Father Tony

Are We Really One Family?

Filed By Father Tony | December 17, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Christmas sermon, LGBT community, one family, Ron Goldgate

As part of the Bilerico editorial team (an uncompensated part, I add, because it is important that you know I make no money from this), I watched the unfolding of communal anger with interest and not a little deja vu as I listened to the indisputable shouts of "You hurt us!" and "You insulted us, you bigot."

Others have handled the failure of our team in detail. I'm taking this opportunity to examine the breakage, to wonder if it will heal, to wonder if it was never whole and to wonder what will be left when the cast comes off.

I came to some conclusions.

No matter how hard I try to understand the strife experienced by trans folks, I will always stumble in my appreciation. In this regard, a parallel can be drawn between the trans community and my Jewish friends. I don't opine about the Holocaust with them because the depth of their feeling about it is off limits to me. There are some rooms I cannot enter with them. The same is true with my trans friends.

I think the best we can do for our friends and family who have suffered something we have been spared is to grant space to such a person and to guard the door of their pain whenever they are on the other side of it. Some pain is survived but never shed. We can never say to our trans friends or our Jewish friends "Snap out of it!" as Cher said to Nicholas Cage in Moon Struck. We can never be, as was Ron Gold, dismissive of others.

There never comes a day when someone can erase an old and serious pain. Even when you look in the mirror with pride at having become the authentic person you were always meant to be, even on the day of your hardest won victories, at the finish line, you break down in tears not because the struggle is over but because the struggle is yours forever.

This undeniable fact of the human experience must be embraced and honored by all who claim to be inclusive.

That leads me to an equally serious question. Are we destined to be one inclusive family, or are we on a fool's errand and destined to split apart, exhausted by our efforts to get along, and finally retreating into separate corners, the gay men here, the lesbians there, and the trans folks over there. And the bisexuals and pansexuals wandering through endless deserts and into our oases for temporary respite from isolation.

Must I eventually conclude that because I can never know the pain of a trans person, I will never be allowed into that particular communion? Should we give up what has been a noble effort to band together and to have each others back in the struggle for equality? Are we really so intrinsically different that "difference" will eventually trump "diversity"? Will the celebrations of Diversity eventually collapse and be replaced by the celebrations of Difference? (Men on Mars. Women on Venus, Lesbians on Saturn, Gay men on Uranus and bisexuals on Pluto, as in, "Is that really a planet?")

I don't have the answers to these questions. I am not sure how things will play out. If sexuality becomes as fluid as water (and I hope it will), all this fretting may become moot. If our straight oppressors continue to have children who, with every generation, become less and less homophobic and transphobic, we may be surprisingly overtaken by a golden era of sexual peace (I doubt I'll live to see it, but who knows?) - a happy Cole Porterish "Anything Goes" era in which it will be impossible to be trans-anything because all categories and labels will have evaporated.

Naive? Don't bother commenting if that is all you want to say. Please do comment if you have looked into the future and seen some possible familial constructs that I might be missing.

Meanwhile, I urge patience. I urge the setting aside of anger. I urge the acceptance of our mutual myopia without grudge. We are, like all clans, imperfect squabblers.

Let's embrace our inability to fully understand each other as long as we are willing to accept the premise that we will always be cheering onlookers in each others orbits. Like Samwise to Frodo, we don't know the power of the Ring because it is not ours to bear. Nevertheless, we can be loyal and true friends to each other and create a family despite ourselves. This blog is still the place to do it.

(Goodness. I do believe that I have delivered myself of one complete Christmas sermon. Old habits. Best wishes, my brothers and sisters.)


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stephanie trower | December 17, 2009 10:40 AM

Well said.

I agree that the best ANY of us can do is to listen with open minds and hearts and create space for each other to share our pains AND our joys. I think too often everything is focused on the pain of "what it's like," when really the focus should be on simply the "what it's like" part.

And, since most who comment here are minorities of some sort, while we may also be members of majorities (Me: White with WASP roots = majority; Gay, Agnostic = Minority), we have to take responsibility for finding the inner walls we each have toward others and tearing those down, and simply strive to listen. One thing I've always found useful is simply trying to convey a spirit that says "Tell me what it's like for you, what I can tell other people to make them understand better."

