Sunday, September 5, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
The reasons are a combination of her age, 83, and complications from injuries she suffered in an auto accident that happened last July 17th. She’s been in hospital since then, most of the time in the critical care unit.
On top of the profound grief I am experiencing, even before her death actually happens, I have to deal with so much more because of my trans status. The pain of my continuing dysphoria over my inappropriately equipped body underlies all of my emotions. The feelings of discouragement, depression and deceasing sense of self worth due to my continuing unemployment – 20 months and counting – and my uncertain financial future.
And then, on top of all that . . . what about the funeral?
What pictures from her life will be displayed – Will some be displayed that show me as a boy, a past that I would rather not be reminded of and one that I’d really rather not have displayed to the public?
What will the obituary say? Will I have to argue with my family to use my real name instead of the one assigned me when I was born? Even if I win that argument, how will they use it? “Surviving are a daughter and two sons, Louise, Emelye and Martin?” or will the obituary tell the truth?
“Surviving are two daughters and a son, Louise, Emelye and Martin.”
How will people address me at the funeral? How many times will I be misgendered and/or called by my old name? How should I deal with the people that do so? Will someone actually have the stupidity and gall to suggest my transition contributed to her passing? If they do, how should I deal with that? What if a family member actually says that?
The questions keep coming and I don’t know the best way to answer most of them. I’ll find a solution to some of them, I’m sure, but how can I know that they will be the best ones? Can I prevail against the wishes of my sister and brother if they disagree with my needs regarding posting pictures and an accurate obituary? Can I rely on my sense and emotional discernment to be able to tell the difference between honest errors about my name/pronouns and spiteful attacks while I’m emotionally engaged with the loss and grief I have to bear? If I fail, do I remove myself from the entire proceedings? How can I deal with not being there, not being able to say good bye to her within the framework of the specific ceremony designed to help me do that?
Fortunately I have time to think of these things although I don’t know how much. More immediate issues are pressing as well. How do I pay for the trip to Connecticut and where will I stay when I get there? Will I be able to sleep at my sister’s house or will her husband continue to find my presence so offensive that I’ll have to pay for a motel?
Monday, July 12, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
An amendment to add cyber bullying was defeated. Republicans pushed for the amendment claiming it was more inclusive and makes the bill better. “If we look at this honestly, we should support this amendment because it’s all-inclusive,” Sen. John DeFrancisco. The law covers actions that happen on school property only. Since there are a number of important related issues to cyber bullying that would not have been addressed by the bill as written, I think it's a good thing it wasn't added. The issue is complex enough to require a separate bill.
The three no votes all came from Republican party members: John DeFrancisco (District 50), George Maziarz (District 62) and Dale Volker (District 59). My senator, Sen. Cathy Young, voted yes which gives me hope that she will give GENDA a fair shake when it comes back to the Senate (someday). The amazing thing is that Ruben Diaz, the perennial Senate homo/transphobe, voted yes. I suspect he saw the bill would be passed anyway and didn't want to be on the losing side, especially in an election year. The bill was passed in the state Assembly 9 times already and this is the first year the Senate has acted on it, having been blocked from coming to the floor until now. “Shameful,” Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, a Manhattan Democrat who shepherded the bill through his chamber, texted from the Senate balcony. “For nine years we passed this bill and the Republicans did nothing.”
It IS shameful that it took this long to get such an important bill passed. It's equally shameful that the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) is still in the Senate's dead zone, after being killed in the Judicial committee two weeks ago. Will we have to wait 6 more years for that to pass? I certainly hope not.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
What she showed is more proof, as if it were really needed, that GENDA always was, and apparently always will be, so far on the back on the rearmost ESPA burner that the danger of its being pushed off the back of the stove is as real as the danger of my being unemployed for the next decade or so - until I hit retirement age, if I survive that long - since my civil rights protections still haven't been passed into law.
To give credit where it’s due, ESPA has done work for GENDA and the trans community in New York. They sponsored many trans people, including me, for their Equality and Justice lobbying days in Albany and have at least one trans person, a trans man, on their payroll to be the point person for organizing around this issue. The problem I have relates not to the work they’ve already done, work that I’m grateful for, but how their priorities stack up and, as the ENDAblog post shows, their priorities simply do not place much importance on the gender variant gay, lesbian, straight and bisexual trans people in New York.
I figure ESPA to be in the same mold as the HRC, run primarily by and for the well to do white gay men of the state who will always make certain their priorities are given the greatest attention, “collateral damage” be damned. They haven’t figured out yet that pushing employment and housing protections for gender variant people would ultimately give them greater resources to fight for their issues, which so many trans people support but cannot contribute to because they are too wrapped up in scratching out their own survival in a state that still considers them third class citizens.
I’m going to look at more trans centered organizations, probably NYAGRA (the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy), to push more aggressively in the face of ESPA failures in this regard. I’ve lost hope that ESPA can ever get the job done.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
S2406-A DUANE Same as Uni. A 5710-A Gottfried (MS)
TITLE....Prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression and includes offenses regarding gender identity or expression under the hate crimes statute
02/19/09 REFERRED TO INVESTIGATIONS AND GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS 01/06/10 REFERRED TO INVESTIGATIONS AND GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS 01/20/10 AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO INVESTIGATIONS AND GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS 01/20/10 PRINT NUMBER 2406A 05/21/10 COMMITTEE DISCHARGED AND COMMITTED TO JUDICIARY 06/08/10 CONSIDERED BY COMMITTEE - DEFEATED
The supporters of prejudicial discrimination have won again. I'm not politically savvy enough to be able to dope out the ramifications but it sure seems the trans community has been left by the wayside once again, another year will go by without adequate civil rights protections, another year of gender variant people in New York State being legally fired, harassed and denied services in the public sphere.
