Wedding!

An old friend I went to high school with got married in NYC today, and he posted this awesome photo of him & his groom. It made me smile every time it came across my Facebook feed, so I thought I’d share it withall of you.

Congratulations, Dominic & Neil!

 

DC Mayor Announces Trans Health Policy

via the DC city blog:

Mayor Gray Announces Steps to Protect GLBT Community from Discrimination in Health Care

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, the District of Columbia advanced the rights of the city’s transgender community by prohibiting discrimination in health insurance based on gender identity and expression. Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking (DISB) is issuing a bulletin to District health insurance companies addressing the application of anti-discrimination provisions in the insurance code, including recognizing gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder, as a recognized medical condition.

“Last March, the District began the process of removing exclusions in health insurance on the basis of gender identity or expression. Through the hard work of my Office of GLBT Affairs and a multi-agency working group lead by my Chief of Staff, Chris Murphy, we have today taken the necessary steps to completely eliminate these exclusions,” said Mayor Gray.  “Today, the District takes a major step towards leveling the playing field for individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria. These residents should not have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for medically necessary treatment when those without gender dysphoria do not. Today’s actions bring us closer to being One City that values and protects the health of all of our residents.” 

This action follows DISB’s March 15, 2013 bulletin notifying health insurers to remove language that discriminated on the basis of gender identity and expression from their policies and permit those with gender dysphoria to obtain medically necessary benefits. Today’s action goes one step further in protecting this community’s health insurance rights by affirming that gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition and thereby treatment, including gender reassignment surgeries, is a covered benefit. To view the full bulletin, click here: http://disb.dc.gov/publication/disb-bulletin-13-ib-01-3013-revised-prohibition-discrimination-health-insurance-based

“This action places the District at the forefront of advancing the rights of transgender individuals,” Mayor Gray said. “It also fully implements the District’s Human Rights Act by incorporating gender identity and expression as protected classes in the District’s health insurance laws.” Continue reading “DC Mayor Announces Trans Health Policy”

Ugandan Paper Publishes List, Names Gays

Uganda outlaws homosexuality, and a Ugandan newspaper publishes a list of gay people.

A list.

When this happened in 2010, gay activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death.

Red Pepper’s move is similar to that of a now defunct paper called Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. music magazine), which published a list of Uganda’s “Top 100 Homos” in 2010. It was a call to action: “Hang Them” read the issue’s cover. About three months later, Ugandan activist David Kato who was among the paper’s Top 100, was bludgeoned to death. In response, Rolling Stone publisher Giles Muhame said, “This looks like any other crime. I have no regrets about the story. We were just exposing people who were doing wrong.”

I can’t even begin to imagine the fear and determination in the hearts and minds of the people in that list today, and their families, and friends.

The US should start accepting anyone who wants to leave RIGHT NOW.

Trans as Adjective (really)

Really, a recent NPR music segment asked people to describe their life in 6 songs, and one of the people whose stories and choices they featured happens to be trans.

I love that there’s no other commentary besides the reflection on the part of the trans person who wrote, about the Beatles’ “Within You Without You” that “growing up transgender, it made me question my perception of reality (at age 12). And introduced me to Indian music.”

And that’s it, the only mention, with a lovely photo of her.

Journalists, this is how you do it, in case you’re wondering. A person’s trans identity should only be mentioned if it’s relevant to the trans person.

Trans*Literate Conference – NYC, 3/29 & 30

I’m going to be speaking and running a panel on family and partners of trans people at the Trans*Literate Conference that will take place in NY on March 29th & 30th. It’s a trans symposium out of Hunter College, and this year’s keynote will be Dylan Scholinski, which to me means: yay, I get to hang out with Dylan! He’s awesome.

But otherwise it sounds like there will be a lot of great workshops for social workers, therapists, and other people who work with trans people and their families. According to the website,

the Trans*Literate symposium will educate, inform, and expand dialogue on the topic of working clinically with the transgender communities and understanding transgender experienced through psychoanalytic theory. Mental health clinicians are invited to submit proposals for workshops, papers, and presentations on the topic of how issues related to trans* experience has informed complicated, and illuminated their work in individual, group, and family clinical practice.

Seems like it’s going to be very, very useful to mental health practitioners. You DO have to register to attend (although some small # of walk-ins will be welcome).

