conversation. What discussion does take place happens through the "ask" feature and is directed to the site, not the women in the photographs. There are no discussions, no shocking news bites, no harrowing stories. We have plenty of places for that. The site specializes in one thing: showing how cute trans women can be.

The whole affair began when Aria Bellows and Kinsey Hope realized that nothing of this sort existed. Says Aria:

We were talking and throwing the idea around of a body positivity thing. We'd both heard a lot of "What! There's no way you're trans, you're too pretty!" and "oh, I can ALWAYS tell a trans girl."and just complete and utter... honestly, crap is the only word for it. We'd noticed that there were quite a few tumblrs around trans men and body acceptance and everything. It seemed like something for trans women that would help people. That's pretty much the short version. Kinsey didn't want to run anything like it on her own because of time commitments, and I'm way too nervous to try and run anything on my own because of self confidence issues, but I volunteered to help too, so.. I think that covers most of it!

Over a thousand people following it. I keep being pointed to it by people that don't realize I'm one of the mods and they're like "Hey have you seen this?" It makes me smile, a lot, especially when it's with a "Oh man, finding this has helped so much" tone.

And says Kinsey:

I just wanted to show how cute we could be and basically just inspire a few people. I honestly never expected it would take off like this. It's gotten huge.

The most surreal part for me is how different [FYCTC] is from the traditional work I do. Most of my writing deals with the harsher elements of life that oppressed people face. Now, I'm not even writing for this blog, I'm just an admin. It's an odd experience. People will be like, "Wait, Kinsey is doing something not requiring yelling?" But I really do prefer working on FYCTC.

This kind of site is what the community needs more of: we've got "victim" down pat, but many of us have not yet discovered how to be beautiful. How be loved. How to lead. How to demand respect. Nobody will give this platform to us; in fact, many groups actively work to remove trans women from dialogue. It's up to us to create spaces where trans women can be seen as genuine people worthy of respect and humanity. We need more FYCTCs to show the world what we have to offer.

In the meantime, I dare you to look through the archive and not smile. Seriously. It's just a beautiful, positive space. If you are trans, please think about submitting a picture. They really want to create a community-wide, multicultural site for empowerment and affirmation. It's a place where we are beautiful, no questions asked.

What's not to like?

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While this might sound like a good idea initially, it feeds directly into the patriarchal idea that a woman's worth is tied to her appearance.

Not to mention that the internet is forever..and even if you don't think you'll want to put a trans history into your private matters later, you are erasing the ability to do so in the future.

I notice that two long standing websites for women of history are being ignored here as well. Ones that show the women AND talk about excellence in life, Karen Serenity's site and Conway's successful transsexual women site. Was that because both are limited to post op women?

On a personal note, in the past 15 years non trans women and men who learned of my background all complemented me on my appearance especially given my age and that I did not have any plastic surgery. On the other hand, I have had the most absolute horrific things said about my face and body by transgender people attacking my credibility. So much so I rarely let anyone take my picture any see it still does a number on your self esteem even when you know the motivation is less than honest..but then that has always been the point hasn't it? to cause maximum hurt. And no non-trans person has done this to me in all these years, just trans people.

They weren't ignored - I had them in my draft until the whole post got unwieldy. Too many good things to say in too small a space. I'll save them for later. :)

Your concerns are noted, but I still believe in the premise of FYCTC. I like being told that I'm beautiful - patriarchy or no, being seen as attractive does make me feel better. This was true while I was living in both genders. That, and my capacity for stealth living wasn't ruined so much by being open on the Internet as it was by my painfully honest mouth, so nothing doing there.

As for the trans/non-trans thing, I don't know what to say. I'm sorry people have been nasty to you but that hasn't been my experience. The nasty comments seem to come from both cis and trans people in equal measure.

While you being out and open might mean you realize you won't be able to just blend in for the future, you and this site are encouraging younger women of history to do exactly that without warning them what it might mean when they apply for a job, for example, or meet Mr. Right.......

Anyone who wishes to learn of my history can do so but I made that choice back in the day with my eyes open. I lobbyed, lectured, advocated openly for years. Most of these young women (and the bulk do seem to be younger) have options they are limiting by taking part in this. I hope some sort of warning is given to them before they put up their pictures because not to do so is straight out using them for political gain IMHO.

As one of those younger trans women who have posted onto FYCTC, I find your idea that we have no idea what we are getting into patronizing.

