Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Watching the Anger Flow

I usually stay out of transgender / gender identity / identity politics discussions on my blog. There are a few reasons for this. The most important thing is that I try to keep this blog very much about ~my~ story. This a place for me to work things and out and just be sort of a journal. It’s cathartic, it’s not intended to be a place for grand social statements. But also, those discussions so often get ugly beyond all sorts of reason, and I don’t like to wade into such harsh water.

But I’m tired of watching, as I say to my Darling Boyfriend, people going batshit at each other, so I figured I’d write about it. I figure this post has the potential to upset everyone I know (well, not everyone, but lots of folks that I consider friends). But these are just my opinions. I’m making no claim of “truth,” or divine knowledge. I am also not speaking for anyone but myself. I am not claiming to speak for others with any sort of “everyone knows” or “most people feel” kinds of statements. I own all of this.

It won’t surprise me (if anyone even reads my blog) if I trigger some harsh words. I guess I’ll just have to take what may come.

So, with the caveats out of the way (I love caveats)…

I’m really tired of watching folks who seem like such obvious allies be so hateful to each other. I have so many thoughts that I’m not even sure where to start.

First, I’ve started to realize lately that there are so many things that get conflated it’s difficult to keep everything focused. It seems to me that so much of what falls under transgender issues is just as easily described as sexism. Men and women have assigned roles and even in the 21st century those roles can be rigidly enforced. Men and women have different standards of dress, different expected professions, different goals, different ways of acting, etc. The list of differences, both politely expected and societally enforced, is quite long. I always knew that the world was different for men and women, but when I transitioned it became clear to me just how sexist the world really is. And yet, clearly, part of that makes sense to me on at least some level, because even though I think men and women are ~equal~, if there were no ~difference~ then why would I have needed to transition in the first place?

“Men and women” is a simple binary. Most people are comfortable with it, fit into it, and never realize that there are folks for whom the binary doesn’t work. It doesn’t make them evil or transphobic, it means that they’re comfortable enough with the status quo to take it as it is. One of my best friends recently had a baby, and I was amazed by how repeatedly his sex was reinforced (“You’re a big boy”; “Are you mommy’s good boy”; “Such a happy boy”). But it’s just about universal. Whether a baby is a boy or a girl is the first question people ask, even before they ask if the baby is healthy. This works for most folks. To ask them to change is asking a lot. To ask them to understand is a bit different. Understanding is something people should be able to offer.

Let me tackle the gender binary at this point. The binary works for me. I feel no need to destroy the concept of a binary, and I don’t see it as particularly helpful (or possible) to attempt it. I recently read a blog post that stated it more clearly than I can giving an example of how binaries aren’t intrinsically bad. I fit very well in the binary, and it seems like most folks do too (“even” most trans folk). I sort of think of it like an inverse bell curve. Most people are on either end, with some folks approaching the middle, and as it gets dead center there being fewer and fewer folks there. There are folks in the dead center of the binary, but that doesn’t invalidate the binary. Actually, I think that the evidence is that it works for the vast majority of people. The sexes are equal; but the sexes are different.

But what about those folks in the middle? I’d be lying if I said I completely understand them. I try. And many of my friends are more in the middle than it turns out I am. I consider some of them some of the most special and valuable people I know. One of the most difficult things with these folks can be what pronouns they prefer. I have it easy on the pronoun issue. I look like I prefer “she.” I sound like I prefer “she.” And I do prefer “she.” Lots of folks have a tougher time; their visual presentation doesn’t do an accurate job of communicating their preferred way of being referred to. I’ve seen over and over again the suggestion that people ask someone their preferred pronoun before using any pronoun. I think that’s unrealistic, and more so, I find it personally invalidating. I worked hard to make it ~visually~ clear that I prefer to be referred to as “she.” Just because I fit into the binary at this point I see no reason for invalidating my desire that my preferred pronoun~is~ assumed from my appearance. I understand that for some folks it’s not so simple. I even read a post recently by a person who wrote about folks who prefer to be referred to as “it.” I also understand the pain of being referred to by pronouns that are wrong. I think this is one place where a little understanding on both sides would just be helpful. I have exactly one friend who never misgendered me during my transition. I know how difficult it can be to stand up and explain that your preferred pronoun might not match the one expected just from your appearance. I have become as diligent as I can be about remembering and respecting peoples preferred pronouns. I think the nature of the binary is that asserting a preferred pronoun that is unexpected based on preconceived notions of appearance may be necessary, but respect for the preferred pronoun should be the norm. Being mildly surprised that someone prefers to be referred to as “it” is fine; refusing to use “it” to refer to that person because you don’t think it’s valid is not.

