Category: trans

What Partners Think

Posted by – October 29, 2014

Here are a few new (to me) resources for partners:

One blog post by a trans person who was happily surprised by a relationship with a cis person, and who goes on to interview a few partners on their experience of being partnered to someone trans:

Neither Pity Nor a Fetish

And otherwise, there’s the mypartneristrans reddit.

In the first set, there’s a list of the “allowable” types of partners – “boxes”:


1. Straight cis man is with a straight trans woman because she ‘probably’ still has a penis and, therefore, ‘he’s probably actually gay’.
2. Straight cis man is with a straight trans woman AND HE IS DECEIVED.
3. Straight cis woman stays with her transitioning partner, is to be pitied.
4. Straight cis woman is with a straight trans man AND WHERE IS THE PENIS, WE MUST ASK WHERE THE PENIS IS, CAN YOU FIND IT FOR US?
5. Gay cis woman is with a straight trans man, and that’s okay, because we all knew that ‘he’ was actually a lesbian woman all along.

And I wonder where these come from. When I was coming up, only #s 2, 3, & 5 existed, and I didn’t fit into any of them very well either, unless you see me as the “to be pitied” type, which I don’t.

Always useful to see/hear more partners speak up.

HB in Pittsburgh

Posted by – October 26, 2014

Here’s a live podcast/radio show I did with Lynn Cullen while in Pittsburgh on Friday. She had just read the NYT article on trans people in women’s colleges, so I was explaining some of the language, for starters. But I found her description at YouTube cool, too:

Helen Boyd, author of “My Husband Betty” and gender studies lecturer extraordinaire for Lawrence University joins Lynn to discuss gender and trans issues. What began as a search for community has lend her to a path as a trans ally. Hopefully the world will follow her example.

Mind you, I hadn’t actually read the article before this, so I was only going on the snippets she read me.

“Trans Inside”

Posted by – October 21, 2014

Oh, allies, just STOP it: you don’t feel trans inside.

What you feel is a new awareness of the complexities of your own gender – that you are not 100% feminine, or masculine, or whatever.

& It really is great to try to relate to trans people – we do, all of us, have a pretty strong sense of our own genders if we allow ourselves to recognize it – but you do not feel “trans inside.”

I really do love that more & more people are getting hip to trans people, but it’s really painful to brace myself for all the dumb shit they’re going to say in the process.

Trust me: I’ve said all the dumb shit. But really, don’t own someone else’s oppression, okay?

& Right now, proto trans allies, learn how to apologize, and no buts, no explanations, no anything. Just “wow did I fuck that up. I’m so sorry.”

Next?

It’s Not About Her Ex: A Trans Partner’s Story

Posted by – October 16, 2014

My friend M. is a woman who was assaulted by her ex. Her ex happens to be a woman, too, of trans history. When the news of what had happened broke, her story was drowned out by all of the people who only wanted to use their story as an ideological argument. They took the focus from the personal, intimate, terrifying crime that happened and put it instead on the identity of the person who was guilty of committing it.

Those of us who are partnered to trans people are used to this, to some degree. The trans person takes up all the space; they’re the ones people are interested in, who people go out of their way to validate or compliment or criticize. We disappear.

My friend needed to press charges, to see justice of some kind, to let her children know that they should never let a lover treat them like this no matter who the person is or the “reason” for it. Instead, reports about the crime disappeared her, the victim, and so the very tiniest thing I could do to help was give her a platform to tell her story.

I am embarrassed and ashamed that my fellow feminists and others have made this about everyone but the person it should have been about, and who effectively forced by friend to speak up as a trans ally instead of being able to focus on her own healing.

So here’s what she had to say:

TO all of the people who deny the personhood and womanhood of trans women,

I am the woman who was victimized by my former spouse. She recently pled guilty to two misdemeanors for domestic violence. The news about her crime has been commented on by people for whom her trans status and her genitals seem to be of utmost importance, and who want to use my ex as a way to somehow “prove” that she’s really a man and in turn that her bad behavior somehow means that all trans women are “really” men (and that all men are, in turn, incorrigibly violent and likely to rape).

