Trans Flagging

24 01 2011

Allanah Starr, Buck Angel & Gia Darling. By Tristan Taormino, 2005.


We have endeavoured to make opinicus rampant completely pan gender, so that every flag can be read on any body. In this vein, we removed specific references to biological junkcocksucker became gives head. We also cut out flags which reference ontological* fetishes (fetishes for categories of being), such as apricot for fat fetish and the various “race”-related flags, as they serve to further fetishize** already marginalised bodies. It also seemed somewhat redundant to be flagging fetish flags on the left for visible qualities (which is what they all are).

We want flagging to represent actions rather than identities. But it’s more complicated than that; flagging is always symbolic of at least various aspects of our identity – how we see ourselves and want others to see us (eg, [uptight] tops who only flag on the left). Trans flagging presents an occasion in which identity flagging makes even more sense, because one’s transness can be unwantedly invisible, as well as highly stigmatised and marginalised, even within queer communities.

[gauche]: Generally I’m not into flagging gender or genitals – but on the other hand I also want to put getting people laid ahead of abstract values, and it’s disingenuous to pretend that being trans is irrelevant here. I’ve said elsewhere, “it doesn’t matter how politically astute or logically consistent your sexual orientation is, if you feel like you can’t change it” — but I also don’t want to support either transphobic or body-fetishising flags.

I guess I’m torn between hoping that all flags are automatically trans-inclusive and acknowledging that there is a practical and political need to explicitly show trans pride, support and desire.

I think this is the same dilemma we argued over regarding female ejaculation — whether we want to promote specific uses or assume an inclusive base. And I do think the latter is more radical, more transformative, than inventing new flags for affirmation and consciousness-raising — but of course when you’re looking at a single hanky hanging out of someone’s pocket rather than reading this whole blog, you don’t see how we’ve reimagined the whole system, so in that case affirmation is actually more meaningful and political.

[max]: Absolutely. I think all the flags — as we have re-written them — are trans-inclusive, but that doesn’t make them trans specific. And sex can be. Opinicus rampant is about extending and improving conversations about sex and bodies. In the case of transness, I think it’s more important to have trans visibility than avoid identity flags. There are many (especially sexual) contexts in which one’s transness can be unwantedly invisible or come into question in ways we’d rather it didn’t. You know, trans people have such a rough time in being received, it can be awkward — knowing which pronouns to use or how someone thinks about their body — and something incredibly exhausting (and constant) for trans people to bring up verbally. And while you can’t assume someone’s junk from a trans flag (trans people can have all kinds of junk [as can anyone else] and want to fuck in all kinds of ways), trans flagging can allow for the assumption of transfemininity/ transmasculinity/genderqueerness***.

So, what is it?

[max]: Purple tends to be used as a trans colour and can be found in genderqueer circles as well (probably for the unfortunate equation of blue + pink = purple, but nevertheless). It makes sense to build on the lavender flag, which originally signified (L) likes drags queen * (R)  drag queen — clearly sexist in its non-compliance with all other is flags in which (L) is * (R) seeks, such as silver lame, kelly green, argyle, or tie-dye. The only time is flags on the right are in (bottom) animalplay, such as horse or pony. We thus updated lavender to:

LAVENDER x dresser / dragster likes x dressers / drag

Whereas x dressing or drag are specifically about dress, transness is about identity if not body-type.

[gauche]: I support it as a trans pride flag and perhaps also confirmation of chosen gender — but then when worn on the right, do you want it to mean support or desire? Because I think it will sort of bleed into a body fetish flag. Are you cool with that happening?

[max]: Yeah no. In order to have a trans flag without fetishizing trans bodies, we just need to have straight trans man and trans woman flags that can take on the associations of any desired position: (L) top  * (R) bottom — like HIV positivity — the point of all these flags is to bring attention to certain sex/body related issues that may otherwise be invisible/misread.

PURPLE GINGHAM trans grrrl trans grrrl
PURPLE FLANNEL trans dude trans dude

Flagging any combination of lavender, gingham, flannel could signal genderqueer, androgynous, and/or, neither, both – as you wish. Or purple sequins can be a specific genderqueer flag:

PURPLE SEQUINS genderqueer genderqueer

Keep in mind that the flannel needs to be plaid, to be distinct from plain purple, which indicates piercing.


* [max] Ontologies: from the Greek meaning “of being”; the study of the nature of being, existence or reality; the basic categories of being and their relations; in analytic philosophy, concerns the determining of whether some categories of being are fundamental and asks in what sense the items in those categories can be said to “be”.

