Marti Abernathey

When Hysterics Trump Logic

Filed By Marti Abernathey | December 17, 2007 10:14 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: AFA, drivers license, Indiana, INTRAA, Micah Clark, NCTE, transphobia

When the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the Indiana Transgender Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA) put out a joint press release about the "no match" policy of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), I knew that there would be a backlash from the religious right here in Indiana. I didn't have to wait very long to find it. Micah Clark, of the Indiana chapter of the American Family Association double dips in transphobia and xenophobia.

He writes:

A small segment of the gay-rights movement in Indiana is claiming victory following discussions with the Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles that resulted in a change in BMV policy concerning security checks. In an apparent effort not to offend, the BMV has agreed not to "red flag" social security numbers that point to a person's gender if it doesn't match the gender on their driver's license.

According to a December 5th alert hailing this change, the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is praising the department for no longer invalidating driver's licenses or even sending out a computer generated letter to investigate a social security number and driver's license gender mismatch. According to these groups, "gender mismatches will be ignored by the BMV".

In other words, in a day of rampant identity theft and a war with terrorists, the Indiana BMV believes that not offending a person who is a cross-dresser or someone who has had a sex change overrides any security risk that could happen through a gender and SSI number mismatch.

Because, ya know, there have been a rash of crossdressing terrorists with Social Security Cards that go to their doctors or to a judge to get a letters for a gender marker change.

He continues:

I am going to sound crass, but there was a time when people who wanted to cut off their sex organs were recommended for psychiatric counseling. Today, they wield enough political power to enact statewide policy changes that appear to place tolerance above basic security concerns.

I don't find his comments crass, rather I find them very ignorant of history, transsexualism, or gender transition. Transsexualism isn't a new phenomenon. The first recorded "sex change" surgery was done in 1931. While psychological counseling has always been part of the process, the counseling wasn't done to stop the patient from having the surgery, but as a pathway to surgery.

I don't think it is overreacting to envision a hypothetical scenario in which "Achmed the Terrorist" comes to America after crossing our practically open borders. He probably needs an Indiana driver's license to achieve his final goal of disrupting a Colts game in the RCA Dome. He finds a criminal who sells him a stolen or made up Social Security number and Achmed goes to the BMV to get an Indiana driver's license to establish his new identity as "John the Hoosier Colts fan" who lives in Noblesville. But the SSI number says he's Jane from Evansville. No problem, he gets a license anyway, because we don't investigate such mismatches out of fear of offending the gay rights groups. After ignoring the mismatched number at the BMV, the worst happens one Sunday, and police, victims families and the media wonder how it could have happened and why he wasn't stopped somewhere along the way. Aren't these the types of things people in high office are supposed to regularly consider in a post 9/11 world?

Achmed the Terrorist? Because, you know, all terrorists are Arabs.

Secondly, why would "Achmed" need a state drivers license to get into a football game? Why would he need to change his gender to get the new drivers license? Why would Achmed go through a court ordered name and gender change to use forged or stolen documents? How does the gender marker change on any documents make it easier to initiate a terrorist attack?


As I recall, most if not all, of the 911 terrorists had state driver's licenses. Do we really want to remove certain "red flags" and discrepancies in background checks in an effort not to offend a handful of gay activists who have rearranged their sexual identity and are demanding their right not to encounter the inconvenience that such a drastic step might logically produce at a state agency? The societal embrace of homosexuality has already cast aside a lot of public health concerns surrounding such behaviors, should we now also begin to cast aside security concerns under the mantra of tolerance?

Micah Clark
American Family Association of Indiana

As I recall, all of the terrorists had penises too. Is that a red flag?

Having a gender marker that actually matches your gender identity is a good idea for law enforcement, as well as for the safety of the transgender person. Unless the perpetrator of the crime is naked, you needn't know their genital configuration to describe a suspect. If a transgender person's gender identity doesn't match their gender marker on their drivers license, it will make apprehending a transgender criminal more difficult if they are described by their anatomy, rather than their gender identity.

One of the biggest reasons that transgender people get their gender marker changed is personal safety. Transgender people are often the target of violence, and many times that violence happens when they are outed.

In the end, the policy change is a win for law enforcement and a win for transgender people. Those who want to restrict gender markers from being changed, are doing so because of their hatred of transgender people. It would seem that Mr. Clark is one of those people. Like many evangelicals, he tries to claim that transsexualism/transgenderism is somehow unhealthy, but one only need look to the Standards of Care to know differently:

"...Sex Reassignment is effective and medically indicated in severe GID. In persons diagnosed with transsexualism or profound GID, sex reassignment surgery, along with hormone therapy and real-life experience, is a treatment that has proven to be effective. Such a therapeutic regimen, when prescribed or recommended by qualified practitioners, is medically indicated and medically necessary. Sex reassignment is not "experimental," "investigational," "elective,""cosmetic," or optional in any meaningful sense. It constitutes very effective and appropriate treatment for transsexualism or profound GID GID...."

