Thursday, February 19, 2009

Utah legislature rejects trans protection against discrimination

The Utah Legislature voted against HB267, an initiative that would protect members of the LGBT community against discrimination in housing and employment. House committees also rejected HB288, which would give both same-sex and unmarried couples the right to adopt children. Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr endorsed these measures, but admitted "It was probably a tall order."

The Colonic

Landmark verdict in South Korean transgender rape case

A South Korean court delivered a landmark ruling yesterday when it convicted a 28-year-old man of raping a transgender woman, despite South Korean criminal laws that reject the concept of same-sex rape. This reflects a 2006 law that allows transgender citizens to change their sex on official records.

This ruling perhaps points to a changing tide in South Korea, as the Supreme Court rejected a transgender rape case in 1996.

Troublesome, however, is the fact that the 3 year sentence has been suspended for 4 years. Additionally, the hyper-involvement of the South Korean government in the sex life of the victim is equally questionable. While in this instance, inappropriate discretion on behalf of the court worked in favor of the victim, the finding that the victim is indeed a woman due to her "normal sexual relations" with her partner since her surgery continues to enforce a sexual hierarchy and invade privacy.

The Colonic

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

using transphobia to fight animal abuse?

PETA is no stranger to exploiting sexism to push a vegan agenda. While I appreciate the shock value of naked pregnant women locked in pig cages amidst a bustling city, voyeuristic portrayals of under-weight women in lingerie have never struck me as creative or effective. Sex sells mindless consumption. Veganism is hardly an ill-thought choice.

Enter transphobia. Green gossip blog Ecorazzi took no issue with projecting heteronormative anxieties and transphobic ridicule onto the animal rights initiative. In this context, fur is a "drag"--meaning it is bad, and a bloodied cross-dresser is somehow supposed to be quirky or funny. This is all in advertisement for a fashion show where cross-dressers will cat walk fur coats with fake blood and animal traps. The cat walk is just a cruel play on the walk of shame, cloaked by humor and couture no less. Look, it's a tranny with a bloody jacket! Everyone laugh.

Let it be known, I did take a moment to try to find within this ad a social critique of transphobia. Alas, there is none in sight. This is the same simple-minded tactic of PETA: promote the liberation of one group through leaning on the oppression of another. A world of vegans where sexism and transphobia remain unchallenged is no dream of mine.

Hey PETA, stick with throwing paint, hosting demonstrations, and releasing undercover footage. Your posters and commercials are an embarrassment to vegans who support you--myself included.

(Originally posted on The Colonic)

The Half-Life of an Out Transwoman

I've just finished doing two university classroom sessions where I basically field any question the students can come up with. It's basically a very enjoyable experience because in part I like making people laugh and I don't mind being honest. I'm also upfront with the fact that I'm only speaking for myself and my experiences and any thoughts I offer about the community at large are only my opinion and should be taken as such.

And yet... for the first time, it felt slightly odd. And I realized it will only get weirder.

There's a half-life to being an out transperson doing outreach. A period of time in which you can do it that has a finite lifespan.

I don't know what that period of time is, but I know it's not endless. And that my effectiveness will diminish if only because my life experiences will have begun to outstrip my willingness to bare my soul to strangers.

That's a good thing.

It's useful to know that your time on stage is limited. That there will become a time where you become reticent to share personal things in the hopes that you're putting a human face on trans things. That everything has a natural lifespan and trying to prolong it is not a good thing.

I'm a very private person. The irony.

But I do enjoy talking to people about my story. Not because I think it's particularly interesting but because I enjoy getting in front of audiences and talking about it. I like the connections I can make. I like the fact that I can put a human face on something that is usually reserved for either sensationalism or theory. I'm good at it.

But there's a half-life involved. I can't do this forever.

I don't know when it was that I transitioned. I couldn't give you a date or a time or a plan or anything. It just seemed to kind of happen. And yeah, that's weird. It's certainly not part of any standard narrative I've ever heard of. But it has happened.

