No Thanks

Posted by – November 22, 2006

In case anyone’s deluded into thinking all’s well in genderland, someone named Arlene Starr decided to take me to task for my post on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

She writes:

I must be too sensitive, be that as it may I was totally offended by Helen Boyd’s first line of her blog entry for the 20th. It read;

“Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we honor our dead.”

We Helen? What gives you the right to stake any claim to this day? This is your husbands day, my day and others like me. Is nothing sacred? Let us remember our dead as only we can do. Try as you might to be one of us you are an outsider and always will be. Once again you have proven how little you really know about “Trans.”

Charming person, eh? It’s this kind of attitude that makes partners (and family) of trans people feel unwelcome in the trans community. Of course I’m not trans, but if she thinks violence against gender variant folks isn’t my problem, she’s off her rocker. It’s true: I’m never scared for Betty. I’m never worried we’re targeted for violence as a same sex couple because of Betty’s transness. & Of course I’d never find myself needing to protect Betty if some jerk figures out she was born male.

Holy hand grenades, Batman: we’ve got a bitter dimwit on our hands.

17 Comments on No Thanks

  1. madelaine says:

    Call me strange, but I take all forms of human rights abuses as personal affronts. I don’t live in Darfur, never lived in Rwanda, never experienced the Holocaust nor slavery, was not sold into prostitution etc. Yet, as a human, I feel some responsibility to work toward a solution.
    I guess Ms. Starr writes similar comments about Nick Kristoff’s columns which address such topics.

  2. LaSirenaBella says:

    If Ms. Starr (and her cohort Connie) decide to come over here to read comments: get the fuck over yourselves, people. Wow, no wonder society doesn’t welcome TG’s. It’s attitudes like yours that pisses off the people you (meaning we, unfortunately) need to have on our side!

  3. Bethany says:

    This is one of my recurring frustrations. I see folk that are the victims of oppression, and so many times it looks like all they are wanting to do is find someone that *they* can kick around. It really looks like that’s the first thing lots of folk do when they realize they are marginalized. I see it in the TS/TG/CD/Partner divides. I see it in the GL v B fights in the GLBT community. It just drives me crazy. We don’t have the time for this. We aren’t each other’s enemies, and the folk that *do* hate us don’t recognize our divisions. They just see freaks to silence. I welcome any allies to my fights, and they are free to call themselves one of us.

  4. Katherine says:

    Isolation and persecution make one lash out at friends in strange ways. Consider the interesting recent case of Ted Haggard whose last name poignantly suggests the bearing of burdens. I am sorry you took this rebuke from someone supposedly of T-World membership. Until the day comes when, as Madelaine so elegantly posits, that we embrace a “collective responsibility” to shelter and lift up the fragile and short lives that are given to us, we will continue in darkness. Dr. King claimed that “An injustice anywhere was a threat to justice everywhere.” The day that Helen Boyd or any SO of a transperson or for that matter any human being with a conscience can’t participate in mourning for the likes of Gwen Araujo, then the whole thing is lost. The communities that make up the transgender population lost sight of this before, particularly in the US when there was much angst that set us apart from other queer folk and compatriots in gay and lesbian communities who won rights for all of us with full measures of Churchill’s “blood, sweat, toil, and tears.”

    All of this reminds me that it takes much more work to build friendships than it does to default to the, “You, are my enemy!” mode. So sad. We of all people should embrace the diversity of beings who are trying to make this planet better and live meaningful lives. If we can’t share our grief, how can we share our full selves?

  5. Debra says:

    Shouldn’t the community that we are all part of as people outweigh the smaller communities within that realm? United we stand but divided we fall.

  6. LaSirenaBella says:

    Thank you, Katherine. You said it better (and more diplomatically) than I. The kind of attitude that Arlene embraces simply angers me.

  7. SavoyTruffle says:

    I suppose I should be honored in some small, fucknutted way that I have made it on to this crotch pheasant’s website as well. And, as has been pointed out to the Dim Starr, the moniker is indeed *Savoy* Truffle. As to the confusion over the name, boy, I sure wish there was a world-wide electronic application that was readily available and easy to use for even the dimmest bulbed cunt-knuckle whose dayminders allow her to tip-tap on a keyboard with unsharpened safety pencils in an attempt to “search” for unusual or unknown terms.

    Sheesh, I sure hope someone invents that soon, for Starr’s sake. That’d sure be nice.

    Oh, and if you can’t figure out that significant others, wives, family members, partners, and friends can consider people they love hurt or killed as “some of their own”, then please just lie down with the front door to your house open so that when the lack of oxygen to your femtocephalic brain results in a massive kill-shot, the coroner will find your cat-gnawed body that much faster.