I don't have any of the details but I do know there was optimism as late as Sunday, at the Buffalo Pride Festival, coming from some local politically active trans people. The bill was supposed to have had enough votes to get through this committee and eventually into the full Senate. This committee was chosen because the Investigations and Government Operations committee that was holding up the bill didn't have the votes to pass it. From the Albany Times Union, Capitol Confidential blog:
The GENDA bill, which would prohibit discrimination based on how people express their gender or sexual identity, failed by at 12-11 vote in the chamber’s judiciary committee.
This means it will not advance to the floor, and it will be difficult to do so now. Sen. Tom Duane, the bill’s sponsor, called the chamber a “homophobic cesspool.” The vote came after pressure from the Conservative Party to vote against it.
To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. I feel disappointed, sad and, most of all, angry that we still can't get these basic protections passed in New York State. They're passing gender identity inclusive laws in Utah, fer cryin' out loud! A support group I belong to, the Transgender Couples of Western New York, signed up over 100 people at the Pride festival on Sunday, all of whom were asked to sign to support GENDA. The grass roots say it's past due that this should be achieved. I'll have to agree with Senator Duane, the state senate IS a homophobic and transphobic cesspool. The state Assembly has passed GENDA for three years in a row. Not one of those Assembly persons who voted yes suffered any negative political fallout, that I know of.
Each and every Republican member of the committee voted against the bill and were joined by that infamous "religious" homo/transphobe, Rev. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx who is a Democrat but one has to wonder why. The committee voted as follows:
NYS Senate Judiciary Committee
Chair: Sen. John L. Sampson, D-District 19, YES
Yes Eric Adams, (D, WF) 20th Senate District
No John J. Bonacic, (R, C, IP) 42nd Senate District
Yes Neil D. Breslin, (D, IP, WF) 46th Senate District
No John A. DeFrancisco, (R, C, IP) 50th Senate District
No Ruben Diaz, (D) 32nd Senate District
Yes Martin Malavé Dilan, (D) 17th Senate District
Yes Pedro Espada, Jr., (D) 33rd Senate District
Yes Ruth Hassell-Thompson, (D, WF) 36th Senate District
Yes Jeffrey D. Klein, (D, WF) 34th Senate District
No Andrew J Lanza, (R) 24th Senate District
No Kenneth P. LaValle, (R, C, IP) 1st Senate District
No Vincent L. Leibell, (R) 40th Senate District
No George D. Maziarz, (R) 62nd Senate District
No Michael F. Nozzolio, (R, C, IP) 54th Senate District
Yes George Onorato, (D) 12th Senate District
Yes Bill Perkins, (D) 30th Senate District
No Michael H. Ranzenhofer, (R, C, IP) 61st Senate District
No Stephen M. Saland, (R) 41st Senate District
Yes Diane J. Savino, (D, IP, WF) 23rd Senate District
Yes Eric T. Schneiderman, (D, WF) 31st Senate District
No Dale M. Volker, (R) 59th Senate District
No George Winner, (R, C, Ind) 53rd Senate District
Dr Jillian Weiss described the committee's action at the Bilerico Project. Her take was that the proponents of the bill were poorly prepared for the objections of its opponents, namely, the "bathroom" meme. Why is that? Why didn't they have the real and effective counters to the lie that this bill would endanger people in public restrooms, locker rooms and the like? Where was the lobbying effort this year? Oh yeah, there wasn't one - the Empire State Pride Agenda decided not to have one. I guess they thought it was a better idea to save those resources to fight against the senators that voted against marriage equality. It's up to our community to give our political representatives the tools to counter the lies of the opposition. Obviously we failed to do so. I guess when you already have your own rights protections in place, doing the hard work to protect other people's rights - promises notwithstanding - is just too damned difficult.
Those who voted against this bill MUST be made to pay a political price for their callous disregard for the survival of gender variant people in New York. Senator Lanza, from Staten Island, especially, for changing his vote. Will the Empire State Pride Agenda work to exact that price? Probably not, or not too hard, if the past is any indication. GENDA has always been their red headed stepchild. The same senators who voted no also voted against marriage equality however, so maybe they'll be targeted on that basis. And in the mean time? More fear, more stress, more poverty, more crime and more egregious harm for the gender variant gay, lesbian, straight and bisexual people in most of New York State.
Update: Video of todays meeting is up.
Monday, June 7, 2010
My friend, Patti J. from Buffalo, sent this to me and I'd like to pass it on as far and wide as I can. If you live in New York State, please take 5 minutes to call your state senator and tell them to support S2406, the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act.
GENDA is moving in the Senate – call your Senator NOW!
You are receiving this email because the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) is on the 's agenda for tomorrow morning (Tuesday, June 8, 2010). This vital civil rights bill will make it illegal to discriminate against transgender New Yorkers in areas like employment, housing and public accommodations, and expand hate crimes protections to explicitly include gender identity and expression. Your Senator is a member of the Judiciary Committee and has the power to pass GENDA out of the committee and onto the Senate floor for a full vote.
