Just thought this was worth posting.
So Michelle Kosilek after winning a victory for access to medical care under the 8th amendment, has had her win stayed, by the same justice (Mark Wolf) who originally ruled in her favor.
I’ve heard a lot of commentary from some supposed allies (Barney Frank for one) who’ve displayed some atrocious and transphobic opinions on the matter of whether Michelle has a right to surgery, on the basis of her crimes denying her the right to medical care.
Now I have a problem with this on two fronts, firstly that its a denial of care to a transperson, irrespective of their character. She is someone who violently murdered her spouse and deserves to spend the rest of her days in prison, but she also has a right under the 8th amendment to the appropriate medical care. I would argue that a serial rapist/murderer should get heart surgery or other life saving procedures they needed, because thats what our justice system demands. However because its a transperson, their lifesaving procedures don’t matter…There are hundreds of transpeople in prison who are denied care because its politically acceptable to be transphobic in this area, even if you are a progressive democrat.
The second front I have issue with is that it sets a precedent outside the prison system, that if the government rejects the reality of the lifesaving nature of GRS, and effectively argues that its cosmetic or unnecessary, then what’s to stop employers and insurers from claiming the same thing, using the court decisions as the basis for rejection.
Maybe the later aspect is a bit paranoid, but given the behaviour of supposedly transgender allies in this case, and those women and men who vitally need this care in prison and are denied it, forgive me if I’m more than a little wary…
I was having an argument with a friend over the ignoring of transgender people in the DADT fight, and in moves towards LGBT equality in the USA. She retorted that she couldn’t understand why transpeople were even part of the LGBT community, and if we didn’t like the progress we were free to fuck off and fight for our rights on our own. This was my response.
Back during the 1900s in the US there was a strong alliance between the African American civil rights movement and the Womens lib movement, which could have brought about the civil rights era 50 years early.
However the white men in power managed to try to separate the groups by focussing on their differences and their own internal prejudices. The women were turned against the idea of african americans having equality, and the african american men were turned against the idea of their wives, girlfriends and sisters having equality.
Now strangely there was some overlap, in fact there was a very large overlap of african american women, but effectively given that they were denied power as women and as african americans meant that their voices were lost in the chaos that set civil rights back 50 years.
Now there is a subset of trans people who embrace a post-trans state of being, entering either stealth or partial stealth entering a rigid hetero-normative existence, and reject the association with the larger LGBT community. Partially this may be due to internal prejudices, but also its part of a desire for conformity. I know the fear, but I’ve come to despise those transpeople, as much as I do LGB people who seek to exclude and even discriminate against trans people, since its a situation of equal responsibility for the perceived divide.
We’re all queer, be we asexual, polyamorous, bisexual or transsexual. Yes my personal experiences may not be the same as a genetic lesbian woman, but then again my personal experiences are my own.
However I do have experiences that place me somewhere in lesbian/bisexual space, in transgender space, in british space, in new yorker space, and in geeky space.
Those who wish to keep society from full acceptance and rights for LGBT people would love to have to fight a Lesbian lobby, a Gay lobby, a Bisexual lobby and a Transgender lobby because they would be smaller, weaker and suffering from infighting. It happens, even with an LGBT lobby where trans rights are often the sacrifice placed on the altar of getting gains for LGB people. This is also despite the efforts of transpeople in the fight for rights for all LGBT people irrespective of whether they are gay, straight or bisexual.
The DADT repeal was a clear example of this, where people like Dan Savage talked about how the entire LGBT community had a huge victory, as transgender service members are still being discharged. Yes it was a big victory, but the plight of transgender service members was never even mentioned in the fight.
Yes the precise aspect of ourselves may be different as to why the discrimination happens, but its founded in the fear and hatred of Queer people. Bigots generally are not sophisticated enough in their ignorance to hate trans-people for a different set of reasons to their hatred for LGB people.
Our community needs to fight for all its members, whether or not the specific issue applies to our own individual lives.
