Archive for February, 2009
Like Belledame, I’ve been remiss on this one. Still, better late than never..
The ever-wonderful Renee from Womanist Musings has put together a new carnival spotlighting writing by women of color and allies which I highly recommend you get to reading. There’s a bunch of great post, but in particular, Renee’s spotlighted a post by Monica Roberts at Transgriot on becoming a quality black trans woman. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to conceptualize transition as a one-way journey with a GRS end, but Monica aptly points out that becoming is a part of the process of womanhood for all of us:
As for how I’m doing fifteen years into transition, like all of you, I’m a work in progress. I’m not perfect, nor do I want or claim to be. While being a Black transwoman is always going to be part of me until the day I die, all I want to be in the end is a quality Black woman.
A quality Black woman who is doing her part to uplift the race, be a concerned citizen, an intelligent, spiritually tuned and morally upright person, a good friend to the people fortunate enough to be in my life and be the best person she can be.
Welcome to Al-Fatiha’s historic survey of Muslims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and questioning or exploring their gender identity and/or sexual orientation (LGBTIQQ), including Muslims who use other cultural and ethnic terms to refer to their own experience. This survey is for Muslims of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and Muslims of all beliefs and practices, including observant Muslims, cultural Muslims, and those who are secular. This is the first survey of its kind. The results of this survey will tell us all about our community, our experiences and our concerns. The results will guide Al-Fatiha’s educational and advocacy work on behalf of LGBTIQQ Muslims, and will be shared with the entire community. All survey responses are ANONYMOUS and CONFIDENTIAL so you can feel comfortable answering all the questions honestly and openly. You may skip questions you do not wish to answer; however, we encourage you to answer the survey as completely as possible. The more information you provide, the more useful the survey results will be to the entire community. Your experiences and perspectives are important! Be counted! Al-Fatiha Board of Directors http://al-fatiha.org/survey.htm
Received this message from the Remembering Angie Zapata Facebook group (direct link to full message text)
SAVE THE DATES: March 18th & April 7th
Colorado Anti-Violence Program Announces
Discussion, Meditation & Dinner to Prepare for Upcoming Murder Trial
Trial dates have been set for the murder of Angie Zapata. The eight day trial begins on April 14, 2008 and takes place in Courtroom 11 of the Weld County Courts at 901 9th Ave in Greeley. We would like to provide as much community support to her family and friends as possible by packing the courthouse during those days. If you are interested in coordinating rides to Greeley from the Denver-Metro area, please contact Kelly Costello at 303-839-5204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAVP staff feels it is important for all of us involved in the trial to do so from an intentional and loving space. We recognize that we are all emotionally impacted when people target the LGBTQ community with violence. These incidents often lead us to feel a heightened sense of fear and vulnerability. We may feel anger and hatred towards those responsible for such violence.
In an effort to support our community members in maintaining a positive and healthy emotional and mental space around the trial of Allen Ray Andrade, CAVP will be hosting two evenings of discussion, meditation and dinner. Discussion will be facilitated by CAVP staff and meditation by Marti Engelmann.
We encourage you to participate in BOTH sessions if:
- You are even slightly considering attending any trial dates
- You would like to find other ways to support people going to the trial
- You have any interest in participating in creating this type of space regardless of your
involvement with this case
March 18th from 6-8:30 pm and April 7th from 6-8:30 pm
Discussion and meditation 6:00- 7:30. Dinner provided afterwards.
RSVP to Crystal Middlestadt at email@example.com or 303-839-5204.
(Cross-posted at bird of paradox)
A year ago today, on February 12, 2008, Lawrence King, a 14-year junior high school student was fatally shot during class. The then 14-year old Brandon McInerney is accused of the shooting, apparently a hate crime. The Ventura County Reporter carries the following update:
For the past year, Brandon McInerney has been in the spotlight of the Ventura County courts. Nothing short of the standard, expensive, cinematic courtroom drama, McInerney’s trial, to some, has become less about the now-15-year-old murder suspect than about the attorneys, the egos, the endless appeals and the protracted proceedings that commonly define an embattled legal system.
“They’re really into it for the glory and the movie rights. They say they have the best interests of the child at hand,” says Jay Smith, executive director of the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance.
But ask Smith or any proponent of equal rights for the gay and lesbian community, and the biggest consensus may just be that the trial has shifted away from its intended focus, overshadowing the very victim it’s seeking justice for. Lawrence King was a 14-year-old junior high school student who was killed, allegedly, for expressing his blossoming identity as a homosexual teen.
