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  • « Ca-ching! | Main | Your vote counts »

    October 11, 2007

    Sticks and stones, Pauline

    Posted by: Chris

    What is it about transgender activists that makes them, almost without exception, incapable of disagreeing without wagging a polished fingernail your direction, throwing out silly accusations of "transgenderphobia"?  Please tell me we GLBs aren't so quick to pull the "phobe" trigger when we get our hackles up.

    I7a6f969719274788a2560a465d917433 For example, transgender activist Pauline Park, from her perch over on Logo's Visible Vote '08 Forum, can't manage to disagree with me about the "trans or bust" strategy on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act without calling me a "transphobe" and suggesting I'm some sort of gay Nazi stormtrooper.  After managing to quote only about half of one sentence from a post I wrote on the subject, she hones in on my conclusion that the strategy of making gays wait until trans folk can be protected as well is "downright immoral." 

    In response, she asks:

    Why is it immoral to insist on protecting everyone in our community, including the most vulnerable? Is it not obvious even to a transphobe like Crain that transgendered people are even more vulnerable to discrimination than non-transgendered lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people?

    (Funny how I'm the phobe even though she's doing all the name-calling.) Well Pauline, there are all sorts of morality, not just each-according-to-her-need, as you advocate here with regard to the relative vulnerability of GLBs and Ts. Another view of morality would favor incremental progress for the sake of protecting some in the interim, rather than leaving everyone "vulnerable" until some date to be named later. 

    Yet another would aim to protect the largest possible number from discrimination.  While hard LGBT numbers are difficult to come by, in 10 years in the LGBT media I've never seen any estimate of the size of the T as anything greater than 1% of the LGBT.  It's "downright immoral" for 99% to be left "vulnerable" because doing so (arguably) would hasten the date when the remaining 1% can be protected.  (Of course, a huge swath of T -- the vast majority, I've been told by trans activists -- don't even self-identify as LGBT, so they are simply along for the ride.)

    "Andoni," a regular reader and commenter on this blog, has offered yet another moral example for Ms. Park, if she's listening, from the field of medicine where he has made a long and successful career. When a cure comes along that can benefit a significant number of afflicted, Andoni points out, it is unthinkable to hold it back simply because not all will see immediate improvement. You could take the analogy even further, since a cure for some might siphon away resources from research to manufacturing, thereby slowing the pace of progress for those still unprotected. Even still, it would be "downright immoral" to keep the cure locked away.

    Maybe Pauline Park would disagree with every one of these moral viewpoints, but we don't know since responding in a substantive way isn't nearly so much fun as calling me "gay uber alles."  Go Pauline, snap-snap-SNAP!

    Uber_alles (I'm "uber alles," apparently, because I'm a "relatively priviliged, U.S.-born, upper middle class gay white man." She must keep an identity-politics pocket calculator handy for tallying up my various alleged life advantages. Interestingly enough, according to Pauline's website profile, after being orphaned in Korea she was raised in the U.S., later receiving her master's from the London School of Economics and studying German in Berlin and Regensburg.  Ich bin ein privileged Berliner as well, eh Pauline?

    Still, let me get this straight. Ms. Park would dismiss the snobbish views of "relatively priviliged, U.S.-born, upper middle class gay white men." Is she referring to the same "relatively priviliged, U.S.-born, upper middle class gay white men"  who overwhelmingly founded and funded those 100 some-odd LGBT organizations that have now signed on to withhold protection for their own so as to protect her and her fellow travelers?  Selfish white gay Nazi bastards!)

    Amusingly enough, Pauline also accuses me of "getting my facts wrong" for suggesting ENDA had been "trans-jacked," because, she points out, it was introduced with "gender identity" included waaaay back in April.  Talk about your short-term memory.  ENDA had been "gay-only" ever since 1994; this year was the first time "gender identity" was included.

    And that wasn't even my point, anyway.  ENDA wasn't "trans-jacked" when "gender identity" was introduced as part of the bill, although I continue to believe that over-eager misstep inevitably led us to the canyon divide we face as a movement today. No, Pauline, the "trans-jacking" occurred when 100-some-odd LGBT groups dared to oppose historic workplace protection for GLB Americans, the same ENDA they had supported for a decade.

