Bruce Parker

3 Lessons to Take Away from Ron Goldgate

Filed By Bruce Parker | December 14, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Ron Gold, straight allies, trans ally, transgender, transgender inclusion

Being a contributor to The Bilerico Project is important to me for lots of different reasons. The primary one is that I passionately believe in what Bil, Jerame, and Alex started out trying to do here. I believe that they wanted to create a space where we, as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied folks, could engage in hard conversations across and in various forms of difference. This goal is as important today as it was when they first settled on it. Perfecting our ability to have these conversations is essential to any hope we have of creating lasting social change.

Another main reason is that being a part of the Bilerico family makes me feel connected to Bil Browning, one of my best friends and the only person who I believe understands some of the more peculiar parts of my experiences of my bipolar disorder. Finally, trying to finish my Ph.D. at Louisiana State University and some complications with me being bipolar has greatly limited my involvement in LGBTQ activism since I moved to Louisiana. Being a part of Bilerico Project allows me to continue to feel a part of the larger struggle for social justice of which Bilerico is a vital part.

So, while I am at this point an infrequent contributor, I remain flattered and proud of being invited to continue contributing to this community. I share the above thoughts about my ongoing involvement with the Bilerico Project because an important theme in this post is that context matters. My involvement and the decision to publish Ron Gold's post aren't events that occur in a vacuum. This is all prefacing my contribution to the ongoing discussion of Ron Goldgate, as I have taken to calling it. As exhausting as this process has been in the only four days that it has been going on I believe that there are some lessons we can learn from it.

While some contributors and readers have expressed the ways the events of the last few days has made them consider leaving the blog, for me it has only increased my commitment to this project of which we are all a part. This experience makes our efforts here together all the more important.

Any declaration of the inhumanity or lack of existence of another is unacceptable. This shouldn't really be open to debate. I was upset when the post went up and relieved when it was taken down. At this point it seems inarguable to me that Bil made a bad decision. I am not defending the decision to publish Ron Gold's piece. I am arguing that it isn't a defining decision for Bil or The Bilerico Project and we are doing a disservice to each other by pretending that it is. Let us move forward together re-focused on our work as a community.

If only all of us had the humility and courage to admit when we make a mistake like this and then go about attempting to correct it. The defining part of this controversy in regards to what it teaches us about Bil and The Bilerico Project should not be the decision to publish the post. It should be the courage that was modeled in regards to taking responsibility and then attempting rectify a bad situation.

While I struggle with totally discrediting someone who has lived a life of passionate commitment to advancing a social justice agenda, Mr. Gold had to go. I am filled with grief for him and the situation as a whole though. His removal from the blog doesn't represent a victory. It is tragic that someone who has done the valuable work that he has done probably will never understand the weight of the words he wrote in his post. Perhaps even more tragic is that because of the particularly damaging tone of his writing for many of us Mr. Gold will never be anything more than a transphobic man. The good work he has done is lost to many of us because of this incident.

The violent points in Mr. Gold's post have been exhaustively discussed and attacked. I applaud the folks who took the time to engage with his damaging and hurtful views on a level deep enough to write about them. Others who have addressed this have done more to challenge the ideas contained in his writing than I ever could. But, addressing his hateful post is only one part of the work that this controversy asks of us as individuals committed to making the world better.

I see three lessons that can, and should, be taken away from these days worth of discussions and from what I would assume to be Bil's perspective, a lifetime's worth of personal attacks.

1. Being an Ally Is Hard

Having spent two years of my life working almost full time as Advocacy Coordinator for the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA) and another year and a half being a part of the conversations that were taking place about the capacity building of TransYouth Family Allies (TYFA) taught me that, not matter how well intentioned or how passionate your commitment to moving forward issues that are crucial to a community that you may not directly be a part of, you are putting yourself in a position to receive criticism and crippling personal attacks. Being an ally is hard.

I had the privilege of coming to know Bil and Jerame as friends and more during my tenure with INTRAA. I was actually recruited into my position because members of the transgender community thought that a young gay cisgendered man would be able to be heard making a case for transgender inclusion to the steering committee that was pushing for a local nondiscrimination ordinance better than a transperson.

This wasn't a statement about my skill as an advocate. It was the recognition that certain forms of structural privilege make it easier for some voices to be heard than others. Convincing Bil and Jerame of the necessity of trans inclusion was easy, despite concerns that it would be difficult. After declaring that the steering committee would leave no one behind, Bil went on to successfully lead us to victory on a local civil rights ordinance that was transgender inclusive.

In the years since this victory Bil and Jerame have become dedicated advocates for gender identity and expression inclusion in any public policy or legislative push that lesbian and gay advocates make. In addition to their commitment to transgender inclusion that is evident by the inclusion of varied and diverse transgender voices on the blog, they have developed close personal relationships with transpeople that have changed them for the better just as these types of relationships have changed me.

This story about Bil and Jerame is not an attempt to mute criticism of Bil for publishing the post that caused all of this drama. Instead, I am attempting to articulate, to the best of my ability, that they are allies and advocates of the transgender community. I am trying to share the context that I am coming at this situation with. As allies, complaints with them need not be taken up as they would be taken up with true opponents of transgender inclusion. Instead they should be treated like allies who make mistakes, just like everyone else. Education and conversation are the ways to move forward constructively with our allies and, for that matter, in most cases, with our opponents.

I believe that we have a responsibility to take care of each other. I think that we need to work harder to give allies respect and support even during tough moments or during incidents marked with misunderstanding. Whether they are male supporters of a woman's right to choose, white anti-racist activists, straight allies to the lesbian and gay community, or cisgendered allies to the trans community, allies are essential participants in any movement for liberation or radical social change. At times even the distinction of "ally" versus "member of a community" is destructive and does little to further goals of social change. I am not arguing that we should all feel sorry for allies or saying that they should be treated like martyrs. It is simply a request to go easy on each other as we are all, hopefully, working toward similar goals.

2. Do Unto Others

My discussion of allies above leads into my next point. A point that I believe has been made clear by the discussions around Ron Goldgate. Personal attacks and accusations of intentional harm inflicted by allies do little to move social justice agendas forward. Anyone who thinks that sending Bil hate mail will help achieve the longterm goals of gender variant and transgender social justice movements are shortsighted and probably dangerous for the possible successes of any movement for social justice. Even if Bil were not a dedicated ally to gender variant and transgender folks, attacking him in this fashion would do little to make any difference.

When people are attacked they tend to entrench into their belief systems and simply feel persecuted. This became clear to me when I taught multicultural education to mostly white, middle-class pre-service teachers. It took hard work and patience to push them towards understanding. Any overstep on my part set us collectively back weeks worth of work.

Blatant attacks and disrespect do not change people's ideas or hearts. This is not an argument for only passive approaches to change. Instead I assert that we should treat each other and those aligned against us as human beings. Approaches to social change that dehumanize anyone are doomed to failure. Surely we can do better than that.

Audre Lorde told us "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." She was right when she wrote that line and she is right now. Let us recommit to putting the idea that humanizing others is the most important thing we can do individually or collectively to promote social change. Let that commitment be the final impact of Ron Gold's hateful words on The Bilerico Project.

For those of you who feel compelled to hear that the editorial team has learned a lesson, they have told you that. All of us need to figure out what lessons of community and humanity we are going to learn from this and not assume that the only work that needs to be done is work by others.