    Fucknut.

  8. Marla says:

    Ms. Starr has obviously never loved anyone, or she would have understood your use of “we.” I am an SO who also posted a TGDOR message in my blog, and it did cross my mind that someone might take offense at me saying “To those we have lost, we will never forget you.” I was prepared to explain that my use of “we” wasn’t an attempt to claim trans status for myself or speak for trans people….but exactly whose loss is it when a trans person becomes the victim of a hate crime? It is a loss felt by everyone who loved that person, including his/her SO, parents, children and friends. How anyone could fail to see that is beyond me.

  9. lizzy says:

    [Liz's post was refused over at the other blog - the thread was locked down. D.J.]

    Well this is something I’ve not experienced before, such personal nastiness, Just not a good thing in a community of folks who need all the understanding and compassion they can get. Helen Boyd is like a lone voice, calling out for right’s for wives and SO’s where they were merely tolerated before, on MHB they are celebrated.

    I’m not a rubber stamp supporter, I have and will again disagree with Helen on many things, but this is true. I know them, have observed the relationship with a very studied eye, and Helen does _not_ use Betty, they are a team, and in love.

    Elizabeth Levitt,
    Family Counselor for 18 years.

  10. helenboyd says:

    Hey friends

    I appreciate your support, even the foul-mouthed bits of it. Most of you were disturbed – as I was – by the idea that only trans people have a stake in the Transgender Day of Remembrance. That’s just foolishness all around. Everyone needs allies.

    But please don’t worry about the personal comments directed at me. As another public person privately reminded me: this is part of the gig. As usual it impresses me that I should be insulted by being called a feminist or accused of not being one (what else is new? the whole of the country’s pundits verily spit the word feminist out of their mouths), and it’s always amusing to be accused of making money off the trans community, since Betty & I have only gone into debt doing what we do.

    Arlene (or anyone else) has the right to be offended by anything I write, if it offends her genuinely. I have no problem with that. What bothered me about her post is what it means to partners and loved ones of trans people: that we are not welcome. & While I know it’s a distinct and bitter minority who believe that, I chose to comment on it via my blog exactly because I wouldn’t want other partners to think the same thing. The leaders in the trans community – people like Leslie Feinberg & Mara Keisling & Jamison Green – appreciate the support of allies & partners, because they’re in the trenches, where they know that help is help, and needed.

    “We” is an expression of solidarity, of course, but an expression that Betty’s transness of course makes violence against trans people my life. I don’t identify as trans – though I do identify as gender variant – & the idea of someone saying I’m not “trans enough” is laughable, because what I see as my role is exactly that I’m not trans. In a world that belittles trans people’s opinions about their own lives and struggles, I thought for a while I could serve as emissary, since the majority of the people I might talk to – at colleges or elsewhere – are going to be non-trans as well. But also, our relationship gives not only trans people & their partners hope and community, but I think is very strong evidence that transness is not a choice, that betty did not “do this” to me, and that we’re trying to find our way through it such as any couple would deal with a crisis.

    & As for the accusations of me being Betty’s gatekeeper: as you all well know, that’s always been something I’ve been worried about. I don’t want her to restrict herself for my sake. What astonishes me most about the idea of it – and it being lobbed at our heads – is that it insults Betty, as if she is not responsible for her own life and her own decisions. Which she is. For any of you who have met Betty: she knows who she is, she knows what she wants, & she is not someone who has any interest whatsoever in playing martyr. The idea of her being held down by me – other than for fun, ha – is entertaining. Betty is a very huge personality, all on her own, & does what she wants. The idea that Betty’s transness is something she needs to give into – without thought or compromise – is one we reject, & have always rejected, for its lack of balance.

    Some people don’t like me, which is okay by me: I had an old friend once tell me that being admired by people you don’t admire is the worst kind of insult. But you all – my “minions” and “groupies” – are a really great set of people: opinionated, intelligent, and working hard at making transness work in your own lives & in the world. Being admired by people you admire is, no doubt, the finest compliment a person can be paid, and I thank you for it.

    Don’t let others’ negativity or pettyness or border-protecting get you down. There’s no use in it, or usefulness, and it doesn’t move anything forward one whit.

    Which is, after all, what this is all about: onwards & upwards.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  11. sorrowsfemme says:

    That is sickening.

    I am sorry someone did that to you.

    We are all a community. Even our spouses and loved ones.

    Violence effects everyone.

  12. miss carolyn says:

    AFAIC, that Arlene Starr can take her bad attitudes, go jump in the Hudson, and get eaten by the Pirhanna that migrated up from the Amazon. The one thing that transpersons do not need is more isolation and marginalization in this world, and by throwing such an attitude she creates just that.

