Everything is Amazing, Nobody is Happy

Honestly, this is the way I feel about Obama being president:

and within the LGBT community especially, as if I’m surrounded by people who can’t give it a minute to get back from space.

In five months:

  • Lily Ledbetter
  • funding the UNFPA
  • children’s health insurance
  • troops to Afghanistan
  • stem cell research funded
  • lifting Cuban travel restrictions
  • Kathleen Sebelius
  • signing the UN document decriminalizing homosexuality
  • creation of White House Council on Women & Girls
  • created Post for Int’l Women’s Issues
  • same sex partner benefits for Federal employees

Plenty to do, but all of these things were pipe dreams before.

In Defense of Autumn

Autumn Sandeen used to cull stories for the Transgender News Yahoo Group; she’s been blogging for forever, and not long ago became a key poster and moderator at Pam’s House Blend.

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.

Teisha Green Trial Starts Today

From the Empire State Pride Agenda:

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 Lateisha’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 Agenda’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 organizations’ 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. That’s why we’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. We’ll keep you updated as developments on GENDA happen.

To follow what’s going on via Twitter, check out @Andy_Marra or TLDEF, or hashtag #justisceforteish

More on the Cis

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.

Cis Hits the Fan

Have you all seen these arguments going on about the use of the word cis? Here’s Pam’s House Blend and Questioning Transphobia on the issue. Unfuckingbelievable.

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.

(Now Autumn Sandeen has had her say, too.)

art.not.riots.

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.

Two Tune Tuesday: The Damned

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.


Get a playlist!

Betty was not a big fan, having been introduced to them when they were doing kitschy goth things like

  1. “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.”
  2. “New Rose” was the first punk single. They beat everyone, including the Pistols, to that one.
  3. “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause” is very Captain Sensible: stupid and funny and fun to sing along. Uhhuh.
  4. “Smash It Up Pts 1 & 2” is in the canon of great punk rock theme songs.
  5. “Anti-Pope” is well, perfect, & was especially for a good Catholic girl with a lot of anger.
  6. “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.

Trans Couples Talk

This is the text of the talk I gave at the Liberty Conference on May 2nd, 2009:

How We Love You: Let Us Count the Ways

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 didn’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 Ina’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 – 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 – well, we’ve got a machete and a spot on the edge of the wood we mean to get through.

Continue reading “Trans Couples Talk”

Swine Flu Tweet

Something I tweeted at Ron Hogan last night is getting re-tweeted a bunch. He orginally tweeted:

Ah, Seth Godin: “More people are killed by deer than sharks, but you don’t see park rangers running around like nutcases.” http://is.gd/vgjb

to which I replied

@RonHogan & regular flu kills 3k people annually in the US, whereas swine flu has killed 0 so far.

& then added:

@RonHogan whoops. that’s closer to 36k. via brian williams: http://dailynightly.msnbc.m…

… so the credit goes to Brian Williams for keeping his calm and putting this swine flu panic into perspective.

Clerics Encourage Gay Deaths in Baghdad

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.