    For a complete news summary on ENDA, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/enda

    For a complete news summary on transgender rights, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/transgender

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    Comments

    1. Christa on Oct 11, 2007 3:00:48 PM:

      Hey - thanks for this, and for your previous post re: gender-normative gays and lesbians. As a relatively gender-normative lesbian, I agree wholeheartedly with both of your last posts. As a member of the leather community as well, I'd like to add another analogy. Many of us gays and lesbians are oriented towards BDSM activities or are active in the leather lifestyle. It is undeniable that leather people face discrimination. Some of us are arrested or fired from our jobs for consensual, private or semi-private activities. Others lose custody of their children if their involvement in BDSM becomes known. If our partners are abusive, it is almost impossible to seek the protection of the police. And so on. It is definitely arguable that we need employment protections as well - no one should fear losing their job because their employer sees them at the Folsom Street Fair or their ex-partner blackmails them re: outing them to their employer. For many of us oriented towards BDSM, it is a fundamental part of our identities and worldviews, not merely a form of casual play. And yet it would be political madness for our gay leaders to declare that they will not accept a bill outlawing (vanilla) sexual orientation discrimination until bondage enthusiasts and sadomasochists are named and protected as well. Even though I belong to both the gay and lesbian community and the BDSM community, I would be the first to oppose such a stance (much though I wish it was politically viable). So I sympathize with the trans community, particularly those who identify as both gay and trans. It is frustrating and painful to have only one part of one's identity protected by federal antidiscrimination laws. But progress is never a zero-sum, all or nothing game - and I feel a great deal of frustration towards the transpeople (and their gay and lesbian allies) who do not seem to realize this. (Similarly, as a racial minority, I am glad that race protections for me have long been in place. If race civil rights leaders had insisted that they wouldn't accept race protections without gay protections, because of those of us who are both gay and racial minorities, that would have done me exactly zero good.)

    1. Andoni on Oct 11, 2007 5:08:10 PM:

      I too have been the victim of very ruthless, hateful personal attacks by members of the T community and their GLB sympathizers because of my position on the ENDA issue. The language from their mouths could have come from our most ardent opponents who would also wish us dead (think Fred Phelps). I know this is a very emotional issue, but when the trans community and its allies behave this way, how on earth do they expect me to work with them ever again……on anything? Vicious, hateful personal attacks are very counterproductive in the political arena.

      On another note, by reading various blogs it has occurred to me that people living in a city or state that already has workplace discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation should not have a voice in this ENDA debate. For them it is just a theoretical ivory tower debate whether ENDA should proceed with or without trans. They are already protected. They have nothing to lose when they say let’s wait the 5, 10 or 15 years that it will take to pass a trans inclusive ENDA. I live in the South and there is no chance I will get the protections they have unless ENDA passes at the federal level. So, unless all these advocates living in states that already have workplace protections (think CA, MA, NY etc.) who are making the “magnanimous” gesture to wait 15 years until a trans inclusive ENDA can pass are willing to RESCIND their state and city protections so that they “go bare” like me, I don’t think they should really have a say in this debate.

      Only when you are "bare" and have no protections at all do you really understand what this debate is all about.

    1. Double T on Oct 11, 2007 6:04:25 PM:

      Andoni, everyone SHOULD have a say in every element of our government.

      It's called democracy.

      I'm saddened by HRC's new policy TTTOTB (throw the trannie off the bus). With the promise that we'll circle back and pick you up in a few years. Please, does anyone believe that bus is going to circle back? Hell no.

      The TransGender and anyone of conscience has every right to be upset.

      p.s. yes, Chris, I know you're wondering what the hell were they doing on the bus in the first place?

      answer. the same damn thing everyone else is doing.

    1. Andoni on Oct 11, 2007 6:35:58 PM:

      Of course I know this is a democracy -- I think you know what I meant. If the person who is talking is risking nothing with his/her posturing, it's not very convincing to me. For instance, a person who is enthusiastic about going to war and says, "I'll lead the charge and put my life on the line too" has more credibility than someone saying, "Well I'm for the war, but you guys go over there and put your lives on the line. I'm not going to risk my life." It's really easier to play with someone else's money rather your own.

