Mercedes Allen

Transbigotry?

Filed By Mercedes Allen | January 17, 2008 8:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: bigotry, gender identity, homophobic behavior, racism, Susan Stanton, transgender, transphobia

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] This post comes to us from Mercedes Allen. She lives in western Canada and blogs at Dented Blue Mercedes.

Mercedes AllenWhen I was about three or four years old - enough to be talking but not enough to be in kindergarten - my mother carried me through the lineup to the tellers at the bank. I had never seen a person of colour, and so I'd been awed to see a tall fellow with that "purple"-deep colour of skin. I turned to my mother and said, "Oh, Mom, I'd never let myself get that dirty."

My embarassed mother kindly explained that some people are simply born with darker skin, and that ended my experience of personally-felt racial bigotry. A few years later, I learned from a close friend I'd made from Trinidad that skin colours sometimes come with cultural differences. It never occurred to me that any one skin colour or culture was any better than any other.

But I did also learn quickly that others didn't necessarily share that same blissful innocence. As much as it clearly puzzled me when people expressed their contempt for my friend, it was certainly apparent to me that their contempt was very real. Even in Canada, where hatred was nowhere near as entrenched as it was further south, racism thrived.

I've also experienced it from the receiving side, twofold, one from the perspective of being Métis, in a culture where Natives are largely despised. In this situation, shame is taught implicitly, where it is intimated that a person should take refuge in their French last name, or resort to referring to their nationality as "mongrel" rather than identifying themselves as Métis. While I have since learned to be proud of my culture and now mourn not having been able to learn more of the traditions associated with it, it was still a painful experience hiding and pretending that nothing was amiss.

My other experience of bigotry came from being transgender. Even though it took me several decades to finally transition, the feelings were always there, and every crass joke that people made about men in dresses or every condemnation of "those perverts" served to drive me further into hiding, further into shame and further into the nightly suffocated struggle that almost culminated in suicide many times.

So if we learn so intimately how painful it is from the side of the victim, why is bigotry so easily foisted around in our own community?

Every so often, someone turns up the tune, "I'm Not a Fucking Drag Queen," popularized by the movie, Better Than Chocolate. When I'd first heard it, the song was cute for about the first minute that it took before I started wondering exactly what was wrong about being a drag queen and why we should despise being associated with them. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with defining oneself and pointing out when assumptions made about transsexuals based on the behaviours of others are fallacious, but I fail to see why it needs to be done at someone else's expense.

Yet, there is an enormous rift between many of the transgender communities where this self-defining takes on darker overtones: transsexuals trying to differentiate themselves from crossdressers and drag performers, crossdressers who feel that people who would undergo surgery to change their bodies are extremists and delusional, drag performers who embrace being gay and who feel that their compatriots should just wise up and do the same... there's an ongoing factionalism that in many communities continues to drive wedges between us.

It does not stop there. At the grassroots level, our communities often ostracize people because they choose to be non-operative (because it isn't consistent with the "one true way" medical model), or because they have spent some time in the sex trade, or because they play in the leather community (even when they display a healthy differentiation between fantasy and reality, and are clearly transgender in the latter). FTMs and MTFs sometimes feel that they have too many different needs to belong in the same support groups, and intersex people often balk at any association at all with anything transgender, some of whom have never experienced dysphoria and might have been lucky enough to be assigned the right gender at birth.

It's not unusual to see homophobia rear its ugly head when debates flare up between those who work with the local GLB folks (I mean the ones who seriously try to be supportive, not proven nemeses like the Human Rights Commission a.k.a. HRC) and those who call anyone who does so a "traitor...." And then there's the support meetings I've sat through where people complain about or tell unflattering jokes about "Pakis." Or the "drunken Indians" comments said with no care that someone in the room is Métis.

If one had any doubts:

... Susan has said all along that she's not like other transgender people. She feels uncomfortable even looking at some, 'like I'm seeing a bunch of men in dresses.' -- The St. Petersburg Times, about Susan Stanton

I'll dispense with my take on Susan Stanton quickly. Although I object to her comments, I do see her as a creator of her own misery. Where she complains that "the transgender groups boo me," and that her transition is a somewhat solitary one, this is a path that she carves for herself. When she had decided to become an activist, she failed to educate herself in the diversity of the community and the many needs it has, and in so doing she dropped the ball. By surrounding herself with people who are telling her that "Most Americans aren't ready for us yet," she's succumbed to their rhetoric, rather than giving serious thought to the matter.