Also what political gain is there exactly? I hardly believe the blog is read by many outside of trans women and their allies. For the most part it benefits trans women who submit photos and get positive feedback from it and the trans women who follow the blog and get to see positive diverse examples of trans women they do not often get anywhere else.

Also, lol "Mr" Right.

I love that site. I think it's very empowering and important. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Regan DuCasse | January 3, 2011 1:32 PM

It's the price of being in a minority community that's misunderstood, trying to conform to standards of beauty that remain mostly impossible.
We're all confronted with intense media bombardment of artifice in the way of how anyone looks.
We can't tell what's real or not, and certainly it's those with certain looks that get the fortune.
The price is pain, emptier wallets and sometimes broken relationships.

Those beauty standards still too often, favor those who do nothing to earn it.
But doesn't respect what's normal and different, either. So the most normal and beautiful among us humans, is still altered for that elusive ideal. For example Asians that have surgery to remove the epicanthic fold of their eyes.
Radical breast augmentation for even very young girls and the scalp burns blacks suffer to straighten their hair. Anorexia as a cultural phenom.
All of this to try and be defined by a standard that's NEVER been anyone's own.

In so many ways, I rebelled against make up, having hair (I shave my head. Liberation!) and giving a shit about all that in the most intense lookism guilty capital of the world: Hollywood, CA.
But the confident and strong have to rise and be the most visible and make it impossible to be ignored at least.

Sometimes one's mental and emotional outlook can translate to one's face. And of course, just a plain old healthy lifestyle does wonders for the quality of one's features too.
Handsomeness can be male OR female, and aging gracefully and with dignity matters more than whatever trappings one can put all over the body.
Or do to it.
When it's all said and done, it's all an individual issue about what makes one happy, and feeling good and confident.
And it's up to the individual to decide that.

I, as a black woman, navigating the same river of what works for me as anyone else, I've seen and known my share of trans folks of all backgrounds and types and sometimes, it seems that beauty beauty does.
Am I making any sense?

I think FYCTC deserves high marks for positivity.

While I might wish there were people represented of more diverse ages and, especially, racial backgrounds those young women chose to show their faces. So what's the issue... they're supposedly not intelligent enough to understand the repercussions? And I agree it's very important for, especially younger trans people to see some happy trans faces once in a while. They need to know that transition can have a highly positive outcome and that their life won't end simply because they're trans. I would love to see a similar site involving trans people and their partners, just so people can see, yes, trans people can be/are loved.

The only place where I might agree with discretion is when you have really young trans kids being put on TV or on widely viewed media. A 10 or 11 year old might not understand how being publicly trans could impact them in future, but I don't think the TUMBLR site falls into the same category.

I think FYCTC deserves high marks for positivity.

Agreed. And that's refreshing!

I'm very excited about the work FYCTC is doing. There have been a few other projects doing similar things that had major impacts on my self esteem and body image when I was transitioning.

As for the risk of being outed at a later time... I know the internet is often forever, but in this case it seems unlikely.

The vast majority of posts are without any name given. So a decade or two down the line, if any of us decide to go stealth, what are the chances that someone's going to dig through thousands of pictures (2-4 pics/day for 10 or 20 years), find it, and recognize you from a picture ten years ago. Really, the chances of running a background check and finding an old name, or some other electronic record has got to be much higher. At some point, you've got to live with some risk.

I agree it's a positive development, but Tobi's comment about stealth is important--but only for some. I would encourage those of us with partners and those of us who are (perhaps necessarily) out about being trans to offer what support we can.

While the earlier point about superficiality is well-taken, it is also important to encourage our own to take some confidence in their own capacity for beauty. Cosmetic surgery isn't the automatic answer; if you take the time, you can find that you'll turn out OK without any surgical shortcuts on that front.

I admit I cringe at the reference to any women as poultry (CRINGE)... and I totally am on the same page as Regan. Yes, you make sense- a lot of sense.
I also understand being tired of left handed compliments. As a cis woman- I've gotten Oh you don't LOOK like a lesbian - pretty much since I came out 20 years ago. (Yeah cause we ALL look like linebackers, dontcha know) And now having discovered I am genderqueer and may in fact be a trans man of sorts- it's all terrifying.
I do think it's case by case and it is up to each individual to decide what works. And I understand the need to be appreciated and considered beautiful AS YOU ARE ( Not 'for a trans person etc). But at a certain point you must stop worrying about what the outside world sees and decide what makes YOU HAPPY... and what you want to see in the mirror. Certain things defy labels. The world has yet to catch up with that concept.