I live life as a woman. I have for quite some time. It's only recently that I've taken steps that most of this community would recognize as "transition", i.e., hormones, legal stuff. For me the social aspect was always the big thing and that's what I focused on (if you could call it "focus"). But the bottom line is that I transitioned some time ago.

And talking to those classes these last couple of days brought that home in a way that airport security couldn't - I almost didn't make my flight here to Wisconsin because I don't look anything like my ID (I'm very lazy and the idea of dealing with bureaucracy makes me want to get back in bed). I can handle the temporary interactions with strangers with ease, but the sharing of my story, warts and all, with students over the course of two hours makes me think in a way that a confused TSA agent never will.

Half-Life. Or, all good things come to an end at some point.

I don't know when that will actually happen. It's just that now I know it will. And I didn't before. My life is beginning to outstrip - in lovely ways - my capacity to be a public figure.

And I can't help but wonder if that isn't something that all of us in this "community" who have public notoriety should pay attention to. That perhaps we should all be aware of that time when we gracefully take a bow and leave the stage. Because to stay too long there courts disaster, embarassment and a kind of "out of touch" that makes us a liability.

There will always be someone ready to take my place.

That's a good thing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Law & Order: "Transitions"

Law & Order’s show tonight is about a trans teenager who is accused of attacking her father who insists she’s a boy and is trying to get custody of her from her mother.

9:59 PM definitely sympathetic. hopefully indicative of a sea change. still problematic in some ways, but pretty damn good for within the context of a police procedural.

9:57 PM crying.

9:54 PM history, violence, genitals.

9:52 PM oy.

9:51 PM hooboy. non trans advocate of trans youth loses her mind.

9:48 PM the kid can ACT. (& he’s from Poplar, WI.)

9:46 PM
wow. sympathy for the loved ones of the trans person who don’t get it! & also the anger & frustration & sadness of the trans person, too.

9:39 PM
getting worse. & worse than that. fast.

9:34 PM hooboy. weird turn. righteous trans youth activists who knock off pharmaceutical companies.

9:27 PM hrm. so far so good. inaccurate information, sure, but so far sympathetic. nearly an after-school special.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

No Lawrence King wasn't sexually harassing his killer

One year ago today, Lawrence King was shot twice in the back of head by a classmate, after months of being harassed by fellow students for liking boys and being effeminate -- including wearing girls clothing and calling himself "Leticia" at times. (Whether King would have grown up to be a femmy gay man or a trans woman is something we'll never know.)

After the spate of stories claiming King sexually harassed his accused killer -- and implying he had it coming -- prosecutors just released additional information about the case showing that simply wasn't true. At most, King had begun talking back to his tormentors after months of harassment.

Whereas King's accused killer turns out to have been a neo-Nazi/skinhead wanna-be with a huge homophobic streak, who was watching training videos about "Shooting in a Realistic Environments," and who repeatedly threatened to get a gun and kill King.

But of course it was all King's fault...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Freedom To...Starve?

I don't know about you, but I'm long past sick of the elitist tunnelvision of these so-called marriage equality advocates.

America is in the beginnings of a massive recession. Americans are losing their jobs by the millions. LGB and especially Transgender-Americans, often the last hired and first fired even in good times, are hurting and hurting badly economically. An inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is due to be introduced in Congress later this year. And what do we see from our so-called activist elite? This nonsense.

Let's be clear: LGBT Americans, like the rest of the country, need jobs, we need them right now, and a lot of us need those jobs right now a hell of a lot more than we need the ability to file joint tax returns.

Anyone who pays attention to national politics, or even anyone who subscribes to the most basic common-sense American political realities, knows that same-sex marriage is going nowhere federally for a long time at best. Even if all of our realistic wishes in that regard come true and SSM becomes legal in New Jersey, Vermont, and again in California, it will then be legal in just 10% of American states.