Fighting against gender marker changes for transgender people is not about safety, or security, but about intolerance... even if it's to the point of impairing law enforcement and increasing the risks of a violent crime being committed.

To that I only have one thing to say....

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40

cross posted from Transadvocate.com


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While i know it's nice to celebrate your victory,
Some things should be done quietly and not trotted out in front of the media.....
You guys may have set yourselves up for a repeal of that decision. When this was done in the People's republic of Kalifornia way back when no announcement was made of the new process allowing women and men in transition to have their driver's license reflect their presented sex.

As to the 19 "terrorists" who are blamed for 9/11 I have no idea what genitals they have or had, i haven't even seen any proof they all 19 plus the one who was foiled are even dead.

The point i am getting at here while there are a bunch of assumptions being tossed around, this all could have been avoided had the whole issue been kept quiet.


Good blog by the way...

Take care
Sue

This is so dumb for Micah to care about, and I went and told him so on his blog.

I mean, they ask you your weight for your driver's license, but they don't make you get on a scale. Not the same thing, but under Micah's imagination, a terrorist could get a fake drivers license from someone who's the same in every way but weighs twenty pounds more and then go kill people. I don't understand how that makes sense, but, then again, I don't see how Micah's thing does either.

I see your point, Sue. This wasn't a legislative or court victory, so it's not like it was going to be publicized anyway....

Micah is part of the trifecta of super-Hoosier homophobes. There's Eric Miller, the snake oil salesman and politician wannabe, Curt Smith of IFI, the true believer, and Micah Clark of AFA, the crazy fey cousin that always talks about how "they" are out to get him.

I was going to post on this until Marti talked me out of it. Her prediction was correct - the religious right have started making hay with it.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | December 17, 2007 4:19 PM

Excellent post, Marti!

And as for staying quiet about our victories, that has never stopped bigots in the past. They don't need our celebrations to find out about these things. They're wired. They have a network who watch for opportunities to spout their bigotry, no matter how insignificant or far fetched the connection.

As Marti rightly points out, this is an instance of an ignorant, hateful person using the latest issue du jour--terrorism--to justify his hatred. He would have done so even if the rights groups remained silent.

Besides, we DESERVE to celebrate our victories when they come, especially during these difficult and often bleak times.

Any victory so tenuous that it can't be publicly announced isn't worth having. It's better to fight it out with these AFA creeps and have the majority of the people support your stance. Otherwise it can all disappear in a second anyway.

Not to mention the little fact that it'd be helpful if trans folks not connected to the activist community knew about this stuff too.

i think what Brynn needs to understand is.
these laws are regulatory laws and don't need the blessing of the state legislature to change.

My foremothers did this in California back in the early 80's quietly and behind the scenes.
there is no need for Exhibition it is simply a matter of modifying regulations to conform with social norms.

There is a line between accomplishing positive change and rubbing people's faces in it who may not agree with it.

This is my major bone i have to pick with the Queers .
They like to rub people's faces in what they do.

Those of us who are TS, or former TS don't want that kind of attention forced on our cause.

No press at all is better then negative Press.


Take care
Susan Robins

She who is not Queer simply lesbian and quiet...

"Any victory so tenuous that it can't be publicly announced isn't worth having. It's better to fight it out with these AFA creeps and have the majority of the people support your stance. Otherwise it can all disappear in a second anyway."

Nick, I couldn't disagree with you more... the thing is that every victory notch for us is well, great for us, but the majority of people do NOT care, nor are they going to stand up to the "AFA creeps" in any significant numbers and support our stance.

We live in a state here where more than half of the people that I think I'm coming out to when I refer to my partner as my partner... don't even know what "partner" is referring to.

Anyhow, it just seems to me that going overly public with any small victory makes it that much easier for those out there who already hate us to recruit more Hoosiers who don't have a clue in the first place.

We live in a bubble when it comes to anything that affects our community, and I think that sometimes impairs how we handle publicity.

But, yeah, this guy is an asshole.

Kelly

I have to agree that this shouldn't have been publicized. This is a procedural victory that can be reversed... parading it around only invites trouble.

I am new to this discussion and am unfamiliar with the people posting here. I do not agree with the need to match sexual organs with one's gender identity. I am a post-op male-to-female and would die if someone told me I was still male because I am not one.

I do have to disagree with Sue, however, I don't think that all queers are out to be in peoples' faces. The gays and lesbians I know -- and I am a lesbian myself -- would never think of rubbing people's faces in what I choose to do in my bedroom with my choice of lover.

