Marti Abernathey

I'm A Bitch, I'm A Lover

Filed By Marti Abernathey | August 31, 2007 9:49 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: transgender, Washington Blade

Meredith Brooks once sang:

I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know, you wouldn't want it any other way

But I guess there are some gay men who aren't channeling Merideth Brooks. From the Washington Blade's "Bitch Session"

It's transgender people that need the gay and lesbian movement to succeed not the other way around. They are a minority within a minority who couldn't get very far without us yet they always arrogantly fail to recognize that! Learn some humility instead of being so damn uppity.

To the transgender activist who had the gall to say that gays and lesbians can't move forward without them: The fact is transgender activists have opposed gay rights legislation in the past simply because they weren't included! Despite their being as bad as Christian conservatives or selfish brats, we often managed to succeed without them! They should thank us for forgiving them for this and allowing them to retard our progress by including them now!

Uppity (gosh, in what context have I heard that word used)? To anyone who has this mindset, I say *insert your favorite expletive here*.

If you need a GLBT history review:

and

We are ONE community. You may want to deny this because we embarrass you. But we've always fought with you and for you. We've earned our place next to you with our bodies.

If you still want transgender activists to go away, then tell your organizations to remove us from their mission statements. The leaders of your organizations are the people that formed this marriage. Go talk to the leadership in the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and all the other GLBT organizations that say they represent the entire GLBT community.

We aren't asking for your charity, we're demanding our rightful place next to you. We don't want to hear you complain until you tell the massa to free the "uppity" transgender people from your mission statements. Until you do that, shut the hell up.

cross posted from Transadvocate.com


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Actually, Alanis never sang that. Merideth Brooks did.

Everything else though, spot on;)

Ugh. The Bitch Session in the Washington Blade represents the absolute worst in gay male culture. It's filled with nothing but racist, woman and trans-hating assholes.

Anyway, I was surprised to read your comments about the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. If we're talking about the history of the gay rights movement, it's important to point out that leaders of national gay non-profits like HRC did not take the lead on including transgender issues in their mission statements. It was definitely trans activists who struggled for years in order to gain trans inclusion in the mainstream gay rights movement. Anything that HRC did was merely reactionary to that pressure.

HRC is critiqued even now for not being trans inclusive in any meaningful way (I know you remember the LOGO debate), so I’m just confused as to why you would make it sound like these larger gay non-profits are the driving force behind merging the trans and gay/lesbian movements together?

I agree with the overall sentiment that people with this view should fuck off. But I just think your argument that it is national gay non-profits that are responsible for the discourse on transgender issues is way off base.

[Note: I can’t view the videos because I don’t have the proper software, so I acknowledge that they may have addressed this issue and I just have my history totally wrong.]

"If we're talking about the history of the gay rights movement, it's important to point out that leaders of national gay non-profits like HRC did not take the lead on including transgender issues in their mission statements. It was definitely trans activists who struggled for years in order to gain trans inclusion in the mainstream gay rights movement. Anything that HRC did was merely reactionary to that pressure."

The fact is, the did. We didn't stick a gun to their head. They added transgender people to their mission statement, and for damn good reason. We've always been there, fighting for the rights of ALL GLBT people. And until the day they remove us, they should advocate fully for us, because it's GLBT not GLB or T. We have no pressure. This guy IS right on one thing, we are a minority in a minority. What kind of pressure could we put on gays and lesbians?

Actually; The TG/TS communities Never Needed the Gay and Lesbian communities. The TG/TS communities have been nothing but numbers for G/L activists. Transgender people have done just fine without your help thank you as a matter of fact being associated with the GLB communities has set us back we would do better without the aid of the GLB and here in California and elsewhere we Have Done Better without Your help. Take it from someone who has been TG from 1980-2000 and now lives the quite life as a member of female society.

Sue


"Take it from someone who has been TG from 1980-2000 and now lives the quite life as a member of female society."

This is a GLBT blog, so other I'm not sure why you're posting here if you're just a quiet member of the "female society" (whatever that means). You're anything but quiet.

As for the gains we've made, we've made them with the help of gays and lesbians.

Michael Bedwell | August 31, 2007 1:13 PM

I agree with you, Marti, on virtually everything you say. But both video clips [created by others, not you, I realize] perfectly illustrate the unintended negative consequences of careless [or ignorant] use of language.

One of my favorite quotes is Mark Twain's, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."

