Thursday, January 21, 2010

Republican Candidate Paul Scott Targets Trans Folk

Paul Scott, republican candidate for Michigan secretary of state released his platform last week and was kind enough to include transfolks in his agenda. Among his desired changes of immigration restrictions and traceable RFID chips inside state IDs he has included a statement for us trans folks too:

" I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance." -Official Paul Scott Weblog

Now, the average person doesn't know a thing about trans-related issues in any scope, let alone specific ID policies. So how can such an issue be of public interest? As with all discriminatory smears it is surely a scapegoat to screen the state's real problems. But out of the potpourri of things that conservative right-wingers hate, why pick on the genderqueers? Honestly, I think that Scott wanted to pick something that would shock people in a "look what the dirty liberal government did behind your back" kind of way. By bringing trans elements to the forefront he is gaining attention via a conservative fear mongering crusade. And with abortion being way overused and therefore unexciting, he had to find something that would appall people more than dead unborn fetuses. Enter transSEXuals, cause they aren't just out to get fetuses, they're out to get everyone.

Scott has made statements about his opinions being an issue of "social values", clearly implying that if you have good values you will agree with him, and if you don't you are a horrible person contributing to the moral downfall of society. However, Scott goes further to say that his main drive behind policy change is “preventing people who are males genetically from dressing as a woman and going into female bathrooms.” What value system does this relate to other than that anyone who is not normal by specific definition is therefore a violent threat? And because gender is involved sexualization comes into play and turns a genderqueer into an automatic sexual predator. It's the age old stereotype that men are going to put on dresses just so they can sneak into women's bathrooms and rape every female in sight... cause that has totally happened before. (FYI never been one report (TransgenderLawCenter, Peeing in Peace)). Promoting this false fear of transfolk attacking women is all part of the bigger picture of society's default appeal to heterosexist, transphobic attitudes which have no actual standing scientific or otherwise in creating a safe, equal-value based society.

Another reason why Scott's position is such a great concern is that the secretary of state is the primary government official who deals with issues like document and ID changes. For this reason, among others, having an anti-trans person in that position is clearly more than just problematic. Along with being a human rights and equal treatment and access issue, in many cases a change in documents can be a huge protection from discrimination, threat, and death. Clearly Scott could care less about Midwest transfolk's right to stay alive.

I'm going to be looking into any activist movements being formed around this issue, as my no being in or from Michigan makes it difficult to head up such a project alone. Here's hoping there will be updates on progress.

xposted, AmplifyYourVoice


GinaK said...

I went to Scotts site and wrote the following on his blog:

Dear Paul

I beg you to reconsider your stance on trans folks and change of gender on drivers licenses. I am a Transsexual woman, I’m married, have a loving family. I live and contibute to my community, pay my taxes and take pride in my work as a teacher. I transitioned ten years ago and am no different than any other middle aged woman you might run into. I also travel often and as you must realize, having and presenting an ID and Passport is essential. It would be enourmously humiliating to have to explain an “M” on these ids ( and very weird ). I’m thankful that I was allowed to make this change after my surgery in 2003 and live my life as a normal citizen.

helen_boyd said...

& more:

Scott continues to exploit transgender issue
By Ed Brayton 2/16/10 7:27 AM Digg Tweet

When Paul Scott, Republican candidate for Secretary of State, announced that he would “make it a priority” to make sure that no transgendered person could change their gender identity on their driver’s license, the reaction ranged from amusement to outrage. But he’s got a strategy and he’s sticking to it even if he has to reveal his ignorance in the process. In an AP article, he is quoted:

Scott, a first-term lawmaker, doesn’t consider raising the issue a political ploy. “My personal belief is you are who your DNA says you are, regardless of what surgical procedures you may have thereafter,” he says.

Yet this issue has nothing to with what someone’s DNA says. The gender designation on one’s birth certificate, and therefore driver’s license, is not based on DNA testing it’s based on mere physical observation of the genitalia. But that does, in fact, help reveal a reality that Scott and his fellow travelers would like to ignore: Sometimes what the DNA says and what physical observation says are in conflict.

For example, one of every 1000 males are born with Klinefelter’s syndrome, which means rather than the normal XY chromosomal arrangement they have an extra X chromosome and are XXY instead. Such males often have shrunken penis and testicles and enhanced breast development, leading to clear gender conflict. What do you suppose their DNA would tell Mr. Scott?

For that matter, there are a range of intersexual conditions and variations, from those born with ambiguous genitalia to those born with both genitalia. And that’s just a small subset of the possible variations among transgender and intersex people. As much as Mr. Scott would like gender identity to be a perfectly simple M or F, for some people it just isn’t and will never be.

For those who are born without a clear gender identity, whether because of non-standard DNA configurations or some mixture of sexual and gender traits, life can be difficult enough. They hardly deserve to be treated as political pawns in a game of demagoguery by someone who has no knowledge of the medical realities they face.