A neophyte to transadvocacy, she has no idea how thoroughly and deeply the history of betrayal from her friends, the HRC, runs. But she will find out, when the next betrayal comes along and leaves her hanging in the wind. And when that happens, I see no need for hard feelings enduring from her novice mistakes, provided she becomes willing to see and admit where she was wrong. From my perspective, the personal maligning ends there.

As much as her comment angers me, though, I think it's important that the subject has been brought up, because this is not just about Susan Stanton. This attitude persists far beyond this one incident.

"... like I'm seeing a bunch of men in dresses."

This isn't an altogether unusual complaint, in my experience. I've seen the aversion that people have to transwomen who've been harder-ravaged by testosterone, with heavy brows, deep voices, large statures, strong jawbones, recessive hairlines, wide shoulders.... "How can you be comfortable being seen in a store with her?" I've been asked. "I'd be terrified, and have to make myself as scarce as possible...."

Sorry folks, but not all of these things can be corrected with cosmetic surgery. And those things that can are often so costly that they become inaccessible to much of the community. We don't all face the same challenges. For some of us, transition will be a lifelong process, and stealth is not a realistic objective. Should rights and protections then be only available to those who are "passable," based on some unknown subjective scale?

While conscientious and active advocates know better, I think our community would be surprised at some of the grassroots answers to that question. And this doesn't even begin to touch on how often the "men in dresses" attitude is used as justification for shunning crossdressers, some of whom are transsexual at heart but held back by life circumstances (children, spouses, careers) and others of whom are dual-identified and need to alternately express both genders with the same intensity that we need to live one.

Please also understand that I don't claim this bigotry to be endemic of the entire community, which can be an invaluable source of support and friendship. But it does exist in pockets, and where it does exist, it drives people away from the support they need, and likewise drives away those who would be happy (or at least willing) to provide it.

'But I don't blame the human rights groups from separating the transgender people from the protected groups. Most Americans aren't ready for us yet,' Susan says. Transgender people need to be able to prove they're still viable workers -- especially in the mainstream.

Until there is protection in place to occasionally discourage employers from firing workers just for being trans, it will continue to be a complicated and sometimes monumental task to carve a successful career, and will continue to happen only so long as a person can remain "passably" stealth and not draw attention... or cause the right-wing fearmongers out there to panic and pick up their torches. And as long as successful transgender people are not free to draw attention, no one will take notice of their accomplishments and associate them with transgender individuals, and this "proving" that is being touted will never take place.

Is the world ready for a transgender city manager? In the rest of society, the answer to that would depend solely on personal job qualifications - apparently, we're to be patronized into believing that we're not ready for that, yet. And the wonderful thing about the Barney Frank trumpet-that-there-isn't-enough-support-of-transgender-rights approach is that the louder and more frequent they get on the subject, the more they will convince the legislators who might have once voted for transgender rights.

There is a reason that society associates transgender people with "shemale" porn, bank robberies, unemployment and marginal lifestyles. If you're not lucky enough to be deemed suitably "passable," it can be difficult to secure the lowest of jobs - whatever the qualifications. With the difficulties sometimes just in landing a minimum wage job at McDonald's, coupled with the costs of hormones and surgeries needed just to arrive at a point of peace with oneself, frankly, the sex trade is unfortunately one of the most viable solutions. This will not change until a signal - one with some legal clout - is sent out into the professional world that it is no longer acceptable to exclude transgender people from more viable career paths.

The transgender community will not be helping itself in pushing forward for these kinds of needs as long as it is still wrapped up in exclusion, distaste and division, and creating environments in which advocacy continues to eat its own. Often, I've heard people trumpet that Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson and others who threw the first stones that touched off the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement were transgender, in protest of the gay community's past history of excluding us from the bargaining table. Far too often, I've heard (sometimes in the same breath!) derision of drag artists, sex trade workers and anyone else deemed to create a "negative impression" of the transgender community.

At the time of Stonewall, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson et al were drag queens and prostitutes. Sometimes, I think that the only thing that has changed since Stonewall is that gradually some of our community have managed to escape the ranks of the disenfranchised, and are trying to distance themselves from them. Once again, there is a repeat of the cycle of jettisoning the less fortunate - financially, physically or both - and some of us seem to have no qualms about doing to them what was done previously to us (and for exactly the same reasoning).