My sister has been a lesbian for as long as I can remember and she is the major reason my parents were not shocked when I told them I am transsexual. My sister paved the way, sort of, for my folks to understand that my need to be female was deeper than just a passing phase or temporary affliction.

I hope I am reading Sue wrong. I'd like to try having a discussion here but I need to know exactly what others mean when they say what they say.

One small point of clarification: INTRAA and NCTE did not issue press releases. We issued announcements to our mailing lists but not the press at large.

INTRAA and NCTE weighed the importance of keeping a low profile regarding this development against the very real need for alerting transfolks who were impacted by the policy change. In the end I think we came up with an effective strategy for spreading the word.

We each sent the announcements to our respective mailing lists (individuals not press outlets). INTRAA posted it to its website but NCTE did not (as it is only relevant here in Indiana), and we encouraged transfolks to spread the word through lists they are on.

Turns out that MC got this information from NCTE's email announcement, as he says it was dated Dec 5. (INTRAA's announcement and web post is dated Dec 1.), so in this case MC or one of his people are likely keeping tabs on semi-internal community communications (just as we do with the right-wing community).

I doubt in this case there is anything MC or his associates can do to reverse this policy decision. The folks we talked to at the BMV were totally agreeable when all the facts were known about the unintended adverse impact this no-match process was having on transgender Hoosiers.

Not surprising really. Our oppressors will do just about anything in an attempt to make our lives miserable, even when it makes very little sense.

Hi Carie
We usually mean what we say when we post it.
I have had the unfortunate experience of meeting a large number of queer identified people who like to be pushy with their identity. The gays and lesbians and most of the TS i know (and i know a lot) don't get pushy with how they identify...

Being Post-Op i feel the same way you do. Being borne with a female brain in the wrong body is traumatic and makes life a considerable challenge without having the birth defect and the documents corrected.

Brylo,
It's good to hear you took precautions in getting the word out....

The good news is and it seems to be spreading; it's possible to make TS folk's lives easier simply by quietly changing the regulatory law behind the scenes. It would be nice ot see more work on the states that don't allow birth certificate changes. This would make life easier for the Post-Op's who live in those states.

Good job
Take care
Susan Robins

There's no manual on what to do. No book that says "don't publicise this, it's too dangerous", or "it's OK to publicise, the risk is negligible". We have to play everything by ear.

In general, my opinion is the less publicity, the better. Let TS people who may be affected know, but no Victory song-and-dance.

Except... maybe it's time we did. Maybe we should let the GLB-only squad know just how much we've done, and are doing, for ourselves. Maybe then we wouldn't be told that we're coming late to the GLBT party, riding on coat-tails, having to wait our turn, and all the rest of the utter crap (pardon my French) we've had to endure recently by the ignorant and bigoted within the GLBT movement.

I've just won a 20-month battle to be granted a passport, aided by another TS woman who took the bastards (this time I won't apologise) to court. And I got an apology. It's a true precedent that will help other TS and IS people here in Australia. I received no support from any GLB group, but neither did they get in the way. Unlike the situation in the US with the HRC and others.

I know many cases where Lambda Legal has given genuine help, many with no publicity, minor but important cases, so it's not all bad. They in particular deserve credit which they so often do not get. Maybe we should publicise things a little more than we do. A little.

As has been mentioned, INTRAA and NCTE did not issue press releases or hold a celebration in Monument Square. We did not want to rile the bigots; however they do not need riling; it starts when they wake up in the morning, like a bad hangover. We did need to get the word out to worried members and others, and we did need to advise people who would have to deal about this matter with the BMV just what the policy is so they could protect themselves.

It sounds as though the people in charge at BMV realize that the issue has nothing to do with the ignorant ravings of MC, and everything to do with good administration of the BMV and state security. In such cases, it is unlikely that they would reverse an eminently practical decision.

One example of MC's ignorance is that checks will continue to be made for name matches; if John's SS records listed her as Jane, while his license read John, there would be an investigation.

I cannot help wondering, if a terrorist wanted a bogus ID, why go to the trouble of getting one with non-matching gender markers?

There is always a balancing act between trumpeting our successes and trying to starve the bigots of nourishment for their ravings, but even if publicity occasionally produces a backlash and reversal, experience shows that "silence is death". We do not lose public discussions. Ever. The more people know the better off we are.

In this holiday period I remember Dickens'
A Christmas Carol in which the ghost of Christmas present opens his cloak to reveal two urchins shivering in their rags. What he has to say is most important, as you can tell by the fact that it is regularly misquoted in modern productions to remove the sting: "This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

As has been mentioned, INTRAA and NCTE did not issue press releases or hold a celebration in Monument Square. We did not want to rile the bigots; however they do not need riling; it starts when they wake up in the morning, like a bad hangover. We did need to get the word out to worried members and others, and we did need to advise people who would have to deal about this matter with the BMV just what the policy is so they could protect themselves.