AND we also need to have enough of a sense of humor to let people know that if we say or do something ignorant, that it's okay to call us out, and be ready to receive that. As a gay guy, I've always tried to have a sense of humor when correcting well-meaning-but-dumb straight people I come in contact with.

So those would be my ideas: Listening with open hearts and minds, and an ability to laugh together as we try to wade through this thing called life.

Thank you for saying this

even on the day of your hardest won victories, at the finish line, you break down in tears not because the struggle is over but because the struggle is yours forever

it quite resonated with me--and no one has ever said such a thing.

Having said this, I have deep concerns about your visioning of the future. While I understand how it is that we see in the world what we know from our lives, I am not yet convinced of the notion of family you advocate. I do appreciate the difference between difference and diversity, but there is an enormous gulf of history to be spanned--and that gulf was recently made larger.

However, it is where you write

a happy Cole Porterish "Anything Goes" era in which it will be impossible to be trans-anything because all categories and labels will have evaporated

that I have more concerns.

If I remember history, the Gay Liberation Front advocated for the end of gay and the transformation of society so that, as you put it, "a happy Cole Porterish "Anything Goes" era. . .because all categories and labels will have evaporated" where there will be no more gay people, no more straight people and everyone will be bisexual together.

Diversity, but no difference.

But this utopia never came to be.

Why?

As I understand history, a group of gay people split off from the Gay Liberation Front and became the Gay Advocates Alliance. With this change, the civil rights model was adopted, that is, gay people decided they were an oppressed minority, not the vanguard of society.

And this determination decided gay people would not disappear that "all categories and labels will [not] have evaporated."

This split signified the triumph of those who adhere to assimilationism among gay people over those who adhere to liberationism. The ultimate goal of this new movement was gay marriage. In Canada, where this has been achieved, even the liberationists who remain active are not interested in changing society; it seems they are more interested in discovering possibilities in themselves. It does seem clear they are not interested in having "all categories and labels. . .evaporated."

This is precisely the concern expressed in the structural analysis Tobi has made.

As a gay man, apparently a compassionate gay man, nevertheless you're proposing for transgender and transsexual people something you seem unable to conceive of for gay and lesbian people and would never ask of them.

To put the metaphorical shoe on the other foot, how would it sound if I called for the end of gay in a world where "all categories and labels will have evaporated"? But never called for the same of transgender and transsexual people.

Dear Jessica,
I am not so sure I would mind "the end of gay" other than in a nostalgic way. I've always felt hobbled by the label. Ed White, in his new book "City Boy" discusses this in terms of being labeled a "gay writer". This is a huge issue that should be treated in a format more formal than these comments and responses, but you make a clear presentation of it.

Sue Lefkowitz | December 17, 2009 11:16 AM

I'll say this again speaking as a transwoman who fought total transition for years, but finally moved on to the whole bag of wax. RonJon Gold might be an insensitive fool, but he did touch a real nerve because I doubt that there is a transperson alive over 40 at least who thought :"say it ain't so, Joe". If I could have found a satifying and fullfilling way not to transition I would have in a Noo Yawk minute. I might have been spared 27 job rejections in my own field and endless arguements with my Jewish family. However, Jewish families seldom cast out their own ( 2 out Lesbian cousins) and I finally got a job in my gender of choice. But again, I spent 20 years trying to be Mr.Mom hoping that I could be happy. We all hate Ron "Swoboda" Gold because he touched a nerve that we all hoped was cauterized. Sure he was off base, but he does have a right to his opinion as much as Glenn "lonesome roads" Beck and "Boss Limbough". I would put Ronnie "Spector" Gold's opinions for the most part up there with Michael Steele or Laura Ingraham, but maybe deep down he scares us cause just maybe we thought that way once about ourselves.

I thought it was very well said and may I add, you certainly have a talent for metaphor.

On a lighter note ...

... Gay men on Uranus ...

Thank you, Father Tony. I just made a "butt-crack" joke on another thread, and now I don't have to feel quite so guilty about it.

(As every shepherd boy knows as he watches over his flocks by night, no Christmas sermon is complete without an embedded butt-hole joke.)

Yes, and thanks for putting me on Pluto! LOL I'm thinking Mercury, it's all liquid right?

So. Before I get too deeply into my position, I need to explain something. I am so far down in the minority-of-minorities chain that on a good day I can remember the dream of thinking one day I might be included by accident. I'm a bisexual, transsexual, transhumanist, polyamorous, atheist, spiritual totemist, European socialist, social libertarian, high-functioning autist, and NORML supporter. If I were black and left-handed, I could call Bingo.

