Archive for March, 2009
h/t Radha Nichole:
I wanted to give folks a quick heads up on what’s happened to the Bilerico Project and our affiliated sites. All of our sites are currently dark – they’ve been taken offline by a massive hacker attack.
We’ve been fighting off these Eastern European hackers for over a year now; they’re the same crowd that took down popular feminist political blog Shakespeare’s Sister a year and a half ago. They’re professionals and they’re nasty.
Earlier this week, they managed to take us down for about 9 hours overnight but we were able to regain control. They severely compromised the server though, so we had to get a new server up and running quickly. Yesterday, we got the new server racked up and were planning on making all of the switch overs (we also host quite a few Indiana LGBT organizations’ websites), but the hackers managed to crack through our defenses again yesterday afternoon.
This time they firebombed the place; our old server is toast. Unfortunately, none of the data was transferred before they regained control. We have backups and are trying to get the site back up ASAP, but we’re still suffering from the lag required to set up a new server from scratch, retrieve as much data as possible from the old server, install all of our attendant software like Movable Type, and then port over the Bilerico database and double check to make sure it all works again since our site was so customized.
I have no idea when the site will be back up and running. We’re hopeful that we can have it all finished by Friday night, but there’s no guarantee. The hackers caused massive damage, but co-owner and tech guru Jerame Davis is working feverishly to fix everything.
Until then, if you need to reach me please use the gmail account to contact Bilerico.
Thanks for your patience as we sort through this giant mess. I’ll keep folks updated.
Thanks for your support,
I’m posting this because a) this kind of shit ain’t on – and if Bilerico’s a target, and Shakespeare’s Sister is a target, then it’s clear we’re all targets, and b) because at least a few people jumped to the conclusion that trans people were behind the DOS attack.
I just want to point out that a DOS attack does not stem from a disgruntled people. They’re organized on a large scale – this group, for example, or Anonymous, or via botnets. They require a certain amount of resources to ping a server to death.
And when something like this happens, floating that it’s some kind of grudge from other trans people when the likelihood of such is extremely low doesn’t do us any favors.
March 26, 2009
HRC: Only Trans-Inclusive ENDA Will Do
The Human Rights Campaign adopted a policy statement on Wednesday that says the group will not support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if it excludes protections for transgender individuals. The statement was approved by the HRC board of directors in Washington, D.C.
“It’s the policy of HRC that the organization will only support an inclusive ENDA,” says the statement. It calls the organization’s previous decision to support an ENDA without transgender protections a “one-time exception.”
HRC received heavy criticism in 2007 when it opted to support a version of ENDA that only included protections for sexual orientation, and not gender identity. Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives at the time said they did not have the votes to pass a trans-inclusive ENDA.
“We will not support such a strategy again,” says the statement. “We look forward to Congress sending President Obama a fully inclusive ENDA for his signature.”
ENDA passed the House without transgender protections in 2007, but the Senate failed to vote on it. No vote or debate on the measure is scheduled yet this year.
As usual, the comments are pretty gross and full of transphobia from cis lgb people, so be warned*.
But do I believe HRC? No, not really. It’s the same trip as last time – “we won’t support a trans-exclusive ENDA until it’s politically expedient for us to throw trans people under the bus again.”
Or to put it another way – I won’t believe it until a trans-inclusive ENDA goes up for a house vote, and that HRC at no point faltered, failed to work with trans activists, assisted with lobbying representatives who are opposed to the bill, etc. If you really really really want to include trans people in ENDA, don’t just push for the wording, include actual trans people in the process. Don’t just deliver edicts.
But I still won’t believe you – and neither will many many other trans people. And if you’re earnest about this, you’ll know exactly why, and know why a simple declaration is not sufficient to earn any trans person’s trust.
* I couldn’t make the point I was trying to make about prop 8 without reinscribing the racist narrative, so it’s removed with apologies to anyone I hurt with it.
Tobi Hill-Meyer provides a list of examples.
Just one section, but there’s several others:
Relationship and Sexual Violence
When trans women desperately in need of sexual assault or domestic violence services are turned away because their needs are considered less important than the hypothetical discomfort their presence might cause for others, that’s transmisogyny.
When activists encourage people not even to try to fight for trans women’s access to sexual assault and domestic violence services because of the possibility that it could leave trans men unable to access those services, that’s transmisogyny.
