Why is it that (almost) without exception, all news stories covering the US Attorney General’s suit against NC omits the rather significant fact that when NC took federal money tied to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Title IX, they signed a contract with the federal government explicitly agreeing to not discriminate against trans people?
Why is it that almost all news articles spin the story to make it seem as if the legal question in the DOJ’s suit is somehow ambiguous when, in fact, NC is contractually obliged to keep their side of the agreement they made with the federal government when they received federal funding under VAWA and Title IX?
Why is it that instead of actually telling the truth about the legal issue at hand, you’re droning on about “dueling lawsuits” and focusing on the “transgender debate” trope?
At yesterday’s press conference, here’s what the AG told you :
“With respect to federal funding, the statutes we brought this lawsuit under do provide the opportunity to curtail federal funding under Title IX in the Violence Against Women Act.”
“The Violence Against Women Act specifically targets gender identity. The law and the case law around Title VII, Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act clearly indicates HB2 is in violation of federal law.”
Here’s what Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice told you at yesterday’s press conference:
“We also bring a claim in the Violence Against Women Act, a more recent statute specifically designed to prevent discrimination against transgender people by entities that accept certain federal funds. As with Title IX, entities that accept federal funds under VALA, including UNS and the NCDPS, pledged that they would not discriminate against sex or gender identity. Our complaint seeks to enforce that pledge and hold those entities accountable for the kind of discrimination required by HB2.”
Since you can’t seem to bring yourself to talk about what the VAWA –an Act WITH LANGUAGE PASSED BY CONGRESS AND THE SENATE… you know, the very Act that NC received funds under– says, let me spell it out for you. Under Section 3 of VAWA, the Universal definitions and grant conditions, sub-section 18 reads:
The term underserved populations means populations who face barriers in accessing and using victim services, and includes populations underserved because of geographic location, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, underserved racial and ethnic populations, populations underserved because of special needs (such as language barriers, disabilities, alienage status, or age), and any other population determined to be underserved by the Attorney General or by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, as appropriate.
Under the Civil Rights section, the nondiscrimination subsection reads:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual orientation, or disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds made available under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (title IV of Public Law 103–322 ; 108 Stat. 1902), the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (division B of Public Law 106–386; 114 Stat. 1491), the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (title IX of Public Law 109–162 ; 119 Stat. 3080), the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 , and any other program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds appropriated for grants, cooperative agreements, and other assistance administered by the Office on Violence Against Women.
…developing, enlarging, or strengthening programs and projects to provide services and responses targeting male and female victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, whose ability to access traditional services and responses is affected by their sexual orientation or gender identity, as defined in section 249(c) of title 18, United States Code; and
Congress PASSED THIS LANGUAGE in 2013, 286 to 138. The Senate PASSED THIS LANGUAGE 78 to 22.
Why then, are you paying lip service to NC’s demonstrably false talking point that Congress hasn’t taken up the issue of “gender identity”?
Why won’t you report that NC is being sued because they agreed to the terms of the VAWA, received money under the VAWA, and then just declared that they’ve decided to not honor their contract with the Federal government?
Why have you REFUSED to print what the DOJ explicitly told you? Here it is again:
“We also bring a claim in the Violence Against Women Act, a more recent statute specifically designed to prevent discrimination against transgender people by entities that accept certain federal funds. As with Title IX, entities that accept federal funds under VALA, including UNS and the NCDPS, pledged that they would not discriminate against sex or gender identity. Our complaint seeks to enforce that pledge and hold those entities accountable for the kind of discrimination required by HB2.” – Vanita Gupta
The reality is that under the VAWA and Title IX, NC is contractually obliged to not discriminate against anyone based on “gender identity”. NC demanded the special right to not have to honor their contractual word. Not only that, NC then demanded that the federal government continue to fund them under a contract NC has declared they refuse to honor.
Why do you refuse to point out this simple — yet absolutely central — contractual fact?
For the past month, the adults of San Antonio have been wringing their collective hands in very public displays of “concern” over a city ordinance that would extend equality to *gasp* trans citizens. While the notion of trans/cis equality has set the adult’s tongues awaggin, their children already extend this equality to trans children.
San Antonio ISD has, for some time now, had a trans-inclusive policy in place and you know what’s happened? Nothing. Not a damn thing… other than trans and cis children living side-by-side (and yes, even using the hygiene facilities) as equal citizens. Apparently being as mature as their children is asking way too much from some San Antonio adults. In response to the bigoted hyperbole pushed by the radical right, policymakers have recently added a provision to the proposed “equality” ordinance that will preserve the right of cisgender people to have transgender people jailed for using a restroom.
I feel for the council member’s (CM) aid as she tries to defend the CM’s “compromise” on San Antonio’s LGB(t) equality bill. Acting as a secret shopper, I pose as a well informed Texas-style bigot trying to make sure that the CM doesn’t violate my “right” as a cisgender person to have transgender people arrested for emptying their bladders.
The purpose in my role as a secrete shopper was to reveal the bigotry and cisprivilege inherent in the CM’s “compromise.”
I guess this is what passes for “equality” for some San Antonio adults. While San Antonio kids have no issues with trans/cis equality, the adults are ready to take to the streets if it means an end to trans/cis segregation. I know it’s strange to think that you don’t get to lock your trans neighbors in a cage when they pee, but the folks at GetEquel want you to support the idea that adults need to be at least as mature and rational as their children. I know… The concept is totally wackadoodle, but there you go.
“If you look up the Texas vs Littleton case that might give you the information that you’re looking for… To, um, have gender specific bathrooms that are permanent” – Council member’s aid
Jeff:You get the most political points by standing up for traditional values with this one. It’s not an economic argument. This isn’t a small government argument. This is a social, cultural argument right here and this is how you… And you’re going to score the biggest points by taking that stand.
James: I agree with that but to play devil’s advocate, you could try to swing the conservative gay vote, who are, they’re conservative in their beliefs but…
CW Chan: No, I don’t think that’s…
James: It would be way fewer points though.