We need you to get on the phone and call your Senator at their Albany office RIGHT NOW and tell them that you want them to pass GENDA in the Judiciary Committee. It is vital that they hear from you TODAY.
Here's how to make your call:
1. Enter your address to find your State Senator's Albany phone number here.
2. Tell your Senator: "I support the GENDA bill (S.2406). Please pass GENDA from the Judiciary Committee onto the floor for a full Senate vote."
Your voice is crucial! Make your call now!
The gender variant gay, lesbian, straight and bi people of New York State have been waiting for this far too long already. We have never come this close with this bill until now. We need to get this one passed, please donate some of your time to make that call. Thank you!
Monday, May 31, 2010
May 28, 2010
Senator Catherine Young
Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12247
Dear Sen. Young,
I’d like to thank you for sending me a letter last March 25 replying to my telephone call regarding the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA, S2406). Since action on this bill is becoming more imminent, I’d like to address the point you raised about this bill.
Your letter stated, “Senate Bill 2406 would open all public accommodations, including restrooms, high school locker rooms, health clubs, dorm rooms and other single sex residential facilities like homeless and family violence shelters to both biological genders dependent upon how a person chooses to self identify.” I‘m troubled with how you singled out public accommodations, particularly those that are separated by sex. First of all, the bill is also about preventing unfair and harmful employment and housing discrimination. I guess I should be encouraged that you have no issue with two thirds of the bill’s scope, however, your point makes little sense when I consider that transgender people already use public restrooms and other facilities based on their gender identity and expression. Indeed, there’s nothing in the law now that prevents them from doing so. In addition, the bill’s language does not prevent the formulation of reasonable regulations and processes designed to minimize disruption and maximize the dignified and respectful treatment of all people in other areas where our culture separates us by sex. Finally, I’d like to remind you of the 13 states and over 100 counties, cities and towns (including Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and New York City) that have similar laws. The first one was passed in 1976, in Minneapolis, 34 years ago! The predicted negative consequences, such as the ridiculous assertion that predators will use such laws to get away with gaining entry to women only spaces and commit crimes, have never been shown to happen. The presence or absence of a nondiscrimination law does nothing to prevent or encourage criminal activity nor does the presence of such a law excuse it.
With the latest news showing that Senator Stachowski has pledged to vote yes on this bill I’d like you to publicly pledge a yes vote as well. I would like you to affirm the American ideal that discriminating against someone because of who they are and what they look like, rather than what they do and how they do it, violates their civil rights. I would like you to pledge a yes vote for all of the gender variant people who live in your district. You might be surprised how many of us there are, because we can still be legally discriminated against in New York we tend to hide in order to avoid the harm that discrimination can wreak on our lives.
My personal experience has been impacted by the absence of this non discrimination law. I have been unemployed for almost a year and a half now, and have been refused a chance for a position with a former local employer that I was very qualified for because of my gender identity and the steps I have taken to accommodate it in the past. The absence of this law causes real harm to real people. Please do what you can to repair this problem. Publicly pledge and vote YES on S2406.
Unfortunately, I doubt this'll work but I can't not try.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
I read a very good piece of news this morning which, if accurate, illustrates a very good chance that the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) will pass and be signed into law this year! According to the Housing Works, an organization, "committed to ending the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness,"Senator Bill Stachowski of the 58th NY Senate district (which includes the city of Buffalo) has committed to voting yes on GENDA. That brings the number of committed yes votes to 32, the minimum required to pass the bill.
I am very grateful to Senator Stachowski for making this commitment, especially in light of his active opposition to same sex marriage rights, something I think he's wrong about. My senator, Catherine Young (57th district), is sadly not part of the list of those who will vote yes. In a written reply to a phone call I made to her office regarding this bill (S2406) she took the opposition's tactic, one that has no evidence behind it, of making it all about bathroom and locker room access without acknowledging the complete absence of evidence that similar laws have caused problems in such spaces (well, maybe some problems for those who would like to hold on to their supposed special right to discriminate against people that make them feel icky). She also ignores the real issues GENDA is designed to correct: harmful and prejudicial discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in employment, housing and public accommodations. I'll write her office again with hopes to convince her of her error. We'll see if she supports prejudice and discrimination or not.
The Housing Works blog mentions a June 1st lobby day but doesn't provide much specific information about that., only a contact name, email and phone number. The don't mention Buffalo or any other western New York locality so I wonder if I'll have a chance to go. I also note that nothing about this is on the Empire State Pride Agenda website nor have I heard any announcement from them yet. I've emailed them for confirmation/comment.
Stay tuned! This thing could be HUGE!!
UPDATE: I emailed ESPA and they don't seem to know anything about this. I also called Sen Stachowski’s office in Albany and was unable to get confirmation of his commitment to vote YES on S2406. His receptionist mentioned his previous opposition, and yeah, she talked about bathroom predators using the law to get away with crimes (sheesh!) but I reminded her that was just scare mongering and that such things have never happened in the places that already have similar laws. So, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I've been unemployed now for 17 months. At least one job opportunity has been denied me because of who I am, never mind that I was extremely well qualified for the job. I'm sure other opportunities have been lost because of discrimination as well - I've sent out hundreds of applications - but this is one that I am certain was denied me because of trans/homophobia and misogyny. This harmful discrimination is legal in New York State, Massachusetts and in 36 other states in a country whose ideal is supposed to be equal protections for all people, not just the "right" people.
