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A Simple Way to Support Trans People

Pronouns 2

For more information about gender and pronouns, see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-specific_and_gender-neutral_pronouns

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Okay, so I said I wasn’t going to write in this blog anymore because nobody was reading it. Well, I wanted to post this message in a decent format and in a place where I can post it again if I want to, so…

CIS PEOPLE:  This is for you:

When you see or hear someone using incorrect pronouns to refer to a trans person, here is a real-life example of how you can address this:

Using correct pronouns

 

That’s all.  It’s simple. Do it.  It’s easy, it’s free, it takes almost no time and it’s the right thing to do.

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I also posted the following, again for the purpose of education:

 

Misgendering poster

Picture courtesy of  Transgender Graphics’ Facebook Page 

 

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Related Articles:

Pronouns: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

pronouns

This post may piss some people off.  If it pisses you off, please click on “About”, choose “This Blog” and read that page, particularly the last part about the purpose of this blog being my documenting my journey in understanding transgender and intersex issues and attempting to normalize the experiences of cisgender people to encourage them to take a similar journey.

I am being open and honest about my experiences and feelings, as ugly as some of them may seem to some of you.  I’m a 55  year old cisgender  woman who was socialized at a time when transgender people essentially did not exist:  I have biases that I am trying to unlearn and am working to own my cisgender privilege.  But I’m only human and 55 years of no information and misinformation is a lot to unlearn and it takes time; any cisgender person reading this needs to know that their feelings — their uncomfortable feelings of confusion, embarrassment, tentativeness about asking questions at the risk of offending anyone, etc. — are normal.  It is difficult knowing someone as one gender, learning they are another and then adjusting to their transition, using the correct name, pronouns, etc., and transgender people need to realize that when we screw up it’s not always due to malice.

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I have a transgender friend I met online 2 years ago before she came out publicly as trans.  So I knew her by her birth name (I will use the name “Ron” —  not her actual birth name) and her picture on Facebook was of a middle-aged, balding, male-bodied person.

I was involved in conversations when she chose her new name (I will call her “Carrie” — not her real name), and in private all of our friends called her by her new real name.  But in public I could not do that, and her name still showed up as “Ron” and her pic was still of that same middle-aged guy.

Obviously, I would never out anyone, but I felt very uncomfortable calling my friend “Ron” and I knew that doing so would also make it even more difficult for me to see her as a woman as she transitioned, so I started calling her by her last name. This may sound weird to some, but seeing the name “Ron” accompanied by a male-bodied picture made it very difficult for me to see Carrie as a woman.   I had to see my friend Carrie as a woman and I had to do everything I could to force my mind to ignore or forget information that might make me not see her as the woman she is.

I was “there” when Carrie came out publicly and it was a relief to be able to call her by her real name all the time.  She changed her Facebook profile pic to a female picture, but it was a cartoon character, not a picture of her.  So I have not been able to get that male-bodied pic of a middle-aged balding “man” out of my head, and with the name “Ron” associated with that pic in my head, it has been an onerous task getting the pronouns right when I talk to people about Carrie (without using her name, of course) and her transition.  I would never deliberately misgender someone, but as a visual person, that picture has been stuck in my brain for 2 years and I have not been able to get it out.

Well today I finally saw that Carrie has posted pictures of herself on Facebook (and WordPress). Hallelujah!   I realize that this is my issue and not Carrie’s or any other trans person’s but my difficulty with getting pronouns and gender straight in my head with conflicting visual cues is a valid experience and it gives credence to families’ and friends’ struggles with “getting it right” when someone they’ve known for many years comes out as trans.  It is difficult for us cis people to “transition” with your transitioning for very real and understandable reasons that have nothing to do with transphobia, so please be patient with us.

Seeing what Carrie really looks like now makes me pretty confident that “Ron” and the image of “Ron” will quickly fade and I will no longer have any difficulties with pronouns when it comes to Carrie (and she looks great!)  Carrie, if you see this:  I wish I could express how confused, conflicted and guilty I have felt about my difficulties seeing you as a woman… all because of that stupid picture.  ♥ 

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“Cisphobia” Is Like Santa Claus…

black santa for blog

*TRIGGER WARNING:  Contains descriptions of violence.

… in that it is a concept.

 Santa Claus symbolizes the spirit of giving, generosity and all that is good and lives in the hearts of people.  So too, does “cisphobia” live in the hearts of people… in the form of hate by the very people who claim to be oppressed by those they actively oppress.

The false construct of “cisphobia” (“cisgender” +  “phobia” = the irrational fear of cisgender people, presumably by people who are not cisgender) runs parallel to the false construct of “reverse racism,” which was created by white bigots (the oppressors) to put the onus of oppression back onto people of color  (the oppressed.)  The entire concept is ridiculous:  The only “reverse” of racism is a lack of racism.   But what’s one to expect from hateful bigots?   Blaming the victim is part of their repertoire.

There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING irrational about transgender or other non-cisgender people being afraid of cisgender people, as many cisgender people seem threatened by the very existence of transgender people (it seems that trying to explain non-binary gender, agender, gender fluidity, etc.  would be like an exercise in futility), and appear to believe that their ignorance and incomprehension gives them tacit permission to commit unspeakable acts of violence against anyone who is not cisgender, white and male, which puts transgender women of color at the highest risk for being raped, tortured, murdered and mutilated by these  pre-Neanderthal animals.

“Cisphobia” is not real.

And until cisgender people are preyed upon by transgender or other non-cisgender people due to an irrational fear of cisgender people by non-cisgender people, it will never be real.  I find that highly unlikely, at least in my lifetime.

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So, You Call Yourself an Ally?

gay white male privilege

I think it can be frustrating for communities when allies of that community, when they’re questioned or challenged, or critiqued, say, “Hey, wait a minute, don’t critique me, I’m your best friend, I’m an ally.”  It’s like when white people point to the number of black friends they have, or men talk about the “binders full of women” that they’ve hired.

Marc Lamont-Hill
Author
Journalist
Columbia University Professor

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More than once, a gay white man has angrily accused me of man-bashing and even called me a homophobic gay-bashing bigot (!) when I’ve pointed out their cisgender, male white privilege and the fact that most of the LGB…uh T civil rights movement has been focused on the rights of cisgender gay white men and has largely benefited cisgender gay white men, while largely neglecting issues affecting non-cisgender, non-male identified and other “queer”* individuals who do not identify as “gay,” and people of color.  Here are words of enlightenment from a gay cisgender white man who actually gets it… with a description of how he got to “getting” it.

*The word “queer” is in quotation marks because I grew up in an era when this word was considered a slur. While I realize that younger people have chosen to “reclaim” the word and recognize that it does have its usefulness as a descriptor, I still have some discomfort in using it.  

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The following has been reprinted in its entirety from the Advocate:

Op-ed: What Not To Do, When Calling Yourself a Transgender Ally

Jeff Krehely, the chief foundation officer of the Human Rights Campaign, discusses the importance of transgender advocacy, in light of the recent controversy surrounding Janet Mock and Piers Morgan.

BY JEFF KREHELY

FEBRUARY 07 2014 8:00 AM ET

The first thing an ally needs to know is that listening comes first. Following the recent controversy around Janet Mock’s appearances on Piers Morgan Live, this is the one message I hope self-professed allies can take away.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure they are.

Here’s what happened. Morgan hosted Mock, an incredible transgender advocate, on his show Tuesday night to discuss her autobiography, Redefining Realness. In the course of so doing, Morgan focused a good deal of the interview on her gender confirmation surgery, and the disclosure of her gender history to her boyfriend. Text on-screen said she “was a boy until age 18.”

To Morgan, the interview went off without a hitch. But Morgan, while an advocate of legal rights for transgender people, doesn’t seem to have a whole heck of a lot of understanding around the lived experiences of transgender people. Twitter, on the other hand, does. And transgender women of color and allies spoke up.  

Mock reappeared the next night.

And it just got worse. In the follow-up interview, Morgan and a panelist essentially boiled it down to this logic: she talks about these subjects in her book; we talked about it. She was biologically male at some point, so calling her a boy is fine.

As Mock so astutely noted, sometimes well-intentioned and good people can be really offensive. And many of you reading this right now may still not get how offensive Morgan’s line of questioning, and lack of inquiry about other parts of her life, really is. But keep reading.

Being good, well intentioned, or liberal doesn’t mean you get it. And it doesn’t make you an ally. I know something about this myself — having worked in social justice for more than 15 years, I’ve had to do a whole lot of work to get to the ally point.

I was a 27-year-old openly gay man when I first met someone who openly identified as transgender. He was the boyfriend of a colleague of mine. And he was incredibly forthright about his journey and provided me with my first opportunity to understand what “gender identity” was all about.

I felt supportive, but I didn’t get it. And I wasn’t all that inclined to believe that his challenges were particularly wrapped up in mine. At that time, what are now known as LGBT organizations were very much about the L, the G, and sometimes the B.

Most white gay men like me — even liberal ones — didn’t have much incentive to pressure LGBT groups to expand their agenda, especially as the right-wing led efforts to outlaw our right to marry. Because of my own privileges, that was my main cause and my sole source of oppression in 2004 America.

A couple of years later, I stumbled into a professional LGBT job. And even though I could be hired with very little cultural competency when it came to transgender people, things suddenly came to a head. In 2007, gender identity was dropped from the House’s version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the LGBT movement declared war on itself.

I didn’t yet understand how keenly transgender people needed workplace equality. But the political wonk in me saw the fissure that had happened. And I knew if we couldn’t come together as a movement, we might as well surrender to the far right.

I was an advocate, but I wasn’t an ally.

But in the course of my work — directing research at the Movement Advancement Project — we decided to do a deep-dive on transgender issues. That meant a partnership with National Center for Transgender Equality and the Transgender Law Center.

We approached this research as we did all other projects, which meant that the first step for us was to interview and listen to advocates, researchers, and others who were squarely in the issue space. We spent several weeks reading pretty much everything that had been written on what transgender people go through in our country, including many first-person accounts of the struggles, strengths, and resiliency that define the lives of so many transgender people.

Mara Keisling at NCTE and Masen Davis at TLC were both incredibly patient with my learning curve, and it was clear to me they had had spent many seconds, minutes, and hours explaining transgender issues to other people like me. I was also struck by how effortlessly and sincerely they supported and understood LGB issues.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point in doing this research, I finally understood what it meant to be an ally. I could suddenly see the common connections among the LGB and the T, as well as appreciate the stark differences and the many gradations in between. I also naturally felt a responsibility to treat transgender issues with as much — actually, probably more — passion as I did LGB issues.

Which is not to say that I’m an expert on all things transgender, or that I can ever really understand what it means to move through our culture as a transgender person. But I do know that almost every transgender person has to fight to be seen for who they truly are. And that transgender people — especially transgender women and even more so, transgender women of color — face harassment and violence in living authentically.