From time to time, it's good to remember what inclusion really means, and embrace the consequences. As far as the move toward exclusion, I'll have no part of it. I'd never let myself get that dirty.


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Bill Perdue | January 18, 2008 3:43 AM

Thanks for that posting, Mercedes. It was highly informative. If you have time I'd like you to walk me through a couple of related questions.

During the US ENDA debate I saw what was for me an unexpected and virulent flare up of transphobia deliberately promoted by right wingers and centrists like Frank and the HRC. My firm belief is that they encouraged animosity towards transgendered people to divert the rest of us from Congressional efforts to weaken ENDA and that the emergence of UnitedENDA means their diversionary tactics were spectacularly unsuccessful.

Besides a political agenda what other characteristics define these anti transsexual GLB types? Are they closeted, assimilationists, bigots or what? Are they primarily composed of the self appointed GLBT 'leadership' types who infest groups like HRC? Secondly how many transsexuals have 'given up' on wanting to have allies among GLB folk? Third how is that discussion framed or posed?

I’m sorry for all the questions but I just could not get a handle on them during the ENDA debate or since.

One of the significant things about UnitedENDA is that it was a fairly new and clearly conscious drive to mend some of the wounds from earlier community actions. Peace offerings happened before, but never quite on this scale or with the same ferocity. Matt Foreman, prior to being director of the NGLTF, had been part of a drive some years ago to drop transfolk from similar civil legislation in New York in order to help it pass. His part in the effort to form UnitedENDA was clearly a way of saying "we were wrong, and intend to fix it."

The anti-trans movement goes back to around 1973, when transfolk were being dumped from the GLBT movement they helped spark at Stonewall. There were some very dramatic and tragic public humiliations, such as what happened to Sylvia Rivera. Much of the anti-trans drive then (as now) came from GLB folk who'd come to believe that we were a visual embarassment to their movement, and a political liability (even after being dumped from ENDA, "transvestites" are still being used by WorldNetDaily et al as the ENDA bogeyman). Anti-trans people were afraid of people making assumptions about them based on perceptions of us, which sometimes still take on Jerry Springer proportions, today. Among lesbians, this was further driven by Janice Raymond and a wave of feminism that portrayed transfolk as infiltrators undermining the feminist movement. And other more innocent GLB folk went along with all this because they simply didn't understand transfolk and assumed that their leaders did.

Much of the grassroots trans community harbors resentment from this (it's not just "giving up"), and I know several in the community who refuse to go to GLB spaces. Many of them will cite some exclusionary thing they've experienced or other from 7+ years ago as justification (although for others, it is homophobia, which is an issue our community has to deal with on the ground floor). Just as John Aravosis asked if the T belonged in GLBT, many grassroots transfolk ask it as well.

Much of that discussion happens outside the activism, among the splintered parts of the community that resist involvement with even other T-folk.

Why is HRC so important to a Canadian?

I don't mean that as an attack - I really want to know.

Is the situation when it comes to GLB+T the same or different in Canada?

I am kinda wondering why a Canadian knows/cares so much about American politics

~Alex (in France)

It's like U.S. politics, where I tend to try to stay out of it, but know that whoever is directing U.S. policy, they'll have a strong influence on our policy and society at home. Our government's primary choice centres around if we play along with the U.S. about international and / or trade matters or if we don't and suffer the consequences (i.e. the softwood lumber dispute and mad cow scares, initiated within a very short period following our decision not to enter the Iraq war).

History repeats itself, and we do tend to be quite affected by what happens further south. Plus, as the global community brings transfolk closer together, we do see how they're impacted from things like this.

I think the GLB+T situation is a bit more pronounced here, at the moment, where diplomacy has mostly happened at the grassroots GLBT centres -- certainly no movement along the scale of UnitedENDA. And then our one national organization (egale) has a reputation for behaving very much like the HRC, initiating trans committees, then hamstringing them and letting the t-folk on the committee take the blame for the stalemate or failure.

The Trans Community has a long way to go when you consider the 19th century simplistic view of biological sex. Calling intersex people men when they have no desire find out otherwise. This assumption that all Transwomen are borne male shows a lock of education on the part of some people.

Perhaps Stanton is in correct in saying that transfolk are not ready for inclusion civil rights bills just yet.

Thanks for the post Mercedes,
Take care
Sue

Great post, Mercedes!