Recognizing my position is a little... odd... I still have to say no. We're starting from an exclusive cultural model of distinct in-groups and out-groups, and we're fighting for inclusion one subgroup at a time, co-opting the language of the majority to claim membership and sewing the seeds of the next battle in our wake. The fight for recognition that gay people face today is already morphing into the bathroom-predator meme for the trans fight in five to ten years. The "same-sex marriage won't lead to polyamory" argument is only slamming the door in the polyamorists' faces who are asking, "why shouldn't it?" The "God made me this way" argument is only hurting the people who don't believe in a god for the chance to be normal.

A hundred years ago, the Catholics were outsiders. Twenty years ago, it was the Mormons. Two hundred, it was the blacks and Chinese. Each community, as it has become accepted into the mainstream, has secured its newfound status as "accepted" by slamming the door shut in the face of the next group in line to justify the struggle to become part of this exclusive club. I imagine in fifty years, the AIs and the transgenics and the animal uplifts will be cursing the "Human Rights Campaign" as exclusive of non-human people.

What we should be doing—what we should have been doing all along, really—is rejecting the idea of an exclusive model of society entirely. We should be putting forth a person-based cultural model centered on the idea that, as a sapient, self-aware being, you are possessed of inherent and inalienable rights such as the right to be who you want to be, love who you want to love, look how you want to look, live how you want to live, and think how you want to think, provided you afford the same rights to others. We should have been forming our own societies and inviting others to join us, instead of begging to be given the privilege of joining them. We should have been demanding our rights and casting the excluders as hypocritical, not asking for permission to be ourselves and then shrugging and saying we can afford to wait and outlive our oppressors.

To be sure, I don't think I'll ever feel "included" by the mainstream in my lifetime. The best I hope for, and what I've learned mostly to be happy with, is finding a very small community of people as odd as I am and contenting myself there. Most of these struggles, as a result, are fairly academic to me. I don't see any path to my own membership in the mainstream, and the fact that the gays and lesbians can't even get trans inclusion right (see Michfest, Ron Gold, and a hundred other examples) tells me that it's just not worth the effort.

I'd love to be proven wrong, but I'm not going to hold my breath while I wait. We could be "one family", but it would take changing the nature of our fight to one that would drag everyone onto unfamiliar ground and force a lot of strange bedfellows that I don't think most people are comfortable associating with. In short, we're all just too damn human to be "one family."

"Must I eventually conclude that because I can never know the pain of a trans person, I will never be allowed into that particular communion?"

I'd add that, just as important as not understanding the struggles that many trans people face, cisgender people also don't understand the joys and gifts of being trans. I like the goal of coming together as much as possible and forming new families and communities, and I think that is most possible when we celebrate each other, rather than pitying each other.

Back in the day a tax collector said there is no male or female, greek or roman. Followers of a guy who spent a lot of time under a tree say that emptiness is form and form is emptiness. These things are true to the extent that one accepts a connection between people on an order higher than self.

If we fail to aim high and look deep, the family you seek can never be found.

I think we can come together as a family, Father Tony. I loved your sermon. We need sermons. I know that not everyone will want to be in such a family, and that is okay too. Families also fight and squabble, and stop talking for years. But I love gay men, and lesbian women, and bisexual men and women, as well as my trans brothers and sisters. And straight allies. Even when they don't love me, I love my family.

To answer the question in the title, whether we like it or not, we are family. Maybe not a Happy family all the time, but we all share the same "stigma" in a society that likes to tell people how to live, despite our supposedly democratic leanings.

That LGBT people do not fit the gender and sexual norm of our society forms a bond that makes us kin whether we like it or not. Even families have infighting and differences of opinion.

Of course the answer is true also that we are all of us of the family of humanity, within all the diversity and differences, we are all human and thus all one of the greater whole.
(though I sometimes wonder about fanatics of all stripes who seem to trade in their humanity for a percieved moral superiority.)

I have a question (which will probably become retorical.) Did YOU personally learn anything from all of this? I ask this because I remember reading on you blog last year that you didn't think trans people should be included in ENDA. I would pray that you've had a change of heart.