My own voice has been drowned out in all this, so I wanted to say a few words.

You are so focused on history and the genitals of the person who violated me. It’s literally the loudest conversation out there, drowning out the actual victim’s story – MY STORY. It is also, GROSSLY missing the point. I’m calling you a “hate group” because your anger regarding the violence against women perpetrated by men has so taken over your brain that your hairtrigger hatred automatically pounces on ANY OPPORTUNITY to denounce trans women as men, and to denounce men for how horrible they are.

My case is not about the genitals of my wife. Her chromosomal structure and genital configuration and that she was assigned male at birth have got NOTHING TO DO with the sexual violation of my body. Why does it matter if she used her penis or even has one? WHO CARES?? You want so badly to create the “all men/penises are evil” platform, that you can’t see the anguish your comments cause me, the victim, and other victims of sexual abuse.

The CRIME here was not her gender configuration. What if she had XX chromosomes or a vagina? What if she had used a carrot? A bamboo plant? A fist, a dildo, or ANY OTHER BODY PART OR OBJECT? The CRIME was the sexual violation of my body by someone I loved, who was under the influence of alcohol. THAT should be the focus of this conversation, not the instrument used.

I’ve always supported my wife’s transition. I didn’t know her as a man for long, but it didn’t matter to me because I loved who she was and didn’t mind what form her body took: I knew that I would love her body forever. She was a gentle, sweet, vulnerable person. It’s one of the things I loved about her. She was the most considerate intimate partner I had ever had. She was a far cry from my previous marriage, where a cisgender male did indeed commit all the crimes you would attribute to a male abuser. He was all the horrible things without the alcohol.

I loved our intimate relationship. That’s what makes this crime particularly horrifying. It was something I LOVED. Something we BOTH loved. It wasn’t her genitals that caused the crime. Even during the assault, she was saying I was beautiful, over and over. She didn’t even know what she was doing. It was like she wasn’t THERE. She wasn’t angry or saying horrible things. On the contrary. But that was the real mind fuck. When I told her to stop and that we weren’t going to be doing that this time, and that she would regret it in the morning, she just said, “No I won’t”, like ‘don’t be silly’, and she didn’t stop. And she wouldn’t stop. And she kept hurting me. And hurting me. She was someone else then.

Because she would have never done this sober.

I am not saying that her addiction is an excuse, but I can’t ignore the horrible effects of it, either. Ask anyone who has had a DUI or done something else horrible while under the influence. The problem is when that usually wonderful person is dangerous when under the influence. They must be held accountable for their behavior. As far as I’m concerned, her crime began that night with her first drink.

In my case, I am deeply saddened that the LGBT and feminist communities have remained almost entirely silent about my experience. The intersectionality of this event SHOULD BE a conversation, and we should have it BECAUSE it makes us uncomfortable. Much easier to pretend it’s not there. Let’s just stay angry at all the men and people with penises! So much EASIER, RIGHT?

It’s disappointing that some people are unwilling or unable to do the emotional work it requires to process that someone they care about can be capable of something really awful. But from the experienced feminist and LGBT communities, I expected better.

The transphobic radical feminists and other transphobic people will continue to rage over the state of my wife’s genitals, and I can’t stop them. But I hope more intelligent and thoughtful people will rise to the occasion to steer the conversation to what really matters.

I want her to be accountable. I want this to never happen again. I want to forgive her. I want this story to be about forgiveness and redemption. I need it to be. I need others to let it be that, too – to be my story, my trauma, my choice, my agency.

New York Article on Martine Rothblatt

Posted by – September 8, 2014

So this is the cover of this week’s New York magazine about CEO Martine Rothblatt: her in a masculine suit, shoes, even a blue button down, hair pulled back. What’s more interesting is that she was not “butched up” for this shot but defines herself as not binary, and has echoed a lot of genderqueer sentiment:

Hence, the legal division of people into males and females is as wrong as the legal division of people into black and white races.” Instead, she suggested people might better express their gender and sexual identities on a spectrum…

Because of course this woman is someone who was declared male at birth. And the whole “used to be a man” phrase is getting old and even, I’d argue, a little passe. For someone like Rothblatt, who did spend a considerable number of years in the world as a man, that point might be relevant. Relevant why? Because there is such a death of female CEOs and even the ones there are don’t get paid nearly as much as the male ones. From the aricle:

On a recent list of America’s 200 highest-paid CEOs, only 11 were women, and their median pay was $1.6 million less than their male peers.