The attacks on Bil over the past three days are wrong and ineffective. We shouldn't treat our enemies this way let alone our friends. Reading some of the comments in the threads about this incident and hearing about some of the email, tweets and Facebook messages that Bil has received leave me wondering what is wrong with those people. Hate filled and angry responses say more about those who write them than they do about those they are directed against.

3. Work From Within

Finally, although I have spent a chunk of the past five years working with members of the gay community on the need to be inclusive of transgender individuals and voices this is only one part of the necessary work of promoting understanding and acceptance. This incident and many other conversations, both on The Bilerico Project and outside this space, have taught me that it is a disservice to think that the only community that needs to work on acceptance and understanding is the gay one.

Gay and lesbian individuals and communities still have miles to go in regards to understanding issues of gender diversity, social class, and race. We must continue to be relentless in our critiques to this end. But, we also have to continue the important work of creating an open and inclusive transgender community. This work is necessary and too often ignored in favor of critiquing others.

Whether it be arguments about the inclusion of cross-dressers and gender variant individuals or the role that racism continues to play in transgender activism we must look inward and challenge ourselves to rethink our practices of exclusion and assault on difference in those closest to us. Educating and advocating with lesbian and gay community leaders is not enough.

The transgender community must continue to work toward becoming an inclusive and understanding community. The transgender community must push harder for acceptance within its own ranks. A deep and thoughtful engagement with that project of individual and collective betterment will do more to change the social conditions of exclusion and misunderstanding that confront transgender folks than any sort of growth on the part of gay or lesbian leaders ever could.

I hope we take this moment as a time for self-reflection and critique rather than continuing to attack each other. My Mamaw would say, "We shouldn't be judging others because our shit stinks too." Glass houses and all that...

Now, may I respectfully make a suggestion? Perhaps the time has come for us to take a collective deep breath and get back to work.


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Thank you, Bruce. I'm glad you gave some perspective on this that no one else could possibly have. Your view is important because it gives a depth to our commitment to transgender inclusion that no one else could give.

It is hard to be an ally and I understand the hurt and frustration of the trans community on this. I just hope we can move forward and collectively learn something from it. I know Bil and I have both learned and will continue to learn, since education, as I've said before, is a journey.

Bruce, KUDOs to you for challenging yourself! So few of us ever attempt comprehending what others face, good and bad, let alone understand! I began reading Bilerico only a few months ago and immediately became drawn to the diversity of ideas and experiences that contributors write about. My “Mama” drilled these words into my head… “If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything!” What she meant was that disagreement need not be disagreeable to those who disagree!

I’ve learned more in the past few months about all of us in the LGBTQ (Q is a new concept to me but I’m learning) community than all I’d learned in my life before reading this blog!

We must all stay the course!

Karin Fresnel | December 14, 2009 3:03 PM

Yes, I agree, as a trans woman, that indeed there are issues within our own community when it comes to inclusion. One of those issues is the very definition of the word "transgender". In my book it includes all of the gender-variant: including, (and certainly not limited to) transsexuals, drag kings/queens, intersex, crossdressers, transvestites, etc; I have met those who have transitioned to another gender that do not identify as trans. That's fine too.

I have been figuratively pilloried for this stance elsewhere, and I am sure there are those that would disagree with me here. However, that disagreement is the basis for discussion, argument in the philosophical sense, intelligent discourse, call it what you will. Discussion without hatred, without name calling, or what have you, in order to reach our goal of inclusion without discrimination in society. Our right to be left to live our lives like anyone else. Not to be murdered, beaten, verbally assaulted, fired from our jobs, denied housing.

As part of reaching these and other goals, transgender individuals and the trans rights movement need to be included in the LGBTIQQA spectrum. I know from personal discussions with other individuals that might be termed as trans, that not all want to be there, but they will benefit by the actions of others. That's fine with me. I certainly have benefited from the works of others (thank all of you). The life of an activist is not for everyone.

I do ask that all of our allies, both in and outside of the LGB(insert more letters here) community, remember that without us, the Stonewall riots in 1969 and before that Gene Compton's Cafeteria riot in 1966 might never have happened. Trans individuals were there. Indeed, we were being persecuted. We helped launch the "gay" rights movement. Without us having been there, where would this movement be today?

All of this aside, I for one can see no reason to cut Mr Gold any slack for his comments regarding transgender individuals. I am also very disappointed in Bil Browning for defending Mr. Gold and his article. Yes, I know Mr. Gold’s history. He has done good work; however, I personally believe that the Mr. Gold has set the trans rights movement (and quite possibly the rest of the LGBTIQQAA) back five years, maybe more, once the political minded on the other side get wind of what they will certainly see as divisiveness in our community.

Yes Bruce, you are right, we do need to move forward if we are to make progress. All of us. Question is, how much damage has been done and what do we (all of us, not just trans) need to do to make things “right” again?

Bruce Parker | December 14, 2009 3:45 PM

Karin,

I think you make some really good points. I particularly appreciate your comment about Stonewall. All too often we de-trans and de-gender our history. Our history shows us without question that we are all in this together.

I do take issue with the notion that Mr. Gold has set back our movement. If anything his poorly written outright dismissal of transgender folks should be publicized. It represents the worst of the gay community and I believe would be a powerful tool to change people's minds who are on the fence on issues of transinclusion.

Thanks for engaging with me,

Bruce

Karin Fresnel | December 14, 2009 7:14 PM

Bruce,

It is your prerogative to disagree with me on the point of the Gold article setting us back. It does remain my opinion that his words will damage our movement. In fact, I believe they already have by creating divisiveness between the trans and remainder of the LGB(insert more letters here) communities.

One would hope that Mr. Gold will learn something here, and in the future act accordingly.

One would also hope that others (on all sides of this argument) will open their hearts and minds and gain a little understanding.

After all, minds are like parachutes, they work best when open.

~Karin


Everyone's a bit stressed, edgy and angry right now. Let's all take a deep breath, take a step back from the brink, and put the knives down.

If the last desire of an old Mattachine was to open the fracture lines in the LGBT Community and alliance to leave a few of his crowd in primacy at the top, he is well on his way to having done so unless we calm down and regain our senses

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | December 15, 2009 7:44 AM

Wise words Maura. Thanks for some calm de-escalating speak on this early morning.

This post makes me very sad. I take away two things that lead to that emotion for me.

First, this is yet another cis person telling trans folks that our emotional response is too big, too much, and that we need to get back in line. Our personal relationship aside, as an activist, I honestly expected more from you, Bruce.

Second, while I agree that hate mail is inappropriate, I think that it's very dangerous to attempt to tell people when they have had enough time to discuss their pain. Since when is processing NOT doing work? And since when is educating NOT doing work? This is extremely dismissive of the important work that could be happening in community around this series of posts. Further, it indicates a serious problem in Bilerico's, Bil's, and Bruce's understanding of the importance of community healing in building stronger alliances, teaching, and moving on from wounds.

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | December 14, 2009 4:30 PM

Cianan,

After struggling with this decision for a little while I have settled on the fact that I can't fight with you in public. You are like family to me. Certainly activist family if nothing else and my Momma raised me to not fight with family in public.

what a thought-provoking piece- thanks!

1) The ability to be an "Ally" is in itself a privileged position within the relationship. While it is hard to be an ally, it is significantly easier than being a member of the marginalized group.