I have my doubts that we will ever ALL be one big happy family. Perhaps a big squabbling family trying to keep quiet for 10 seconds for the family photo. But that's not because the difference between cis and trans is too big to gap, it's because some segments of our community are structured to ideologically oppose others and other segments of our community and heavily invested in privilege which causes harm to other segments of our community.

The model I have for what I'd like to see is my own offline community that I spend my time with. It's at least half trans, but certainly not all. Almost everyone, but not everyone, is queer in some way. No one considers being trans a reason not to date someone. There's a strong current of sex-positivity. The cis folks present have felt the sting of transphobia, either through their own gender non-conformity or through their partners or family members, sometimes both. Their actions lead me to see them as part of the trans community even though they are not trans themselves, and I trust them to be understanding of trans issues to the same degree I'd trust a random trans person. I have no doubts that my gender is recognized and even understood. Additionally, just as there is an expectation that the cis members of the community should understand and support the trans members, the same expectation is also set up along issues of race, disability, class, gender, and many more. It's a part of the expectation that we are here to support each other, and that a big part of that is facing the institutional systems that seek to harm our other community members. Conflicts do happen, and can sometimes do major damage to the community, but are often resolved.

I'd love to see that kind of community expanded. I can't tell you what makes the difference between that and the conflict ridden community I encounter online and when I venture into more mainstream spaces that do not have a similar value of recognizing the intersectionality of oppression. But I can tell you that the difference between being trans and being cis is not the largest barrier.

Tony,

You've asked, quite well, the one question that needed to be asked; one, I wish, can be answered without that question becoming self-fulfilling:

... (T)hat leads me to an equally serious question. Are we destined to be one inclusive family, or are we on a fool's errand and destined to split apart, exhausted by our efforts to get along, and finally retreating into separate corners, the gay men here, the lesbians there, and the trans folks over there. And the bisexuals and pansexuals wandering through endless deserts and into our oases for temporary respite from isolation.../quote)

If nothing else, last week's brouhaha illustrated that not only do a significant number of gay men have difficulty addressing/understanding the "trans" issues, but it seems the "trans" themselves have difficulty understanding/addressing the issues within their own subset of the community. I've been involved in equal rights advocacy for decades, yet I'll admit to seeing some terms for the first time in some of the responses posted at Bilerico last week.

(Oh, and a side note here concerning those postings: I truly appreciate those posters who attempted to educate in their postings. Unfortunately, those postings were few and far between - the vitriol that was spewed last week was, simply, stunning to witness. I, personally, believe a call-to-action went out via emails, drawing many people to this site for the sole purpose of allowing them to get their "bitch on.")

Unfortunately, in the "gay and lesbian" community, we have our own subsets marked not just by the composition of their own cadre, but by their disdain/dislike for other subgroups and, crazily enough, each other. Twinks dislike Bears, unless the individual Bear is also a Sugardaddy and not just a Daddy. Gymbois dislike twinks because others tend to lump them together into the same grouping, yet Gymbois feel their masculinity is questioned by that grouping - to Gymbois, most Twinks are just a shade or two away from being a full blown Queen. Queens dislike... well... EVERYBODY... because that's just the way queens are (that's a little joke, by the way).

It's just my personal belief, but I think this stratification occurs simply because for so long gay men were not defined as a "community," but, instead, were defined by society as a whole as simply being sexual in nature. We weren't believed to be people who shared the emotional experiences of our heterosexual counterparts but, instead, simply followed our erect penises (penii?) from bar to bar, bush to bush, and bathroom to bathroom in an endless search for the semi-perfect orgasm. Lawmakers, law enforcement and psychology were allowed to publicly depict us as nothing but horned up beasts, only one or two evolutionary rungs above a chimpanzee.

Unfortunately, in most communities and states, that's still the perception voters have of us whenever a "gay issue" makes it to a ballot.

I think even the most academic sociologist, though, would have trouble following a thread that wove through so many various communities; I know, first hand, how perplexed political strategists are when so many seemingly disparate voices become a harmonious choir when the LGBT "community" (or any one part of that community) is thought to be attacked.

As I've said in other postings, and explained my belief in those postings, it's my own opinion the gay and lesbian "power structures" should not be at the forefront, taking things as an all-inclusive LGBT battle, but, instead, looking to put in place an ENDA that best protects gays and lesbians. Barney Frank wants to omit reference to "trans"? Fine... let him.

