Austen Crowder

Take a tip from the Lions: or why I don't like the marriage fight

Filed By Austen Crowder | November 06, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: funding, gay marriage, Kalamazoo, Maine, priorities, transgender

Thinking of gay marriage reminds me of Detroit. Here was a team that did everything wrong; up until the third game of this season they hadn't won a game since 2007. The stadium rarely filled up. The sportscasters used them as a joke. The players dealt with humiliation at every turn. The difference between them and us? The Lions tried new things until they found a way to win. They broke their losing streak at 19. We're 0 and 31.
Detroit_Lions_helmet_rightface.png
Hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into Maine. We out-fundraised the opposition three to one. We even forced the opposition to change their rhetoric halfway through the campaign, making them recognize our importance as human beings. They beat us by six percentage points to deliver our thirty-first loss on gay marriage. I'll say it again, because it's quite important: 31 losses. Thirty. One. Millions of dollars invested, and the religious right remains undefeated.

Meanwhile, a smartly-deployed, grassroots campaign in Kalamazoo, focused on basic civil rights for all LGBT people, passed by an overwhelming majority. Hundreds of thousands of dollars weren't spent on the campaign, and the media didn't swarm over the city. But Kalamazoo was a stunning success, and dollar-for-dollar one of the best investments of LGBT resources in this election cycle. Why do I say this? Here's a news flash: some people in the LGBT community - myself included - are not homosexuals.

That's right: I'm a straight transgender woman, and I want my rights too. Take a second to think that over before hitting the jump.

Monica over at Transgriot shares some of the same sentiment regarding the LGB losing streak:

Politicians are also looking at that 0-31 number as well. If you folks thought they and the general public weren't paying attention to that stat plus the four decades of shady behavior directed at the trans community, they were.

The noted the legions of gay and lesbian people actively working to cut trans people out of legislation we desperately needed while uttering the words 'we'll come back for you', 'they need more education on this issue', 'get over it' or 'you're not part of 'our' movement'.

After watching that, I wouldn't doubt politicians have in the back of their minds, 'If this is how they treat their allies, how loyal are they going to be to me?' [...]

Now you know what it's like to walk in the trans community's shoes.

It's aggravating to have rights that you already possess taken away, as transpeople's marriage rights are thanks to the conservabacklash from your gay marriage push.

It's not a fun sentiment, but it's one I have to echo. Gay marriage doesn't affect me directly. It's an expensive campaign that doesn't help earn my civil rights. Sure, an argument could be made that gay marriage would matter to me in, say, Tennessee, or a few other states of the union, but the fact remains: I'm a straight woman. I'm not gay.

While millions of dollars pour into a 0-31 marriage campaign, people like me are regularly denied employment, subjected to humiliation and ridicule for just living our lives, and generally treated like perverted, degenerate people who must be hidden from the world. Our needs are excluded from health insurance because of a disproven statistical study in the 1970s, and getting care requires doctors who are willing to work around an uncaring system. Passing as our chosen gender, while a touchy subject within the trans community, is a survival tactic in the real world, as transitioning persons have barely any rights to health, employment, or happiness in our world.

Gay marriage makes none of this go away. None. It actually makes things worse: as gay marriage is pushed, anti-gay forces are on the lookout for us trans people, potential imposters trying to slide by with a same-sex marriage, and denying or annulling our marriage licenses. We are worse than gay - we are super-gay, going above and beyond the call of duty to push the homosexual platform. Thus, while gay marriage goes 0-31 at the polls, trans protections become also-ran issues that are easily brushed off as outcroppings of the marriage question.

Yet Kalamazoo, running on a budget that is, proportionally, a fraction of the size of Maine's, pulls a stunning victory on a civil rights platform that helps everybody, even us straight transgender women.

I'm not saying that marriage isn't important, because it is. I'm simply saying that we're putting the cart before the horse on the issue. Let's take a step back, scoop up the whole community, and try to win some basic human dignity and protections for who we are. There's no reason we should continue a losing streak while we have the ability to enact positive legislation that helps everybody.


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I agree. We need to look at the community as a whole and advance all of our issues as one front. Being Intersexed is just as hard as being Gay or Lesbian or Trans…. It’s like being all of them at once.

Any marriage I enter in to is subject to annulment at a whim.
Any job I seek or hold is subject to withdrawal upon discovery that I have ‘lied’ on the application when I mark the box male….or even female. And if I don’t mark the box they either mark it themselves or ask the embarrassing question of why.
My service in the US Navy was fraught with stress during physicals that they would do the tests again that proved my Intersex condition the first time. (I didn’t learn I was IS until well into my Navy career. IS people are not allowed because “those people are not capable of doing the job”. It’s a long story.)

There are so few of us IS types and so many of everyone else. It saddens and disheartens me that our rights are so easily brushed off by the ignorant masses who do so proclaiming that it is their rights that are being infringed upon.

It’s not just my fight for my rights, it’s OUR fight for OUR RIGHTS. No settling for the words “Maybe next time” or “Maybe 2010 or 2012 or 2016 0r…”. I’m not getting any younger.

I can add little more to this than a "I completely, totally, and unequivocally agree." :D

I saw your entry about two minutes after I put mine into the hopper. Oh well; we'll chalk it up to serendipity and uniformity of opinions. :D

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | November 6, 2009 4:54 PM

Your "bottom line" seems to be that we're a bit stalled on the marriage front, that while you don't dismiss marriage equality as unimportant, you think a better approach would be to concentrate on a broader front concerning LGBT rights.

Ironically, I just finished reading a piece put out by the conservative Heritage Foundation which comes to the dubious slippery-slope conclusion that we're really pushing things like ENDA now because eventually it will lead to public acceptance of same-sex marriage.

Round and round it goes, and where it stops......except that it won't stop anytime soon.

Exactly. However, our victories have shown us that if we get smaller protections (civil rights/anti discrimination), we can start pushing people toward marriage equality. "After all," the argument goes, "it didn't hurt us when we started treating them like human beings."

Imagine the political capital we could have amassed if we took the millions spent in CA and ME, split it among a few large municipal areas, and pushed grassroots campaigns for basic antidiscrimination rights...

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | November 6, 2009 5:23 PM

Your "bottom line" seems to be that we're a bit stalled on the marriage front, that while you don't dismiss marriage equality as unimportant, you think a better approach would be to concentrate on a broader front concerning LGBT rights.

Ironically, I just finished reading a piece put out by the conservative Heritage Foundation which comes to the dubious slippery-slope conclusion that we're really pushing things like ENDA now because eventually it will lead to public acceptance of same-sex marriage.

Round and round it goes, and where it stops......except that it won't stop anytime soon.

I've thought for a long time that marriage is one issue on which the needs and rights of all of us in the lgbtqi... spectrum converge.

By that, I'm not suggesting it's automatically the top-priority issue worth fighting for, or that it is the one worth winning soonest.

But, as framed by the anti-marriage-equality crowd, marriage is primarily about gender. And, by the way, the definition of gender is not up for discussion. It is a laughably ridiculous notion, according to them, that two men or two women, as co-parents, could bring a healthy mix of influences into their family which would be considered to be traditionally masculine and feminine.

They might as well be screaming, What about the poor, abused, straight offspring of two dude-dads, or two dyke-moms? How will they survive childhood, and become productive adults, unless they emerge as gender-conforming and straight as our kids already are?

I am not trans, but if I could petition to change my birth certificate and my ID from M to F, that wouldn't be a problem. It has pissed me off for a long time that trans, genderqueer, and intersexed folks don't have that option. Obviously, I'm being overly simplistic about the challenges my trans siblings have lived with forever, but I do so mindful of straight pastors who refuse to sign marriage certificates, and straight couples who have vowed to wait on marriage until it is available to any two people ready to commit.

As a single step on the march to civil rights for all, it doesn't bother me to think of filling out a form and putting in my name under wife of the guy I love. Or mother of the kids we're raising. Or, being ridiculed by a cop for being an unfeminine woman at a traffic stop.

It frustrates me that ideas like these are esoteric, out-there, not mainstream, among queer folk. It just makes sense to me to challenge gender, and marriage, and family, all in the same breath.

Challenging gender is one thing, but what you're suggesting would scare tradition-minded folks more than marriage equality. It sounds like you're suggesting "Well, if i can't get married to another guy, I'll get my gender changed to female and get married anyway!" To be frank, I like the sentiment. ;)

It's already been suggested by the more unhinged types on the other side of the aisle.

Well, what a pity the T's are a minute sector of the LGBT community; and that much like you don't care for gay marriage because it doesn't affect you, I could not care less about transgender welfare because it does not affect me.

People invest their dollars in whatever they damn well please, and that happens to be on marriage equality. If somehow the organizations were not representative of their membership, they'd be scrambling for donations. They're not.

Kalamazoo is a joke race. Very small demographic, thus an easier race. Just ask anyone how easy it would be to run a campaign in California as well.

Anti-discrimination protections are also not plagued with the problems gay marriage has. The issue of anti-discrimination policies is not clouded by primitive reactions to sexual perceptions.

Run the math and you'll see it will be about ten years before marriage rights for gays will be a winning proposition in most parts of the USA. Old bigots must die off and young non-bigots get old enough to vote.

During these ten years the LGBT population could accomplish a great deal if we focused on other things. Or accomplish little if we focus on marriage. People, of course, can invest their money as they please as Lucrece suggests. So if fighting non-productive losing battles is your thing thing please do so. However, I think more and more people already see the marriage fight at this time as a waste of time, money and effort. If HRC and the other traditional money sinks for the LGBT population do not change with this reality their reality will soon be limited funding and support.

The difference between K-zoo and Maine is that K-zoo won. No matter the size, it's a W, which is more than we can say for the marriage equality battle.

Antidiscrimination battles don't require a lot of money, usually end in a slam-dunk vote, and bring a lot of net positives to the community. I fail to see the joke in that.

And by "community" you mean the T's, given how many states/counties contain provisions on sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

So again, it's about "give X money to Y cause that would benefit mostly ME".

Your problem here is that you are mincing words about the fact that transgender groups need the larger community to economically drive their issues.

You need to convince people they ought to devote their resources for your plight, and telling them that their preoccupations with marriage are a waste of money and time is not a clever way to get them to support your interests.

Notable non-trans based question, Lucrece:

Why do you think the non-moneyed trans community and middle of the country non moneyed cisGLB community ride on the backs of others and needs the employment issue solved, and the moneyed cisGLB folks need the marriage issue solved?

hint: it has to do with money.

I often agree with your posts, and I enjoy your contributions usually. However, although I agree that there are reasons for rethinking the strategy on what and how items should be promoted on the agenda, I am beginning tho think that there are too many divergent constituencies L,G,B,T,Q with different needs and priorities, and not enough cooperation among the groups. Frankly, the gay/lesbian movement was far more unified and focused before it expanded to include B,T,Q. I support these groups myself, but do not feel that they are pulling their weight in terms of work and money for gays and lesbians.
There would be a lot less controversy and more unity among gays and lesbians without these groups. Even on posts on this blog, almost all the negative commentary on marriage or gay/lesbians issues appears to be from self identified queers and transsexuals. Perhaps queers need their own group, and the same for trans persons. Nothing against any group at all, but I have heard countless gays and lesbians comment on how they fell unsupported by queers and trans , and how they try to identify with you folks, but realize that it is a very different struggle with different priorities and different goals, perhaps.
It does not surprise me that you are not interested in marriage as I am, because depending on how far along one is in the trans process, marriage is possible in many (most? ) states so long as the parties are legally designated as "opposite sexed".

Hi Bob.

Bob, it might surprise you to learn that I was directed here specifically to address your post.

Not in a bad way, either.