Consider, for a moment, the following story:
“But how did you know?”: Oh that age old question asked just one more time, and never for the last.
They sighed. A sigh so softly expressed so many times. A sigh so soft and understated that only a person accustomed to such moments would understand it. Barely visible to the casual observer, those in the know would recognise their hearts sinking as they prepared to answer the inevitable and recurring question. At least they weren’t being asked about the configuration of their genitals or their sexual preferences though. They’d been spared that indignity on this occasion. It was at least a tolerable question, and once more they found their selves giving out the very personal details of their personal childhoods.
“I always got on better with boys,” he said, “and then when puberty hit it was a nightmare. I just knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know what”.
“Oh, it was a bit like that for me to,” she interjected, “except I got on better with the girls. I used to like playing with dolls but my parents would take them from me when they caught me. My mum caught me using her makeup once. I guess I was just born this way.”
Why? Why, oh why, oh why must we go through this standard narrative again, and again and again? Yes, I’m as guilty as anyone of this, but surely this is the sort of thing we should be telling our nearest and dearest -should there be a cause or desire for them to know- and not random strangers or acquaintances? If you actually like answering these questions and the ‘standard narrative’ applies to you, then sure, why not… but for the rest of us: Why?
Really speaking, this pretty much applies to LGB people as much as it does to trans people. We collectively feel the need to justify our existence by offering narratives, terminology and ideas that can be readily digested by the rest of society. We explain our histories and our existences according to the frameworks provided for us, which are inevitably designed to fit in with the pre-ordained rules of a hetero-normative society. We often seem to instinctively try to avoid standing out, and instead try to shape ourselves to fit the mold at the expense of our own unique individualities. Not even cissexual people their selves are immune to this effect, from the schoolyard bullies, to the neighborhood yobs and interest groups hitting out at and questioning anything that poses the smallest challenge to the normative status quo, marking it as somehow different and inferior by its mere existence. For LGBT people though, there’s a difference – we tend to accept it, consciously or not, as being part and parcel of being LGBT, and it runs right the way through society.
While anti-abortionists claim that a woman’s right to do as she likes with her body is superseded by the rights of the unborn child in a similarly vitriolic battle over what choice women should have over their bodies, the argument against LGBT people is predicated differently. It is based on the idea that we, in ourselves, are disgusting and morally wrong simply for our very existences… and I ask – why? Why must we be special cases having to explain our origins? Why should we be subject to attempts to cure us? Why should we be considered as worth anything less than anybody else because of who we are in spite of the fact that we do nothing wrong, and nothing to harm anybody else? Ironically, there is even a section of the feminist community that believes in a person’s choice over their own body, and yet would deny trans people that choice – one feminist famously wanted to “mandate trans people out of existence”. The anti-choice argument at least contains some kernel of reason (whether you agree with it or not), whereas the argument against LGBT equality does not. Such a lack of reason was seen recently in the UK, where a popular soap opera showed two men cuddling in bed and provoked outrage from some quarters, while hetero-centric casual sex, violence, threats and even rape have been deemed unworthy of complaint by the same people.
This argument that we are some kind of scourge on society, and that we’re somehow exotic or explicit material that should be kept out of the eyes of children spurs us on to justify ourselves with a whole host of purported medical, evolutionary, sociological, genetic, or psychological reasons. In doing so, we are the ones that create our own oppression. Instead of standing up to such questions, and instead of requesting the civil courtesy of the respect afforded to everyone else, we give in. In giving in and answering their questions with narratives that fit their views, we perpetuate a cycle where they feel they have the right to ask. They feel they have a right to know. A right to pry. A right that wouldn’t exist anywhere else, and thus lends itself to a sense of the normal vs the abnormal, which of course transforms itself into issues of right or wrong, above and below, inferiority and superiority. We hand them power. We give them privilege over us, and all by trying to fit into their world, rather than staking our place and our claim on our already being a part of their world, and one that’s worthy of equality and respect. I’m not going to seriously use terms like kyriarchy or patriarchy to describe top down systems of oppression. Power is seen to work like that, but only because that is the way we have organised it. If every fighter put down their weapon, we’d see an end to war – it’s unlikely to happen, but it’s true. Similarly, can you imagine a situation where every LGBT person responded with “That’s a personal question”, or “My body, my choice. I’m not hurting anybody else, so what’s the problem?” Admittedly, for some trans people it’s a choice between surgery or death – but that’s still a real choice, if an obvious decision to make (clue – death isn’t the obvious and logical solution to such a problem.)
