I’d like to give a shout out to Emily Wunderlich of the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, the winner of the Campus Pride and OUTmedia’s BQBQ contest. Congrats!
I sat in the house-made office on the east side of the city, waiting. I looked at the doctor, “I need a letter so I can renew my T, and I want it without therapy or a GID (Gender Identity Disorder) diagnosis. Can you do that?” She didn’t understand why I was against GID. “It is oppressive.” I said. She disagreed and told me that I was not oppressed. “You aren’t trans,” I said, “and you aren’t me. How can you possibly tell me I am not oppressed when YOU are the one who has control over MY life?”
ENDA is continually being talked about, pushing forward after years of work. Trans people have been left out, brought in, cut out, and re-attached because of our ‘tentative’ inclusion as legitimate members of any given community. And why are we consistently left out? It isn’t just because we are the weirdos and freaks of a heteronormative world. It is because no matter how human we make ourselves, how hard we work, how sorry they feel for us, we are still considered crazy. The thing is, from a logical perspective you can’t even blame others for wanting to cut us out because it IS easier without us. Last week The Washington Times published an editorial stating that ENDA was a mistake, that discrimination was necessary not because of the gays or the queers but because of the mentally ill “she-males” threatening to take over schools, churches, and bathrooms.
“Our children and our co-workers should not be forced by law to be held hostage to such [gender identity] disorders, nor should employers be forced to have psychologically troubled persons as the public face of their businesses.”
You may hate that statement, but if you are in support of GID you might as well be in support it. I must clarify: I will never judge any person for doing whatever they had to do to live their life. Most people don’t have a choice, either GID or nothing. But there is a difference between doing what you have to do and actively supporting a system that oppresses us. Non-trans people who support GID, no fucking tolerance, they are all oppressive, uneducated pretentious bastards. Trans people who support GID, advocate for GID providers, turn their backs to change… is it because of happiness in transition or fear of losing their transition? Or both? But what is the price? Along with tons of money, your legitimacy, and social standing of a sane, competent person is removed from you in the eyes of society. Even those of us who have been able to avoid the system through luck of a liberal city – or in my case driving 5 hours to a liberal city… we are still stuck in it because it is a community label. GID is about as liberating as indentured servitude. Trans people are given the “freedom” to live life, but in exchange we must give doctors and the government our life, and our sanity.
“[Trans inclusive legislation is] …promoting and subjecting decent society–let alone our children–to psychological and sexual PERVERSIONS”
GID enables the statement above to MAKE SENSE in the systems of logic, like 1 + 1 = 2. According to the DSM, no matter how they tweak the language, we are mentally disordered, we are perverted, as are our friends in kink, polyamorous,and BDSM communities. GID is not about health, it is about control, money, and normalizing those who are deemed impossible to be normal. It is about erasing us. GID is a tool for them, not us. GID defends them, not us. GID was not made for us, it was made to explain us, to rationalize us, to categorize us, to FIX us, but it was not made to help us.
So while you are out fighting the good fight for ENDA, keep an eye on the movement for our upcoming storm about GID reform, GIDout.org!
This past weekend I had a fantastic romp to the University of Toledo. I met some stellar students working their asses off to support their community, and ecstatically networked and made friends with who I consider to be one of the most significant drag performance groups in history, The Kinsey Sicks.
With the Kinsey Sicks and UT student organizers Elizabeth and David.
This visit was my first official “keynote” slot, which like most titles, makes me sound cool and significantly more important than I actually am. I presented a new talk that I’m still experimenting with “How to wake up society in 500 calories or more – a sweet tooth’s guide to sex, gender, and the illusion of normalcy.” The topic turned out to be more relevant to my own thought processes throughout the weekend than I had anticipated. UT’s queer community reminded me very much of the community I was in, or more so on the edge of, during my undergrad at the University of Cincinnati. Now, both UC and UT are large state schools smack in the middle of very racially and economically segregated, (initially) industry based Midwestern cities so maybe one would expect similarities. But even without location, population, or environment, I think there is a bigger influence in play here. Queer communities -campuses included- don’t live in a vacuum. We are all exposed to the same oppressive systems, whether it is anti-queer discrimination and hate or “GLBT” propaganda.
