Cesar Chavez Day

& Happy Cesar Chavez Day! Go unions!

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” – Cesar Chavez

Women’s Career Event Tonight

I’m part of a panel discussion tonight, hosted by Lawrence’s Diversity Center, called “Women: Breaking Boundaries & Reaching Your Goals.” The other women on the panel are:

Professor Rosa Tapia
Amy Uecke, Acting Dean of Students
Yvette Dunlap, Asst. Superintendent AASD
Lyndsay Sund, Assc. Dir. Of Alumni & Constituency Engagement
Kathy Flores, Diversity Coord. for the Appleton Mayor’s Office
Maiyoua Thao, VP of Universal Translation & Staffing Inc.

I’m very much looking forward to hearing how these other women approached their own goals.

“Lesbian” Strippers in SF

Only Republicans would go to a bondage strip club in San Francisco and spend $2k to see strippers pretend to be lesbians when most people just go to the parks, movies, and bars to see actual lesbians make out in public.

ENDA Petition

Sign the petition to Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the Courage Campaign and GetEQUAL.

Dear Speaker Nancy Pelosi —

With health care legislation passing, now is the time to institute workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Rep. Tammy Baldwin says she believes that we have the votes to pass ENDA, and Rep. George Miller has said the bill is ready to come out of committee now that the health care bill has passed. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, we call on you to act boldly and decisively and bring ENDA to the floor for a vote now.

*First Name

*Last Name



Cell Phone**

** You may receive text messages or calls from GetEQUAL.org. Standard text messaging charges will apply.

Christine Daniels Follow-Up

The LA Times has a new story about Christine Daniels which says much of what many of us expected:

Daniels, who had been writing a sports-media column called Sound and Vision, had her last byline in The Times on April 4, 2008, then went on extended disability leave. She was despondent — close friends knew she was manic depressive — failing to eat and stricken with esophageal pain.

Daniels told Amy LaCoe, her transsexual friend, that she had ruined her marriage and made a mess of her life. LaCoe insisted that Daniels stay with her for a couple months. “She stared at my bedroom ceiling for a long time,” LaCoe said. “She had stopped caring about herself.”

Daniels stopped taking hormones and began getting rid of the physical trappings of Christine, LaCoe said, giving the jewelry and shoe collection to friends, donating the wigs, carting the clothes to Goodwill. In a matter of months, the whole identity had been banished . . . . When the sportswriter returned to work as Mike Penner in late October 2008, co-workers noticed that his manner was remote, his handshake unsteady. His face was changed, the jaw line permanently smooth from electrolysis. He did not want to talk about his experience, much less write about it.

When a transsexual friend asked what had happened, Penner responded, “Well, that’s why there’s a real-life test.” Friends said he held out hopes of saving his marriage, but by year’s end, his divorce was finalized.

Such a sad story.

Ongoing GLAAD Battle

I can’t say I’m surprised, but people are upset with GLAAD for starting a petition that asks Tribeca Film Fest not to show Ticked off Trannies With Knives. There are a couple of objections being made in various corners of the comments sections of the blogosphere:

1) The free speech argument: this is art, a film, and GLAAD shouldn’t be trying to censor it.
2) This is a camp film, and earnest people (trans or otherwise) obviously don’t get it.
3) Earnest trannies need to get over themselves.

So here’s my response.
1) Free speech goes both ways. One group has the right to make a film; the other has a right to protest it. I’m not big on censorship; in fact, I hate it. But there are days and times when the sheer violence committed against a community is enough to make you want to shut down one more bad joke calling itself art.
2) Camp is only funny when you’re making it about your own gang.
3) Fuck you. Honestly, does it ever work to tell someone that the real problem is their lack of a sense of humor? Um, no.

As I said elsewhere, when you work in the trans community, it is a relief to hear that someone you know has died of cancer because they didn’t die of violent means. That is the reality of trans life.

It’s true that not all trans people ‘get’ camp, just like all gay men don’t. It’s an acquired taste, like drag. Assuming that camp is readily understood and appreciated is a huge mistake to make. It is very apparent that the makers of this film don’t seem to know the difference between drag queens and trans women, or only know a subset who identify as both. While I agree that the title of the flick – Ticked Off Trannies With Knives – does signal camp, the trailer actually used images of actual trans people who have actually died of violent crimes. That is not camp. That’s not even bad taste. That’s exploitation – and not the cool, hipster variety – of others’ suffering. If that is only the fault of whoever made the trailer, then they need to fix that. But honestly, I doubt it’s just the trailer.