@radical bitch: How much of your self-love are you willing to sacrifice to The Patriarchy? I don't think feeling sexy is feeding into patriarchy. It's feeding in to.. feeling sexy. The entire POINT is that normative society doesn't regard trans women as attractive/sexy (said in their mission statement) and the truth of the matter is, anyone can be attractive. This website is helpful to trans women who might feel disgusting in their skin because of conditioning from our sick society. Are you really going to rain on their parade by citing teh patriarchy? Trust your trans sisters to understand the consequences.

Sofia, I am 61 years old and a realist. I'm not hard on the eyes but hardly sexy on the other hand. This has nothing to do with the patriarchy.

As for "normative" society and trans women.....why the hell do you think trans porn is so popular and this is part of what I fear for these girls. Their pictures won't just be on this site, they will be copied to trans fan sites all over the internet, count on it.

FYCTG Rocks | January 4, 2011 4:58 PM

As one of the posters on the site, yes I can see the inherent danger of being out. But hell I'm out to any employer who does a background check due to the laws in my state. I'm out to the entire world that matters anyway and I have very little legal protection outside of Schroer v. Library of Congress. And yes I did transition young so stealth is an option.

But here's a cool site I can look to see other women who are sexy/cute/cool in conventional and non-conventional ways. Are there dangers to posting myself on the Internet? Sure, but that's the nature of the beast. I'd rather express myself freely than live in fear of the patriarchy or being outed.

I've got enough problems and people trying to drag me down in life. Anything positive as this site is daily pick me up for me and probably a life saver for anyone who's closeted and afraid.

FYCTC is so great. I feel like there are a lot of places like that directed at trans guys, which I find really helpful/empowering/happifying.

It's nice to see trans women making/finding a similar space. :)

I'm sorry but I must respectfully disagree about this site being 'empowering'. Posting pictures of anybody wearing feminine attire (or nothing at all).. how is that supposed to 'empower' trans women, might I ask?

MLQ, are we talking about the same site? I haven't seen any pics of trans women wearing nothing at all, and many aren't wearing clothes I would describe as feminine. I specifically submitted a pic of me wearing a butch outfit.

But beyond that, is there anything inherently dis-empowering about wearing feminine attire rather than androgynous or butch outfits? That seems somewhat femme-phobic to me, but I may be confused about your point.

I do understand that being made into a sexual object is often degrading and not fun, but most of the pictures are in no way inherently sexual -- just candid pics. Even when people are presenting themselves sexually, that doesn't automatically make it dis-empowering. The bottom line I would point out, though, is that we are constantly told that trans women are ugly, "mannish," pathetic, unattractive, etc. Having the opportunity to see a wide range of human looking individuals being validated as cute combats that. Personally, I feel so much better about myself and have stronger self-esteem because of projects like this.

Kay Lamothe | January 9, 2011 12:33 PM

Okay,here is my pre-coffee 0.02$ (take it for what it's worth):

Overall I find this site to be pretty rad, with the potential to be empowering. I also like the fact that ya'll are accepting photos of non-normative trans female-spectrum folk (ie: tattoos, piercings, butch/masculine gender presentations, genderqueer-ided folks) Honestly, I will most likely submit a photo myself soon.

That said, as I was perusing through the photos, I found that the ones that appealed to me the most were the ones where there was a description of the folks in the photos about what they do in their non-FYCTC life. I think this is because, o me, without background & context to these folks lives, it could be seen as simply another beauty contest.

Although I do like the fact that comments have been disabled. However, even with the like button, I could see potential for trans women IRL to start judging other trans women. For example: "OMG trans woman A got 118 likes, and I only got 12, she's so much prettier/hotter/passable then me! I'm so not inviting her to my party now!" Also, not really a fan of being called a chick but maybe that's just the lesbian-feminist in me (haha).

But, in the end, I am all for empowerment so if it feels good and doesn't hurt anyone, go for it! Like I said, I will most likely submit one of my handsome, faggy-butch, tattooed, tranny ass!

I am so glad this site exists. I don't understand the complaints hereā€”the site doesn't judge based on level of attractiveness and is in no way a beauty contest. It isn't about sexing trans women up. It isn't about appealing to a patriarchal standard of beauty or femininity. It is about showing trans women as we are, celebrating our beauty in every form it takes. It is incredibly empowering and uplifting.