compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

I was wondering whether to actually post about this or not, but like it or not, I think I pretty much have to do so.

I’m not exactly sure what caused this most recent transphobic crapstorm, but I suspect it was most likely the ugly defeat of the City of Houston’s HERO ballot measure. This was a right-wing photo opportunity for hate groups to openly walk around wearing T-shirts emblazoned with their transphobic crapulence. Not entirely surprisingly, the ballot measure was defeated. Let’s keep this in perspective: this was one city, admittedly a relatively progressive one, within a sea of good old boys, guns, oversized trucks and Confederate flags. This should really be an object lesson in exactly why it is that civil rights should not be decided by the popular vote, because as with so many similar cases in the past, all this proves is that the majority of people who can be whipped up sufficiently to rise from their pools of acquiescence to actually vote are mostly bigots.

Following shortly thereafter, a disgusting poll on (no, I’m not linking it here because it doesn’t need my contribution to its Google page rank) went up that was exhorting major LGBT organizations to drop the T, becoming specifically LGB groups and explicitly excluding transgender people. I strongly suspect that its proposer is a right-wing sock puppet, but there are plenty of queer bigots out there so this may not necessarily be the case. This is really beyond belief. Trans people have had a long history of being in the front line of the fight for queer rights — we don’t get to hide or slink back into the woodwork like so many cisnormative LGBs, so for us all-too-often we have to fight or die, in many cases literally. The T has always been the poor cousin of the LGBT world — personally I don’t have much to do with lesbian and gay events because frankly so many people can be total bastards to trans people within those communities, so it just isn’t worth the risk in return for any meager benefit. I’m seeing lots of TERF language showing up — members of the T community have ‘different concerns’ than those of the LGB community, so we’re better off separate. BULL FUCKING SHIT. So what if we have different concerns? Lesbians and gay men have different concerns, so why wouldn’t they prefer to part ways? The hidden agenda here isn’t so much that they want to kick out the T. They want to disenfranchise the people who check more than one box — people who are both transgender and lesbian, gay or bisexual are really the people they want rid of. Why? Quite simply because they are transphobic bigots who don’t want nasty icky trans people anywhere near them, or (particularly) calling them out on their bigotry.

I am over, seriously over, commentary from people who want the T people out saying that, ‘we stand for trans people, but we want our own separate space from them.’ Yeah, right. As I said previously, BULL FUCKING SHIT. What you really don’t want is to confront your own bigotry, it’s really that simple. ‘Oh, I’m not a bigot, I find it really upsetting to be called a bigot, all I want is .’ BULLSHIT. If you hate trans people, at least have the fucking decency to admit to it. Maybe there should be a symbol, or a particular way of dressing you might want to adopt so we can easily spot you and avoid the hell out of you — you don’t want us anywhere near you, so why not?

In the pagan community, a number of elders recently publicly supported the kick-out-the-T measure. Aline O’Brien (aka Macha Nightmare), Ruth Barrett and Luisah Teish all signed the kick-out-the-T petition. Macha Nightmare has subsequently backpedaled and is now claiming that she disavows the petition, though I’m given to wonder why the hell she even thought for one second that signing it in the first place was any way appropriate. Luisah Teish is also backpedaling in her own not-actually-apologizing kind of way. Ruth Barrett is doubling down and crying victim, just like she always has. There has been quite a bit of discussion about whether or not these people deserve to be regarded as Pagan elders as a consequence. I find this a little ridiculous, because realistically eldership really just means that you happen to have a number of students and/or friends and followers who regard you as an elder, which is clearly the case for all of these people. None of them are my elders, and they will have my respect when hell freezes over.

Please note: this was cross-posted from my main blog at -- If you want me to definitely see your replies, please reply there rather than here.

#QueerofSwords, #TransgenderActivism
compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

I’m about to do something very inappropriate, which might get my get-out-of-jail-free-for-having-hairy-legs-in-a-built-up-area card rescinded. I’m going to deliberately appropriate lots of other people’s oppression and lump it all together. Bear with me, this actually makes sense.

I’m pretty much as out about being transgendered as it’s possible to get. I write about it publicly here on my own blog and, with more of a slant toward its intersection with paganism, over on Patheos. Consequently, transphobia comes up fairly often. But what is transphobia?

As a word, it derives from the more commonly used homophobia, the fear of homosexuality. However, though it came later to our language, I suspect that it is actually the more general term. Yes, I’m appropriating homosexuality as being a subset of transphobia. Why, you might ask?

I do not consentLiterally, transphobia is usually read to mean fear of, or prejudice toward, transgendered people. I’d argue that what it really means is fear of, or prejudice toward any individual that doesn’t fit the well-established societal norms for someone of their perceived gender. Though this initially seems like a nearly identical definition, it is actually far wider and is implicitly inclusive of many other kinds of prejudice.