Then, of course, there’s the other problem with the standard narratives for trans people especially – they hurt other trans people. In some ways, the formation of the narrative has been clinician led… but it’s our internalisation of the narrative that’s perpetuated it. As more and more people repeat their stories, it becomes the accepted basis on which medical services are allowed. Nobody knows what causes transsexualism any more than what results in the existence of neutrois or other gender variant people that don’t fit the narrative… but it is the narrative that grants access to medical treatment. If you don’t fit it, you don’t get it. If you’re not transsexual, then you must surely have some sort of body dysmorphia that needs talking therapy or psychiatric drugs – it’s not right, and it’s not fair. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s likewise going to be even longer coming for as long as the ‘One True Narrative’ prevails. Is it right to leave other people out in the cold like this?
For bisexual people – if same sex attraction is not a choice, and “homosexuality is OK as long as you don’t act on it” is not a reasonable view, where exactly does that leave bisexual people? While “Being gay is not a choice” is great for defending gay and lesbian people, it leaves bisexual people open to the accusation that they really do have a choice, and should choose only to sleep with members of the opposite sex.
We need to stop clinging to the standard narrative – and many of us are unknowingly guilty of that, as we tend as a species to frame things in the language we are surrounded with. We need to stop giving away our power and subverting ourselves. We need to stop internalizing the narratives, and instead to proudly state the truth of our own individual existences. To live that truth. To love that truth, and to be that truth. We need to stop policing others for questioning the standard narrative and expressing opinions which stand against it. We need to stop crying “transphobia”, “homophobia”, “hetero-centricism” and “cissexism” at the slightest opportunity, stop tarring and we need to start living by example. Sure – there is transphobia, homophobia, hetero-centricism and cissexism in the world and it’s wrong, but overuse of the terms devalues them, and just makes us look irrationally angry and combative… all the while, of course, focussing our attention on why certain people think we are wrong rather than on why we are just as worthy and awesome as anybody else. It’s perhaps telling that I myself am wondering if I’m going to lose friends and contacts over this article – I don’t profess it to be gospel truth, but I do feel it raises a few interesting points and questions.
I’m going to tell you that truth now. It’s actually a very simple one, as most truths are – we are people of diverse backgrounds and experiences just as all human beings are, but in one thing you are just the same as anybody else…
… You are beautiful, and your existence is no less valid or rightful than anybody elses. You have a right to be yourself. You don’t need a cure. You don’t need a reason. You don’t need to explain yourself to all and sundry. You don’t need to justify your basic existence. Why you are the way you are doesn’t matter. What matters, is that you are who you are, and you exist – and you are beautiful for it. At the end of the day, we’re all just people, and we should be people. Live.
Why does society seem so intent on forcing minority groups to have to fight for the right merely to exist in public? And why, when said minorities ask for the same rights as everyone else, are they shouted at and told that they are asking for special rights?
People with disabilities ask for accessible buildings, and are told that it is too expensive, too difficult, and there aren’t that many PWD anyway and why are they asking for “special treatment”?