So yes, there’s even income inequality at the very highest levels of pay. She is also still married to her wife of 33 years who stayed with her through transition and describes herself as “Martine-sexual” (which sounds amazingly familiar, as I used “bettysexual” forever & ever). Here’s a bit I found amazing, and it’s kind of tossed off in the telling of the story of how Rothblatt came to create her company:

Raising money from her friends was easy. Martine’s transgendered status may even have been an asset, for it burnished her status as self-made, a pioneer.

And I just LOVE that, the idea (finally!) that trans is perhaps an ASSET, that it implies an individual’s ability not just to be self-made, but to be determined. Overall, interesting article about a highly eccentric person – eccentric because she’s rich, natch – and some passing mention of cyborgs and AI and the robot she made of her wife.

Andrew Cray – Sad News

Posted by – August 29, 2014

andrew crayfrom NCTE:

On Thursday, August 28, 2014, Andrew Cray, a transgender and LGBT health policy expert and former NCTE legal fellow, passed away. Andrew was among the LGBT movement’s most effective advocates behind the fights to end transgender insurance exclusions in several states. His selfless contributions at organizations like the Center for American Progress, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the National LGBT Health Coalition put the LGBT health policy agenda on a course for rapid change. Working alongside Andrew was only made brighter by his optimism and kind-heartedness. All of us at the National Center for Transgender Equality celebrate Andrew, his work, and his generous commitment in the service of LGBT people across the country.

A celebration of Andrew Cray’s life will be held on Saturday, August 30th, 2014 at St. Thomas Church, 1772 Church St., NW, Washington, DC. Services will begin at 1:00 PM to be followed by a repast. All are invited to join the celebration and to bring photos of Andrew to the service.

Funny.

Posted by – August 24, 2014

Well it made me laugh.
What’s funnier is that I’ve seen people do this and often they don’t even realize they are.
Found here.

Beaties Can Get Divorced

Posted by – August 14, 2014

It’s good news to hear that Thomas Beatie can get legally divorced from his wife – why? Because a previous court decided that in Arizona, where he’s trying to get divorce & where same sex marriage is not recognized, his marriage wasn’t a legal marriage due to his gender – and specifically, due to the fact that he was capable of giving birth, which he did three times.

This is good news for trans people – his gender markers were changed in his home state in HI & are now recognized as male in AZ – but it’s also good for feminists who are concerned that the ability to give birth could have crept into the definition of female.

So, yes. Maybe not good news for them, but as a result of a legal divorce, Beatie will also, I’d imagine, may have to pay court-ordered child support and/or alimony, which is another good reason that their marriage was recognized as legal. Without that legal status, they couldn’t get divorced, and without divorce, no court could require child support.

From what I read previously, it was important to him to see this ruling happen. Good for him, good for us, good for the children of trans marriages.

Kate Bornstein in Remission

Posted by – August 13, 2014

I got the good news today.

Yay, Kate! What a relief. What a wonderful, wonderful thing.

WI Unites for Marriage

Posted by – August 7, 2014



Sign the pledge
if you think same sex couples deserve marriage in Wisconsin.

Find out more about this campaign from Our Lives and the Wisconsin Gazette. Keep up via FB or Twitter.

Serano Clarifies: That New Yorker Article

Posted by – August 5, 2014

I have been accused, in the past, of being a ‘handmaiden’ to trans politics (really) or of being biased.

What I am a handmaiden to is representing both sides of an argument with respect; discovering where and when someone is theorizing a person’s sexuality as if their humanity were not important, and in underlining any attempt to fetishize, pathologize, or other the complaints made by people when they are being presented in belittling, dehumanizing ways.

That’s what I didn’t like about that New Yorker article. It took a lot of ideas – ideas that aren’t wholly without merit, I might add – and presented them as if the people who object to them are just a bunch of angry nutjobs.