King, whom McInerney is accused of murdering, will be remembered this week at an evening vigil in Ventura, one year to the day of his death. It was on Feb. 12, 2008, that King was shot twice point blank during class at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard; McInerney has been accused of pulling the trigger, presumably motivated by an emerging hatred towards gays.
Thursday’s event, Remember Lawrence: Year One, seeks not only to memorialize the Oxnard youth, who belonged to the Rainbow Alliance’s youth group, but also to raise greater awareness toward the acceptance of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Sponsored by the Rainbow Alliance, it stresses visibility in numbers. Following a procession to the Ventura pier, speakers are encouraged to share stories, conversations experiences and memories of King.
Approximately 500 people attended a vigil held last year following King’s death. Smith hopes for a similar turnout for this week’s event. “Perhaps people will come out and show solidarity and support,” he said.
The vigil begins at 6 p.m. at 856 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura. For further information on the event, e-mail the Rainbow Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Cross-posted at bird of paradox)
In particular, I was deeply concerned by this (via the Daily Mail, perhaps surprisingly):
People who are undergoing a sex change will be allowed two cards – one in each gender. But they will also be forced to pay twice – landing them with a £60 bill.
It has decided they will have to hold a card in their current sex, which can be used for travel in the EU.
But they will also be able to apply for a card – with corresponding picture – in the name and sex they are undergoing treatment to become.
In other words, they will dress and appear as they will once the sex change is complete.
It’s not just that we are to be charged a double fee – although of course the classism is also an issue, the assumption that we can afford £60 (approx US $88) – but that we will be required to hold two ID cards, one in our pre-transition identity, and one post-transition.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is probably one of the most upfront examples of institutionalised transphobia I have seen so far – and the fact that the situation has arisen directly from the legal incoherence of the status of transsexual people hasn’t escaped me, either.
When I wrote my post, I was left with a sense of quietly despairing hopelessness – what can this one person do about it? – so I’m relieved to see my friends at Gender Spectrum UK have now organised an online petition to protest this blatantly iniquitous and outrageously discriminatory proposal.
Despite my reservations about the (in)effectiveness of online petitions generally – what happens to them? who reads them? are the signatories’ views taken into account? – in this case it seems it’s about the only voice we really have. So I urge any TS/TG person, and any cis person who works in solidarity with us, to seriously consider adding your name to the petition – you can find it by clicking here.
In addition, Gender Spectrum UK have also made available for download a template for a suggested letter of protest to send to Robin Woodland at the Home Office – click here to access it.
The closing date for signing the petition is March 6.
A PDF copy of the draft legislation may be downloaded directly from here.
There is a Facebook group here.
The full press release from Gender Spectrum UK may be found here.
(Cross-posted at bird of paradox)
A woman and a man called the dancer outside then doused her with some kind of flammable liquid around 1:30 a.m. next to the Babes & Beer sports club in the Tarzana area of the San Fernando Valley, police said.
The 27-year-old mother of two was in grave condition after being burned over 60 percent of her body, Deputy Chief Michel Moore said. Her identity was not immediately released.
Police identified the suspects as Rianne Celine Theriault-Odom, 27, and Nathaniel Marquis Petrillo, 22, both frequent patrons of the club. They were being sought for investigation of attempted murder, police said.
The details are scarce, so beyond the obvious disgust, it’s hard to make sense of this, what would cause something so brutal. It sounds so pre-meditated and calculated (I mean, how much flammable liquid would you need to burn someone that badly?). Why did she go outside to see them? The two suspects were regulars at the club, was this a personal vendetta or are we talking random, hateful violence against a woman for being a stripper? I dunno. Urgh, people.
This is a guest post in the series by Drakyn, who’s added a really good take on a common theme.
I’ve been thinking on this transphobic trope that gets thrown out: being trans* and/or medically transitioning as a type of self-harm and/or removing “healthy” tissue.
Sometimes this is expressed in a more more subtle manner: concern-trolling about poor lesbians and/or masculine girls who might get confused and transition, people who are anti- certain body modifications comparing medical transition to those body mods, or even throwing out a comment about how trans-related surgeries don’t look/function well. Sometimes, they are very, very obvious: talking about chopped up or mutilated bodies, outright saying that ev0l doctors and trans* people are coercing lesbians/butches into transitioning, that we’re just delusional freaks, or that trans* people are like anorexic folks and medical transition is like liposuction or gastric bypass surgery.