The cowardly politicians will never move on these laws as long as they hear more from the radical (ie fascist) "religious" right wing than they hear from the GLTB and allied communities. We have to drown out the hateful propaganda from groups like the "Traditional Values Coalition," "Focus on the Family," "MassResistence" or the "New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms" and the only way to do that is to get off your inertia, pick up the phone or a pen and call/write/visit your legislative representatives to tell them how important these bills are and how egregiously wrong their opponents are. Most people support equality when the whole truth is given to them but they won't get it if we stay silent.
Speak out for your community!
Speak out for your GLBT friends and family!
Speak out for yourself!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
A cartoon I did a couple of years ago, inspired by all the idiocy about bathrooms when gender identity inclusive laws are being discussed. I was going to use it in the Buffalo Pride parade that year, for the float built by one of my support groups, the Transgender Couples of Western New York, but the float never came to fruition. The group will again have a table at this year's Pride parade in Buffalo, June 6th, and barring any adverse act of G*d I'll be there. Stop by, say hello, and buy a bottle of water for a good cause!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Of course, being a "religious" right wing pundit, Mr. Butts immediately launched into the favored tactic of fear mongering based on imagined horrors that "could" happen in public restrooms. Like his compatriots in Massachusetts, he called GENDA a "Bathroom Bill" and like his compatriots everywhere, he is making things up to scare people.
Mr Butts mentions Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (whom we can thank for the lovely graphic about GENDA), who maintains that, "It (GENDA) would open all public accommodations, including restrooms and high school locker rooms, to both biological genders if an individual chooses to identify his or herself as the opposite sex. So, your [readers] should think of things like cross-dressers, transvestites or even potential child molesters who are just looking to get access to those facilities."
This would be funny if it weren't so harmfully idiotic. How are people kept out of inappropriate restrooms now? Of course neither Mr McGuire or Mr Butts address this question because it would illuminate the intellectual bankruptcy of their position. Never mind, they seem to ask us, that public restrooms are already open to anyone who wishes to walk into one, no matter which gender they are presenting as. Never mind, they insist, that inappropriate behavior anywhere, especially in public restrooms, is against the law and will remain so after GENDA is passed. Pay no attention, they apparently demand, that similar laws exist in 13 states, Washington DC and over 100 counties, cities and towns - including New York City, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo - with NONE of the doomsday scenarios they are broadly hinting at in evidence at all.
In my previous blog post I noted that this tactic has failed more than once. Yet the supporters of harmful discrimination still use it. I guess the reason they keep resurrecting this failed strategy is that they have nothing else to replace it with, which is indicative of the vacuous nature of their argument.
They got nuthin' and they knows it!
GENDA has passed twice in the State Assembly already. Not one of the assembly members who voted yes on this bill has paid any political price that I know of. This kind of nondiscrimination law has scored majority support in more than one poll of New York's citizens. If the state's legislature can finally get their shit together and pass a budget and if the "HRC-Jr" Empire State Pride Agenda can shut up about marriage equality for a few weeks, this bill can and should be made law.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
At 1:45am today, the Missoula, Montana city council voted 10-2 to approve the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to their existing nondiscrimination law. Good for them! I think I may just send them a couple dozen cookies as a token of gratitude!
This victory for equal protections - despite the tired worn out fear mongering the opposition inflicted upon the citizens of Missoula - is another sign that fairness and equality are gaining ground in the US of A, albeit too slowly for my taste. I also noted two other observations regarding this victory.
The first is that the old "male predators in bathrooms" tactic that the far right asshats like to use when gender identity is included in any kind of legislation has stopped working as consistently as they would like. This is the third time now that this tactic was used, previously the fight in Gainesville, FL and Kalamazoo, MI included the same lies, and all three times it's made no difference in the outcomes. I'm sure it's way too early to sound the well deserved death knell for this scurrilous tactic but I am cheered by the thought that the opponents of equal protections under the law will have to think twice before using it again.
The second observation notes that the three instances in which nondiscrimination bills passed despite the "men in ladies bathrooms" fiction all included BOTH sexual orientation and gender identity. Protections for gender variant people weren't dropped for expediency's sake, with the empty promise incremental progress made to gender variant people. I also note that trans people, in too many places that have sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination laws but do not include gender identity, are still waiting. States like Wisconsin, and New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are egregious examples of this. In Wisconsin, gender variant people have been waiting in vain for the GLB organizations to help them win equality since 1982!
We all need to remember these facts in the fight for the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) that will soon be coming up in Congress. We need to remember that this bill covers both sexual orientation AND gender identity. We need to remember that inclusive bills CAN be passed and we need to remember that dropping trans protections means denying trans people vital job protections for a very long time. Above all, we need to remember that fighting the "bathroom predators" meme works! Presenting the truth in the face of the advocates of discrimination and harm works! They can be beaten if we do the work.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
This is a VITAL piece of legislation for the TBLG community, especially in the face of so many states - New York is one of them, of course - being unwilling to pass similar bill. While it isn't what we really need, full inclusion in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is a huge deal for all of us who can't find a job because of our gender expression or who live in fear of being outed at work because we know we'd be fired if we were.
More than 16,000 of you have signed on already - can you add your name before we hand-deliver the petition next week?