Trans people ask that they be able to walk down the street without fear of harassment, and that they can use a public toilet without fear of being assaulted, banned from a casino for life (good news is that that has been overturned – scroll right to the bottom) or denied access at a Gay Pride Rally. Despite every new story I have heard of involving trans people (usually trans women, although I am sure there are many incidents involving trans men) as the victim of prejudice or assault, the toilet issue is still framed as “protecting” cis women and children from trans women, with one of three reasons given: 1.) The cis women would feel uncomfortable 2.) The trans women would assault the cis women 3.) Cis men would pretend to be trans women in order to assault women and/or children.
I’m going to attempt to unpack these.
The cis women would feel uncomfortable. Well there are people who would be uncomfortable with anyone of a non-White ethnicity using the toilets. Or people who look and dress differently to them. There is a clever website which shows the amount of prejudice against the traveling/Roma/gypsy community by taking every headline with the word “Gypsy” in and replacing it with “Jew”. The results are startling. If all the websites taking this stance were to have “trans women” replaced with “black women” this would be shown as the unacceptable prejudice that it is. Just because some theoretical person may be offended by the existence of a person belonging to a minority in a public space, we should not automatically ban the minority from that public space.
The trans women would assault the cis women. A quick Google search yields 5 pages of stories about trans women being assaulted. I can’t find even one story about the reverse. Nobody else can either. This is a complete fallacy. Why are people even continuing to bring this one up with no evidence?
Cis men would pretend to be trans women in order to assault women and/or children. There are no special locks, magical detectors, or scientific thingummybobs currently in use, nor are there ever likely to be, to stop anyone going into any toilet. Hypothetical Male Rapist can just walk into a toilet; Dressing up and pretending to be a trans woman is just too over-complicated, not to mention that said person would feel much of the same shaming that trans women face, except more so for not actually being trans, and would be highly unlikely to consider it. Rape is generally about power, and it’s hard to think of much that might be more dis-empowering to Mr H. M. Rapist.
In my opinion, the first reason is sheer prejudice and the second two are absurd logical fallacies built on what-ifs that are so unlikely to happen that we can safely say that the probability approaches zero.
Everyone should have the right to be in public spaces without any fears of what might happen, without exception.
If ever there were a term to be reclaimed, this is it: the gay agenda. When you blog on a LGBT website, you end up trawling through the websites of all the usual news sites, anti-gay campaigns and hate groups – NOM, right wing Christian news, republican/social conservative blogs and news, gay news sites, etc… …and so it goes on. One thing you simply cannot avoid is the term “gay agenda” used as a stick to beat us with. There’s never a definition to what this agenda is exactly, but the undertones are always sinister; and you know what? I’m sick of it. So, let’s say this now…
“Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation.”
… no? Are you having trouble saying that? Is it just me that supports the gay agenda? OK, then let’s take a look at what it is we’re so often accused of supporting.
The term ‘Gay Agenda’ is a bit of an invention. It supposedly refers to an organised, concerted (or in the minds of those that accuse us of it, conceited) political and social effort to earn ourselves special rights and privileges, over and above those held by the rest of society. Frankly, we simply don’t have the level of power and privilege as a group and that in itself makes the concept more than a little surreal. It’s surreal because the concept is couched in the language of good and evil. The idea comes from the drawing of battle lines. It comes from a group of people so utterly convinced that homosexuality is abhorrent or sinful, unnatural or immoral that any effort towards anything that leads to acceptance of the fact that there are gay people in society and their mere existence should not be grounds for criticism, harassment, or worse, must therefor be an effort with sinister, corrupt, and morally repugnant intentions. Of course, understanding the origins of this ludicrous idea fails to address that ‘special treatment’ accusation… so let’s address that further – while we have neither the power nor the privilege for such a lofty goal, and even if such a goal were somewhere within our wildest dreams, isn’t it normal for interest groups, marginalised or otherwise, to seek an advantage in their own lives? It might not be morally sound, but it happens everywhere. Christians do it, politicians and political parties do it, advocates for various causes do it, corporations, capitalists, sole traders, small businesses and banks do it. It may not be right, but in our society – a society so often espoused as righteous in these traits by the self same people who complain of the gay agenda – it’s normal.
