August 24, 2009
Perhaps my favorite discussion of the current debacle that is the health care debate is Michael Bérubé’s Chávezian Airspace exclusive interview with “the whole entire American mass media!” It’s mostly my favorite because it made me laugh as I beat my head against the desk, as opposed to other discussions, which just made me beat my head against the desk.
TransGriot discusses the sexism and racism inherent in the discussion of whether or not Caster Semenya is “really” a woman, and Cara takes Germaine Greer to task for the transphobia in her discussion of Semenya and gender.
And speaking of transphobia, I was jazzed to see that city leaders in Lawrence, KS are debating “whether to approve a new city ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of gender identity.” The comments on the article are, sadly, full of fail, and I was ready to write them off entirely after skimming the first few, until I came to this gem:
I hope they pass this so women have to pay as much as men do for car insurance.
Women only get 70 cents for every dollar a man gets which is unfair because now the man only has 30 cents.
My train of thought went something like this: Oh jeez, another “what about the menz” guy who… wait, what? No, dude, see, the 70 cents is… you can’t be seriously saying… spluh? I mean, surely this is a disingenuous argument, not someone genuinely misunderstanding the “women make 70 cents for every dollar men make” talking point, right?
On a cheerier note, for those who may be looking at attending a college or university in the near future, Campus Pride has put together an LGBT-friendly campus climate index. I haven’t yet checked to see how my alma maters scored, but I’m definitely curious.
Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start!
April 23, 2009
Yesterday Allen Ray Andrade, the man who brutally killed Angie Zapata, was found guilty on all four of the counts with which he was charged, which included first degree murder and bias-motivated crime. The jurors rejected the “trans panic” defense (the idea that Andrade killed Zapata in a fit of angry passion after discovering that she was trans). It breaks my heart that, as much as the verdict may feel like justice, it won’t bring Angie back. Nevertheless, I’m stunned — in a good way — that the jury found him guilty.
November 20, 2008
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved. …
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
Jack at Feministe points out that “Remembrance is important and necessary, but we cannot stop at remembrance. If we want this violence against trans people to stop, we must move beyond mourning our dead and take up the fight for the rights of our living,” then goes on to list a number of ways to do so.
Some facts compiled by the Remembering Our Dead Project:
- As of November 11, 2008, 16 transpeople [the site says 30 elsewhere] have died as a result of transphobic violence. This is already double last year’s number. These numbers include not only those who were murdered for being trans, but also those whose deaths were caused by transphobia in other ways. One example is Tyra Hunter, who in 1995 “died from non-life-threatening injuries received in an auto accident because EM workers stopped treating her when they discovered she was Transgender.”
- Twelve states, along with the District of Columbia, have hate crime laws that include gender identity. Is your state one of them? If not, what can you do to change that? If so, are those laws being enforced?
- Transpeople themselves aren’t the only victims of transphobic violence. Being in a relationship with a transperson can put someone at risk, too. Indeed, even just the slightest sign of gender non-conformity can be an excuse for the transphobic to act out: “Willie Houston was not a transgender person, but faced anti-transgender and (and anti-gay) violence because he was carrying his wife’s purse, and assisting a blind male.”
Also, Little Light expresses frustration at the HRC trying to get involved in Portland’s Trans Day of Remembrance (and trying to shift the focus “to ‘Trans Awareness Day,’ something much more upbeat, much more focused on feel-good celebration of the community, something much more acceptable to upper-class, culturally-normative assimilationists you can put in the newspaper without making anyone feel threatened”):
The Day of Remembrance is ours, and it is sacred. It is the one day we set aside to honor those in our community, overwhelmingly poor trans women of color, who were killed due to bigotry and hatred. It is a single day in the year where we make certain that the names of the murdered are heard and held up, so we can all remember that these people mattered, were real, were loved, and are missed. It’s a day to gather the community together and call attention to the violence directed against us and the caring we have for each other. It came from us. It was built by us. It was never supposed to be flashy or glitzy. It is a solemn mourning for the dead, a place to hold hands, and a promise to those who violence took away from us that we who are still living will hold together, take care of each other, and push forward together into a world where that violence is only a painful memory.
Other posts worth reading: queenemily at Questioning Transphobia: How to Mourn, Cara at the Curvature: Transgender Day of Remembrance 2008, Autumn at Pam’s House Blend: Today is the Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Remember. Mourn. Act. Speak out.
