Bil’s second post of questions about trans and feminism went up yesterday, and I am superlate in posting this (sorry, Bil).
It seems like a good time to do another installment of Stuff Bil Doesn’t Know Enough About™. This week’s question is in direct reference to two other blog posts inspired by my post admitting I have questions about feminist and transgender issues and encouraging others to add their own questions so we could have a community dialogue.
Over at Questioning Transphobia, Lisa brought up the inherent privilege in my request for answers. The comments section on her post are very interesting even though some of them really take me to task. On Father Tony’s discussion a commenter took a different tone that I want to highlight. Question below and comment additions after the jump.
Why must trans people primarily bear the burden for educating cis people? Why do some cis people not do some of their own education to learn about the issues before the questions begin?
Why is the education itself necessary to justify equal civil rights protections?
Keep in mind that everyone participating in the discussion is writing from their own experiences. Please be patient and civil in your comments. Let’s learn from each other!
I think everyone made the point about the privilege of asking for education, and at this point, it’s a matter of whether you want to participate or not, more than anything else.
Anyway, in many ways, Bil’s post is a continuation of the discussion from this post.
One of my responses to the post:
After listening to our explanations and our experiences, even if what we’d said leaves you completely befuddled and scratching your head, please, please acknowledge that we are still fully human, fully equal. That we DO deserve basic rights and protections from harassment and discrimination (ie: policies that exclude us, and ONLY us), even if you don’t understand us.
Is understanding really required to recognize someone elses humanity?
This. When these discussions happen, trans people are held to much higher standards than cis people, to the point that it is usually impossible to meet those standards.
The fact is that it should not be necessary to educate people on every aspect of our lives to justify our existence and access to civil rights. Our existence should be sufficient to justify our existence and access to civil rights.
The fact is, no matter what people understand or believe about trans people, we exist, and thousands – tens or hundreds of thousands – of us come with a rather similar (but not identical) set of stories about our lives and how they relate to sex and gender. We have these stories before the first time we hear the words “transsexual” or “gender identity disorder” or “genderqueer” or “transgender” or about hormones or surgery.
And the question should never be “Can we mind meld with people and implant intimate knowledge of our lives into their brains?” because that’s simply not a fair demand, and yet it is the demand made of us whenever talk of education begins.
Being trans isn’t a moral condition, it’s not a delusion, it’s not confusion about gender or identity. The problems and barriers trans people face are social – the fact that people do not believe we are who and what we say we are. There are reams of books and articles written by psychiatrists and medical doctors who have worked with trans people, who verify that this is the best treatment for who we are, that nothing else has worked. Why is this ignored?