So, fine, let’s respect the binary but also respect the malleability of the boundaries, and the arbitrariness of most of those boundaries. Even though I’ve settled nicely on one side of the binary, I am in no way threatened by folks who traverse the binary or exist in the very center. I don’t get too upset at the folks trying to destroy the binary because I understand that it is a reaction to the sometimes unnecessary rigidity of the boundaries between the two sides of the binary, and also because I know that the binary is here to stay.

Next I want to talk about legislation. I think it’s important and right that gender identity and expression is added to hate crimes laws. It would be great to live in a world where “murder is murder” and hate crimes legislation wasn’t needed. I don’t live in that world. Not only are people targeted for violent crimes specifically because they transgress the gender binary, the crimes are also not taken seriously. A way to help remedy that is to specifically state in law that a crime against someone because they don’t look like they’re “supposed to” is not only an actual crime, it can not be minimized because the person was “asking for it.” Hate crimes laws help to eliminate specious claims such as trans panic. Trans hatred and violence can strike anyone, even folks who are years past transition and blend perfectly, and even non-trans people. Making a specific legal statement that violence against people who transgress society’s gender norms is a good thing. I think we all, every single one of us, benefits from that.

The second part of that is anti-discrimination legislation. I think this is important as well. I’ve seen too many people kicked out of homes, lose jobs, and face all sorts of unnecessary and wrong-headed things just because they don’t look like they’re “supposed to.” I think that’s wrong, and I think a law would be helpful.

A part of this that no one wants to address is the restroom issue (the gender-identity and expression hate crimes and anti-discrimination bill in Massachusetts is deridingly referred to as “The Bathroom Bill”). It’s incredibly trivializing to diminish all of these issues to where one goes potty. I don’t understand the extreme emotions that are generated around this. I do have my feelings about it, but I’m not super high charged about it either. I do understand the confusion when folks who are non-gender-normative have to use a public restroom. It’s tough on both sides. During my transition, when I wasn’t sure I was blending yet, I spent months going to great lengths to never (and I mean ~never~) use a public restroom. I just felt more comfortable that way, but I don’t think that’s a realistic solution for folks. Now I just go pee and don’t think about it, like most women do. I don’t think even the most nutty people are seriously suggesting genital-checking before entering a restroom (well maybe a couple are, but that’s not most peoples concern in my experience). When I began my transition, one of my guy friends asked what was to stop him from using the ladies room if he said that he felt like a woman. I never did have a good answer for him. And I know that the reality is that it really doesn’t happen. But there are people like Jasper, who wonders why it isn’t all about what’s in their head. And I have to confess that I would be at least mildly uncomfortable if Jasper followed me into the ladies room. The reality of this part of the issue is that it seems like most people don’t really notice who else is in the restroom with them. I scope people out very generally, because the restroom is a place of vulnerability, but for the most part I’m tuned out as I usually am.

Jasper brings me to the “this is all in our heads” issue. Well, where else would it start? If I’m a woman now, then to me I always was. But that means at some point I was a woman with a penis. There’s a whole debate about women with penises (I’ll get to that next). I was a particularly depressed person, and my life since transition does seem like I have really figured out something that enabled me to live an actual life. So I clearly believe in transition and surgery. But if Jasper causes issues for me, I’m admitting that I have a line somewhere that it feels difficult, if not impossible, for me to cross. Once I’ve admitted that there is a line, where the line is becomes the important question. I think this is a complex and nuanced issue, and acting like there are easy and pat answers in any direction isn’t helpful.