Compare that to the potential impact of the passage of a fully inclusive ENDA. With an inclusive ENDA as the law of the land, it would be illegal to discriminate against LGBT Americans in the workplace in all 50 states, not only directly affecting a far greater number of LGBT Americans, but also directly impacting far more basic needs for most of us then the ability to get married.

After all, of what use is the ability to become legally married when you can't afford to clothe, feed, and house yourself and your family? How does the ability to get married help those who can't afford health insurance or even a single prescription or visit to the doctor when they become sick? Obviously, the ability to get legally married is of most value to those who already have nice homes and well-paying jobs, those who don't go to work each day wondering when their own pink slip is coming or those in even more desperate straits, already unemployed and increasingly unable to provide the basic necessities of life for themselves and their families.

Yet here come the Queer elites once again, touting same-sex marriage, potentially generating a renewed surge of religion-based anti-LGBT bigotry at a time we can least afford it, getting the right-wing worked up against us all over again just before the matter of our right to work is due to be taken on in Congress. I mean really, just how selfish and shortsighted can these people be? Have they learned nothing from the last time they tried this? What, 45 states banning same-sex marriage and a nearly-passed Federal Marriage Amendment as a result of their last attempt wasn't enough of a clue, they need to risk our chance to finally be protected from discrimination on the job too?

It makes just about as much sense as when Republicans promote failed Reagan-era theories of massive tax cuts, rather than targeted government spending, as viable economic stimulus. Everyone knows, even if they refuse to admit it, that same-sex marriage is overall a loser issue politically in this country right now and that will probably continue to be the case for decades to come. To promote this proven loser issue and risk riling up the right-wing at a time when what we need most right now is for Congress to be able to muster the political will to protect LGBT workers and their families who depend on their incomes to survive from discrimination is beyond simply irresponsible, it's downright unconscionable.

Isn't it interesting how we don't see this kind of effort and these kinds of online events directed toward getting an inclusive ENDA passed (until we get fed up with the selfishness of the elites and do it ourselves, as with UnitedENDA)? Where are the blogging contests and cash prizes offered for speaking out on LGBT Americans right to work? You won't see them coming from us, of course. Most of us are just too busy saving every dime we can scrounge just to get through the week.

Perhaps if these self-involved Queer elites put 1/10 the effort they do in promoting their (currently) lost cause into something that can make a real difference in people's lives like protecting the right of LGBT Americans to make a living, we'd be better able to advocate for same-sex marriage in the future when it's more politically palatable and when people have more money to donate and more time to give to such a cause. Unfortunately, what we see is these elitists emulating the GOP, continuing to push an issue which is not only guaranteed to fail to draw popular support politically but carries with it the very real risk of diluting hard-won and long-awaited political support for a more basic need of far greater and far more immediate importance to a far larger number of people.

As unfair as it is, no one's going to die because they can't get married. Tragically, the same can't be said of those LGBT's who can't get work or provide basic needs for themselves and their loved ones. It's time these elitists took their heads out of the sand and realized their own narrow and selfish agenda is not what our community or our country needs right now.

There are people dying out here, right now, right in our backyards. LGBT Americans are losing jobs, homes, families, and yes, even lives, to legally-sanctioned hate, discrimination, and bigotry. Real LGBT lives are being lost, real LGBT families are suffering in poverty and homelessness. It's all happening right now and it's been happening for generations. Even more importantly, there's now a real chance of fixing the problem or at least of starting the process of fixing it, hopefully this year.

Lives are quite literally on the line here. We need jobs and we need them now, just like the rest of America's workforce. We need our ability to provide for ourselves and our families protected from discrimination under the law. Most importantly, this is a basic, fundamental need shared by all LGBT Americans, one which we can have a real and lasting positive impact on if we act right now. I'll put those priorities above anyone's joint tax return any day of the week.