As you know, transgender Susan Stryker was one of the makers of "Screaming Queens," and its narrator. What she gained in a catchy title she lost in clarity of the difference between "drag queens" and transgenders. That helps none of us. The full documentary is more specific, but, again, the title alone unnecessarily throws away the complete opportunity to educate.

The 2006 GLBT History Month clip on Sylvia labels her a “Transgender Activist” but the narrator calls her a “drag queen.” Of course, she typically called herself a “drag queen,” as in her mantra, “"Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned,” and that was reinforced by the name of the group she co-founded, STAR: Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries, though she said it was also for “gay” people. A major challenge in talking objectively about her is that she predated the refinement of nouns which later was shaken up by some whose motivations were not necessarily communication. Sometimes it’s the writer’s own confusion. Here, does “transgender activist” mean “an activist who was transgender” or “an activist for transgenders but not transgender herself” in the same way that men can be feminists and Madonna adopt non-white children, or both. With apologies to Twain, those who knew Sylvia Rivera would probably compare her, some critically, some with admiration, neither to lightning nor certainly not a lightning bug but a lightning storm.

Riki Wilkins wrote in her effusive obituary in the “Village Voice” about Rivera of “genderqueers” at Stonewall. Problem is that term probably didn’t exist in 1969. She comments on word evolution herself when saying that the term “transgender movement ... was not even coined until two decades after Stonewall.”

And some terms which did exist, such as “scare queen” — wearing makeup and/or some “fem” clothing but not full drag — disappeared long ago. However, it most accurately describes Sylvia and others at the time of Stonewall if for no other reason than the fact that the NY police could use the excuse of enforcing the law requiring everyone to wear “three articles of clothing” that was consistent with their perceived gender, perceived by the cops that is, to harass people.

I believe in every individual’s right to call themselves anything they want, and vary that however they might want. But when writing about us, others have a responsibility to be more clear and consistent. The site of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project talks about “queers and trans people” while some “queers” see them one and the same and vice versa. Homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenders and challengers of dated concepts of gender identity of all types, and neo queers remain “foreign lands” to the majority of people. I don’t care what they “think” about us, per se, but know that stopping them oppressing us depends,in part, upon getting them to understand our “language.” “Linguistic anarchism” is apparently fun for a loud few, but like all forms of anarchism, has never really moved us forward or brought people together.

As for the dismissal of the question regarding transgender Susan Stanton during the HRC forum as not "meaningful," that is in the eye and ear of the beholder.

Oh god is this exhausting.

Michael – Ha, you should ask Bil or Alex to make you a contributor or something because your comments are sooooo long. I know mine push the limit sometimes, but damn! And really what is one more contributor at this point…

Sue – I definitely understand why you feel that trans folks have been used by gay and lesbian activists. However, regardless of whether you feel like trans folks need the support of the gay and lesbian movement, that does not change the historical fact that trans activists have been struggling for years for named inclusion in the gay and lesbian mainstream and to have their issues addressed by the gay rights movement.

Marti – You said: The fact is, they did. We didn’t stick a gun to their head […] We have no pressure. This guy IS right on one thing, we are a minority in a minority. What kind of pressure could we put on gays and lesbians?”

Let me address this in two parts. First, are you arguing that HRC added trans issues to its mission statement without the outside pressure of trans activists? Because that is just a lie. I’m sorry, but we need to be honest here. The mainstream gay and lesbian movement only began being trans inclusive after the efforts of countless trans activists pushed it in that direction. And I would argue, as most would, that there is still a long way to go before the gay rights movement is considered truly trans inclusive.

Second, are you arguing that minority groups have no ability to pressure the majority? Because that also is simply not true at all, and is historically inaccurate once again.

I really have trouble believing that a trans activist would argue 1) the mainstream gay rights movement took the lead on becoming trans inclusive without the work of trans organizers 2) trans folks and other minority groups have no means by which to pressure the larger community.

There MUST be miscommunication somewhere because that just doesn’t make sense!

Awesome post, Marti. I agree with Nick here in his first comment - the Wash Blade in general can be pretty reactionary at times, and that little Bitch section is enough to make anyone vomit. I stopped reading some queer commentary about a month ago, when I was trying to keep up with everything, and that was one of the things that went. Some of that stuff will just make you homophobic.