So back to that line of questioning. When CNN chose to label Mock “a boy for 18 years,” the network was complicit in denying Mock’s own truth — that she never identified as a boy. When Morgan dwelled on her disclosure to her boyfriend — without the addressing the fact that many transgender women have a legitimate fear they’ll be beaten or killed at the point of disclosure — they perpetuated the transphobia that fuels this violence.

Today a reporter wouldn’t think to ask my husband and me, “Who’s the wife?” But a network can still continue calling Mock a boy without blinking an eye.

I was an advocate for legal rights long before I was an ally. And being an ally is a continual process. As the conversations between Piers Morgan and Janet Mock are endlessly debated on Twitter, it strikes me that self-proclaimed transgender allies — which Morgan consistently asserts he is — need to step back and make sure they’ve done their homework.

It takes time and it doesn’t make for great ratings. But it’s the kind of work that creates change and — ultimately — liberation for all.

JEFF KREHELY is the chief foundation officer of the Human Rights Campaign. Interested in becoming a better ally to the transgender community? Check out HRC’s FAQthe National Center for Transgender Equalitythe Transgender Law Center, and the Trans People of Color Coalition.

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Katie Couric Blows

…her interview with Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox.

Photo courtesy of ThinkProgress

…and learns nothing from her own so-called “teachable moment.”

When Will Non-Transgender People Wake Up to Themselves?

Reprinted from the Huffington Post
Posted: 01/14/2014 1:19 pm

Fiona Dawson


Producer and host, ‘TransMilitary’;
member of the Board of Directors,
National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association

 
What Katie Couric’s “teachable moment” missed.

Katie Couric totally missed what she referred to as the “teachable moment” in her interview with Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox. Sadly, what she did do is reinforce the reality that society as a whole has a long way to go in coming to understand who they know themselves to be.

Couric’s questions said more about her — and her audience’s — ignorance of what is it to be human than it did about their lack of knowledge of being transgender.

At the crux of the situation is that sex does not equal gender. When we’re born we are assigned a sex based on what genitalia is seen between our legs. The error occurs when we make assumptions on someone’s gender based on that sex assignment label.

Assigning someone as female at birth does not mean their gender is female. Assigning someone as a male at birth does not mean their gender is male.

Gender can been seen with three different elements: 1) Who you know yourself to be, 2) how you express yourself to the world, and 3) how the world sees you.  

Sex organs do not define gender. Regardless of what we have beneath our clothes our gender is defined in ways beyond our body. Further, the gender we know ourselves to be is a deeply personal experience — if we have the courage to explore it.

No one would ever ask, “Katie, what does your vagina look like today? You’ve given birth twice, right? Has it lost any elasticity?” So why should she ask Carrera what status her genitalia is currently in? How is that Couric’s or her audience’s right to know? And how is that relevant to the gender Carrera knows or expresses?

Asking about sex organs is a) inappropriate and b) shortsighted to understanding the experience of being transgender.

If Couric was more aware of her own gender she would never dare view Carrera as a person who should have to describe the anatomy between her legs. While it may be very personally pertinent to how Carrera feels as a human being, it is no one’s prerogative to use her genitalia or state of transition to make a judgment on her gender. It’s simply not relevant to how we should see Carrera.

With class and compassion Carrera and Cox seized upon the “teachable moment” themselves, highlighting the horrific violence, oppression and discrimination transgender people face. But what doubled the disappointment was that Couric did not listen. She had a list of questions in her head and could not lead the dialogue appropriately. She hadn’t even bothered to learn correct vocabulary, making her use of “transgenders” majorly cringe worthy.

Nonetheless, whether we are transgender or not, why should anyone care what anyone else’s genitals look like? We are all born with what we have and the only reason someone may assert that our body is ‘wrong’ is if that body doesn’t meet the expectation placed upon it. Remove the expectation and allow that human being to just be. Only we know what it’s like to experience being ourselves. Neither Carrera’s nor Couric’s genitalia define the “correctness” of their bodies.

People who are not transgender, who do indeed identify with their sex assigned at birth, are known as cisgender. I would make a guess that Couric is cisgender.

The cisgender obsession with transgender people’s sex organs indicates that cisgender people don’t really know enough about what defines their own state of being. Quite frankly, if as Couric says, “it’s still a mystery to some people,” then go read a biology book or Google it. Stop and think about what defines your own gender. Does Couric really think that it’s her own vagina that makes her a woman? If you’re curious as to the pain level of gender reassignment surgery (GRS) imagine the pain level of any other surgery. Or ask about the fearful pain of isolation due to cisgender lack of self-awareness and awareness of others.

If Couric wants to give a platform to raise awareness and understanding of what it is to be transgender, then she should help her audience come to understand gender dysphoria. Help them understand what it is like for the world to tell you that you’re somebody who you know deep down inside that you’re not. She should ask what it is like to find the courage to realize this. Then ask how you find the incredible bravery to share those thoughts and feeling with another person. Finally, in spite of transgender people facing massively higher rates of murder, rape, unemployment, homelessness, and many other terrors, ask how they find the valor to be who they authentically know they are.

After all of this, Couric’s response to the outcry was this is a “teachable moment.” Yeah, thanks to Carrera and Cox who made the lemonade! Okay, Couric’s train wreck did get people talking, which is always a good thing. But there was no apology. And how much did she, her employer, or her audience learn when today there’s a link on her website to “Meet the Children Who Feel They Were Born in the Wrong Body”? Really? If anything had been taught this should read, “Meet the Children Who Do Not Identify With Their Sex Assigned At Birth.” And again, there was no apology.

To understand more about being transgender we need to talk more about being human. We’re all assigned a sex at birth, but we don’t all agree with the gender that is associated with that original label. Some courageous people actually have the wherewithal to speak up, do something about it and live their life authentically, which is a lot more than many cisgender people do in the world.

Follow Fiona Dawson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/fionajdawson

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Being Transgender Is Not About Surgery

I am not my genitals

Star Laverne Cox responds perfectly to Katie Couric’s preoccupation with genitals.

First, for anyone who considers my posting of this article to be “appropriation” of transgender issues:

FUCK YOU.

Get off your ass and quit your damned whining.  I’m your fucking ally and at least I’m doing something instead of sitting around bashing cis people.  I am posting the words and deeds of a transgender person.  If one cis person learns something from my blog, then I’ve made a difference.  If one trans person is not raped, tortured, murdered and her body mutilated because I happen to say the right thing to someone… or someone who’s read something I’ve written says something to someone, or someone who’s read something I’ve written says something to someone who says something to someone… then I’ve made a difference.  WTF kind of positive impact do you think you’re having on the world when you sit around with your head up your ass spewing “die cis scum” when people are trying to be helpful?

My sincerest apologies for this brief digression to the 99.9% of trans people I have encountered who have bent over backwards to be nice to me.   ♥  I offer no apologies to cis people because many are, in fact, “cis scum.” 

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Reprinted from Salon 
TUESDAY, JAN 7, 2014 04:11 PM EST

Laverne Cox flawlessly shuts down Katie Couric’s invasive questions about transgender people

“The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people,” the actress explained to Couric

Laverne Cox flawlessly shuts down Katie Couric's invasive questions about transgender peopleLaverne Cox

Transgender model Carmen Carrera and “Orange is the New Black” star Laverne Cox sat down on Monday with Katie Couric to discuss their careers, upcoming projects, and their experiences as high-profile transgender women using their platforms to bring issues of trans justice to national attention.

But Couric, it seems, was mostly interested in talking to both women about their genitalia, in order to “educate” others who may not be “familiar with transgenders.”

After her clueless deployment of “transgenders” as a noun, Couric referred to an earlier segment during which Carrera had (rightly) deflected her invasive questions about surgery and trans bodies (“I don’t want to talk about it, it’s really personal,” Carrera said in reply), then pushed the issue again to Cox, whose response was absolutely perfect:

I do feel there is a preoccupation with that. The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans peoples’ lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don’t actually get to talk about those things.

Cox then turned her attention to the recent murder of Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old trans woman, and the staggering rate of violence against trans people in the United States. “By focusing on bodies we don’t focus on the lived realities of that oppression and that discrimination,” she concluded.

Click here for the link to Salon‘s article and to see the video.

Sayonara

I haven’t posted in some time.  I have a number of posts almost ready to publish, but it seems that something always comes up and they don’t get posted.   And now it looks as though I won’t be posting for a while. 😦

I’ve been called “cis scum.”  That hurts.  I’ve been that told I have no clue and could never possibly understand what it means or feels like to be trans.  And while that’s true, I do know what it’s like to be unhappy with and uncomfortable in one’s own body,  I do know what it’s like not to conform to society’s gender expectations and face the social consequences for acting accordingly,  I do know what it’s like to be “on the outside, looking in” and never fitting in, and yes, I’ve done the “imagine-one-day-waking-up-and-discovering-you-had-a-penis” exercise and FFS, I’d cut the f’ing thing off.   But today I was accused of trans appropriation and because of that, I am taking a break from writing this blog.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_appropriation.  From a social justice standpoint, the word appropriation is used to describe “instances where a dominant and/or majority group takes up some tangible or intangible aspect of a marginalized and/or minority community,” and is discussed at length in  “Considering Trans and Queer Appropriation” in the TransAdvocate. Infact, the TransAdvocate is an overall excellent source of information regarding trans issues.   They’re also on Facebook.

I do  not exploit people.  I have no ulterior motives or sinister intentions in writing this blog.  I am disabled, have almost no energy and most of what little energy I have goes into advocating for LGBT people on Facebook with an emphasis on the “T.”  I have absolutely nothing to gain from advocating for people, except for maybe a small feeling of usefulness to the world, once every now and then (I have felt like a pathetic, useless waste of DNA since I became disabled and unable to work 7+ years ago.)   Most cis people do not go to trans “places” online.  I do.   So  I take what I learn to cis people.   Cis people have read my blog.  Trans people have thanked me for writing it.  Cis people have thanked me too—for clarifying and answering questions that they did not want to ask for fear of offending.

The Onus of Creating Trans* Acceptance Does Not Lie on Trans* People.   That is a statement,  the title of a blog entry in Genderwork and a link to that blog entry.   Read it.  What the statement means is that it is not the responsibility of trans people to fight for acceptance of trans people:   It is the responsibility of cisgender people to accept trans people.   I accept trans people but not all cis people do.  I consider it my responsibility to do whatever I can to change this.   I acknowledge my cis privilege and I am trying to use that privilege for good—not for evil.  I fail to see how this can possibly be perceived as a bad thing.

All I did was to ask for permission from the members in a Facebook group to use quotes—anonymous quotes—so that I would not be appropriating trans experience by describing it, but would be using the words of actual trans people to tell cis people how their ignorant and/or insensitive comments and questions are experienced by trans individuals. After having my motives questioned, even after I stated that I would absolutely not quote anything said by the one person who was creating all the fuss, I was essentially scolded by the group administrator—the cis group administratorwho informed me in a rather condescending manner that I need to get better at listening to trans people vis-à-vis the type of advocacy that helps.  I guess I’m supposed to feel grateful that I wasn’t called “cis scum.”  I don’t.