But… Drag Queens.

The other day I posted and commented on an article about the way language is used in the LGBTQ+ communities, specifically about the way gay men often insist that “tranny” is not a slur even though they would never be called one.

That is, by the way, my rule of thumb, and a good one for allies to remember: if it’s something someone would say to you before threatening you, you get to use it. If it isn’t, you don’t.

But the article talked about how drag queens return to being members of the gay male community when they get out of their femme gear, and a friend of mine protested, saying:

Great article, but I don’t really agree with this line: “When drag queens remove the trappings of their dramatized personas, they become once again a part of the gay rights movement and leave real transgender people to suffer the consequences.” Drag queens have always been a part of the gay right’s movement–they led at the Stonewall riots, and they’ve taught us to fight with our wits. I’m not denying that the language used on Ru-Paul’s drag race isn’t harmful to the T-community, but let’s not denigrate the important role that the queens have played in gay civil rights either.

And he is entirely right. Drag queens had a significant part in taking crossdressing laws off the books, which was an important step in decriminalizing homosexuality and of course transness itself. They were at Stonewall, and at Compton’s.

But here’s the thing: some drag queens identify as trans themselves. Others don’t. RuPaul, for instance, doesn’t, and yet he keeps speaking up about how tranny isn’t derogatory or a slur.

Continue reading “But… Drag Queens.”

Whose Community Can Say What?

I loved this article – which is a trans allied one, not the usual “gays don’t need trans people” bullshit that used to get spouted regularly (and probalby still does, I just stopped reading them).

This is the part I liked the most:

Just last week, actress Gabourey Sidibe repeatedly used the slur “tranny” while on Arsenio Hall’s show. Sidibe, an outspoken supporter of gay rights, was stunned to find out that the slur was considered offensive, and she quickly apologized for her error.

But then, something interesting happened. Stories published on several media forums, including the Advocate Magazine online and Instinct Magazine online, posed the question of whether we are being too sensitive about a word that is commonly used in the gay community.

Numerous gay men and women then weighed in on whether the trans slur was, in fact, a slur. A large percentage of the commenters agreed that the media and the gay community were being too harsh on the popular TV actress. One commenter even said it could not be considered a negative term if popular shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race used the term in a comedic and even an affectionate way.

These comments are evidence that even the gay community does not understand and are often the cause of discrimination against transgender people. In case you weren’t aware, the drag queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race are the reason people like Sidibe are clueless about trans slurs. Those drag queens are gay men who continually abuse a term that damages trans people. Just like “that’s so gay” is often meant to be humorous, comically calling someone a “tranny” may garner a few laughs, but it unintentionally demeans a group of people.

When drag queens remove the trappings of their dramatized personas, they become once again a part of the gay rights movement and leave real transgender people to suffer the consequences.

Although the discrimination against trans people by the gay community is unintentional, it is the reason the “T” should be removed from the LGBT. Gay men often use the slur because they believe it’s a part of their collective community vocabulary. Just as we take liberties by using our own gay slurs as we chose, we mistakenly use the slurs aimed at trans people and whose objections are brushed off as political sensitivity.

And it’s good to see. As many of you know, or may have noticed, I stopped using “the T word” quite a long time ago exactly because it is, too often, a word assumed to be okay within the LGBTQ+ as a whole. But it’s not. The rule – that you should only use a word if it’s something you might hear from someone threatening you – is a good one. So I stopped, despite how much the transverse is my own, and despite being a member of the trans community. And believe me, I am assumed to be trans way more often than most of the cis gay men out there who use it.

Today: Trans* 101 @ SNC

Sweet Couple

I just read this lovely article about Debbie & Brian McCloskey – “He Wears a Dress, She’s Fine with That” out of LA Weekly. Made me almost sentimental about when we came out as that kind of couple, and it makes me happy to see other partners who get it. (Though she does seem to have read the *wrong* book by the wife of a CD!)

“It wouldn’t matter what you wore. You could wear a cheese costume every day, and what difference does it make? It doesn’t change who he is. And if wearing a cheese costume makes him as happy as wearing this dress does, I’m not gonna stand in his way and demand that he conform to some arbitrary standard.”