I agree with a lot of what you say here, but I'd submit that it's far more a matter of transfolks being treated badly by gay and lesbian activists and orgs than the other way around. It's my belief that much of the animosity of transfolks toward gay and lesbian activists has been richly earned over time, for the reasons you cite as well as the ongoing political games of HRC.

Personally, I believe the first thing that realistically needs to happen in order to heal the internal rift in this community is for HRC to be replaced as the defacto leadership of our movement. Until that happens, I don't see how even the basic foundations of trust and cooperation can be built. In order such a movement to built, there must be a credible and trustworthy foundation to build upon and it's quite clear that HRC is neither capable nor suited to serving such a role for any of those of us in the vast majority of this community who are not ultra-wealthy, white, and well-connected.

There must be an evolution and redefinition in this movement, both in the way it is led and in its basic agenda and values, or there can really be little, if any, forward progress in truly uniting this community for the good of all of us.

I can agree with what you say Rebecca, however the TG community needs to clean up it's own back yard and learn to be more accepting of others within the TG community and those outside of same community who are genetic diverse from the majority of the TG community. Not everyone borne with a penis is a man.


Take care
Sue

Thank you, Mercedes, for a well written and well thought out article.

The HRC is definitely NOT our friend any more than J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University is. Those who are not us who seek to continue to define us, to tell us who we are (and who we are not) exhibit an arrogance, a hubris the likes of which even George Bush would aspire to.

So should the likes of Joe Solmonese, David Smith, Janice Raymond, et. al., continue to be confronted, educated and where possible, turned? No. It's pointless to attempt to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig, as the old saw so aptly puts it.

Rather, we need to live our lives out, as openly or as stealthily as we need, as we must, all while working with those with whom we come in contact every day. That is where the battle lines are. That is where we will win (or lose).

Most every one knows someone who is transgendered of some stripe. They just don't realize it. When they do know, when they realize that we are in so many many ways just like them, living out our lives as just as normally as they do, then the fear, the prejudice, the misunderstandings generally fade away. They become our advocate, our ally, and even our friend.

When I came out and transitioned, the only people who had issues with it were my family. It took them nine years to come around, simply because they refused to see me. Yet a friend from college, who I hadn't seen in 20 years, totally supported me in being me, simply because she watched me live my life as a real, genuine, whole and authentic person.

Keep it real, and the rest will take care of itself.


Proud to be a transwoman.
Jill Jay
Phoenix Arizona

As a transsexual woman working on various activist efforts, I am always amazed by how much hostility and exclusivity manifests within the transgender community. Our local crowd has a very strong tendency to self-segregate along lines of ethnicity, gender, age and socioeconomic status, and even when we have "unified" community events, participants still tend to divide into subgroups.

As a lesbian whose presentation isn't stereotypically "feminine", I have experienced more hostility, judgment and exclusion from other trans women than I have ever had directed at me from outside of the community. Of course, I have seen that go the other way as well, with lesbian trans women mocking straight trans women behind their backs.

And the subgroups under the transgender umbrella? Good luck trying to bridge those divides. The amount of interaction between the TS, CD, IS, GQ and drag communities here is practically non-existent.

I would love to say that seeing examples of this sort of behavior surprises me, but these days I find it more surprising when it doesn't happen. I wish I knew how to fix the problem, but we have so many people fighting to lift themselves up from the bottom of the societal ladder that convincing them all to work together for shared advancement seems like an unattainable dream.

Jennifer Marcus | January 18, 2008 7:40 PM

Excellent piece Mercedes! You nailed the issues facing our community very well. I think the common thread weaving through the concept of transphobia within our "T" community, the LGBIQ folks and the Straights is simply the same ones that are at the core of global humanity's problems: FEAR and the quest for POWER, PRESTIGE, POSSESSIONS AND CONTROL.
Peace my sister,
Jen Marcus

We are one family, no one must be left out,no one must be left behind.There are thirteen and a half million transgender individuals in the US 80% of those are crossdressers. The post-op TS are the smallest portion of our community, only 4%. Those of us that do not identify as TS have too often let the dialogue be framed by that four percent.

Joe Solmonese stood before us at Southern Comfort and said that HRC would not support a non transgender inclusive ENDA. What I felt was particularly onerous was that they knew that there would not be sufficient votes to overcome Bushes’ veto and chose to make a meaningless gesture. Had this passed minus the gender protection those that are gay would also not have been protected as all an employer would have had to do is fire the individual for not being stereotypically male or female enough.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | January 18, 2008 10:00 PM

Sometimes, I think that the only thing that has changed since Stonewall is that gradually some of our community have managed to escape the ranks of the disenfranchised, and are trying to distance themselves from them.