So, I’m done.  At least for now.  You don’t want my voice?  I’m gone.   Have a wonderful day.

The Power of Pronouns

I have been criticized by several straight cisgender white males in my life for being “too politically correct” when it comes to language (I gave up on correcting their grammatical errors and incorrect use of words a long time ago. ) I have had the words “feminist,” “liberal” and “atheist” (I’m agnostic—they couldn’t even get it right!) hurled at me in anger… yeah, as though those are insults!  rofl  These were instances of men with privilege not recognizing their privilege and then using that privilege not only to malign others, but also to attempt to intimidate me into shutting up.  It didn’t work.  My father prides himself in not being a bigot (and he really isn’t when it comes to people of color or people with physical disabilities) yet he has the most rigid attitudes of anyone I know and refuses to admit that some of his “opinions” may not be based on factual information.

The importance of language should not be underestimated.  Our lives center largely around various types of relationships.  The success of relationships depends on communication, and much of our communication is accomplished through language and how we use language.   As someone who has been addressed by an incorrect name on a regular basis and has her surname mispronounced more frequently than it has been pronounced correctly, I can attest to how invalidated it can make one feel.  And when someone doesn’t spell my name correctly when it is right in front of them (e.g., on Facebook) it sends me the message that their communication with me is not (or I am not) important enough to them for them to make the effort.  When I was a manager responsible for hiring, any resumés with letters on which my name was spelled incorrectly automatically went into the “probably not” pile:  If a prospective employee does not make the effort to spell their possible future supervisor’s name correctly, what can one expect in terms of the quality of their work?

Names, descriptive labels and pronouns… they are all important because they refer to who we are.  When people use incorrect names, descriptions, pronouns, etc., it strikes to the very core of our identities as human beings.

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Or, more accurately, they are symptomatic of the issue.

The issue that underlies all the rest of the stuff, the issue that creates the fundamental problems.

The use of the proper pronouns, the use of the right name, the remembering to say that a woman is a woman instead of calling her a man — these things are all symptomatic of the issue, and they are the most important things.

Because the issue is this: if you want to say that trans women are not women or trans men are not men, especially when you hate them, then you are the problem, not the solution.

That’s what underlies the bullshit around the MWMF.  That’s why it hasn’t gone away, and only gets worse.

That’s what underlies the calls for things like laws that decide which bathroom you can use based on your birth certificate.

That’s what underlies laws that require sterilization just to change some paperwork.

That’s what makes that paperwork so damned important.

Some might speculate that it is men who kill trans women of color.  IT is a reasonable speculation — the majority of the attacks that are known are done by men.  But many of the attack that are done are also done by women.

The call for the moral extermination of trans people was put forth by a woman, though.  A woman who also helped to ensure that medical coverage for trans needs was labeled as “experimental” decades ago, when it already had decades behind it.

THat, by itself, meant that a lot of trans people died, and they all died for the same core reasn: people did not see them as the women they are, and even though they might, occasionally, say something like “well, they are women, but they aren’t female?, that sort of bullshit is nothing more than a backhanded furtherance of the very same problem.

That is the problem.  IT is the chief problem, the first problem, the most important problem.  It is more important for trans people than domestic violence, than rape, than homelessness, than pretty much all of those social ills because it is what lies at the very heart of it.

Other people do not get to police how one person’s existence is genuine or not. You do not get to decide if I am enough of a woman, or if I have “female energy”, or if I am the right sort or the proper kind.

That is, in the end, the core of it.  The heart of it. Because that lies at the heart of all those other things, and is the root cause, the root source, and those who continue to do it are complicit in the very acts thereby.

BEcause no matter what the statistical prevalence of other things might say (and here I am thinking of someone who uses a statistical model in a commentary on this, not realizing the incredibly racist manner of her usage, while dismissing as unreliable a study that is far, far more reliable than her piss poor assemblage of disparate data), it is not poverty alone that creates situations like this.

It is the persistent, ongoing, extremely hostile statements of the sort that go on to say that Trans people are not allowed to be afraid of Cis people.

And until people recognize the basic, core, heartfelt sense of self in people who are men, women, both, and neither, then there will continue to be an overriding need to recognize that pronouns are indeed incredibly important.

Because that is what lies at the root.  That is the first step.  That trans women be seen as women.  That trans men be seen as men.  That trans people of color be seen as just as much a part of the trans community as all the rest.

That’s not merely pandering, either.

The single most overwhelming predictor of success in a diversionary program — be it substance abuse, prostitution, or just getting out of a cycle of self destructive behavior — for a trans person is that they be treated consistently, enduringly, and readily as the man, woman, or person they are.

And I have data going back seven years that supports that. That shows that respecting someone is the first step to saving their life.

That’s the impact on 3200 trans people. Not counting the ones in the last year.

SO yes, the right to be called the right pronouns, the right name, is the most important thing to do.

So let’s name the problem, shall we?

The problem is people not thinking that trans people are what they really are.  The problem is people policing trans people’s lives. The problem is fucking assholes who call trans women men and male, and trans men women and female.

IF you know someone who does that — no matter what their justifications are for it — you know someone who is actively contributing to the problem, who is part of it, and who is fighting against the solution.

The solution is simple.

Tell them to stop treating other people as if their lives were their personal property.

I can think of one person, we’ll call her Cockroach, who does this frequently. She runs around the internet acting like a dick and then scrambling away every time the light is turned on. Seems fitting.

It would be pretty incredible if people just went to all her twitter accounts, to all her “friends”, to all her Facebook pages and all her blogs and simply left the comment above.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Just this:

Stop treating other people as if their lives are your personal property.  Stop using the wrong pronouns. Stop using the wrong names. Stop being the problem.

A real simple comment.  It doesn’t say the hard things we all want to say the way we would like to say them.  But it still says what needs to be said, and it does it well.

Then leave it alone. They have been “educated”. After that, its up to them, and it is time to move on to greener pastures.  They will be left behind, consigned to the dustbin of history, footnotes on how not to be human beings in the not too distant future.

Just as the person who called for that moral extermination, that genocide, is now a footnote, consigned to the dustbin of history, an example of how not to be a human being.

There are bigger fish in the sea.

End of pos

TranCIStioning

Transition

I see transitioning not as a single event, but as a life-long process.

tran·si·tion

/tranˈziSHən/

Noun
The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

Verb
Undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition: “we had to transition to a new set of products”

Synonyms
passage — change — crossing — transit

swirl divider

I have neglected this blog for a long time (geez! almost a year!) not because I don’t think it’s important, but because I have a lot going on in my life and writing is not easy for me.  Actually, it’s because I am transitioning.

I am not trying to minimize the experiences of trans* people nor trying to equate my transitioning to gender transition, but there are some similarities, which I hope I can adequately articulate and not  get my trans* friends pissed off at me (screw the RatFaux-Feminists.)  I believe that many people are in constant transition, continually evolving, developing new relationships, learning from those people & those relationships and from other life experiences.  I’m not sure that all people are continually transitioning, as some seem to stagnate and not appear to learn anything, nor do they seem to grow or improve as human beings (e.g., NOMmers, Westboro Baptist Church, and other fundamentalist christians who cherry-pick the bible to justify their ignorance and hate, etc.)  I like to think that I am continually learning, growing, and becoming a more complete (not necessarily better 😉 ) person.  Perhaps that is delusional thinking, but I am going to indulge myself anyway.  After all, this is my blog and I am Queen.  😀

There are all kinds of life transitions and we celebrate many of them:  Births, birthdays, onset of puberty, questioning and/or realizing that one does not adhere to society’s cisgender and/or heterosexual norm (I did NOT say “normal”— “norm” is a statistical term), coming out (or deciding not to) as transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, etc., obtaining a driver’s license, a new job, voting for the first time, buying a car, starting high school/college/graduate school, graduations, starting/ending relationships, engagements, marriages, civil unions, anniversaries, divorces (yes, there are people who throw divorce parties), buying a house, relocating, children moving out of the house, onset of perimenopause and menopause, illnesses, changes (and possible limitations) related to aging… and, finally death—our own and those of family and friends.  Some of these transitions are marked with single events, while some take place over a period of time.  In talking to my trans* friends, I would conclude that coming out as transgender, real-life experience (RLE) (i.e., appearing in public dressed, groomed and presenting as one’s true gender,) beginning hormone therapy, and sex reassignment surgery (SRS) are among the major transition points in the life of a transgender person’s gender transition.

Before I try to describe my current transitioning (i.e., my rationalization for neglecting this blog, lol,) I am going to describe some events in my own life that may explain why I feel comfortable with trans women, and perhaps why I feel less comfortable with trans men (see my blog entry “A Penis? Uh… NO, thanks… No Penis for Me!” for my diatribe against trans men attending women’s colleges.)  First, another definition:

trans·gen·der

/tranzˈjendər/

Adjective

Definition:  A transgender person is someone whose personal idea of gender does not correlate with his or her assigned gender role.  It does not exclusively refer to transsexual persons, i.e. those who are transitioning or have transitioned from one gender to another; all transsexual persons are transgender, but not all transgender persons are transsexual.  A transgender person is anyone who fully accepts a gender identity—androgynous, hermaphroditic, intersex, transsexual, third gender, bigender, or otherwise gender non-conformistdoes not match his or her assigned gender [emphasis added.]

Common Misspellings: transgendered

swirl divider

At the risk of completely alienating all of my tran* friends, I am going to say it:
~ ducks, runs & hides, wondering how to get into Witness Protection… ~

According to the broad definition of “transgender” above, I contend that I would, in fact, be considered transgender.

Now, TAKE A DEEP BREATH!  Allow me to explain.  Again, I am not trying to equate my experience with those of my transgender sisters who are transgender in the conventional sense, i.e., born with a hormonal system and/or body parts (i.e., sex) that do/does not match their gender.  I am a cisgender woman with all of the female parts (some people would argue vis-à-vis the presence of breasts, but hey, I’m 54 years old and… well… what goes up, must come down 😉 ) there has never been any question about this.  But I received some confusing childhood gender-related messages and I have never been one to take on any role that someone else has decided and assigned to me.

I would say that a person begins developing their identity as a person with their name and assigned gender.  What are the questions we ask when someone has a baby?  “Is it a girl or a boy?” and “What is her/his name?” are the first 2 that come to my mind.  And I would imagine that their name and presumed gender are the first 2 things a baby learns about themself from most parents (I don’t remember laying the gender thing on my daughter until later when I told her to be careful not to fall and crack her head open because her brains might fall out and she would turn into a boy….)

Let’s start with my name.  I have a boy’s name.  Okay, “Jody” is more common as a girl’s name now, but it is almost always spelled with an “i” or “ie” (or “ee”) instead of a “y”, and it was certainly uncommon back in the dark ages when I was born.  When I was 3 or 4, Santa called me “Judy.” Yes, this could have been a simple & understandable error, but it’s happened my whole life whenever someone screwed up my name (which happened frequently) and already knew I was female.  On the other hand, substitute teachers would take attendance, asking, “Jody? Where is he?”  It was never, ever, evershe.”  And everyone, when learning that I am, in fact, female and my name is, in fact, spelled with a “y” would inform me that I spell my name “the boy’s way.”  Dammit!  I was a girl!  And dammit!  I didn’t pick the stupid name or decide how to spell it!