Roger: But if she’s, if you’re in a Republican primary against anyone that you could conceivably be against, they’re also going to be opposed to gay marriage. So that means that anyone who is gay, that’s their only issue.
CW Chan: You know, I voted no when that was put on the Constitution about a marriage should be between a man and woman.
CW Chan: Okay? And I’m telling you, that’s how… That’s okay if you want… This is my philosophy, guys. Whatever you want to do in your bedroom, that’s none of my business, but do not impose your view on other people, especially become a policy. And I’m, that’s all. Because personally, I think it’s just disgusting just to even think about. All the… definitions…
Jeff: But, but if you are, but if we are going to write something, I suggest it, to score the most points, it be, you know, a pro… It doesn’t have to be anti-gay, but pro-traditional values.
CW Chan: okay, I’m for that, but I don’t want to go against, necessarily… I don’t want to beat up anybody.
Jeff:No, you’re not going to beat up… That’s what I’m saying. It’s not anti-gay, it’s profamily.
Roger: And then the other thing I think you should do..
CW Chan:Maybe what we can do, can we maybe throw some questionable confusions like okay, this transgender… Because this definition is so broad, we don’t want to go into detail, but if you, I look up, I had a… Maybe I say I was not educated on what transgender is about. I look up the, the Wikipedia, whatever, and I’m very surprised how broad the definition can be and it can cause a lot of troubles. What is the, would that, in other words start to have a lot of questions. Would we be discriminating someone if a person go to uhh, uhh, go to a female bathroom?
CW Chan: Because the person that I am…
Jeff: I feel like I’m a woman.
CW Chan: … I feel myself that I’m a woman…
James: That gets down to, umm, what’s on the driver’s license. In some states, you can get, if you have…
Jeff: In the state of Texas, identifies you with what you were born as.
James: By chromosome, right?
Jeff: It’s about what you were born as. By the equipment you have at birth…
CW Chan: Exactly!
And it seems that her plan is going off without a hitch.
San Antonio isn’t the only Texas town with cis/trans equality policies that kids have no problems with. Here in Houston, our trans youth have full access to everything that their cisgender counterparts have access to. Yes, that means restrooms, sports, and changing facilities… And you know what? It’s been that way for years and if you haven’t noticed yet, the doom and gloom the radical right is forever forecasting hasn’t materialized.
Supposedly, as the RadRight narrative goes, the California bill protecting trans kids in school is anarchy and madness. Unsurprisingly, TERFs and H-BSers jumped on that narrative:
You know what?
Here in TEXAS – yes, conservative TEXAS – we’ve had these California-style policies in effect for YEARS. And you know what’s happened? Nothing… Except trans kids got to go to school without having to face institutionalized bigotry.
Yup, from kindergarten to high school, here in Texas towns like Houston, trans kids have been able to transition and be protected on the basis of gender identity for years. Worse (for the nutty narrative on offer by fringe groups), Houston isn’t the only Texas town with these protections on the books. Other Texas towns with these California-style policies are Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso and San Antonio. Worse still, most Texas universities have similar California-style policies.
Here I am helping to get these policies passed here in Houston, Texas:
While these fringe groups have collectively gotten the vapors over this California law, a lot of Texas towns went further. We’ve even extended gender identity protections to the SCHOOL EMPLOYEES too!
Nutty groups like TERFs, H-BSers and fringe radical right groups have asserted all kinds of hyperbole in the hope that it will scare you into helping them harm trans kids. There’s a reason you’ve never heard any of them clue you in on the fact that these policies have been in effect for years throughout conservative areas of the nation.
Let’s be honest, how likely is it that all of these extremist groups are clueless that California-style policies were already enacted all over the country – for years – before taking to various media outlets to encourage you to help them harm trans kids? Why is it that they never talk about that? What purpose does it serve to pretend that liberal California is the first to enact these policies? What purpose does it serve to not tell you that this isn’t anything new? What purpose does it serve to not tell you that these policies haven’t been the harbingers of doom they claim them to be?
Let’s be clear:
These policies are about the well-being of trans kids in a cis privileged system.
These policies have been in effect for years in even conservative areas.
These policies haven’t produced the hellish urban dystopian future these fringe groups are forever promising looms just over the horizon.
These groups like to pretend that gender identity means something like “how you feel” when you wake up in the morning. Here’s what the FBI says gender identity means:
“A person’s internal sense of being male, female, or a combination of both; that internal sense of a person’s gender may be different from the person’s gender as assigned at birth”
When the term was first popularized, here’s what it meant:
Gender identity is the sense of knowing to which sex one belongs, that is, the awareness ‘I am a male’ or ‘I am a female’. This term gender identity’ will be used in this paper rather than various other terms which have been employed in this regard, such as the term ‘sexual identity’. ‘Sexual identity’ is ambiguous, since it may refer to one’s sexual activities or fantasies, etc. The advantage of the phrase ‘gender identity’ lies in the fact that it clearly refers to one’s self-image as regard to belonging to a specific sex. Thus, of a patient who says: ‘I am not a very masculine man’, it is possible to say that his gender identity is male although he recognizes his lack of so-called masculinity. – International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1964, v 45, pages 220 – 226
I dunno, but it seems to me that the meaning of gender identity has been fairly consistent over the past HALF CENTURY or so.
Opponents of trans protections often claim that we don’t have exact definitions for gender identity because… Well, who the hell knows what that even means, amiright?
The term is as well defined as other terms used in policy – like, say sex. I could make equally preposterous arguments against any policy containing the term sex because, well… what exactly is sex anyway? Are we talking about genitals and if so, exactly how do we deal with the 1 in 500 intersex births? Are we talking about a binary chromosome set: XX & YY and if so, what does sex mean when dealing with the many other types of chromosomal configurations like XO, XXY, etc? Are we talking about whatever is put on your birth certificate and if so, what does that mean when 1000s of them are changed/corrected year year in America? Are we talking about socialization and if so, why would anyone oppose a trans kid in transitioning at an early age? Are we talking about secondary sex characteristics and if so, what does that mean when we talk about transsexual and/or AIS/PAIS people? If we are talking merely about the way a body functions to facilitate sexual reproduction, what does sex mean for the 1000s of kids born each year without this ability?