When I, personally, sought out support after being abused by my trans male partner and was told by a prominent genderqueer activist that because I’m a trans woman and felt validation in talking with cis women who have experienced abuse, I must have invented the abuse in an attempt to feel more like a woman by having an abusive boyfriend, that’s transmisogyny.
When a trans woman is brave enough to talk openly about surviving childhood violence and experiencing rape, only to be told that her pain is less valid or important than cis women’s experience of sexism, that’s transmisogyny.
A few days ago, a friend of mine pointed to this post on The Bilerico Project, where Bil Browning took an admittedly inflammatory comment from Lyssa / Voz about the Human Rights Campaign out of context and said
While we keep Projector’s information private, this would be a case where I would gladly hand over any identifying information to the authorities.
Many privileged people will not see a problem with this post, but I do. And I’m not trans, I know this because I am a woman of color. I know that the state will believe a white person over me, and that the threatening to call the police on me by a white person could very well result in beating, rape, and even death. I do not expect the police or justice system to treat me fairly.
Let’s put it this way, if two cis, heterosexual, white, able bodied, middle class, typical men get into an argument and one says he’s going to call the cops because the other said some mean and nasty things, the other would laugh it off. The police are there to protect these normative people, not harass them or arrest them for no reason. The justice system works the way it should and the way it is expected for these people. The most likely scenario, is that the police will break it up and tell the parties to go home. But the further you get into the margins the more likely the state and it’s systems are there to keep a watchful eye on you and take you out if you cause trouble.
But you should read her full post. Or read about Duanna Johnson. Or read about little light’s jail experience. Read a few more. Especially that second one about Christine Sforza – her friend called the police because a man was beating her with a pipe, but she was the one who was arrested.
When you threaten a trans woman of color with police involvement when she’s committed no crime at all, you are threatening her with violence. Not just the violence of police abuse – the potential for humiliation and beatings from police officers notwithstanding, but also the danger that the police will lock her up with cis male inmates, who themselves can and frequently will commit further violence against trans women.
There was no reason for this grandstanding, Bil. You invoked the possibility of police violence against Lyssa for a more verbose version of “die in a fire,” something that people frequently say on the internet. While I completely appreciate that you do not want such comments on The Bilerico Project, the way you handled it in a way that’s racist and transphobic – and you, as a cis white man, do not get to elide the context of your statements, to pretend that there is no history of police violence against trans women or women of color.
The cis LGB movement has to realize that trans anger at HRC is justified.
Also, what I said on the post at Bilerico:
Bil, the violence Lyssa is talking about is real – the police historically treat trans women of color extremely harshly – and threats (implied or otherwise) of police involvement are a pretty standard way to invoke white privilege against people of color.
It’s also something HRC has used to silence “dissent” from trans people on at least one occasion.
It’s definitely a way to invoke fear in trans women and people of color both, as the law is typically favorable to cis people and white people and not very friendly to trans people or people of color.
Quoting her post while indicating that in her case, you would cooperate to the full extent the law would request does read as a threat in that sense, and triply so because of the previous paragraph. I think of the case of Duanna Johnson in particular.
Of course, you didn’t threaten to call the police yourself, but you made it clear that you would cooperate with the police – make it easier for them to put Lyssa into that situation – even though she’s not going to go out and kill anyone from HRC.
I’ll also point out that when oppressed people find their voice, the first thing they express tends to be anger. A lot of trans people are finding our voices right now…and a lot of us are angry. Esp angry with HRC. Some are going to say some pretty harsh things about HRC, but I think, in general, harsh words – and more – are deserved. Not murder or any other criminal act, obviously. But I understand Lyssa’s anger, because I feel it too.
And now I wonder just how safe it is to express that anger in certain places.
Continuing on with thoughts about trans children and violence, just recently GLSEN, the gay lesbian and straight education network, has produced a report surveying trans students at American high schools. They found, shockingly, that constant harassment is part of growing up trans. No really? This is a bit like filing a “sky is blue” report on the news, but I guess the more awareness there is about the realities of trans lives–as opposed to the descriptions from people who appear to have confused The Handmaid’s Tale for a documentary–the better.
90% of transgender students heard derogatory remarks, such as “dyke” or “faggot,” sometimes, often or frequently in school in the past year. 90% of transgender students heard negative remarks about someone’s gender expression sometimes, often or frequently in school in the past year. Less than a fifth of transgender students said that school staff intervened most of the time or always when hearing homophobic remarks (16%) or negative remarks about someone’s gender expression (11%). School staff also contributed to the harassment. A third of transgender students heard school staff make homophobic remarks (32%), sexist remarks (39%) and negative comments about someone’s gender expression (39%) sometimes, often or frequently in the past year.