    Spouses of transpersons are members of the community, end of story. You are one of us; God bless you.

  13. Ethan says:

    Dear Helen,
    You are absolutely a part of our community and are very welcome in the support that you bring to the transgender day of remembrance.
    Let us not forget that it is the support of our loved ones that we need to show the rest of society at large that transgender people are loved, that we are missed, our lost lives are mourned and that such violence against transgender people will neither be tolerated nor left unnoticed.
    Thank you , Helen..from the bottom of my heart.

    Ethan St.Pierre
    Remembering our dead project
    http://www.rememberingourdead.org

  14. helenboyd says:

    Ethan, Thank you. It means a lot to me that someone directly involved with the Remembering Our Dead project should say what you did. I appreciate it.

    Arlene has posted my most recent post on her blog, with her response.

    **
    Nr. 16, helen boyd says:
    I’ll step aside of the mud-slinging and personality assassinations, and only point this out: Arlene, on your Yahoo 360 blog, you wrote “First and foremost it is a crime in and of itself that Gender Variant people anywhere on this earth should have nothing noteworthy as a people besides death to set aside a day for,” and I could not agree more. One of the reasons Betty & I are public – and specifically why I am, as a partner – is to show that Gender Variant people have far more than death to commemorate: we have love. Without partners and family members and children and parents or trans people being visible within the trans community, that point is not so obvious to the outside observer, and it needs to be, as gender variant people are, for the same reasons all people are, worthy of love and family and community.

    A Happy Thanksgiving to you & your readers & their loved ones,
    helen boyd

    **
    23 11 06 – 14:00 , comment on helen boyd
    Nr. 18, Arlene says:
    Thank you Helen, in spite of what others may think you and I are not that far apart in our views. We just come at it from different places. Someday soon I hope there will be room for all of us to exchange views constructively including those said or written out of personal pain, anger or that particular days frustration as is often the case with things I write.. What happened here is something we should all be ashamed of regardless of who is right and who is wrong. Treating each other the way we have here is simply wrong and there is no excuse for it ever.\n\nThank you for your comments. I wish you and Betty and your legion of supporters the very best of everything now and through out this holiday season.
    Sincerely,
    Arlene Starr
    **

    So let’s all move on.

  15. LaSirenaBella says:

    Very nice, Ethan. Hope all is well in Boston.

  16. Beauty says:

    Hi Helen,

    I didn’t know about this going on, but on my own site yesterday I posted about you being one of the people who has inspired me to get out and speak to others about who I am. Just like Jenny Boylan and Donna Rose and others like my friend Colleen.

    You are as much a part of the trans community as anyone I know. You are also very right about allies. It’s the one thing that more Fortune 500 companies are trying to get in their GLBT groups. In a panel I was on an ally spoke on the Out For Work board sponsored by the HRC in DC. She spoke of how she’s an ally and because she is she is in our community the greater community of GLBT issues. She has to come out to her non-GLBT friends quite frequently and tell them she’s not gay, lesbian, bi, or trans. I imagine she too faces discrimination from those who think “she doesn’t belong”. :: rolling eyes ::

    It’s silly how people who are bitter and sit behind keyboards think their words don’t hurt or care that they can. I’m sorry that you had to go through that and I’m sorry I wasn’t there to be on of your “minions” or “groupies” because I stand strong on my belief in you, Betty, the board of legionnaires, and for what both you and Betty have done for spouses, family, and TG’d people like me.

    Again, I’m sorry I didn’t get here in time, but boy.. how could you have any more of an endorsement than from Ethan that what you’re doing is right for all of us. So I don’t mind coming in after that endorsement to turn off some of the last lights on this fracas. (I looked that last word up after I used it.. wow! it fits! :D)

  17. Shirene says:

    This was my reply, before reading the rest of the responses, including Arlene’s.

    Who the Hell is Arlene Starr? “Is nothing sacred” whose side can she possibly be on when she implies you don’t have the right to morn the dead? And partners are not in the community? Talk about us not being able to win, because it took me a couple of days to get over it when I was first informed, “you’re in the GLBT community now too” because I was not expecting this and was taken aback. Of course (Olivia) was right and now that we have made our own journey to be comfortable with this fact, then Arlene comes along and tells us “no, you’re not”. But then, I’m sure she has no experience with mixed messages. Her close-mindedness proves you know a lot more about trans than she does. And of course you and I are trans in a way, working hard to transition from vanilla heterosexuality to becoming a new type of lesbian partners. I think Helen is more trans, living her life so out, making this the passion of her life, than a stealth crossdresser who doesn’t come out to anyone, even themselves.

Leave a Reply