So, are you ready to say it yet? – “Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation.”… No?
Well, perhaps it’s because the Gay Agenda is an invented term, used to promote a ludicrous idea of good and evil, which is in turn used to beat us over the heads with, and further an anti-gay agenda. Even so, we do have an agenda. An agenda that covers lesbian, gay, bisexual. trans, intersex, asexual, pansexual, queer, and questioning people; and you know, much of this applies to straight women too. It could, for simplicity and for a short and snappy name, be referred to as a gay agenda, even though it covers all of these people. Yes, people. Perhaps if it’s spelled out clearly, you too can say “Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation”. Perhaps if it’s spelled out clearly, you can provide a simple answer or a link next time you see or hear someone accusing us of supporting our sinister little agenda for the destruction of community, society and all goodness in the world – so here’s that agenda, clearly on display for all to see.
1) We are human beings first and foremost just like everybody else, and as a body of people, we would generally like to be considered as normal people, just like everybody else. There are exceptions to the rule (those that like to stand out and be different), but that’s the case for any group of people in society, and no reason to treat us as being in some way different in the context of our day to day lives. We need to eat, sleep, pay our bills, be with our loved ones (especially in moments of need!) and generally live out our lives just as everybody else does.
2) We want to live in peace, seek happiness, and make something of our lives, just as anybody else does.
3) Many of us would like to have our long term, committed, stable relationships recognised in law. Of course, in that regard, Separate but equal is not equal, as demonstrated by the fact that anybody could desire to separate us from the rest of society in the first place… and so yes, many of us would like to get married. Some of us have children. Some of us will never have children – just like infertile or otherwise childless heterosexual couples – we don’t see anybody arguing against those marriages, so why us?
4) Some of us are not gay, but instead we speak for our children who so often are needlesly abused in school. Why? Why is this allowed to continue? Nobody wants homosexuality ‘promoted’ in school, but it’s not promotion to teach that we’re people just the same as anybody else, and should be accorded the same respect and fair and just treatment as anybody else. It’s rather sad that there are a bunch of hateful and bigoted adults teaching children to behave in these ways, resulting in a need for this education in basic human respect and decency. It’s simply called equality.
5) We’d like an end to the lies, mis-truths, deceptions, unsupported and ill founded assumptions, and hysterical propaganda distributed about us. We’d very much appreciate it if people stopped making us the target and the object of their hatred and allowed us to get on with our lives in peace.
6) While we’re on the subject of getting on with our lives in peace, it would be nice if we didn’t have to live in fear that we’ll be discriminated against or our sexual orientation regardless of the fact that it almost never has any serious (if any!) affect on anybody else, and is almost always irrelevant to the subject of that discrimination. It’d also be very nice if we could be sure that our politicians, community leaders, and rich & powerful view our execution -wherever it is- on grounds of our sexual orientation as an abhorrent idea, and not have to live with the sure knowledge that there are some that would support it. It would be nice if, when we get attacked, we could be sure that it’ll be taken seriously… that we could be sure that it won’t get brushed under the carpet… that we can be sure that we won’t be told it’s our own fault simply for the fact of our existence.
7) All this tends to add up to a degree of disempowerement, and we’d like our power back please. We’d like the same power over our own lives and destinies that everybody else has. No more, and no less.
8) Whether we’re gay, trans, or whatever, we’d like not to be deliberately (and often maliciously) mis-gendered. It’s a form of abuse.
9) Many of us make absolutely fantastic parents. Homosexuality is not passed on like a contagion or through teaching, and there’s a great many kids out there who’d be better off with parents than without. In fact, there are studies that show that we tend to make excellent parents that bring up well rounded children, and none to the contrary. The ONLY accusation with any foundation from those that would abuse and denigrate us is that our children suffer an increased risk of abuse and denigration… largely as a result of the policies, attitudes and actions of those that would abuse and denigrate us. Not all of us want children – that’s pretty much the same as the rest of the world. Some of us do want children, and we’d like the same rights to medical technology, adoption, the legal recognition of our families and various federal benefits (including immigration where relevant, with or without children) that everybody else has.