Since the majority of lawmakers, and law enforcement, have the belief ALL gays and lesbians are also "trans" or "bis," then any such bill is going to automatically include protections for those two groups, as well. If, for some reason, an ENDA would be put in place that would specifically OMIT the bisexually oriented, or those with gender identity concerns, then it would be time to assist those two communities in obtaining inclusion.

For me, I actually think it's selfish of some persons to ask me to be part of the group that leads the fight to have gender changed on a birth certificate, so that they can then legally their opposite-gender partner, when, even if what seems to be something so simple as changing an "x" in a box of some document, should that happen, I would still be legally barred from marrying my partner.

Daily, as a group, we are all hated. We are all ostracized. But I'd like to ask the "T" among us one question:

When being harassed... when being taunted... when being physically assaulted... what are those who are committing these crimes against you screaming? Are they yelling at you?

"Goddmaned trannie bitch slut (insert gender here) wannabe!!!!"

Or...

"Fuckin' faggot!"

Well, as an extremely academic sociologist, *I* didn't have much trouble. :D

Then again, as a trans person, I have to be -- trans is so big that we include that. And it doesn't matter what that is -- some of your examples from within the internal divide in the Gay community are driven in part by gender problems.

:D

You said

it seems the "trans" themselves have difficulty understanding/addressing the issues within their own subset of the community.

Well, given that Trans is composed of all the possibilities I mention in my recently article on What is Trans*, its kinda to be expected, don't you think? ;)

As a note, if there was a call to arms issued, I didn't get any such email or IM. Maybe a tweet?

To your point, however, people as a whole do NOT believe we are one and the same. THey do not believe that gay people are trans -- they also don't believe trans people are gay.

THe word faggot, surprisingly, to those people does not mean the same thing gay does. I know, quite well, as for a long time I helped them.

It means you are subhuman. You are less than human. It means you are some kind of abnormaility along either the sex or gender scales (and I don't mean sexual intercourse, I mean along the scale of your physicality).

Furthermore, the law itself knows we are not the same, and when you deal in law, since it already knows this, you must hold to that, or you will, indeed, leave people out.

This is why Barney Frank no longer opposes a trans inclusive ENDA. He now sees -- from personal expreince, as well -- that there the focus on sexual orientation is actually not all that effective, since the brunt of the problem deals with the wy the public sees us in terms of sex and gender, not sexual orientation.

THat's something I've tried to explain to people for a long time, and they don't get it.

THe reason our opponents talk about sexual behavior instead of sexual orientation is that they believe that you are physically imperfect, and that your physical imperfection is caused by your behavior.

yes, it makes no sense. That's not the point. It *feels* right, to them, and, therefore, must be right.

As for the changing the box one marks, that does not mean you can get married.

It did mean that 15 years ago -- but in the last 15 years, that has changed dramatically.

You see, 15 years ago, one kind of trans folk -- transsexuals, who are one of the smallest parts of the whole trans thing -- had the right to marry everywhere.

They do not, today.

ANd that's not counting the fact that the only ones who lost that are about a third of the transsexuals -- the rest are gay.

But the trans community as a whole? THey have the exact same difficulty marrying someone of the same sex as you do -- and always have.

Again, that's as a whole. ANd two thirds of them are GLB.

So it is not selfish of them to ask you for that -- it is, in fact, a *part* of the marriage battle as a whole.

Ad its a part than can be used to weaken the arguments against marriage equality as well -- all you have to do is point it out to them, make them aware of it.

Because right now, if you did get marriage equality, those transsexuals who cannot marry would still have the same problems.

Indeed, the selfish part is looking at it from the perspective of "what does it do for me". *That* is the selfish part -- and part of why we keep failing at winning the battle is that we aren't dealng in the question of what does it do for *them*.

And until we do, they will listen to the fear, because the fear is all about what it does for them.

Do you see the difference there?

if not, I need to rephrase it better.

Now, at the last, to answer your question:

No, actually, its usually only two things:

Fucking tranny or fucking faggot. None of the rest applies (not wannabe, not slut, not bitch).

Then again, I haven't had either for a very long time.

And, for a slightly differnet take on the whole thing:

http://laughriotgirl.wordpress.com/2009/12/10/am-i-gay/

very worth the read

You really want to know the slurs we are called? To what purpose?