2) When a cis person makes the decision to provide a forum for another cis person to level what are essentially lies against a group and paint that as "discussion material" and "good intentions" - I think what was done, at least here in public, was restrained, measured, and honestly far far more forgiving than one should reasonable expect from any group. Had we "Done Unto Others", trans people wouldn't have run into damage control mode and posted topic after topic after topic in *ANOTHER* attempt to educate.

3) Singling out the trans community for racism and factions is a giant laugh. Yeah we have them. We also didn't blame POCs for our legal defeats (Or routinely toss gay folks under the bus so we get ours). Lecturing a group on their internal dynamics can be useful, doing so in a way to deflect is pretty useless.

Rather call for unity, which obviously means trans people just suck it up and pretend that it's all good now (until it happens again), how about call for something else? How about we have cis gay and lesbian people tell us why we should? Why are trans people always asked to "forgive and forget"?

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | December 14, 2009 3:55 PM

laughrioTgirl we just don't agree. I don't exactly identify as an ally of the transcommunity. It is the only community that I have ever felt at home or supported in. I realize that I am not a part of all transcommunities. Thankfully, I have been a part of some awesome ones that have helped me as an individual and pushed me to grow, live, learn, and probably most importantly love in ways I never knew were possible.

Being an ally is a privilege. Without a doubt. I in no way even implied that it was more difficult than being a member of a marginalized group. I don't actually measure these types of difficulties against each other. It just isn't productive. I do want to point out that allies, particularly trans allies like myself, who are members of these groups because of who they love and partner with live and breath transgender issues everyday just like transpeople do. I primarily have partnered with transmen thus far in my life. I was with my first love for around five years (with some gay drama in the middle). My partners are often trans, my colleagues are often trans, my friends are often trans. Transgender activism isn't a hobby for me. It is a struggle for survival for myself and those I care the most about.

I am not singling any particular community out. I am saying that self-reflection is harder than attacking others.

the project seems a lot more concerned with maintaining a reputation/appearance as "trans inclusive", and hushing all the legitimately heated response to their inexcusable blunder, than letting trans people lead the way through healing here. it seems it's about the image, not actually about healing and learning.

you've said you are not an ally, you're part of the trans community. yet you're not trans? ohoh ok... you've dated trans people, and you have trans friends and colleagues, so you're part of the community?

I'm white. the love of my life is black... so are many of my friends and colleagues. I actively work against racism, in myself, in institutions, in my workplace. but I'm not black, and I'm not part of any black community. you can bet I have more respect than to insist otherwise.

I sincerely hope you get the point...

The idea that we're not listening and learning is just absurd. Considering you've been in the comment threads under multiple names and aliases - and that you and I have engaged very honestly and openly when you were under a different alias - I find what you're saying here to be dishonest at best.

Are we trying to protect our reputation - sure - of course. Why? Because we actually care that transgender persons know that we are striving every day to be good allies. Because we have worked our asses off as allies both on and offline for years and to have someone try to strip that history away is simply unacceptable. We've been allies in both words and deeds - repeatedly - for years. That's why we built this blog to be as inclusive from the start. We believe it because we live it.

Do we fail, obviously we do at times and sometimes monumentally - but that doesn't mean we should allow our names and reputations be dragged through the mud with half-truths, speculation and innuendo - especially when they do so under multiple aliases.

That doesn't even go into the threats, emails, tweets, facebook messages and so forth that have been far, FAR more hate-filled, violent, and attacking.

I do not try to excuse Gold's post or the mistake of publishing it, but I will defend our reputation when someone tries to say we're not really allies and not really trans-inclusive because those are just salacious statements meant to cause harm - not heal and move forward.

Right On Jerame!

To you “FAIL” (interesting alias), you called the original post an “inexcusable blunder.” Any “blunder” is by definition excusable!

Oh, “FAIL” what discussion was ever “Hushed?” We’ve all been reading an open and inclusive discussion for days now!

Lastly “FAIL” you made no “point” at all with this ridiculous comment!

“FAIL” you need to read Dr. Weiss, Rebecca’s and Antonia’s posts and “grow up!”

nice ad hominem there. on a text medium that permits posting comments in this way, I hope my words will be considered (or dismissed) by their own weight. that subtle threat on privacy is an interesting tactic, though...

"FAIL" was directed at Bruce alone, for insisting upon / appropriating trans community "membership", or whatever you'd call it.

I am convinced that the steps you've said will be taken, will be taken. they should have been taken before hate speech was posted, but certainly better late than never. I'm puzzled over whether the priority is reputation alone, or genuine change. referencing past credentials of inclusion (as you and bruce have done), in this context, just seems like a way of silencing criticism. that's about all I have to say on this post though, good day.

I think your words would have more weight if you weren't in this thread under multiple names and hadn't chosen 7 different names to comment under in the past two days - several of which disagree with yourself directly just to try and stir up controversy. You don't want us to weigh your words, because you're not being honest with them. You're using two different names on this thread alone.

That's not an ad-hominem attack. That's common online courtesy that you don't create false identities to try and start flame wars.

you're wrong about this thread, and my intentions generally. I'm not here to start or stir flame wars, I in fact mean what I say.

importantly, more than one person reads and posts from this computer. while I personally have used more than one alias on tbp generally, I have NOT done so in this post.

you know what they say about ass.umptions... :)

@laughingrioTgirl--While I by no means wish to minimize your own experience, I respectfully disagree with your statement that "Cis partners of trans people do not "live and breath transgender issues everyday just like transpeople do" any more than a white person in a relationship with a POC lives and breathes racism *in the same way*."

Actually, we do: When we had to move to another school district because of prejudice, our children and I were living and breathing transgender issues everyday; when my wife can't find a job due to anti-trans prejudice, we are living and breathing transgender issues everyday; when we face delays with getting services we are entitled to and desperately need because the legality of our marriage is questioned, we are living and breathing transgender issues everyday; when my wife needs surgery she can't afford and the bigot who is responsible for disability determination for Medicaid repeatedly and deliberately uses the wrong pronoun before turning down her application in a blatant act of discrimination, we are living and breathing transgender issues everyday. When my mother in law has to fire her doctor because when my wife takes her to an appointment the asshole calls my wife my mother in law's "Son" and refuses to use the right pronoun, she is living and breathing transgender issues everyday; when my mother in law has to move to a different nursing home because she is shunned by the other residents after my wife gets outed, she is living and breathing transgender issues everyday.
When we bust our asses as advocates we are living and breathing transgender issues everyday.

Are the issues we face the exact same ones as our trans loved ones? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But do we "live and breath transgender issues everyday"? You bet your ass we do.

Don't presume an exact parallel to being a white person with a POC partner. Some of our issues are the same as yours, others are not. You have no right to make assumptions about other people's lives.

"I am not singling any particular community out. I am saying that self-reflection is harder than attacking others."

How can a group be expected to have those difficult internal discussions when our attention is constantly being directed to demands of external education, one-sided coalition-building, and questions of validity (much less validity as a part of a broader grouping)?

Also, being an ally is not exactly a privilege. It can be on a personal level, but more than that it is a statement of being in a position of privilege on one particular issue (or many, depending). By stating that being an ally is hard, you are centering the process on the needs of the person/group with the privilege. You are in effect making it "about you" (Impersonal you).