July 2, 2008
What the hell is with the obsession those who insist on gender conformity and/or those who oppose gender identity and expression inclusive legislation seem to have with bathrooms? It seems to apply to conservatives in general (“the ERA will lead to unisex bathrooms!!”), but I continue to be kind of amazed that the biggest pushback against equal rights for trans people tends to focus on public restrooms. Autumn Sandeen posted last week (emphasis in the original):
Bathrooms are the opposition issue with gender identity and expression inclusive, federal employment legislation. I expected that to be an issue, but it’s really clear from the two opposition witnesses it’s going to be the main opposition point regarding any employment legislation that addresses gender identity and expression. Basically, I’m anticipating that there is going to come some standard response messaging to be generated by the non-profits addressing the issue, and/or changing the subject back to addressing the real issue of blatent discrimination against LGB & T people.
Personally, I’m not squicked out by the idea of unisex bathrooms, so these sorts of arguments tend to lose me immediately. I’ve never been shy about ducking into the men’s room if the line for the ladies’ is ridiculous and things are getting urgent, and I’m absentminded enough that I’ve come thisclose to walking into the men’s room (perhaps even to the point of opening the door, seeing urinals, going “oops” and turning around), so, unisex bathrooms? Wev.
It seems like the most compelling aspect of the bathroom argument is the idea that allowing people to go into the bathroom that fits their gender identity could lead to predators having easier access to their potential victims. However, that doesn’t really fly for me. Is the idea that only women who were born with women’s genitals belong in the ladies’ room really the only thing keeping predators out of the ladies’ room in most places?
Furthermore, as Autumn points out in this post, trans women are potential victims just as much as other women – if not more so, given the fact that they’re trans people.
Also, it seems to me that unisex bathrooms would actually benefit a good number of people, such as parents with kids of the opposite sex (when is the official cut off date for when a woman ought to stop bringing her son into the ladies’ room with her?) or people with disabilities who have caregivers of the opposite sex. And goodness knows that if I broke both my arms (dog forbid!), I’d rather have Evil Bender helping me out in a public bathroom than a stranger.
Much of what this boils down to is the fact that I believe trans people are real, complete human beings who are deserving of the same rights as anyone else, along with protections because they’re a frequently-abused minority. I’d wager a guess that the people who are doing the pearl-clutching over the issue of bathrooms believe that trans people are sick people with crazy ideas that they need to be talked or medicated out of (and if that doesn’t work, maybe the ideas can be beaten out of them…). And I’m willing to bet that at least part of our respective viewpoints have been shaped by whether or not we’ve actually met and gotten to know any trans people. So it seems like in spite of the fact that bathrooms are the opposition issue, it’s really just a red herring (though I suppose that was perhaps a given, hmm?).
November 20, 2007
Today marks the 9th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. From the website:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgendered people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgendered people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
There’s also a great post over at Feministing marking the day and discussing the idea of gender “deception.” Well worth checking out.
November 7, 2007
This is not acceptable. I hate the idea that it’s necessary to throw Ts to the wolves so that the rest of us who fit into the LGBTQ alphabet soup can be protected.
Barney Frank (D-MA):
I used to be someone subject to this prejudice. And through luck, circumstance, I got to be a big shot. I’m now above that prejudice. But I feel an obligation, to 15-year-olds dreading to go to school because of the torments, to people they’ll lose their job in a gas station if someone finds out who they love. I feel an obligation to use the status I have been lucky enough to get, to help them.
Well-said, sir — but what about 15-year-olds dreading to go to school because of the torments not about their attraction to their own sex, but about their feeling that the sex of their brains and the sex of their bodies don’t match up? What about the people who fear they’ll lose their job in a gas station if someone finds out that Chris isn’t short for Christopher but Christina, or vice-versa? Is it really acceptable to let them continue to live in fear and dread as long as someone who mirrors your 15-year-old self is protected?
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:
As someone who has looked forward to this day for the 20 years that I have served in Congress, it is a joyous occasion. It simply would not have been possible without the outstanding leadership and courage of Chairman Barney Frank and of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. Anyone who cares about a country without discrimination is deeply in debt to Tammy Baldwin and to Barney Frank for their leadership in this regard.