Any term we use in any bill or legal argument can be picked apart in this way. These arguments are called equivocation. Who remembers Clinton asking exactly what is is?
Fringe groups like to tout this rhetorical tactic around as if they have something really insightful to say.
What about those dreadful appeals to emotion? You know, those arguments that sound a lot like the following ridiculous appeal to have non-transgender women banned from schools and female hygiene facilities:
Look at the above image.
ALL of these are women born women and they’re dangerous. These non-transgender women are guilty of rape. They’ve even stalked their young victims and raped them at knife point. This is undeniable proof that cisgender women are a danger and for the sake of creating safe places, we need laws on the books that will keep kids safe from cisgender women. It’s not that I hate cisgender women; that’s not the issue. I support rational equality; and besides, this isn’t even an equality issue here… I’m not a bigot. From the evidence presented here, one can only rationally conclude that cisgender women can obviously be dangerous predators. The women in the image are just a small sample of the long, long list of womyn born womyn perverts.
The list goes on and on. Lives were ruined by these cisgender women perverts. This isn’t about the adults. This is about the safety of YOUR family. What would YOU do if one of your kids found themselves alone in the bathroom with a cisgender woman?!?
If you can stand it, read a sample of how disgusting a cisgender women can be:
!!! TRIGGER WARNING !!!
I’m not saying that all cisgender women are perverts, but I just don’t want to risk the safety of my child around a non-transgender women. Would you risk your child? Of course not.
Did you know that non-transgender women are even organizing to expand their power in influence in society? They even hold annual gatherings to plot their next move. They’re already in the classrooms and the bathrooms picking their next victim. They’ve already used their position as cisgender women teachers to prey upon YOUR children. Again, this is a real issue that the media isn’t covering… and do you know why? It’s not politically correct to go on record as taking a stand against non-transgender women.
America has a long tradition of putting the well-being of children first. Who are you to tell my family that we have to suddenly tear down that tradition? Things have worked just fine and now our nation’s tradition of doing the right thing – the rational thing – is being discarded at the cost of safety, security and well-being.
Let’s cut through all the politically correct BS. Do you really want a cisgender teen or adult hanging out in the bathroom with YOUR child? What about your child’s school shower? Do you really want to take that chance? I know I don’t!!!
I know that you’ve heard media outlets make these very arguments against trans people. These BS appeals to emotion pimp out the actual suffering of very real and horrific violence, debasing the real hardships people have faced by using it in an effort to trick people into harming trans kids:
We’re talking about trans children and their ability to make it through school without dealing with the same institutionalized hate I faced. When you hear bigots try to sway you with equivocation and/or appeals to emotion and tradition, simply ask them:
In what way does gender equality nullify laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance?
It always seems to derail their rantings because you know what? It doesn’t.
On July 4, the Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) published an editorial in which a transsexual, Cei Bell came out in support of Victoria Brownworth, the journalist at the center of a recent controversy about unethical (and possibly criminal) practices concerning what CPS called, “child exploitation.” Brownworth has been recently criticized for, as one commenter put it:
… speaking out of both sides of her mouth. Calling trans women men and suggesting they’re sexual predators in one sphere and, the same month, doing an article like this. And it was about how the PGN seems to have real issues understanding why using someone spouting the attitudes of Ms. Brownworth to do pieces on the trans community is not okay.
Brownworth published an article on PGN about transwomen who are forced into sex work due to oppression and bigotry. The idea that a supporter of the ideological underpinnings of the very system of oppression which forces trans women into sex work seemed ironically cruel to some.
In response, PGN has worked to support Brownworth. Last week, they published a piece supporting her, the article which has come under fire for “child exploitation” seems to have been quietly redacted and this week PGN found a transwoman to write a piece supporting Brownworth. Brownworth’s transsexual supporter writes:
Victoria and I discussed the Leslie Phillips/Sisterspace incident when it happened. There is a nuance that is overlooked. Victoria was asking specifically why Leslie had to be in a leadership position at Sisterspace as opposed to simply being a member. She was questioning whether the need to be in a leadership position was a result of Leslie’s history of white male privilege. If a transgender person benefited from a successful lifetime of white male privilege, can she suddenly authentically become a feminist woman? Why was it necessary to be in a position of power?
I understand the danger the young women Victoria wrote about are living with… I am very happy that Victoria wrote this series. We need more people to take up this issue… My concern is that blacks and transsexuals are often hyperssexualized by white cisgender people. Writing about the specific sexual acts that the sex workers perform feeds prurient interests and stereotypes in readers.
A glowing endorsement to be sure – which is interesting because apparently Bell’s views on Brownworth have… evolved:
Lesbians would never put up with gay men critiquing and picking apart their lives, community and political relevance.
You sound very much like a Christian ex-gay who is trying to reinforce herself by convincing others that if they too adopt your dogma/idealogy and repent then they will also be saved.
If you have always felt that you should have been a man why are you dressing femme? I haven’t worn pants in almost 20 years, not that there is anything wrong with pants. Did you decide to dress in femme clothes because it was advantageous professionally? Does that make you a transsexual man who is crossdressing? Yet you have the nerve to question whether this transgender “trend…is the byproduct of assimilationist politics.” I have heard of a lot of things over the years but never a transsexual assimilationist political convention. Many transsexuals have chosen to live quietly because it is dangerous to draw attention to ourselves but that is not assimilation. You refer to the psychiatric community considering gender dyphoria a disorder. This is the same psychiatric community that regarded homosexuality as an illness that could be cured.
You speak about Kate Bornstein and Renee Richards having ambivalent feelings about the limitations of sex reassignment. I’ve got news for you, life isn’t perfect. Life is never going to be perfect. Each of us has to learn to live with the limitations of whatever we decide to do. We make the best of the options we have (or don’t) and the choices we make. It would also be nice to not have our gender “dysphoria” be the most important issue in our lives and it would be easier if other people didn’t bother us about it..