I don't even see how people can separate the different identities. To me, it's basically the same things that oppress all of us - rigid gender norms, heteropatriarchy, paranoia and gender insecurity, and fear of autonomy.

Then again, I don't even know who this person is. I just hope that people like that aren't taken as representatives of all gays, everywhere.

Hi Marti

I know this is a GLBT blog and I represent the other side of the coin..

I would think that diversity and tolerance of opinion would be welcome here since many of you wish to see the same level of tolerance from the mainstream community.

Just ask yourself how many times in the last 27 years have T-rights been removed from laws upholding G/L rights?

That is all the reinforcement needed for my position.

Have a nice weekend.

Sue

“”Sue – I definitely understand why you feel that trans folks have been used by gay and lesbian activists. However, regardless of whether you feel like trans folks need the support of the gay and lesbian movement, that does not change the historical fact that trans activists have been struggling for years for named inclusion in the gay and lesbian mainstream and to have their issues addressed by the gay rights movement.””

I do understand that Nick on the other hand those “trans activists” only represent a small percentage of the TG and an even smaller slice of the TS community. In the case of TS it is the ultimate goal to fit into mainstream society as ether legal males or females. Whatever their sexual preference is that usually ranks far down on the list of important issues in the life of a post transition female (I can only speak for those I know) As Victoria (Charles) Prince moved to distance himself from transsexuals and coined the term Transgender out of his necessity to be separate from Transsexuals of the day many of us have begun to form our own separatist movement away from the GLBT-Q communities.

I have many friends in GLBT, some don’t understand why I and others would distance ourselves politically some do but remain bound politically to the GLBT because they see it as the lesser of two evils. Since late 2003 I don’t identify as trans anything…. Gender is not important to most Post-Transition females living the life we were meant to live, enjoying each day, the company of partner and for some marriage and the continuation of the quiet life are what is important.
All this gender stuff becomes so much silliness after that birth defect is fixed.

Take care
Have a nice weekend and take time to enjoy the beauty of each day.

Sue

Michael, did you know Sylvia? I know people that lived and advocated with her. At the time of her death she DID identify as transgender. The fact is that the word transgender didn't exist until Virgina Prince coined the term in the 70's, but drag queens that live full time as women are included under the umbrella of transgender. Were there no gay people before 1869 (the year the term homosexual was first used)?

Nick,
Money is power. We have no political power, other than to bitch (we only make up about 10 percent of the GLBT community). If gays and lesbians had wanted to keep us out, they could have easily done so. But HRC and others added us WILLINGLY. Frankly, I'm tired of hearing people bitch about it. If they don't want us advocated for, then remove us. Otherwise I say shut the hell up about it.

Sue,
What "other side" and why would you care? Also, how do you come to speak for all post-ops?

“”Sue,
What "other side" and why would you care? Also, how do you come to speak for all post-ops?””


Good questions Marti;

Do you speak for all TG folk?

What makes you think the “G/L activists” represent the mainstreamed Gays and Lesbians, I know many who would disagree. They would even say that the Gay rights movement has set their lives back a few years by bringing undo attention to a lifestyle that should not be a political battering ram used against the straight community.

See http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=57363

Between the groups I own and the ones I moderate that deal with TS issues I can safely say 3 out of 4 Post-Transition females get the remaining support they need and move on to live normal lives in the mainstream.

As to why we would care it’s simple what Y’all do has an impact on all of us I wish this was not the case if it was not then I truly wouldn’t care, we would have a parallel existence independent of each other.
Sadly that is not the case though. There is a great deal of interaction between our worlds and many of us have to educate the mainstream all over again that we are not Gay.

So yes we do have a stake in what direction this movement takes.
The impact on social perception of Post-Transition males and females is important to their quality of life and their desire to live out a normal life in mainstream society.

Take care,

Sue

Sue, I speak for myself. I let others decide if they agree. I've never said that I'm speaking for the entire community.

You said "Actually; The TG/TS communities Never Needed the Gay and Lesbian communities."

Really? San Diego's trans anti-discrimination ordinance was passed with help from the very gay Democratic Club. Same for here in Indy. The HRO was passed with a majority of gays and lesbians helping to get it through. Without them, those protections would have never happened.

A "lifestyle"? Then quoting from a World Net Daily piece? Why not find something from Pat Robertsons site? Maybe add in a little something from Focus on the Family, while you're at it.


