The vast majority of Paytas's expressions of her "transgender identity" actually just suggest that she's not comfortable with traditional feminine gender roles.
I hadn't heard of Trisha Paytas until she started trending on Twitter for her incredibly misguided "I AM TRANSGENDER (FEMALE TO MALE)" YouTube video.
I got very lucky, but alas, that luck ends here. After falling down the Trisha Paytas rabbit hole (and believe me, this is a rabbit hole), I've learned that Paytas is a YouTube star with close to 4.9 million subscribers. Her content consists of vlogs, mukbang, and unlistenable original music, but she's best known for her constant stream of controversies. These range from "trolling" videos to blatant racism to a video titled "Showering with my Boyfriend" that is exactly what you'd expect.
There's also this video in which she makes out with inanimate objects while wearing a knee brace, and since I have to live with these images in my head, I'm subjecting you to the same torture:
making out with my couch www.youtube.com
When someone with a history of blatant self-promotion, bandwagon hopping, and self-proclaimed "trolling" comes out with an all caps "I AM TRANSGENDER" video, the natural inclination is to doubt her sincerity. This instinct doubles when the video description reads: "I'll be in SAN FRANCISCO SAT OCT 19 and LOS ANGELES OCT 20 TICKETS HERE," followed by a link to her upcoming concert tour. Genuinely coming out into a community frequently targeted with hatred and violence would probably warrant more subtlety than a typical clickbait "buy my merch" video.
I AM TRANSGENDER (FEMALE TO MALE) www.youtube.com
After watching the entire 15-minute video, I have some mixed feelings. Upfront, I'm not transgender. I don't claim to speak for the trans community in any way. With that being said, I have close friends who have transitioned and walked me through my own education on the process, alongside the ins-and-outs of the community. My assessment is based entirely upon my understanding of the issue.
So first thing's first: Paytas's video is super, duper problematic. One Twitter user compiled a list of just some of the statements Paytas made that led me to shout at my screen. These include assertions like "I am transgender because I wish I had a penis so that my assertiveness would be respected and I wouldn't be thought of as a bitch," and also, "I CHOOSE to identify as boy."
@trishapaytas @YouTube please read the things she said in the video, it's actually ridiculous https://t.co/iMgmKhT8OZ— robi 👼🏼 (@robi 👼🏼)1570523872.0
No doubt about it, Paytas's video is a trainwreck, and I understand where all the backlash is coming from. The way she talks about and misidentifies transgenderism dilutes its seriousness, and the visibility of her platform poses a danger for actual transgender people who need to be taken seriously in order to get the medical and psychological assistance they need.
But here's the caveat: I don't think Paytas is attempting to be malicious at the expense of the transgender community. Rather, she seems to be confusing nonconforming gender presentation with being transgender.
One important distinction to make here is between gender nonconformity and gender dysphoria. Gender nonconformity is feeling uncomfortable within established gender roles. The root of these issues lie within social expectations around gender as opposed to one's own psychology. Gender dysphoria, on the other hand, is a medical diagnosis for people who experience persistent conflict between their gender identity and their biological sex. A gender nonconforming person can present as any gender they want, or choose their gender presentation at will without actually being "transgender." A transgender person almost always consistently feels that they were born with the wrong body. The difference is dysphoria, and the cure for dysphoria is usually transitioning.
The vast majority of Paytas's expressions of her "transgender identity" actually just suggest that she's not comfortable with traditional feminine gender roles. For instance, when she says that she wishes she had a penis so that her assertiveness would be respected, that's an issue rooted in social norms, not a mental disconnect between her genitals and her gender. Similarly, when she says that she's transgender because she doesn't like to wear makeup or that she identifies as a drag queen, Paytas is voicing her discomfort with traditionally feminine gender roles.
In other words, Paytas has every right to express herself as gender nonconforming. She's more than welcome to present herself as male. But that does not make her transgender. Transgender people don't choose to be transgender. Nobody chooses to have gender dysphoria. So many transgender issues revolve around access to healthcare procedures to correct the underlying issue of dysphoria. It is not a choice.
I'd like to give Paytas the benefit of the doubt here that she just doesn't understand the language and terminology involved and is unaware that she's conflating nonconforming gender presentation with being transgender. But her Tweets in response to the backlash come off very poorly, and she even refers to transgender people as "other trans."
@Housesofnoodles @YouTube Other trans can use the title but I can’t ? It’s what the video is about in its entirety , no clickbait— Trisha Paytas (@Trisha Paytas)1570493563.0
Paytas's subsequent apology video (this time titled "apology" in all lowercase and devoid of any concert promotion description) doesn't fare much better. She seems to think that the backlash stems from the transgender community being unwilling to accept her as transgender due to her appearance and the fact that she has breasts, entirely failing to realize that the issue stems from her conflation of not wanting to conform to gender roles with "choosing" to be transgender.
Paytas seems to grasp that her language rubbed people the wrong way, which is a start, but she completely fails to understand why. At one point during her apology video, Paytas laments the possibility of a future romantic partner seeing the title of her previous video and rejecting her for being transgender, despite the fact that she "chooses" how she presents on a daily basis.
At another point, she expresses a bizarre glorification of transgender identity, saying: "...I've always been drawn to the transgender community and the movement because [I] just love they can be out and open and people like applauded them." Paytas's characterization of transgender identity here is particularly staggering, as it seems to paint transgender identity as a celebration instead of a genuine expression of self that often subjects a person to discrimination and violence.
All of this suggests that Paytas is deeply insecure and is searching for an identity to latch onto. While her attachment to the "transgender" label is misguided and almost definitely incorrect, I'm not sure that makes her worthy of derision. If anything, Paytas strikes me as someone deeply in need of help, guidance, education, and empathy. I sincerely hope she finds it.
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Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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Summer Walker returns and is no longer playing games.
Summer Walker loves creating music but despises the music industry.
She regularly considers retirement and ended her 2019 tour early because of social anxiety. "I hope that people understand and respect that at the end of the day I'm a person, I have feelings, I get tired, I get sad," she said in a video post. "I don't want to lose myself for someone else." She was relentlessly vilified for her decision. Fans cited stiff meet-and-greets and chalked up Walker's cancellations to a sense of entitlement.
Then she was presented with the "Best New Artist" award at the 2019 Soul Train Awards, and her hurried acceptance speech was dissected by tasteless memes all across the country. Walker's candid cries for understanding remained completely ignored by years end. The truth of the matter is that Walker suffers from anxiety and stage fright that is all but totally crippling. So she did what any misunderstood artist does, she disappeared and stopped saying anything at all.