Until the 4th grade, my mother made me keep my hair short despite the fact that I wanted long hair.  I don’t know whether my desire for long hair had anything to do with expressing femininity, I just wanted long hair, dammit!  I do remember at least once or twice someone mistaking me for a boy in a very public way when I was prepubescent.  It was humiliating—obviously, as I still remember it.  In any case, despite having very thin hair due to a thyroid problem, at 54 years old my hair is almost down to my waist and if it would grow any longer, it would be even longer.

I remember how happy I was when my mother allowed me to pick out my own clothes—even those I would receive as Christmas and birthday gifts.  I really hated some of the clothes she bought for me before that.   I recall 1 specific incident about a teacher thinking that my raincoat belonged to a boy and this was expressed in a public and very humiliating manner.  I’ve never gone for a lot of pink, ruffly lacy crap.

When I started elementary school, girls were not permitted to wear pants to school.  Yes, this is true.  When the policy changed and I told my mother I wanted to wear pants, at first she didn’t believe me (and I was a painfully honest child, so that created other issues) and then she reluctantly allowed me to wear “nice” pants, but only twice/week.  I was what then was called a “tomboy” and didn’t like wearing dresses because I was very active and dresses are not conducive to, for example, doing cartwheels.  I didn’t play with dolls or other “girl” toys (I never had a Barbie) and preferred to play outside, riding my bike, climbing trees, digging in the dirt or exploring the woods.

I clearly remember being at a community swimming pool with my entire family (I must have been about 11) and my parents very loudly discussing the hair on my legs and whether it was time for me to start shaving my legs.  I was already extremely self-conscious (I think my mother had already started telling my sister that she was “the pretty one” and I was “the smart one”; you can imagine the messages we got from that!) and this public humiliation made it worse.  And, no, my mother did not allow me to start shaving my legs for a couple of years after that even though kids made fun of my hairy legs.

Despite my perception that I had a body resembling that of a  young boy, I started dating at 12½ and was “boy-crazy” for years.  It wasn’t about sex:  I didn’t have sex until almost 19.  I came from a family that did not express love or affection either verbally or physically in any meaningful way, so that probably accounts for most of my need for romantic relationships (I couldn’t stand having anyone else touch me), but maybe I was also trying to prove my femininity… to the world or to myself.  I don’t know.   (Having recently been told by a rather, shall I say, “voluptuous” woman that I have the body of an adolescent boy, I LMAO and took it as a compliment!  At my age that is definitely a good thing!  Poor old witch didn’t mean it as a compliment though.)

In school I always did well in math & science which I was not “supposed” to do because I was a girl.  Can you believe that BS?  But I also did well in foreign languages and everything else.  The one clear identity I always had was that of student (and employee) with a role to achieve and excel.  And for the most part, I did.  But I didn’t have a clear sense about what it meant to be a woman.  When someone walked into a room with their baby, I was more likely to leave the room than I was to do the baby talk thing.  I refused to let anyone push me into traditional roles but encountered pressures and stereotypes (especially when working in a male-dominated field) on an ongoing basis. Even when I changed fields and entered the female-dominated field of professional social work, I wasn’t the stereotypical social worker because I’m not the warm and pleasant touchy-feely outgoing type person that everyone likes; in fact, I’m quite introverted and don’t give a rat’s ass whether people like me or not.

When the biological clock kicked in and I gave birth to my daughter at 36, I assumed the role of mother in addition to employee.   Naturally I wanted to excel.  I read baby books, went to La Leche League meetings, read more books, talked to friends, read books, decided to ignore conflicting information I received from people I didn’t trust & to trust professionals and my own instincts, & read more books.  I used cloth diapers, breastfed and made my own baby food.  I did my best as a single parent to give my child the love,  support & sense of identity I never got while growing up.

When I became disabled & no longer able to work I was absolutely devastated.  Work had always been at the core of my identity, and until my daughter was born, my entire identity essentially revolved around work.  When my child ended up in foster care (through no fault of mine—a very loonnngggg and unpleasant story) and having had my only remaining real identity in essence ripped from me, I was lost.   I had been forced into several major transitions in my life but was so busy grieving the losses that I did not recognize the opportunities that these overlapping transitions precipitated by these horrendous life-altering events had provided for me.

I became an advocate and activist for LGBT people and others on Facebook.  I learned about issues and hate groups, and helped get some hate pages/groups shut down on Facebook.  I met 100s of new people, made new friends and revived friendships that had been inactive for decades. I learned the word “pomosexual” and have appropriated it to describe my sexual orientation.  I learned the word “cisgender” and learned that I am one.  I learned a lot about gender and am starting to wrap my head around the concept of non-binary gender.  I learned (mostly by reading) a lot about transgender issues and developed friendships with several transgender women who I consider my sisters.  I have learned about myself and learned to let the little things go and deal with the big things more calmly (which came with a price.)  I know more about the foster care system in the State of Florida than anyone would ever want to know (it’s even worse than people think it is.)  I learned that even people smart enough to graduate from law school can be too stupid to learn to understand that bipolar disorder is a medical—biological—disorder of the brain.  I learned that you can’t fix stupid and no matter how good a parent you are and how you raise them, some kids just don’t turn out the way one would expect them to.

During and prior to that period of transitioning, I was subject to physical, psychological and emotional trauma and there were times that my life was literally in danger.  I developed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and continue to meet the full criteria for the disorder, although I am less frequently exposed to the source of trauma and lethality has been diminished by making some changes in my life.   One of the things I had to do to survive during that time was to numb myself emotionally and I continue to experience “feeling[s] of detachment or estrangement from others” and “restricted range of  affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings.”  Therefore, a primary goal in my current period of transition is to take back my life:  i.e., to re-establish a stable sense of personal identity, become more functional physically & cognitively, work towards experiencing a wider range of emotions, feel productive—giving something back to the world, and find more purpose in my life.  So, that’s what I’ve been doing.  I think writing this has served some of these purposes.  Why the hell you read it is beyond me. 🙂

blue butterfly

This is how I view my current period of transition.

End of pos

A Penis? Uh… NO, thanks… No Penis for Me!

Gender Identity DisorderGender dysphoria?  What is all of that about?

sex (def. 1); see also gender identity and gender role.
gender identity disorder
a disturbance of gender identification in which the affected person has an overwhelming desire to change their anatomic sex or insists that they are of the opposite sex, with persistent discomfort about their assigned sex or about filling its usual gender role; the disorder may become apparent in childhood or not appear until adolescence or adulthood. Individuals may attempt to live as members of the opposite sex and may seek hormonal and surgical treatment to bring their anatomy into conformity with their belief (see transsexualism). It is not the same as transvestism
gender dysphoria  gender dysphoria   [jen´der] [dis-for´e-ah] (Gr.) unhappiness with one’s biological sex or its usual gender role, with the desire for the body and role of the opposite sex.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.  http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/gender+dysphoria
Gender identity disorder (GID), simply put, is the current psychiatric diagnosis that is assigned to someone who wants to live and be accepted as a member of the sex opposite  to that they were assigned at birth.  The American Psychiatric Association  apparently plans to change the GID diagnosis to Gender Dysphoria in the new version of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), due to come out in May, 2013, despite TG/TS people, allies and clinicians’ pressure to remove this “disorder” completely, as transgenderism/transsexuality is not a mental disorder.

Imagine waking up in the morning and discovering that you had a penis… and testicles.  How would that make you feel?”  That is how I typically describe gender dysphoria to a cisgender woman who doesn’t seem to “get it”  in any other way.  Similarly, “Imagine waking up in the morning and discovering that your penis is gone,” is how I generally describe it to clueless cisgender men.  Granted, this is an over-simplified explanation of gender dysphoria and not strictly accurate, but it comes close and is better understood by cisgender people who don’t seem to “get it” any other way.  I really don’t like reducing people to genitals—it just  adds to incorrect stereotypes that already abound about TG/TS people, but it’s a good place to start.  Furthermore, describing the experience of being a woman  as “lacking” a penis is quite sexist, not only in its androcentrism but in its phallocentrism.   But, again, for people lacking in the ability to think abstractly, it works.

In case you’ve noticed, my blog is biased somewhat in favor of trans women. I try to give equal time to trans men, as I know that trans men, having  often been mistaken for  “butch” lesbians have historically been “invisible,” hence the erroneous almost universal belief that that most trans* people are MTF (male to female).  Most of my interaction and experience has been with trans women and to be honest, I don’t really “get” some trans men.  For the most part, my interactions with trans people have been “up close and personal:”  The very experience of being TG/TS is very emotional and personal… the way women tend to interact with each other.  Trans men are, well…  men…  and their communication style (in my thus far limited experience) seems to mirror the patterns of (most) cisgender men, and while I get along with a lot of cis men on a certain level, I find  that many of them are quite limited in their  communication skills, particularly surrounding emotional issues.  I am not claiming to know for a fact whether this is nature or nurture, but I suspect that it is a combination of both, with emphasis on  nurture.  When you think about it, trans men having communication styles mirroring that of cisgender men is pretty amazing, considering that they were socialized as girls.

Then there is the issue of male privilege.  I don’t know how they manage it, having been socialized as girls, but some of the trans men I’ve run into have mastered the arrogance  and condescending derision towards women (unconscious though it may be)  that goes along with male privilege.  Some act as though they are the authority on every subject, interrupting and talking over women.  Granted, they may have always acted this way, but that air of “male superiority” that most women recognize when they encounter it is part of some trans men’s behavior and I don’t like being around men like that, whether trans or cis.

As a clinical social worker and a longtime observer of people, it would be fascinating for me to watch a group of cis and trans women and cis and trans men interact, both with and without everyone knowing the gender status (i.e., cisgender or trans*) of the other participants.  I wonder whether male privilege is so engrained that the trans men, having spent years socialized as girls, would defer to the cis men.  I do believe that the trans men would dominate the cis (and trans) women, but this might depend upon whether or not everyone is aware of each other’s gender status.  Of course, no absolute conclusions could be drawn from a single observational study and it would be unlikely that adequate sample sizes could be obtained to replicate the results to determine reliability, but it certainly would be fun to watch!

