“Calm Down or Suck It Up.”

Here’s a really great piece on bathrooms, Title VII and Title IX, and the “Dear Colleague” letter the DOE published. It explains clearly what the issues are, such as:

So is the Obama administration making a rule that trans people must be permitted to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, or is it interpreting an existing rule?

With respect to Title IX, the DOE issued a “Dear Colleague” letter—which it says is simply a guidance document, not a new rule. The regulations permitting separate bathrooms for boys and girls were unclear about where trans students fit, and the administration decided to let them decide for themselves based on their gender identity.

and they answer other questions such as:

  • What is Title VII?
  • What is Title IX?
  • But why do they think “sex” includes gender identity?
  • But didn’t these agencies just decide that “sex” in Title VII and Title IX includes gender identity? Can they do that? Isn’t that something Congress should do?

But it’s the advice at the end that made me laugh:

You’re now well-equipped to argue, with the law as your weapon, that the Obama administration did a good and legal thing when it decided to recognize the dignity of trans students, and you can tell everyone who is gripped by the bathroom panic to either calm down or suck it up.

Indeed.

Eleanor Kramer, 1930 – 2016

mom 1951

We’ll miss you mom.

 

When Winning Feels Like Losing #IllGoWithYou

For a lot of us who are cis and allied to the trans community, and who understand the bathroom argument is nearly over, and that trans people won, it’s easy to forget how much hurt is out there right now: so many outright anti trans bigots, and worse, so many people won over by the “feminist” concern about women and girls’ safety.

It’s easy to dismiss for those of us who know better. The trans people in our lives know, maybe intellectually, that they are about to win this one, especially considering the recent support from the White House.

But in the meantime, there is a lot of hateful rhetoric out there.

It doesn’t seem too bad if you’re not a trans person because so much of it is so, so stupid, or so, so obviously bigoted, but even the smartest, snarkiest, strongest trans people I know are feeling the weight of it.

So check in, if you can. Ask. Let the trans people you know rant if they need to. Do something good for them if you can. Keep arguing with the haters: as people who aren’t trans, we can take it moreso and they shouldn’t always have to do the heavy lifting.

It really does make a difference. And if internet arguments wear you down, you can try coming up with one line – “I am more than happy to share a bathroom with a trans person” – and just type it and go. The trans people reading will see it and see that not everyone is an asshole, it doesn’t affirm only gender-conforming trans people, and it doesn’t get lost in the weeds of the arguments. It just affirms that you, one person, understand that trans people need to pee and you know there is no threat in that for any reason whatsoever.

Another thing to do is make sure is to just post a quick link to #IllGoWithYou as a show of support.

Trans readers: stay strong. Take a break from social media. Do good things for yourself, whatever they are. & Try to remind yourself that the majority of people are on your side. We are.

What You Can’t Know

I don’t know how to do this. I keep reminding myself that nobody does but I have decisions to make: when to go home, for starters. My 47th birthday is Friday; my great niece isn’t born yet. Everyone wants to know when, Dr. Perl said, but no one can tell you that. So how long do you stay in a room watching her snore, oblivious to your presence? How long is dutiful, how long to repay her for your own life? I put her folded laundry away, wash my own socks and underwear in the sink.

I read.
I try to decide.
I talk to my wife about what to do.
I try to concoct a plan to get my hair dyed blue.
I respond to emails from students: yes, you can have an extension on your paper.

Suddenly there are 24 hundred hours in the day, all of them weighing too heavily.

It’s not when I’ve done what’s right. It’s not even when I’ve done what’s right by me, or for her. It’s more – how do I wait? More, how do I do this with grace? It’s more: could I ever be okay with leaving knowing I might not see her again? It’s knowing I will most likely get the call once I’m back in Wisconsin, based on what odds there are.

It will never feel right to go now, no matter when now is. There is no way to be there when she chooses to slip away. I may just be washing my hands, or typing this thing.

There are no guarantees of anything at all but this forward-moving, inexorable time, all the time, and the living going on living and the dying going on dying. Death is a giant fuck you to control freaks like me.