And there’s this pending national ENDA legislation in the US. It’s looking like it will be trans-inclusive but only in so far as someone has or has not had surgery. Stuff like this really makes me wonder about the whole condition of transsexualism. I see surgery as the easiest big decision I ever made. It was the perfect thing for me. I am amazed at how much my vagina has become a part of me in a way that I can’t really imagine a time before surgery. But is my having had surgery really the thing that validates me? My mom described me as “all woman now” to the neighbors (!) after I had surgery. A friend of mine said that my decision to have surgery demonstrated a certain level of commitment to my transition. Clearly surgery matters to people. It remains amazing to me that anyone (beyond my Darling Boyfriend) really cares what I have in my panties. What if I had born 200 years ago? Would I not have been transsexual just because the best thing I would have been able to do would have been to remove my testicle? What are people going to think in another 200 years when as yet undreamed of surgical interventions will exist? Will they look back on us as pretenders or wannabes? It’s become a catch phrase for the “surgery makes you a woman” camp that “women don’t have penises.” Well, they don’t have prostates either (the prostate is not removed during SRS). If I am a woman (and I know with every ounce of my soul that I am) it was not surgery that made me a woman. I was a woman and I had surgery to stop my brain from hurting so much (and it worked). But if we’re going to play the “physicality makes you what you are” game we’re going to leave out most transsexual men, at least for now, because they don’t have the surgical options that transsexual women do. I’m not down with leaving out transsexual men. So I don’t think surgery can be the end-all-be-all when it comes to legal status. Again, it’s complicated and nuanced – and laws suck at that.

I’ve been presented with a lot of “loving the body God gave you” imagery lately, mainly out of the movement away from being the perfect little size 4 Barbie doll (as if I could ever…). And I see how complicated this issue really is. For someone with transsexualism, learning to love the body God gave you may never be possible. Surgery was the only thing that worked to make me stop hating myself and my life – and it has worked incredibly well. But surgery isn’t the right thing for everyone.

One of my best friends is a woman who has chosen, for now, to “not decide” whether SRS is the right choice for her. To me that doesn’t diminish her value, or her conviction, or her womanhood. She is one of the most thoughtful, special, and powerful people I know. I wouldn’t for a second push her to have surgery or judge her if she decides to never have surgery. This isn’t a contest. I’m not trying to be “more woman” than anyone else, I’m just trying to be authentically me. I wish everyone the peace of mind that I’ve found, whether that means surgery or no, full time or part time, “he,” “she,” “they,” “sie,” or “it.” I value people as individuals. And I judge people as individuals. I’ve known folks that are jerks and folks who are lovely in all walks of life and of all genders and sexes.

So I understand that ENDA may ignore folks whose expected genitals don’t match their presentation. Especially in the United States we’re pretty conservative about sexuality and genitals. I’d be comfortable with unisex restrooms as the easiest way to solve a lot of these issues, but I know most of my fellow Americans aren’t down with that. I hope there’d be more understanding on all sides, but it seems like that isn’t the case.

I haven’t even really talked about labels, because I’m tired of them and they just cause fights. I’m finding labels difficult to discuss even amongst some of my closest friends. Everyone finds the way to define themselves that works for them, and I’m a big supporter of that.

My mommie told me when I was very little: “You’re no better than anyone else, and you’re no worse either.” I believe that. It’s a small planet, and we’re all in this together. Disagreements are bound to happen, but they don’t need to degenerate into name-calling and anger and hatred.

Be excellent to each other…

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16 Comments»

  Lynn Wilson wrote @

I always appreciate your insightful writings. I can’t imagine that anyone would take exception to your latest, but I’ve been wrong before.

Lynn, class of ’86

  lisalee18wheeler wrote @

I’m offended…that I’m not offended! 😀

Glad this came out, Penny!