** [gauche] Why are we against fetishising? I think even when you have (L) consents to being fetishised rather than the (redundant as already visible) is, (R) still flags fetishising without regard to consent. I don’t think it’s possible to ensure a body fetish flag is not objectifying and exoticising against someone’s will. I also don’t think it’s possible, for marginalised groups, to differentiate inclusive desire and fetish desire.

*** [gauche] Why did we end up with trans woman and trans dude rather than transfeminine and transmasculine? We thought the specificity was rather the point: at a minimum, you can infer that a wearer of purple gingham goes by female pronouns, and a wearer of purple flannel goes by male pronouns. Opening it up to a broad spectrum such as transmasculine which can include butches and drag kings seems to dilute this purpose.

What are your favourite trans(-friendly) flags?



12 responses

26 01 2011

Well, I think I’ll go shopping for some purple gingham. One of my ‘problems’ (ironical as it may seem) is that I live stealth and I’m read so perfectly as female that I can talk (for example) to a stone cold sober gay guy in a gay coffehouse for an hour and then on a whim come out as trans (not just lesbo, which is pretty obvious) and have him stammer, “woah, I should have seen that” (to which my answer is, of course, “no, you shouldn’t; thank you for NOT seeing it”). When I cross dress as a boy I get ma’amed all day. EFF yeah!

But, when I am marching in our effen awesome Pride parade with my Primary (with the bi women; yeah, we’re TOTAL outcasts; what’s with THAT noise?), I would still like to show (in a very subtle coded way for those who have eyes to see) my transness and my trans pride (even if it is veiled)

Purple gingham. Yeah. Eff yeah. A purple gingham scarf—just as perfectly femme and shabby chic as ever, holding hands with my more-queer-ass-than-she-might-appear Belovéd, smiling a flirty smile back at every knowing smile I see—reflecting back the pride we all share

Thank you, truly ❤

30 01 2011
30 01 2011

Trans fellas could also use pink stripes as they desired, or not. So trans guys looking for a blow job could flag light blue with pink stripe, left; light blue and purple flannel, left; or just light blue left.

Also, this could be useful:
white and light grey with triangle, left: jerk me off, no IV.

Or just as useful: purple flannel and white, left, plus red, right: “just ‘cos I’m a guy doesn’t mean I can’t take it”.

14 06 2011

I’m pretty glad you have “trans dude” and “trans grrl” rather than “trans feminine” and “trans masculine,” actually. I’m a feminine trans guy; if it were written the other way folks would think I was flagging as a trans woman. I also know plenty butch trans women who’d probably end up similarly conflicted.

11 11 2011
Madeline Hoyle

This! I’ve never quite understood why people think trans-masculine and trans-feminine equal trans man and trans woman, respectively.

15 06 2011

Hey so I came here to read about the trans flags on your handout guide.. because yeah, it seemed fetishizing and weird. But I get the trans pride thing, and people wanting to make stuff visible. Fair enough.

The other thing I was wondering is why you use “dude” and “grrl” in your guide? These are such performative gender terms. And dude particularly is over used in trans circles I feel to reinforce a manly manly kinda gross culture.. “oh dude, you’re such a man, i am affirming your gender” etc. As if trans men can’t be fey as all hell.
Plus grrl? Is this the 90s?
I guess what I’m saying is.. like when people say “trans folks” instead of “trans people” these terms seem to still slightly third-gender trans people. Why not just say trans man and trans woman? I understand there are identities that don’t fit these, but that goes for dude and grrl too, maybe more so.

26 07 2011

Where can you find a purple flannel handkerchief? I would love to get one, but haven’t had any luck at all.

26 10 2011

JP check your local fabric stores, Maybe if you have friends that would want purple flannel for something, you could pool some $$ together. Or check the remnants section, there just might be a piece for sale. If not, ask if they have a specified lowest size to cut it.

1 05 2012

This genderqueer trans grrl just wants to second what bargainspankbank said about appreciating the language you chose for this rather than “transmasculine”/”transfeminine” or trans man / trans woman. The wiggle room is much needed for many of us even within flagging a trans identity. Now, if only the distinction between flannel and plaid/tartan were more clear on this section. Is the trans dude flag required to be the fabric/material flannel? Or does it just have to have a plaid print?

1 05 2012

Plaid print is fine! Yeah I find “flannel” confusing too, I’ll check with the other bloggers and maybe we’ll change it. To me plaid is the print, tartan or flannel are types of fabric.

2 05 2012

If you look it up, it’s pretty unanimous that flannel is a particular wool-based material and plaid is the print traditionally known as tartan.

26 03 2013
Kj Nichols

Remind me to find a purple/black flannel bit to flag when competing at IML

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