Bob, before there was the B, the T, the Q, and more, the was only Gay and Lesbian. This was not that long ago, Bob -- from the middle of the 6th century until the mid 1800's, all those groups were "gay" -- or at least, what passed for "gay" back then.

I was wondering, Bob -- were you aware of that?

Were you aware that as far as most of the American public is concerned, Gay still means all of them.

Were you aware, Bob, that based on some of the most recent data available and going back the last 6 years or so, about two thirds of the trans community is also Gay men, lesbian women, and bisexual men and women?

Were you aware that every drag queen/king, every really, really butch lesbian, all those super effeminate twinks and gay men are trans -- at least in terms of description, if not identity?

Were you aware that of children given the diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder In Youth (known in 1973 as "sissy boy syndrome", or homosexuality in children, and NOT removed) about 15% grow up to be straight and cis, and only about 5% grow up to be Trans -- with all the rest growing up to be gay, or lesbian, or bisexual?

Were you aware that in 1969, non-op and pre-op transsexuals in New York city called themselves gay -- just like everyone else does? That id you ask a lesbian if she's gay, she'll say yes, and if you talk to transwomen in ethnic community they say they are a "gay transsexual"?

Just curious, because, you see, although we have a letter soup, it wasn't until the rise of the AIDS crisis in the 1980's, and the establishment of somewhat decent communications and knowledge bases among the *average person* that we really started to break it into pieces.

Women's Liberation provided the basis for Lesbian, and then expanded fro there for Tans and Bi and all the rest, giving us a language to note how we are different -- but so far, that knowledge of our differences is still really only among ourselves and our close family (if we are lucky).

In short, Bob, you missed the point -- the issues we face are all remarkably similar, and all stem from the same place, and we are all inextricably linked together.

Marriage? It affects about two thirds of trans folks -- because they are gay -- directly. The remaining third, who are straight (and more if you count the bisexual one's who are with an opposite sex partner), might still be able to get married -- but then again, that marriage might only be good in the one state, because a different state might choose not to recognize us as our proper gender, thus making us in a same sex marriage that's void.

Try that on for size for a moment. Its somehting even a lot of transfolks don't realize, Bob -- we are gay too. I'm a woman who is physiologically male in a relationship with a man. Am I straight or gay according to the typical person walking down the street?

The controversy comes from one source, Bob. And only one.

People like you, who don't know their own history. Who say they've "tried to understand" and then write stuff like the above, proving that they did not try to understand. If you had tried to learn and understand, Bob, you'd know all of the above.

You'd realize that we are only LGBT because we respect each others *minor* differences and personal identities. Otherwise, we are all gay.

Even a straight gal like me.

The reason those transsexuals bitch so much, Bob, is because people like you won't learn about us -- and as a result, Bob, we get forgotten, or ignored, or even used as bargaining chips, Bob.

Here's a pretty unpleasant truth, Bob:

If you confined marriage between two people of the same sex to lesbians, it would pass.

If you confined gender expression/identity laws to just passable, surgery tracked transsexuals, they would pass.

That's a pair of uncomfortbale truths, Bob, that most of us know. THat most of us see is unfair, and does no one any good.

Come on, Bob -- join us in the search for tolerance and equality. FOr *everyone*.

Because united, we stand. Divided, we fall.


Bob, I'm sorry, but your comment strikes me as the pot calling the kettle black. Back in 2007 when the T was jettisoned from the ENDA bill, I can't recall how many G's and L's thought it was just plain good strategy to leave the rest of us behind.

I think Ref 71 in Washington demonstrates a much more effective strategy that is likely to continue to be more successful over the next decade. Get the rights, forget the word, marriage.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

We're not "pulling our weight?" You do know that the term "rich transsexual" is vertically an oxymoron. Yet, there are plenty of rich, white gay men out there to keep HRC fat, lazy and happy. It's pretty tough for a community of maybe three million Americans to pull any weight at all when we have nothing to pull with. The richest people in the trans community (and the majority of that 3 million) are closeted heterosexual crossdressers and they rarely donate to any LGBT issue or organization . . . even the trans ones.

We can't pull any weight if we are jobless and homeless. Putting food on the table and having a table to put the food on are FAR more important to any person in that situation - ANY PERSON - then marriage could ever be. We want jobs, and marriage be damned. When we have the luxury to throw away money on a losing proposition to help make a difference, then we may consider supporting marriage in more than words only.

ENDA is far more important to far more people then marriage rights can ever be. But, try to tell that to a rich gay man who has it all, but marriage. People should walk in our shoes before they bitch about us not pulling our weight.

Okay, I get your point re: splitting the T from the L and G, but why the bisexual hate? I don't get it.

I'll echo what the others said, save that I don't identify as a gay person. Historically, socially, and culturally, we're all in the same boat. And, to be honest, I'm looking to get my basic needs - employment, healthcare, and personal security - taken care of before I even _think_ about marriage. Right now, I have none of the above.

Remember, however, that your identity reaches no farther than the tips of your figers, AUsten. It has great importance and value, and immeasureable in terms of giving you self esteem and personal recognition.

But you can be described by others as many things -- and when it comes to description, you don't get a voice.

And for the most part, many people will describe you as gay.

Um, could I remind folks that we trans folk come in all flavors of sexual orientations? So, same sex marriage does have a bearing upon a good number of trans people, since many trans people identify as L, G, or B.

I'm not exactly excited about the institution of marriage—I blame my feminist roots for that. However, I do recognized that if I find myself with another woman and we fall deeply and madly in love together, we might feel a desire to tie the knot. In that situation, we'd both be screwed because my birth certificate now has an F on it.

I suppose I could have gotten married when I still presented as a guy, but I transitioned pretty early in my life—before a lot of people settle down. As trans people transition younger and younger, the option to marry pre-transition simply won't be available for those trans people who eventually identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Plus, there's no guarantee that a marriage will survive transition. Many end in divorce.

So, I'm a little annoyed that some straight trans folk are looking past my inability to marry. Yes, I'm a lesbian but I'm also transgender, too. The T includes me, too.

This is directed toward Bob: If you drop the T or the B from the acronym, then you're pretty much saying that some same sex relationships matter more than others because both trans people and bisexual people can be involved in same sex relationships. Furthermore, those relationships can be with cis lesbians and gay men. So, dropping the T and the B will effect the cis lesbians and gay men who are in relationships with bisexual people and trans people. Why? Because they'll have to suffer through the horror of watching their trans or bi partner face discrimination. Both partners will be faced with a social, emotional, economic, and legal burden. And of course, the same arguments can be made for not including intersex people.

So, I have to ask you, Bob, do you really want to say that some same sex couples matter more than others? Do you really want to ignore the needs of cis lesbians and gay men whose partners will be affected by the omission of those "extra" letters?

Whether folks like it or not, we're all bound together in this mess. The symbology of an acronym never quite captures the complexity of people's lives. Perhaps we should remember that.

I never tried to ignore your sexuality. If I came across that way, I'm sorry. The post idea came from a discussion I had with Alex in another thread, where we decided that it may be a good thing to get a little selfish when thinking about what we want from the movement. That's exactly what I did here: "what would a straight transgender female want out of the LGBT movement?"

Removing sex discrimination in marriage is important to trans peoples - and not just gay, lesbian or bisexuals trans peoples. They are many straight trans people who live in areas where they can't change their identity documents or many who don't or can't have grs.

Outside of thos considerations - it's just the right thing to do. Regardless of whether I'm lgb or t.

As a community member - I wouldn't prioritize it over issues such as gaining employment protections and public accomidation rights for lgbt folks - but that doesn't mean it's unimportant. It's just not going to do as much good - for all of us. Kinda hard to date when your homeles and can't find work. And the majority of even straight folks are single now - or very close to the majority.

Austen - you might want to reconsider using the word homosexual - it has some fairly negative associations nd history.

Re: the word homosexual, I used it intentionally. James Baldwin once said "The role of the writer is not to write, but to disturb the peace!" I wanted to strike a tone that would push people to responding honestly, instead of with platitudes. I wanted people to be a little selfish and actually say what was on their minds, if that makes any sense.

People respond with the "right answer" usually, saying exactly what they need to say. It's only when they're incensed or put off that they say what's really on their minds. Least, that's my theory on the whole deal, and I think we've had some good discussion because of it.

Regarding your points, I agree totally. ;)

I know - that's why I only discuss important issues with people when they're drunk.

It's a truer indication of who they really are. And it means I can say whatever i want to provoke poeple and it's like noble and stuff.

As a note, I don't drink or do drugs (save nicotine) to excess, and alcohol is something I rarely do.

I never say the right thing. I may say thing correctly, but I am decidedly not a sort that says "the right thing" just to be appeasing.

I say what I say based on what I know, on facts, on evidence I've encountered and from the basis of my experience in my fields.

And, as an offical "angry tranny", you *always* get what I really feel, what I really believe, but, most importantly -- more importantly than what I believe (irrational) or feel (irrational), you get what I know (rational).

If'm you want to buy the rounds to prove it, come on down to Phoenix and try to get me drunk (it's easy -- half a beer and I'm tipsy, two and I'm sloshed and falling) and find out that I do, indeed, always give it that way, sober or drunk.

(give me money or power, on the other hand, and all bets are off...)

I agree with Bob in that there are a lot of divergent interests in the LGBTQ community, and sometimes they're completely incommensurate. I disagree with the idea that that would be solved by focusing just on gay and lesbian folks - there are plenty who have different interests.

Not too long ago, I should point out, there wasn't even unity between the G and the L, and they thought their interests were too divergent to work together. What does a gay man really have in common with a lesbian? Now we seem to have half-forgotten those existed. And, within the G and L group, there's differences in terms of class, race, political ideology, geography, etc. And those differences are important and lead to big debates (like all those Bil and Jerame have about how coastal/urban LG folks don't support nondiscrimination legislation in flyover country, instead focusing on marriage for their own states...). There are many groups of G and L people who don't think that the LGBT movement as a whole is looking out for their interests.

As Lucrece put it, our de facto way of organizing now isn't as a movement, at least at the state and local level. It's issue-based for grassroots folks and people who give whatever time they can to help out; the people who worry about the movement as a whole are either paid or have more free time on their hands. So the issue wasn't LGBT rights in kalamazoo, WA, and ME, they were civil unions, anti-discrimination legislation, and marriage. And people signed up and worked on those issues if they were important to them (including straight/cis folks).

Most people are greedy and work on and donate to and discuss the issues that they think will help them the most. That's the point of this discussion, though - the focus of most of the movement's money has been on the issue that the movement's richest and most numerous care about the most. And since this is, at most, a movement not a democracy, there's little that can be done to change that other than raising awareness about other issues and getting a little well-intentioned support for them.

I think most parts of the movement feel like the other segments aren't reciprocating their support for each others' issues, except for (of course) those folks who a blissfully unaware that there are segments in the community with different interests than their own.

Not that any of this matters to me. Being completely selfish, I don't live in K-zoo, WA, or ME, so none of these are "my rights." And when folks say that health care reform should be postponed to repeal DADT (good luck convincing House Democrats of that one), that's really just asking me to wait on legislation that would benefit me for legislation that will never benefit me since I'll never be a soldier anyway.

It's a useful exercise for people to clearly identify what they want from the LGBT movement so that we can better articulate our needs. But it can't be an ending point, or else than the straight/cis majority can just as easily decide that anti-discrimination legislation, etc., is not in their "rights" and therefore will never happen.

The need for selfishness is _vital_ at this stage of the game. We need to know what the problems are, decide on a way to fix them, and set up a plan to get the job done. If the most effective fix for the situation is marriage rights, so be it; however, if that is the case I predict legislative backslides, increasing monetary damage, and a long, LONG fight to marriage rights being granted to gays and lesbians.