Saturday, April 3, 2010
I'm talking about Dale O'Leary's characterization of trans people of being susceptible to narcissistic rage, defined as the,
…need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means, and deeply anchored, unrelenting compulsion in the pursuit of all these aims… There is utter disregard for reasonable limitations and a boundless wish to redress an injury and to obtain revenge… The fanaticism of the need for revenge and the unending compulsion of having to square the account after an offense…The narcissistically injured… cannot rest until he has blotted out [the] … offender who dared to oppose him, to disagree with him.Now this, a synopsis of the Ticked Off Tr***ys With Knives movie, from the IMDb site"
A group of tr***ies are violently bashed and left for dead. The surviving ladies regain consciousness, confidence, and courage ready to seek out revenge on the ones who attacked them.
Kinda interesting juxtaposition there, innit? It seems to me that these two very different occurrences have tapped into the same kind of fear and loathing that is part of the social fabric regarding trans people today, the idea that trans people are vengeful, mentally unstable and dangerous. It can be validly argued then, that the title of the film and its synopsis, which are the only parts of the film that the majority of Americans will ever see, play into the same fear and loathing that is used by those who defend oppression and harm against gender variant people as a political tool. When you consider the fear mongering in screeds like Dale O'Leary's or this one from the Traditional Values Coalition:
President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are quietly rushing through legislation (H.R. 3017 & S. 1584) that would actually bring cross-dressing teachers into your child’s classroom. Under the so-called, Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), your children will be trapped in classes taught by drag queens and transgender activists. Students will be indoctrinated that “alternative lifestyles” are no different than traditional lifestyles. Young children will be forced to learn about bizarre sexual fetishes – and you will have no say in the matter.
Along with the age old "male predators in bathrooms" lie,
By the stroke of a very powerful pen, County Executive Leggett has broken the biological barriers that separate male and female facilities. No longer will women and girls be able to feel completely safe in the most private and personal bathroom and locker facilities of schools, public pools, malls, stores, health clubs, restaurants and other such public places throughout the county. County Executive Ike Leggett signed Bill 23-07, the outrageous legislation that may result in forcing even religious schools to hire transgender teachers; and then also allow cross-dressing but biological males in your daughter’s school locker room.
It seems plain that Israel Luna's film is related in a very disturbing way.
Aside from the pejorative in the title, and the egregious use of murdered trans people as a marketing tool, this movie's tapping into the fearful ignorance of our culture when it regards trans people is what bothers me most. Israel Luna is using the same kind of hateful stereotypes that are used to deny trans people their civil rights and thereby promulgate those stereotypes' supposed validity. Then he and many of his defenders add insult to injury by accusing those who oppose his miserable trash as being "angry" and "unreasonable."
I think Israel Luna's film is wrong and hurtful on a lot more levels than just it's marketing. I think its very premise is based in transphobia and misogyny. Our community is right in protesting this travesty.
Friday, March 26, 2010
I spent a good portion of the day, yesterday, reading and commenting in various locations around the internet about the movie, "Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives," that has been scheduled to run during the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival. The film, initially because of its offensive title and cruelly insensitive trailer and now because of its insensitive content, has generated a huge storm of protest from the trans community. The usual backlash against the trans community's outrage, from many gay men as well as others, has been as vile as it has been clueless.
The main criticisms of this film, its exploitation of a very vulnerable and still all too marginalized group, its inaccurate and demeaning caricature of trans women and their lives and the use of the word "tr***y"that many of us (myself included) find as offensive as the racial epithet thrown at Rep Carl Lewis last week, are described and well criticized by other, more knowledgeable, writers than I. One thing I've noticed though, is that the question of why the film is so badly written in the first place that it creates such a negative storm of criticism hasn't really been answered. I think I know why.
One of the first things I've learned about writing is that you had better write about things you really know if you want it to be any good. Writing about things you aren't well versed in produces bad art, causes all sorts of problems with inaccuracies and poor characterizations and generally produces mediocre, if not completely trashed, work. Israel Luna, the writer, producer and director of this film is gay. He's a cissexual, cisgender man. Yet this movie is about transsexuals, drag queens, women. Obviously he's so clueless about these groups of people, their reality is so foreign to him, that his work sinks to imagined caricatures. His insensitivity, transphobia and misogyny are thus plainly illustrated because he simply did not know any better and are exacerbated by his low budget, slapdash method, filming it in only 18 days.
A hint that he didn't, and still doesn't, know better comes from his reaction to the controversy.
"Luna wasn’t expecting this kind of backlash.
'I didn’t think that it would be such a topical thing or an issue, but we’ve been getting stuff about the name, the title, and using the word ‘tranny.’ And then there are people who are like, is it right to do an eye-for-an-eye kind of thing?” he says of the film’s critics. “When I was first writing the script, I just wanted to do an old-fashioned revenge movie. This group of people gets bashed. They come back for revenge. Done.'
Luna is puzzled somewhat by the controversy because the main theme of the film is empowerment, not victimhood — and certainly not mocking the trans characters."
Puzzled!?! His Male privilege, his Cissexual privilege and his Gay privilege all combine to shield him from the truth of trans people's lives. These privileges keeps him from knowing the truth of women's lives as well. Of course he's puzzled when trans women are furious over his caricaturization of the real pain and challenges from trans misogyny and transphobia they have to face every day. He obviously has no idea!