It is not our role to sacrifice our lives to fight feminist culture battles for you. We transsexuals know our gender from the time we are first conscious of our identities at ages two, three and four. We know who we are in ways more certain than gays and lesbians, who often don’t know who they are till 30, 40 or even older. Transsexuality has nothing to do with feminism. For that matter neither does homosexuality or lesbianism. While one can be a feminist it doesn’t cause anyone to be a lesbian. Making a pseudo-intellectual feminist issue of transsexuality a psychiatric-medical condition we are born with, makes as much sense as proclaiming homosexuality an abomination before God.
Instead of critiquing transsexuals why don’t you and others such as Mary Daly, Janice Raymond, Alix Dobkin and Lagusta critique yourselves and ask what the effect of your bigotries has had on your lives? Seriously, who do you think you are? There aren’t that many of us. Are we an easier target than a real threat such as John McCain who wants to repeal Roe v. Wade?
I don’t care if I can’t go to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. I’ll start the St. Tropez Music Festival and lay out on the beach topless sipping champagne and singing Sarah Vaughn songs. Anybody want to join me?
I want to be very clear. I don’t give a flying fish whether you think transgender people, transsexuals specifically, have an appropriate relevant place in the movement. Get the f___ out of our lives.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
A commenter hits the nail on the head, writing:
I, like you – find the idea of attending Michigan tedious. I do however think businesses shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate regardless of my personal interest in what that business is selling. But – it’s not really something I’m going to invest much energy into as I don’t care to attend.
We all have nostalgia for your youth – we all deserve memories. Like Sally Jupiter those of us of a certain age feel to some degree “You don’t know. Things change. What happened happened 40 years ago. I’m 67 years old. Every day, the future looks a little bit darker. But the past……even the grimy parts of it… …keep on getting brighter.”
I will, however note that five years ago you were angry as someone with virulently transphobic opinions was allowed to speak for the very same part of our community she’s writing about today. You felt that her views would inform the work and that part of her motivation for writing it was to infuse those views into the public discourse about us. As she noted when writing that piece – it provided her the opportunity to discuss the issues she wished to address about us.
If the current article avoids some of her editorializing in her news pieces it’s due in no small part to the response five years ago and the response today ensuring her editor and publisher take great care with what they print and try to not let her slip those purposeful underminings of trans people into the story under the guise of how much she cares. Even if she does so right now in other venues and persists in misgendering women and men with trans histories while writing this series…
The bottom line is that someone with decades of behavior at variance with respecting trans people shouldn’t be given a platform to write about trans people. And you’re right – the lame excuse given that trans people can’t be objective while writing about ourselves is laughable coming from a venue peopled with gay people writing about themselves.
Regardless of how much her friends wish to rehabilitate her on this issue or how many awards she’s received from people who aren’t trans people.
Most of the Womyn that come to fest really don’t care whether you’re straight or not as long as your not trans.
– D.M., Festival Supporter, July 4, 2012
It’s been 23 years since the MWMF became a symbol of all that’s wrong with cis-privilege and some might wonder why the fight to end cis/trans segregation at the MWMF continues to be relevant. Lost in the discussion is the actual story of what transpired that cool August night back in 1991. Here’s what happened that night, as recounted by Nancy Burkholder herself:
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n August, 1991 I attended my second Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF) with Laura Ervin. Laura and I drove 1,050 miles nonstop in her vehicle… and arrived at the festival, car #33, at about 9:00 am Monday morning. We walked and talked with women waiting with us on the road, bought raffle tickets from a festival promoter, and joined women in joyous enthusiasm, camaraderie and expectation while we awaited the start of the festival at 2:00 pm. When we got onto the land Laura volunteered the use of her vehicle to help with shuttle service. Laura and I split the work shift. I worked the first two hours while Laura moved our gear to the campsite and set up her tent. She worked the next two hours while I set up my tent.
Del added that the policy was for the benefit of the transsexuals’ safety and the safety of the women attending the festival
After going through an orientation run with a shuttle coordinator I began the process of loading women’s gear and driving them to their desired destinations. I felt a sense of pride in my work; welcoming the women, helping them with their gear, and answering their questions. At the completion of my shuttle shift I set up my [campsite], took a much welcomed shower and went for a long walk in the woods. I met Laura at our campsite and she invited me to walk with her to the main gate to meet a friend who was arriving on a chartered bus from Grand Rapids at 10:00 pm.
We arrived at the main gate at about 9:30 pm and sat down around the fire pit with several other women. We chatted with the women and enjoyed the warmth of the fire. At about 10:00 pm we received word that the bus was delayed and would arrive around 11:00. Laura and I decided to remain at the main gate until the bus arrived. We continued to socialize with the women who come and went from the area of the fire pit. The bus arrived at about 11:00 pm and Laura went over to the bus. A woman requested that I stay away from the bus to avoid congestion. I stopped at the edge of the road about 20 feet from the fire pit.
While I waited for Laura to return I was approached by two women, Chris Coyote and Del Kelleher. Chris said that she needed to speak with me regarding a serious and difficult matter. Sensing her urgency I suggested we move away from the women near the fire pit in order to talk privately. Chris said that the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival was a woman-only event and she wanted to know if I was a man. I replied that I was a woman and I showed her my NH picture ID driver’s license. Then she asked me if I was a transsexual. I asked her what was the point of her questioning and she replied that transsexuals were not permitted to attend the festival. She said that MWMF policy was that the festival was open to “natural, women-born-women” only. I replied that nowhere, in any festival literature or the program guide was that policy stated. I asked Chris to please verify that policy and she went to the office to contact the festival producers, Lisa Vogel and Boo Price. Sometime during this conversation I waved Laura to come over and she witnessed much of what transpired.
I continued speaking with Del. Del stated that the reason the policy was not in any literature was because the issue of transsexuals had never come up as a problem before. Del added that the policy was for the benefit of the transsexuals’ safety and the safety of the women attending the festival. When I pointed out that there were other transsexuals on the land she acknowledged that this was true. Then she added, ‘We haven’t caught them yet, but we did catch you.”