One instance of the arrogance of male privilege came up on a TV documentary series about trans people.  There was a trans man who applied to, was accepted and admitted to Smith College, a small, private liberal arts college for women and one of the Seven Sisters while he was living as a girl and had not yet come out.  During his time at Smith, he came out and began his transition.  Having graduated from Bryn Mawr College, also a small, private liberal arts college for women and another of the Seven Sisters, I felt resentful that this person—a man—had the arrogance and audacity to believe that he should be permitted to remain at Smith despite his identity as a man (Smith did let him stay, perhaps fearful of a lawsuit.)  I know that if this happened at Bryn Mawr, I would be outraged, while I would fight for the right of a trans woman to attend and would adamantly protest against anyone who challenged her right to use the bathrooms (after all, men were permitted to use bathrooms, even in the women-only dormitories.)  A woman’s college is a woman’s college–why should a man have the right to attend?  Women’s colleges exist for a reason–to provide education for women.  I think that a trans man expecting the right to attend a woman’s college smacks of male entitlement and constitutes the expectation of  “special rights.”—NOT transphobia.  Any thoughts on this?

I get it when trans women talk about boobs—breasts seem to symbolize womanhood in our culture and talking about them is a normal part of adolescence, which is what hormone therapy essentially creates in trans women.  Vaginas, labia, clitorises… I “get” them.  But getting excited about hair growing on the face and other weird places on the body, guidelines for choosing a binder (a garment worn under a shirt, used to “bind” the breasts tightly to the chest in order to conceal them, and the benefits of various types of  packers (prosthetic penises and testicles worn inside the underwear to create a bulge in the pants; different types have, uh… additional functions—functions that are accomplished by a penis in a cisgender man… oh, FFS, use your imagination or google it, I am NOT going to draw you a picture!) are things I just cannot relate to, no matter how hard I try.  And I certainly cannot relate to the desire for a real penis!

Brains of Trans People are Different

Brain scans showed differences in transgender people’s brains
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/01/26/scans-show-difference-in-transgender-brains/

Scientists have found differences between the brains of some  TG/TS people and those of cisgender people.  Like  intersex conditions, I suspect—I predict—that eventually we will learn that virtually all transsexualism has a physical, biological basis; I am already convinced that there is absolutely no psychopathology involved in being trans.  These opinions are not based on any particular scientific studies, just experience, a bit of research, clinical intuition and history.  I believe that “Gender Identity Disorder” and “gender dysphoria” are social/psychological constructs that were created by doctors for the sole purpose of  “explaining away” something they didn’t understand (with the secondary benefit of creating a diagnostic code under which to bill insurance companies for psychotherapy and other medical services), much as homosexuality was historically labeled a “mental disorder” until scientists realized that sexual orientation appears inborn and immutable in most cases  and although not the norm, sexual orientations that are not strictly heterosexual are perfectly normal. 

What causes someone to be TG/TS?  (I intentionally did not use the word “born,” as there is a segment of the TG/TS who report that their awareness of their transsexuality happened later in life; nor did I use the word “become…”)   There could be a myriad of  causes, from all of the causes already currently known for intersex conditions to anomalies in brain structure, differential exposure to hormones, anomalies in brain development either pre- or post-natal…  maybe exposure to some type of toxin or pathogen, genetic mutation, one or more of these things in conjunction with a genetic predisposition or some combination of any of the above.  Perhaps non-intersex transsexuality does not represent a single phenomenon (like intersex conditions, for which specific physical etiologies have been identified), but several medical “disorders” that happen to present in the same or similar way; that would explain the difficulty in arriving at a single cause.

The following article about brain structure was published a year and a half ago, but I thought it was quite interesting and certainly germane to a discussion about the concept of all transsexuality being purely physiological in origin and attributable to a specific anomaly or anomalies in the person’s brain (since that is where  gender identity “lives.”)

Scans show difference in transgender brains

by
26 January 2011, 1:52pm

A team of scientists has discovered differences in the brains of transgender people.

The researchers, at the National University of Distance Education in Madrid, Spain, believe their technique could help doctors identify transgender people at an early age, giving them more options for treatment, such as delaying the onset of puberty.

According to New Scientist, the study looked at the white matter of the brain and its structural differences in men, women and female-to-male transgender people.

They used MRI scans on the brains of 18 trans men who had not started hormone treatment with 24 men and 19 women.

The results showed that trans men – those born biologically female but living as male – had white matter where it is usually found in male brains.

This is thought to be the first time that scientists have been able to show that trans men’s brains are masculinised.

In another study, they compared the brains of 18 trans women – born male but living as female – with 19 men and 19 women.

The trans women’s brains showed that the structure of the white matter was halfway between a typical male and a typical female brain.

Antonio Guillamon, who led the research, said: “Their brains are not completely masculinised and not completely feminised, but they still feel female.”

The study will be published in Volume 45, Issue 2 of the Journal of Psychiatric Research next month.   http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/01/26/scans-show-difference-in-transgender-brains/

The original study Transsexual Differences Caught on Brain Scan was published  in New Scientist on 1-26-2011 by Jessica Hamzelouhttp://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20032-transsexual-differences-caught-on-brain-scan.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

Stop Exploiting Transgender Women!

Yeah, yeah, I know, another petition after I just posted that I normally only post petitions on my “Petitions” page (accessible by clicking “Petitions” in the gray bar near the top of my blog, directly under the blog banner.)   But I just had a conversation with some of my trans women friends about this a couple of days ago, in particular about Jerry Springer exploiting trans women for his show….

The following is reprinted from the “About this Petition” tab on the petition page for this petition on change.org:

Stop Exploiting Transgender Women!

For many years, producers of The Jerry Springer Show & The Maury Povich Show have shamelessly exploited Transgender women on national and international television. We demand they halt all production and re-airing of episodes that include content related to the exploitation of Transgender Individuals.

The Jerry Springer Show often features transwomen who are then ridiculed, called ‘he/shes’ (among other derogatory terms), and verbally and physically assaulted by other guests and audience members. Transwomen are told by stage security that they are not allowed to defend themselves against the vicious physical attacks of cis-gendered women because unlike the cis-gendered women, they are still ‘men’. In many episodes, producers deliberately paint the picture of a man who is ‘tricked’ by a TGirl into having sexual relations with her, and turn him gay. They all end with a grand reveal in which the TGirl admits she was born with male genitalia. These (often scripted) story lines invite the misconception in society that transwomen should be feared because they are some sort of sexual predators. This content also erroneously labels men who are attracted to (or have sexual relations with) transwomen as ‘gay’.

The Maury Povich Show continues to re-air episodes with titles such as “Man Or Woman?” in which cis-gendered and transgendered women are brought in front of a live audience who calls out “That’s a man!” or “That’s a woman!” judging by her physical or vocal features. After the audience has decided what type of women these guests are, the guests then reveal their gender with signs that read “I’m a woman” or “I’m a man”. These episodes promote stereotypes about Transwomen’s appearances and true gender. They also contribute to society’s invalid belief that gender is defined by a person’s masculine or feminine features.

Make no mistake, transwomen ARE women. We will not continue to suffer in silence while mainstream media uses our vey existence for their amusement, spreading a culture of fear, hate and violence against us at the very same time. We ask our friends, our families and every other member of the LGBT Community to join us as we stand united during the LGBT Civil Rights Movement at large.


Click on the following link to sign the petition:   http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-exploiting-transgender-women.  A new tab or window will open and you will be taken directly to that petition on change.org.  When done, close the tab and you should be returned here.
 
  
 

Exploiting Trans* People in the Media: Yellow Journalism?

World English Dictionary

yellow journalism
n
the type of journalism that relies on sensationalism and lurid exaggeration to attract readers http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/yellow+journalism

Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.  Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.  By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism

Did Magic Johnson get HIV from a Transsexual Hooker? Gawker Will Pay for Tips On This

Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:08
Written by Sergio N. Candido

http://www.southfloridagaynews.com/news/national-news/6591-did-magic-johnson-get-hiv-from-a-transsexual-hooker-gawker-will-pay-for-tips-on-this.html

PBS’s Frontline premiered its latest documentary “AIDS in Black America,” on July 10, and NBA legend Magic Johnson, one of the most popular people to ever contract the disease,  was a part of it.

So Magic was asked the question he’s always been asked—how he got HIV—and he gave the same answer he has always given: “Sleeping with a lot of women.”

Gawker’s AJ Daulerio, however, writes that years back, a source told him Johnson might have actually gotten HIV not from a woman, but most likely during an infamous sex party at Eddie Murphy‘s mansion, where transsexual hookers were often involved.

The source wanted cash to go on the record, and the website didn’t have enough of it. But things have changed, and Gawker is now ready to write some checks: “If anyone has any more information about who gave Magic Johnson HIV, please feel free to contact us. I think we can afford to pay more money for this now,” Daulerio writes.

Zach Sire, editor of gay website the Sword, came out with guns blazing against Daulerio and his offer, calling him “dumb” and “sleazy.”

“If there’s one group of people whom you can trust with ‘information,’ it’s prostitutes and transexuals from orgies that happened over 20 years ago,” he writes in a sarcastic tone.

“A.J. Daulerio’s naivety has precluded him from realizing that even if he did receive proof of who gave Magic Johnson HIV publishing that person’s name would be illegal.”

We’re not sure what he meant by ‘illegal,’ you might get sued, but you can’t go to jail for publishing the name of someone who came forward and said he/she gave Magic Johnson HIV.

My Comments:

It is appalling to offer monetary compensation for revealing who exposed an individual to a chronic and likely terminal illness.   That person is not only sick themselves, but may be deceased.  Furthermore,  it is unconscionable to sensationalize a story by exploiting an entire class of already oppressed human beings.  Some—not all—transgender and transsexual  women are sometimes forced into sex work as a last resort, in order to survive—sometimes in order to feed their children— just as cisgender women are.   Headlines such as the one for this article serve to reinforce stereotypes about trans women.  Finally, focusing on the behavior of prostitutes (oppressed women) instead of on that of their customers (in this case, privileged men of great wealth) who are using their male and monied privilege to take advantage of these women  is pure misogyny; exploiting the possibility that these women may have been trans* is misogynistic and transphobic and is inexcusable in a “gay” publication.  Many of my trans* friends support LGB people without reservation; I, however, am beginning to agree with those who doubt that LGB people in general truly have the best interest of trans* people at heart and am beginning to believe that they are merely including/using trans* people in the LGBT “community” (and I use the word “community” loosely, if not sarcastically) purely to increase their numbers.

Questions:

1.  What do you think of the headline for this article?  Based on the 2 definitions of “yellow journalism” provided above, do you you think this article is an example of yellow journalism?  Why or why not”?

2.  Do you think trans* people should “secede” from the LTB movement and focus on needs specific to trans* people?  Why or why not?

RatFems, AKA Fauxfeminists: Quit Your Lying ‘Cause We’re Watching You

The following post was reblogged from Suzan’s blog Women Born Transsexual.   Note:  “AFAB” means “assigned female at birth.”

Julia Serano has been Targeted for attacks by the RadFem SCUM

07/07/2012 — Suzan

Reposted with permission

First of all embracing SCUM and Valerie Solanis kind of marks people off as nut jobs.

Prior to going on to becoming famous for shooting one of the 20th century’s most important gay male artists (nearly murdering him) Solanis wrote a screed titled The Scum Manifesto.

The RadFem hagiography would have people believe Valerie Solanis was a misunderstood genius with impeccable feminist credentials and not a zoned out homicidal maniac from Alphabet City.