FYI: I get called a faggot now. Earlier in my transition, it was more of a look of disgust and sometimes a "what are you?", but mostly "fucking freak", or "dyke". I've never been called a trannie, except in that "I'm cool, so I'm going to use a cute moniker to describe you" way. (I'm a gay transman, if that matters as well.)

As I am gay and trans, I can't really be against that family, can I ? ;)

About the deep hurt that never stops - I dunno how it is in the US, but I know several older *gay* people who have been through similar stuff as the transpeople here have described, and often for similar reasons (neither the nazis nor the psychiatrists really cared if someone was a drag queen, gay, or transgender). I wonder why there seems to be so little compassion anymore with regards to that shared history, and why people seem to say that we are so so different and experience so so different things. Because we don't.

That said, I'm about to forgive everything because you quoted Samwise.

People are going to get the wrong impression of me for saying this. Quoting biblical scripture is not something normally found at Bilerico, and with good reason.

But what I'm saying is important, vitally important, in a very practical sense, not just some airy-fairy philosophical PC "kumbaya" one.

In order to be a decent man, woman, gay, lesbian, whatever, one must first and foremost be a decent human being.

Get that right first. And keep it right. If in whatever endeavours you attempt, you find yourself failing in it, you're doing it wrong.

Now the Bible-bashing. Matthew 22:35-40. I'll use the KJV version as I like the language:

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.


As an agnostic, I consider the first optional. But the second is not.

If in implementing the rest of the laws, and the commandments, and everything else, you end up being Unkind... you've lost the plot.

So.. if in your gay advocacy, or your trans-advocacy, or your straight advocacy, in your neo-con advocacy or progressive advocacy, you end up being cruel to people... you're doing it wrong.

After you've got that bit down right though, the rest tends to fall into place naturally. Differences and disagreements can remain - after all, I self-identify as a conservative, straight woman, not so very far away (in theory anyway) from the "Concerned Women of America" and even "Focus on the Family". Except they lost the plot a long time ago, becoming sad caricatures of the values they're supposed to represent. They got side-tracked into minor doctrinal issues, fought with great bitterness, and so now nothing but cruelty and doctrinaire bigotry remains. Where is their "Concern" for the way gays are mistreated in America? Where is the "Focus" on giving gay families the right to be with their loved ones when they're on their death-bed?

Let's not be like them, Ok?


p.s.
Um... maybe I missed my calling, Father T. I think my comment here is a sermon too. Even a traditional Christian one, though I could have substituted the following:

"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary." - Rabbi Hillel Ha-Babli, Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Jesus was a Talmudaic scholar, and he, er, "borrowed" the concept, to answer a Pharisee with a quote from one of the great Pharisaic Rabbis. One heck of a smart cookie, as well as an activist.

Zoe, all the science is pretty meaningless if we're not good humans first. Our connection has to be our common humanity. When it is, our differences pale by comparison.

And she quotes Hillel too?!

My hero . . . ;>)

To you Tony

Thank you sincerely

You may not bear the ring, but will you, from time to time, bear me? If your heart be true, I'll promise to do the same when you call. So like the Clans of Rohan to Minas Tirith . When the Beacons of Gondor are lighted, we will always hasten to your side.


I'm getting rather concerned the use of the term trans is now so elastic everyone who comes to this site is trans.

Maybe, this is the way family in some sense is effected, however, it is not effective in identifying health needs, human rights and hate crimes protections, other struggles.

The whole point of diversity is, I would have thought, to recognize and respect the differences--and to see that all different needs are met.

By homogenizing into LGBT suddenly it is only the needs of the majority, or those who have privilege, that are met.

That is the problem with family.

Too many LGBT people have not pleasant experiences with families. Yes, we now talk about intended families and it is a nice thought--but until diversity is honoured at least to the degree of recognizing the way people wish to be described, family is a long way off.

To give a more concrete answer to your questions:

Everyone is gay. Everyone is trans. Everyone is both of them, to greater and lesser degrees. At least, in description.

Its all the same, and it is expressed through the incredible diversity that being all those amazing different kind of things is.

Outside of description, moving into identity, they are all different. Each of them is separate and distinct and beautiful and wonderful and different.

Its a mater pf perspective, mostly -- one can look and see an either /or situation, where you have to choose description over identity or identity over description, or you can embrace both and move with a bit more stability and knowledge.

So it doesn't take away from the health needs, as both identity and description have the intersection there (trans folk have the same health needs as the other groups, for example, within their specific subsets).