  Zoë Suzanna wrote @

I like what you had to say 🙂

  miss kitten wrote @

i take gender clues from clothing. obvious dresses or suits, pretty easy. jeans and a tshirt, not so much unless the tshirt has an obvious male or female style (very few men wear the babydoll t’s) or message (anything involving the penis is probably male) although, the really rude tshirt about “supporting single moms” and the sillouette of a pole dancer could go either way.

if i was totally unsure? i’d go with “hi, i’m kitten” and an outstretched hand. the name is generally a good clue, although a male-ish voice, facial stubble, a few tattoos, and “i’m gwendolyn” in answer would probably elicit an internal “ok, then!” as a passing comment to myself. silently, of course.

we are who we say we are. i’m female. its what i am. and to me, if a person claims one gender, then others dont have the right to call hir by the opposite gender. i think (i know) gender is MUCH more than what your plumbing looks like. and that’s from a woman who is more girly foo-foo than most 6 year old girls are. including glitter and tiara, thank you very much.

*hugs* another great post, miss penny!

  chartreuseflamethrower wrote @

First of all- I do not prefer “it”. My preferred pronoun, as I mentioned several times in my blog, is “they”. I do know at least 5 people who prefer “it”, but I am not one of them. I do not allow anyone to call me “it” unless they get explicit permission- which you did not.

Second- “the gender binary” does not refer to “men and women” while leaving room for others. It refers to the idea that EVERYONE is EITHER a man OR a woman with no intersection, crossing over, mixing, fluidity, or anything else. Most people who want to get rid of the binary don’t want to get rid of men’s and women’s genders, unless they’re the type who thinks gender is a social construct and want to get rid of EVERYONE’s gender, they want to get rid of a system that systematically erases them, that denies them the right to ever know the joy of walking down the street and being correctly gendered by a stranger or ever carrying correctly-gendered ID. You can’t withhold a binary, which is by nature a strict 2-party system, while acknowledging that there are people beyond those 2 parties.
How can you be happy that a system that denies your friends’ genders is here to stay?

If we get rid of the gender binary- we would not get rid of men and women. We would simply allow for everyone else.

  pickypenelope wrote @

I’m very sorry for the confusion. I misunderstood what I read in your post. I have corrected my post.

But I disagree with you about the nature of the Gender Binary. I think there are ways to avoid erasing people without insisting on the erasure of the binary. There is no law that says that a binary ~needs~ to be strict. That’s why I liked the doughnut/bagel example so much. It’s a binary, but it’s a binary with very soft, permeable, and poorly defined boundaries. I think explaining to folks that there is room between (and around) the binary that they see will be more effective in creating space for folks than trying to convince people that the binary doesn’t exist. You are correct that in a technical sense “binary” means a system of two parts, but it’s unusual for people outside the theory-level discussions of this, the term binary doesn’t come up.

I’m feeling like this disagreement is more semantic than actual. I believe in creating space for everyone. I disagree that trying to erase the binary is the way to do it. Just as words evolve in many ways, a binary need not be as rigid as you insist. We can create a soft binary that recognizes the duality of an either/or system that yet contains much overlap and free space in the middle. I don’t see them as incompatible. Perhaps there’s another way to explain that, but that’s how I see it.

An androgynous friend of mine shaped lots of my thinking on this. She said something to the effect that the system works for 95% of the people and we can’t expect them to change. I disagree with her, we have to expect them to change, but we have to work with what we have. Systems exist and are resistant to change – trying to work with a system that exists, rather than totally blow it up, has been a lot more effective and less threatening in my experience. And if we’re trying to make space for everyone I vote for what’s most effective.

  chartreuseflamethrower wrote @

If you’re using gender binary to mean “men and women with room for everyone else”- you need to say so. And acknowledge that that’s not a binary as a binary is, by definition, something composed of 2 parts or pieces. But all you really did to explain the gender binary was say that it “works for [you]” and link to the wikipedia artlicle that says “It can describe a social boundary that discourages people from crossing or mixing gender roles, or from creating a third form of gender expression altogether. It can also represent some of the prejudices which stigmatize intersex and transgendered people” and goes on to talk about gender roles and how a universal rule of it is “women give birth”, clarifying that it is, in fact, a CISgender-binary as well.