First of all, compare a transphobe’s thoughts on how being trans* is self-harm to a homophobe’s view that being queer is self-harm. There really won’t be too many differences. Usually the transphobe will say something about how patriarchy/Satan/etc causes trans* people to Not Be Good Cis* people or how in a more godly/feminist/etc world there would be less of us. Replace trans* with queer and cis* with straight and you have a homophobe’s thoughts. Compare “transitioning is harmful and it’s wrong to remove healthy tissue!” to a homophobe’s thoughts on how queer sex is Dangerous and Bad For You. They sound the same and they are both just as wrong.
If you believe the notion that being trans* is self harm that means you believe there is something wrong with being trans*; that it is right and natural to be cis*. It follows that you believe it is better to stop trans* people from being trans* (or, openly being trans*) than it is to remove transphobia and cissexism. Because, in this view, transphobia and cissexism are good, right, normal, and natural; after all, if we didn’t mess up your perfect world we wouldn’t get hurt. Sure, you’ll say that they don’t want people to be hurt, but then…as long as we just shut up you don’t ever have to think about it, now do you?
Or, as Hazel says, “Society’s myth of universal cissexuality *is* incredibly fragile, and has to be protected at all times–but what has to be done is not to create a stronger foundation (which they never ever do) but to disrupt any other conversation that’s happening.” Yes, being trans* can be difficult.Yes, there are a lot of dangers out there for trans* people. But, removing transphobia and cissexism will remove most of those difficulties and dangers; really, the only ones intrinsic to being trans* are body dissonance, gender disphoria, and things like depression that result from denial and such.
Medical transition usually removes the body dissonance. Living as your actual gender, without discrimination and harassment, will take care of the issues caused by pretending to be the wrong gender; having your loved ones and social circle gender you correctly will as well. Therapy will take care of whatever that doesn’t; talking through issues that childhood denial caused (and childhood denial should happen less often in a world without transphobia), therapy or anti-depressants should help with depression, etc.
So, since in a world without transphobia there would be few, if any, major difficulties or dangers to being trans*, being trans* is really not all that intrinsically harmful–it’s the cis* world’s cissexism and transphobia that are the problems. I suppose to someone out there in the world there is some knee-jerk validity to the idea that you shouldn’t perform surgery on healthy tissue…But, you have to look at what you are considering healthy tissue and on how you are defining words like harm, needed, unnecessary, etc.
Is tissue that you feel, deeply and instinctively, to not even belong to you really all that healthy? Is psychological pain not considered harm? Should a person have to attempt all sorts of therapy and mental gymnastics to accept how their body is currently shaped instead of having surgery or hormones? Is the former not as harmful as the latter? Is removing psychological distress unnecessary? Do you think that people can just ”get over it”, “cheer themselves up”, or ignore anything that isn’t purely physical? Well? Well, I would say, that is someone needs to medically transition then whatever hormones or surgery they have are needed and necessary. (personally, I do not have issues with body mods or other “unnecessary” surgeries, so if a trans* person who doesn’t need to medically transition wants to, I have no issues with that. But I think that may be a little off-topic, I just wanted to make that clear…)
Sometimes you get people, sometimes well meaning but sometimes mean spirited, bringing up the actual or supposed limitations of medical transition: “Why would you want to have a penis that doesn’t function?” “Aren’t you afraid of looking like a freak?” “Wouldn’t you rather keep your body how it is than worry about what sort of health complications transition could bring?” “But you’re such a pretty girl?”
First of all, what is functional, working, pretty, etc is defined by the individual. Like how you hear a lot of static about how ugly and nonfunctional phalloplasty is, yet every guy I’ve heard from who actually had it loves the results.
Honestly, I don’t see anything “freakish” about trans* people’s bodies. Our bodies, no matter what medical treatments we have or have not chosen to have, are not freakish or ugly or disgusting. A lot of people have scars. A lot of people have had invasive surgeries to improve their quality of life; there is nothing disgusting or ugly about it.
Everyone has different preferences for facial features and the like; some people find “feminine” looking men (trans* and cis*) attractive, some people find “masculine” looking women (again, trans* and cis*) attractive. We will be attractive to some people out there; moreover, attractiveness is not the be and end all of happiness.
We also weigh the health consequences carefully. Yeah, when we choose to take hormones or have surgeries we gain a greater likelihood of some complications, but there are usually complications to not having those procedures as well. Remember, how are you defining healthy? I’d say not-suicidal yet at a greater risk of heart problems is a hell of a lot healthier than being so depressed you can’t take care of yourself and constantly try to kill yourself.