We are a disparate movement, yes. Usually I'm for battling for everybody's rights, regardless. It just seems that the trans/intersexed/gender-variant community gets shunted by some members of the community at the first time of political turmoil. This ironically smacks of transphobia, and is a further indication of the need for selfishness. We need to claim our issues, our conflicts, and our needs if we want to make this movement work.

Interestingly enough, Alex, I tackled this same issue a few days back, in terms of looking for a solution, in my post on Agenda: http://www.dyssonance.com/?p=844

It's a challenge -- and one that requires we be aware of our history, our commonality, and our needs.

I should mention, at this point, that I'm laughing out loud. Not at the quality of discussion -- which is absolutely fab, by the by -- but because nobody has commented that I made fun of their team. I was hoping for at least one person to say "but the Lions aren't _that_ bad!"

*hides her Colts jersey, her dog's Colts dog tag, her Colts schedule.*

Not that I'm a football fan or anything. :)

What a strange post, Austen. I'd recommend that you think long and hard about posting such opinions. Your basic point is that same-sex marriage isn't yet winning in popular ballot initiatives so we should abandon hope and all fight for trans rights. Sorry, but that is dumbfoundingly naive and, dare I say, clueless. Marriage may not be winning in state ballot initiatives yet, but it's getting close. Do you think that trans rights would even come within 40%, or even 35%, in statewide referenda? Try it. I think you'll be disappointed. In addition, as a gay male advocate of trans equality, I find your "I don't give a hoot about gay marriage" statement rather shocking. Since trans rights really don't affect me, I guess your logic would dictate that I should throw your agenda overboard? I don't intend to do so, but perhaps others will be convinced by your logic. Good luck on pushing for trans rights without gays funding the fight and helping you.

To that point, and the point I made earlier with a different person, TanyaM...

Think about how awesome it would be to have all those trans people with money.

Imagine what changes could happen then, since trans people are gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, black, white, asian, native, and so forth.

They may not be a big group, but they are a group that can change things more than even they realize.

After all, they are only 8% of the population.

What is left out in this post is the difference between protection from discrimination and marriage equality. Employment protections are required in the realm of private industry and commerce (with the exception of government employers and government housing, obviously), whereas marriage equality has to do with equal treatment under the law, by the government, in regards to its own citizens.

I believe wholeheartedly in protection against discrimination, but in the end, LGBT people will always be able to find a restaurant to serve them, a place to live, and a job, if they look long and hard enough. I'm not saying that task is not difficult, and that choices are not limited, and that the best housing, best jobs, best opportunities aren't denied to us. If people have to get creative and work for themselves, live with friends, have other people do their shopping, they will get by.

However, marriage equality is about equal protection UNDER THE LAW by the laws of our United States. As citizens, we are entitled to equal protection under the law. A gay couple in Ohio who want to get married can't keep trying different marriage license offices until they find one that is accepting. They will never find one because it is prohibited under the law! That couple might be able to move to Massachusetts, but they will never get married in Ohio. Both of them, however, will be able to find a place to live, a job, and places to shop and eat.

I AM NOT EXCUSING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON GENDER IDENTITY OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION. I am simply saying that there is a reason these are two different struggles, and that marriage equality is important to ALL LGBT people, not because everyone wants to get married, but because it is about equal treatment under the law, and it is about the government vs. gays, as opposed to private industry vs. gays.

George, I just have one thng to note here:

ENDA and other anti-discrimination measures exist to allow for equal treatment under the law.

In order to achieve the social change you describe, the law must provide for an equal footing on which to callenge things, and *that* is the purpose of the laws -- to allow for effective redress against discrimination.

I can say there are particular problems with the bill as it is being pushed through, that hinder its effectiveness, but the importance of it is still quite serous.

So to say that it does not have that fundamental basis of equality under the law is a falsehood, and therefore, your argument fails.

The entirety of the fight is about the same thing. The question becomes "which is of greater importance?". And, from that perspective, it becomes seen that those who have employment and funding already see marriage as the needed direction, while those of us without it see it as employment that needs to happen.

I might also add that legal prohibition of employment and housing discrimination will not end those practices. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed 45 years ago, and in the next 24 hours, hundreds, if not thousands, of people will be pulled over for 'driving while Black.' Our prisons are overcrowded with a disproportionate number of Black people. If an employer or landlord really wants to discriminate against Blacks, they will simply move somewhere where there are no Blacks. It's called 'White flight.' Check out suburbs across the country, and states like West Virginia and Idaho, among others.

Passing ENDA will not suddenly make all Trans people employed and give them a roof over their heads. It will give them a tool to use to fight back against discrimination, and that is important.

Reaching marriage equality, however, will make a difference immediately. Hundreds of thousands of LGBT couples will no longer have the fear of what will happen to their families in the event of the death of a spouse. People without insurance will immediately be able to seek health coverage.

In short, I am single, I am gay, I have many friends from all of the initials, ALL of them, and I care about issues of concern that are important to all of them. Nonetheless, it is the unequal treatment of LGBT people by our government that upsets me the most. We are citizens of this country, tax-payers, and we are entitled to equal treatment in ALL MATTERS under the law, not just marriage! Marriage is just the focal point.

Amy McDonald | November 7, 2009 12:38 PM

I left a comment on 365gay.com in an article about which way the movement should go on marriage.In it I said we should be careful of not alienating people like the President and push for things we can accomplish like enda. Without the right to simply exist marriage means nothing. Taking the right steps will lead to lgbt acceptance and eventually gay marriage continuing a losing strategy will only increase the anti lgbt rhetoric and push marriage equality further away.The more young people continue to see us lose the more I believe they'll question their own support of us.
For having this opinion another poster who identified as a gay male said he'd be happy to rip a person's head off who thought like me and defecate down their throat.In the past I've not only donated time and money to supporting gay marriage I've placed an ad with my name attached to it in support of it.Why should I put my time and money into helping those who see me as below them? Besides at the family level the worst I've ever been treated is by gay males and their numbers are growing.It hurts far worse when a group who your supposed to be allied with appear to be the ones most likely to put you down. Looking at the big picture and taking advantage of the things that can be accomplished first with the least amount of fallout seems better to me than to keep getting handed loss after loss.Amy

OK, Austen. I've read through your responses on this thread and I understand the spirit of your article. Thank you for responding to me directly, by the way.

Selfishness can be useful, as it helps in drawing boundaries and doing what one needs to do to take care of oneself. However, it's important that people balance selfishness with the ability to empathize with and understand other people's lives.

Consequently, I'm trying to step outside of myself and see things from your perspective. It dawned on me this morning, that it must be a real pain in the ass to be both transgender and straight when one is interacting with the queer community. Being transgender is bad enough: tons of verbiage has been expended trying to get the larger queer rights movement to understand that trans people are often treated as outsiders and that tendency is incredibly off-putting. In spite of being trans, at least I, a lesbian, can find a sense of common cause with the larger movement. However, what if I were straight? That sense of connection and inclusion would be quite tenuous given the way trans people are often invisible to the concerns of the larger queer movement. With respect to the queer alphabet, being a straight trans person must be akin to being a minority within a minority within a minority. That has to be incredibly annoying.

Privilege and power can shift as easily as sand in an ocean. In the outside world, being straight can afford one access to a greater degree of privilege, but being trans and being a woman can take bloody huge chunks out of the level of power that one can access. Inside of the realm of the queer community, being straight and trans and female pretty much pushes one to a position very near the bottom of the pyramid.

This is good illustration of why I tend to favor looking at power and privilege using a model known as kyriarchy. Simply put, the model recognizes that power relations can shift according to social environment and the participants involved. As circumstances change, the roles of privileged and under-privileged can easily switch.

Sorry, but it never ceases to amaze me how far a single person's tiny idea of theology -- Kyriarchy -- has come to represent the dynamics for so many.

Heh, I had to dig around in Google to understand your comment. Setting aside the etymology, I think that the concept behind the word does a far better job of modeling power dynamics than the far more narrow concept of patriarchy.

Estelle Irene Kinkade Wilson | November 7, 2009 1:16 PM

Now it's time for Mama to step in! I get so friggen aggravated with this whole BLT hold the G, pissin game. Time for some history lessons, from a woman's personal journey.

I was raised as a Minister's Child of the Nazarene flavor. From age three I wanted to present as female, everyone was told I would grow out of it. Well age 13 came and I "outed myself" to the parents. I had never heard of any word to describe myself other than, "queer or fag". This honest attempt with my parents, bought me an incarceration to be "made straight". Did you know in the 1970's it was legal and medically sound to subject children to electric shock, chemical (insulin) shock and solitary confinement for over 30 day stints? Let me tell you it was!

From 13, 14 and almost to my 15th year I was used as an experimental Guinea pig for several theorist. If it had not been for a Dr. Edith Hooker having Homosexuality changed from a disease to a lifestyle; I had been scheduled to be interred at Madison State Hospital for a lobotomy. Yes they wanted to remove the essence of me, creating a blank human to be reprogrammed. For some unknown reason, I have survived mostly intact living hand to mouth. Most of my brethren did not survive this "homosexual holocaust".

I have fought for "gay rights" singularly, in groups and with collegiate lectures. My transition was just in the beginning, I was employed, and went to support the passive movement at the State Capitol when legislation was being presented to prohibit "same gender unions". My picture ended up on the front page of the Indianapolis Star, and I was outed as "trans" to the city.

As Austen, I am a straight woman of transformation, with a few twist. I am a rather conservative Christian woman, seeking discernment into the Sisterhood. I have fought and survived fighting for, and losing much, to support the Gay Community.....only to be considered the "T" attachment. Now to the point.

If we as our wonderfully fragmented diversity community, do not get our shit together; we will fail! Each time a addendum, bill or legislative process is pushed or presented, it is the "T" that take the brunt of the public abuse. Kids I loved fighting for your rights ans surviving my own personal Auschwitz.....but when will the affluent GL, realise we do not have the resources to fight on our own.

One thing that has become apparent to me in the weeks after the National Equality March is that the Transgender community is very misunderstood and seldomly appreciated as a part of our LGBT community.

Our Trans siblings deserve the same rights that everyone else does, and they're fighting the fight with us! They deserve respect and recognition in the legislation that the LGB's push, because if none of us are equal until all of us are!

Thank you BILERICO.COM and Austen Crowder for the wake up call!

www.citizenzero.us
www.qvegas.com

A selfish argument by a selfish individual. Gay and lesbian people must sacrifice their priorities for trans people, but trans people never subordinate their priorities for gays.

This is the consequence of a parasitic relationship b/t the gay movement and the trans community. The latter muscled its way in to our movement, without debate or discussion. Anyone who objects is bullied and derided.

And now we are preached at by the very people who invited themselves in. Gay people have been asked to sacrifice ENDA unless it was "trans inclusive" and we have endangered passage as a result. Now we have a series of lectures that we need to de-prioritize marriage in order to better accommodate our trans activists. These people have not only invited themselves in, they are now the masters of the house.

This entire shotgun marriage has been a farce. There is no logical reason why trans people are included in our movement. They could be allies, just as labor and women's groups are allies. But they are not defined by sexual orientation and so have no business including themselves as integral members of our movement and setting our priorities.

PS

For those of you who say that "our enemies don't distinguish" b/t gay and trans, I say so what? Why would I let a gay basher dictate my identity and set my agenda? Some gay bashers also equate gay with communist. Does that mean we should now call ourselves the GLBTC movement?

Hi David,

I'm curious, David, why you say parasitic relationship. I'm curious because for their to be such a thing, you'd have to have one part feeding off another. Usually, with the host dying.