    1. Wolfgang Eli on Oct 11, 2007 8:26:36 PM:

      Chris wrote, "...can't manage to disagree with me about the "trans or bust" strategy on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act without calling me a "transphobe" and suggesting I'm some sort of gay Nazi stormtrooper."

      I've been attacked and called names by few gay and lesbian HR 3685 supporters too. You won't get any of that from me. You are my brother; we're all in this together.

      I would feel terrible about putting sexual orientation protections on hold until we're all covered. But why do you assume that that's a foregone conclusion? I believe that if we all work together to get HR 2015 passed, and refuse to settle for less, we can succeed. Over 300 GLBT organizations believe it too, or they wouldn't chosen this strategy.

    1. Wolfgang Eli on Oct 11, 2007 8:27:30 PM:

      Chris wrote, "...can't manage to disagree with me about the "trans or bust" strategy on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act without calling me a "transphobe" and suggesting I'm some sort of gay Nazi stormtrooper."

      I've been attacked and called names by few gay and lesbian HR 3685 supporters too. You won't get any of that from me. You are my brother; we're all in this together.

      I would feel terrible about putting sexual orientation protections on hold until we're all covered. But why do you assume that that's a foregone conclusion? I believe that if we all work together to get HR 2015 passed, and refuse to settle for less, we can succeed. Over 300 GLBT organizations believe it too, or they wouldn't chosen this strategy.

    1. Joanna on Oct 11, 2007 8:51:01 PM:

      I'm wondering what you have to say about Nancy Pelosi's interview with the Bay Are Reporter published today.

      In it she says, "We are not moving forward with anything until we see what happens over the next few weeks," said Pelosi during a 30-minute phone interview with the B.A.R. Tuesday, October 9. "No decision has been made to go forward with a non-transgender inclusive bill."

      http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=2295

      She was surprised by the level of fury the ENDA controversy aroused in those most important of people, her San Francisco constituents.

    1. Jack Jett on Oct 11, 2007 9:50:27 PM:

      Chris

      I am surprised that you get so upset at the bloggery snobbery.

      The transgender has every right to be pissed off. They have always been forced to the back of the GLBTQ bus, and perhaps they are being thrown from the bus because they perhaps lack the funds for contributions to groups like the HRC. Many of the transgender folk I know struggle to make ends meet as they have expensive treatments and surgeries. They are our most strident activist though. I have marched with them through ACT UP and Queer Nation. They are vocal and can kick ass.

      Don't you think we need to kick some ass instead of kiss it all the time?

      Tell us about the laws in Brazil?

      My question is how does Bisexual fit into this equation? I have never met one. Rarely see them as activist.

      Jack Jett


    1. John Kusters on Oct 11, 2007 11:00:48 PM:

      Chris, you said, 'Please tell me we GLBs aren't so quick to pull the "phobe" trigger when we get our hackles up.'

      Sorry, but we frequently have been that quick to label even the most minor of transgressions "homophobic." Perhaps our trans brothers and sisters are just following our examples.

      JOhn.

    1. UAFA NOW on Oct 12, 2007 12:47:51 AM:

      Jack,

      I agree with you on the bisexual issue. Now they are the ones on the "bus" who are getting a free ride. I have met only one supposed true bisexual. But as it turned out, she was only half out of the closet.

      When the whole ENDA issue is resolved, is the whole LGBT community going to stand up and fight for the UAFA and same sex binational couples? I sure hope so because so far the support (ie. HRC) has been pathetic.

    1. Double T on Oct 12, 2007 1:21:56 AM:

      Andoni, Women and the Elderly do not charge into battle. So, should they be excluded from having a say in WAR.

      Maybe, if you argument was that people in Maryland shouldn't interfer we politcs in Iowa, I might agree. But on the National Level?
      And what if people don't want to be "anchored" to a state, what if they want to move around?