Which doesn't remove the individuality of the different groups. It just reinforces what they have in common.

I accept the vision of unity, the mysterium tremendum et fascinans and the wonder, awe & terror experienced in approach.

I suppose there is no questioning of horizontality; in the mysterium tremendum et fascinans, how could anyone even imagine a hierarchy of oppressions?

I cannot accept this is any practical approach to practical problems.

How does this aid the struggle for equality?

How does this fortify for the fray.

No questions there is a hierarchy of oppressions, Jessica, no question there whatsoever, lol

As someone fairly close to the bottom, I can't argue against that one without compromising my personal needs.

That doesn't mean that they cannot be tackled in unison, though -- provided enough people rise from their seeking for themselves and seek instead for the common and larger group.

Granted, that means fighting against privilege and internal sexism, but, well, we're gonna fight in the end, and fighting sexism inside is the first step to fighting it outside, I would think.

california panda | December 18, 2009 2:03 AM

Thank you, Father Tony.

I learned through the process of transition, and my subsequent exclusion from certain groups I once belonged to, not to seek understanding. I tried. I really tried. My internal experience as a trans person seems far too foreign or alien for some people to handle. Unless, of course, they have shared something similar. I don't expect understanding, I only ask for acceptance and respect. The acceptance that says, "Even though I don't understand, I respect you as a valuable member of this group/family. I accept you." If someone wishes to hear my story and a little of what I've experienced, I'm more than willing to share that. In turn I offer the same respect and acceptance even though I may not understand either. To me that is the essence of family. That's what you do.

Sexual oppression is no respecter of individuals. As a group, we are PASO (people against sexual oppression). That's what we're up against and to ignore that simple fact is what will cause us to fail. We all need all the allies we can get to win this one.

Valerie

Relax. Breathe Deep. Let it out slow.

Isn't it a beautiful day today? I love the way atmosphere and celestial bodies create a canopy of amazing colors and shapes in completely unique arrangements every day and night. Nature changes and change is natural. It is how things work and it is beautiful.

When we get caught up in consistency we become annoyed and irritated at the stagnant repetition... like a scratched vinyl record, skipping back and repeating the same thing every time.

You wonder about fluidity and connectedness, it's all around us, all the time, everywhere. Perhaps not all the time with all the same people in the same situations... but that is natural and purposeful.

Humans are, among other things, pattern recognition machines. Ascribing purpose, reason and meaning to those patterns is part of our nature. When those patterns change or disappear altogether, we are either delighted or mournful based on how meaningful and personally fulfilling the pattern was in our own lives. Seeing past that and viewing the fluidity is seeing the greater good. It's being able to see that if your hands are filled with one thing, you will have no room to accept the gifts coming your way without dropping something you didn't REALLY want in the first place... or something that no longer meant as much as it did. One step further than that is realizing that holding on even for a moment is just as futile.

We can cling to the one with closed fist... or experience the infinite with an open hand.

So relax and let the fluidity you seek wash over you, around you and experience it all without judgment, meaning or requirement. Surround yourself with people willing and desiring to experience life the same way. Entreat others to join you as well, without reproach if they choose to go back to being clingy... for that is the nature of change too.

Peace,
Jenna

"even on the day of your hardest won victories, at the finish line, you break down in tears not because the struggle is over but because the struggle is yours forever"

thank you, this is perfect. absolutely perfect.

for a lot of us, the hardest struggle will always be against ourselves. sue mentioned that ron gold dragged one of our primal fears out into the light and gave it substance and validity: "you're crazy, and you'll never be anything but a freak, a fake, and a fraud."

i cannot tell you how many times i have said such words to myself; for how many years i believed that they were true; and how many times i tried to end my own life because of them.

there are days i still believe them. and those are the days i realize, that even though i have mostly made it, that i will never really be there...and all the old feelings of self-loathing and tears come flooding back.

i think that's why so many of us got so angry.

i know it's why i did.

and when we expected our other brothers and sisters to get angry right along with us...there seemed to be an awful lot of silence. i felt like a kid getting beat up in my own yard and my big brother just standing there, watching.

i think that's why so many of us felt betrayed.

i know it's why i did.

much has been made of TBP not being a safe place, or that it shouldn't be because "it's the internet."

bullshit.

it *must* be a safe place for all of us or it's a safe place for none of us, and who wants to open themselves up ... or even contribute ... in an atmosphere like that? this isn't USENET, it's possible if we want it to be.

do we?

to me that's the core principle of the notion of family: "we might not understand each other very much, and sometimes we don't even like one another a whole lot, but by god if you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us."

that day in my yard, my big brother didn't just stand there watching. and while to this day he doesn't understand what being trans is all about -- he still has my back.

that's family.