I don't see cisGLB folks dying because of trans people, David. I could say I see trans people being beaten by cisGLB people.

I find it fascinating that you said transfolk "muscled" and "bullied", and that you claim ownership of a movement that was sparked because of raids that used gender nonconformity as the marker of where to go.

A movement where all the early orgs had transfolk, and they were, indeed, bullied out and pushed out and derided out of them.

Because they "endangered" the rest. Olivia Records -- a women's record label back then now better known for some awesome cruises -- fired a woman because her being trans somehow endangered the company.

I suppose, David, that you don't realize that saying that trans people endganer something is, in truth, a very transphobic thing. Now, I don't say that to bully you, or deride you. I say that because it is fact. Transfolk don't endanger anything -- the fear of transfolk does, and just like we call the fear of gay people homophobia, we call the fear of transfolk transphobia.

And inorder to speak of endangerment, there must be fear. Without fear, there is no danger. This, however, is somehting that the brave know.

Shall we note that in 1996, straight transfolk could get married in every single state in the union? Shall we note that the loss of those rights in many parts of it are directly related to the push for marriage?

Transfolk, in general, are opposed to marriage being a priority because it does not solve the issues they face on a daily basis -- with people being afraid they will ruin their business or make things difficult, transfolk don't exactly get a lot of work, so we don't exactly have a lot of money.

Transfolk did not invite themselves. We've always been a part of it. Lock, stock, and barrel, David -- you are us and we are you and so I wonder what it is that scares you so very much.

I have discovered that some gay people are *afraid* of being called trans, David. That they think of it as an insult, and yet the response they give isn't based on what it means to be trans, its based on what it means to be transsexual -- "I'm not changing my sex!".

Nor are we the masters, David -- and I will ignore the particularly nasty gender slam that your choice of phrase provides. Rather difficult for us to be so.

However, having been soundly ignored during the last several years and the movement having reached a wall, perhaps transfolks have something to teach you, David, about new ways to achieve things -- ways that just might work better.

David, there is prejudice in so very much of what you have said, and that saddens me -- for if you are not fighting to rid the world of such as a whole, but only to get rid of a tiny piece of it, then you will never succeed.

THere is also a lot of gross ignorance in your writing -- especially where you say that trans folk are not defined by their sexual orientation -- perhaps if you knew the histor of what it means to be trans, you'd realize just how very, deeply, utterly wrong that is.

While it has changed over the last 40 years in scientific circles, for the vast majority of the population, its still very much a sexual orientation thing -- as noted, we are thought of as the "super gay". So gay we went the rest of the way.

And that's ignoring the fact that most of us are gay, or lesbian, or bisexual.

And 49% of those people are not gay bashers. Sometimes 70% -- all depends on what yo are asking about.

SO your "why should I let them dictate identity" is not only a red herring on that basis, but on the basis of they already don't respect your identity.

THey are speaking about description -- and *you* do not get to choose how you are described.

And you can be described as trans, and we can be described as gy -- and so we are. For 800 freaking years it was that way -- a mere 150 or so isn't going to change it that fast.

A few responses:

- It is dishonest for you to claim that trans is a sexual orientation, or at least is intimately related to sexual orientation, when the trans movement has taken such great pains to underscore that concepts of gender and sexual orientation are entirely different. For example, if you have a gay trans man (i.e., born female, became male, and is now attracted to other males), it is considered the height of rudeness by trans people to ask why he didn't just stay female. Such a person would be scolded for his ignorance and told that gender is entirely different than sexual orientation and attraction to males does not equate with female-ness. The trans movement is right: gender is distinct from sexual orientation. That is why you have no place in the gay movement, except as allies.

- I am not prejudiced. I am not opposed to trans people. I support anti-discrimination laws covering trans people. I wish trans people all the best and I think the gay movement should be an ally to them. But they are not part and parcel of the gay movement, any more than labor unions are. I don't appreciate that we get lectured by a bunch of selfish trans activists as to what our priorities should be. And I find it appalling that we are asked to imperil passable legislation in order to assuage trans activists (which is what I consider parasitic).

- Whenever you challenge the logic of including "T" in the "LGB" you invariably see some reference to the Stonewall riot. "Trans people were at Stonewall! You have no choice but to agree that they are part of the movement!"

Sorry, but an entire social and political movement is not bound by the composition of a crowd in Greenwich Village 40 years ago. Undoubtedly in that crowd there were all sores of folks - some anarchists, some anti-war activists, lefty straight people, some alcoholics, and some eyes and ears of the mafia (the owners of the Stonewall). That doesn't mean that every one of those groups now and forever more has some right to be a part of the gay movement. That is not only illogical, it is reactionary. Similarly, just because a group was not in the crowd (say, gay Asian-Americans), doesn't mean that they are not part of the movement. Trans people may have been part of the crowd, but ultimately it is sexual orientation that should decide whether you are in the movement or not. Since trans people can be of any sexual orientation, it makes no sense to include them.

Kathy Padilla | November 8, 2009 6:48 PM

So very true David. It's pathetic to reduce history and community to one incident in 1969.

So - why do you do it?

You could have also pointed to:

Maxine Doyle in North carolina in the 1950 & early 60's being a national case that helped start the process of decriminalizing gay sex.

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/5523/

You could have pointed to the Compton's Cafeteria riot in San Francisco in 1966.

Your could have pointed to the Dewey's Lunch Counter protest in 1965

or even gone back to 1882 to the first known lgbt group that publically advocated changing discriminatory laws:

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/10750/sherman-set-the-waybac-machine-for-1882

But limiting our histories and interconnected communities to one event really is sad.

Hi David :)

As a note, I did not claim that trans is a sexual orientation. SO it could not hae been dishonest of me to say so.

Nor is it actually the trans movement that has taken the great pains you describe -- that's generally derived from feminism and anthropology/sociology.

I do understand how you might think such things, however, since you are looking at it through a lens of privilege.

What I noted was that transfolk can be called gay -- and have been, often, for most of the last 150 or so years, and for the entirety of the 600 or so years before that, the two were thought of as the same.

FOr most of the general populace (that roughly 85% of the total population), the two are still the same thing -- emotionally if not intellectually.

So the basis of your argument that we don't belong, which is initially based in a straw man argument claiming something I did not do, is without fondation, and, thusly, we still do belong in the movement.

That's excluding the fact that trans folk include, as you noted, gay folk, and so to deal with gay folk, you must deal with transfolk.

I did not say you were prejudiced. I said there was much prejudice in what you wrote, and that your excuse given initially is inherently based in a particular kind of prejudice -- vis a vis, transphobia.

Please refrain from saying what I say incorrectly. Straw men arguments are a particularly annoying thing I have to dealw ith often when I get involved in discussions centering identity politics, and I get weary of such alarmingly fast.

Nor are you imperiling legislation by including transfolks -- you cannot cover all gay people if you do not include them, and you cannot cover all trans folk if you do not include gay folks.

Additionally, once more you have made the argument that fear of transfolk is harmful. I pointed out that I agree -- it is harmful to those who use it as an excuse to avoid working towards inclusive legislation. Just as homophobia is. In other words, you once again made a transphobic statement.

Note that, fundamentally, homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality are inherently gender variant -- so its actually mre accurate to say that all gay people are trans, than all trans people are gay.

You see that reference, David, because its true. IN effect, we were not merely there, we were fundamentally part of the whole thing, and, therefore, have exactly as much a claim on the gay rights movement as the rest of the groups.

And I disagree with your assertion that an entire political movement is not bound by said composition -- it damn well is such, and continues to be so, because of the nature of the kind of action it was, which you so readily ignore and overlook, using another fallacy.

"And I disagree with your assertion that an entire political movement is not bound by said composition -- it damn well is such, and continues to be so, because of the nature of the kind of action it was, which you so readily ignore and overlook, using another fallacy."

- Thank you for admitting that you hold reactionary views. You are the trans equivalent of Justice Scalia, except that whereas his jurisprudence is bound by what was in the minds of the Founders in 1789, you are bound by the composition of a crowd on a street corner in 1969. Thus, I can only assume that you would include the mafia as part of our movement while excluding gay Asian-Americans. Of course, I am joking, but only to highlight that your position makes no logical or moral sense. You only take this position on Stonewall because it is a cynical way for you to appeal to the sympathies of gay people and to try to circumvent a logical discussion of gender v. sexual orientation. It won't work.

- I did misunderstand your position on trans as a sexual orientation. But now that you are saying that we should treat trans as linked with sexual orientation b/c 85% of the population thinks it is, I see your position is weak beyond description. We should have premises that are correct. Whether 85% of the population makes an equivalence or not (and you have cited nothing to support that), is irrelevant. More people believe in creationism than evolution, but that doesn't mean creationism is right. In any event, I certainly will not define myself based on the misperceptions of the majority. If that were the case, we would have had to define ourselves as mentally ill or pedophiles decades ago.

- Finally, with respect to your assertion that gay people are trans. You don't define me as gender variant any more than Pat Robertson defines me as a pervert or deviant. You are really two sides of the same coin. Both you and Rev. Robertson want the gay movement to be marginal and gender-subversive. I don't want that, and I would wager that most gay people don't want that. It is good to know that the inclusion of trans in the movement is linked with a self-definition as gender variant. I hope you get that message out more on Bilerico, since if more people understood the real basis of your inclusion, they would reject it.

- Finally, I do acknowledge that some trans people are gay. All trans people - gay, straight, or bi- would have been protected under a "non-inclusive" ENDA based on their sexual orientation. Whether they would have been protected based on their gender identity should not be a primary concern of a gay/lesbian movement, except as is necessary to support a political ally. To deny all gay people protection in order to satisfy trans demands for an "inclusive" bill, only shows that trans activists care about themselves and no one else. Just as you have shown it again by attempting to deprioritize marriage. Like a virus that takes over a host cell's nucleus, trans activists take control of the movement's organizations and make them serve their own ends. You aren't fooling anyone.

Incorrect. I hold what is, in your opinion, a reactionary view. ANd to say that Scalia's jurisprudence is limited in that way is both incorrect and puerile -- I may not like the manmuch, but I don't try to over simplify the particular position he holds.

Nor does the straw man argument you have made actually hold water -- although your apparent relative lack of familiarity with history and broader context likely won't be seeing it. You failed, once again -- even joking -- to understand what I said.

You remind me of someone, btw.

Once again you misrepresent my view point in your second major response. Perhaps a more studied approach would work for you, since you ignore the social forces around events, and prefer to use strawman arguments which misrepresent the other speaker in an attempt to discredit them instead of actually holding a discussion germane to the points.

For your first of two finally posts, you speak to *my* assertion that gay people are trans. First off, that's inaccurate. Secondly, the part you refer to is not my assertion. Then you go forward with aditional leaps of unfounded speculation, and you proceed to say that a binarist such as myself wants the gay movement to be marginalized and subversive, which, were you to truly have an understanding of what I am talking about, is not the case.

Then you describe it as the "real basis" for my argument-- which is inaccurate. Please -- at sometime in the future, could you attempt to describe the positions of others accurately? As noted earlier, your strawman arguments are, well, quite annoying.

For your second post, as was demonstrated several times previously and at length during the arguments around the inclusive bill -- to a point that only one major org supported the position you hold, and they did so at extreme cost and with tremendous arrogance -- your position is, in fact, without merit, *because* that 85% doesn't see a difference.

You make the same mistake there that many make -- you are overly focused on the LGBT community, and not enough focused on the world outside it -- which has a much greater say than you do in terms of social systems.

In this case, sexism, which is linked to social behavior by gender expression.

So, in fact, what you are arguing for is a bill that protects gay people who are assimilationist, reiterating a particular viewpoint that is predicated on your individual prejudices aainst trans folk -- and markedly represented by your referral to transfolk as a virus.