When you talk about non-binaries trying to break down the binary, it’s impossible to tell if you mean they’re trying to break down the system that erases their existence or if they’re trying to get rid of the concepts of “man” and “woman” entirely and erase other people’s identities. And which they’re doing makes the conversation VERY different.

  pickypenelope wrote @

From my original post:

“There are folks in the dead center of the binary, but that doesn’t invalidate the binary.”

and

“So, fine, let’s respect the binary but also respect the malleability of the boundaries, and the arbitrariness of most of those boundaries. Even though I’ve settled nicely on one side of the binary, I am in no way threatened by folks who traverse the binary or exist in the very center.”

and

“Everyone finds the way to define themselves that works for them, and I’m a big supporter of that.”

and

“Being mildly surprised that someone prefers to be referred to as “it” is fine; refusing to use “it” to refer to that person because you don’t think it’s valid is not.”

I believe that all of these statements and the link I posted to the doughnut/bagel binary (even though a sort of cutesy analogy) clearly show that I am speaking of a binary with room for everyone else. That’s sort of one of the bigger points of my post. I believe it’s there; I’m sorry I failed to communicate that to you effectively.

As for the link to the wiki on the gender binary, yes, it’s problematic. I linked to it more folks reading that had no idea what the gender binary is (in the theory sense) so they would have some background. The rest of the post is talking about ways in which space needs to be made for others.

As for your last point, from my perspective those are the same thing. I don’t want the binary to go away, I want it to have room and be flexible. I apologize if that’s not good enough.

  Anonymous T-Girl wrote @

i agree with pretty much everything you’ve said.

But i refuse to ignore hard questions and pretend they don’t exist, which is what it seems like most people do.

‘And I know that the reality is that it really doesn’t happen.’

No.

At best, it hasn’t happened yet to your knowledge.

But it’s only a matter of time before some jack-ass attempts it, to exploit new-found legal ‘freedom’ for their own selfish desire, be it a political statement, or for sexual purposes.

And i think pretending that won’t happen is asking for disaster, in the form of backlash legislation.

Trying to short-circuit penis arguements by pointing out prostates is flat-on-it’s-face false.

We are talking about the center of male existance since the dawn of time. And no woman has ever been cornered in a vulnerable space and had a prostate shoved down her throat against her will.

i really like you, Penny. i am aware that asking the things i have has pissed off a lot of people, and driven them away from me. If you are one of them, i’m sorry about that.

But i’m not going to pretend that i don’t have the concerns i do, and tow party lines without question anymore.

If this reponse causes you grief, then just delete it. i don’t want to do that to you.

  pickypenelope wrote @

And I like you ATG, very much. I hope that the areas where we disagree don’t have to diminish our mutual liking of each other.

I’ve never been one to believe in preventative legislation. For example, I don’t believe that since people might do something horrible we need laws to prevent things one or two steps removed. I worry more about Minority Report type justice than someone using the wrong restroom. It’s already illegal to peep or rape or harass women in the restroom. It still will be.

I reiterate that my solution would be unisex restrooms. I tend not to join groups that are single-sex, and I’m not really bothered by nudity. I know that my level of comfort is greater than most Americans.

I refuse to treat all men as potential rapists. And I refuse to treat all people as potential perpetrators of violence. Violence happens, and is horrible. But I refuse to live in fear, and I don’t like legislation that prays on fear.

We’ll have to agree to disagree about the penis/prostate analogy. While you’re very correct that no woman was ever raped by a prostate, that wasn’t my point. My point was that the presence (or absence) of a penis (or prostate) isn’t sufficient to judge someone’s validity in women’s spaces. It’s more complicated and nuanced than that. And that makes it difficult. I was a woman before my SRS, and I used the womens restroom before my SRS. My trans guy friends use the mens room, without penises. I can not say that I was right to use the ladies room without allowing that at some points there will be people in similar positions to where I was physically who need to use the ladies room.

I’m pretty hardcore about defending men. When I was first dating men I had so many of my friends telling me how much men sucked. And I realized that if I really believed that then looking for my husband amongst men was truly a fool’s errand. I don’t really understand men, but the vast majority of them are good, honest, caring people. And I will defend that position strenuously.