This goes to Ed and Brylo... your distinction that it wasn't a "press release" misses the point. It was published on the net here, here, and here as well as in INTRAA and NCTE's newsletters. And it isn't as if we in the GLBT community aren't on their "newsletter" or rss feed lists... there's no reason to think they don't do the same. There was no reason to publish this, other than to toot horns. This is simply a procedural issue, which could be overturned with enough protest. It doesn't take a celebration on Monument Circle to alert the religious right.

In such cases, it is unlikely that they would reverse an eminently practical decision.

Please, Ed...give me break. The folks in city and state government routinely do stuff that is illogical and bigoted (remember the HRO hearings or the anti-marriage amendment?)... why give them a chance to hoist this up on their platform?

MC is pandering to the extreme right (the 29 percent that still support Bush). But given that, I don't think it's a wise idea to show the bully your lunch money. Don't be surprised when he punches you in the face and takes it from you.

INTRAA needed to get the information out to people who had received a first letter and had no way of knowing that they would not receive a second one. Not only would they have worried needlessly, they could have done something to out themselves inappropriately in the belief that they had to act to protect their right to drive.

It is my belief that private communication would have been insufficient, because we do not know all of them; and that the blogs, and our web sites are the best way to do that job. We all know that we are monitored. We all try to be cautious, even circumspect, but we will not let the threat of MC and his ilk silence us when speaking up is in our interest.

Marti, please do remember the HRO (Indianapolis has one of the most inclusive in the nation) and the marriage discrimination amendment (still not on the ballot). In both cases they tried to bulldoze the legislators to enshrine their bigotry in our laws. In both cases they failed. The struggle continues; they are running ads right now attacking Teri Anderson for her courage and good sense, but now we are ahead (at least slightly) and we have momentum. That would not be the case without people, such as you, standing up and making noise and riling the fundies.

One of the problems with all the anti-gay (or whatever group) laws, is that they make it seem that such prejudice is normal. They encourage our enemies, but more importantly, they allow them to give the impression that they are doing nothing wrong. Making public the statutory reverses of prejudice is important to the education of the ill-informed people who have better things to do with their lives than worry about politics 24/7.

INTRAA needed to get the information out to people who had received a first letter and had no way of knowing that they would not receive a second one. Not only would they have worried needlessly, they could have done something to out themselves inappropriately in the belief that they had to act to protect their right to drive.

Balancing the needs of the few, against the many, I don't see this makes sense.

It is my belief that private communication would have been insufficient, because we do not know all of them; and that the blogs, and our web sites are the best way to do that job. We all know that we are monitored. We all try to be cautious, even circumspect, but we will not let the threat of MC and his ilk silence us when speaking up is in our interest.

We? Ed, I wasn't aware that your trans. Welcome to the club. :p I disagree. This wasn't passage of a law... but a change in administrative policy.

Marti, please do remember the HRO (Indianapolis has one of the most inclusive in the nation)

The cost of the HRO, (which I disagree also with the scope of it...it has little teeth, although I supported it) was high. Part of the reason why folks like Scott Keller lost, was the police merger and that was connected hand in hand with the HRO. It took a lot of political capital to make it happen.

and the marriage discrimination amendment (still not on the ballot).

It's not on the ballot, but it wasn't defeated... only set aside for now.

In both cases they tried to bulldoze the legislators to enshrine their bigotry in our laws. In both cases they failed. The struggle continues; they are running ads right now attacking Teri Anderson for her courage and good sense, but now we are ahead (at least slightly) and we have momentum. That would not be the case without people, such as you, standing up and making noise and riling the fundies.

Like Kenny Rogers says,

You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when youre sittin at the table.
Therell be time enough for countin when the dealins done.

One of the problems with all the anti-gay (or whatever group) laws, is that they make it seem that such prejudice is normal. They encourage our enemies, but more importantly, they allow them to give the impression that they are doing nothing wrong. Making public the statutory reverses of prejudice is important to the education of the ill-informed people who have better things to do with their lives than worry about politics 24/7.

E. Miller defeated the HRO the first time around. Remember how Lincoln Plowman welcomed him personally? I don't worry about MC too much, but there are bigger forces around that would love to get this overturned for a newsletter/donation page on how they defeated the gay agenda...but need more funding.


And as far as the marriage issue goes, Iraq has helped us there. Had the Republicans not got us into the quagmire in Iraq, I believe we would have that amendment on the ballot. Hoosiers are, after all, on the whole, against marriage equality.