Recently, people have given her holy hell for shutting down the use of the words cisgender and cissexual because they were being used in the context of an argument that was only estranging members of the LGBT community from each other (& I’m not linking to all the posts about it intentionally as I have done so before and had my say otherwise).
The Trans-Ponder podcasters Jayna and Mila called for some perspective this past Sunday night when it came to Autumn, particularly, citing the invaluable work that she has done on behalf of the trans community, and explained that even if you think someone’s wrong – in what opinion they hold, or in terms of something they’ve done – you don’t need to let the anger cause you to throw out the baby with the bathwater. (Their thoughts on the subject start around 53 minutes into Podcast #129.)
Dallas Denny said a long time ago that we tend to “eat our own” and in an interview with her a few years back, she clarified, in response to my 3rd question, the ideas she was trying to express when it came to trans community politics.
As someone who has taken heat for lots of things over the years, and someone who has seen even the champions of particularly useful ideas about trans subjectivity take heat for her own ideas, it makes me sad to see Autumn suffer so much. It is not easy work to build bridges within the LGBT, & Autumn has, in my opinion, done an extraordinarily good job of it. I’d like to see her keep doing that cool work, and even if she occasionally takes a mis-step — as we all do — the benefit of what she does far outweighs the mistakes she’s made.
I guess I’d ask, too, that people try to pay attention to the ratio of what they do to what they criticize. I’ve noticed that many people online who have the time & energy to work up a head of steam over what some other activist has said or done don’t necessarily spend as much time on positive activism as they do on the fine critiquing of others’ work. I am not saying that critics don’t do anything; I AM saying that anger & criticism sometimes are best-served by doing more instead of talking more. I say that as someone who has put my foot firmly in my mouth instead of doing something positive to fix what I saw as a problem. (As Betty and I like to joke about that one support group member who is constantly yammering on & on & on & repeating the same issues they always bring up, try not to be the person who seems to be saying, “I’d listen but I’m too busy talking.”)
In a nutshell: I’d like to thank Autumn Sandeen publicly for the work she has done, and to thank all the numerous people who keep working to build bridges within our communities.
Today, the trial begins for the murder of Lateisha Green, a 22-year-old transgender woman who was tragically shot and killed in Syracuse on November 14, 2008 just for being transgender. The Pride Agenda expresses its deepest sympathies to Lateishaâ€™s family and outrage that transgender New Yorkers continue to be targeted for violence and discrimination based solely on who they are.
This morning, the Pride Agendaâ€™s Director of Public Policy & Education, Ross Levi, will speak at a press conference in Syracuse, along with other local LGBT leaders, about the trial and the need for the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. And throughout the trial, our friends at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) will be in Syracuse, working with Lateisha’s family to ensure that the public learns as much as possible about Lateisha’s life, the tragic circumstances of her death and the tremendous violence that transgender people continue to face. You can learn more about Lateisha Green and stay updated on the trial through these organizationsâ€™ great resources, including an online resource kit, Twitter, Facebook, and the GLAAD Blog.
No family should ever have to suffer such a devastating loss, and no one should ever have to fear that their life is in danger simply because they are transgender. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™re calling on the State Senate to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would include gender identity and expression in the State human rights and hate crimes laws. Weâ€™ll keep you updated as developments on GENDA happen.
The thing is, I love the anger in the trans community. I’m an old school punk rocker; anger is in my blood. So stay angry. Just don’t, as my mother would say, let it cut off your nose to spite your face.
Starting a conversation on the understanding that accusing someone of privilege of whatever kind – straight, male, white, cis – is usually met with a “fuck you i’ve suffered” rejoinder is a good place to begin. Most people’s lives are hard, so it’s unlikely anyone wants to hear how much less hard his/her life is because s/he is male / white / rich / educated / physically abled / cis.
I hate the word myself, but it’s a useful lens on a type of privilege others can’t see or identify, which is one of the reasons it can upset people. I can’t imagine telling others they can’t use it, though.
I also prefer a crowbar between “cisgender” and “cissexual” because I am one but I’m not the other (as many other queerios may be, as well, since many of us have more than one gender).
Another round of Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl, everyone, please.