Here’s the thing: I care deeply about a country without discrimination, which is why I’m so upset that this bill went through without very necessary protections in place for trans people. I can’t be joyous knowing that maybe I’m safe, but my brothers and sisters aren’t.
…the big picture is that this entire situation is a complete embarrassing mess of mixed messages and motives, inadequate preparation, poor PR strategy, and a hell of a lot of anger and vitriol that is damaging, painful and was this amateur hour was avoidable. One can only hope that whatever tattered relationships remain can be stitched together in some form or fashion, because there’s more legislation and lobbying coming down the pike. Our community, for whatever that word means at this moment, needs to find a better way of doing things.
Hear hear. Finally, Liss, from a post that I meant to link to a while back:
Realistically, the breadth of allies in a comprehensive challenge to the patriarchy is vast and varied. Though all of us, sans rigorous philosophical exertion, are hapless conduits for every limiting and oppressive archetype upon which the patriarchy depends, conveying the bars of our own cages, very few of us are its unconstrained beneficiaries. Even the average straight, white, middle class American man exchanges privilege for severe limitations on his personal expression and emotional life—and he is encouraged never to examine that devastating trade-off too closely, lest the veneer on the alleged bargain prove thin enough through which to see. We all serve the same callous master, and there’s little to celebrate in being the favored slave—especially compared to a life of freedom.
It is foolish to believe that there is more feminist, gender-queer cisgendered straight women, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and the Ts don’t all have in common culturally and politically than that which we do, given the particular restraints and prejudices of the patriarchal structure and its rigid notions of sex, gender, and sexuality conveyed in all its aspects. We struggle to achieve and/or maintain, to varying degrees, autonomy over our own bodies, and, crucially, freedom of choice with regard to what we want to do with those bodies. Life- and identity-changing events hang in the balance for us all—parenting, marriage, gender reassignment, being legally able to keep a job in spite of prejudice.
The only question worth asking is how willing any of us are to secure rights for some of us at the expense of rights for the rest. Because we are in this thing together.
I don’t know what else to say at the moment, except that I’ll continue to be a fierce ally for the Ts.
November 5, 2007
…the House Rules Committee voted early in the evening on November 5 to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the floor for a vote, and to permit consideration of three amendments, including Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin’s proposal to restore transgender protections to the bill. The Baldwin amendment will get ten minutes for debate.
More info at the link.
November 1, 2007
I’ve been feeling vaguely guilty for weeks for not posting about ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act). The problem has been that others have been far more articulate in expressing how I feel about the issue. In short, though, this is how I feel: I want a Trans-inclusive ENDA passed by the end of the year. Here’s a round-up of posts, all but one of which are from Pam’s House Blend, on the subject from the past month:
- 10/1: There’s no substitute for the original ENDA
- 10/2: The Non-Trans Inclusive ENDA Was Worse Than We Knew
- 10/3: Slipping off of the ENDA tightrope
- 10/4: The difficult discussions people don’t want to have
- 10/4: Lambda Legal scorches Barney Frank on ENDA
- 10/11: ENDA threading
- 10/15: Proud to be Plutonian (from Shakesville)
- 10/29: No ENDA on House calendar this week
- 10/30: Why the lack of expressed outrage?
I get that some people think ENDA has a better chance of passing without including trans people; what I don’t get is why that’s the case. Why not protect trans people? Or even just people who don’t conform to our culture’s gender standards? I get that some people (*cough* fundies *cough*) think that trans people are just confused, and should just buck up and get over it. (Incidentally, one of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve ever heard was from a young trans man — he described for our writing group the time his mother held him down and shaved his legs, because he was a girl goddammit and girls shave their legs.) But I just don’t get why people think it should be perfectly legal for an employer to fire someone just because he or she doesn’t fit in with the employer’s preconceived notions about gender and/or sexuality.
Also, on a lighter note, one of the first places wingnuts go during discussions of these issues is unisex bathrooms. “These people want to erase all distinctions between men and women, which means — *scary music* — UNISEX BATHROOMS!! *Gasp!*” What’s that about? First of all, I don’t see the public restroom status quo changing anytime soon — I just think it would be more trouble than it would be worth. Second, so we do end up with unisex bathrooms — so what? Most people, regardless of sexual or gender identity, manage to use public restrooms without hitting on anyone, and that includes the times women like me have gotten frustrated with the lines for the ladies’ room and ducked into the mens’. Methinks I catch a whiff of projection here…