There is no easy way to do this. There is a way to do this, but it’s wrong. Every way sucks. I am offended by death for being so much, so terrible, but also nothing more than the passage from one minute to the next. I told people after my father’s death that the colors of the world changed. Now, I worry they will blanch, fade, disappear altogether. There is still no way to imagine a world without him in it and yet here I am, in this unimaginable world. It is spring in New York. It is spring in Wisconsin. Somewhere in the light of my mom’s eyes it is still the spring of her own life. Somewhere in there she has just met my father. Somewhere in there they have just conceived me; somewhere in there she is watching them fold the flag in tribute to his service to his country.

And that’s what goes: another link in the long chain of human memory, another lifetime further away from the first person who heard recorded sound or who walked across the Brooklyn Bridge or rode a train or heard a violin played the very first time, a not endless but exhaustively long line of links that lead to the start of things.

There is no way to do this. I’ll do this, with grace or inelegantly, with composure or keening or denial. Joe Heller once said he felt better about dying once he realized people dumber than him had done it. The same is true for mourning, I guess.

I still don’t know when to go or how to go; I still don’t know how to do this.

Here we go.

To Jimmy

That day when you sat, looking tired and wan yet tanned by the sun, on that incline of lawn that sloped up to your house next to mine.

You told me you were sick.

You told me you got sick from the needles you used to do the drug you learned to do in the Army, a drug that let you escape those horrors, one doorway into hell replaced by an addictive other.

You told me in your way that you’d had some good life, the backyard parties of our families, our shared love of beach & brine & sun & sand. I didn’t know you were dying.

Before you died you re-painted your mother’s house and you painted JF high on the chimney I could see out my bedroom window. The other thing I could see was that beautiful pin oak, which was one of the only big trees to survive Sandy. I thought of you all the time when I lived there. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know when you died; just that one day you were there and then you weren’t, and no one told me about your wake or your funeral. They were sparing me something, I think, or maybe there was nothing for you. That’s how it was sometimes then.

Your mom, you know, became a powerhouse – not that she ever wasn’t – but for your sake she started the first support groups for families; she worked to dispel the myths; she demanded answers, research.

She laughed one day so hard in my family’s kitchen when she heard the lyrics

and I think that god’s got a sick sense of humor

when I die I expect to find him laughing

So hard she laughed, too hard maybe. She laughed like she wasn’t a good Irish Catholic lady for a minute. But she was, wasn’t she? So much faith, endless faith she had in the beauty of a laugh or a night with friends and other small charms this sick world offers, and all of that faith despite all of the misery she survived. She was my mother’s best friend. My mom still misses her.

She never met your brother’s child, her first and only grandkid. Your brother did come around, my mom tells me, eventually, to take care of your kid sister after your mom died.

We always felt a little guilty next door. We all lived, flourished in our ways, despite arrests and never enough money and our own invisible family traumas. Somehow we all made it, despite everything. Your eldest brother – that brother, who denied your mother the right of ever knowing her only grandchild – and your kid sister are all of you now.

Today is like that day I saw you – blue skies and a late spring sun, dandelions in grass that can’t grow fast enough.

I’ll be teaching students born years after you died about the disease that killed you tomorrow if I can manage. If I can I’ll tell them about you, but probably I’ll just put up a link so they can read this if they want to. I want them to know about your beat-up jeans and the blade of grass in your hand and in your mouth, your short auburn curls full on your young head. You were younger than I am now, so much younger. You were a picture then, and still are in my head, a young man who never asked why me but only longed, perhaps, for another day in the sun, another cold one, another clam on the half shell.

Just so you know, Jimmy, someone who owned your house finally painted over your initials, and since I noticed I’ve taken to writing or carving your JF where I can. You’re never forgotten, not while I live at least, and I think, I hope, that you’d appreciate that one of us Kramers breaks the law on your behalf as often as she can. I think that might make you laugh, and here I am now, laughing on your behalf but crying for you too.

You would have been 60 this year.  Godspeed and say hi to your mom.

b. May 17, 1956

d. August 14, 1989