So I needn't worry about "fooling" anyone -- I don't actively seek to decieve others, and my arguments are quite sound enough to stand on their own without my resorting to strawman format arguments.

Name calling and obscurantism. Your posts aren't that hard to read. And they aren't that profound. Stop trying to pretend that you are Derrida when your posts read more like Jeff Foxworthy.

I haven't misrepresented anything and anyone can go up and read your posts. You can try to bob and weave like a greased pig (metaphor only, Bilerico, not an insult), but your positions are clear: you want to see the gay as gender-variant, so that you can more easily graft yourselves onto our movement. But you don't get to define us. Your definitions don't matter to me any more than your name-calling and insults.

The one comment in your latest screed that is worth responding to is:

"You make the same mistake there that many make -- you are overly focused on the LGBT community, and not enough focused on the world outside it -- which has a much greater say than you do in terms of social systems"

If you had read or understood anything I had said, you would know that I am not "overly focused on the "LGBT community" since I argue that that community does not exist. There is no more an LGBT community than there is a community of cell and virus. There is an LGB community and there is an uninvited "guest" which we call T. Our guest has not only come into our home and helped herself to our bed and our food, but now she has decided that she is the head of the household and has taken to lecturing everyone as to how the house should be maintained. Anyone who objects is a trans-phobe. Time for an eviction.

I know you would like to propagate the view that we are all in the same boat and that Americans view us as indistinguishable. That serves your selfish interest, which in the end is all that drives trans activists. But it isn't true. We have made progress in this country precisely because we have successfully persuaded many that gay men are men and not men who want to be women or men who want to wear dresses. We hurt ourselves by acquiescing to the belief by some straights that gay=trans, when we should be redoubling our efforts to convince those remaining straights that there is no equivalence.

Hello, David.

Please identify where I called you a name, please. Precisely where, and the contextual basis for it.

Please identify where I engaged in "obscurantism" as well, please.

Until you do, I shall assert that such are lies.

That said, you have consistently misrepresented what I say. And, instead of asking me what I mean, you leap to conclusions that are not supported in what I say, as I say what I mean very precisely in debate.

So there is no bobbing, no weaving (save of words), and certainly no greased pig, which, it may surprise you to learn, I was damned good at catching and wrestling as a child. For reference, the way you do it is simple: know the pig. If you know the pig, you know how it will react, and can approach it accordingly.

If I don't know the pig, David, I don't go chasing after it.
Worse: you once again misrepresent my position.

I do not want to see gay as gender variant. Point blank -- if that's what you've taken from this, then you are not understanding my position.

Because that is *not* my position.

Since that is not my position, to say that it is, and to say that it is clear, as an assertion, is, in Fact, misrepresenting my position, is it not?

Secondly, you assert that the basis for this is for me to "graft" the T onto the LGB.

That is not my position, nor is it my intent, either. So, once again, you are stating something about me which does not accurately reflect my motivation for such.

So, once more, you misrepresent me.

It is not I who is defining this, either -- I am, ultimately, merely demonstrating how people who are not LGBT see it. A good reading of my posts would demonstrate such.

You have argued that LGBT community does not exist. If I am nderstadung you correctly, you are arguing that the basis of the LGB is strictly ad purely sexual orientation, and the basis of T is strictly gender variance.

Its possible, therefore, that you do not see there to be a communty even within the T, or even within the LGB section. It is also possible that you see them both as having commuites, and that there is no similarities between them. IT's possible even that you do not know if thee is a community as part of one but not the other, and that it could be either one is such a situation. THere's also te potential that you don't actually know what constitutes a community, or that you follow a particular theory of community different from the one I follow.

So not only have I understood what you've been saying, I've even considered the various possibilities of what you have not said, but that would be dependent on it.

In other words, not only am I reading and understanding what you write, I am giving it actual consideration.

And in the context of this conversation, you are, indeed, being overly focused on the LGBT population, as you casually dismiss the larger, and, thusly, more socially authoritative population outside it.

Nor does objecting to transfolk as part of the greater community make one a transphobe -- that's disingenuous and tells me quite a bit.

A transphobe is someone who repeatedly and consistently makes commentary and argues positions which rely on ideas and concepts that are, in their nature, reliant on the fear of, the intense dislike of, or the aversion to transgender/gender variant people or the idea of transgender/gender variant people.

One can argue against inclusion, for example, without using transphobic arguments.

Nor does making a comment which is transphobic once make you a transphobe. Not even twice. It takes a consistent pattern of such, and a reliance on a fundamentally transphobic outlook to do such.

You state you *know* I would like to propagate a view. I'm going to have to correct you here, yet again.

You do not *know* that. It is an presumption, not a fact.

The line: "That serves your selfish interest, which in the end is all that drives trans activists."

Indicates that you view all transfolk as selfish individuals. Since I hold that all humans are inherently selfish beings, and that all actions are derived from selfish motivations, I can't argue that position. However, I can ask you to attempt to explain that, when the overwhelming majority of my time and of my work goes towards helping others, and that I do so at great personal sacrifice.

So please, do explain that selfish activity on my part.

"We have made progress in this country precisely because we have successfully persuaded many that gay men are men and not men who want to be women or men who want to wear dresses."

And that progress happened when, please?

Dates. Evidentiary processes. Note that we are talking about the general public, not scientific endeavors.

We'll wait.

"We hurt ourselves by acquiescing to the belief by some straights that gay=trans, when we should be redoubling our efforts to convince those remaining straights that there is no equivalence."

Here, we agree. But in the work of legislation, today, right this moment, that's irrelevant. We cannot cover everyone equally by separating, and arguing that we should separate is, in my opinion, saying you should leave your "guest" to burn in your house.

Thanks :D

Most of each of your posts consists of your insisting that I am misrepresenting your position. I am not. Anyone can go and read what you said, and then later denied having said. That is obscurantism. The posts are all here, so let them speak for themselves.

As for name-calling, please try to read more carefully: I said you engaged in name-calling; I didn't say that you called me a name. You toss around facile insults - "puerile" and "reactionary" - to dismiss arguments rather than rebut them. That is name-calling. I don't mind labels as long as there is a cogent argument behind them. But in your case, it is lacking.

- As for selfishness, again I note that reading comprehension is a skill worth developing. I said trans activists were driven by self-interest; I did not say all trans people are selfish. And obviously I was referring to trans activists acting in their role as trans activists. I didn't say, and I don't think you can reasonably infer, that I was claiming that trans activists are selfish in every personal and professional interaction in their lives. So I am delighted that you help others in your professional life. But that has nothing to do with the selfishness of trans activist acting in that capacity.


As far as community goes, your response was as follows:

"Its possible, therefore, that you do not see there to be a communty even within the T, or even within the LGB section. It is also possible that you see them both as having commuites, and that there is no similarities between them. IT's possible even that you do not know if thee is a community as part of one but not the other, and that it could be either one is such a situation. THere's also te potential that you don't actually know what constitutes a community, or that you follow a particular theory of community different from the one I follow."

This is an argument? List all the things that I might possibly believe? All I have said, and you have not addressed, is that there is no community between LGB on the one hand, and T on the other. I do know what community is and I do think that there is a community among LGBs, because there is a defining characteristic, non-conforming sexual orientation, that gives definition to the group. Not gender variance. Of course, there are gender variant people who are LGB, and they would be part of the LGB community by virtue of being LGB. I don't know whether there is a community among all Ts and I don't really care.

- Two final thoughts:

- How insincere of you to claim that, in theory, one can argue for trans exclusion without being transphobic. In practice, I have yet to see anyone who opposes the shotgun marriage b/t LGB and T escape the charge. If you refrain from calling me a transphobe, we might just have an historic first.

- I doubt you know anything about Justice Scalia or his jurisprudence. I've seen your website and you don't strike me as a constitutional law scholar. Maybe you learned something about the Due Process Clause and original intent while you were practicing your 3D art.

Nice try :D

btw, maybe I learned something about constitutional law when I served as a judge in northwestern metro Phoenix for three years.

But hey, that's beside the point.

I'm off to listen to an Aria.

Better than the one thus far.

To deny all gay people protection in order to satisfy trans demands for an "inclusive" bill, only shows that trans activists care about themselves and no one else. Just as you have shown it again by attempting to deprioritize marriage. Like a virus that takes over a host cell's nucleus, trans activists take control of the movement's organizations and make them serve their own ends. You aren't fooling anyone.

We're not fooling you? Drat! Your tinfoil hat must be repelling our weird-o-lyzer trans mind control rays! Guess you're just too "smart" for us after all, David...

Kathy Padilla | November 8, 2009 7:59 PM

"Sorry, but an entire social and political movement is not bound by the composition of a crowd in Greenwich Village 40 years ago."

Indeed - it's ridiculous to limit a movement or history to one event - even one so defining of that moveent and history.

What's odd is that one does not invariably mention the Compton's Cafeteria Riot in San Francisco in 1966 - though it was erased


or mention North Carolina in the 1950's and early 60's when Maxine Doyle started chipping away at the laws that made same gender sex a felony - though it was erased:
http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/5523/


One does not mention the Gay Rights protests in Florida at the 1972 Republican AND Democratic Conventions that included gender expression as part of their fight - and actually overturned two laws that discriminated against lgbt people - there was no integration of communities & interests there fer sure:
http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/6628/
but - it was erased.


And one doesn't mention the earliest known organized lgbt protest run by a gay group in Philadelphia fighting for equal public accomadation based upon gender expression - but it was erased.

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/6628/

Included in that article is mention of the long history of gender variant expression going back to the 1600's in Phladelphia - leading up to the modern Mummers - who gay historian Thom Nickles notes were often organized by .....gay men and trans people.


It also mentions the first known lgbt group (in tiny Hanover, PA) that made efforts to overturn laws which discriminated against folks based upon gender expression ... in 1882.

But - they were of course erased.

I agree wholeheartedly - limiting community and history to one event in Greenwhich Village would be a disservice to all lgbt people. Even though we owe so much to that one event.

To allay your fears -- I fully claim that this post is selfish. I think this selfishness is _vital_ at this point in the game -- after 31 losses we have to either a) figure out what we're doing wrong, or b) find a way to win. We have point B in spades, and I'm suggesting that we take advantage of the momentum. That it aligns with my personal advocacy goals is a large reason that I advocate for point B.

Beyond inclusive civil rights legislation, most things on the trans agenda are taken care of outside of the larger community. So yes, we understand that there are some hings important to the T community that, by default, must happen outside of the larger LGBT spectrum. Trans people are working behind the scenes with the DSM and, eventually, on health insurance companies to get our needs covered. We do these things with minimal input or help from the larger community because we understand that _nobody else cares about it_.

Is it selfish to not like the marriage fight? Maybe. But when paired up with the knowledge that most in-the-trenches trans advocacy happens without the larger community's involvement, I think that selfishness is ultimately kept in check.

What a great discussion this is! Bob You should be thankful you were treated with respect by the trans-leaders! Thank you for trying to educate Bob! We all matter LBGT are intertwined so tightly that when one is removed it causes failures for all! The Dropping of the T's for the ENDA (2007) ended up with the ENDA not passing as members of congress realized that breaking the group and isolating a portion was a way of defeating the whole! (Think of how wild wolves separate their prey and can eventually eliminate the whole group) Now the distrust is causing problems among US LBGT's! How to bring the LBGT groups together seems to be what is being worked on now! Bil (Bilerico) had been asking questions of us T people and I as one of the T's would hope that the questions will continue again in the future! Bilerico has done a great job! Thank you all!