Having said all that, I very much appreciate your asking these questions and pushing for your point of view. I admitted in my post that folks like Jasper give me pause. And when I was dating a crossdresser I also had some reservations about him going to the ladies room with me. As I said, this is complicated stuff.

If something horrible happens I believe that you’re right about a backlash. I guess for me at this point it makes more sense to proceed with protecting the incredibly marginalized and working hard to make sure that something horrible becomes obviously separated in peoples minds from trans folk. You read my stuff, you know that I’m optimistic and always look for the best in people.

Please ask questions. Please push for the things you think are important. You are one of my favorite people to read specifically because you think for yourself. And your thoughts are ~always~ welcome here.

  lisalee18wheeler wrote @

@ATG,

Having known Penelope for over three years, and having helped her through a dark time in her transition, and having met her, like I met you, in 3D, can vouch for her and say categorically that she would ~never~ delete any of your comments and further more, take all of them to heart.

Just sayin’ 🙂

  Betty Wing wrote @

To some people, It makes sense to try and define themselves by some physical constants like sex rather than the shifting sands of “gender”. Its in the physical reality of existence that they seek validation and make the choices to be what they are. A real life is lived in the open and people see what they want to see. If what we present to others challenges their fundamental expectations, we’ll be in for it because we are social beings and this is how it works.
For most of the world, gender may be fluid but sex isn’t, and I for one never felt comfortable with being incongruent with my physical body – my gender identity is as constant as my physical identity and social identity. I can’t imagine how anyone wants to live two lives even if they feel forced to by the attitudes of others – it is so irresolute and uncertain to necessitate a mustache and an evening gown to be the same person – but that’s just me.
Within our own social dialog there are many disparate elements and just as many povs for each one. As in the larger context, the best which can be hoped for is tolerance. If we can’t be tolerant of each other with our insight and experience, then the larger world which hasn’t a clue becomes more clueless as a result, because we are the only ones who can define ourselves in any valid way – if life were only a matter of definiion and not a situation of limits. I don’t imagine some would be transfederalists who can elucidate our principles in such a way as they become the civil rights of our own society/community, let alone the ones run by governments and corporations. Social efforts that underscore tolerance are desirable in the least when gender variance becomes the subject of contention.
All systems are constructs, like machines, and inhuman by definition. Its instruments are blunt and imprecise against real complexity. If you blindly put your hand in a machine sometimes it only comes out intact if youre lucky. I see a lot of that banging around in here – a fertile anarchistic chaos. We left one garden already – could we find another here?

[…] Pondering, Transsexualism So, I had a fairly unpleasant exchange in the comments section of my last post. I sort of expected it, given the stuff I was talking about, and I reiterate that that’s […]

  DDA wrote @

As you might expect, I disagree with some of this. I do applaud you for insisting that the sexes are different; I’m *so* tired of those people who seem to think men and women are the same!

You wrote, “Being mildly surprised that someone prefers to be referred to as “it” is fine; refusing to use “it” to refer to that person because you don’t think it’s valid is not.”

I disagree; the same freedom that allows a person to say they want to be referred to in a certain way allows me to decide *not* to refer to them that way. They can no more insist on changing my viewpoint or behaviour than I can insist on changing theirs. Now politeness would say that I should respect their choices and that’s fine but to say I am *obligated* to do so is over the line for me.

As for the bathroom issue, I strongly believe this is a “woman thing”; at Dead shows, women routinely used the men’s rooms due to the ladies’ rooms being overcrowded. Most guys didn’t care but whoa to the guy who tried to use the ladies room! So there is another double standard for you.

You wrote, ” I think it’s important and right that gender identity and expression is added to hate crimes laws.”

I *strongly* dislike hate crime laws; I feel they are unnecessary. We already have laws against hitting people, why have a law against hitting *some* types of people, too? Do you honestly think someone is going to think to themselves, “Well, I hate so-and-so and want to kill them but wait! They are trans and that’s a protected category so I’ll just leave them alone”?? Give me a break! Even Andy Tobias admitted hate crime laws exist to “send a message that hate is bad” and to allow the Feds to overrule local police forces if the locals decide not to prosecute. Those are terrible reasons for a law, especially one that sends the subtle message that some groups are *better* then others because they have this extra “protection!”