My mind was blank, my body absolutely still as I became aware of the emotional devastation that I felt inside
At around midnight Chris returned and told me that she had talked to the producers and that they had indeed verified that transsexuals were not allowed at the festival. I asked to speak with the producers directly. Chris stated that the producers would not speak with me and that she was the designated contact for the producers. Chris asked me if I had had a sex change operation. I replied that was none of her business. I said that I was willing to submit to genital examination in order to satisfy her concerns about my sex. She replied that she would not feel comfortable doing this. I said that was a rather odd reaction since public nudity was quite common at festival. How would viewing my cunt be different from any other woman’s? I told her to please produce her proof to her insinuations that I was a transsexual. She looked at me for a few seconds, saying nothing. Then she said that the festival producers had empowered her to expel any woman at any time, at her discretion. She told that I had I had to leave the festival and that I would not even be allowed to return to my campsite to retrieve my equipment. I realized that Chris and Del were expelling me in spite of all the irrefutable legal and anatomical proof that I was a women. I knew there was nothing more I could say to these women. I resigned myself to the fact that these women were expelling me from the festival.
Laura and Chris departed to pick up a few of my personal belongings while Del stayed with me. Del facilitated some arrangements for a room at a motel in Walhalla, about 10 miles distant. For some moments I stood outside the circle of women at the fire pit at the place where out conversation transpired. The night was clear and the air had a chill to it. Suddenly I realized I was cold. I was wearing only nylon shorts, a flannel shirt and sandals. I hadn’t dressed for extended night-time exposure. Del invited me to return to the fire pit. I sat at the edge of the pit for a long time, I’m not sure how long. My mind was blank, my body absolutely still as I became aware of the emotional devastation that I felt inside. The events that were going down seemed totally unreal. Nevertheless I found a place of calm inside myself. I found acceptance for my situation, and I could feel the emotional devastation without the devastation overwhelming me. I stared into the fire. The heat from the glowing embers warmed my legs and face. Del stayed close by. From the time Del and Chris first approached me until I left the land, I was guarded and forbidden form leaving the area around the fire pit.
After some time Del met with a woman from the office and she called me to come over to her. I got up and went over. I turned on my flashlight and she handed me a printed receipt stamped with an MWMF logo. I signed the receipt and she gave me a cash refund for my ticket. I held my flashlight up and pointed its beam at my right wrist as Del cut the wrist ticket free. Then I returned to the fire pit to await Laura’s return. During this time not one of the half-dozen women who sat with me at the fire pit spoke or looked at me. I no longer tried to keep secret the nature of the events that were going down. I asked Del if someone was going to protect my personal belongings from theft or vandalism. She replied that Chris and my friend had probably gone back to the site to retrieve all of my belongings.
At about 12:50a.m. Laura returned with all of my equipment and her car. We departed the land. In less than two hours and under the cover of darkness, the festival personnel had expelled me from the land. Their actions were facilitated by our closeness to the main gate and the lateness of the hour. There were no witnesses to the events except for Laura, Chris and Del. I don t know the women present at the fire pit knew of the events that had transpired.
Laura and I arrived at the motel at about 1:20 am Tuesday morning. We were both emotionally and physically exhausted. Neither of us had slept more than a few hours in the past 42 hours. The motel room was a small, cinder block room. We were greeted by the smell of wet, moldy carpet. The stillness of the night was interrupted by the loud roar of trucks passing by our open window facing Route 10. I still could not believe this was really happening.
I slept very little that night. I was exhausted from our 20 hours of travel and in shock from the emotional trauma perpetrated by the festival women. I eventually slept for a few hours and when I awoke it was light outside. The mattress bed had duplicated the effect of sleeping outside on the hard ground. My hips and thighs ached.
I showered, repacked my gear and we departed for Grand Rapids. When we stopped for breakfast at Muskegon I called to make reservations for a plane flight home. The flight cost $382 and I was grateful for having a credit card. I did not have the cash. I departed Grand Rapids at 12:40p.m. and arrived at Worchester, MA at about 6:25p.m. Laura called ahead and made arrangements for transportation from the airport to me car which me an additional $50. I drove home, arriving at about 9:15 pm.
Why is Nancy’s experience relevant to modern trans discourse? Why is the trans community and its allies still focused on ending the discrimination all trans individuals risk at the MWMF?
What happened to Nancy sparked the first community-wide response to the Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF*) oppression of trans people and was buoyed by the 1991 print publication of Sandy Stone’s response to TERF hate, The Empire Strikes Back. During the previous decade, TERF ideology had begun to bear fruit. TERF leadership had said that the ”problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence” and they sought to do just that. They lobbied two US administrations (Carter and Reagan) to set up a national program of forced reparative therapy for all trans folk. They teamed up with a powerful racist and successfully stripped the trans community’s access to medical care while at the same time hunting down trans folk in order to out them to their employers. They teamed up with their white upper-class transphobic gay leaders to defeat trans protections and to wipe the trans community from the collective memory of queer history. By 1991, trans people – as a community – had finally had enough and mobilized against TERF hate. The MWMF became both the embodiment of and loud apologist for the very ideology which sought to realize a world in which trans people didn’t exist.
Consider the way the abuse affected Nancy: “My mind was blank, my body absolutely still as I became aware of the emotional devastation that I felt inside. The events that were going down seemed totally unreal. Nevertheless I found a place of calm inside myself. I found acceptance for my situation, and I could feel the emotional devastation without the devastation overwhelming me.” Is responding to systems that perpetuate this type of abuse still relevant?
The reason Nancy was given for her treatment was that the cis-only policy was , ” … for the benefit of the transsexuals’ safety and the safety of the women attending the festival.” For just a few moments, think about both the threat and the assumption underlying that policy. The TERF ideology informing this policy assumes that trans folk pose an inherent risk to cis folk. Moreover, there is the implied threat that should a trans person be discovered, trans folk may face a brutal response. Are narratives which teach cis people to view trans people as an inherent risk still affecting the trans community today?