Cis partners of trans people do not "live and breath transgender issues everyday just like transpeople do" any more than a white person in a relationship with a POC lives and breathes racism *in the same way*. There is an insight to be had and certainly more than a little oppression that will fall the way of cis partners, but it is not *the same as*.

I don't want to come off minimizing what cis partners deal with and go through. My ex was a great guy in that respect - so I personally appreciate and empathize with what cis partners have to navigate. However, to ask us to take a deep breath and get back to work seems to me like it only benefits one part of this "relationship".

Bil seems like a good guy, and I think this is likely an honest mistake. That does nothing to mitigate the need for actual discussion to happen between cis GLB and Trans folks. The discussion isn't about a need for education on trans issues, the discussion is about cis people's need to listen to what we have been telling them. The discussion can't be about trans people's place within our own movement, but about why we should continue within a movement colonized for the betterment of cis LG people. (For example, the fact that people forget about Stonewall and the trans women of color who were there)

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | December 14, 2009 6:20 PM

You write that:

How can a group be expected to have those difficult internal discussions when our attention is constantly being directed to demands of external education, one-sided coalition-building, and questions of validity (much less validity as a part of a broader grouping)?"

Your point makes a lot of sense to me, but this work is essential. Just as essential as the rest of the work and shouldn't be ignored. We can't let ourselves be focused on doing the work for others so that we don't do it for/to ourselves. We can make hard decisions about where we put our energy and resources.

Somehow it has been read from my post that I am suggesting that education and discussion on these issues should stop. Perhaps, I should have been more clear. Many of the posts since Ron Gold's post have been amazing educational tools and has really taught me a lot. The conversation should continue. What needs to stop is constant attacks on individuals, hate mail that makes people feel unsafe for themselves and their children.

At some point we have to ask if our conversations are productive. At some point we have to decide if our comments and writings are doing the work of education or are cutting off educative possibilities.

Bruce:
Your point makes a lot of sense to me, but this work is essential. Just as essential as the rest of the work and shouldn't be ignored. We can't let ourselves be focused on doing the work for others so that we don't do it for/to ourselves. We can make hard decisions about where we put our energy and resources.

- Yes Bruce, it is essential and is pretty much a derail given the topic and the past events. It is also an issue I'm working on locally (trans POC inclusion) so I'm there. That does nothing to mitigate what happened here.

Bruce:

Somehow it has been read from my post that I am suggesting that education and discussion on these issues should stop. Perhaps, I should have been more clear. Many of the posts since Ron Gold's post have been amazing educational tools and has really taught me a lot. The conversation should continue. What needs to stop is constant attacks on individuals, hate mail that makes people feel unsafe for themselves and their children.

- I'm saying that education needs to stop until cis gays show they are willing to listen. I'm saying that calls for "more education" need to stop being the first thing said when stuff like this goes down. You are right many of the posts have been educational, many trans people took lots of time and did LOTS of research and gave very personal accounts of their lives... to what end? It happens every.single.time. What needs to stop is the GL assuming that the T and usually the B will do massive education drives to cover up their messes.

We had a slew of trans 101/history posts being quickly (and expertly) drafted to show the GLB that Ron was wrong, that there is a history of problems in the movement, and basic "how-to"s. What I think should have happened was cis folks doing the damage control, taking point on this, and repairing the damage done.

Kudos to you, Bruce. I don't think I've ever met a trans partner who has been active politically in helping us achieve equality. No disrespect intended to those trans partners who have been involved - I've just never met any. It does my heart good. As far as getting back to work, well, I think we are working. While angry denunciations aren't pleasant, they're going to happen when you have outspoken people dedicated to social justice. As far as I'm concerned, it's part of the ride, and I'm comfortable with it.

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | December 14, 2009 6:37 PM

Thanks for your comment. I have been lucky enough to know a lot of politically active partners of transpeople. I was lucky enough to be trained as an advocate by Lori, a partner of transman, in Indiana who was a founding member of the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance and has been involved in tons of other activities like helping with the tech stuff for NCTE. She taught me a ton about what it means to be an partner, ally, advocate and responsible community member. Indiana's community was super cool in regards to partner inclusion.

Plus, my hero is Minnie Bruce Pratt. She has done a lot of trans-related activism due to being Leslie Feinberg's partner.

I'd like to give a shoutout to Lori too. She was my trans 101 instructor (and probably trans 201 as well) and is an inspiration to many with how much she has worked to be an ally and a partner of a trans person. She's brilliant and a pleasure to learn from. We had an amazing role model for how to be a trans ally; I'm glad you brought her up, Bruce.

Uh, Jillian---Remember me?
BTW, I like the term "trans partner" better than SOFFA--having an acronym that sounds like a piece of furniture results in way too many bad puns. ;)

Bruce, I appreciate your involvement with the trans community (although i do have issues with your "advice"... not good timing in the least). But I want to suggest to you that you can never really know the transcommunity by primarily having contact with transmen. Transmen don't bear the brunt of discrimination, violence and societal judgment as transwomen do. Even the partners of transmen (male or female partners) don't experience the real full impact of transphobia in this society. You have only to see how open many female partners of transmen are on YouTube and on the Internet compared with male partners of transwomen, who are mostly forced to be rather closeted and even shamed into keeping their relationships secret. I've gotten in discussions with female partners of transmen who regularly throw around the word tranny with zero idea how the term impacts transwomen very differently than it does transmen... or that they're "reclaiming" a term that had little to do with transmen at all. I see a large divide even in how many Queer-identified transmen (which, I think, makes up a large portion of the FTM community) have written about the Gold essay compared with how transwomen have reacted to it (and yes, it was primarily transwomen he was attacking). There is also a large divide in GLBT organziations in that many of the trans staff of those organizations consist of FTM or transmasculine spectrum people... by and large they are more accepted by more segments in the LGBT community.

I agree with you the Gold piece is no big turning point in the community... anyone with their eyes and ears open knows many in the gay and queer communities share his transphobia and assumptions. Again, I think for many transwomen, they were just shocked how open and, in a sense, sanctioned his views seemed (to appear at a place like Bilerico) and that's where some of the anger is from.

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | December 15, 2009 1:11 AM

Gina,

I totally agree with you in regards to the experiences of transwomen and their partners. There are so many parts of me that my interactions with the transgender community (primarily in Indiana) changed for the better. While I had many FTM friends and had lovers who were FTM before moving to Indiana I didn't have friends who were transwomen. I had the wonderful experience of working alongside some of the most amazing activists that I will ever encounter in Indiana who were also transwomen. These women had been labor activists, anti-racism activists, anti-poverty activists, environmental activists, and of course gender activists. I feel in love (not in a dirty way people) with these women and during my time in Indiana my intense feelings of affection for them was my primary motivator for working so hard for transgender issues.

I still agree with you that my primary insights are from the vantage point of the FTM and their partner experience, but just wanted to support your point. The experiences are totally different. Thanks for weighing in.

Just to clarify some of my original point that I might not have expressed clearly. While I think you sound like a good person Bruce, I think this post reeks of entitlement at a very poor moment to express its intent. You're using your partner connection with transmen (which, FYI, were you a straight man with a similar history with transwomen, you'd be universally termed a "fetishist" or "chaser") to somehow justify your connection to the trans community which you then turn around and offer some fairly pointed criticisms as an honorary member of "the family". What I meant was, in comparing the situations of transmen vs. transwomen, that many transwomen have issues with hearing someone connected to the queer-identified transman community basically offering up critiques of transwomen which, let's face it, is what happened here. Moreover, Mr. Gold never even really mentioned transmen in his attack.