His marketing of the film was designed to produce the same morbid fascination, fear and loathing that the anti-trans political groups use against the entire TLBG community in their propaganda. Morbid fascination, fear and loathing that has its roots in transphobia and misogyny. Autumn Sandeen noted in her diary at Pam's House Blend that there are too many similarities between an image of this movie to the kinds of images used by hate groups such as MassResistance and the Traditional Values Coalition in their hateful propaganda against full political equality for the whole BGTL community. The most egregious example of Luna's perfidy, however, was his use of the names of two very real trans women who were brutally murdered last year, with no thought given to the triggering this tactic might engage in the trans community and the victims' families and friends.
A facebook page promoting a boycott and a petition drive has been launched to demand the film be removed from the Tribeca Film Festival schedule. The festival organizers have so far refused to consider doing so. Protests will undoubtedly be organized. I wish I could be there but the finances won;t allow it. I signed the petition, I urge everyone who reads this to do so as well.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
It’s officially spring outside my kitchen! The crocus are blooming, the daffodils are coming up and I saw a robin for the first time this year last Monday. Of all the seasons, Spring gives me the most joy with it’s resurgence of life and the beauty of nature waking up. I’ve started to clean up the flower beds outside and started some seeds – rosemary and parsley – to augment my existing herb garden. Gotta have good stuff to cook in the kitchen!
Of course, in our generally bipolar world there’s ugliness too. A recent example: a hateful and untruthful screed written by another extremist Catholic (if only Paul McHugh were the only one!) Dale O’Leary, on the PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays) blogsite. She writes about the “deception” that trans people perform on society and how the non discrimination laws that protect us should not be passed because of that. She goes on to list discredited and vile “research” from the National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality (NARTH) and the hateful Blanchard/Bailey/Lawrence “theory” of autogynephilia. She then expands her vicious attack on trans identified people by accusing them – only some, she says but then continues to generalize about the whole population – of being susceptible to narcissistic rage, defined as the,
…need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means, and deeply anchored, unrelenting compulsion in the pursuit of all these aims… There is utter disregard for reasonable limitations and a boundless wish to redress an injury and to obtain revenge… The fanaticism of the need for revenge and the unending compulsion of having to square the account after an offense…The narcissistically injured… cannot rest until he has blotted out [the] … offender who dared to oppose him, to disagree with him.This venomous work has it all. It’s a primer on how the “religious” right anti-gay establishment propagandizes against trans people. Bogus, one sided and biased “scientific” evidence, dehumanization, pathologization, fear mongering and calls for reparative therapy all designed to make trans people look like mentally deranged sub-humans who need to be eliminated from social, cultural and legal acceptance via “treatment” (which is code for mental institutions, electroshock and torturous aversion therapy). The kind of rhetoric that practically screams at the simple minded and violence prone portion of her audience to go out and commit hate crimes, to “cleanse” society of this dangerous and unstable population. Ms O’Leary seems to be made of the same cloth as Dr Paul McHugh. Old, rigid and blindly prejudiced against any variation from the gender binary promoted by the Catholic Church, she can’t help, apparently, but write lies and distortions designed to support her prejudicial animosity against those who violate her sense of what men, women and sex ought to be. The fact that she is supporting bad science and misinformation doesn’t seem to be a problem for her. The fact that her rhetoric promotes oppression and harmful discrimination - even violence - is ignored. I think she needs to go away and follow in the tracks of all the other dinosaurs that have preceded her.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
While I hold no illusions as to the reach of this blog I cannot but add my voice, however faint, to the roar of support the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA, HR 3017) is getting today in the blogosphere. With the continuing delays in Albany for the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) this bill is vital to New York's gender variant community as well as for all of us around the country. Especially now, when the NY legislature is all wrapped up in the budget mess, GENDA will be ignored for at least until afterward, and even longer if (as I suspect) it's used as a bargaining chip in that debate.
Employment protections for the BTLG always seem to be the last item on everyone's list but our own. One of the many reasons is because we have so few voices in our capitols. So few of us seem to be willing to make that phone call or send that email in order to agitate for our due. For many of us a big reason we don't is fear, fear of being outed and suffering the consequences of being outed among which are being fired from our jobs because we don't have any recourse to that kind of legal discrimination against us. Our political opponents, those who wish to force us off the map of social inclusion, know this and that's why they fight so hard against it. If we have jobs we feel safe in, we can then contribute all the more easily to the fight for marriage and immigrant reform and all the other issues that concern us but we can't even start if we are chronically un- or underemployed or afraid we will lose our livelihood if we speak out.
ENDA would be a big first step then to all of the other equality measures we are fighting for. We need to make our voices heard. We don't have to come out to do this either, we can call, voice our support for ENDA and leave it at that - our orientation or gender identity do not have to be mentioned. It may help to talk about those things if you feel comfortable about it but it certainly isn't a requirement.
So we need to call Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to ask her to give the go ahead for this bill to be marked up and sent to the floor of the house and if your representative isn't yet a cosponsor or a vocal supporter of ENDA you need to call them too. Ms Peolsi's number is 202-225-4965 I keep getting a busy signal and I will keep trying until I get through.
From Jillian Weiss, at The Bilerico Project:
Let's call and call and then call again - we need to be a thorn in her side about this, otherwise she'll think she can still safely ignore us. Please, do it now!
Will you join with us in asking that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people be protected from job discrimination?
Please call Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965. Ask that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, HR 3017, move to a vote.