Marti -

1) Money is not the only source of power. I think the history of social movements across the globe backs me up on that one.

2) In your original post you said: "The leaders of your organizations are the people that formed this marriage." I think I have made it very clear that my objection to this statement is its implication that HRC and NGLTF, among other national gay rights groups, are the people responsible for making the mainstream gay rights movement more trans inclusive. Frankly, that is NOT TRUE and is insulting to hundreds of trans activists and allies who had to battle transphobia for years just to create space for their voices within the movement.

I wish more people commented on Bilerico. Someone to back me up on this shit because the point I'm trying to make is so simple and obvious to me that I'm going crazy!


Michael Bedwell | August 31, 2007 5:48 PM

Alas, I never met Sylvia. My knowledge of her comes from my obsession with reading LGBT history books, though I casually knew people who knew her well such as Vito Russo, author of “The Celluloid Closet.” He came upon the Stonewall Riot in progress and watched from a tree across the street. Both he and Sylvia were later involved in NYC’s Gay Activist Alliance. Which brings me to another quite significant change in our combined movements.

In the early post-Stonewall years, there was a not insignificant, and very loud, percentage of politicized lesbians who not only did not want drag queens in the movement for so-called pragmatic reasons [a la “you scare people and officials even more than non-drag gays do”] but also hated them period. At the 1973 Gay Pride rally in New York’s Washington Square Park, some lesbians in the audience heckled the day’s drag performers as they’d planned the night before. Lesbian Feminist Liberation chair Jean O’Leary, who would eventually become the co-chair of what was then called the National Gay Task Force, went to the mike and said that men who imitated women for money were an insult to “real women.”

In Vito’s words, “all hell broke loose” and it wasn’t until his planned star performer, Bette Midler, arrived with her pianist Barry Manilow that some calm was restored. I have an audio tape somewhere he dubbed for me, but as well as I can remember she said, “I’ve been listening on the radio and it sounded like you were beatin’ each other up down here, so I thought I’d sing a little song,” launching into her soon-to-be iconic hit:

“But ja got to have friends. The feeling’s oh so strong. Ya got to have friends to make the day last long….”

Antagonism continued over the years among some, and O’Leary would eventually express embarrassment about her attitudes back then, but what could prove more how much times and attitudes [among most?] have changed than the fact that transgender Steve/Susan Stanton referenced above was legally represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and that Stanton was not the first gender identity case that NCLR became involved with?

Terminology, as noted, changes, too. But, again, it is only successful to the degree that it becomes another bridge and not another wall.

Those interested can find oral histories including both Rivera and Russo in “Making Gay History” by Eric Marcus.

I also represent myself however I find I have many who stand with me, with that said….

It would come as a surprise to the SDDC that they are a Gay democratic club. One of my best friends was a member of the SDDC when they took up the cause of lobbying for the change in the existing human dignity ordnance. A friend of yours has a picture of me there for the city consul vote. That amendment of the HDO did not change anything. I was a member of the HDO amendment committee. And I again I have to stress nothing has changed. We must remember California is an “at will state” .

Those of us who came out back in the 80’s and 90’s knew that we had to go along to get along, this is how we made our place in the mainstream and how many of my peers transitioned on the job and maintained those jobs.

I quoted the world net daily article because the actions of our Fire Chief show typical Hetrophobic reaction. Her forcing Christians to be humiliated by marching in a gay pride parade will cost the city plenty and hopefully cost the fire chief her job. She has brought shame to the GLBT community and gives people reason to believe GLBT folk are not capable of holding even tertiary leadership positions. This and countless other reasons are why there is a trend to move away form the G/L communities. That is why I brought up the world net daily article this is how the world sees the GLBT when these things happen.

Take care as always


Sue

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | August 31, 2007 7:39 PM

All this gender stuff becomes so much silliness after that birth defect is fixed.

Sue, the MtFs I know, and they are many, are pretty much in the trenches fighting for the rights of trans sisters and brothers who are yet to advance as far as they have in the process. They see themselves as very much a part of the "Trans" community.

Moreover, you'd think from reading your comment that FtMs don't exist. I can tell you, we're alive, well and quite numerous.

And like many MtFs, a lot of us FtMs identify post-transition as LGB or Q, which imbues us with a natural affinity, no surprise, toward the LGB community. Others, even if we are attracted to the opposite gender, do not feel or identify as "straight," given our backgrounds and our bodies, again often leading us to a natural alliance with the LGB community.

