Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NYS Gov. calls special session of the Senate, #1 priority is Same Sex Marriage, GENDA is ignored

Gov. David Paterson, of New York, has issued a proclamation calling the NYS Senate into special session tomorrow, Wednesday, June 24th. The proclamation lists same sex civil marriage as its first priority. The Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act, GENDA, is nowhere to be found.

Gov. Paterson calling a special session of the NYS SenateOnce again, gender variant people in New York State have been shoved under the bus, as I feared as soon as Gov. Paterson introduced same sex marriage legislation back on April 16th. In an apparent repeat of the legislative violence trans people suffered in 2002, we have been forgotten. I'm sure we'll be told again that we just need to be patient, that the GLB community will "come back" for us. I'm also convinced if same sex marriage equality becomes law in New York, the state's femme gay men and the butch lesbian women, along with the transsexual people, the genderqueer people, the straight but feminine men and the straight but butch women, will have to wait until the unlikely event that the federal government and the GLB lobbyists who want need donation generating victories above all else, decides we are worth the trouble of consideration.

I believe this will happen because once marriage equality becomes law in New York, the financial support and political will necessary to pass a trans inclusive set of laws in the state will wither away. I'm sure the leadership of the GLB(t) organizations will hasten to assure us that protecting gender variant people is the next fight on the list. After all, they need issues to justify their continuing existence but once marriage equality is achieved, what large issues are left for the GLB community in NY? Few, if any, that I can see.

I will never be so selfish as to advocate for the defeat of the civil marriage rights bill in New York because GENDA is still not law. I am a lesbian as well as trans woman and I know this is important for our community. I won't, can't, leave the GLBT community and I'm afraid it will leave me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Justice for Teish and all trans people

I read a good article in Transgriot the other day, pointing out the egregious lack of media coverage for the trial of Dwight DeLee who is accused of murdering Lateisha Green in Syracuse, NY. In comparison to the media spotlight, comparatively speaking, that was aimed at the Angie Zapata murder trial in Colorado, this trial has almost become a nonevent. And that's a shame because this trial highlights a district attorney who is trying to make a hate crimes murder case against someone in a state that doesn't include gender identity and expression in its hate crimes laws.

DeLee's attorney, Clarence Johnson, has already tried and failed to remove the hate crimes designation as unconsitutional. Thank goodness Onondaga County Judge William Welsh saw the ploy as the desperate attempt it was and ruled against it. So far, it hasn't come up, as far as I know, but I have some more misgivings about this case. I fear that the defense will not only use the "trans panic" excuse in one form or another but will also try to remove the hate crime charge by pointing out that Teish was a trans woman and that she was therefore not covered by existing New York hate crimes law.

The potential success of such an argument in a state where marriage equality legislation has once again eclipsed the fight for equal protection for trans people would add yet another injury to the insults the trans community experience in New York. We need to remind those in power how the message sent to the TLBG community in the Syracuse region by the murderer affects all of us and not just the unfortunate family of the victim. We need to write and call the local Syracuse media whose clueless coverage reinforces the ignorant perception of those who are trying to deal with a rare but treatable medical condition as being mentally ill, repugnant to normal humanity and deserving of such violent treatment.

I hope and pray that the circumstances of the case make it impossible for Mr DeLee's attorney to argue against the hate crimes addition on the basis of Ms Green's gender identity and I also hope and pray that the New York State Senate will move S2406, the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA), out of committee, onto the Senate floor and onto the Governor's desk for his promised signature. This year, before marriage equality.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Right Wing Press

The one daily newspaper in my area is geared toward the Republican party. Of that there can be no doubt. This is most evident in the kinds of letters they choose to publish in their print version. I think they try to publish the most radical and inflammatory rhetoric they get in order to make their own editorials and opinions seem moderate by comparison. The following is my reply to one such letter (the letter is italicized, my answers are not):

"Why is homosexual legitimization even a question and why now?"

Why not now?

"And why homosexuality alone among the many forms of sexual deviance?"