Excellent post, Mercedes. And I strongly share your sadness and disappointment over our community's divisions and prejudices. Sadly, many of us haven't learned from the experience of being stigmatized and reviled.

"Perhaps Stanton is in correct in saying that transfolk are not ready for inclusion civil rights bills just yet."

I wouldn't say that. There were quite divisive differences in approach between MLK and Malcolm X as well, but it didn't mean that the African-American community "wasn't ready" for civil rights. The public is usually "not ready" for civil rights when the fights for them take place, they weren't "ready" for womens' rights, weren't ready for racial equality, but it had to be legsilated on society anyhow, to get the "readiness" going.

"It's my belief that much of the animosity of transfolks toward gay and lesbian activists has been richly earned over time, for the reasons you cite as well as the ongoing political games of HRC."

True, but for those communities who now sincerely want to right things (i.e. NGLTF, and not HRC), it is time to put some of that aside and try to let it heal.
_________________________

Thank you everyone for the comments and often kind words. :)

Mercedes articulates her very valid point quite eloquently.

As a long-time trans-activist, I have ALWAYS stood for trans-equality across the board. There is, however, an extremely crucial concept that seems to elude many others who share this perspective. It is somewhat awkward to discuss, but needs to be recognized, nevertheless.

Exactly what criteria establishes a person as TRULY "transgendered"? I have developed many acquaitances within the worldwide trans-community, and 99 out of 100 of them are hard-pressed to answer that question. Is it an arbitrary choice of apparel, or does it go deeper than that? Is it therapy, or HRT, or FFS, or SRS? Precisely where is the proverbial line of demarcation drawn that separates "wheat from the chaff"?

I have a difficult time equating an individual who has taken on the personal responsibility to seek out professional counselling for their gender identity conflicts on the same level with the "week-end warriors" who seem to place their own unconventional method of "thrill-seeking" (not that there's anything wrong with that) above and beyond all the legitimate concerns of the committed trans-person.

My 20+ years in the TG/TS community has made me believe with all my heart and soul that, altruistic platitudes aside, those two catagories are completely different, with completely different issues, and if that makes me "elitest", then I am guilty as charged. This is not to make a qualititve judgement, it is just recognizing the reality that goes along with the diversity of the community.

Although most TS folk began their "journey" as cross-dressers to one degree or another, clearly not all cross-dressers will commit themselves to living 24/7 as their non-natal gender, and there's nothing wrong with that either. However, to say that these non-committed "hobbyists" are entitled to the same specialized legal protections as full-time trans-people is problematic at best, especially when the often thoughtless actions of many of the "hobbyists" hinder and impede the struggle to achieve those protections.

One of the currently popular analogies being used to illustrate the plight of trans-people has been to compare our struggle with the civil rights movement of the 60's. Fair enough. ALL "people of color" should be entitled to the same protection, regardless of their particular pigmentation. Let's follow that analogy a bit further. I would argue that just as those with extremely dark complexions should enjoy the same rights as their light-skinned peers, the TRULY trans-gendered should have equal protection under the law, regardless of where they are in their transition, surgical and pharmaceutical modifications notwithstanding. This concept of equality applies to everyone whose life actually is impacted by the condition currently known as gender identity dysphoria.

To that point, those who only cross-dress for "the thrill" simply do not have the need for such protection, nor are they entitled to it, anymore than a caucasian person with shoe polish on their skin (think - Al Jolson) needs or is entitled to the protections of the Civil Rights Act.

Those who are TRULY trans must clarify this distinction within our own community, or risk some "outside expert" doing it for us. Once again, I emphasize that this belief is by no means a qualitative judgement. This is merely a pragmatic statement of FACT. TS folks are no better (or worse!) than the occasional crossdressers, they are just DIFFERENT. When (and IF) a person does "evolve" from periodic "thrill-seeking" thru cross-dressing to a more substantial level of transgendered commitment, I believe that only then will both the burdens and benefits that accompany that very personal choice become applicable and appropriate.

As the old song goes: "You've gotta pay the dues if you wanna sing the blues, and you know it don't come easy."

Your thoughts?

