1/26/2009

Tempest in a Teapot

VIII Gay Pride in São Paulo, BrazilImage via WikipediaAfter the Equality Summit in Los Angeles, blog posts and reports began appearing to recap the event. One posting in particular has reopened old wounds and the vitriol that has spewed forth like pus reminds us just how far we have to go in truly believing in equality and freedom.

On Metblogs, a guest blogger decided to take in the breakout session for Transsexuals and Transgender people. The recap of the meeting has spawned a firestorm of angry words:
I went to the tranny session and out of all the minorities struggling to find their voice in the LGBTI movement, none is between a bigger rock and a harder place than trannies. Generally considered a liability – as in, “You Buffalo Bills and walking Thai surgery centers represent that slippery slope argument they keep talking about” - trannies are the black sheep of the LGBTI family. My group was stymied as to how to make their social and political challenges relevant to the movement without alienating the public and indirectly hurting the gay community as a whole. What I took away from this was: that’s how non-white gays and lesbians used to, and still do, feel!
Being generous it seems just a poor choice of words by someone who didn't realize she was writing something that could be read by millions of people. Her ignorance of the feelings of the people she mentioned is evident, yet, giving her the benefit of the doubt, we can assume that her intent was pure in pointing out the marginalization of this group.

Yet, those poor choices caused a backlash. Autumn Sandeen at Pam's House Blend blasted back with her own post in response:

An LGBT writer who writes about trans people and hasn't first read the Associated Press Styleguide on the term transgender, GLAAD's Media Guide's Transgender Glossary, and the NLGJA Stylebook Supplement on transgender terminology shouldn't be writing about transgender people. It's easily knowable that tranny is considered a pejorative, defamatory term by many in the trans subcommunity of the LGBT community.

And, it's offensive in all circumstances to discuss transgender civil rights issues in the same paragraph where one references Silence Of The Lambs, Dressed To Kill, Psycho, or any other film where a transgender person is depicted as a serial killer. There is no room for discussion on that -- the LA.MetBlogs reporter's reference to a film's cross-dressing serial killer in the context of trans civil and marriage rights is just beyond the pale.

Autumn also left a comment on the original post by "Queerqueg" who does not give her real name on her posting at Metblogs that spurred another flame war that point out just how far we have to go to get our own house in order:
I'm Autumn Sandeen, the other new media reporter who attended the Transgender breakout session.

Your coverage of the Transgender breakout session is extremely offensive. To begin with, the word tranny is considered defamatory by GLAAD. Hey, I personally don't like being called a tranny -- you do not have my permission to refer to me as a tranny in the context of discussing trans people discussing transgender people's civil and marriage rights.

And, referencing to the Silence Of The Lambs' serial murderer when referencing the Transgender breakout session/transgender people in that room is just beyond the pale.

If I ever see you in a trans space again, expect me to ask you to leave. You're no longer welcome.

Immediately, the readers at Metblog rallied around Queerqueg and echoed a bias that I don't think she purposely was stating in her article, take this comment by "Suesue":

One must keep in mind that social misfits like Autumn Sandeen whom i know personally can’t function in mainstream society and must seek refuge in margins of LGB society.

The real transsexuals don’t bother with those gatherings. We have equality in the mainstream and don’t usually seen any more discrimination than the average woman does.

Sandeen and his ilk have a long way to go before they reach life in the mainstream of society.

Thank God the Transgenders don’t represent true TS women and men and people of operative history.

We fixed bout [sic] birth defect and moved on.

Suesue, the transsexual author of the previous comment then further compounds her error with a followup to those who dared to defend Autumn's objection to the term, despite the intention:

Just so we all have this straight;
The term Tranny applies to one of those penis carrying men in a dress and makeup.

If you Guys don’t like the term I suggest you have the appropriate surgery and get on with your life instead of trying to create some imaginary third sex.

Have a nice day Guys.
Oh and Autumn the next time you and I cross paths in a ladies restroom I will throw your Tranny ass out.

Your[sic] just a man in a dress.

Another transsexual blasted back at SueSue stating:

We’re all fags, dykes, trannies, honos [sic], fairies, and drag queens to the majority of the str8 world. And, you having had your surgery doesn’t change that one iota.

We will not achieve equality until the vast majority of the community accepts that we’re queer and we need to stick together to make progress.

By the way, I’m post-op too, but my surgery was genital reassignment sugery and yours was obviously a lobotomy.

Perhaps the old dichotomy has simply moved into a new era. While the Lesbians and Gays are beginning to finally work together closely our most disenfranchised are turning on themselves.

I hope that the quick and resounding condemnation of "Suesue's" comments from fellow transsexuals signalled that she is an outlier in her opinion of her fellow citizens.

Unfortunately, I have met a few transsexuals in my life who think that once they have their surgery they are "mainstream" meaning that they are fully women and society will accept them without blinking. Often they are quickly disabused of this notion the first time someone finds out they were born male.

I can't help but wonder in Suesue's case if she went for surgery not because she felt being male was a "birth defect" but rather because she felt it would be the easiest road to mainstream assimilation and acceptance. Being a woman having sex with men is much more palatable to the conservative community than being a man having sex with a man. As long as no one knows the truth, she can blend in and become part of the American dream without having to fight.

Certainly, not all transsexuals share that easy road to acceptance viewpoint and I applaud those who stood up to Suesue's tirade against transgender people and put her soundly in her place.

As for me, I will continue to embrace all the various and wonderful parts of our rainbow. Each has something special to give to the whole.

I was lucky to have two wonderful Lesbians (one Hispanic, one Polish) who served as my surrogate grandparents during my summers as a teen with my Gay brother in San Diego. During that time I developed an appreciation for all aspects of LGBT society.

I met incredibly funny and loving drag queens one of whom taught me to do a dead on Bette Davis pose complete with flicking a cigarette (she was African-American). I met a great Lesbian bus driver (Italian) who was one of the most genuinely compassionate people I've ever met and taught me to cuss like a sailor. I met a post-op transsexual woman (a good Southern Baptist) who would later become my "mother" when I began to spend time in gay bars as an adult. She helped keep me safe and made sure I didn't go off the deep end with my new found freedom. I have flirted with the leather scene, the bear scene, and even the Country music queen scene. I have had dear friends who run the gamut from lipstick lesbians to butch dykes (NOT a perjorative as Lou would tell you as she called you a motherf**ker!). I've hung out with drag queens and construction worker clones and I've loved every minute of it.

I'm now a settled middle aged guy who is except for a piece of paper married to another settled middle aged guy whose experience was quite different from mine. Yet, despite my rather mundane life today, I still love the delicious colors of that LGBT rainbow and hope they never dim and become a "mainstream" gray.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Links