Is the MWMF still an embodiment of and apologist for the very TERF ideology that recently sought to have the United Nations declare open season on trans people? When a TERF leader said in 1979 that the best way to deal with the trans experience would be to “mandate it out of existence,” has not the MWMF carried out this very policy for the last 23 long years?
Since the MWMF has never repealed their cis-only policy, the protests continue.
“We have made it clear that this will be our last time at the Festival until MWMF shows visible and concrete signs of changing their intention,” Amy Ray and Emily Saliers wrote on their site. “We have no animosity towards anyone in this case but see the deep and fearless legacy that MWMF has had during its existence and we honor that. We also honor the prayerfulness that has been a part of this struggle on both sides.” – Indigo Girls, 4/4/2013
“With a heart full of love, sadness and hope I am writing to announce my decision to cancel my performance at the 2013 Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Since the announcement of my intended participation several weeks ago I have received a great deal of heartfelt feedback that in light of the festival’s policy of not welcoming trans women, my decision to attend is one that is causing pain within our community, and that is truly the opposite of what I had hoped to create by attending.” – Andrea Gibson, 3/24/13
Is it still relevant to stand against trans discrimination and cis-privilege at every turn?
Tell me what you think in the comment section below!
Houston, we have a problem. Or, I should say that RadFems and Fundies have a problem on their hands. You might have missed it, but the American Psychiatric Association published their position on “transgender and gender variant” people this week… And their position is problematic to the beloved narrative and traditional goals favored by RadFems and Fundies:
Long-standing medical and psychiatric literature demonstrates clear benefits of medical and surgical interventions to assist gender variant individuals seeking transition. However, transgender and gender variant people are frequently denied medical, surgical, and psychiatric care related to gender transition. Access to medical care (both medical and surgical) positively impacts the mental health of transgender and gender variant individuals.
Being transgender or gender variant implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities; however, these individuals often experience discrimination due to a lack of civil rights protections for their gender identity or expression. Transgender and gender variant persons are frequently harassed and discriminated against when seeking housing or applying to jobs or schools, are often victims of violent hate crimes, and face challenges in marriage, adoption and parenting rights.
Discrimination and lack of equal civil rights is damaging to the mental health of transgender and gender variant individuals. For example, gender-based discrimination and victimization were found to be independently associated with attempted suicide in a population of transgender individuals, 32% of whom had histories of trying to kill themselves, and in the largest survey to date of gender variant and transgender people 41% reported attempting suicide.*
The APA joins other organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, in endorsing strong policy statements deploring the discrimination experienced by gender variant and transgender individuals and calling for laws to protect their civil rights.
As if that’s not bad enough, they make their position crystal clear in the following enumerated points:
The American Psychiatric Association:
Recognizes that appropriately evaluated transgender and gender variant individuals can benefit greatly from medical and surgical gender transition treatments.
Advocates for removal of barriers to care and supports both public and private health insurance coverage for gender transition treatment.
Opposes categorical exclusions of coverage for such medically necessary treatment when prescribed by a physician.
The American Psychiatric Association:
Supports laws that protect the civil rights of transgender and gender variant individuals.
Urges the repeal of laws and policies that discriminate against transgender and gender variant people.
Opposes all public and private discrimination against transgender and gender variant individuals in such areas as health care, employment, housing, public accommodation, education, and licensing.
Declares that no burden of proof of such judgment, capacity, or reliability shall be placed upon these individuals greater than that imposed on any other persons.
It’s now officially out of step with what is what is known about mental well-being to look upon trans folk with suspicion and contempt when we use the bathroom, buy clothing and just try to live our fucking lives. Furthermore, the actions of RedFems and Fundies are being recognized for what they are: real and measurable violence:
Discrimination and lack of equal civil rights is damaging to the mental health of transgender and gender variant individuals. For example, gender-based discrimination and victimization were found to be independently associated with attempted suicide in a population of transgender individuals, 32% of whom had histories of trying to kill themselves, and in the largest survey to date of gender variant and transgender people 41% reported attempting suicide.
When RadFems and religious fundies team up to spread the tranny bathroom meme to any and all gulible enough to listen, they are supporting real and measurable violence against trans folk.
When RadFems tried to have trans protections removed at the UN, they were supporting real and measurable violence against trans folk.
When RadFems tried to prevent trans women from accessing counseling services at the Lesbian Resource Center, they were supporting the real and measurable violence which claimed Filisa Vistima’s life.
… their arrogance and oppressiveness is amazing. It is funny though that they are so used to Feminists immediately bowing before them that they don’t know how to deal with that we don’t care what happens to them. They expect we’ll be shocked to see statistics about them being killed, and don’t realize, some of us wish they would ALL be dead. – BevJo, RadFem leader
RadFems/Fundies are objectively mistaken about what constitutes acting in accord with what is known about psychological well-being and worse, in their obdurate hubris they visit cruelty, misery and death upon thousands.
Actually, this quote is 40 years old and comes from a pamphlet published by a religious fundamentalist group campaigning against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). While this equality-for-the-sexes amendment was approved by the federal government, a fundamentalist bathroom argument scared enough states into not ratifying the amendment so that it ultimately failed to become part of our Constitution.
The above story is worth a read. It’s a glimpse into the very playbook Separatists and Fundies use in their war against transgender equality.
Here’s just a few quotes:
(NOTE: When the ERA discussion talks about the integration of restrooms, “integrate” meant allowing men access to the women’s restrooms under the cover of an equality law.)
“ERA would… integrate public toilets.”
“Law professor Paul Freund objected in 1973 to being “quoted erroneously and out of context by certain opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment” and commented flatly, “I have not staled, and 1 do not believe, that the Amendment would require the sharing of rest room and prison cells by both sexes.” Yet in 1975 a huge anti-ERA advertisement in Baton Rouge papers credited him with the allegation that the ERA would integrate bathrooms.”