It’s not like we jump into medical transition without thinking. For instance, I’ve seen a few trans* guys who’ve had to come to terms with their beliefs about what constitutes healthy tissue and unneeded medical procedures and their need for surgery. Some suggested that trans* folks wrestling with these feelings think through it like I did above. Others said that they had had a dialogue with their body; telling their chest or uterus how while there may not be anything wrong with them, they simply didn’t belong on their body, how much they needed this surgery, etc. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the trans*folks that had/have these feelings; we live in an ableist and transphobic world after all. But I do think we should examine these feelings and decide what are our ethical beliefs and what is just internalized shit.
There’s also this idea that “1950′s psychologists” invented trans*ism as a way to make queer and gender-nonconforming folks into straight conforming folks. Check out any decent history on trans*ism or trans* people, The History of How Sex Changed, Transgender History, etc, and that trope will be proven wrong. Trans* people would comb through science/medical journals, write to the few drag/trans* newsletters, write to Christine Jorgenson, etc. begging for information on how to transition and who to go to. Women would take BC pills and other forms of estrogen and then go to doctors and say they were intersex. Even now we still have to work to get any help medically transitioning at all.
And ya know, we really don’t seek out questioning people to convert to our Dangerous Lifestyle; our communities constantly have trans* people just coming out of denial coming to us asking for information and help. Whenever I’ve seen people ask for help in figuring out their gender and what path is right for them, I always see people tell them that there are a number of possibilities and only they themselves can figure out who they are and what is right for them (though, yes, books and therapists and talking to others can help).
Though this trope is often thrown out too, I really don’t want to address “butch flight” because I was never butch or involved in any lesbian/womens communities–but Gauge wrote a great piece.
There is also the ableist idea that being in an unaltered (“natural”) body is more moral/better than being in an altered (“unnatural”) body. –This feeds into the idea that our differences mean we are defective and wrong and need to be cured or eradicated. There is the idea that being trans* is caused by some defect in us; whether a defective uterus that gave us the wrong dose of hormones, a defective brain that makes us hallucinate, or a society that gives us defective socialization. While some forms of trans*ism may be caused by hormones in the uterus or brains that are shaped differently or whatnot, this is not a defect (seriously, natural variations in populations do occur!).
A lot of times when transphobic people are “discussing” trans*ism or trans* people they will compare us to people with schizophrenia, OCD, or otherwise unnamed “mental illnesses” or “delusions”. They will talk about how we don’t give in to their delusions, so why should we treat trans* people any differently? They may even decide we should all be institutionalized or forced to take medication instead of being allowed to transition.
This is, by the way, true even if you ignore the times we are called crazy, insane, psychopaths, nutjobs, etc. The point is, therefore, that accusations of “self-mutilation” are cut through with ableist attitudes that present trans bodies as abberrant, pathologised and repulsive–in stark contrast to an idealized “natural, implicitly able-bodied cissexual body.
Very briefly (for now), this morning’s free tabloid newspaper, The Metro carries a remarkably even-handed report about Kim Petras “who has become the youngest person to have a full sex change”.
A teenager who has wanted to be a girl since the age of two has become the youngest person to have a full sex change.
Kim Petras, 16, had the operation in secret after psychologists confirmed she was “without doubt, a girl in a boy’s body”.
The aspiring pop singer says she cannot wait for summer to try out a new wardrobe of tight-fitting clothes.
“I had to wait until my 16th birthday. But once that was past, I was able legally to have the operation,” the German teenager added.
“Everything has changed because of this operation. I just can’t wait to put on my favourite bathing suit and go swimming like I’ve never done before.”
Usually in Germany, sex change surgery is illegal until the age of 18.
But Kim convinced doctors she was transsexual when she was 12 and began hormone treatment.
“I suppose it took me longer than my wife to accept it but I am very proud of what she has achieved,” said the teenager’s father, Lutz.
“She has managed to get there and sticks to her dreams, no matter how hard and painful they are to follow.”
Kim finally had the operation late last year and has picked up a record deal after a song she wrote became an internet hit.
And last year, she became a model for a hair salon chain.
Kim added: “I was asked if I feel like a woman now but, the truth is, I have always felt like a woman – I just ended up in the wrong body.”
There are a couple of things in that report that I may well return to later with my (sparkly pink) tool kit for a little deconstruction. Nothwithstanding that, I send her a very gentle hug, and my best wishes for a long and happy life.