>>> (all respect, no restraint) Cyndi

HRC, equal rights, CD vs. TS aside, before anything else I'd like to see trans folks start helping each other. Why is it that a non-English speaking uneducated foreigner can come into the USA and have a job within hours of getting here? Yet, a highly educated, fluent English speaking trans person might go years without work? It is not due to the prejudice of the general society nearly so much as due to lack of mutual support of our so-called community.

IMO mutual support is where nearly all of the cross-dressers drop the ball. While many might love to have sex with a full time transwoman you'll *very* rarely find one willing to recommend a qualified transwoman for a job or a coveted college entry selection. Not that the full timers are a lot better. We are, as a group, arguably the most selfish group of all minorities.

"Those who are TRULY trans must clarify this distinction within our own community, or risk some "outside expert" doing it for us. Once again, I emphasize that this belief is by no means a qualitative judgement. This is merely a pragmatic statement of FACT. TS folks are no better (or worse!) than the occasional crossdressers, they are just DIFFERENT."

On a planet long, long ago...there was a time when your statement was accepted by the crossdressers...an pretty much everyone else, but no more. The transgender construct, in general, has effectively destroyed the distinction you refer to.

To object to being lumped into a group we never asked to be included in and do not belong to instantly brands us as professing to be "better than", followed by being accused of being bigots, phobics, etc...all because we object to being characterized as something we are not.

If one stated the GLB movement was actually just a part of the straight world but because they were homosexual and wanted to make that distinction they were really just saying they were "better than" the straight world, everyone would certainly know that was obsurd...on many different fronts. However, when transsexuals want to make a distinction between themselves and the crossdressers/transgender using the same scenario, the transgendered will have no part of it.

Many of us are fed up with the transgendered dictating our identity.

One this very blog under a different thread a woman of transsexual history was told by a vocal TG activist she was not a woman.

Rather than go into a lengthy discussion I will add that in the almost 12 years since my transition the ONLY challenges to my womanhood came from within the TG community and even when I was viciously outted by a crossdresser for daring to be politically active and eventually lost that first post-transitional job as a result, the dreaded bathroom issue never came up because although the adjective transsexual then got added to my being a woman, it literally never even occurred to anyone I should use any other bathroom but the ladies. In fact in those 12 years exactly two individuals ever told me I shouldn't use a ladies room, both crossdressers, both claiming for their wives comfort and when asked, both wives disagreed with them and told me their problem was with the crossdressers not me...

Ironic eh? These people are supposed to be my community? I think not.

A few comments about your article, which I did enjoy reading.
I myself enjoyed the phrase in the Better Then Chocolate movie. Maybe it’s because I live in an area where there are lots of queer bars in which just about everyone has a drag show going. I can’t count the amount of times some drag queen or gay person, usually a man, would ask me that typical question, are you a drag queen too, or are you doing a show tonight?
Now if you recall in the movie this lesbian, who was transexual, was trying very hard at being accepted as the woman she knew herself to be, not getting a lot of support from family, was attacked in a bar by another lesbian. To make matters worse for her she was in love and lonely.

The song, created by a Canadian named Star Maris, who was also Transexual I might add. For those that don’t know the song they can see it at; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSn01MLcUXA&feature=related

So for me the first time I saw the move and heard the song it resonated very strongly with me, not because I hated drag queens or kings, I love kings, but rather because I was sick and tired of people who should know better making that suggestion.

Someone asked why a Canadian knew so much about the U.S. queer history. It’s because we are intertwined. Our history is your history and vise versa. What does happen in the U.S. can has consequences in Canada, and again vise versa.

We have an organization here which focuses on gay issues, though they do say they support transexual and transgender issues, but when push came to shove so many times in the past we found ourselves in the cold because something more important came up. Many of us are now collectively holding our breathes as that organization restructures to see just how much the new Pres is able to actually follow what she now says, that our time has come.

With luck HRC will do the same as they see more support leaving them and their money drying up.


Transgender, a hotly contested term, one I do not use to describe myself or agree should be blanket used (for my own reasons), came from the U.S. and is slowly making it’s way across Canada, yet not quite the same way as we see in the U.S.
People here are not afraid to use both transexual and transgender when speaking since we understand that we are speaking about one’s self identification, and though some are attacked here for claiming their right to be transexual, not nearly as much as we see in the U.S.

With luck that will change and both can be accepted use at the same time there, as we see in many places here.

There are many other cases I could go on about but hopefully you see it pays us to know what is going on in the country next to us, because we affect each other.