I have been working in and with the trans community for something like 10 years now. I am beginning to understand the incredible variety of lived trans identities. So if you think you’re hip to trans identities and trans lives, you probably aren’t. That doesn’t mean you can’t be an ally. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about the trans community. But what it might mean, and often does mean, is that when you have an entire community reeling in horror from a phrase (“hot tranny mess”) or a film (like this one), then maybe, just maybe, you need to shut up & listen & not pull this patriarchal bullshit. Being gay (or a member of whatever other oppressed group) does not give a person instant knowledge of and deep compassion with other people’s suffering. What it gives you is a chance to empathize — a chance that you will waste entirely if you always think you’re right.

It may be that people with friends who call each other tranny – and there’s plenty of trans people who do use the term tranny – doesn’t mean it’s acceptable in the public realm. It may be that your trans friends have already decided that you are so beyond the pale that there is no point in trying to explain. It may be that the trans people you know are simply exhausted from dealing with this bullshit ALL THE TIME.

I know I am. So maybe, for once, we can let the people who the joke is about decide if it’s funny or not. In this case: that joke isn’t funny anymore. (& Neither was Dan Savage, btw, of whom I expect far better, and who posted this piece, as if penance.)

Really, is it worth the joke? Is a movie like this really such great art that an entire community – a community that gets more than its fair share of violence, discrimination, and general shite – be reminded that even people who are their supposed allies don’t get it?

Sign the petition. And please, STFU about how unfair it all is.

A P.S. for my gender communities: some of the people who say transphobic shit are gay, and some of them aren’t. Some of them are cis, & some of them aren’t. Please try to avoid the sweeping generalizations about who is saying transphobic things, and instead name the actual people who are doing so, or call out actual comments that have been posted. Generalizing that “gay men / cis people are transphobic” is counter-productive and, oh, totally false.

All Wood Paroxysm

Here’s a cool article about women being sports fans AND consumers. The way she describes things is exactly the way I feel, as a musichead, reading something like Rolling Stone, which is still aimed at the guys.

It becomes a vicious circle: you have female fans of whatever sport/band/computer game, but when they go online & try to find more information, or community, they’re smacked down with some incredibly sexist image of women that puts them off. So they don’t join the forums, and the only woman who got past the stupid sexist image of women on the main page feels like she’s the only one around.

Brizendine Brain

It’s part of my job to read stuff about genders and brains. Sadly, however, I have to slog through articles where the author, while talking about sex drives and teenagers, says this about teenage boys:

“This fuels their sexual engines and makes it impossible for them to stop thinking about female body parts and sex.”

As soon as I see a line like that, what any of my Gender Studies 100 students would call heterocentric bullshit, I know that I”m dealing with someone who is a gender essentialist – someone who believes in binary gender, that women are always female and always feminine, too.

But then I see something like this:

All that testosterone drives the “Man Trance”– that glazed-eye look a man gets when he sees breasts. As a woman who was among the ranks of the early feminists, I wish I could say that men can stop themselves from entering this trance. But the truth is, they can’t. Their visual brain circuits are always on the lookout for fertile mates. Whether or not they intend to pursue a visual enticement, they have to check out the goods.

I don’t doubt that plenty of men love breasts a lot, or that some of them get kind of stupid around them. But the assumption that women don’t do the same thing around breasts, if they like breasts, or in response to – let’s say big hands or broad shoulders – seems ridiculous, too.

What bothers me most is how insulting this idea is to the men I know. I love men with high libidos, and I love people with high sex drives. They’re my people. But the idea that any kind of lust is somehow uncontainable because of a person’s gender – please. Men are not apes; they can be subtle, use discretion, and get in a sidelong glance in when a woman isn’t looking. Actually drooling near cleavage is not required. That’s not asking a man to be less of a man – that’s just asking him to have some manners.

As I often like to say at the beginning of Trans 101, most of my job is undoing what people think they know about trans identities. Gender Studies 100 is all that x2, because sadly, these kinds of articles are everywhere, all the time.

Anyway, forget what Louann Brizendine has to say about “male” brains and “female” brains. The important thing here is that Brizendine brains come to whopping, unfounded conclusions about male and female behavior based on very little evidence. So be thankful you haven’t got one of those.