Julia Serano wrote an open letter about the article, in which she said:

But what really bothers me is that your mainstream readers (most of whom have little-to-no prior knowledge about radical feminism or transgender activism) will most likely not see through the article’s journalistic-ish veneer, and will assume that it represents an “objective” and “unbiased” presentation of the situation. And they will assume that transgender activists are mean people and completely out of control, because they have not been offered any evidence to suggest otherwise. And the insinuations that Goldberg makes throughout her article — that trans people act irrationally, are sexually deviant, and potentially dangerous — will seem to have “truthiness” to your readers, because the media has been propagating these very stereotypes of us for almost half a century. And when your readers do eventually meet a real-life trans person, perhaps they will misgender them, or dismiss them as a “pervert,” and justify those acts by referencing a New Yorker article they once read.

As I’ve said before and as I will say many times again, people do not even realize the depth of their own transphobic views. They don’t realize that these definitional framings of gender are both false and so, so, so not objective. I have had arguments with myself and other deeply felt and thought feminists over the years and examined all of these ideas, such as Blanchard’s, to the point of pain.

What I have realized, ultimately, is that I dislike the radfem take on women not because it’s radical, or because it dehumanizes trans women (although those help). It’s that it fails to take it’s own standpoint into the analysis, fails to realize that the definition of gender as a class of oppression – one I don’t disagree with – is highly, highly subjective.

That is, I don’t like their stuff because it’s cracking bad theory. Anyway.

As ever, more to come.

That New Yorker Article

Posted by – August 2, 2014

I’m still on the road so this won’t be complete, but it’s sad to see such a biased article on the divisions between trans identity and feminist politics, especially by a major magazine that could have done worlds better.

My main complaints?

  • few and buried quotes by trans people
  • nothing from trans inclusive (cis) feminists
  • fairly useless bits from Blanchard
  • in general, poor framing of the definitional debate involved.

I’ll write more at length at a later date.

“Just Like That” (Those Oprah Guests)

Posted by – July 15, 2014

Oh, Oprah. She did one of her “Where Are They Now?” editions and it turns out Christine, a woman who had been in a marriage in which both husband and wife would come out as a gay, later met a woman named Jacki.

Jacki and Christine fell in love. Awesome.

Jacki transitioned to male. Also awesome.

But while being interviewed on the show they said that Jacki transitioned in order to marry Christine, and so they “looked into transgender” and found out that “just like that” their marriage would guarantee that Christine would receive Jacki’s pension and social security.

Just like that.

M guess is that the story is being wildly misrepresented: that in fact Jacki already had some gender stuff going on, a latent or not so latent need to transition, and in these days of defeated DOMAs and lifted bans and stays on ceremonies and the murky, uneven status of same sex marriages, they thought transiton + marriage would guarantee them certain rights they could not be as sure of as a same sex couple.

The first red flag for me: Did anyone notice that Christine says Jacki is “the most authentic person I know”? I mean, is that not in the “things cis people say about trans people” list?

Which maybe it will, for them. I hope it provides them the stability and recognition of their relationship everyone deserves.

What bothers me, of course, is the way it’s been framed as the “shocking steps” one couple took. Not shocking. When people try to gain the legal rights afforded others, it’s not shocking at all. It’s entirely normal and should be totally expected. And if transition itself is still shocking to anyone — holy crap, come out from under your rock.

The problem is that many, many trans people have found their marriages declared legally null over the years – and it is far more likely for a marriage like theirs, in which both people’s sex declared at birth is the same. The status of my own marriage — which is the type that is legally upheld by the courts because we had different sexes listed on our birth certificates and got married long before my wife took the legal or medical or even social steps to transition — still makes me nervous precisely because of all of the legal details of the status of some marriages in this country.