I know there was a movie that tried to paint her as someone cruelty abused by Andy Warhol and the people of the “Factory”.

Reality: She was an abusive stalker.

While SCUM Manifesto has a few viciously funny observations in it it is mostly the blathering of a mentally disturbed person.

After Valerie Solanis was released from prison she wound up dying of exposure while sleeping on a roof top because none of the feminists who lauded her wanted to actually be within pistol range of her.

Oddly enough Solanis wasn’t all that anti-transsexual/transgender or I should say the movie, I shot Andy Warhol, portrays her as being not all that anti TS/TG as it shows her being a friend of the late Candy Darling.

Well, fast forward and the radfem bigots have blogs that invoke Valerie Solanis’s screed.

Like Valerie they are both truth and sanity challenged.

But this blog and others among the radfem and their dubiously claimed intersex male ally Nicky (Komododragon) have embraced Valerie as some sort of icon; they are using this blog and others to attack Julia Serano.

Well not just Julia Serano, but JOS  at Feministing too, as well as a whole range of  highly reputable TS/TG bloggers who have had the audacity to say that the misogyny faced by TS/TG women and transkids is the same misogyny faced by assigned female at birth women and girls.

Unless one is incredibly privileged access to abortion and birth control are not the only issues faced by women today.

This is obvious enough to women who aren’t partners in law offices that defend some of the scummiest corporations in America.

Otherwise the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act wouldn’t be such a big deal.

If women weren’t being fucked over by those Wall Street Banks and Firms defended by the law offices of the above mentioned radfem, then women wouldn’t be out there as part of Occupy.

One has to wonder why the radfems, who sound identical to the Christo-Fascists and radical right, cropped up now to disrupt feminism which is engaged in fighting against the right wing/Christo-Fascist War on Women.  Especially since many TS/TG women are also feminists.  Some, like this Blog regularly keep people abreast of the right wing attacks on reproductive rights.

Julia Serano wrote a serious book that showed the intersectionality of transphobia and misogyny.  A lot of us read it and said, “Fuck Yeah!”

Everyone knows that according to radfems TS/TG women are nothing but mindless fembots controlling the fashion and cosmetic industry forcing women into a subservient position all .001% of us, sort of the same way the Jews supposedly control the world and are responsible for all the evils of the world.

Somehow Julia found time from her busy schedule of perpetuating the patriarchy to write this book that caused a lot of TS/TG sisters to come to the conclusion that transphobia was misogyny directed at a tiny minority group of people who are women in spite of not being assigned female at birth.

Of course the radfems whipped out the disingenuous charge that TS/TG women were some how raping women by taking hormones and having operations that allowed us to feel at home within our very own skins.

Never mind how feminism has chided those who use rape as a metaphor for actions other than actual rape.

Or that TS/TG people can and are often the victims of rape, assault and murder.

Radfem transphobic bigotry is identical to right wing racism and antisemitism, a whipping up of hatred and bigotry using exaggerated claims and  collective guilt.  The same sort of bigotry one finds behind Jim Crow and Apartheid laws.  The same sort of hatred and bigotry one found behind the Nürnberger Gesetze:

The Nuremberg Laws (German: Nürnberger Gesetze) of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating antisemitism as a form of scientific racism. There was a rapid growth in German legislation directed at Jews and other groups, such as the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service which banned “non-Aryans” and political opponents of the Nazis, from the civil-service.

The lack of a clear legal method of defining who was Jewish had, however, allowed some Jews to escape some forms of discrimination aimed at them. The enactment of laws identifying who was Jewish made it easier for the Nazis to enforce legislation restricting the basic rights of German Jews.

The Nuremberg Laws classified people with four German grandparents as “German or kindred blood”, while people were classified as Jews if they descended from three or four Jewish grandparents. A person with one or two Jewish grandparents was a Mischling, a crossbreed, of “mixed blood”.[1] These laws deprived Jews of German citizenship and prohibited marriage between Jews and other Germans.[2]

The Nuremberg Laws also included a ban on sexual intercourse between people defined as “Jews” and non-Jewish Germans and prevented “Jews” from participating in German civic life. These laws were both an attempt to return the Jews of 20th-century Germany to the position that Jews had held before their emancipation in the 19th century; although in the 19th century Jews could have evaded restrictions by converting, this was no longer possible.

The laws were a legal embodiment of an already existing Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

Yes I am comparing the thinking of the radfems to Nazi antisemitism.

Not only are they attacking TS/TG women but any AFAB women who support us including those feminist bloggers.

Ironically I have reason to believe that several of the “radfems” are in fact self hating post-op transsexuals who also hold AFAB women in contempt.

Cisgender Privilege Cis People Take for Granted

If you’re cisgender, have you ever even thought about these things?  Probably not—you probably take these things for granted because you have “cisgender privilege.”  Trans* people have to consider all of these on a daily basis.

30+ Examples of Cisgender Privilege


  1. Use public restrooms without fear of verbal abuse, physical intimidation, or arrest.

  2. Use public facilities such as gym locker rooms and store changing rooms without stares, fear, or anxiety.

  3. Strangers don’t assume they can ask you what your genitals look like and how you have sex.

  4. Your validity as a man/woman/human is not based on how much surgery you’ve had or how well you “pass” as non-transgender.

  5. You have the ability to walk through the world and generally blend-in, not being constantly stared or gawked at, whispered about, pointed at, or laughed at because of your gender expression.

  6. You can access gender exclusive spaces such as the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Greek Life, or Take Back the Night and not be excluded due to your trans status.

  7. Strangers call you by the name you provide, and don’t ask what your “real name” [birth name] is and then assume that they have a right to call you by that name.

  8. You can reasonably assume that your ability to acquire a job, rent an apartment, or secure a loan will not be denied on the basis of your gender identity/expression.

  9. You have the ability to flirt, engage in courtship, or form a relationship and not fear that your biological status may be cause for rejection or attack, nor will it cause your partner to question their sexual orientation.

  10. If you end up in the emergency room, you do not have to worry that your gender will keep you from receiving appropriate treatment, or that all of your medical issues will be seen as a result of your gender.

  11. Your identity is not considered a mental pathology (“gender identity disorder” in the DSM IV) by the psychological and medical establishments.

  12. You have the ability to not worry about being placed in a sex-segregated detention center, holding facility, jail or prison that is incongruent with your identity.

  13. You have the ability to not be profiled on the street as a sex worker because of your gender expression.

  14. You are not required to undergo an extensive psychological evaluation in order to receive basic medical care.

  15. You do not have to defend you right to be a part of “Queer,” and gays and lesbians will not try to exclude you from “their” equal  rights movement because of your gender identity (or any equality movement, including feminist rights).

  16. If you are murdered (or have any crime committed against you), your gender expression will not be used as a justification for your murder (“gay panic”) nor as a reason to coddle the perpetrators.

  17. You can easily find role models and mentors to emulate who share your identity.

  18. Hollywood accurately depicts people of your gender in films and television, and does not solely make  your identity the focus of a dramatic storyline, or the punchline for a joke.

  19. Be able to assume that everyone you encounter will understand your identity, and not think you’re confused, misled, or hell-bound when you reveal it to them.

  20. Being able to purchase clothes that match your gender identity without being refused service/mocked by staff or questioned on your genitals.

  21. Being able to purchase shoes that fit your gender expression without having to order them in special sizes or asking someone to custom-make them.

  22. No stranger checking your identification or drivers license will ever insult or glare at you because your name or sex does not match the sex they believed you to be based on your gender expression.

  23. You can reasonably assume that you will not be denied services at a hospital, bank, or other institution because the staff does not believe the gender marker on your ID card to match your gender identity.

  24. Having your gender as an option on a form.

  25. Being able to tick a box on a form without someone disagreeing, and telling you not to lie.  Yes, this happens.

  26. Not fearing interactions with police officers due to your gender identity.

  27. Being able to go to places with friends on a whim knowing there will be bathrooms there you can use.

  28. You don’t have to convince your parents of your true gender and/or have to earn your parents’ and siblings’ love and respect all over again.

  29. You don’t have to remind your extended family over and over to use proper gender pronouns (e.g., after transitioning).

  30. You don’t have to deal with old photographs that did not reflect who you truly are.

  31. Knowing that if you’re dating someone they aren’t just looking to satisfy a curiosity or kink pertaining to your gender identity (e.g., the “novelty” of having sex with a trans person).

  32. Being able to pretend that anatomy and gender are irrevocably entwined when having the “boy parts and girl parts” talk with children, instead of explaining the actual complexity of the issue.

http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2011/11/list-of-cisgender-privileges/

RatFems on Pussy Patrol at RatFest 2012!

rat  (răt)
n.

1.

a.  Any of various long-tailed rodents resembling mice but larger, especially one of the genus Rattus.
b.  Any of various animals similar to one of these long-tailed rodents.

2.   Slang

a.   A despicable person, especially one who betrays or informs upon associates.
b.   A scab laborer.

3.   A pad of material, typically hair, worn as part of a woman’s coiffure to puff out her own hair.

Note:  I posted part of this as a comment on Suzan’s blog Women Born Transsexual back in May.

Dear Ratfesters,

I am a cisgender woman.  I don’t give a rat’s ass whether YOU like the word “cisgender” or not—it’s how I identify MYSELF, and I don’t accept other people’s labels.   But how will you know… for sure…  that I am a cisgender woman  if I show up one if your Ratfests?

Does the RatFest Pussy Patrol plan to inspect my body to make sure I have the “right” genitals.  Or perhaps do DNA testing to make sure I have 2 X chromosomes?  Or maybe look  for scars to make sure I’ve not had GRS? Still, how will you know… FOR SURE?

What if I have Klinefelter’s Syndrome (47, XXY, or XXY syndrome) in which a person is typically considered “male” but who may have 2, 3 or even 4 X chromosomes (and at least 1 but up to 5 Y chromosomes) and whose secondary sex characteristics can be ambiguous?  How about de la Chapelle syndrome (also called XX male syndrome), in which I may have male genitalia but an XX karyotype?  With either of those disorders I’d have 2 X chromosomes.  Wouldn’t having 2 X chromosomes make me a woman?  Maybe I have Swyer syndrome (XY gonadal dysgenesis)—with what appears to be a female body but without breast development (because I have no ovaries, although I do have a uterus), with an XY karyotype.   Having a uterus… wouldn’t that make me a woman?  Alternatively, I could have androgen insensitivity syndrome, in which I may also have the appearance of a woman but the XY karyotype of a male.  If I look like a woman, wouldn’t THAT make me a woman? If you only count X chromosomes you’d be in trouble if I have Turner Syndrome, in which a female has only 1 chromosome (an X).  Tell me, would I be a man because I only have 1 X chromosome or a woman because I have no Y chromosome?  If I am a woman would you be defining me by what I look like or by the lack of a Y chromosome?   Wait!  Lack of a Y chromosome… wouldn’t that be defining a woman based on something she lacks?!!!  I could really add to your trouble if I have Turner mosaicism, in which the other X chromosome is missing in some cells but not in others!  I suppose you’d become even more confused if I had Triple X (Trisomy X), Quadruple X (Tetrasomy X, 48 or XXXX), or XXXXX Syndrome (Pentasomy X, 49 or XXXXXX) in which I would have 3, 4 or 5 X chromosomes, respectively.  Ho,  hum.  