But the idea that trans people are always righteously angry, entirely respectful, and never diminish their own anger and hurt by throwing invective and insult at the people they’re arguing with… oh, that’s RICH. The trans community is notorious, at this point, for going batshit over things in a way not seen before by – well, most people.
I myself prefers “not trans” or “variably gendered” or “pantywaist” or ” trans ally” or just “tomboy” but I’ve long ago given up on having anyone respect my self-chosen identities, to be honest, having been told I am trans, that I’m not masculine enough to “count” when it comes to female masculinity, etc.
Today at noon the CA Supreme Court will hand down its decision about Prop 8, & I’m nervous. The wrong decision is going to set off rallies all over the country, which is a good thing, but therer is so much anger, sadness, & frustration compacted into this ruling that – well, old lady that I am, I worry about people’s safety.
Kids: art. not. riots. Pretty please, be creative, break the law, but stay safe & don’t give the haters more fuel for their fire.
My Damned tribute seems uncannily well-timed. Anti-Pope indeed.
In honor of them playing in NYC last week, when I *wasn’t there dammit* here’s some tunes from The Damned, who threaten retirement every couple of years. I’ve seen at least two Farewell tours, maybe a decade apart, at places like The Ritz, The (New) Ritz (or the former Studio 54, depending on how you look at it), Coney Island High, Irving Plaza. Oy. Yes, I am missing NYC pretty hardcore these days.
Betty was not a big fan, having been introduced to them when they were doing kitschy goth things like
“Grimly Fiendish” (which dammit I love anyway), but I took her to see them live & she was, alas, converted. What I think she said was, “goddamn they’re the loudest band ever.”
“New Rose” was the first punk single. They beat everyone, including the Pistols, to that one.
“There Ain’t No Sanity Clause” is very Captain Sensible: stupid and funny and fun to sing along. Uhhuh.
“Smash It Up Pts 1 & 2” is in the canon of great punk rock theme songs.
“Anti-Pope” is well, perfect, & was especially for a good Catholic girl with a lot of anger.
“Generals” is from the Strawberries album, which came in bright red vinyl. It’s a pretty record, & a good one. Dave Vanians’s Interview with the Vampire tribute is on that one, too. These last two are a bit of the politics I imbibed with the tunes.
There are partners who are male, female, and trans; there are partners who met their trans person before the trans person knew what was going on; there are partners who married crossdressers who had sworn off crossdressing who purged and then dressed and then purged and then dressed again; there are partners who met their husbands crossdressed; there are partners who met their trans person during transition; there are partners who met their trans person long after transition; there are partners who didnâ€™t know their trans person was trans when they met.
You, the individuals who are in love, were in love, who are seeking companionship and partnership and occasionally a good spanking, are said to be like snowflakes. Flawless Mother Sabrina told me that one night at the now defunct Inaâ€™s Silver Swan, and she was right. Each of your stories is unique, even when there are similarities; each of you realizes your transness, as I like to call it, in a different way: some crossdress, others do drag, others transition. Some do all three, and others â€“ none of these, but you express your genders in some other way. But you have your stories, your characters in movies, even if and when they are comically or tragically or unfairly drawn, but those you love have â€“ well, weâ€™ve got a machete and a spot on the edge of the wood we mean to get through.
Apparently we left “thou shalt not kill homosexuals” out of the civics textbooks we gave the Iraqis when we “taught” them democracy.
Homosexuality is prohibited almost everywhere in the Middle East, but conditions have become especially dangerous for gays and lesbians in Iraq since the rise of religious militias after U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein six years ago.
Fuck this. The word “cleric” used to be such a cool word, and more & more it just seems to be mean “self-righteous, mob-creating fuckhead.” I really don’t think that whole “Thou Shalt Not Kill” directive is that hard to understand. There’s no asterisk, no caveat.
As many of you know, I was at the LGBT Bloggers’ Initiative this past weekend, feeling simultaneously like the new kid on the block and the old whore. Many of my fellow bloggers – I realized during a presentation on media access by Cathy Renna – are bloggers, only. It never occurred to me that being a blogger who was a published book author first was weird, but there I was.