Please be polite, but firm.
After you call, please tell us how the call went by clicking here. If you get a busy signal or hang up, let us know that too.
If you want more information on Speaker Pelosi's position on ENDA as stated by her office, you can find it here
Let's work together to let Speaker Pelosi know that we want action now!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are quietly rushing through legislation (H.R. 3017 & S. 1584) that would actually bring cross-dressing teachers into your child’s classroom. Under the so-called, Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), your children will be trapped in classes taught by drag queens and transgender activists. Students will be indoctrinated that “alternative lifestyles” are no different than traditional lifestyles. Young children will be forced to learn about bizarre sexual fetishes – and you will have no say in the matter. It is already happening in some states and concerned parents can’t do a thing about it – until now. This radical bill goes too far. That’s why the Traditional Values Coalition is standing in strong opposition to ENDA. Sign our petition . . .
As in the past, this "Christian values" based organization has resorted to hysteria, distortions, sexual innuendo and outright lies to promote the continued harmful discrimination against the gender variant citizens of our country. Look at the rhetoric they use, ". . . your children will be trapped in classes . . ." and, ". . . indoctrinated that 'alternative lifestyles' are no different from traditional lifestyles." They go on with, "Young children will be forced to learn about bizarre sexual fetishes . . ." All of this rhetoric designed to frighten, to create knee jerk reaction and to stop any kind of rational thought.
They do this, of course, because any rational thought applied to their issue would show what kind of batshit crazy they're peddling here. They know that kids won't be "indoctrinated" into anything they aren't taught now because of this bill. The know that children are pretty much "trapped" in classes already by truancy laws that have nothing to do with federal civil rights protections. They're fully aware that alternative lifestyles are already discussed in an age appropriate manner and that teachers are responsible professionals who would not discuss inappropriate subjects in their classes such as "sexual fetishes." They ignore that trans people are already teachers and that ENDA covers gay, lesbian and bisexual people too, who are also teachers and educators with absolutely no evidence of any harm to children.
This kind of fear mongering is typical from this group. They have accordingly been designated as a hate group by the Southern Policy Law Center. They routinely use insulting and degrading terms for trans people and make up lies about them in order to deny civil rights protections for the entire GTBL community. I am personally acquainted, by the way, to two western NY teachers that have transitioned from male to female within the last 2 years. They report, with confirmation from objective sources, that the kids were a bit curious at first but very tolerant and accepting afterward. It was, they told me, the parents and the local "family" organizations that made trouble. TCV ignores these facts and level ridiculously scary but untrue charges designed to frighten people away from the facts and reality. And then they call themselves "Christian."
ENDA is about protecting people's civil rights. It adds basic employment protections for LTBG people to laws that already give these protections, and more, based on sex, national origin, ethnicity and religion - immutable characteristics and chosen lifestyles. Most people I've spoken with are surprised these protections aren't already in place! They support this law and have said so in national and state polls over and over again. ENDA needs to be passed, our representatives need to hear from people that they support the bill and the president, who has promised to do so, should sign the law as soon as it hits his desk.
Friday, March 5, 2010
On Tuesday, March 2nd, the New York State Assembly has passed the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) for the third year in a row. The tally was 91-40, with bi-partisan support. My local assembly representative, William Parment, bless his heart, voted yes all three times but for the third year in a row the bill goes to the Senate with questions about how much support it would receive there.
My local state senator, Catherine Young (good Catholic girl that she is) has consistently come out and voted against civil marriage equality for same sex couples. After three trips to Albany to lobby for TBGL issues I have yet to meet her in person. The last time my group went to her office we were met by a staffer who had been with her for only a few weeks. He knew nothing about her position on the issues we brought up and seemed a bit out of his depth when we presented our concerns. I suspect we were the first group of GLBT activists he had ever dealt with in his life. Because of her opposition to civil marriage equality and the ignorance of her staffer I suspect she will not support the passage of GENDA. I certainly have never seen anything attributed to her or her office that indicates her position so I'll assume she's opposed based on her other votes.
I was surprised to read that, "Its unclear what sort of support the legislation will enjoy in the Senate." We were assured last year, before the senate's meltdown and the ill fated and ill advised marriage vote, that the votes were there for passage in the senate. Yet now we hear they aren't sure. All I can think is that the support for GENDA was squandered away in the push towards marriage equality. It certainly wouldn't be out of character for the Empire State Pride Agenda and the GLB faction in New York's government to throw gender variant people into the Hudson as a sacrifice to marriage rights or civil rights protections for GLB people.
I suppose we'll soon see how much effort is spent trying to get GENDA passed in the senate. ESPA has announced a "call in lobby day" for the future. I hope it isn't canceled the way the last one was. I'll give Senator Young's office yet another phone call and email. I hope, this time, it works.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
I believe they should be pushed to the margins of society, along with their philosophical compatriots, the white supremacists, so the ideals of our country, equality under the law for all deserving citizens, can move forward towards reality.
If they keep committing those sins, I think they should be arrested and imprisoned. They certainly shouldn't be able to marry or have kids - they might infect their kids with their heinous religious beliefs or abuse them by taking them to indocrination programs disguised as summer camps. They should never be allowed to serve in the military (a "religious" right wing person with a gun? Shades of Al Qaida!), or be able to have jobs in places where their coworkers disagree with their militant religious rhetoric. If people see them on the street they ought to show their disgust and approbation by calling them humiliating names and, if they are really being blatant about shoving their hateful practices down the throats of others by proselytizing, by applying the amount of force required to convince them and all their followers to stop.