Good, I'm glad you came into contact with some transwoman and now they're your friends. I lived in The Castro during the late 70s and was very connected to Queer communities in NYC in the 80s and marched with them on many occasions, and helped friends dying with AIDS, but that sure as hell doesn't entitle me to come in and critique Gay men as non-inclusive and non-empathic at a time when the gay community feels most attacked. Honestly, did you really think this post was going to be a positive addition to the discussion or make trans people feel less threatened?

Gina,

I really didn't get into the states of transition or not transitioning that my partners of have been in or are still in and since I don't see that being super relevant to my post I don't intent to do so. Further I don't use being romantically linked to someone to justify me feeling a part of the transcommunity. That linkage is one part of my history that has brought me to feel at home in those communities and to think of them as my own in some cases. I would never think that just dating anyone gave me access to anything. It is and should be significantly more complicated than that for me. For example if my romantic partner at any point doesn't happen to be trans that does not effect my feelings about the community.

I have been super active in regards to groups with partners of transfolks from different backgrounds and know much of what you are telling me. I appreciate that you are trying to share information, but it feels a little like you are taking me to school about the situation of partners of transpeople and I don't really need that from you.

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | December 14, 2009 3:55 PM

laughrioTgirl we just don't agree. I don't exactly identify as an ally of the transcommunity. It is the only community that I have ever felt at home or supported in. I realize that I am not a part of all transcommunities. Thankfully, I have been a part of some awesome ones that have helped me as an individual and pushed me to grow, live, learn, and probably most importantly love in ways I never knew were possible.

Being an ally is a privilege. Without a doubt. I in no way even implied that it was more difficult than being a member of a marginalized group. I don't actually measure these types of difficulties against each other. It just isn't productive. I do want to point out that allies, particularly trans allies like myself, who are members of these groups because of who they love and partner with live and breath transgender issues everyday just like transpeople do. I primarily have partnered with transmen thus far in my life. I was with my first love for around five years (with some gay drama in the middle). My partners are often trans, my colleagues are often trans, my friends are often trans. Transgender activism isn't a hobby for me. It is a struggle for survival for myself and those I care the most about.

I am not singling any particular community out. I am saying that self-reflection is harder than attacking others.

As someone who regularly and intentionally allies to many communities in which I have privilege, I fully object to the notion that "ally" should be used as a noun. Allying is a process, an action, a constant perspective-shift, and when that perspective is out of line with the people to whom you are attempting to ally, you are no longer allying.

So, to respond to your points:
1- Insisting that allies be given leeway and understanding for some magical kindness towards an oppressed group does nothing more than enforce the status quo. It is not easy to fight the mainstream, but being an ally is hard? No, being oppressed is hard. Allying is how I choose to interact with my privilege; it's not about feeling bad for people or wanting a badge of honor.

2- Audre Lorde is indeed right, but what you forget is the complex identity and experience from which she spoke. Audre Lorde was a strong supporter of collective action -- as a black lesbian mother, she did not have the privilege of separating the work she did on behalf of women from the work she did on behalf of people of color from the work she did on behalf of queer people, etc. We would be wise to stop encouraging marginalized groups to accept hate speech, degradation, and divisiveness as actions done by "allies" or "friends." What you do is who you are.

3- Indeed, this is a good general point. But holding this as true, how can you then tell trans people to do that work for you? As a cis ally, you don't work for trans inclusion and understanding in largely non-trans gay spaces by telling trans people, "Shh, we'll get there, we'll get there, just sit down and be quiet." People react from their own experiences, and those are always valid reactions. The transgender community does indeed have work to do to ensure inclusivity and understanding, but that is not work that should be done to make allies feel more comfortable. That is work that should be done to ensure that the community has room for all those who are a part, including people of any race, ability, class, gender, etc.

Jac(lyn),

I just feel compelled to say that I have never said to anyone wait and we will get there. I have spent a lot of my time and effort saying exactly the opposite and working aggressively to hold LG leaders feet to the fire. I push and I push hard on these issues. You don't know me though and I don't know you. I take very seriously the idea that patience in these senses is not a virtue.

Then perhaps you didn't mean what you wrote?

I think that we need to work harder to give allies respect and support even during tough moments or during incidents marked with misunderstanding.

I wholly disagree with this statement. What "we"* need to do is not to work harder for the needs of allies. Asking an oppressed group to focus on supporting their "allies" (which I still consider to be a problematic concept) maintains the status quo of power imbalance. What "allies" need to do is work harder to give trans people "respect and support even during tough moments or during incidents marked with misunderstanding."

* by this I assume you mean trans people? in any case, "we" is not "allies," since there's a subject and a direct object here

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | December 15, 2009 7:51 AM

I realize that I may not have been as clear as I needed to be. We are all allies at various points in our lives as we negotiate who we are. Surely you are an ally in some capacity. Maybe my point is getting lost. WE need to treat each other better. Respect is essential.

I realize you aren't about to cede any ground in this discussion so the smart thing for us to do is to probably not continue having it. Thanks for voicing your thoughts and I am sorry we disagree so profoundly.

This whole affair has only confirmed that many trans activists and their allies are unhinged. I just had a chance to read the Gold piece. This is a piece that has been compared to suicide bombing, lynching, the use of the n-word, hate crimes and now, apparently, Watergate. I am sure that the Holocaust comparison is coming, if it hasn't been used already. One deranged commenter suggested that the piece had prompted suicidal thoughts. The teabaggers and birthers look like well-rounded and healthy people by comparison.

Anyhoo, I just had a chance to read this piece that is so horrible that no one can be allowed to read it. Gold uses no slurs. He doesn't advocate any violence or discrimination against trans people. He explicitly states that there is no excuse for discrimination against trans people and says he fully supports legislation to protect against such discrimination. He then shares his views on gender, making the point that there is no "real" male or female norm to which anyone has to conform. In other words, you can stay physically male or female and still live your life as whatever gender you feel is right. Maybe this is wrong. Maybe it is right. Maybe it shows ignorance of the issue. I don't know. But it clearly isn't hate speech and it is frankly insane that it has generated this fevered reaction.

IMHO, this bizarre mob reaction says nothing about Mr. Gold but it speaks volumes about the mental health of about a dozen readers of this blog and about the willingness of others to go along with the mob mentality.

I feel ya, Michelle, about how over-the-top it's been here. I've been involved with the trans community for the past 17 years or so, and I remember keenly when I first got involved. Having grown up very religious in a straight white Jewish world, it was a shock being exposed to so many disparate types of people from many different backgrounds. I felt like the fries must feel when they're dipped in the boiling oil. It took me a while to get used to my new chosen home. I remember scheduling therapy appointments right after community support group meetings so I could address the many questions and concerns running through my mind afterwards. I also didn't understand why so many were so incredibly angry It was only after I transitioned 5 years later, and people began to laugh at me in the street and act threateningly, I lost my job, my housing, my family and my friends that I began to realize how abusive our society is, and how dangerous it can be to one's mental health. Now I am a professor with a steady job, a nice place to live and a partner. But when transgender people were stripped out of ENDA two years ago I went into a tailspin and was depressed and angry for months. It's not like I went on angry rampages in the streets, but it was noticeable. I'm generally a pretty even-keel person, and I did recover and get back to my normal self. I encourage you to think about what it might be like to go through these type of experiences, and then have people constantly questioning your right to exist. I don't excuse the over-the-topness, but just suggest that some compassion might be in order. On both sides.