Example #1: A cisgendered woman who happens to be very tall, with naturally masculine bone structure, receives hatred from people who mistake her for a transgendered woman. I’ve known a number of women who fall into this category. The hate they receive isn’t qualitatively different from the hate I receive, yet our personal etiologies are completely different. It is not unheard of for cisgendered women with masculine facial features to electively undergo the same facial feminization surgery as many transgendered women, with similar results.

Example #2: A naturally effeminate cisgendered, straight man, is mistaken for a gay man and subject to homophobic violence. I’ve also known quite a few men who have experienced this. I have a strong suspicion that the motivation for such attacks is actually because people see someone who does not follow the masculine male script, and therefore react violently. Is this homophobia? Yes. Is this transphobia? I’d argue yes, also, because of the motivation – seeing someone not follow the gender script is the trigger, not the assumption of homosexuality. People in this category are gay bashed because they look or seem gay, not because they necessarily are gay.

In both of these examples, the people concerned aren’t (necessarily) homosexual or transgendered. Their attackers don’t (necessarily) have any idea what their relationship status might be – they may be in any kind of relationship, but attackers never usually bother to stop and ask first.

A third, important, example are intersex people. This is actually way more common than most people realize – statistically, at least an order of magnitude more likely in any individual than the (somewhat outdated) diagnosis of transsexuality. Intersex people aren’t necessarily transgendered – the two groups have issues that do not overlap entirely. It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, quite common for people who were originally thought to be transgendered to later discover that they are intersex. Some intersex people resent being lumped in with transgendered people and get quite upset about this, but it’s pretty clear that both groups are on the receiving end of transphobia.

Let’s take this a bit further:

Example #3: A childless cisgendered woman is appointed as a higher-up manager at a large company. If she follows her gender script, she is regarded as weak, meaning that she is ignored, passed over for promotion and possibly pushed out. If she doesn’t follow the script, she’s regarded as aggressive, a bitch, acting above her station. In this case, if she follows the script, she sees good old-fashioned misogyny. If she doesn’t follow the script, if she’s seen as behaving like a man, people react very negatively, aggressively, even violently. This actually also fits the definition of transphobia.

Example #4: A cisgendered man chooses to become a stay-at-home parent while his partner works. Though this is increasingly common, it’s still regarded as weird, non-normative. Support networks for stay-at-home mothers often shun stay-at-home fathers.

So, to sum up, none of these examples actually involve people who would normally be described as transgendered, yet all of them experience transphobia. I would argue that homophobia is actually a special case of transphobia – a proper subset, defined only by the sexual preference of the individuals, a characteristic often actually unknown and just assumed by the attacker. Much of what we see as misogyny, and indeed misandry, can also be seen as special cases, proper subsets, of transphobia.

The history of the struggle for civil rights for queer people is also the history of the struggle against transphobia. Transgendered people are the most visible of all of the groups that fall inside the queer alphabet soup, so they have always been in the front line. Stonewall was all about the drag queens and the transgendered people hitting their limit regarding the abuse they had received, drawing a line in the sand and fighting back, yet their story was coopted, retold and effectively erased in a heavily lesbian- and gay-dominated history.

The real enemy here is transphobia itself – fighting this requires everyone affected by it to work together, rather than be subjected to the divide-and-conquer consequences of more traditional queer politics.

Right now, in the news, we’re hearing about Facebook’s complicity with people who are reporting anyone publicly identifiable as transgendered, forcibly outing them on pain of digital exile. Make no bones about it, this is transphobia. The people reporting the drag queens are transphobic. Facebook’s complicity shows the company’s policies to be transphobic, and consequently the attitudes of their upper management to be transphobic.

Someone reposted my previous essay on the Facebook real names/real gender policy issue, suggesting that I was a whacko, and that this issue didn’t really matter, presumably because he couldn’t see any way that it affected him.

Maybe I am a whacko, in the sense that being a whacko, i.e., easily written off as crazy and consequently having opinions not worthy of consideration, because I don’t follow the script. I could go on about how being described as crazy is ableist, and non-script-following is really orthogonal to actual mental illness, but really, yes, this is yet another example of transphobia. If the person who called me a whacko is still listening, yes, you’re a transphobe. Think about it. Do you really want to be that guy?

And while we’re at it – to Facebook management — seriously, you people are committing a PR disaster. Your policies give being that guy a bad name. You are already seeing an exodus of queer people, but do you really want to be the next Chick-fil-A, where your brand has become synonymous with ‘I am a douchebag’?

Please note: this was cross-posted from my main blog at -- If you want me to definitely see your replies, please reply there rather than here.

#MoMBlog, #Musings, #TransgenderActivism


compilerbitch: That's me, that is! (Default)

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