Sometimes I can’t decided which is worse. Having one million monsters outside the door, or one hundred inside the house. Everyday queers are not only dealing with the oppressions of heteronormativity, but homonormativity as well. There is a division in the house of non-hetero politic, but I feel the familiar saying of “a house divided cannot stand” doesn’t apply. I think a house divided can stand, but that’s about all it can do. If G.L. Homeowner can only afford to give minimal upkeep to the house, naturally they will take care of the rooms they use most. If given enough attention, the chosen rooms can get to be pretty swank, maybe accent it with some nice furniture… but the over-all value of the house will be the same. It will never improve, it will be just good enough. And you sure as hell can’t let your family get any bigger than what the nice rooms can accommodate- to break the metaphor, better not let any of those gender non-conformers or people of color in. Surely they’re better off where they are out back. They’re probably happy there, and they’re used to it.
Normative conceptualization of queer communities is not accidentally spread. National marginalization of under-represented, often non-normative groups feeds our marginalization in smaller communities, like college campuses. Smaller communities will naturally have less resources and need to reach out to larger ones, creating a cycle of stagnation with no new exchanges of information. Perfect example: Most people have HRC stickers not because they even actually know what the hell HRC is, its because that was all they could find.All they know is the equal sign means good and means gay. What more is there? Race? Class? Identity? Not relevant. We’re all one homogeneous community, aren’t we? We are starving our youth of information, and they are paying the price for the community’s oversight. If young people are struggling for resources and isolating each other out of fear or ignorance it is because the greater community has not given them access to the information they need to develop their own autonomous understanding of the complex diversity of the queer community. The lucky ones figure it out for themselves, only to be stuck swimming against the current, isolated and alone.
How much can we really accomplish if our resources are close to inclusive, but not actually inclusive? Is this neglect any different from heteronomative society not teaching us about queerness? We are promoting the same practice of oppression, we’re just excusing it because its in house. “We’ll come back for you when we have more to go around” too easily turns into “We forgot about you” which might as well be “We never gave a shit about you in the first place, cause if we did, we would have brought you along in the first place.”
Before I got the census I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the “count the queers” argument that is being pumped up by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) and HRC among others. If you aren’t familiar, though I’m sure you’ve at least heard of it, the general “Queer the Census” campaign is intended to alert the government that they need to count queers on the census. To do this the NGLTF and to do this you put a sticker (seen below) on your census envelope.
Oddly enough, the “Queer the Census” sticker does not list Queer as an identity option… the reason being the good o’l “one step at a time” statement. Its a fuckin’ bright pink sticker with the word GAY all over it. You really think that the word “queer” is gonna make it any more or less shocking to the bureaucracy? Some of your folks don’t like the word queer? Well, fuck some people don’t like the phrase “straight ally” and that is on there. And it’s not just queer. There are several identities missing in the sticker’s list, conveniently the more radical ones. One of my pet peeves is the overarching “TRANSGENDER” category, which dose serve a ton of purpose in many spaces, but not when you are trying to “accurately represent” communities. If one could argue that all lesbians share some commonality of being attracted to women in some way, you could not apply that argument to transfolk, either in identity, gender spectrum, or sexuality. In response to the un-inclusiveness of the the NGLTF sticker, more radical communities created the “REALLY Queer the Census” campaign that is, in addition to being political, quite amusing.
The pro-gay (it doesn’t seem queer to me) census count arguments include that we need to be “accurately counted” in order to correctly “reflect diversity” of the USA. Newsweek.com reported mixed stories of queers who have mixed feelings about being counted, mainly fearing the repercussions of what could happen if someone found out their census data. My initial reaction was “hell yeah, count me!” but then I started to think about it. If I was counted, who would know I was trans? Would it possibly come back to haunt me in my scheming for non-GID med records or keeping under the government radar? Would it somehow group me somewhere? Misrepresent me? The HRC assures us that census data is confidential, and punishable by jail time if you divulge information. But I’m not afraid of some renegade census worker, I’m afraid of the government that is housing the data. In 1942 the US government used census data to identify Japanese Americans, and we all know how that turned out. Who is to say that at some point it won’t be us put into camps?