Intersex conditions can also result from 5-alpha-reductase deficiency (a genetic mutation affecting hormones necessary for the development of male genitalia, XY karyotype only, may also present with female genitalia) or  aphallia (congenital malformation in which the penis or clitoris is absent; XX or XY karyotype); Addison’s Disease (a rare, chronic endocrine disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce sufficient steroid hormones, resulting in enlarged clitoris and shallow vagina or ambiguous genitalia in girls);  Fraser Syndrome (an autosomal recessive congenital disorder that results in a micropenis in a boy or an abnormally enlarged clitoris in a girl);  acquired clitoromegaly (abnormal enlargement of the clitoris, which, in an adult woman,  is generally due to endocrine hormonal imbalance such as that seen in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS);  progestin-induced virilisation (fetal masculinization of female external genitalia due to pre-natal exposure to androgenic steroids); 17-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency (a rare genetic disorder that affects testosterone biosynthesis and produces  impaired virilization of genetically male infants and children and excessive virilization of female adults, which can result in ambiguous external genitalia or complete female external genitalia at birth, regardless of karyotype); congenital adrenal hyperplasia (any of several genetic disorders that result in the excessive or deficient production of sex steroids, which can cause ambiguous external genitalia and/or alter the development of primary or secondary sex characteristics); penile agenesis (a birth defect in which a boy is born without a penis, often as a consequence of testicular agenesis); or tetragametic chimerism (the fertilization of a male and a female nonidentical twin ovum in a very early phase of development results in a mixture of tissues; chromosomal karyotypes will be male in some parts of the body and female in others; most chimeras composed of both male and female cells probably do not have an intersex condition, as often most or all of the cells of a single cell type will be composed of a single cell line, i.e. the blood may be composed prominently of one cell line, and the internal organs of the other cell line, so if the sex organs are homogeneous, the individual will not be expected to exhibit any intersex traits; may present with ambiguous genitalia, or both male and female genitalia in rare form of intersexuality formerly known as “true hermaphroditism“).

Would female genitalia make me a woman?  How about the lack of a penis?  Lack of testicles?  Lack of facial and body hair?  The presence of ovaries?   Breasts?  And how would you define me if my genitals are ambiguous or if I have both male and female genitalia—if I’m intersex?  Is it determined by how I was raised?  Is that fair—that some male doctor may have made a bad judgement call and labeled me a “boy” and my parents, not knowing any better raised me as a boy “because the doctor said so” but I’ve always known that I was a girl?

So… will the Ratfest Pussy Patrol require me to strip off all my clothes, or what?  Or  does the Ratfest Pussy Patrol plan to check my chromosomes?  You Ratfesters may have to check various parts of my body.  You might need to examine my body VERY closely.  And how are you going to know… FOR SURE?   Maybe my clit is really a dick.  Or maybe my clit is enlarged to the point where it is mistaken for a dick.  I could be a trans woman who just wants to expose myself to you or I could be a cisgender lesbian with the hottest body you’ve ever seen!  If you took that last sentence seriously, you really are a transphobic bitch.

You RatFems make me prefer to deal with ignorant, homophobic, christian fundamentalist bigots—at least they’re not hypocritical liars and are consistent with their ignorance and hate.  Who died and left you in charge of the dictionary and the right to define what a “woman” is and is not?  Who gave you the right to make arbitrary decisions to exclude people you don’t like, based on stigma, blatantly false information and flat out hate and ignorance?  Who gave you the right to lie about being inclusive of trans women when there are digital records of you stating otherwise?

There is no doubt that men have historically marginalized women. But women are also oppressed due to gender identity, race, religion, social class, perceived attractiveness, sexual orientation, and ability. No one is equal until all are equal, including trans women.  You RatFems call yourself feminists?  Ha!  My father—who hurls the words “liberal” and “feminist” at me as though they are bad things, lol, but with the vitriol usually reserved when people use slurs—is more of a feminist than you are because he believes in equal rights for all human beings.

Trans women are WOMEN.  If you RatFems pulled your heads out of your asses, took some time to educate yourselves on the subject, opened your minds and got to KNOW some transgender women, you’d know that.

There is a special place in hell for women who oppress and marginalize other women.  Have a WONDERFUL day.

Who—Or WHAT—Are the RatFems?

rat  (răt)
n.

1.

a. Any of various long-tailed rodents resembling mice but larger, especially one of the genus Rattus.
b. Any of various animals similar to one of these long-tailed rodents.
2.   Slang
a. A despicable person, especially one who betrays or informs upon associates.
b. A scab laborer.
3.   A pad of material, typically hair, worn as part of a woman’s coiffure to puff out her own hair.  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rat

Who are the RatFems?  They call themselves “Radical Feminists.” On one of their blogs, the RatFems state, “We are female-identified, women-born women and are collectively anti-pornography, anti-prostitution, trans-critical, and PIV-critical.”  For anyone who doesn’t know, “PIV” stands for “penis in vagina.” Yes,  for real!  I am 100% serious!)   (http://radicalhub.com/about/)

My immediate reaction to this is to call bullshit because I think the RatFems are a bunch of self-serving, man-hating, bigoted wannabes who are so resentful of other people’s power that they take it out on other oppressed groups by trying to rob them of power (which, by the way, is a classic example of zero-sum thinking—the way men tend to conceptualize power, while women’s conceptualization of power tends to be non-zero-sum) but I am going to approach this in an organized, logical, non-emotional, rational manner (and I promise not to accuse anyone of assaulting me! 😉 ) 

Feminism, by definition, is:

…a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.  In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.   A feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism)

Feminists are concerned about equal rights for women.  The RatFems do not support equal rights for trans women, therefore, by definition, the RatFems are not feminists.

Radical feminism, by definition, is

…a current perspective within feminism that focuses on the theory of patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex of relationships based on the assertion that male supremacy oppresses women. Radical feminism aims to challenge and overthrow patriarchy by opposing standard gender roles and oppression of women and calls for a radical reordering of society.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_feminism)

Blah, blah, blah.  Okay.  Radical feminists focus on the overall dynamic of patriarchy and challenging gender roles.  The RatFems may or may not be “radical” but the  RatFems are still not feminists.

Separatist feminism, by definition, is “a form of radical feminism that holds that opposition to patriarchy is best done through focusing exclusively on women and girls.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separatist_feminism)  RatFest and the RatFems’ statement in their blog (quoted above)  about who they are should be clear indications of exclusive focus on women and girls. So it would appear that the RatFems may be “radical” and that they are “separatists”… but the RatFems are not “feminists!”

Lesbian separatism, by definition, is a form of separatist feminism specific to lesbians and:

…is posited as a key feminist strategy that enables women to invest their energies in other women, creating new space and dialogue about women’s relationships, and typically, limits their dealings with men….  In addition to advocating withdrawal from working, personal or casual relationships with men, The Furies recommended that Lesbian Separatists relate “only (with) women who cut their ties to male privilege” and suggest that “as long as women still benefit from heterosexuality, receive its privileges and security, they will at some point have to betray their sisters, especially Lesbian sisters who do not receive those benefits.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbian_separatism#Lesbian_separatism)

In  Learning from Lesbian Separatism, Bunch maintains that “in a male-supremacist society, heterosexuality is a political institution” and separatism is a way to “escape its domination.”   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbian_separatism#Lesbian_separatism    The RatFems cite “Sheila Jeffreys’s [sic] entire life’s work of pro-female, pro-lesbian, PIV-critical radical feminist analysis” on their blog (http://radicalhub.com/2012/06/26/carrying-a-sheila-jeffreys-sign-at-dyke-march-is-inappropriate-what/) and they had invited Jeffreys to speak at this year’s RatFest (although that didn’t work out) so the RatFems clearly see Jeffreys as a role model of sorts.  In a pamphlet that Jeffreys helped write, it is stated, “We do think… that all feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Jeffreys

“Female-identified” seems to be code for “lesbian;”  the RatFems appear to be “radical,” they are apparently “lesbian”and they are “separatists”)… BUT the RatFems are still not “feminists!”

Historically, radical feminists opposed pornography and prostitution,  so that is consistent with how the RatFems describe themselves.  However, Ellen Willis cautioned against making alliances with the political right on these issues, which is quite ironic because the RatFems—with their vitriolic hatred and misogynistic stereotyping of trans women—look and sound just like the rabid right-winger KKKristian fundamentalist bigots we all love to hate.

Misogyny, by definition is:

…the hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women or girls.  According to feminist theory, misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women….    Traditional feminist theorists describe many different attitudes as misogyny.  According to feminists, in its most overt expression, a misogynist will openly hate all women simply because they are female….   In feminist theory other forms of misogyny may be less overt.   Some misogynists may simply be prejudiced against all women, or may hate women who do not fall into one or more acceptable categories.   “Though most common in men, misogyny also exists in and is practiced by women against other women or even themselves….” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misogyny)

Wow.  Discrimination against trans women is misogyny.  (Who woulda thought?)   And, since the RatFems make no secret about their discrimination against trans women, the Ratfems practically brag about being misogynists. The RatFems do a great disservice to everyone.  They exemplify the stereotype that all feminists are lesbians and all lesbians are man-hating bull-dykes who want to be (or think they are) MEN.  If the RatFems discriminate against trans women (who one could say have a disability, i.e., they were born with a medical birth defect that resulted in them being raised the wrong gender and it requires medical treatment), who else are they oppressing and discriminating against?  In addition to gender identity, (and apparently sexual orientation)—categories the RatFems don’t seem concerned with—other radical feminists recognize other categories of oppression  including:   race, social class, perceived attractiveness,  and ability, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_feminism) and in light of more recent events, I would also be concerned about oppression based on ethnicity, color, religion, culture and national origin as well, to name a few.  Do the RatFems care about any categories besides the ones their privileged few belong to?  Do they recognize and acknowledge their own privilege (white, Judeo-Christian, American, cisgender, for example) in our society?   Somehow, I doubt it.

The RatFems are radical, lesbian separatists who believe in equal rights for women who are like them and if someone is not like them, that person’s very existence is a threat because it brings into question the validity of how the RatFems are living their own lives.   If you’re not a lesbian and/or you “do dick,” you’re out.  If your definition of pornography doesn’t match theirs and you aren’t against it and all forms of prostitution, you’re out.  If you don’t clearly identify yourself as a woman 100% of the time (using a binary gender system) or you were not born and raised as a female child OR you recognize trans women as human beings and women who were born with a medical condition that has been or is being corrected medically, you are out.  If you don’t agree 100% with THEIR agenda, YOU ARE OUT.  Sounds controlling, huh?  Sounds a lot like straight, white, cisgender men to me.  The RatFems are NOT Radical Feminists. The RatFems are misogynists. 