And then the story gets down to the point of restroom scare tactics:
“The hubbub over the implementation of the Amendment is designed to elicit a knee-jerk reaction…”
Compare this to the rhetoric of the modern anti-equality fundamentalist camp:
Compare this to the rhetoric of the modern anti-equality Separatists camp:
This letter linked back (note the “xxii” citation) to Taylor’s site wherein she asserts “When discussing laws that protect gender identity and expression, for public accommodations, it is crucial to use specific language.” She then goes on to warn the reader about the evils of “broad definitions of gender identity and/or expression.” As part of her warning, she lists a number of incidents wherein men (whose unrelated behavior could somehow/some way be tied to back to breaking some sort of gender stereotype) hurt women. For example, Taylor cites the arrest of a peeping tom who was wearing panties on his head:
Did the anti-ERA people have any evidence to support their assertion that equality laws nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance? Nope… just fear and a purposeful misrepresentation of the facts concerning the restroom safety.
Do the modern anti-trans religious fundies have any evidence to support assertion that equality laws nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance? Nope… just fear and a purposeful misrepresentation of the facts concerning the restroom safety.
Do the modern TS Separatists have any evidence to support assertion that equality laws nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance? Nope… just fear and a purposeful misrepresentation of the facts concerning the restroom safety.
If they can integrate restrooms on the basis of race, why not on the basis of sex?
These anti-equality groups have had 40 years to make their evidence-based case showing us exactly how equality laws nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance. Have they done it even once? Nope. When I challenged Dana Lane Taylor a few weeks ago to provide just 10 real-world examples, she shut down her entire site and hasn’t yet provided any examples of how trans protections nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance.
So, what might you expect the forces of anti-equality to do when they can’t actually make a cogent evidence-based argument explaining exactly how equality laws nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance? Well, they do what comes naturally… they just lie:
What are the forces of anti-equality hoping to communicate with their propaganda? Are they claiming that a rapist in a dress thought they’d get away with a rape due to equality laws? Are they suggesting that equality protections somehow condones abhorrent behaviors like rape? Are they hoping to make the public believe that in the absence of equality protections, a rapist is somehow prevented from entering a restroom due to some force field-like bubble which equality will somehow destroy? Well, yes… those are apparently the basic arguments anti-equality forces have made for decades.
They hope that the normal knee-jerk revulsion against cruel violence will shut down your critical thinking abilities. They hope that instead of thinking of rapists as being the threat, you’ll instead see crossdressers, non-op and pre-op people as being a threat. Because, if they can get you to do that, the process of dehumanization will begin so that you’ll easily conflate rapists (a behavior) with crossdressers, non-op and pre-op people (an identity) and crossdressers, non-op and pre-op people will naturally become possible rapists who should be treated with suspicion. If they can get you to do this mental gymnastic, there will never be any need for them to produce objective evidence explaining exactly how equality laws nullifies existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance. No, with the anti-equality blinders on, the risk crossdressers, non-op and pre-op people pose will seem self-evident.
[Non-discrimination protections based upon gender identity] would allow all males – including registered sex offenders or males subject to a domestic violence order of protection – to assert “gender identity” as a means to invade female-only space. Indeed, these laws provide a legal basis for males to be in sex-segrigated space. It is well-documented that males as a class have a demonstrated history of harming females as a class by exploiting bemale biology (ie, rape, sexual violance, unwanted pregnancy).
– Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford United Nations letter in which they use Dana Lane Taylor’s Separatist propaganda to support defeating a UN trans-equality initiative.
Why do Fundamentalists and Separatists do it? Well, they do it because that tactic works! Not only did the bathroom meme defeat a constitutional amendment that passed the congress and the senate with the support of presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon and even the likes of George Wallace 40 years ago, it’s the only rhetorical tool that seems to gain traction when arguing against trans equality. Whether it’s arguing against the equality of trans and cis people, trans folk and transsexual separatists, trans folk and radical feminists, the bloody mantle of the bathroom meme serves as their foundational argument from which all other hyperbole is launched.
Now that I’ve touched on the fantasy, here’s the reality…
Trans woman being beaten by a cis woman
I have spent so many hours avoiding public multi-stall bathrooms that I have damaged my bladder and put pressure on my kidneys. The problem was a daily one. I’d think about where I was going what bathrooms I’d have access to, how much I drank during the day, whether I’d be with people who could help stand guard…
– Response to a 2002 survey conducted by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission which found that nearly 50% of transgender respondents reported harassment or assault in a public bathroom
We live under the constant threat of horrifying violence. We have to worry about what bathroom to use when our bladders are aching. We are forced to consider whether we’ll be dragged out of a bathroom and arrested or face a fist fight while our bladders are still aching . It’s an everyday reality for us. Human beings must use toilets… If I go into the women’s bathroom, am I prepared for the shouting and shaming? Will someone call security or the cops? If I use the men’s room, am I willing to fight my way out? Am I really ready for the violence that could ensue?
– Leslie Feinberg, Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue, p 68 – 69
Police officers often harass or abuse transgender and gender nonconforming people regardless of which sex-segregated bathroom they use. This harassment intensifies when coupled with the stereotyping of trans people as sexual predators. As such, the use of the ‘wrong’ bathroom . . . often results in arrests for crimes such as public lewdness, public obscenity, or public indecency. Refusing to comply with or simply questioning a police officer’s direction as to which bathroom the individual must use can often lead to charges such as resisting arrest or disorderly conduct.
– Pooja Gehi, Struggles from the Margins: Anti-Immigrant Legislation and the Impact on Low-Income Transgender People of Color, 30 WOMEN’S RTS. L. REP. 315, 326 (2009)
And it doesn’t stop with bathrooms. This level of violence is something trans folk must consider when buying cloths too. Here’s what State Rep. Richard Floyd (R) said he’d do to a trans person if they dared to buy clothes like anyone else might:
I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry.
Again, to hit home just how longstanding this meme is, consider the following quote from a 1970 anti-trans equality legal decision:
There are numerous subjects who would want to change their sex identity in order to perpetrate crimes of homicide, tape, robbery, assault, etc.”
– Columbus v. Zanders, 266 N.E.2d 602, 604–06 (Ohio Mun. Ct. 1970)
The time to end this intellectual barbarism has come!