But really, I don't hate them at all.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The first 8 questions have, as an underlying assumption, something that's not true - that there are no trans lesbian and gay people so it's actually possible to split the community along those lines. I can't answer these questions without accepting this assumption, something I cannot do without denying the existence of at least part of who I am.
1. Why should the LGBT split apart?
2. Why can't people other trans folk speak out on trans topics?
3. Why should the LGBT stay together?
4. Why should people accept letting trans people go from legislation?
5. Why should people accept letting gay men go from legislation?
6. Why are we all allies to each other instead of part of one another?
7. Why do people think there isn't an LGBT community?
8. Why do people think there is an LGBT community?
9. Why don't we start our own political party?
10. What makes a person part of the problem, instead of part of the solution or someone outside the whole issue?
As far as question 9 is concerned, well, what possible good would it do in the political structure that exists in the United States? Even if it were possible to unite those who hold the extremely divergent political beliefs within the TBGL community it would use up so much energy and have so little beneficial effect on the fight for equality that I think it would be a waste of time.
The last question, #10, "What makes a person part of the problem, instead of part of the solution or someone outside the whole issue?" That one made me stop and wonder. How do I define someone who is part of the problem? How do I define the problem in the first place? I have to do that before I even start to consider the criteria for answering question #10. Is this referring to the problem of unity within the greater GBLT community? Is it the problem of the entire community's political and/or social oppression?
I suspect Ms D'orsay framed these questions in such an ambiguous way on purpose, to explore and expose LBTG people's prejudices and bad assumptions. The Deity knows there are all too many of us that hold such prejudices and bad assumptions, many times without even realizing it. It behooves us to follow the old advice about making the world a better place: Start with the one person you are certain to have control over. Yourself.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
One of the most trying, and frightening aspects of transition for me was having my name changed and then personally having to go to all the organizations, stores, banks, etc. that have records of me, to make the changes in their databases. New York State requires that a legal name change be published in an official legal notice that contains the person's old name, current address and new name before it's finalized. Coming home from work the day mine was published, I half expected to see a mob with torches and pitchforks at my door. Fortunately, no one noticed. Makes me wonder why they call them "legal notices."
A woman in Dallas, an employee of the Dallas Area Regional Transit (DART) system went through a similar process in her state, for a gender marker change instead of a name change, but for her the process didn't turn out as well. Actually, not very well at all. When she went to her employer with the court order asking them to change their records, instead of acquiescing, they went back to court and started the preliminary steps in order to sue, prompting the judge who originally gave the order to rescind it! Just think about this for a minute. Say you had a change done in your life, maybe you got married. Say you went to your employer and asked them to change your last name to your spouse's and update the records to indicate you were married and, instead of complying with your request, your employer went to court which promptly nullified your marriage. How would you feel about that?
This woman had her genital realignment surgery three years earlier. She made compromises with previous transphobic policies that her employer instituted against her. She followed medically established, international, standards of care, willingly went through the legal and common practice for changing her records yet her employer decided she was not qualified to determine how she would be known to the world. And the judge who gave the order rescinded it because of pressure from DART attorneys who used the fact that their nondiscrimination rules prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation but didn't include gender identity.
This is an example of how cissexual (opposite of transsexual) society negates and oppresses those who are born with the condition known as Gender Identity Disorder. The state told this woman, "I don't care who you say you are. You will be what WE tell you to be!" It also shows the egregious harm that can still happen to gender variant people when, as is the case in New York State, sexual orientation is covered in nondiscrimination rules and laws but gender identity isn't.
It's also a perfect example of why this country need to pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) that is currently in Congress waiting for action. After eight years of waiting, New York is no closer to providing civil rights protections for its gender variant citizens and we surely don;t have to be told that this kind of law won't be passed in Texas anytime soon. ENDA needs to be passed and signed by the president. Sexual orientation and gender identity also need to be specifically added to the groups protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To do any less is to passively approve what happened to that woman in Dallas and what happens all over the country against people because of who they love and who they are.
Friday, February 19, 2010
[snark] I must be having fun, the time has flown by so quickly! [/snark]
To be honest, I find I have numerous ideas about things to write about, things I care about and that about which I believe I have something to say. Then, the second thought is, "Well, someone else has probably written about the same thing, and much better than I ever could," or, "Who would ever really care about what I have to say?" While these are legitimate questions they certainly aren't really good criteria on which to base my decisions about what to write or whether to write anything at all and I find they are just excuses that I make to mask the reality that I just don't feel good enough to do it, or to do it "right." Self-esteem, it appears, is a problem here and I think it's a big problem for many people but for trans people, it's huge.
All my life, I was made to feel inadequate because I could not or did not fulfill the expectations of masculine behavior that my genitalia imposed. It was rarely overt, although that did happen, but it was pervasive although unsaid. That generated a belief in my own general inferiority, one that, looking back, was a big reason for my underachiever status.
So, with the goal of denying the spurious belief in my inferiority I plan to be more active on this blog. I'll work at saying things, even if I believe underneath it all, that I'm screwing it up or that it's unimportant. I will instead just send this stuff out into the ether and let others be the judge and, should they judge it even a little worthwhile, then I will have succeeded.