Because some sexual minorities, or "deviants" as this writer so disparagingly puts it, cause harm to others. Those deviations that do not cause harm are not legally sanctioned. Those that do are. Same sex attraction does not cause harm. The constant attempts to introduce other subjects into this discussion are attempts to set up straw man arguments which are logical fallacies. Just because people who are attracted to same sex partners are in the minority does not mean they should be denied civil rights.

“Pointless questions in the political realm where advocates know rationality doesn't influence human decision making or behavior, but the perceived beliefs of others does. We are sheep.“

This doesn’t make any sense to me. Am I missing something or is the writer?

“The homosexual advocates have used mass media to relocate this centuries old line between normal and deviant.”

The line between what is considered normal and deviant has been shifting constantly throughout history and between cultures. Scientific knowledge expands and our considerations of what is “normal” (an ambiguous word in the best sense) changes. Would the writer deny the centuries of scientific progress because they violate old norms?

“They supplement this with name calling even though they had to invent a name to call, and they emphasize the new social acceptability (political correctness) they have arbitrarily remade. They also use blackmail, extortion, denial of employment, and boycotts.”

For someone who uses name calling as a major weapon in his rhetorical arsenal this comment is quite hypocritical. The other charges are pure hyperbole and have no basis in fact, except maybe in the case of boycotts, which the right wing uses regularly. Boycotts are an accepted form of political expression. Why should people spend money to enrich those who oppose them politically?

“Rational argument does not convince people, but it is valued as a fig leaf so people can believe or pretend they are acting rationally. But a lie or naive logical fallacy serves just as well as truth. The favorite is the equal rights argument.” But homosexuals have the same rights as the rest of us. They don't want to live equally by our rules. They want new special privileges for themselves. That's their point.”

The logical fallacy that is being promoted here is that having the “same rights” is the same as equal rights. This is not true. The writer tries to take a technicality to distract people from the real issue. Take this hypothetical situation,

“If the government passes a law requiring everyone to practice Christianity, it doesn’t infringe on the rights of those who are Jewish because they are treated equally; Christians can’t practice Judaism and neither can Jews.”

The fact is that heterosexual people can marry those they fall in love with. Same sex couples cannot.

“Next comes the discrimination argument. But the aspects of homosexuality that the law and custom proscribe and abhor are behavioral. Society and custom have every right to discriminate on the basis of behavior. That's what they do. “

Same sex attraction is not a behavior as much as it is a deeply held trait, an orientation. Behaviors can be changed. Is opposite sex attraction simply a behavior? Can it be changed? Hardly! Then again, the TLGB agenda calls for equality in discrimination under the law, not special exemptions the way many religionist organizations do. If a choice like religion or a trait like race can be protected because these traits have been historically targeted for unfair treatment, then same sex attraction as well as gender expression and identity should be as well.

“Never can advocates explain why their arguments don't equally apply to other deviations. They just insist they are already normal. In formal logic, that's called assuming the question.”

What do you call the fallacy of putting words into other people’s mouths? Straw man arguments, perhaps? The issue is about rights for those citizens who happen to be attracted to members of their own sex. It’s not about those other things, many of which cause harm to others.

“The real reasons for the homosexual legitimization drive are a desire to reward a group that has been extraordinarily valuable to the Democratic party, the yearning of baby boomer misfits to recapture the camaraderie, the attention, and the feeling of importance they had in their youth and the desire of younger malcontents to emulate their role models, the leftist hatred of morality and restraint, and a pathological desire of the left to destroy the achievements of Western Civilization particularly things of importance to the parental generation and the Christian religion.”

All I see here and in the rest of this rant are specious statements made without support or real logic. It’s deceitful propaganda at its worst. I think it’s a shame that the PJ would stoop to such a low level as to provide a forum in their print editions for this kind of rhetoric.

Fortunately the paper's online edition allows comments for these "Letters to the Editor." I do know that more than one letter I submitted for publication to their print edition was ignored because of my support for equality for ALL deserving citizens. This activity is something we can all do to influence local perceptions of this issue. You may not convince the ideologues that write this kind of rant but you just might reach the more reasonable readers, many of whom don't write in but still read and heed what is written.