Don’t surrender your critical thinking faculties to the likes of Separatists and Fundamentalists. Don’t fall for their blood-drenched games of rhetoric! The idea the various anti-equality forces seek to set loose within your mind is the same: bigotry. And a bigot is a bigot is a bigot:
Notice how the KKK uses the same rhetorical tool RadFems, Fundamentalists and TS Separatists use. They hope that the normal knee-jerk revulsion against cruel violence will shut down your critical thinking abilities. In the same way the Klan hopes that instead of thinking of rapists as being the threat, you’ll instead see the African-American community as being a threat, RadFems and TS Seps offer up the same logical fallacy. For the Klan, if they can get you to do that, the process of dehumanization will begin so that you’ll easily conflate rapists (a behavior) with African-American community (an identity) and the African-American community will naturally become possible rapists who should be treated with suspicion. Likewise, if RadFems and TS Seps can get you to do this same mental gymnastic, there will never be any need for them to produce objective evidence explaining exactly how racial equality laws nullifies existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance. No, with the anti-equality blinders on, the risk the African-American community poses will seem self-evident and with those same blinders on, the supposed risk the trans community poses will seem self-evident as well.
“[The the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan] was concerned about securing a future for his people… He wasn’t consumed by hatred for the black man and woman… We believe in self-determination for all people. We believe that the best minds of all people should work together for the advancement and development of their own people without being hindered by another racial group… No, we are not the enemies of the black man, the brown man, the red man, or the yellow man. Rather it is those who attempt to artificially force the different races together who are the enemies…”
Separatists are all too happy to pick up the very same butcher’s tools that everyone from those who would seek to bar Muslims from holding office to the likes of Dr. Ruth Jacobs would use in their anti-equality efforts and it’s as perverse as it is sickening. Whether it’s a racist separatist, a misogynist separatist, a philogynist separatist, a homophobic separatist or a transphobic separatist, they all trade in the same rhetorical mind games. Separatists (whatever their flavor) have the blood of very real suffering on their hands.
Now, as a preemption to the strawman argument I can already see coming… Don’t assert that I’m claiming that TS Separatists are racists or that they’re part of the KKK. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t use the same rhetorical tools the KKK does when making their case for separatism. I think membership in the Klan requires more than simply repurposing their playbook.
As some of you know some Separatists recently colluded in a bid to have the United Nations remove trans protections based upon gender identity and expression. Dana Lane Taylor, Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford happily sent the following letter to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women:
This letter linked back (note the “xxii” citation) to Taylor’s site wherein she asserts that a number of sick fucks who like to hurt women would be somehow protected/encouraged by trans protections based upon gender identity and/or expression: “When discussing laws that protect gender identity and expression, for public accommodations, it is crucial to use specific language.” She then goes on to warn the reader about the evils of “broad definitions of gender identity and/or expression.” As part of her warning, she lists a number of incidents wherein men (whose unrelated behavior could somehow/some way be tied to back to breaking some sort of gender stereotype) hurt women. For example, Taylor cites the arrest of a peeping tom who was wearing panties on his head. How is this type of behavior allowed, encourage and/or protected by trans anti-discrimination protections based upon gender identity and/or expression? Conveniently for their argument, Taylor, Brennan and Hungerford never actually gets around to offering an evidence-based explanation.
Were any of these incidents – in any way – protected by trans non-discrimination policy? Nope; but Taylor, Brennan and Hungerford were obviously hoping the UN wouldn’t notice that fact. Did any of the sick fucks get away with abusing someone due to trans protections? Nope; but again, Taylor, Brennan and Hungerford were obviously hoping the UN wouldn’t notice that fact either. Did Taylor, Brennan and Hungerford offer ANY actual evidence to support their premise that trans protections = men abusing women and circumventing existing laws protecting people against abuse and exploitation? Nope; but, Taylor, Brennan and Hungerford were obviously hoping the UN wouldn’t notice that fact either.
Which brings me to the point of this post…
Is their any substantive difference between what Taylor, Brennan and Hungerford did (and continue to do) and what the The Liberty Council (a right-wing fundamentalist Christian organization) has recently been doing?
“This was a man, everyone recognized it’s a man, going into the women’s restroom. Now whether that person has good or ill intentions towards women, no one knows, but the fact of the matter is when you defy common sense and when it says ‘women’s fitting room’ and you allow people other than women in that fitting room, you’re just asking for trouble. This is just an absurd policy, this is the so-called LGBT sexual anarchist agenda gone awry, I mean this is the absurdity to which this agenda goes when you ultimately follow it to its logical conclusion… [women] may be watched by a peeping tom or even worse, sexually assaulted or raped.”
Would Macy’s trans protections allow someone to circumvent laws protecting people from abuse and exploitation? Nope; but Mat Staver is hoping you wouldn’t notice that. Did the trans woman suffering possible androgen damage physically harm anyone? Nope; Staver is hoping you wouldn’t notice that. Was she caught trying to harm anyone? Nope; Staver is hoping you wouldn’t notice that. Did Mat Staver offer ANY actual evidence to support his premise that trans protections = men abusing women and circumventing existing laws protecting people against abuse and exploitation? Just like Taylor, Brennan and Hungerford, the answer is, of course, a resounding NO!
Am I the only one who sees the similarity here?
But wait, there’s more! Building on Separatist/Fundamentalist mythos, the Liberty Council’s Faith & Freedom radio program now claims to know of someone (they couldn’t remember his name) who has some sort of job at Macy’s (they couldn’t remember exactly what he did) who absolutely, positively knows of a bunch of women (they didn’t say how many or where all of these incidents occurred) who were assaulted (or maybe it was raped) at Macy’s BECAUSE OF Macy’s trans protections:
Yes, and because – and only because – this unnamed man showed someone at Macy’s what amounts to Taylor’s website, he was fired.
Again… all I have to say to Dana Taylor, Cathy Brennan, Elizabeth Hungerford, Mat Staver, the Liberty Council or the Faith & Freedom show is:
How is the propaganda Taylor, Brennan and Hungerford spread substantively different than any of the following fundamentalist right-wingers when it comes to trans protections based upon gender identity and expression?