Mercedes didn’t Stanton respond to that article/comment and say she was taken out of context, that that wasn’t what she said? If that’s the case should we not give her the benefit of the doubt. I know I have been miss quoted by the media, made to have what I said look like something else and I know others who also had that happen to them.

I see her as one who was grabbed by so many to be used as they wanted for their own purpose. By TG groups who saw her as their champion, finally someone with a high paying job loosing it or HRC again to show how TG friendly they were. Everyone wanted her to be a part of their cause.

Personally I thought the whole thing was over blown and would come to a bad end when everyone jumped on the bandwagon, I constantly wondered to myself; Where were all of them when so many others were fired?


Another person mentioned the issue about rights and who should get what. I think the issue is even more hard to figure out then to be as easy as was suggested. For instance I believe women, no matter what your history is, should be legally able to use the women’s washroom. But then what about those crossdressers on their night out? Should they be forced into the men’s? For them that would be dangerous.

But I hold fast to the idea that they should not be in a women’s change room.

If one goes to a gay club where drag queens are performing, they tend to flood into the women’s bathroom. In instances like that I don’t see the reason they should be in there, of all places they are extremely safe in the men’s bathroom, they after all are men.


One more point, for me it was also a transgender person, a part time crossdresser( his terms), who worked hard on outing me and where I live to the world. I suspect had he had my picture at the time he would have added that to his website along side my address, picture of where I live right down to one of my bedroom window. Because of him I had to adjust how I live and stop doing things for/in the community out of fear of his turning up.

So Mercedes, thanks for giving me a thought out story to respond to.

There are far too many issues in the blog and comments for me to comment on, except for one that surprises me is absent--given your usual thoroughness, Mercedes.

It is simply that as transgender and transsexual people--call us all transgendered if you wish--are the most marginalized part of LGBT populations.

Even The Ottawa Citizen, the daily in Canada's national capital, recognizes this--though only in a passing swipe at an ignorant and bullying Member of Parliament:

"Transgendered people are even more marginalized than drug addicts."
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/editorials/story.html?id=f68e086c-6a0e-48b2-b67b-d20d70ab04a7

Even as you pointed out with respect to Egale Canada and its Trans Issues Committee--where it deprives resources and then blames the trans people who have tried to work within these restrictions of being congenitally unable to work together--this is a form of marginalization/oppression.

Not that it is unusual in the world for trans people to be more marginalized than gay and lesbian people, but this infighting among trans people--transbigotry as you put it, Mercedes--is what is called lateral violence and is the bane of all marginalized people and a defining characteristic of us.

In a world of collective problems, I always wonder at the repeated calls for individual solutions--and then the attribution of moral failure to those, usually most, who do not succeed at overcoming the collective problems on their own.

Not all of us are superhuman, I suppose.

I've witnessed one local activist go into a sort of meltdown, ranting uncontrollably on local lists that it is all the fault of the local trans people who don't come out to her events, etc.

Long before I transitioned, I spent most of my life organizing events in various literary and political communities and learned that the failure is more, though not completely, the organizer's. (Ya gotta keep at it.)

And mostly that of the society in which we are thrust.

Transbigotry, the elevation of one's identity higher than another's is a bit of "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic" in my view, but a natural aspect of human nature--when you are marginal the only relief is marginalizing another more.

Not healthy, not constructive, but only human.

As both you and I know, Mercedes, the experience of the Trans Issues Committee is quite the perfect microcosm of this.

And trans people have learned from the masters, the gay and lesbian people who have succeeded, in Canada at least, not only in securing universal human rights protection, but also many administrative law reforms and other recognitions.

Culminating in same-sex marriage.

And we have been told, in whispers, of course, that this will make things better for us--and our situation is marginally improved, to be sure.

But the template is that the only effective way to achieve our goals is to have a simple, unitary identity that can be molded into an image acceptable to the majority--and policed by excluding those that do not conform.

Historically, this has been us.

This is the historical failure of the gay rights movement which many gay and lesbian people now recognize and are actively working to address.

The opposite direction, that of a coalition of difference, united in that we are all persons all deserving of the same rights and protections, must be the one we go in.

Yet, with the 'success' of same-sex marriage in so many of our eyes, this notion is unintelligible.

The answer is not one answer.

It is working to get our cissexual allies to actually SPEAK THE WORDS of our lives, to bypass the cul-de-sac that traditional gay organizing has lead us into and for trans people to realize that IDENTITY is not the way that will lead us to freedom and life.

A snap.

:)