As for the attitudes of the LGB community towards us, I look at it this way: in a society that pretty much mandates that "normal" behavior is for men to have sex with only women and women to have sex with only men, any person engaging in same-sex encounters or relationships is by definition engaging in "trans-gender behavior." They may not identify as transgendered, but under society's rules, what they do is transgendered--whether they like to see it that way or not.

Hence, I see the LGB community as a sub-set of T.

"Money is not the only source of power. I think the history of social movements across the globe backs me up on that one."

Money is the major source of power. We wouldn't be having this discussion, if it weren't.

"In your original post you said: "The leaders of your organizations are the people that formed this marriage." I think I have made it very clear that my objection to this statement is its implication that HRC and NGLTF, among other national gay rights groups, are the people responsible for making the mainstream gay rights movement more trans inclusive. Frankly, that is NOT TRUE and is insulting to hundreds of trans activists and allies who had to battle transphobia for years just to create space for their voices within the movement."

I never said that there weren't transactivists that have done so. Hell, my best friend is Ethan St. Pierre. Ya know, the transman that organized the protest outside of HRC that ended with HRC announcing trans-inclusion into ENDA. I know there have been people that pushed. That doesn't change the fact that people in HRC made that decision.

I'm aware of my trans history even before I was trans. Just because people wished it to be so, doesn't mean that it made it so. The decision was made for multiple reasons, but the final decision was made by the organizations themselves.

Marti -

I guess we just disagree TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD on the definition of "willingly".

I still can't get over this however:
"We have no pressure. This guy IS right on one thing, we are a minority in a minority. What kind of pressure could we put on gays and lesbians?"

Somehow it just doesn't match up with this:
"...Ethan St. Pierre. Ya know, the transman that organized the protest outside of HRC that ended with HRC announcing trans-inclusion into ENDA."

I guess we just disagree TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD on the definition of "willingly".

As in, no one stuck a gun to their head. They weren't blackmailed, or bribed. Once we were included in the mission statement they have a duty to include us in legislation. But HRC or NGLTF's original mission wasn't to help transgender people. They could have left us out and Chris Crain would be absolutely right in his argument that we should have to wait for our rights. But they didn't, so we shouldn't.

When I said pressured, I was talking about past history. We have a hell of a lot more allies now than we did then. You act as if we bullied our way in, and that just isn't factual.

Brynn,

I only know one F2M therefore I cannot address what they think or how they direct their lives post-transition. As a matter of fact I can count on one hand the number of F2M’s I have met. I don’t speak of F2M’s simply because I prefer to deal with what I know, and I know lots of transitioning and post-transition females. I know a few here who are still out and identify with the GLBT and even a few who are activists. We generally don’t discuss GLBT politics as they know where I stand and I know their positions. This is where I come to discuss politics as people are more respectful here then the Yahoo Groups I have been in where such discussion is allowed as long as you agree with the group owner’s politics. (funny how one way things are sometimes.)

I understand how you and others feel about gender stereotyping and the one-man one-woman sexual tyranny that exists in the mainstream. Being both a post-transition female and a lesbian I understand how y’all feel. Since I don’t wear my sexual preference orientation or identity on my sleeve this all sits far back in my mind and I keep my private life private. Most all the issues that don’t affect me I leave alone I know this may seem terribly selfish to some it represents a practical way to lead one’s life in my opinion.

Brynn I hope the umbrella works for you it has not for me and has done many of us harm.

Marti
We do agree on one thing NGLTF and HRC have done the TG/TS communities no favors nor have they included TG/TS folk in the any significant part of their processes. So we do share some common ground (Heaven help us J )

Take care both of you enjoy the labor day weekend.


Sue

"Marti We do agree on one thing NGLTF and HRC have done the TG/TS communities no favors nor have they included TG/TS folk in the any significant part of
their processes. So we do share some common ground (Heaven help us J )"

Wow, don't remember saying that. In fact, after lobbying them for years (and being one of only two people protesting HRC in Indianapolis at Pride in 2004 because of non-inclusion in legislation)I believe that HRC has finally come into their own in supporting us. They have included us in legislation, and they have a transwoman on their board. So, no we don't agree.

Perhaps I misread your statement.
Nonetheless I cannot support ether organization and actively discourage people from wasting their time and money of ether NGLTF or HRC.

Take care,

Sue