10) Will you please stop trying to cure us? Yes, there’s ‘ex-gay therapy’ or ‘reparative therapy’ for those of us who are having trouble dealing with who we are and the shame, guilt, hate and discrimination that some in society are determined to impose upon us; that is, if we’re willing to risk the psychological damage and increased risk of suicide that comes from suppressing who we are. It should be available for those who openly seek it out – but it’s not a solution, and in fact only a tiny minority are healthy and happy people after it. It doesn’t need promoting, because we don’t need curing. We’re simply not ill, thank you very much, apart from those of us who have developed depression, anxiety and fatigue as a direct result of the acts of abuse, denigration and dehumanisation that have, and continue to be, committed against us.
As individuals, not all of us have experienced all of the above issues – some of us are lucker than others, whether that’s by life circumstances or simply the place of our birth. All of us have been affected by some of the above though, with the group as a whole subject to it all and it really has to stop. THIS is the gay agenda. It is the one and only gay agenda in town. It’s not sinister, it’s not evil, it’s not destructive and it’s most certainly not a corrupting influence on society. It’s equality, pure and simple. I’ll say that word again, in case anybody missed it the first time… it’s equality.
One final time, I state here and now, “Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation.”
Are you with me? Whether gay, straight, trans, queer; whatever or whoever you are, will you join me in this statement?
I saw this on the Young Turks a couple of days ago and i was far from amused.
This is not the first time that Cenk has annoyed me intensely. His coverage about the trans-woman in california who was severely harassed by a DMV employee, who abused his position to get access to her personal information. His attitude was literally “get over it” as if being sent death threats by a government employee in full religious zeal was something that just is a minor inconvenience.
Firstly Ana’s description was wrong a man does not become a woman, a transgendered woman has GRS. She was supportive just uneducated about the real nature of transition. Cenk’s position was “I’m Old Fashioned”, well given that gender identity disorder was recognized in the 1890s you are a little bit behind the times for a progressive liberal.
Most of the time I approve of Cenk’s positions and statements, he’s generally a passionate progressive guy, but when you slam and dump on one of the most mistreated segment of society, you loose severe points on the progressive side of things.
There are still lesbian and gay groups that reject trans people, not to mention those on the right. The anti-transgender amendment was slipped in without protest into the healthcare bill.
Its time Cenk to step up to the mark and learn more about who you insult and look down upon.
This is a somewhat personal story, in part due to the fact that i’ve faced 3 people who have used knowledge of my gender identity as a basis on which to attack me.
Two of the incidents were ignorant men who honestly I couldn’t give a shit about, but the one that actually upset me was a former friend using transphobic language against me.
We had a friendship ending falling out and the details are not relevant, what is relevant was in a final communique she referred to me as a “He She Freak”. I was shocked, more than I thought possible not because I expected better of her, but simply the fact that me being transgender was so off limits in the same way calling someone of african american descent a *unmentionable racial pejorative*.
When i confronted her about it recently, after refusing to apologize for such vile language she retorted “I said that to you, to hit you where it hurts”.
This isn’t about my qualities as a friend, or our friendship, it isn’t about how bad things get when friendships fall apart. Its about basic respect for what someone is.
If you use such language, its part of a deeper issue that you have a problem with what I am, the same way if you use such offensive terms for other minorities and women.
I’m not naming this person because it would do no good, but she is no better than a white supremacist calling a former friend a *offensive word*
Its sad really that our third real comment on this site was from a bigot…
This is the world we face, its not full of reasonable people who do not understand, its a world that is afraid of what is different and what it does not understand. We have to fight the ignorance, and defend ourselves from the hateful.
I get to call myself a muff munching queer dyke, because those are words i own, but if you want to come on here and call me unmentionable things, then you are not welcome here….