What I suspect – and what I don’t know for sure – is that Jacki is one of very many people whose gender was already masculine of center, before meeting Christine, and whose life as a masculine woman often brought a ton of bullshit – barred entry to the ladies’ room, issues with clothes shopping, misgendering, etc. Dealing with that, plus his love for Christine maybe encouraged him to legally change his gender precisely because living with a non normative gender can be such a pain in the ass legally and otherwise. That is, there are plenty of people for whom a legal transition to male is not a huge undertaking because they are already men in so many ways. My wife’s legal transition was definitely influenced by the fact that it was getting more and more difficult for her to deal with TSA and other boneheads who had the right to judge whether or not her gender on her ID sufficiently matched her gender in person. So despite leaving for years as a woman with a male ID, we went through the legal hullabaloo to get hers changed.

The way they are presenting their story reminds me of the woman who claimed being stung by a bee caused her to transition (and who, in all fairness, said the anaphylactic shock set off a hormonal reaction, etc. etc.).

You don’t need a reason, folks. You’re trans and transition because you are.

You’re in love and want to be married because you are and you do.

Let’s please stop making excuses for gaining recognition for our lives, identities, relationships and families.

On Our 13th Anniversary

Posted by – July 14, 2014

So today my wife & I put up photos celebrating our 13 years married. We met 16 years ago, in fact, but weddings & marriage are what “counts” right? I’ll save that diatribe for another day.

& Here is the thing that I didn’t bother to say on Facebook but that I really need to say: anyone who think it isn’t difficult to survive a transition can stick it. It is. It’s about the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and we two had a surfeit of love to start with. But the inherent narcissism of the thing caused her to disappear some, to focus more on the “me” than on the “us”, and that pretty much caused me to do the same in turn. As with other couples who wind up in situations that are full of one-sided caretaking, it can take a long time to get things righted, back into balance. And sometimes there’s a lot of anger and resentment and frustration while you’re trying to do that.

My wife is a beautiful woman. That I prefer to be around people who understand I chose to marry a man and will always carry some sadness about that loss seems obvious. For many people – heterosexual people, for the most part – they just see one queer couple as if they are like any other queer couple. We are still together and still happy so that’s that, right? Yeah, no. When a lesbian marries the woman she loves, she gets to be who she is and be with who she loves. And when a straight woman unwittingly marries a woman, she doesn’t. She get to be with who she loves – albeit in a slightly different form – but she really doesn’t get to be who she is. I feel lucky to have been queer enough to pull this off, but not a week goes by that I don’t miss the man I married. I loved him, after all. I married him. And I’m glad this 2.0 version was enough to keep the soul of that person in the world so I could share my life with her.

I assume I feel a lot like people who mourn the death of a loved one very deeply, who stay sad for years and years. I know you’re out there. For some, even the loss of a pet can be sad forever, and who knows why, or why we bond so deeply with some things and not with others, or why we have a hard time adjusting to some changes and not others. I am not good with change; I never have been. My hair, yes. My life, who I love, where I live, what I eat? About those things I am about as conservative as a person can get. I want the familiar; I want what feels like home.

As the trans community has changed, and awesome memoirs like Jake and Diane Anderson-Minshall’s memoir have been written, I feel more and more like I’m just supposed to be okay with this. And you know what? I’m still really not. I’m still trying to find my way in this post transition marriage, still trying to find the man I loved in the woman I live with, and some days it’s brutally hard. What sucks even more is that it’s obvious to me and everyone that my wife is a remarkable, talented, beautiful, sexy woman. She is funny and brilliant and loving and still one of the brightest lights I have ever been near. And she still adores me. So the guilt I feel some days that I can’t seem to love her the same way I loved him is back-breaking. But there it is. I can’t. I try. I fail. Over and over again, I fail. And she would tell you – tell anyone, really – that I have more than once told her that she deserves to be with someone who loves her as the woman she is and not for the man she once was. But she doesn’t want someone else. She wants me. And that’s amazing, and awesome, and fills me with gratitude and love that I can’t even contain, but it feels me with guilt, too: guilt because I worry I don’t, guilt because I worry that she is hanging around for that magical day when I feel about her how I felt about him.

So when I hear Janet Mock say that you can’t say trans women were ever men – that Janet Mock herself was born a girl – I wonder where partners wind up. I was recently talking to the filmmaker Ashley Altadonna who reassured me when she said Mock’s new paradigm didn’t thrill her, either, that her struggle – to realize she was a woman, to find the medical care needed, to come out to friends and family, to suffer some rejection and some awesome acceptance – is too much a part of her to think of herself as always having been a woman. She said it kind of sidestepped all of what it means to be trans, to be herself.