Another statement of the NGLTF is that knowing a count of queers will help in allocating funding and resource to queer initiatives because people will know there are more of us… But what about the mass of people who don’t use the words in the white-western gay vernacular to describe themselves? There are loads of queers who don’t self identify as queers, either because of politics, practice, community, or language. Would they become even more invisible because they don’t use the language the census does? One good point that has been made is that adding queers to the census will squash the stereotype that all queers are white and wealthy. I donno how useful the info will be to the movement since the government probably won’t notice. That said, still the majority of the argument surrounds “head of household” identification issues for queer couples and marriage… surprise, surprise. I can’t help but think this just might be another arm of the queer gentrification movement in the interest of the money-Mos? Is this about “reflecting diversity” or gaining another pointless symbol of ‘equality’ by doing something cause everyone else does it? Are we really that more empowered if we get to check off a little box of our very own? Are we any more or less human by being labeled as one thing or another? On one hand, I guess it is nice to know who is who for historical purposes, but in the big picture why does race matter on the census? Why does sexuality or gender identity? Maybe what we need to be looking at isn’t whether or not queers are listed, but why groups are listed as they are in the first place and what system is being used to allocate resources. If it is based off of numbers is that the right way to do it? If there is a mix of races in a class room with more white kids than anything else, we still understand (or should understand) that all kids need and deserve the same level and quality of education regardless. We all need the same resources whether there is 40 of us or 40,000.
The spin being put out is that without the census, we queers “don’t exist.” Now I can’t speak for everyone, but I have been around for a while with or without the census. I need resources whether I am queer or not, and exist whether people know it or not. So, shouldn’t shit just be available to everyone? And I am ok with the government not knowing – or at least pretending not to know- that I’m a big o’l queer. I feel like it serves my purposes better for them not to know what I’m up to. They may need to know I am in Ohio to count population, they sure as hell need to know I’m poor so they will fund some resources for myself and my community, but they don’t need to know my race, they don’t need to know my identity. I get asked “What are you?” enough in my every day life, I don’t need a governmental classification. So fuck you, census. What I am is nunuh’yuh Beeswax! FACE!
This past weekend was the Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Ally College Conference, affectionately called MBLGTACC (mmmble-tack). It took place in Madison, Wisconsin, the home of my fabulous friend-drag-troupe the MadKings and made new friends with a troupe called DragKing Rebellion. Both are genderfuckingly fabulous. This conference holds a special place for me because of the rarity of a large, open queer space in the Midwest, particularly one that is youth focused. I was also excited to get to hang out with friends made last year as well as my dear pals Helen Boyd, Rachel, and Kate Bornstein.
I presented two workshops, one of which I ranted about Katy Perry and had to doddle a bird to calm down. haha, it was ridiculous. Good groups this year, and the workshops were shockingly packed. It was nuts and totally unexpected. Also, this year I performed in the hosted drag show which was super fun. The stage was carpeted, so I had to do soft-shoe instead of tap. Oh well. My friend Lisa got some awesome pics of the show. My flapper number was particularly popular, again unexpected because I was the only solo performer (all else were large, fantastic troupes). One person even gave me a pile of change, which traditionally in drag is considered an insult, but I saw their rushed, smiling face and knew it was actually a compliment. Later the person told me that they loved the number but had no singles and wanted to show support the only way they could. Its kinda one of my favorite things ever now, very touching. This was also the first show I have ever performed in where I was being rated by a panel of judges. It was an American Idol skit involving 5 audience members. One judge made a joke saying “I though you deserved the change, because you have totally changed my sexuality.” It was hilarious. I think I don’t fully realize how genderfucked I look when I perform, because I never expect the reactions I get. I think its that classic tale of never knowing exactly how you look to others.
[image: JAC – in a black and white fringe flapper dress, pink hair, lipstick and blue eye make up, white feather boa, and sequined head band. Smiling with arm outstretched singing to the audience.]