Who—Or WHAT—Are the RatFems?

The RatFems are Radical Fauxminists.

…For One Moment


Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be transgender or transsexual? Do you wonder what it would be like to experience incongruence between your identity and your anatomy? Do you wonder how much different you would be?
[TRIGGER WARNING.  Note: This will be explained at the end of the post.]

If you are a cisgender woman, reading the following excerpt of a post from Devyn’s blog Trans*Positive may give you an idea:

I have always valued my individuality. I have always worked to make a place for myself as myself. Of course, I did not always succeed. I was fighting a losing battle with my gender identity for years; but still attempted to be authentic. I conformed, as we all do at least sometimes, in order to fit in and to take advantage of the privileges that were afforded to me.

Over the years, I became increasingly uncomfortable with myself, with my body. I spent nights crying over the state of my body, followed by days of crippling gender dysphoria; sometimes it was all I could do to get out of bed. My body developed to be more specifically gendered: my skin became rougher; I began to grow hair all over my body; my muscles began to grow and become harder, stronger, and more defined. I hated the way this made me feel. I hated the way I fit inside my body. I felt clumsy; I felt encumbered.

I was angry. I became angry easily, and this made me even more angry. My temper was out of control at times. Inside, I felt a multitude of emotions rampaging through my thoughts. Externally, I reacted with anger, frustration, and violence. I wanted to cry, and instead I became physically violent. I wanted to talk about my feelings and share my passions. Instead I became tongue tied and frustrated.

In many ways, I still feel this way. Some days, I still struggle with negative body image issues and gender dysphoria; though never as severely now as before. Some days, I am angry.

Now, back to reality:  Transgender and transsexual people live with some degree of this every moment of their entire lives, even AFTER transition.

If  imagining yourself transgender/transsexual for a minute or so made you feel uncomfortable, THAT’S GOOD–it means you’re learning.  Please pass this knowledge on to others to help in the battle against transphobia and the stigma associated with being trans*.

Note:  A “Trigger Warning” is a warning to trans* people (especially those in transition)  that the material that follows may “trigger” or evoke  feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt and/or anxiety related to their own gender dysphoria, thus giving them the option as to whether to continue reading or not.

Where is the Pride?

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I returned from the 10th Annual St. Pete Pride Street Festival & Promenade on Saturday feeling disappointed, sad and a bit angry.  The parade normally starts at 9 a.m. and the street festival goes until 3 p.m.; I usually get home between 2:30 and 3:30.   I was home on Saturday before 11:15 and I’m not sure I was even there for the entire parade. 

Let me begin by saying that I hadn’t felt well for several days. I have a few medical conditions that had been making me feel like crap lately, and for some reason, the heat has been bothering me more than usual, making me feel weak, lethargic, and nauseated.  I haven’t been sleeping well, and although I set my alarm clock to wake me early enough to give me plenty of time to make it to the staging area by the 8:30 a.m. deadline, my alarm clock didn’t wake me and I woke up 45 minutes late. 

So, I’m running VERY late—I have 45 minutes to get up, take a shower, get dressed, grab what I need and get to the meeting place on time and I have to take a shower because my hair is filthy and disgusting.  My daughter and I have been talking about marching in this Pride parade for this whole past year (she missed the past 2 years because she was in the hospital) and I was really looking forward to going with her, but I had to be a responsible parent and take the privilege away despite how I felt….  Needless to say, I wasn’t as excited about going this year, and didn’t lay out my clothes, etc., the night before, so I ended up wearing my bright pink “Love is a Human Right” t-shirt instead of my tie-dyed rainbow colored “St. Pete Pride” one, only because I knew where that one was.   Anyway, I ran out of the house before putting all the hair elastics in my hair (arranged in rainbow order) and without the one Diet Coke I allow myself each day—my daily allotment of caffeine—which,  had I not rushed off without it, probably would have made me feel at least a little bit better.  I did remember to grab my water (pre-frozen the night before, but removed from the freezer at some ungodly hour that morning… it was only cool and tasted gross), my camera, and batteries for the camera, and set the security alarm before leaving.

As I pulled out of my driveway, I glanced at the car radio clock:  8:30.  Crap!  The message I got the night before said that  in order to march in the parade, I would need to be there by 8:30.  (I had decided months ago—and my daughter agreed—that I wanted to march with a trans* group in the parade.  A month or more ago I asked my only local Facebook friend who I am aware is trans* about groups that may be marching in this year’s parade but it turned out that she was going to be marching with another non-trans* group.  A week ago, I finally located a trans* group in the area that would be marching—Trans*Action Florida, Florida’s only state level trans* advocacy organization—but they didn’t see my post until days later, the night before the parade.)

All morning—when I hadn’t been telling myself that maybe it would be better if I skipped the parade and just stayed in bed, that is—I’d been wondering whether maybe it just wasn’t meant to be for me to march in the parade this year  and wondered whether I should just stop rushing, take my time, go to the parade and enjoy myself.  But I had been looking forward to this all year and was afraid that I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try.  Naturally, consistent with the kind of day I’d been having so far, I drove right past the place I’d planned on parking, looked around, realized that parking in other places looked pretty limited, so I drove all the way around the block and parked.  Then I trudged the 1/2 mile or so to the meeting place, crossing streets safely but sometimes against traffic lights.  It was considerably after 8:30 but I thought, “WTF?” and decided to try to find the group, with the hope that I would still be allowed to march with them.

Surprisingly enough, I found the Trans*Action Florida group right away, which was an amazing stroke of luck, considering that the past 2 years I walked around for 1/2 hour or more searching for the groups I was planning on marching with in the parade.  Then came the hard part—walking up to the group and introducing myself.  I did it, getting that “Who is that cis woman and WTF is she doing here with us?” look from several people—I walked up to a very tall beautiful woman who I will call “A” and she introduced me to the Executive Director of Trans*Action Florida.  I was even able to  awkwardly but intelligibly converse with a few people and mentioned my blog and the trans* groups I am involved with on Facebook.  “A” gave me her card, “so you can email me,” she said, and told me I could search for her by name on Facebook.  And I will do exactly that… once I finish this becoming-longer-and-more-unwieldy-by-the-minute post.

Maybe it was my general discomfort in social situations.  Maybe it was the fact that I knew absolutely no one in a brand-new group of people.  Maybe it was the fact that everyone else there obviously knew each other.  Maybe it was the fact that I was introduced to the rest of the group as an “ally” (read: “outsider”.)  Maybe it was because Trans*Action Florida is headed by a trans man and it “feels” as though the organization is very male-dominated.  Maybe it was because I missed my daughter and my trans* friends and wished they were there with me.   And maybe the fact that I felt physically ill made it all worse.  Likely it was some combination of several of these factors that made me feel, as usual, that I did not belong—that I was, once more, on the outside looking in.

Then there was the parade itself.  I read somewhere that up to 100,000 people were expected at this year’s Pride event.  Well, marching in the parade, there seemed to be considerably fewer spectators than last year and the year before, and the few protesters seemed louder.  Disappointment.  The parade itself seemed fragmented.  Our group fell far behind (as did others in the groups that followed us) and people were wandering out  into the street in front of us.  And although the appearance of our group was often greeted with resounding applause, the fracturing of the parade seemed to reflect divisiveness in the LGBT community and the feeling of being “cut off from the rest” seemed analogous to how the “T” in “LGBT” is often “cut off”, i.e., left out and/or ignored.  Sadness.

Finally, at some point while our section of the parade paused, someone came out of the crowd and took a picture of “A.”  Now don’t get me wrong—”A” is a beautiful woman. She has gorgeous red hair (one of the other women told her to be sure that everyone knows that it is her hair—not a wig!) and was wearing a nice dress.  BUT, “A” is not a man, was not dressed in drag and moreover did not look like a man dressed in drag, and it made me angry to see “A” being treated like a freak at the circus.  Perhaps the photographer was a friend of “A’s”.  This incident was a perfect example of how many cisgender people can treat trans* people like freaks without even being aware of doing so…  and it made me mad.  DisgustedAngryOutraged.

Where is the Pride?  Where is the Pride when trans* people are included in the LGBTQQIAAP alphabet soup in name only?  Where is the Pride when trans* people are discriminated against in every aspect of human life in our society?  Where is the Pride when trans* people— human beings—are  gawked at, whispered about, laughed at and otherwise treated like freaks at a circus?  Where is the Pride when trans* people are teased, ridiculed, humiliated,  bullied, tormented, tortured, beaten, raped and murdered and their bodies dismembered,  mutilated beyond recognition and burned… to the point  that identification of what remains of their corpses requires comparison to dental records and/or DNA analysis?  I looked around and I couldn’t find it among the signs that read, “I Love My Gay Son,”  “This Vietnam Vet Supports Gay Marriage,” “I Love My Gay Friend,” “I Love My Lesbian Daughter,” “gay” this and “gay” that.  I don’t see any of those things as “self-affirming” or worthy of celebration; in fact, they only serve to perpetuate the shame and social stigma associated with being a TG/TS person in our culture.   As a supporter of the trans* community I felt invisible; I cannot begin to imagine how trans* people must have felt at a festival that is supposed to be celebrating their uniqueness and inclusion in  an L-G-B-T “community.”

On this note and in this lousy frame of mind I watched a few minutes of the parade go by and then realized that I felt too sick to stick around any longer, so I started heading towards my car.  Because of all the disjointedness and gaps in the parade, I’m not sure whether or not  I saw all of it before I got into my car and drove home.

On the Outside Looking In or On the Inside Looking Out?

 As I am cisgender, once again this is written from a cisgender perspective, with me sharing my own real experiences with real transgender people.  Cisgender readers may appreciate this because they will be able to relate to the cisgender perspective and this may serve to normalize their thoughts and feelings.  Some transgender people may become angry when they read about some of the thoughts, feelings and behaviors I have chosen to share.  But, in the interest of  increasing awareness of transgender issues and transphobia, and creating more understanding between transgender and cisgender people, I am willing to be completely honest about some past behaviors that I am not proud of.

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Pre-Facebook

Philadelphia Lesbian & Gay Task Force

In the first 50 years of my life, I actually knew several transgender people.  CORRECTION:  I knew several people who I was aware were transgender because I was told that they were.  I did not personally examine their genitals nor did I personally discuss this issue with them.  I was introduced to (but cannot say I “knew”) Kate Bornstein, who has been well-known in the transgender community for decades; this was back in the 1980s when I was doing volunteer work for the Philadelphia Lesbian & Gay Task Force (PLGTF).  I took a picture of her at a protest in Philadelphia, but I seem to have misplaced it.  Click here to view Kate’s blog.

Kate Bornstein (recent picture)

 

I spent an afternoon with another transgender woman at a protest organized by the PLGTF; I vaguely recall her mentioning her gender status to me (I already knew) but I clearly remember my discomfort and not knowing what to say to her.   CONTINUE…

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