There are days I am still overwhelmed by how awesomely liberating it is as the partner of a trans person to hear a brutally honest trans person admit to something like that. For Ashley, transition was a BFD. For me, and for most partners, it is too. And while I don’t think Mock was trying to diminish or belittle or make invisible the struggles trans people and their partners go through – because that is so not her gig – I have lived so long with a woman people see as a woman and in a place where no one ever knew her as a man that I know what it means for people to see my marriage as if it is between two cis woman, where no one was ever male and no one was ever het and no one ever transitioned. And it denies way, way too much of who I am and how I am.

(For the record, this is part of the upcoming book.)

Tiffany Edwards

Posted by – July 3, 2014

Tiffany Edwards was the fourth trans woman of color killed this June. She was also the fourth trans woman murdered in Ohio in the past 16 months.

Her suspected killer, however, turned himself in this morning to police. His mom had prayed he would.

What’s astonishing about the news clip and brief interview with the suspect’s uncle is his idea that this was not a hate crime. The uncle refers to Tiffany as a gay boy (ugh), and from what he says, I’m not really convinced that he equates homo- and transphobia with hate at all.

Just as with other “diversity” issues out there, there is a frequent misunderstanding that hate can only be based on race or ethnicity or religion, and that sexual orientation and gender identity aren’t categories. Maybe it’s because we took so long to pass the Matthew Shepard Act; maybe it’s because these kinds of crimes, and this kind of hate, is so commonplace, and legitimized by panic defenses.

But either way, perhaps some justice for Tiffany Edwards will happen. None that will make any sense, though. She was beautiful and 28 and didn’t live to see the July after Pride month.

Love to her friends and family.

Me in Our Lives

Posted by – July 2, 2014

I did a gig for FORGE in Milwaukee recently and Connie North wrote a piece about what I had to say for Our Lives magazine out of Madison. Here are a couple of good snippets, but the article as a whole summarizes some of my recent thinking on these issues:

In 2007, she and Betty “transitioned together” and are about to celebrate their eleventh wedding anniversary. In her words, “Relationships last as long as the people in them wake up and decide to be in the relationship that day.”

She finds the “get on board or decide to go” message that partners frequently hear to be overly simplistic given how significantly someone’s transition affects those closest to them. Boyd asserts that when their partners transition, many partners must grieve the loss of the person with whom they first entered into the relationship, noting that a partner does not necessarily share the sense of inauthenticity a trans* individual may experience before transitioning. She also shares her own process of working through profound anger when Betty transitioned. Calling this “spiritual/psychological work,” Boyd speaks of learning not to blame Betty for her transition since it is not something people choose.

I appreciate Boyd’s attention to the intense hurt that exists in trans* communities—communities that she insists include the people who love trans* individuals. Instead of converting that hurt to horizontal anger that we take out on each other, she asked us to focus on changing external factors, like institutionalized discrimination, which cause great harm to trans* people and their allies and put a lot of pressure on the relationships that include trans* partners. She also reminded us that service and compassion are the heart of social justice activism.

You can read it in the full PDF of the issue, and it’s on page 28.

 

Obama Issues Executive Order to Protect Trans Employees

Posted by – July 1, 2014

Obama:

“I’ve repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” Obama said. “Right now, there are more states that let same-sex couples get married than there are states who prohibit discrimination against their LGBT workers.  We have laws that say Americans can’t be fired on the basis of the color of their skin or their religion, or because they have a disability. But every day, millions of Americans go to work worried that they could lose their job -– not because of anything they’ve done.”

“I know, it’s terrible,” Obama continued, as a baby in the audience began to cry. “It’s upsetting. It is wrong.”

Obama also cited a long list of LGBT accomplishments during his remarks, drawing cheers from the energetic crowd. In particular, the president repeated his calls for LGBT-rights activists to direct their energy and resources toward other “injustices,” including progressive causes such as raising the minimum wage, youth homelessness, equal pay and eliminating racial and religious discrimination.