Also, all us performers had to throw in another number because one group didn’t come. I had no extra costumes, and instead of throwing something together from other people’s clothes, I decided to make a bit out of it and go in my skivvies. Also got some really bad rug burn and bruises since I was rolling around and dancing practically naked. All part of the job. :)
[image: JAC on stage in black binder and underwear. His arms are up in front of him in clenched fists with a hopeful look on his face]
My scantily clad performance was not just a cry for 1500 peoples’ attention. It was also a message. I have a habit of creating numbers with messages that no one would catch on to except me. As a performer I feel that sometimes it is important to have your own meaning to things, even if no one else knows what it is.
Throughout the conference there was a rising tension about the accessibility and inclusion of the conference of people of color, trans folk, and people with disabilities. Being friends with several organizers I was able to hear the sides of the organizers but since I myself was not an organizer, I was able to also hear that of the general conference assembly. I an only speak for myself from where my communities are. As a trans person I didn’t feel there was an issue for me. I will admit I am more flexible than some, but I am constantly on the look out for problematic things, so the face that I didn’t notice something leads me to believe that issues of trans accessibility were small. Plus, of all the people I talked to, which was a lot, I heard no complaints about trans stuff. When I learned it was about something so simple as bathroom signs not marking ALL bathrooms as all-gender, I got a little irritated. All bathrooms were originally labeled all-gender but the building staff removed the signs leaving a mens, womens, and unisex bathrooms. When I saw that there was a unisex bathroom I was happy about it. I didn’t care if it was titled unisex or had a new sign on it saying all-gender. Where are these people coming from where unisex isn’t good enough for them? I was just grateful to have the bathroom, and even one that wasn’t a “family” bathroom. Unisex vs. all-gender, pish posh. And its not like I don’t think I deserve something specific, as you all probably have learned by now I am heavy about what my community deserves. I just think that picking shit apart to the nth degree creates more problems that it solves. There is a difference between calling it out privilege and inaccessibility and being a pretentious and demanding. Often times I feel the people complaining speak for the entire community without asking us. Or aren’t even IN the community. So, I performed in my underwear to show I am trans and I care about this space, that no one has the right to speak for me, and that I feel safe at MBLGTACC even if it isn’t perfect yet.
EDIT 2.24.10: Thanks to a buddy of mine, I have been alerted to something I should have mentioned. Because I was either presenting or working the majority of the conference, there was a lot of things I did not see. One of the issues raised was pronouns and language, indeed probably the most common thing we deal with. More is included in comments below, I encourage you to read them. I think it further reiterates the fact that so many people are caught up in the illusion of-not just equality, but of education. Knowing about your own identity does not mean you understand that of others, which includes language and pronouns or how to just not be a shithead.
We are forever transitioning in our community. Accessibility is a major issue that must continue to have our full attention. One of the strategies for the planning committee for accessibility is to have no closed sessions next year in a move to include everyone. I agree that we need to communicate with each other, foster coalitions, and educate ourselves and each other. That doesn’t mean we each have the right to know everything about everyone all the time. There is this illusion that in order to be equal we all have to be the same, that everyone can’t be included unless we are all in the same place with the same information. The same rights and access is not equal to the same EVERYTHING. As a trans person and a person with disabilities, I think this is bullshit. I look forward to having some private community space. I want a safe space where people aren’t going to assume something about me, or ask a shitty question. I want to talk about what I am dealing with where I know everyone gets it. It’s not ok for people to come into community spaces just because they think our specific issues are interesting. Take an educational workshop if you want to learn something. “Learning” is about education, not entertainment and fascination. Its not always everyone’s business what a community is dealing with. I do not take it personally if a space is not for me, I feel others should not either. If you don’t like it, make your own fucking space. Its what we had to do. I can not label people by sight, and I won’t try, however I have been in spaces where I know people do not belong there. Even when prompted that it was a closed space they still stay, only later to openly identify themselves as someone from outside the community. WTF? Who do you think you are? You think its easy for people of color to carve out a space in a predominantly white movement with white language and white theories? You think its easy for trans people to fit in when all anyone is talking about is gay this and gay that, wrong pronouns flying, getting asked about their bodies, or being kicked out of their communities because they are who they are? I don’t need anyone to feel sorry for me because my body is different, I don’t need anyone analyzing why I am not “healthy” like them. If you are able bodied, I don’t want to tell you anything about my situation and I shouldn’t have to. I think the result of having no closed spaces will not be that people will learn more, it will be that people, myself excluded, will just stop talking.