Here’s a review of Milk, about the life of Harvey Milk, by my friend Doug McKeown. (I haven’t seen it yet but will because of his review.)
Let’s get two questions out of the way. Is Milk entertaining? Without qualification. Is it important? Resoundingly. Also funny, tragic, endearing, and rousing. There is not one false note from any of the actors, nor from director Gus Van Sant, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (I will be seeing this one again just for the screenplay), or photographer Harris Savides. A very complicated story unfolds with absolute clarity, a story as much about the city of San Francisco as about Harvey Milk. Iâ€™d say more than that â€” itâ€™s about the actualization of democracy, about community organizing as the great force for social justice. Take that, Sarah Palin!
I was especially pleased that no attempt is made to be “delicate” about Milk’s personality, either his sex life or his out-sized ego, a forthrightness that makes him all the more heroic, I think. After a stunning opening sequence tossing us in medias res, and a conventional framing device (and foreshadowing), we quickly get to know Harvey Milk through the persona of Sean Penn, a smooth and easy task if there ever was one. He hooks up with a younger guy, Scott Smith, who has the movie star good looks of a â€” well, a James Franco. It is completely credible that Francoâ€™s Scott goes for the self-deprecating charm of this man with a face so open it hides nothing, who is so comfortably flamboyant, and finally, irresistible. The camera captures not so much sex between them as lovemaking â€” which is to say, as much warmth as heat. There is even what I would call nuzzling, in close-up. Whatâ€™s not to like? But there are inevitable strains. While we are ostensibly caught up in the difficulties of their relationship, the larger drama emerges as Scott withdraws into the background. An extraordinary moment in time elevates the Mayor of Castro Street to local hero.
My friend Shirene, who I met while I was researching My Husband Betty, and at a SPICE conference to boot, has contined to work with wives who have just found out their husbands are crossdressers. She wrote this letter recently to one such wife, and I thought it was worth sharing here, for any husband who might want to use it to help come out to his wife, or for any wife who has just found out.
I don’t necessarily agree with how she simplifies certain issues – like the “crossdressers are heterosexual” meme – but a lot of the rest of it is a good “talking down” for a new wife who might be completely panicking.
Hi.Â I hope you donâ€™t mind receiving a letter like this from a stranger, but my husband isÂ transgender also and I know that if I could have received a letter such as this when I found out, it would have made it easier on both me and my husband. My name is Shirene, Iâ€™m 43, we live in S******, IL and Iâ€™ve known about Shayla since â€˜98.Â Weâ€™re at 555 555 5555.
I will admit itâ€™s somewhat of an adapted form letter so please ignore the things that donâ€™t apply to your situation and please excuse the things Iâ€™m telling you that you already know.Continue reading “Letter To a Wife”
Many would view the politically red heart of the country as a harsh, unwelcoming, and vaguely dangerous place for the transgender community. When we think of states like Nebraska and Wyoming, we don’t think of M.J. — we think of people like Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepard, both killed in vicious, nationally publicized hate crimes. But the truth of the matter is far more interesting, inspiring, and instructive. Away from the coasts and the urban havens, a vibrant transgender-rights movement is slowly emerging across the mountain and plains states. Through increased visibility, community building, legislative outreach, and face-to-face public education in churches, schools, and neighborhoods, trans people are building a foundation for equality in some of the nation’s most conservative regions.
People who here we’re from New York often assume things are better here, but if you take a look at the Transgender Day of Remembrance lists, you’ll see how many trans people were murdered in big cities, including San Francisco (Ruby Rodriquez, 2007) and New York (Sanesha Stewart, 2008). The assumption that big liberal cities are “safer” is fine until you run into that one asshole.
Barbara Carrellas told me that tonight, this night that Obama won, her next door neighbor put a candle on their doorstep & a white handkerchief on the doorknob: the sign of a safe house during the time of the Underground Railroad.
For years I have had my key in our front door and made a point of not turning my head over my right shoulder so that I would not see the big gaping lack in the sky where the towers stood.
I’ve felt for the past 8 years like that crazy chracter Whoopi Goldberg played on Star Trek, in that one episode where she knew the ship wasn’t supposed to be at war, and that children were supposed to be on board, but weren’t. She kept telling everyone they were in the wrong reality.