I hear you. And I do have some idea of what it is like to be rendered invisible and to be laughed at. It stinks. But you can't deal with those issues by lashing out at and demonizing the world. You have to live in this world and that means dealing civilly with ideas and opinions that are different.

I honestly think that if the Gold piece had stayed up on TPB and if there had been a reasoned rebuttal along with some commentary about the importance of surgery in the transitioning process (which is really what Gold's piece is about), a lot of us would have come away better for the exchange. Instead, we get a sad display of emotional instability and delusion that could have been scripted in the imagination of a transphobe.

Gosh, I wish what you said were true, Michelle, that you "can't" deal with these issues by lashing out. Unfortunately, most of the history of the world is replete with lashing out. We're in two wars now because of lashing out. We shouldn't, perhaps, but anger is a human emotion and sometimes it is useful and sometimes it is destructive. Both sides have to work together to address that anger and the events that provoked it. In the meantime, it is best to batten the hatches.

I like this quote in such times:

We usually give space to people's humanity and deal with people's garbage. We should deal with people's humanity and give space to their garbage.

I won't defend the less-than-civil responses to Gold's original post. I place a high value upon civility, and acknowledge that some of the responses crossed lines that I would neither cross myself nor advocate (or even defend) others cross.

However, to imply that there was no "reasoned rebuttal" is simply incorrect. The responses included plenty of outrage and backlash, no question about it. They also included references to scientific research, first-person accounts of experience that negates or supports varying premises posited by Gold, as well as a decent amount of modern feminism. There's plenty of useful information and interesting reading in there.

Yet some people ignore all of that, simply brush it all aside. Instead, they point at the spectacle of an oppressed group being marginalised and subsequently reacting to that marginalisation in a variety of ways, concluding that said group is acting wholly as a "lynch mob".

It is merely disappointing to see people ignoring the full range of the responses, instead focusing on the less civil. I can understand why a person might focus upon such a thing. It's noisy, it's flashy, it's sensational. It's a spectacle. However, to go beyond a simple matter of questionable focus, to imply that there was no "reasoned rebuttal" whatsoever is dishonest at the very best.

When this dishonesty is used to mischaracterise an already-sufficiently-oppressed group of people, especially when paired with the popular invective "deluded"... well, it is very difficult for me to find the silver-lined "good intent".

This isn't even really intended to single you out, Michelle. You are by no means alone in this regard. I neither know you personally nor care particularly whether you, as a single individual, understand or respect me. However, you're not the first, and when single individuals become multiple, simple matters of misunderstanding and disrespect become more problematic things like "systematic oppression".

My Anger Management…

We’re fighting a “cold war” here! The war we fight is for FREEDOM to “live out the true meaning of (our contstitution’s and bill of rights) creed!”

I too am angry… Angry that I must be willing to loose family, friends and livelyhood in order to right a basic wrong done to me (mostly unwittingly) by many, many others.

I’m not angry at the people who deny my birthrights, rather I’m upset that most if not all of them “know not what they do” to me!

I’m not angry at the new allies I’ve befriended, rather I consider myself blessed to have any allies!

I’ve wandered through a dark forest of my transsexualism nearly all of my 54 years of life searching for some light ahead!

“THESE are the times that try (our) souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their (community); but (all of us) that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of (all people). Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph!”

I’ve revised Thomas Paine’s words slightly but those words hold exactly the same meaning to all of us in the LGBTQ community and in reality everyone else too!

If our rights can be denied so thoughtlessly, so perniciously then even those in opposition to us eventually face the same fate!

So much binds us together in our fight for enforcement of our equality. To everyone who contributes to and reads then comments on this blog site, please first think of that which binds us together then share insights to each other about those things that separate us. Our diversity is our strength!

Our best weapon in our “cold war” is civility!

Our true enemy in this fight is ignorance… Only a few of the ignorant allow their ignorance to become bigotry and hatred… The bigots and haters are a very, very small minority!

Our “cold war” will be won with civility!

Michelle;
In fairness, we Lesbians can be pretty over the top and disuptatious at times.

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | December 14, 2009 5:56 PM

At this point I want to make something clear. I will not entertain conversations about my sense of belonging in some transgender communities. While I appreciate conversation and think that it is central to the work of the project I just have no desire to engage with attacks on my sense of self and community. I would ask that my identity and sense of community not be attacked. One of the central themes of the entire Ron Goldgate scenario is that identity assassination is unacceptable and I will simply not engage in those conversations at this point. I have no illusions that this will prevent those who refuse to engage with my points from using this as a way to distract from the issue, I just wanted to explain my silence on this part of the discussion.

No need to explain Bruce!

Anyone with a modicum of intelligence immediately grasped both who your are and why you’re an incredibly important part of our TG/TS and of course wider LGBTQ (still working on the “Q” so some one help me here) community.

You obviously (to me) “didn’t have anything nice to say” so you aren’t saying anything to those with nothing to say!

Bruce, you’re an extraordinary example of allies and activists we desperately need!

Ciao,

Pam

Bruce, you are wise to maintain silence on the issue of who is part of the community or not. That's a debate that can never be definitively won (or lost). I am empowered by the premise that we are all part of this community. Others are free to have their opinions as well, as to whether I am or they are or you are. "Relatedness" is a concept that we create, and it is not a scientific principle found in nature. I stand for my relatedness to all human beings. Others are free to define their relations as they will.

Bruce, I think I understand where you are coming from. Although you aren't transgender yourself, you have so many social connections with the trans community and your daily life is so intertwined with the trans community, that for all intents and purposes you are a part of that community.

Although my first response was a slight degree of skepticism, upon further reflection, I really don't have a problem with you describing yourself as a part of the community... And I say this as a trans woman. If you feel such a deep level of connectedness with us, who am I to argue with that?

As time has passed, I've grown really tired of establishing rigid political boundaries. Rigid boundaries often serve as a foundation for future prejudices. Life is messy and often has a habit of spilling out of the artificial lines we inscribe upon the world.

My perspective was strongly influenced by radical feminism for years. As an unfortunate consequence, I'm pretty familiar with rigid political thinking and a tendency to inscribe unyielding boundaries upon the world. In the long run, it leads to unhealthy places.

So, you think you're a part of this community, do you? Well... OK, then. Can you bring chips and dip to the next party?

Thanks, Bruce, for reminding me of several reasons why any of us do this work. We do it because we have a strong sense of social justice, fairness and passion for life and persons- all persons.
Well said.

Bruce, thank you for your lucid, intelligent, and comprehensive post. I do hope you post here more often.

Joseph Dhara | December 15, 2009 1:47 AM

Thank you, Bruce.
Your writing feels honest and authentic and clear and bridgebuilding. I am extremely appreciative to be given a better context for Bil and Jerame. I have almost none of the information you just shared on their ongoing efforts for transgender inclusion, AND their successes on so many fronts with that. I will say that tells me a lot. I was trying to not overly judge Bil, but had concern about him after that recent issue with Mr. Gold's recent posting.