And that looks to do it for tonight, lol

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | November 8, 2009 9:14 AM

Saying someone is "transphobic" is name-calling, and I'm sick of it! I've opposed marriage on another thread, and I'll oppose "trans inclusion" here -- for the same reason: both involve adopting conventional definitions and traditional social roles.

And yes, gay identity is endangered by trans identities! Make fun of me all you wish, but a gay man's self-esteem is delicate enough without his having to consider whether his feelings for another man make him a woman.

I, for one, see gay identity as a personal freedom issue coming out of the counterculture and the sexual revolution, and not as an equality issue coming out of feminism -- and I see much of the marriage and "trans inclusion" agenda as invalidating what we had the potential to become after Stonewall made the closet (read "non-disclosure") and "feminized men" (read "aspects of transsexualism) - finally - incipient anachronisms.

I see both the current trans ascendency and the marriage agenda as the result of decades of cultural conservatism (since Reagan) and gay male self-doubt (since AIDS).

Enough of that crap! It's enough to make me want to cut off my dick and let my imagination overrun acceptance of my body so I can "pass" as a woman and find some love in a world that hasn't fulfilled the promise of change that seemed possible in 1969 (whether that's the '69 of Stonewall or the ' 69 of Woodstock).

I don't care what names you call me for writing the above; the damage is done and the name-calling will only deepen it.

I've seen worse on more public threads regaridng transgender people, so I'll let most of the anger slide. You made two posts here, and I figure I'd respond to both at once.

THe long stor short is this: from what I see, you believe gender is an unimportant social construct, one we need to stop playing to, and that transition in and of itself actually plays into traditional stereotypes, much as feminism does. That's fine! I've seen plenty of people decide to break traditional gender roles with non-binary living and behavior.

However, it doesn't work for everybody. I happen to like some of the contemporary gender roles, and society holds up these roles as part of the fabricc of our daily lives. Theory is nice, but in practice I am a female.

Your "endangering" argument smacks heavily of the straight/cis community's argument of "giving them rights will endanger traditional values." Same logic, different direction. What about my life is endangering your gay identity, Mitch? Are you not secure enough in your sexuality and gender identity that you would feel threatened by a girl in Indiana, speaking her mind about the world around her?

This encompasses the entire question you are asking. Can a gay identity survive while trans people continue to exist?

If I were having this argument with a straight/cis person, I would write off your opinion as "unchangable" and get on with life. However, since you're "in the acronym," would you care to further define your anti-trans tack?

Mitch,

saying someone is transphobic is not necessarily name calling -- any more than saying someone is homophobic.

Both ultimately derive from the same fundamental problem, which is sexism, in practice (though theory can leave a bit desired).

Sexism is sorta what stands in the way for your "transcending" gender, which would, of necessity, incorporate both those who live outside it and those who live within it -- otherwise its not the elimination of gender as a concept, its just the exchange of one set of normative systems for another.

Strictly speaking, Intersex folks outnumber transsexual folks -- even at the greatest allowance for prevalence. That's not all that infinitesimal in number.

And some of them have prostate and cervix. And need a prostate exam.

Attraction to someone of the same sex is *also* not gender normative -- so while you may not want to be in a "gender movement", you are, regardless.

I never wanted to have to fight for my rights. Funny how that works out, though, huh?

Mitch, perhaps you haven't read the entire thread, but I mentioned earlier that I'm a trans woman and I'm a lesbian. Obviously, I didn't embark on this journey to womanhood because I wanted to be romantically involved with men. If there was any motivation to become female that was related to my sexual orientation, it surrounded the sense of revulsion I felt at the thought of being physically intimate with a woman while inhabiting a male body. (Yuck, yuck, and yuck.)

A much larger percentage of trans people wind up bisexual, lesbian or gay, post-transition, than is reflected in the non-transsexual populace (i.e. trans women dating women and trans men dating men). If the primary motivation behind transitioning is to fit into heteronormative expectations, how do you explain this?

While we're on the topic of heteronormativity, you do know that butch trans women and femme trans men exist, do you not? I myself fall into the blurry region between androgynous and nominally feminine. Dresses? Skirts? Make-up? I'm not a big fan of those items, trust me.

Some trans folk fit into the gender expectations of heteronormativity and some don't. There's a range of expression from feminine to androgynous to masculine in the transsexual populous, just like there's a range of expression in other populaces.

The defining factor that pretty much all transsexuals do have in common is that our bodies of birth feel wrong. It's not about wanting to being girly-girls or manly-men. It's not about who you want to have sex with or who you want to fall in love with. For some folks these things are important. For some they are not. The absolute bottom line is that it's about our bodies, and whether or not they fit our internal sense of self.

The thing is, most non-transsexual people simply don't understand this. If you've never felt that soul-deep sense of disconnect between the core of who you are and your body's actual shape, it's not going to make sense to you. It just isn't. That's why non-transsexual people tend to confuse gender expression (Am I masculine? Am I feminine? Am I androgynous?) and sexual orientation (Who do I fall in love with?) with gender identity (Am I a boy/man? Am I a girl/woman?). They are three separate dimensions of self. Sometimes those dimensions line up with stereotypical, heteronormative expectations. Sometimes they do not.

As for the cultural revolution of the 60s and 70s, the loosening of society's conservative expectations that took place in those two decades made the lives of trans people much, much easier. The Reagan years tried to reverse those changes. Those years represented an attempt to tighten social control over people rather than loosen it—that's pretty much the bane of any queer/trans person's existence. Consequently, I find it dubious to assert that a rise in conservatism is behind the existence of trans people.

I have to say that the craptastic 80s didn't send me spiraling into womanhood. I was born in 1968. I hit adulthood in 1986. If I hadn't been trans, I would have been a straight white guy coming of age in a decade carved out for straight white guys. 1986 was the year when I decided that I would never identify as a man. Why exactly did I "choose" to be a woman and a lesbian? Life is a mystery, isn't it?

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | November 8, 2009 9:24 AM

One last clarification: when I disparage "trans identities," I mean "trans" as in "transition." I believe transsexualism specifically involves allowing imagination to eclipse reality.

If "trans" meant -- and when "trans" truly means -- transcending (as in transcending [or even ignoring] gender) - I'd have no problem with it.

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] Anyone who wants respect should consider the respect that this demands as well.

I never said that a gay male's path to self-acceptance was easy. Different story, and one that I can't hope to understand. Straw men breed disparity, not understanding. Again: what about my personal trans identity is affecting your personal identity as a gay male?

Please don't use the word "tranny." Just dont.

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | November 8, 2009 9:35 AM

One last point: when transsexualism is a genuine case of "mismatched wiring" between the brain or nervous system and the rest of one's body, it can be seen as a genuine disability (possibly even in need of corrective surgery).

Being gay, conversely, is not a disability and should not be lumped in with something that is one.

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If I've been dubious or skeptical regarding feminism, it's because feminism makes gender important, and I don't think it should be. Call me sexist, misogynist, or transmisogynist; see if I care! Once one gets beyond the namecalling, the charge rings hollow, but the damage (as a result of what comes down to nothing but character assassination) is real.

When did a movement for sexual freedom become a movement for a Brave New World of synthetic bodies and synthetic families, anyway?

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | November 8, 2009 9:48 AM

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Yes. We have to have prostate exams. We have prostates, ergo, we need them examined. Why would that make you snap? I mean, a guy having breast cancer doesn't make me flustered, after all.

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | November 8, 2009 12:12 PM

A man with breast cancer? I guess that's one way to get coverage for "top surgery"... ;-)

(Actually, an apology: since my sister had breast cancer, it's hard for me to make that a laughing matter...)

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] In answer to other criticisms:

"I happen to like some of the contemporary gender roles, and society holds up these roles as part of the fabricc of our daily lives."

Gee, that doesn't sound very liberated to me. In fact, it doesn't seem very conducive to liberation, period. And I see that as a very real problem.

"What about my life is endangering your gay identity, Mitch? Are you not secure enough in your sexuality and gender identity that you would feel threatened by a girl in Indiana, speaking her mind about the world around her?"

Maybe not -- and I'll be 60 next month. None of us is really all that secure - certainly not those of us who've seen and survived what I've seen and survived. I hear plenty about the pain TGs are subjected to, so turnabout is fair play - and the pain is just as real. In my case, it may be akin to the pain of a holocaust survivor.

More to the point, this has a lot to do with isolation, and a feeling that one has constructed a sort of gay male identity that has become historically irrelevant. I see Stonewall as having been (potentially) the last stand of the drags before their relevance was swept away by the hippie era and by gay liberation itself, where the significance of gender itself was ready to be confined increasingly to the backwaters of the Deep South and other such atavistic places where drag culture remained strong.

But between Reagan and AIDS, history seems to have taken a U-turn, and to have kept going in the wrong direction (marriage included, incidentally).

In this context, maybe my identity as a gay male boomer isn't quite as privileged as some might have it cracked up to be. We weren't just denied out utopia; we lost our very frame of reference. (As for my view of the LGBT Establishment, groups like HRC are certainly no help in assuaging my sense of having survived an aborted revolution.)

Ironically, I favor most of the specific political demands on the "T" agenda, but I don't believe in "transgender inclusion" in an "LGBT community," and I don't feel obliged to support what I consider the transsexual conflation of imagination with reality.

To each his/her own, I guess -- but the right to speak one's truth about human life as one observes and experiences it cuts both ways!

Just a conjecture - for there's been entirely too much arrogance, people telling others who they "really" are, telling others what they should do.. it's a bit like the RR telling gays that they should straighten up, that it's a "lifestyle choice", that they should accept that they should be attracted to women, not other men, for purely ideological reasons. Ignoring your wishes and narrative.

Just as you're telling IS people that they should "accept their own bodies" for your own, purely ideological reasons. Ignoring their wishes and narratives.

Perhaps your attitudes may have been shaped by 60 years of withstanding challenges to your own masculinity. You see, one common way of the RR looking at it is that trans women are "uber Gay Men". Another very common RR misconception is that Gay men are just wannabe women. That people like you aren't "real men" at all. And they'll throw that accusation in your face, from Junior High School onwards.

If that is the case, if you've had decade after decade of your masculinity being challenged because of these "trans-sexuals" who make you all look bad, with their facial hair and high heels, their bald patches and lipstick... then it would only be natural to be outspoken in your disdain for them. To refer to trans women as "women", in scare quotes. Just to show that you're not one of them.

If it's any consolation, I can show you a dozen sites where straight, often married trans women are just as vehement in their condemnation of "teh Gay", shouting to all who will listen that they're women, not any form of sexually perverted male like you. Distilled Homophobia. (Example)

Such hatred and vilification is very human, I'm afraid. They've had their femininity challenged, not just by the RR, but by Gays calling them "women" and sneering at their requirement for prostate exams. So they react as you do, and worse, castigate any trans woman who supports GLB rights as "not being women at all".

Oh, what fools these Mortals be!

For the record - I'm biologically female. The diagnosis is code 1230 - severe androgenisation of a non-pregnant woman. But I have to have a prostate exam too. I'm intersexed.

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | November 10, 2009 3:26 PM

Responding to: "Just a conjecture - for there's been entirely too much arrogance, people telling others who they "really" are, telling others what they should do.. it's a bit like the RR telling gays that they should straighten up, that it's a 'lifestyle choice'... for purely ideological reasons.....Just as you're telling IS people that they should 'accept their own bodies' for your own, purely ideological reasons. Ignoring their wishes and narratives..... You see, one common way of the RR looking at it is that trans women are 'uber Gay Men'"...

Close, but no cigar. I grew up as a pudgy, intellectual (but not "effeminate") kid in a highly matriarchal New York Jewish family (a culture where no man has any worth unless validated by a woman -- a milieu, incidentally, that didn't trust Southerners [suspecting them of anti-Semitism in their hatred of "yankee" Jewish civil-rights lawyers and the like] and detested what became the "Religious Right").