School Safety and Experiences of Harassment and Assault
Two-thirds of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (69%) and how they expressed their gender (65%). Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (87%). More than half of all transgender students had been physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (55%) and gender expression (53%). More than a quarter of transgender students had been physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (28%) and gender expression (26%). Most transgender students (54%) who were victimized in school did not report the events to school authorities. Among those who did report incidents to school personnel, few students (33%) believed that staff addressed the situation effectively.
Got that? 90% verbal abuse. 50% some violence. 25% serious violence. Per year. And somehow I doubt that this is often a one-off experience for a lot of kids.
Further, this confirms what bitter personal experience has taught a lot of us–that rather than be at all protected from the violence of their peers, staff actually allow and even add to the transphobic abuse that trans children and teens receive.
Given that level of complicity, I’m skeptical that any report can change such deeply ingrained personal and institutional biases, but I hope that at least some teachers and school administrators will read this and start thinking about the specific obstacles faced by trans youth and begin the very difficult task of making schools better.
But I’m not writing about the post itself, which is beautiful and painful both, but about the cis woman who tried to make little light’s experience of growing up trans about cis women and cis girls, and a comment by someone named Jane, who says:
I cannot believe that Margaret has effectively been silenced here for merely pointing out some valid views.
I am a woman born trans, however, to try and suggest that I was still a girl when I was younger is just utterly ridiculous. Whether I felt I should have been a girl is not the same as having been raised as a girl.
And to suggest that somehow, ‘being a girl’ is really about wearing dresses, or socialising with other girls over boys is simply buying into gender contruction of patriarchal societies.
I can empathise totally with your post littlelight, but at the same time, I am continually appalled at the silencing of radfem women.
What sort of valid views did Margaret point out? You can read the comments if you like. They include her denying the existence of cis privilege, and a sustained appeal to “think about how bad cis women have it” as if little light (or any other trans woman) is blind to the sexism cis girls are raised with.
But Margaret ran off to her own blog to write a post mocking little light. A post referring to trans women as body snatchers, describing a dark future where there are only trans women seeking to harvest organs from cis women. Don’t follow these links if you don’t want a face full of unbridled, unreasoning hatred.
And this is what Jane defends, this is what Jane says it is wrong for little light to remove from her blog. This is, of course, ridiculous. We don’t establish blogs to be platforms for those who view us with contempt, as barely human (if that), as barely deserving of even minimal respect (if that), for those who think that slandering and libeling our lives, our bodies, our actions, our beliefs, our mental states. To defend the idea that our blogs should be open to those who proudly proclaim their hatred for us is just another avenue of attack on our lives, our bodies, our actions, our beliefs, our mental states.
This has come up before, and will come up again – Queen Emily has brought it up, Cedar has brought it up, I have brought it up. No one of conscience should welcome this hatred on their blogs. It shouldn’t be allowed to flourish. Let them have their private forums and their own blogs where they can thrash around in their various bigotries. But their virulent transphobia (and, frequently, homophobia, racism, and ablism) simply should not be welcome elsewhere.
We do not have an obligation to provide a platform for anyone else’s hate. No one does.
Another aspect of Jane’s comment is rubbing me the wrong way – the way she buys into the idea that trans women who talk about knowing ourselves as girls at a young age means that we have some kind of horribly naive, uncomplicated perspective of what girlhood and womanhood is. As if being left to the cis boys to experience their misogynist, homophobic, transphobic violence and acknowledging how horrible this was for any of us is exactly like equating womanhood with wearing a dress? That, Jane, is simply a standard diversionary tactic to recenter trans discussions on cis concerns. Congratulations on your collusion with transphobic radical feminists.
Are you simply ignorant to the fact that Margaret Jamison commented on little light’s post with the intention of silencing little light? Are you unaware of the history? That in the past, radical feminists have tried to silence little light for having too loud a voice? That your accusation that little light is silencing radical feminists is in fact a defense of those radical feminists who have chosen to try to silence little light? Where are your paternalistic lectures for Margaret Jamison and E. Kitty Glendower’s fantasies of a future run amuck with trans women carving ovaries out of cis women? Why are only trans women being held to this imaginary standard of behavior?