I am honestly too tired to read much through these comments, this situation with Mr. Gold has tired me.

But I will say that for me, your writing is like good, fresh herbal healing salve on a wound, and, for me, it is working. I am completely willing to re-contextualize Bil and Jerame the The Bilerico Project now. I have no problem hearing what you write here, and I believe it's true. I also believe that, if Bil has a friend like you, who is clearly thoughtful and respectful about this situation, and realistic in comments, I will trust Bil more now. Jerame I had no experience with, and hearing of his joined support for change for transgender people, this is good.

People make mistakes. I make mistakes. While I think this one went WAY too far before it was corrected, I also understand that it was corrected, adn that is important to me.

Thank you for stretching yourself to write, for sharing more of your experience, and your context, that took much courage. That also tells me that, if Bil is a good friend to you, well, simply put, I like him more. And I trust him more. thanks for explaining a bit more here. This makes me want to keep coming back to see what improvements happen next.

Best to you.

Renee Thomas | December 15, 2009 2:26 AM

Michelle noted:

" I hear you. And I do have some idea of what it is like to be rendered invisible . . . "

Do you, do you really? Look, correct me if I’m wrong, you concern yourself largely to issues that center on who you fuck. For you to clearly see would take a leap of empathy that, based upon your written pronouncements, I doubt you could ever possess. Healing this larger wound requires that you listen, first to the dismissive, derisive and dehumanizing tone in the charges that you are flinging about with abandon.

Then listen to the voices of those of us who, in spite of you and others like you, remain. We want you to get this. We want you to understand. It's a hard and often intensely frustrating thing to explain the sort of “funhouse mirror" relationship that many transpeople have with their bodies. As a cisgendered woman, you have never experienced the intensity of the alienation that many transpeople feel when they look in the mirror. As a deliberate exercise of agency, my body has been massively changed through the process of gender transition. Your inability and unwillingness to understand why I submitted myself to this process does not obviate the need for me to have done so. Frankly, I get the sense from your post that you couldn’t give a shit – your intent is to see transfolk in general and transsexuals in particular as defective and deranged. Good luck with that . . . but I’m not going to play.

"had there been a reasoned rebuttal along with some commentary about the importance of surgery in the transitioning process (which is really what Gold's piece is about), a lot of us would have come away better for the exchange."

In fact, you've gotten exactly that . . . repeatedly. Many of us have related just that point in earlier posts. We rolled up our sleeves yet again and attempted (apparently in vain) to do some more Trans 101. What is particularly galling is that you seem to think that we, the marginalized, are ultimately responsible to spoon-feed you the information that you should be bright enough and engaged enough to meet us at least halfway on - if not fully figure it out for yourself. Here’s a suggestion, do some of your own work for a change.

”Instead, we get a sad display of emotional instability and delusion that could have been scripted in the imagination of a transphobe."

Oh for christ sake, just what is it going to take to get through to you? Emotional instability and delusion think you? Nope, that ain’t it champ. You’ve misread me completely if that’s what you think. What this is - is good old-fashion indignation. You see Michelle; there are few things that piss me off more than willful ignorance cloaked in the robes of arrogant and unearned privilege.

Ask respectfully and I have all day for you – ask any other way and you get what you deserve.

This was an interesting read for me for several reasons. Some incoherent musings:

My first reaction was that I was moved to hear about a gay male ftm ally like you, Bruce. Being a gay ftm myself that naturally made me feel good. Then I realized with how little I usually must live to feel such a surge of emotion. That was pretty depressing.

Another thought: When I read LGBT, that means for me that we are a community. So why is it that LGB people get to be "allies" of trans, but not the other way around? I understand that this is about cis or male white priviledge, but it still makes me feel somehow disenfranchised (word?). Are we on an equal footing here? (I'm asking this not just Bruce but all trans people who use this distinction)
(we don't have that whole priviledge/ally concept so much in the EU, don't now if that is good or bad)

About ftm - mtf: Yep I agree, that's a major problem. I was repulsed that even (and especially) many ftm are totally transwomen-phobic. While some of that came from the experience of dominant transwomen in the past (in "traditional" TS selfhelp groups there used to be about 10% ftm), it seemed to be to a large degree another example of a marginalized group bashing a closely related, but more marginalized group to distance themselves ("they are the freaks, I am normal").
That's the reason why I try to listen very hard to what the women around here say at the moment.

GinaSF: I loved what you said about this is not the moment to demand that transpeople make an efford to educate more (though I have learned a lot from the education that is going on at the moment) but rather for cispeople to start to really listen to what we say all the time.

Bruce: I get that you generally say that whatever went wrong here, there is a line of behaviour that shouldn't be crossed (constant personal attacs, death threads and the like). I guess this is something that most people agree with. When we cross that line, it will just poison the athmosphere for everyone.
Another problem is that such a surge of (justified) anger usually frightens the shit out of me or gives me the feeling that I am just not wanted there and should leave (I have been at the receiving end of something like that in the past). Like you, I'm afraid that this could be the reaction of many who are willing to work together.

This is a technical problem obviously, but it also runs deeper:

Because, if this anger is a reflection of the anger that people are targeted with on the street and in their lives, then the people who bear the brunt of dicrimination show the part of the community that is less discriminated what they are afraid of, the threat that invisibly hangs over all our heads. They show us how we could be punished if we would be more like them (more visible, more gender transgressive f.e.)

With that in mind, it becomes clearer to me why so many people (trans and cis) want to get rid of not-passing transpeople, and try to assimilate. (sorry if all this is obvious, I'm a bit slow at times, and I'm also beginning to understand the things that I knew theoretically more deeply).

When we look away now, we look away from the powers that constantly but invisibly(?) manipulate us all.

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | December 15, 2009 6:50 AM

Thanks for your thoughts. I don't think they were as disjointed as you thought they were. A non-United States based perspective on these issues is always useful.

"So why is it that LGB people get to be "allies" of trans, but not the other way around?"

Cis LGB people get to be "allies" of trans people.
Straight trans people get to be "allies" of LGB people.

It absolutely goes the other way around. However, look at this:

LGB trans people *are* LGB people. And also trans people.

This actually describes a very large portion of the trans population. Due to the nature of transition, trans people very often have direct personal experience with non-heterosexual relations. The only way, really, for trans people to escape this is to date one sex "heterosexually" prior to transition, and then to date the opposite sex "heterosexually" after transition. This probably actually happens in some cases, but I do not expect it is the common mode. Even when it does happen, I'm sure that some people ignorant of the trans experience will misidentify these cases as "gay" anyway, and serve them a piece of the "gay experience" for free, even though it's not technically appropriate.

When trans people refer to cis LGBs as "allies" but theirselves as actual members of the greater LGB community, it's very likely that the speaker actually is a member of both communities, as a trans LGB, and is not really meant to "other" cis LGBs.

In summary, please don't be offended by the "ally" status that the (straight, gay, bisexual, and otherwise) trans community affords the (straight, gay, bisexual, and otherwise) cis community. It's really just a matter of intersectionality.

This post would be made 20x better with the use of some Venn diagrams.

One lesson to take away from Goldgate is totally overlooked.....do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.