One thing I think is easy to forget in the confusion, stress, and hub-bub of big community spaces, both open and closed, is that in the end we are all in this together. What we need to do is make it the best for all of us in this greater house of queer, even if that means some rooms of the house are private. No one would expect to be allowed in the bathroom with you while you’re on the toilet. Why is that recognizable privacy but a closed session for queers of color is not? Or for trans-folk? Or disabled people? I think that people need to stop looking outside themselves and complaining, pull their heads out of their asses and and educate themselves for real. We can not get caught up in the fantasy of a magic utopia where we are all the same, because we are not. We do not all have the same rights, the same access. We can not pull through this together if we don’t respect each other, and that includes respecting each other’s right to privacy and space.
The US Tax courts ruled transitional care tax deductible yesterday in response to a case O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner. The ruling reverses the IRS’s position set in a 2005 decision to not count gender identity-related care as a non-taxable medical expense. (Chief Counsel Advice 200603025).
An 8-judge majority held that:
- “TP’s (I assume stands for trans patient/person) gender identity disorder is a “disease” within the meaning of § 213(d)(1)(A) & (9)(B).
- TP’s hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery were for the treatment of disease within the meaning of § 213(d)(1)(A) & (9)(B), and thus not “cosmetic surgery” excluded from the definition of deductible “medical care” by § 213(d)(9)(A).
- TP’s breast augmentation surgery was directed at improving her appearance did not meaningfully promote the proper function of her body or treat disease within the meaning of § 213(d)(9)(B), and thus was “cosmetic surgery” excluded from the definition of deductible “medical care” by § 213(d)(9)(A).”
This is indeed good news, but what does it mean? You know if anyone is gonna complain about a good thing its gonna be me. So, here it is.
The statement declares that “male-to-female gender reassignment surgery” may be included as a deductible medical expense. I can’t help but be curious about those who are not transitioning from a male sex. I’m sure it would apply, its just always so noticeable when only one part of our community is listed. Breast augmentation isn’t covered because it is called “cosmetic” but what about chest reconstruction/breast removal? Is transmasculine top surgery somehow more important to fragile trans mentalities than having some boobs you really love? I am curious.
I willingly admit to pretty much never be satisfied with anything society has given us so far. I try not to think of it as me being negative, its just me having high standards, you know, like others may give up on being treated “decently” for what they are, but I want to be treated like a legitimate human regardless of what I am.
I just wanted to highlight Keith Olberman’s astute comments on yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn corporate finance reform. What does this mean for us? The average, or more so avoided, citizen? A whole fuck of a lot. This “democracy” that we live in which is already hit several points of demise and corruption has reached the rock bottom. The system is now wide open to be bought, sold, and used as a tool for the money-filled suits who only care about one thing: making themselves richer. Communities considered ‘less than,’ which is anyone who doesn’t make 7+ figures a year, anyone who isn’t part of the norm, anyone who needs support or funds or healthcare, anyone who needs rights and access, will sink further and further from “public” interest until our needs have disappeared into the oblivion created by the now openly prostituted political machine.
“I would suggest a revolution… but a revolution against the cooperation who make all the guns and the bullets?”
Paul Scott, republican candidate for Michigan secretary of state released his platform last week and was kind enough to include transfolks in his agenda. Among his desired changes of immigration restrictions and traceable RFID chips inside state IDs he has included a statement for us trans folks too:
“ I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance.” -Official Paul Scott Weblog
Now, the average person doesn’t know a thing about trans-related issues in any scope, let alone specific ID policies. So how can such an issue be of public interest? As with all discriminatory smears it is surely a scapegoat to screen the state’s real problems. But out of the potpourri of things that conservative right-wingers hate, why pick on the genderqueers? Honestly, I think that Scott wanted to pick something that would shock people in a “look what the dirty liberal government did behind your back” kind of way. By bringing trans elements to the forefront he is gaining attention via a conservative fear mongering crusade. And with abortion being way overused and therefore unexciting, he had to find something that would appall people more than dead unborn fetuses. Enter transSEXuals, cause they aren’t just out to get fetuses, they’re out to get everyone.