Finally, we come to the matter of discrimination; I believe that if I run a business, I should be able to hire, or not hire, anyone I want. If I don’t want men or women or trans-folks or Vulcans working there, that should be my right; after all, it’s *my* business! And it is damned hard to *prove* intent; what if no trans-folks are qualified for the position? Is the government going to interview all my employees to make sure I hired the “best” (for some arbitrary version of “best”) ones?

But more to the practical issue; why would someone want to work where they aren’t wanted? If someone is fired for being trans, why would they want *that* job back? Of course, they usually *don’t* want it back, they just want money.

In the end, what a lot of this comes down to (to me) is a group insisting on pushing its views onto others. I don’t like any group trying jam their opinions on to me and, I’m guessing, neither do most people; this is how backlashes are started.

Or, put another way, most people are basically nice and if you *ask* them to call you by some name or refer to you in a certain way, they will. But start *demanding* it and you’ll get resistance. Start calling them haters for not giving in to your demands and you’ll get a backlash.

  pickypenelope wrote @

“I disagree; the same freedom that allows a person to say they want to be referred to in a certain way allows me to decide *not* to refer to them that way.”

Fair enough. I could have just as easily said that if you knowingly and willfully dismiss someone’s wishes on how they wish to be addressed then I think you’re very rude. People have a right to be rude, for sure. And I have a right to judge them as such.

The bathroom is issue is different for men’s rooms and women’s rooms, to be sure. I don’t think I agree that it’s a double standard, more that it’s in the nature of the difference of the sexes. But that’s for another discussion, I think.

“I *strongly* dislike hate crime laws; I feel they are unnecessary.”

I believe they are more than necessary; I believe they are an essential tool to a group’s gaining equal legal consideration. There is a day set aside each year to honor trans folk who were murdered that year (Transgender Day of Remembrance) just for being trans. Trans folk are targeted specifically because they are trans, and worse yet, the crimes are often overlooked by officials, and even worse (yes, there’s more), trans folk are seen as deserving of the violence and bringing it on themselves simply for having the temerity to exist.

Hate crimes laws help to begin the process of having crimes against a minority group be taken seriously. It is my observation that even with hate crimes laws, crimes against minorities are downplayed and under-prosecuted. Lives of minorities are treated as less valuable, and their killers (or beaters or rapists or whatever) are treated less harshly than if they had perpetrated the same crime against someone of the more valuable majority.

I’m not a fan of hate crimes laws either, conceptually, but experience has lead me to support them as a necessary step toward equal protection for minorities. And no, I generally think that they have very little impact on whether someone will stop from committing a crime because it’s a “hate” crime, but at least there is a better chance that they will face actual justice than just having it swept under the rug.

“Finally, we come to the matter of discrimination…”

You and I have a lot of disagreement here, not the least of which because I’m sort of a raving socialist. But let’s leave that.

Do you really think that trans people are being choosy about ~what~ job they get? The statistics for trans folk being unemployed or underemployed are pretty stark. Trans folk aren’t really trying to force their way into a job, they’re trying to get ~any~ job.

I’ve been very lucky when it comes to discrimination. But I’m largely self-employed, I own my home, and I live in a great neighborhood. Not everyone is so fortunate. I believe these laws are important to protect them.

“But start *demanding* it and you’ll get resistance.”

Sure, people are always resistant to change. I think equal legal treatment is something that needs to be demanded. I think freedom from workplace and housing discrimination needs to be demanded. To use my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote: “The law can’t make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and that’s pretty important.”

  Betty Wing wrote @

Frankly I would think it a nightmare to establish a record with the government because of gender variance since this is what some of us have avoided this possibility of by transitioning. A bureaucracy would create a third-sex category with forms and letters. would it make things better by exposing yourself against your will?
I see this a lot where people have a health service for GRS and wait forever for determinations to be made and resources allocated for them. Becoming a category puts you square in the vagaries of politics and everything else it entails. Yet another gatekeeper to appease!


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