Simon Aronoff Simon Aronoff | December 21, 2009 6:21 PM

We ARE and have always been one family (See: Stonewall, Compton Riots and earlier). If not always in agreement on policy, than at least respecting of BASIC identity.

But you can't reply: "I wonder if, in the distant future, after the smoke clears, when our history is written, he may not be proven right." to a post titled "'No' to the Notion of Transgender" and expect gentle, loving teachable moment from tranfolk. The comment coming from a member of the Bilerico Ed Team (and someone with the title Father) was particularly galling.

If you want to be a part of this family Father, may this heartfelt post be the start of some personal education on your part around gender oppression. Read some Leslie Feinberg over the holidays; volunteer time at a trans-serving organization; donate money to NCTE. Asking rhetoricals about whether or not time will bear out that Trans people don't really or shouldn't exist tells me you have growing to do.

Bilerico Project, it was truly disappointing to see the original post slip thru the cracks. I know you to be strong allies. The additional insult-to-injury comment from a member of the Ed Team...well, a trip to the educational woodshed is in order...or perhaps that's what got us this sugary sermon.

Would have liked to have read the words, "I'm sorry" in this post.

Dear Simon,
Permit me to point out a major "fail" in your argument. You say "We ARE" one family , but then, you go on to list the conditions for membership, like someone who says " I will love you as long as you perform up to my standards, rules and expectations". And then, you rather pompously list the hoops through which I must jump before I can be part of your family: I have to read what you prescribe, donate my time to an entity you sanction and donate my funds to an organization that you bless.

Talk about "Simon Says"!

Sorry, but in my view, both love and membership in a family are not conditional. You are , however, not without company in your strident demands. Pope Benedict XVI thinks like you.

I am resending your sackcloth and ashes, postage due. This is Advent, not Lent.

Simon Aronoff Simon Aronoff | December 21, 2009 10:37 PM

Tony,

Hmmm. Okay...

I'm merely suggesting some educational and solidarity opportunities for you (cuz you have demonstrated a big blind spot in your LGB(T) politics).

Sounds like you don't like learning harder lessons to me and rather play the "can't we all get along card" with this post instead of acknowledging your misstep and offering a direct apology for an insult you posted.

Don't worry. The rest of the family will continue to do the work, and we'll organize around cis gay dudes who don't want to learn anything other than the address to the next HRC fundraiser.

Dear Simon,

I've never been to an HRC fundraiser.

And the record will show that I have donated no funds to any other LGBTQ advocacy org. I will, from time to time, gladly cover their events. You seem to have an imaginary object for your grudges onto which you've pasted my face, and in doing so, you make some very presumptuous assumptions. Those with poor aim always seek a blurred target.

I did, however, like that you called me a dude!

Simon Aronoff Simon Aronoff | December 22, 2009 9:17 AM

It would be great if you could address the substance of my comment rather than deflecting with personal attacks.

I am not "imagining" that you wrote: "I wonder if, in the distant future, after the smoke clears, when our history is written, he may not be proven right."

Could you explain your above quoted comment, or apologize for it if you now realize that it isn't okay to agree with statements that invalidate the very existence of transgender people?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 24, 2009 7:36 AM

Simon,

I kind of doubt Sappho would have understood Alice B. Toklas or vice versa.

I really expect Alexander the Great would have little in common with Oscar Wilde or myself or you for that matter.

I also think that Alice and Oscar would have the perspective to agree upon what Sappho and Alexander were right about.

I believe that, the way I read it, it was in that spirit of "discovery" about ourselves that Fr. Tony was speaking. In short, I do not believe he has anything to apologize for as he was speaking in the far off land of perspective far beyond ourselves. We evolve.

Dear Simon,
I wonder about many things. I wonder about everything.
I think I could be called a skeptic.
I am on no bandwagon. Not yours, not Ron's, not nobody's.
I've given you the explanation you requested although I do not feel that you deserved this response given the size of the snark on your shoulder.