Scott has made statements about his opinions being an issue of “social values”, clearly implying that if you have good values you will agree with him, and if you don’t you are a horrible person contributing to the moral downfall of society. However, Scott goes further to say that his main drive behind policy change is “preventing people who are males genetically from dressing as a woman and going into female bathrooms.” What value system does this relate to other than that anyone who is not normal by specific definition is therefore a violent threat? And because gender is involved sexualization comes into play and turns a genderqueer into an automatic sexual predator. It’s the age old stereotype that men are going to put on dresses just so they can sneak into women’s bathrooms and rape every female in sight… cause that has totally happened before. (FYI never been one report (TransgenderLawCenter, Peeing in Peace)). Promoting this false fear of transfolk attacking women is all part of the bigger picture of society’s default appeal to heterosexist, transphobic attitudes which have no actual standing scientific or otherwise in creating a safe, equal-value based society.
Another reason why Scott’s position is such a great concern is that the secretary of state is the primary government official who deals with issues like document and ID changes. For this reason, among others, having an anti-trans person in that position is clearly more than just problematic. Along with being a human rights and equal treatment and access issue, in many cases a change in documents can be a huge protection from discrimination, threat, and death. Clearly Scott could care less about Midwest transfolk’s right to stay alive.
I’m going to be looking into any activist movements being formed around this issue, as my no being in or from Michigan makes it difficult to head up such a project alone. Here’s hoping there will be updates on progress.
Mini-documentary about your favorite pink haired femme boy by Hunter Stuart at Stuart Productions
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The Midwest is crawling with queers. Not because of any strong presence but in the more literal sense. Queers are crawling because we do not have the space to stand up. We do not have the resources that would enable us to live full, healthy lives. We, like so many others, are isolated in our homes, in our towns, controlled and confined by others, longing for life and being unable to live it.
I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. When I came out as trans I didn’t know anyone who was like me and I had no way of finding them. The city‘s “gay“ scene was practically extinct and no trans or queer scene it had never existed in the first place. There was no space for me, so I decided to try and make one.
Lots of folks are talking about David Letterman’s transphobic behavior on the Late Show in regards to recent government appointee Amanda Simpson. Letterman discusses Simpson’s appointment and how she is transgender. Another character in the show begins screaming “Amanda used to be a man? Oh my god!” and runs out of the room disgusted and horrified.
When word got out that he was trans, the uproar started about how Scott “was really a girl” and therefore a proponent of “trickery.”
I was not surprised, or shocked by any of it. I think I am so adjusted to seeing this behavior that I was barely even offended. What stuck out to me was the common phrase “used to be.” I feel like we use it all the time to talk about our people, to talk about ourselves… “I used to be a girl, but now…” But now what? How does one stop being something they have been?
I would like to add a disclaimer that this method of thinking can’t be applied to most trans people. In fact, most trans people I talk to about it don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. But it makes sense to me. I am not a “girl” but I used to be one… no I am not a girl, but I still kinda am one. If I say “I used to be a girl…” I always stumble over my words, correcting myself with awkward throw ins. In someways I was never a girl, in others I totally was… and am. Why does it matter what I used to be? Shouldn’t all that matters be what I am now? If you slept with someone who was woman but at one point was male bodied, does that change the face that you slept with a woman? If I was a girl once, am I really a girl now? Does that make me not really a boy? Where does our history stop and the recognition and realness begin? Does there have to be a stop and start in the first place? I can’t escape my history and my life, nor do I feel a need to. I can never completely stop being the me I used to be because somewhere in my brain are my memories of myself, my concept of myself from years past. Who I used to be is a part of who I am now.
It is the societal hate of changing ourselves that makes us feel that we have to exchange who we used to be for who we are now. They try to train us to reprogram our minds and bodies and re-write our histories. It is out of fear of disgusting others, of being hated, of being killed, that we feel the need to hide who we used to be and as a result we hide ourselves.
To sign a petition to promote the Late Show posting an apology, go here.