Take action: demand that Colorado Radio host Trevor Carey disavow remarks condoning violence against transgender people
In a disturbing diatribe on KNUS radio on March 14, host Trevor Carey engaged in a conversation with a caller in which both men condoned violence against transgender people, blaming slain Greeley, Colo. resident Angie Zapata, an 18-year-old transgender woman, for her own brutal murder.
(Transcript from Colorado Media Matters):
CAREY: And what the transgender segment of our society needs to be telling their type is, you don’t commit fraud because –
CALLER: No, that’s exactly what it was.
CAREY: A), you’re at least gonna get your teeth kicked in, and B) – [caller laughs] – here’s a story from Greeley that turned out very tragic, and you should pay attention to this, because –
CALLER: You know, when I was growin’ up in Greeley, I grew up in Greeley, that kind of stuff didn’t ever, you know, surface in this town. And it’s just sad, you know; my heart just weeps for all, everybody that’s concerned. But, you know, we gotta go back to basics. You’re a man or you’re a woman, and, like you said, if you’re fraudin’ somebody, then you deserve to have your teeth kicked in. Not necessarily hung or you’re killed, but it just – they shoulda known better, you know?
Carey sustained his gratuitously defamatory tone throughout the entire show, and his remarks during the segment – including a false representation of a conversation with a GLAAD representative – make it clear that his references to Angie and her tragic murder will continue to be disrespectful, abusive and inaccurate. The transcript and audio for the program can be found on the Colorado Media Matters website.
Carey owes the family of Angie Zapata, the transgender community and all Coloradans an apology for condoning and promoting the very hostile climate that puts transgender people in harm’s way and then blames them for the resulting acts of violence committed against them.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Please contact Trevor Carey and ask him to disavow his remarks that condone violence against transgender people. Call on KFKA and KNUS to hold Carey accountable for his remarks and establish clear standards to ensure their media platforms will not be used to condone or promote violence towards any parts of the communities they serve.
Please forward this link to any of your friends and others who may also wish to take action. When contacting KFKA and KNUS, please ensure that your emails and phone calls are civil and respectful and do not engage in the kind of name calling or abusive behavior that we are expressing our concerns about.
Host, KNUS, “Trevor Carey” and KFKA, “AM Colorado with Trevor, Troy and George”
Phone: (720) 434-2714
General Manager, KFKA
Phone: (970) 356-1310
Operations Director, Salem Communications (KNUS)
Phone: (303) 750-5687
ETA: Added link to full transcript on Colorado Media Matters website
Curtsey to Lyssa for the heads up
(Cross-posted at Bird of Paradox)
Little Light, writing about growing up trans and the processes of violence, abjection and denial that accompany it.
This is how we internalize the lies. This is how we accept the yoke of oppression. By living in a world where the truth that we are beautiful and worthy and lovable is even more painful to accept than the lie that we are none of these things, because all sense of fairness or order vanishes when you look the truth in the eye. If we are beautiful, we are in a world that does not care about our beauty, and even grinds it in the mud. If we are strong, we are living in a world so heavy that it saps our strength until we are tired all the time. If we are ourselves, we are living in a world that systematically strips away our selfhood like roast chicken scraped from the bone.
Until we are strong enough to look this in the eye and fight it, to stand up and fight and make the part of the world we stand on more okay no matter how hard it is or what it takes–until we are so very strong that we remember we are strong, and beautiful, and true, worthy of no end of love, no matter what–it’s just too much to bear. So we accept false stories instead, about how we’re dirty and ugly and weak and unlovable. We have to. I had to.
(Thanks to Lyssa, a regular commenter here at QT, for writing this guest piece examining stereotypes about transLatina women, after the discussion around the recent post about the Bank ad featuring a trans woman)
If you have heard any of the stereotypes about transLatina women, then you know we have a reputation for being the most feminine and the most beautiful. In a lot of ways, this is a blessing and a curse. It denies the experiences of transLatinas who don’t hold to the stereotypes of Western beauty, and denies our power and our due, the energía y poder femenina that we all bring with us whenever we walk into a room. It also focuses attention on our physicality at the expense of the issues that hold us down.
It’s the same mentality that lets everybody forget about Sylvia Rivera, and the same thinking that makes us invisible, even as we bear the brunt of media objectification and bodily exploitation. But, for the women who can bring it, we have to deal with the trans-misogyny and exclusion that comes from joining a womanhood where it seems all our non trans hermanas have so much more social power than us.