Exactly. I wish them both every happiness.

Trans Inclusive Feminist Article

Well done, Tina Vazquez. Well done, Bitch Media.

It has been said that feminism has failed the transgender community. It’s hard to disagree. Trans women have been weathering a storm of hate and abuse in the name of feminism for decades now and for the most part, cisgender feminists have failed to speak out about it or push against it.


Although some of us have, of course.
& Some of us have been here for quite a long while.

Littleton Undone

A Texas court handed down a ruling on the Araguz case the other day that basically undid the travesty of the Littleton case from back in 1999, so it’s exciting that this court decided Nikki Araguz was in fact a woman and that she was legally, heterosexually married to her husband at the time of his death.

The appeals court said more expert testimony on this issue is needed as the only such testimony presented was an affidavit by one of Nikki Araguz’s doctors, who wrote that she was medically and psychologically female as a result of her compliance with the standards of care adopted by the World Professional Association of Transgender Health.

The three-judge panel also wrote that changes made in 2009 to the Texas Family Code that allowed transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license legislatively overruled a previous court decision that had been used as legal precedent in such cases.

Congratulations, Nikki!

Mom

So today’s my mom’s 84th birthday. I’m so happy she is still with us because there have been some real health concerns the past few years, moreso since my dad died.

& I’ve decided, because she has often reminded me that I have always had great taste in friends, that I want to start a new tradition: to thank the people who have really been amazingly good to me, or for me, in the year past.

See the thing is I really had a spell there where I realized having good friends is not something I could take for granted. That is, my good taste, or my great luck, in choosing good friends took a wild vacation and left me in the lurch. I got hurt badly, and that has been such a rare occurrence in my life that on top of being hurtful it was disorienting and disquieting in a way I’m only now coming back from.

More gratitude is often a good answer to self pity, I’ve found, so let me say thank you to some people for being kind beyond measure, or sweet in some specific way, or who have just been rock solid in the last year or so and reminded me that faith in people may sometimes be misplaced but only in the specifics – not in principle.

All of my Sarahs, Celia, Jen, my sisters, my brother in law Ian, Mary, Erica, Darya, Lynne, Quince, Coby, Maurice, and Alex. My wife, of course, and my mom, with whom I’ve always had an amazing friendship, a particularly cool bond that only the youngest of a very large family gets, I think. I’m sure I forgot someone or many someones, and if I did, I’m sorry.

There’s this saying: let life bring me people I can help. Well, these are the people who got handed my mess of a self and who saw they could, and did.

More on Dunn, & Racism, & Injustice

I posted the news of the verdict on Facebook and wound up writing about it off & on all night. As I explained to a friend, sometimes a particular case just reminds you of how lamentable a loss of life can be, & this one is that, for me. His poor parents.

So despite the fact that the jury hung on the top charge not because anyone thought he was totally innocent but more because some wanted first degree and others, manslaughter, I still see a travesty here. This young man is dead because this guy thought shooting into a car full of teenagers was a legitimate response to someone’s music being too loud.

I just keep thinking that there should be some addition of guilt because this situation never had to happen at all. It’s different from winding up in a situation where you feel threatened. He could have just left them alone. Just so much fucking privilege on his part. I’m glad he’s doing time but it’s so, so sad that he wasn’t actually convicted of killing that man. It’s just such a painful reminder that young black men’s lives are always on the line. He was in a car listening to music with his friends, you know? & He died because someone else decided that was unacceptable. I understand there are always legal issues but you know, sometimes there just shouldn’t be, and absolute disregard for others’ right to LIVE should be accounted for. Just sad tonight that white people persist in seeing young brothers as scary. & that we live in a culture that validates that fear instead of insisting on an end to this racist bullshit.

I’m not blaming the jury. As white people we really have to start owning this shit. Quit grasping your bag tighter, and locking your car doors when you see a black person, and all of the rest of this crap that we do, all the time, because we don’t examine our privilege. And so racism persists, and an environment where young black men are always suspect, for no reason other than that we suspect them, all the time, no matter what they’re doing.

