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RIP Leelah Alcorn

Leelah Angel

If you don’t know who Leelah Alcorn was, I’m sure you haven’t crawled out from under a rock just to read my blog. Just in case, Google her name to read about her tragic suicide. Get some tissues first because the story sucks.

But the purpose of this post is to pass on information to verify that the accounts of the torment  — psychological torture, actually — by her parents is absolutely true.

Read this, then please go to Transgender Graphics’ Facebook page by clicking on the picture to post your note of thanks to Mr. Davis for his support for the transgender community:

Leelah Davis post

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Don’t forget to click on the picture to post your note of thanks to Mr. Davis for his support for the transgender community.

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To report any incident of violence towards a transgender person anywhere in the world, please do so at the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal here.

 

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Being Trans Doesn’t Give You a Free Pass to Be an Asshole

Or a Misogynist.

This is what irks me about some — and I emphasize some  (although this has been an all-too-frequent experience and is why I tend to shy away from them)  trans men who seem to think that it is okay to act like misogynist assholes, now that they are free to be “themselves.” No, little boys, being male is not always synonymous with “asshole.”  And yes, if you swagger around, swinging your literal or figurative prosthetic penis around, bragging about its size as you scratch your non-existent balls while calling women “bitches” and otherwise seeking to malign and oppress us, then you are nothing more than an adolescent 14 year old stilted in social development, which to me makes you an immature little boy.

Today I joined a closed Facebook group called Medicare Transgender Surgery Support Group. Imagine my chagrin when the first post I read included comments not only referring to Dr. Marci Bowers, by her first name when none of the male physicians were referred to in such a disrespectful manner, but also referring to her as a “bitch.”

I lost no time in responding to this:  

 

“Bitch” is a sexist slur, and it is “Dr.” Marci Bowers. I don’t see anyone referring to any male physicians by slurs or w/out their proper titles.

Or is this a misogynist FTM group that I mistakenly joined? <–Serious question, as I have not the time nor energy to waste my knowledge or expertise on people who have no respect for others of MY gender.

 

After receiving a response from the group administrator that the group is not a misogynist hate group of FTMs, I posted the following:

 

For anyone who is not familiar with DR. Marci Bowers’ innovative work in transgender surgery, here is some information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marci_Bowers

For anyone who doubts Dr. Bowers’ work for the trans community, I suggest you read it. For anyone who thinks she is greedy, I draw your attention to the following:

“Bowers also puts her expertise in vaginoplasty at the disposal of victims of female genital mutilation, whom she does not charge for surgery.[17] She was trained for this specific operation under Pierre Foldès and has performed 50 reversals of fgm so far.[18]”

I have friends who have had, will have and/or wish to have their surgeries done by Dr. Bowers. Those who know her think of her as an angel who has saved their lives.

 

And then, when the same trans man who had called Dr. Bowers a “bitch” (but whose comment in the meantime had mysteriously disappeared) responded by saying that he doesn’t “like” Dr. Bowers or her surgical results, I could not keep my mouth shut:

 

Calling a woman a bitch because one doesn’t like them is no different from calling someone the t-word just because one doesn’t like them… or the n-word or any other slur. It is not acceptable.

Don’t like her results? Don’t like her as a person? Curious… all my friends who’ve gotten their surgery from Dr. Bowers have had no complaints and speak the world of her. I would think they’d know, having actually been operated on by her and met her in person and all.

I’m not here to argue. But I will point out that alienating half of the population by calling them bitches is not the way to get allies. Just sayin’.

 

Or a Transmisogynist.

Actually  and more accurately  an entitled, bitching, whiny trans person who trashes the trans community, trans people and allies, complaining about the efforts of trans activists who are working to make the world better and safer for you instead of getting off your lazy ass and doing something  yourself.

How dare you?  When people like Allison Woolbert spend countless hours, days and weeks every year working on the Transgender Violence Tracking Project, collecting, tabulating and analyzing statistics on trans violence  to quantify the rampant discrimination and the senseless and horrific acts of violence encountered by trans people every day so that governments world-wide will have no choice but to face the fact that trans violence is real, how f’ing dare you sit on your lazy asses and make demands or trash others in the trans community?  You wonder why you have it so hard?  Well, look at yourself.

⇒  Click here to report an incident of trans violence ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD 

Tell me to “die cis scum” all you like  you certainly won’t be the first, and I doubt that you will be the last. But before you whine and complain about how hard things are for you (and believe me, I’m not saying that they’re not), and definitely before you trash others who are doing productive work to make things better, look at what you are doing… or not doing. Pissing off the people who are trying to help make your life better just won’t work.

If you don’t know where to begin, you might want to check out the volunteer opportunities with the Trans Violence Tracking Portal here.

 

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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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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.

Watch Your Language… PLEASE

 

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