So why are we being held to their standards? The easy answer is privilege. When transLatina women put themselves on display on daytime TV with segments titled “Transexuales al Desnudo,” (it means “Transsexuals Undressed”) -
- followed by a recitation every single dumb thing a non has ever said to a woman of trans history, its easy to say how anti feminist we are, how we have to be controlled so we don’t ruin feminism (direct link to PDF) When this is our willing visibility in this culture, its easy to take the path if you can, and to decry it if you can’t or won’t. It’s easy to fall into the trap of cynicism, and to judge us or our representations by white women’s feminism or mainstream transmisogyny.
The harder answer is ourselves. It’s the answer nobody wants to hear, that we are part way to blame. When other women dump on transLatinas for being true to ourselves, or how we’re shown in the media, it brings us all down.
Don’t get me wrong, I have read Julia Serano, and I know all about how terrible the media is for centering cis concerns at our expense and for exploiting our bodies and our lives. Just like we all aren’t sexy models with a J. Lo azz, we all aren’t biologists either. We are far more complex than just a simple binary of good and bad representations and being. When we privilege one way of being over another, we wind up reproducing the same system that holds us down. We forget that we each bring it in our own way. However we bring it, we deserve a standard of our own, something that isn’t a cultural hand me down from the non trans women who surround us. Since feminism has failed us, and society is still trying to kill us, why are so many of us taking our cues on how to be ourselves from them?
TransLatinas and other women with a trans history have been doin it for ourselves for some time now. Women with a trans history have wasted too much time ignoring our own power, not supporting each other, and denying the positivity when it is there. To my White sisters, take a look at the Banco video again -
- and ask yourself why you see a victim of the media and cissexism instead of an empowered mujer de negocios standing tall over a cisman admitting his error and seeking forgiveness. The next time you are tempted to dump on the media for not giving us our due remember this: it ain’t their job…its ours to bring it, and make sure we are all heard as we should be. This is my truth; what’s yours?
For now, enjoy some of mis hermanas bringin their truth:
This kind of thing has bothered me in the past, but I had trouble addressing it directly for a variety of reasons. However, it did make it hard for me to read some sex worker activist blogs (like Bound not Gagged) because I would frequently trip over statements like this that would imply that trans men and trans women were not really men and women, but “other.”
Anyway, the post:
Posted on Behalf of Robin from SWOP-NYC
To my fellow cis sex workers rights activists:
Men, women, and transgendered people. Male, female, and trans. I’m sure most of you recognize these phrases as they are used widely across the sex workers rights movement. I was at the December 17th march in D.C., and I heard them used there. I’ve also seen them in press releases and blogs, and even dear friends of mine have used them. This is a call for it to stop, or at least an attempt at such a call. Many people call this sort of thing “third-gendering”; it implies that trans women and trans men are not “real” women and men, but are instead a third gender. People who identify as genderqueer or outside the gender binary certainly do exist, and those identifications should be respected too, but there are also many, many trans men and trans women who identify as men and women, full stop. To symbolically shunt all of them off to a third gender can come across as marginalizing, and tokenizing, and really faux-inclusive at best. I understand that many people in this movement do want to be truly respectful in their language and their work of everyone within our community, and so I am writing this to encourage people to move more fully in that direction.
What should you say if you wish to explicitly include trans people in your statements? It is true that in our society, many people will assume that the phrase “men and women” means “cis men and cis women” unless trans people are explicitly included. That is unfortunate, but there are ways to work around it without third-gendering people who do not identify as a third gender. Let’s say you are talking about women, and want to be absolutely clear that you are including trans women in your statement. You can say, “women, cis and trans.” Or “cis women and trans women.” Or, “women, including trans women.” Or even “female-identified people.” What you should not say, is “women and trans” or “women and trans women,” as though trans women are never included in the category “women.” Because “women” should always include women who happen to be trans.
Language is fundamental to giving trans people the same respect that cis people take for granted. It signals how the speaker sees trans people, and can shape the views of both speaker and audience. The sex workers rights movement needs to respect people’s gender identities–whether cis or trans–and this means that everyone who identifies as a woman is a woman, and everyone who identifies as a man is a man.
I write as a trans ally whose long-term trans partner is bothered by this language, and as someone with trans loved ones and friends for whom I care very much.
Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this message.