& It tires me in a bone-deep kind of way, of knowing I’m guilty of it as well as the next person. But we can’t keep pretending that this atmosphere isn’t rancid, that it criminalizes some people no matter what. I hate it, & just wanted to renew my commitment to not shutting the hell up about skin privilege and the way it creates an unjust environment. I can’t afford to think of myself as innocent because when I do, someone else becomes guilty for no fucking reason at all. We have to do more to stop the criminalization of young black men. Whatever we can, whenever we can.

Um, Wow. Pat Robertson Says Love Your Transgender Child.

PlanetTransgender has transcribed some of his comments:

“I don’t think if somebody is a true transgender, we should condemn them. I mean, that’s just the way it is.”

and

“The guy’s 30 years old. I mean, he’s an adult. So, what can you do except love him. Alright,” Robertson added.

I hope Christian parents listen.

(h/t to Naomi, who blogs here.)

Dunn Verdict

Holy crap, you have got to be kidding me.

Some days I really do want to believe we might make progress on racism in the US. Not today, apparently.

UnValentine: Another Note

Another note/update from the partner who was excluded from a women’s-only dance yesterday:

UPDATE: It’s been quite an emotional roller coaster. I want to make a clarification: This is a private group of women holding a fundraiser. It is NOT a PFLAG group. PFLAG, itself is trans-inclusive and trans-friendly. In addition, trans-women are welcomed at the dance. (Not sure about people who don’t identify as either binary but that’s a different issue.)

I was really trying to express how I felt as a partner who has lost this part of her community. It just hurts.

I understand that we no longer belong as a couple in a women’s-only space. In the meantime, if this helped spur a little more discussion, I’m glad.

I love my partner fiercely. He’s very brave and loving human being and I’m lucky to have him by my side.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

So this isn’t PFLAG’s problem, but it’s still our community’s problem, in my opinion. In reading over the comments – I know, I know, I’m not supposed to do that – over at AmericaBlog where John Aravosis wrote about it, the one thing I’m struck by is how quickly this became about the trans guy’s identity and why he would want to go to a women’s only dance.

And you know, that’s the whole problem, isn’t it? Why should someone’s transition negate the partner’s identity as a lesbian? The whole idea that they wouldn’t “look like” a lesbian couple is infuriating – the same argument was made against butch/femme couples back in the day.

Here’s the thing: as a community, could we maybe start to acknowledge that people transition, and that they have histories, and identities, and life experiences, all of which may not tidily map onto our models of “straight” and “gay”? Can we allow trans couples to decide how to negotiate their own identities as individuals and couples instead of everyone else telling us where we belong? Can a trans guy honor his own past and his relationship’s past without other trans men telling him he’s sold out his gender and trans people everywhere? Are lesbians really not used to guys transitioning yet?

A little compassion would be awesome from groups who are now and who have been, historically, excluded discreetly and explicitly, kindly and hatefully.

Trans partners are often a wrench in the homo/hetero works, but sometimes we get eaten by the gears.

Trans Partner’s UnValentine

A lesbian-identified partner of a recently transitioned trans guy thought they were going to a PFLAG dance in their local community. They politely asked whether or not they would be welcome and they were told NO. (Also, to clarify, I am pretty sure that PFLAG is generally inclusive of trans people & their partners despite sexual orientation or gender identity, but I don’t know for sure. This local is an exception, so far as I know/can tell.)

She writes: Because while we can pass for a straight couple, we really aren’t that. I’m not so sure how many places a transgender dude and a lesbian could feel safe, at the least and like they’re at home with their community, at best. But that’s not even the point.

& This is the problem for partners: we don’t belong anywhere sometimes. I remember feeling too het for queer spaces, too queer for het ones. We end up saying things like: My wife is a lesbian but I’m not. I’m a lesbian but my husband isn’t. But like so many other partners I’ve known over the years, she has a profound respect for the intention and the space she’s just been told she no longer belongs in:

I don’t want to yell at these women. I’m not even mad at them. I know they’ve probably been through all the heartache I have and a lot more, feeling rejected, threatened, and  frightened, for being who they were. I grew up in a homophobic world, too. 
 
They said that us being there together would make women feel uncomfortable. So by being who we were, we were hurting them. It feels too familiar. How many times have we heard straight men saying they didn’t want gay men in the locker room because it made them feel icky? Since when is someone’s discomfort with someone different a reason for excluding them? I doubt they would feel physically threatened by A. 
 