I first realized I was gay when it became evident that I wasn't "interested in girls [pronounced "goylz"]." This happened to occur during what was rapidly evolving, in the general culture, into a period of widespread radical experimentation with drugs and sexuality, and I decided I liked what I found when experimenting with guys, though I'm not necessarily always unattracted to any women. (I once told my mother I liked "cute boys and elegant women," and she answered, "With those tastes, you'd better get very rich when you're older.")

My antipathy toward gender identity extends to hyper"masculine" notions of virility (e.g., "beefcake") as well as to "femininity." The old hippie culture was in the process of discarding it all, and in gay male culture (pre-AIDS), I felt I'd found a milieu that valued creativity and self-invention over conventionalitym or (any form of) conformity, but that also understood and accepted the difference between imagination and reality (a difference that I find much of trans politics denies).

Oddly enough, I accept most of the political goals of the trans movement (as matters of basic human rights, not as a co-member of any putative shared community), though I feel no obligation to accept that movement's view of (and often fixation on) gender as being a basic aspect of human identity.

Ironically, the above quote critiquing me for "imposing my ideology" obviously manifests an ideology of its ownm -- one I (equally obviously) don't accept. (Equally ironically, trans people are quick to claim an "uber gay" or mantle when it suits their political or cultural agenda.)

Though I'm open to learning of others' experiences and of new ideas, I feel no obligation to accept any "narrative" that runs counter to what I'm able to recognize as liberation. What's this ideology that now demands otherwise?

So here I am -- believing that being gay is a choice (and one I can be proud of -- rather than "I can't help it, I was born this way), finding little use for marriage and gender (finding both atavistic concepts), an anarchist who feels little affinity for feminism and is as quick to challenge matriarchy as I am patriarchy. I believe that accepting one's body is part of a holistic notion of self-acceptancd (and of distinguishing imagination from reality), though I acknowledge that this can be a hard-fought battle, especially if one's body is male and if one reviles it when contrasted with feelings one has that might otherwise be considered "feminine." But to me, that's all part of what a liberated gay identity is all about.

If anything I've written here is considered misogynist or sexist, so be it: that's mere namecalling. I don't accept the notion that any aspect of who I am is necessarily "privileged," so I feel no obligation to accept the name-calling as valid.

But then again, I've lost a lot of privileges all along the way by not hewing to the party line.

I believe that accepting one's body is part of a holistic notion of self-acceptancd (and of distinguishing imagination from reality), though I acknowledge that this can be a hard-fought battle, especially if one's body is male and if one reviles it when contrasted with feelings one has that might otherwise be considered "feminine."

If you think dealing with being transsexual is as simple as "learning to accept one's body," it's clear that you really haven't a clue about our lives. The fact that you are confusing a person's gender expression with their gender identity tells me that you don't understand some of the more basic concepts. Reread my first reply to you, further up-thread.

I have to emphasize that just as straight people have great difficulty grasping what it's like to be lesbian/gay/bi, cis people (non-transgender people) also have great difficulty grasping what it is like to be transsexual. In that vacuum, people tend to make sweeping judgments about us in ignorance.

I don't accept the notion that any aspect of who I am is necessarily "privileged," so I feel no obligation to accept the name-calling as valid.

That's the perfect recipe for remaining blind to your prejudices and the ways in which your prejudices impact anyone who has relatively less access to power than you do.

If that's the standard approach you take with anyone who is discussing issues of prejudice, civil rights, and marginalized groups of people, there's not much hope of carrying on any kind of dialogue with you. Your mind is closed to these matters.

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | November 12, 2009 3:49 AM

Responding to: "The defining factor that pretty much all transsexuals do have in common is that our bodies of birth feel wrong.... The absolute bottom line is that it's about our bodies, and whether or not they fit our internal sense of self.... If you've never felt that soul-deep sense of disconnect between the core of who you are and your body's actual shape, it's not going to make sense to you."

The problem here is that you're demanding acceptance for the entire mind/body duality on which you've premised your identity. The problem is rooted in the way you've defined your experience of reality before gender is even an issue.

If transgenderism demands an acceptance of mind/body duality (a disparity between one's body and "the core of one's being"), then it violates a sense of oneness or of existence as a holistic mind/body self that is at the core of my being (and at the core of anyone else's being wherein such a holistic oneness is at the core).

Thus, my problem with "transgender identity" as non-self-acceptance is that it either demands (and even holds itself out as proof of) a divided self as an a priori reality, or it tries to square the circle by denying that the material world (one's body included) is what it is in order for the "core of one's being" to maintain some sort of hegemony over that material reality.

For one who believes it's philosophically untenable to separate mind from body (or material from ideal reality), this means that a reality "at the core of one's being" that conflicts with material reality is a denial of reality itself - or at best, a refusal to distinguish between imagnination and reality. (I'm not denying that such a distinction is often painful; however, that's life -- "for the rest of us," anyway.

As for prejudice and marginalization, please excuse me for pointing out that my aforementioned position has been the one marginalized by current "LGBT" orthodoxy; it's even been considered unworthy of expression (i.e., censored) whenever it might take the form of asserting that a transgendered identity is merely a putative, rather than a real one

That's an interesting concept, Mitch.

Some things to point out before I ask you a few pointed questions:

A - I do not use trans, transgender, or transsexual (three different, distinct concepts that are related) as signifiers of identity. For me, they are strictly descriptive.

B - Physiology studies currently indicate an area of the hypothalamus as housing the concepts of what we presently thnk of as sex identity and gender identity. This locii is similarly located to the same one that houses sexual orientation.

C - Culturally speaking, the US has a structual concept of divided self that dtes back through to pre-Greek era western civilization -- since Soul has historically carried with it awareness of self.

D - The purpose of transition for transsexuals, or "authentic living" for other forms of trans folk, is to allow for that holisitic mind/body concordance, which is interrupted by social expectations based on an external characteristic identified at birth.

E - That holisitic mind/body concordance is called "Cis-", to normalize "Trans-".

Now the questions:


1 - Since there is a phyiological extension to this, would I be wrong to presume that you see this as a situation where the pyhsiological structures have bearing, as all thought and understanding is predicated on biochemical reactions and electrical impulses?

2 - Since Gender is understood roughly at the age of three, developmentally, what factors would you say would feed into the understanding of experience between the age of 20 months developmentally (where recognition of self occurs) and 36 months?

3 - Do you not have a belief in souls?

4 - What is the imagination and what is the reality?

5 - Might it be possible that the position you have taken is margialized because it is prejudiced and inaccurate?

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | November 12, 2009 4:05 PM

I'm finding the opportunity for dialog around these issues very worthwhile, though difficult to negotiate. Thank you!

Responding to: "Culturally speaking, the US has a structual concept of divided self that dates back through the pre-Greek era of western civilization -- since Soul has historically carried with it awareness of self.... [A] holisitic mind/body concordance is called 'Cis-', to normalize 'Trans-'.... Do you not have a belief in souls?"

No, I don't believe in "souls" in the sense you seem to mean it! My entire viewpoint - before we even come to issues of gender - is premised on a (non-Western?) sense of the unity of body and soul (and a denial of mind/body duality). That, along with my belief in "freedom from gender," is pretty firmly rooted in the counterculture and in some approaches to Eastern mysticism (though recognitioon of such a unity is also consistent with some interpretationa is Kabbalah).

From such a perspective, the demand that I adopt an identity called "cis" is akin to using scare quotes for the unity I experience as inviolable. There may be no resolution here other than to agree to disagree - but that may require accepting both positions as equally arguable.

Thus, in further response to: "If you've never felt that soul-deep sense of disconnect between the core of who you are and your body's actual shape, it's not going to make sense to you.... What is the imagination and what is the reality?"

It almost doesn't matter which is the reality and which is the imagination; the problem is the notion that the disconnect itself can be real if a mind/body duality is fictitious or illusory to begin with. (Again, please note that this issue has ramifications far beyond gender.)

In this context, I've mentioned that I nonetheless support transpeoples' political demands like equal employment and (of course!) being free from violent attack, but that I don't support "trans inclusion" in some supposed "LGBT community" (or even an obligation to adopt trans-consistent terminologies regarding gender) merely because a common enemy might wish to define us that way. (Indeed, mind/body duality itself is inextricably part of the Christian, "Western," tradition; meanwhile I'm an agnostic Jew-Bhu).

In this further context, speaking of "a soul-deep sense of disconnect between the core of who you are and your body's actual shape" implies that being trans (i.e., having such a disconnect) is either crazy or a deformity (depending on which [mind or body?] is the imagination and which is the reality).

I'm willing to accept the notion of "trans" as a disability, but it's been a hard-fought battle for gay men to be accepted as neither deformed nor crazy (nor, indeed, as in any way disabled), so the best approach that trans people might be able to offer the gay community is to keep their distance as much as possible, so as not to jeopardize those hard-won gains.

This is no mere hypothetical matter. In Iran, a gay man is indeed considered either deformed or crazy unless he has surgery to bring his "body" and "soul" into supposed alignment. In the world of realpolitik, I wouldn't want to depend on the sensitivity or goodwill of homophobes regarding the fine distinctions between gender identity and sexual orientation; the risks of conflating these two very different (and again, for me, conflicting) notions of identity, are far too high.

OTOH, this would not be an issue if we come to accept accept transpeoples' reality as a form of disability utterly unrelated to (and sometimes - politically or otherwise - conflicting with) sexual orientation. With full recognition of such a clear-cut divergence of agendas, this ceases to be a problem.

(I admit, however, that I'm still uneasy with accepting the notion that a surgically-altered body is in any way more "natural" than one's body of birth - again, given my rejection of mind/body dualism.)

As for whether "the position [I've] taken is margialized because it is prejudiced and inaccurate," I would suggest that its being condemned as "prejudiced and inaccurate" may be a symptom of its current marginalization.

Hi Mitch.

You are quite welcome.

Mitch, I am a sociologist who holds advanced degrees in sociology, psychology, and religion. I don't say this as a way of asserting any sort of authority, but merely as a background so that you can feel somewhat freer to discuss such stuff with me (personally).

The reason I asked about the soul is that I sought to determine the grounding basis of your philosophical outlook. There are many different ways you could have come to such a conclusion, and I was trying to find the one that you see as basis.

The use of Kabbalah and reference to Eastern perspective places you in a mystical sense, which, when counter balanced by your idea of unity, is simply contradictory. Eastern and kabbalahh mystcism is predicated on the flesh being house for the spirit -- so while you may borrow from them, the conceptualization is certainly not so. In a quick, mental and unreferenced viewpoint, your ideas generally harken more closely to certain modern ideas, and a couple of south american tribal concepts I'm familiar with.

Kabbalah is predicated on a gnostic basis, as is Bhuddism. In both cases, the goal is to acheve a more perfect union than one begins with -- this dovetails nicely with the trans objective of seeking the same.

You'll definitely have to go further into this.

Next up, I do not demand that you seek to establsh a new identity under cis. Indeed, I am personally opposed to the use of identity points -- hence my informing yu immediately in my prior response that I do not use trans, transgender, or transsexual as points of identity.

By extension, I don't use Cis, their antonym, as an identity. I use it as a description, and, by is nature, it fits directly with what you are describing.

You may ask that I not describe you as such, but, in such a case, you'll have to provide a reasonable comparative in singular word format.

So, as a reminder, remember, again, that this is not about identity. You can identify as anything you'd like, and I'll have no particular qualms with it. Identity extends to the edge of one's skin. After that, it becomes description which counts.

Aso, I asked the questions individually, for a reason -- it allows me to focus on those particulars - I suspect you haven't really thought this philoophy of yours through, and that you feel it more than think about it.