We’ve been in the wrong reality for 8 years at least. There is a part of me that wants to go back to that time of outpouring of sympathy from the world we received and just apologize already for having shit on their sympathy with aggression & “the Bush doctrine” of Orwellian, preventative war. I want still for the US to say to the rest of the world that we’re sorry for our bad manners; we were traumatized and stupid and scared and that we’re very, very sorry for not having taken their shows of empathy with grace and thanks.
& Then I think of that candle on Barbara’s stoop and that white handkerchief on her doorknob and I think of how far we have gone back, what deep wounds we might heal now, and I am awed at the idea of it.
To the rest of the world: the difficult but lovable child full of promise that the US used to be is back. We’re still a big precocious brat in some ways, but full of love and honor and bravery in others: a 19 year old to your more mature years, still a little impetuous and wet behind the ears but hopeful and not entirely stupid. I feel like we’ve finally gotten to that moment full of tears and anger where we admit how much we were hurt and how much hurting we did and try, still a little clumsily, to try a little harder.
(this post is dedicated to Anne Wendy, whose British liberalism has been a bright, bright beacon.)
The Trans for Obama campaign continues! It’s your time to stand up & be counted, trans democrats, independents, and republicans! If you’re voting for Obama, why not make your vote count twice?
First, here’s a reminder of an event way early in the campaign that has been forgotten by the “they’re both against gay marriage” set: Obama made a point of shutting down homophobic sentiments when he could have just let the moment pass. For those who think that them both being against gay marriage means there’s no difference between them when it comes to LGBT issues, please remember that McCain chose a running mate who is for “ex gay” therapy.
Then go look at these photos. I love that this photographer just kind of knew – as did Richard Avedon (watch till the end) – that Obama would become President Obama. Look at the one of his shoes. Of him cleaning up the drips from his ice cream. At the faces of the young people listening to and looking at him.
My firm belief is that Obama is an extraordinary president for extraordinary circumstances. That we are in the latter is in no doubt, considering this week’s economic news; there are lay-offs happening in all sectors of the economy. That the former is true – that Obama is the right president for this time – is only something I can be sure of in my head and heart. His decision to run when he did, his unbelievable good planning with making it to the nomination = all of these things, the odds he’s beat, tell me that his time is now.
And now it is yours. Go out and vote – early, if you can, to avoid the lines, or on November 4th.
FDR’s 1st Inaugural Address, better known as the “Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself” speech, seems incredibly relevant right now:
Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankindâ€™s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
Suppose your 14-year-old daughter Willow is brutally raped in her bedroom by an intruder. She becomes pregnant and wants an abortion. Could you tell the parents of America why you think your child and their children should be forced by law to have their rapists’ babies?
You say you don’t believe global warming is man-made. Could you tell us what scientists you’ve spoken with or read who have led you to that conclusion? What do you think the 2,500 scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are getting wrong?
If you didn’t try to fire Wasilla librarian Mary Ellen Baker over her refusal to consider censoring books, why did you try to fire her?
What is the European Union, and how does it function?
Forty-seven million Americans lack health insurance. John Goodman, who has advised McCain on healthcare, has proposed redefining them as covered because, he says, anyone can get care at an ER. Do you agree with him?
What is the function of the Federal Reserve?
Cindy and John McCain say you have experience in foreign affairs because Alaska is next to Russia. When did you last speak with Prime Minister Putin, and what did you talk about?
Approximately how old is the earth? Five thousand years? 10,000? 5 billion?
You are a big fan of President Bush, so why didn’t you mention him even once in your convention speech?
McCain says cutting earmarks and waste will make up for revenues lost by making the tax cuts permanent. Experts say that won’t wash. Balancing the Bush tax cuts plus new ones proposed by McCain would most likely mean cutting Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Which would you cut?
You’re suing the federal government to have polar bears removed from the endangered species list, even as Alaska’s northern coastal ice is melting and falling into the sea. Can you explain the science behind your decision?
You’ve suggested that God approves of the Iraq War and the Alaska pipeline. How do you know?