But listen: I want all those women to have a safe place. I really do. They’re my sisters. And to think that our mere presence would harm them? Ouch. When your family pushes you out the door and says, sorry: we don’t want you, and your mere presence sickens us, that feels pretty terrible. 
 
I guess I was hoping that maybe, just maybe this family would open the doors just a little wider to let us in and celebrate together.

Not this time.

So happy Valentine’s Day to us, all of us trans partners out there whose existences are based on past and present identities that don’t always jive with the hetero/homo binary but don’t quite work in the queer/feminist ones, either. We rock all those liminal spaces, the queer places between genders, between orientations; we bring histories that confuse other people and don’t get to be seen for who we are most of the time. But we do all that for love, right? So happy Valentine’s Day to us.

FB’s New Gender Options

As you probably know by now, Facebook introduced new gender options that have taken us way, way past the binary. It’s really great. There is now Male/Female/Custom in a drop down menu, and once you choose Custom, you have an amazing selection to choose from. Being me, I wanted something like “all” or “none” or “other”, and the only one of those available is “other”. “Gender neutral” is missing, too, but still, it’s a pretty remarkable list even if you can’t actually just come up with your own. List courtesy of Slate.

Apparently they are also open to suggestions: PFLAG says: “if you have suggestions of others to add to the list, please email them to our Director of Communications, Liz Owen, at lowen@pflag.org.” My friend Dylan actually got a response to an email, so it really seems like they are.

Also: doesn’t it just feel so goddamn liberating to get to self-define? You can choose more than one, too. I assume for some folks this is terrifying or weird or freaky or whatever, but seeing these changes start to happen, is for me, like taking a deep breath at long last.

  • Agender
  • Androgyne
  • Androgynous
  • Bigender
  • Cis
  • Cisgender
  • Cis Female
  • Cis Male
  • Cis Man
  • Cis Woman
  • Cisgender Female
  • Cisgender Male
  • Cisgender Man
  • Cisgender Woman
  • Female to Male
  • FTM
  • Gender Fluid
  • Gender Nonconforming
  • Gender Questioning
  • Gender Variant
  • Genderqueer
  • Intersex
  • Male to Female
  • MTF
  • Neither
  • Neutrois
  • Non-binary
  • Other
  • Pangender
  • Trans
  • Trans*
  • Trans Female
  • Trans* Female
  • Trans Male
  • Trans* Male
  • Trans Man
  • Trans* Man
  • Trans Person
  • Trans* Person
  • Trans Woman
  • Trans* Woman
  • Transfeminine
  • Transgender
  • Transgender Female
  • Transgender Male
  • Transgender Man
  • Transgender Person
  • Transgender Woman
  • Transmasculine
  • Transsexual
  • Transsexual Female
  • Transsexual Male
  • Transsexual Man
  • Transsexual Person
  • Transsexual Woman
  • Two-Spirit

Gender Neutral Teen

Safe Space Radio has a new series on LGBTQ teenagers in Maine which began with this first installment aired originally this past Monday, Feb 10th at 1pm. It’s with a teenager who identifies as gender neutral.

From SSR: The series, which is supported by the Equity Fund, is taking a look at how the culture in high schools is, or is not, changing one year after the passage of marriage equality in Maine.  With the recent Maine Supreme Court ruling protecting the right of trans youth in Maine to use the bathroom of their gender, there is much cause for hope.  But it remains true that LGBTQ teens are at high risk for bullying, rejection by their families and suicidality.  Over the span of 6-8 weeks, they are interviewing teenagers about what life is really like for them, what it has been like to come out at home and at school, and whether they experience less of a sense of isolation, or stigma now than in years previously.   The interviews are poignant, courageous, touching and even inspiring.

Very cool stuff. Give it a listen, especially if you’re not a teenager and/or don’t really understand “this whole genderqueer thing”.

I also love that there’s a mention of how there’s always been people who identified this way, but there hasn’t quite been a movement until now: yes, we’ve been here, and it’s a relief to see a movement start to happen. Some days I wish I could go back to being 19 so I could have a name for my experience of my gender that people understood, but better late than never, I suppose. (Genderqueer would have been my choice back then, I’m pretty sure. Now, gender fluid or gender variant or gender neutral is more accurate.)