Death threats from TGs, yup, almost a 15 year history of getting those myself because I constantly advocated the mutual respect of identity of transgender people for classic transsexuals. Classic transsexuals have been repeatedly attacked and banned here using the exact same language the TGs when ballistic over by those, now, deeply "offended" TGs.

Insane trans people? The majority of the most vocal trans people are self admittedly mentally ill. Shoot, the newest Bilerico trans contributor has stated repeatedly she is a sociopath! The situation is so bad that when people learn of my history and that I am on disability, I have to point out it's physical because so many are on disability for mental issues.... and yet I've been told and had it told about me that I get the "crazy check".

In another entry here I asked if the "lesson" about identity based attacks applied to the TG vs the TS issues......it was blown off.

The apologists are hard at it doing damage control but clear to me is that in a month or so it will be business as usual here.....nothing learned.

While I don't often agree with RB, I do on this point. The irony of how the golden rule was applied here by Bruce was ill timed, hypocritical and wrong. Worse, it makes me not appreciate Bruce as an ally. In this version, Bil is the "victim" (and, I agree, threatening messages are wrong) instead of the person who facilitated someone to victimize an already marginalized group. The golden rule here should have been, if the gay men at Bilerico don't like having someone diss who they are, then don't bring someone onto Bilerico do it to trans people. No matter what anyone's supposed intentions were, providing a well-known publishing platform for someone to spread their hateful message who normally wouldn't have had an outlet is a form of sponsorship. Bruce, your preachiness sounds both shrill and hollow.

Ginasf,

I don't actually think that there has to be an either or debate in terms of who the victim of something is. It can be a both and. Bil made a mistake. A big one. He knows how I feel about that point. That doesn't mean that the response he received didn't victimize him or wasn't inappropriately violent. You seem to be setting up a dynamic that only one person can be victimized by a complicated situation. I know from your other writing that you don't think of things that black and white.

Finally, if people only critique their own communities, themselves, and allied communities when it is "appropriate timing" then little critique would happen. I appreciate that you think my timing was bad and my preaching shrill. The timing seemed just right to me as the events highlighted some our shortcomings (read our as broadly as possible there). Shrill? Well you wouldn't be the first to call me that.

You are a little preachy and shrill yourself considering you don't know me and no where in my writing have I been dismissive of partners of MTFs and no where would I ever, but you keep talking to me about it like I am twelve. If you want to talk with me more about my understanding of the ways partners lives intersect with the unique identities of their significant others I am glad to do that. ON this point I don't need to be schooled though.

Bruce, no one ever said one is the victim and one isn't, that's your projection on what I said. But you do spend a lot of time in your OP about how victimized Bil has been, and I think there's an element of trying to shame many of the people who were emotionally affected by Gold's post for having the reactions they did. Kind of... yes, preachy.

In general, the reason you might be hearing preachiness from me is because your OP is, itself, highly preachy and even condescending. You're basically telling trans people how they should react to all this as if we haven't had to deal with issues like this countless times before. Bruce, our ally, is informing us of the adult, productive way to act because we might not know that ourselves. Again, allies are equals, they don't talk to other allies like that. You don't like being spoken to like a child, neither do I. Believe it or not, trans adults don't need your advice offered up from a few years of intersecting with our community.

Thank you, Bruce. I love you too.

Angela Brightfeather | December 15, 2009 10:19 AM

Bruce,

I have been invovled in Trans Activism for many years and been to literaly hundreds (bordering on thousands) of trans events from conventions to support group meetings. I have seen many partners of Trans people, disapear never to be seen again. I have seen few of them who have taken an active part in progressing our issues, which in turn are also their issues. But those who have hung in there learn over time and understand that it is hanging in there and participating that is the best teacher. Learning becomes an act of osmosis as much as being forced to feed. some of this is changing and there seems to be more partners willing to at least try harder to understand than in years past. That is why Ron Gold's words cut so deeply. He claimed to be an activist for all these years, but hasn't learned a darn thing about Trans issues because he never was an ally and never will be one. Just the opposite actually, which is probably where his inability to change comes from.

I have always said that the serious progress in the Gay and Lesbian movement was most profound and evident, when their parents started to march in the streets in Pride parades with their children and go to politicians as heterosexual representatives in favor of equal rights. I consider the partners of Trans people to be as equally affective and I respect that they put unconditional love before other societal concerns. The kiss of death for any Trans person who is married and MtoF is when the partner says something like, "I can't accept this because I don't want to be considered a lesbian by other people." You might as well stab someone in the heart with a knife when that happens and it is very few relationships that can overcome such attitudes, knowing full well that their relationship has been reduced to what you look like rather than the value of who you are and how you are appreciated.

I also need to mention that when people talk about this being a cold war, you should limit that to just the "war" part. There is nothing cold about it and anyone who thinks that it only has one front, one battle or one objective is deluding themselves. This fight is on all fronts and it has been made up of battle after battle, some more successful than others. But it has never been drawn to a stalemate or standoff because we must always consider ourselves as the agressor rather than the defender of standards that continue to marginalize us and others who do continue to love and value us for who we are as human beings.

Thank you Bruce for being there for us and helping to defend this community. We can use all the help that we can get, but especially from those who know us for who we really are.

Angela, I'm confused by your post. First by this line:
"when their parents started to march in the streets in Pride parades with their children and go to politicians as heterosexual representatives in favor of equal rights."
Heterosexual? Is that a mistake or did you mean that?

Also, I think your analogy about trans partners is kind of skewed. First off, I do believe there is a huge difference between being involved with a trans person a) before you know they're trans; b) you know they're trans but they haven't yet really physically transitioned; c) meeting someone after their transition. There is a very big societal difference between partners of transmen and, especially, male partners of transwomen. The levels of acceptance are totally different—how many partners of transwomen are openly called "chasers," fetishists or closeted? How are straight men accepted into queer spaces because of their relationship with a transwoman? You're ONLY talking about I transwomen who initially ID'd as straight who stayed with their female partners in hopes of creating a lesbian relationship, which is completely apples and oranges from Bruces' situation. At the very least, compare a gay man with a gay-IDing partner who ends up transitioning MTF and that would be a little closer. Btw, I know a few people in that situation, and I think that has an even lower "staying-together after transition" rate than straight MTFs who transitioned married to women. I'm not saying the general gay community is accepting of FTMs (although more than sometimes assumed) but it's not on the same level of transgression as straight men involved with transwomen, who are, sadly, pretty much universally viewed as either self-deluding or sick.

Sue Lefkowitz | December 20, 2009 9:59 AM

A few points without prolonging this:

1) Being transgender is possibly caused by hormones acting in the womb before birth, therefore it not as simple as Ron Gold asserts. Sure there are femme guys and butch women who never transition. Unless you know all their life issues, this proves nothing.

2) Most older transwomen I know either as friends or clients in my former life as a social worker wished being trans was imaginary and they could walk away. Why do homeless transwomen travel miles to find a "friendly" sheldter rather than go in to a closer one as a "male" I helped start the transfriendly shelter so I know.

3) There are many levels of "success" at being trans. Should people like Donna Rose, Dr.Bowers, Calpernia Adams, Jenny Boylan, etc. be considered to have more of a right to transition cause society sees them as getting it right while the 60 year old ex-Marine in a wig,too short skirt, and no money for FFS gets told to give it up. Even in our community we have people considered failures at transitioning. Do GLB have people considered failures at being GLB by their peers?