I should also point out that at varous points, you've described it as being "beyond gender" or "outside of gender" which is a part and parcel of the trans community as a whole (given its inclusion of people who experience gender in the same way and related ones).

As a note, in Iran, gay men are not considered deformed or crazy. Gay folks are given a choice between the legal immorality of being gay (one's existence as an affront to the State and to God), and the legal morality of being heterosexual, which is achieved through the enforced use of Gender over sexual orientation. If you won't change, in other words, then they will change you.

That, right there, in fact, is why the two are not conflicting -- even in your essentialist viewpoint. If body and mind are not separated then, in your view, their actions might seem barbaric, but they certainly wouldn't change the person or take them out of their mind body alignment, since, as you've described, its fixed that way.

You even go so far as to describe how you don't see surgery as altering that -- so, in your view, (essentialist), the body is the body -- what yo are born is what you are, and, therefore, although the Iranian society treats one as "acceptable" after surgery, they are still, in fact, gay, and, in your mind, still, in fact, men.

Again, I'm not talking about identity, although I am using the term "gay" -- its more preferable to use gay as the effective description than homosexual here.

Lastly, I did not say your psition was such in my question. I asked the question directly and pointedly to get to a pont you did not answer.

I asked if it was *possible* that your position may be so. That is, if you see the world around you as a whole being wrong, and you as being correct above all all of it.

All of that, now, and I shall ask a further five questions, one being repeated:

1 - Is it possible that your viewpoints are considered as margnalizing and prejudiced because they are marginalizing and prejudiced?

2 - Since both the Kabbalah and Bhuddism are inherently dependent on the imperfect singularity of mind and body strivig towards perfection, are they both not inherently dualistic to begin with?

3 - Since Gender is understood roughly at the age of three, developmentally, what factors would you say would feed into the understanding of experience between the age of 20 months developmentally (where recognition of self occurs) and 36 months?

4 - Since there is a physiological extension to this, would I be wrong to presume that you see this as a situation where the pyhsiological structures have bearing, as all thought and understanding is predicated on biochemical reactions and electrical impulses?

5 - Since, as I showed in the brief bit above regarding Iran, your argument's logical progression would hold that the surgical changes to gay men when given a choice between death (execution) and life in a surgcally modified form is not actually affecting them, where is the issue that you have with trans folk, again?

Lots of people from many disciplines and belief systems have reams of theories and philosophical musings that are employed to portray trans people as: un-christian, anti-feminist, misogynistic, emotionally unsound, delusional, counter-revolutionary, undemocratic, antisocial, unscientific, criminally deviant, etc. etc.

We serve as a kind of living cipher upon which others project ideas about how the world should work. In spite of so many bodies of theory and abstract thought, we simply go on living our lives and being ourselves. We've been around since humanity has been around. Look in any culture, in any country, in any era, and you will find us.

I'll quote a little something I wrote a long time ago:

No theoretical model truly describes the real-life system it is based upon. The point at which we move beyond seeing these concepts as a set of useful tools and cease to distinguish them from the real systems (and actual human beings) that they approximate is the moment in which dogma is born. It is also the moment in which theory moves away from a tool of understanding toward a basis for prejudice.

Your above post is an attempt to use philosophy as a means to justify prejudice. Others use religion, or queer theory, or feminist theory, or whatever. At the end of the day, it's all the same thing: an attempt to obscure hatred and discomfort behind fancy words.

I refuse to justify my existence to you.

MitchInOakland MitchInOakland | November 12, 2009 4:26 PM

You've got a lot of nerve claiming my entire philosophical system exists merely as an elaborate attempt to rationalize prejudice against transpeople!

You may feel insulted by my philosophy, but your insult to me in these terms is far worse. Much larger issues than gender are involved, and the philosophy involved was addressing those issues long before it even attempted to address gender questions.

As for whether transpeople have always been around, that's a useless argument. Lying is as old as speech, and tyranny is as old as politics. Neither is justified merely by the age or univerality of its presence in human affairs. Neither is gender.

When someone uses Christian theology to justify prejudice against lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, does this invalidate all of Christian theology?

When someone uses feminist theory to justify viewing men as subhuman, does this invalidate all feminist theory?

When someone uses the theory of evolution to prove that women are inferior to men, does this invalidate the theory of evolution?

The fact remains that you express a high degree of prejudice against trans people. You called us trannies. You have implied that we are the product of reactionary social forces and hence, the bane of LGB people. You misgender trans women by describing us as "women", scare quotes included. You have repeated the notion that we are imagining that we are women in several of your posts. In other words, you think we are essentially delusional. Every single one of those actions are highly prejudiced behaviors and, dare I say it, transphobic.

Now, you are trying to use a philosophical discussion of the mind/body problem as a means of justifying your prejudices against trans people. Using your personal take on this philosophic body of thought for such distasteful purposes doesn't necessarily invalidate the entire body of your philosophies. Nor does it invalidate all of western academia's approach to this topic. It does, however, make your approach to dealing with people look strongly suspect to those who recognize your bigotry for what it is.

What you are doing isn't a wondrously revolutionary means of looking at the world. It's part of a time worn pattern of intellectualizing the oppression of others. Whatever the philosophies of the day are, people of bigoted intent will attempt to use those philosophies as a means of justifying the marginalization of whomever are the hated people of the era in question. It is an old, tired pattern.

Given the inanity of your most recent response, it has become obvious that this conversation is going nowhere. I am done talking to you, as your prejudice has proven itself to be untouchable.

I disagree with the Lions analogy to the gay marriage fight. We are 0-31 and the Lions were 0-19. The Lions did not then announce that they would no longer play football or would not engage in certain aspects of football. Instead, they adjusted their strategy and I think that's what might need to happen right now with the LGBT movement.

To torture the analogy a bit further, if we understand the political goal of LGBT groups to be the removal of legal and political discrimination against LGBT people, then our strategies may change but our goal doesn't. Similar to football, the goal is to win the game.

Since the current strategy of engaging marriage and rights at the state level keeps messing up, then we need to change the strategy, not drop the goal. Maybe we need to be taking this to the federal level exclusively. I am inclined to think so as the previous models of civil rights have never succeeded at the local level consistently, not for African Americans, for women, for disability activists. There's no model for civil rights as a local issue.

Like a football team deciding to play a different offensive strategy or to convert a defensive play into an offensive one, our strategies to win employment antidiscrimination, military inclusion, family and marriage inclusion, for all LGBT people need revision, badly. But we can't just drop those parts of the body politic that we don't like.

The one part of the original part of the original post that disturbs me though is implied criticism that somehow seeking marriage rights is aimed against transgender people. It would seem to me that the goal of achieving access to marriage regardless of gender or gender identification would be a major trans goal, particularly for those trans people who do not undergo surgical gender reassignment or trans people who are not straight.

Okay. Moment of honesty? I mostly wanted to make fun of the Lions. ;) It's not perfect, but come on! Detroit hasn't even shown up on the field for two years now!

(Who is being dead serious -- she had better analogies come up, but the Lions won the day because they made her giggle.)

Stay nice, people. We don't like to TOS comments because of free speech concerns, but we do have some basic standards, which include not using slurs to refer to other people.

Using scare quotes around gendered language when referring to transgender people and the word "trannies" are considered slurs.

Argue substance all you want but keep it civil. As a parallel, feel free to argue that gay men should all marry women because sex is less important than Biblical morality, but don't say what "faggots" should do.

And usually we delete entire comments when they violate TOS, people are already engaging and it seems that everyone here is attempting to discuss the topic.

It feels weird not to see dyssonance under my posts, LOL

Impostor! Who is this Antonia person, and what has she done with dyssonance?

Near as I can tell, I seem to have metapsychically subsumed her essence.

That or a recent post by Bil explains things, lol

Near as I can tell, I seem to have metapsychically subsumed her essence.

Wait, did this involve some kind of parasitic relationship?

I'm on to you, you evil trans activist!

Quick, someone, alert the authorities!

XD

Estelle Irene Kinkade Wilson | November 9, 2009 11:24 AM

After reading, and a bit of imagination to the omitted.....There is only one quote "A house divided against itself, can not stand !" Imagine one of the conservative watchdogs, making notes of our discourse of disagreement.

"A house divided against itself, can not stand !" Imagine one of the conservative watchdogs, making notes of our discourse of disagreement.

Don't assume the conclusion. We are debating whether we are all one big happy "house" or whether we are a house with an uninvited guest. That is a debate that we were denied in the 1990s when the T was imposed on us by coopted, unelected professional activists. That is how we get to the ridiculous point where a self-identified straight woman hectors gay people about how they need to reorder their priorities so as to benefit her. Insane.

And Bilerico unfortunately has allowed itself to be used in this game of presenting this as a completely normal state of affairs. I am delighted that the comments here prove otherwise. The Potemkin village is burning. Too bad Bilerico's commitment to diversity won't extend to a guest column setting forth the logical, moral, social, and political reasons why the grafting of "T" onto LGB is unjustified.

I hope that FRC, FOF, and CWFA are all noting this debate. They and for that matter, everyone, should know that it is not a given that gay has some inherent relationship with trans.

I wouldn't write the possibility of that column off, David. I'd love to read it. Frankly, until this debate gets hashed out we're not going to make any headway, gay or otherwise. Bil is always open to suggestions. Barring the guest column idea, I guess your next best option is to either a) start your own blog, or b) find a place that's more willing to be trans-exclusive. It's simple free-market principles at work: if you don't like the editorial choices of one place, don't read their stuff.

And hey, it's not insane so much as it is honest to have this discussion. This "ridiculous point" got this conversation started, thus allowing you to soapbox about how terrible the trans community is for LGB people. I think the comments show that we have to figure out exactly what makes up the "community," and understand that some disparities of opinion may occur from what's commonly accepted as a norm.

Meanwhile, we'll keep plugging away at the activities that bring us personal satisfaction, a feeling of purpose, and tangible legislative change. For me, that means pursuing trans-inclusive legislation, trans-inclusive healthcare, and trans-inclusive marriage rights. For you, it is marriage, LGB (or just gay/bisexual, or just gay, depending on your taste) rights, and the ousting of trans people from the acronym. We've both got our cards to play, and we'll play then regardless of whether or not we agree.

The point of this article, beyond the burns-my-ass-to-lose rhetoric, is business-minded: we can get a higher ROI on basic civil rights legislation right now than we can with the marriage fight. Strip away the anger and the warrant is laid bare: like a smart business venture, we should invest in things that bring high return. That's the cards I think we have, and that's the cards I think we should play. You think differently, and will invest your time, money, and energies appropriately. That's fine.

A wise man once told me that Politics is like baseball for Big Kids -- nothing more than a game, played by too-serious adults, sometimes with real issues at stake. If we don't play for some sort of satisfaction, what's the point of playing? Consider: those without passion for their beliefs don't act upon those beliefs. I'm honest enough to own up to what my passion is: trans rights. That they intersect with LGB rights at many points is an added bonus.

I'd also mention at this point that I usually don't do this kind of "make a strong statement that's bound to make people angry" kind of writing, so I'm a little rusty insofar as political niceities are concerned. Most of my pieces are lukewarm commentary on tiddly-winks academic or life issues. I assure you that this is intentional, as I'm not usually one that likes to stir the pot. But hey. Far as I'm concerned, totally worth it for all this wonderful discussion. ;)

I have enjoyed the debate and I do appreciate your engaging in it. It is a debate we need to have.

I absolutely agree that anti-discrimination laws should be a priority. I don't see the two issues as being in competition; I see them as complementary. It isn't like an investment, where you can only put your money on one stock. The two issues work together; progress on one helps the other.