    1. Christa on Oct 12, 2007 11:30:51 AM:

      Why does it matter how bisexual fits in? Most of them are not politically involved and happily prance off to opposite-sex marriages, it's true. But for those who choose to be in same-sex relationships, why should they not be covered just as gays and lesbians? And, it costs no additional political capital to cover them.

      By the way - to the person who said that those of us covered by state non-discrimination laws should not have a vote - I take your point, but I object for two reasons. (I live in California.) I recently did a stint working for the federal government in California - state anti-discrimination law did not cover me, and I was very out at work as lesbian. I was every bit as vulnerable to being fired as you ("bare" as you put it). Second, I moved to California SPECIFICALLY for greater anti-discrimination protections...and I was forced to leave the Southern state in which I spent most of my life. My ability to consider relocating from California is restricted by which states have antidiscrimination protections in place - a more attenuated concern than yours, to be sure, but a live one.

      So, I absolutely believe I am entitled to a "vote" - and I choose to exercise it in the same direction as you - that the need of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the dozens of states without protections should absolutely resolve this debate. As the GAY and LESBIAN community, our first concern must be to protect our own before we try to save the rest of the world.

    1. Ingrid on Oct 12, 2007 2:56:37 PM:

      I agree with Chris once again but not on the name calling. I'm a black lesbian Republican. Now, do you want to hear name calling? I got some I could share with you. Unfortunately the gay and lesbian community has name for straights and gays who don't toe the line which is what Chris is facing here. In any event, the issue as I see it, and many here do, is that we should not wait another 10, 15 or so years to get this legislation passed simply because the T is not currently included. This is a no brainer to me.

    1. Jon on Oct 13, 2007 12:40:50 AM:

      "without wagging a polished fingernail" Hmmmm...all trangender persons polish their nails? Even the FTM? Nice.

    1. Kevin on Oct 13, 2007 9:57:45 PM:

      Why did we allow them pass the 1964 act without a riot? Weren't we on that bus too? (Indeed, I think that bus is rapidly approaching the size of Jupiter...)

      Anyway, BRA-VO again Chris. This post was particularly marvelous. I might need a neck brace from all the nodding.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Oct 15, 2007 4:08:45 PM:

      "I recently did a stint working for the federal government in California - state anti-discrimination law did not cover me, and I was very out at work as lesbian. I was every bit as vulnerable to being fired as you ("bare" as you put it)."

      Not really.

      Workplace protections for Federal employees are managed via executive order, which carries the force of law when referring to the Federal workforce. Executive Order 11478, as amended by Executive Order 13087, clarifies Federal policy to forbid discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, age, or sexual orientation regardless of the employee's location.

    1. james on Mar 2, 2008 5:30:14 AM:

      my future wife is a huge actavest in the transgender world
      she has a lot of spunk and thats what makes her strive for rights and im proud of her and her compolishments and how hard she works and i happen to be her night and shineing armer who will defend her honor and i gladly laydown and die for her.

    1. Shak on Dec 26, 2011 11:02:09 AM:

      I recently did a stint working for the federal government in California - state anti-discrimination law did not cover me, and I was very out at work as lesbian. I was every bit as vulnerable to being fired as you ("bare" as you put it). Second, I moved to California SPECIFICALLY for greater anti-discrimination protections...and I was forced to leave the Southern state in which I spent most of my life. My ability to consider relocating from California is restricted by which states have antidiscrimination protections in place - a more attenuated concern than yours, to be sure, but a live one. Nandrolone Decanoate

    1. DaKosta on Dec 26, 2011 11:03:25 AM:

      For instance, a person who is enthusiastic about going to war and says, "I'll lead the charge and put my life on the line too" has more credibility than someone saying, "Well I'm for the war, but you guys go over there and put your lives on the line. I'm not going to risk my life." It's really easier to play with someone else's money rather your own. purchase steroids

    1. Kamil on Dec 26, 2011 11:07:47 AM:

      I would feel terrible about putting sexual orientation protections on hold until we're all covered. But why do you assume that that's a foregone conclusion? I believe that if we all work together to get HR 2015 passed, and refuse to settle for less, we can succeed. Over 300 GLBT organizations believe it too, or they wouldn't chosen this strategy. dbol

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