“Dr. King said an ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ And that means that we’ve got to be able to set up a community that extends beyond our own particular narrow interests; we’ve got to make sure that we’re reaching out to others who need our help as well,” Obama said. “That’s how we continue our nation’s march towards justice and equality.  That’s how we build a more perfect union –- a country where no matter what you look like, where you come from, what your last name is, who you love, you’ve got a chance to make it if you try. You guys have shown what can happen when people of goodwill organize and stand up for what’s right. And we’ve got to make sure that that’s not applied just one place, in one circumstance, in one time. That’s part of the journey that makes America the greatest country on Earth.”

Whenever I ask my students whether it’s legal to fire someone for being gay in this country, they look at me like I’m crazy. Because it is crazy, and it’s absurdly short-sighted and long overdue.

 

 

Just Call Me Che?

Posted by – June 30, 2014

To close out Pride month, I wanted to talk a little bit about this essay by Quince Mountain about a thing Laverne Cox said. What she said was:

Loving trans people is a revolutionary act.

And this bugged Quince Mountain, who is trans, and who thinks he is pretty lovable, and that trans people are, too, in general, no more or no less than anyone else. He writes:

But what does it mean, that loving me is a revolutionary act? Is it so difficult for someone to love me? Does my transness make me so untouchable that I can only hope for the mercy — and the favor — that someone might bestow upon me with their warmth? Is my self-esteem so far diminished that I can believe that someone’s love for me must be a special category of love, that it’s somehow more difficult, more important, more intentional, than other kinds of love?

So what does it mean, to love a trans person? Trans people are no more or less lovable than non trans people. They are not, by dint of being trans, any more brave, or thoughtful about gender, or feminist, or even interesting. That is, there isn’t much about transness that confers awesome amounts of lovability. There’s also nothing about transness that diminishes a person’s lovability, either.

But does it take a tremendous act of courage to love a trans person? No.

Does transness provide special challenges to how you might love a person? Yes.

Does the existing discrimination against trans people make it difficult for people who love trans people to say so? Yes. But he asks, specifically:

(And that, somehow, I would want, and not be exhausted by, this fraught and special love?)

Which is where the conundrums of partners begin. I get that he doesn’t want anyone doing him any favors by loving him or by feeling obliged to love him. Fair enough. But at the same time, partners are often in a pretty limited space: we’re not supposed to love trans people despite their transness (because that would be transphobic), or because of it (because that’s fetishizing), then how can I articulate my love for my wife? Because I can not possibly argue that her transness is irrelevant to our relationship or my feelings for her; I suspect I would love this same person if she weren’t trans, but it’s also unlikely I would have dated the woman she is now because femmes are not who I date, generally speaking.

But even if those who go through transition with a partner are a special case – grandfather clause required – then what about someone who loves someone trans long after transition? When they’re at peace with their transness? Cox has often pointed out she doesn’t “pass” – is that different from loving a trans person who does? I would imagine it would be. There would be far more stress on a couple if one person was routinely at risk of discrimination, just as there would be if one half of a couple were disabled or black – that is, no matter the cause for discrimination.

So yeah, Quince says it’s my problem, not his, or my wife’s, or any other trans person’s. I think he’s right. I don’t think I deserve a special medal for not being a transphobic jerk and I certainly don’t think it makes me some kind of uber Feminist, either. But are there days when it feels like it takes a revolutionary amount of courage? There sure the hell are, just as I expect there are days when being trans requires that much, too.

But no more, and no less.

 

 

Happy Pride: Sylvia Rivera, 1973

Posted by – June 29, 2014

y’all better quiet down! from reina july on Vimeo.

41 years ago, and she’s talking to a gay and lesbian audience about trans* women in prison, revolution, and the middle class whiteness of gay liberation.

(Courtesy of my friend Darya Teesewell, who is writing some painful and honest pieces about doing sex work while trans for FourCulture magazine.)

3 More Days of Casa Valentina

Posted by – June 27, 2014

casa shot

Only three more days of the show, so go while you can. Who knows when this play will be produced again?