ETA: Okay, let me just pick up on a couple of things in that report; they’re niggling me a little bit and anyway I’m feeling grumpy today, so…
*picks up sparkly pink hammer for a spot of mild deconstruction*
A teenager who has wanted to be a girl since the age of two…
Interesting. My experience suggests that I always was a girl, just the luck of the draw meant I was born male-bodied. It was never a question of “wanting to be a girl”.
Kim Petras, 16, had the operation in secret…
As BadHairDays points out in the comments below, “She talked about it on her blog before and after”. But hey, since when did tabloid journalism ever let facts get in the way of a good story?
But Kim convinced doctors…
This is a really telling comment. It’s a sad fact that the onus is on us to “convince” the medical profession of our gender dissonance: we may tell them how we feel but there is always this demand for some kind of empirical evidence, some incontrovertible proof
If I went to my (non-existent) GP and said I was depressed, there wouldn’t be anything like the same pressure on me to “convince” hir. But try walking in and saying you’re trans and you can pretty much guarantee the answer: “But how do you know you’re trans?”
Me, bitter and twisted? Well, yes, actually, since you ask…
Kim finally had the operation late last year…
Variation on a theme part 94. “And have you had The Surgery?” This fixation on trans people’s genital topography foregrounds the notion that many cissexual people have, that a woman with a penis is somehow less than, or not, a Real Woman™. And when the essentialist theories are foregrounded, then the Really Real Issues™ – the social, legal, cultural and other contexts of being a transsexual person in an overwhelmingly cissexual world – are backgrounded.
I refer the jury to my right honourable friend Queen Emily’s Transphobic Tropes series elsewhere on this blog for further, in-depth enlightenment.
…and has picked up a record deal after a song she wrote became an internet hit.
And last year, she became a model for a hair salon chain…
Do I detect a degree of what Julia Serano (in Whipping Girl) calls hyper-feminization? (“Attempting to highlight the ‘frivolousness’ nature of our femininity, or portraying trans women as having derogatory feminine-associated character traits such as being weak, confused, passive, or mousy”).
Or is it just plain ol’ trans-misogyny? (“When a trans person is ridiculed or dismissed not merely for failing to live up to gender norms, but for their expressions of femaleness or feminity, they become the victims of a specific form of discrimination: trans-misogyny”).
Perhaps it’s simply the old reifying gender trope?
And finally, to demonstrate that media prejudice isn’t the sole preserve of staff writers: when saving the image of Kim Petras from the website, I came across a fine example of cissexism (“the belief that transsexual peoples’ identified genders are inferior to, or less authentic than, those of cissexual people… Common examples include purposeful misuse of pronouns…”)
The image has been given the file name sex_change_boy.
(Cross-posted at bird of paradox)
Story via Yuki:
It is only the month of February, and with Malaysia still in celebratory mood on the occasion of Chinese New Year, this news came in and turned my day sour, and I believe it would be another day of sadness for all transgenders worldwide. Another transgender woman was found murdered last Sunday, stabbed on the neck at her own house.
Yuki’s edited version of the story, that removes problematic language:
Transgender found dead with neck stab wound
By : Jassmine Shadiqe
(edited by Yuki Choe)
JOHOR BARU, Mon:
A transgender woman was found dead with a stab wound on her neck in her house in Taman Molek, Johor Jaya, here on Sunday. The victim, once identified as Noor Azlan Khamis, 29, who worked as a storekeeper at a furniture store in Sungai Tiram here, was found by a friend lying lifeless on the sofa in her living room about 6.30pm.
She had earlier gone to a karaoke outlet with some friends, who sent her home about 3am. Later that evening, one of her friends called her but the phone went unanswered.
The friend, who lives in the neighbourhood then went to her house and after peeping through a window, saw the victim lying on the sofa.
Suspecting that something was amiss when she failed to respond to her knocks on the door, the friend entered the unlocked house and found the victim dead in a pool of blood.
He immediately alerted the police.
State Criminal Investigation Department Chief Senior Assistant II Datuk Amer Awal who confirmed the incident said the victim stayed alone in the house.
“Investigations revealed that the victim was murdered between 4am and 7am that Sunday,” he said. Amer added that the television and lights in the room were switched on when the victim’s body was found. There were no signs of struggle or forced entry.
Amer urged those with information to call the nearest police station or the Johor police hotline at 07-2212999.
Another woman’s dead, probably killed by the same hatred that has claimed so many others.