Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Win!

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

Your participation is VITAL!

Last week I shared with you an open letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Cleve Jones, a pioneering equal rights activist featured in the film "MILK," creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and Senior Advisor to the Courage Campaign. He asked that Speaker Pelosi move the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the House floor for a vote.

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?

Dear Speaker Nancy Pelosi

With health care legislation passing, now is the time to institute workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Rep. Tammy Baldwin says she believes that we have the votes to pass ENDA, and Rep. George Miller has said the bill is ready to come out of committee now that the health care bill has passed. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, we call on you to act boldly and decisively and bring ENDA to the floor for a vote now.

*First Name

*Last Name



Cell Phone**

** If you choose to give your cell phone number you may receive text messages or calls from GetEQUAL.org. Standard text messaging charges will apply.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Not just a coincidence

It's funny how two seemingly unrelated combined ingredients can affect the taste, for better or worse, of a particular recipe, even when by themselves they wouldn't have the same effect. In skimming the previous two posts I've written here I was struck by a remarkable relationship between the two. I thought I'd put that relationship in a clearer light.

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.