Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The G & The L Rises, T Sinks And Fails, And All Is AOK? BS!

"He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it." — Martin Luther King Jr.

Well it didn't take long for responses to my last blog. One person wrote me privately saying she was disappointed I didn't "understand" how "serious" the Pam's House Blend controversy was and that I should've "come down harder" on her and Autumn Sandeen for these bannings or muzzlings they enacted on their trans "members and bloggers." Then on my posting I had a response from another suggesting I sit down with Mara and patch up philosophical differences, noting she was "not a card carrying member" of either of our organizations ... preferring to contribute to NGLTF because "they promote trans-inclusion."

Two completely different perspectives saying roughly the same thing: we need to make things work in gay and lesbian organizations or functions for us in order to make gay and lesbian led-groups succeed. Talk about your WTF moments! Perhaps my point in the previous blog wasn't clear enough.

Let me restate that point: we need our voice and for that matter autonomy, respect, experience, and control of our own destiny without shackles or limitations placed on us just as they need theirs. They have theirs already. Where do you see ours in any similar measure? It doesn't happen within GLBT. And outside GLBT we get a little awareness, but most of our own seems more than happy to build up the very gay and lesbian institutions while leaving the trans ones in neglect!

How do I need to rephrase this in order for our own community to understand? Maybe I do suffer from the communication disability that the G&L leaders so famously peg on us all. Lord knows trans people can't articulate our own issues, but let me know what I need to do to get this out and I'll struggle my way through it!

In 2000, during a visit at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) with Michael Gray and Alex Fox, I'd expressed how I personally didn't have a problem with them leaving the T out of their mission statement and their work. Yes, I meant every word of it. HRC was – is – the voice of the gay and lesbian community and Trans wasn't their forte. We in the T community needed our own voice, and needed it expressed from our perspective just as they needed and had theirs.

In the next two years, they first amended their mission, then worked with a new upstart individual to create another Trans organization that would supplant NTAC and its independent voice. This new group would help them by humiliating those of us who weren't working "with our (so-called) allies," and isolating those of us trans people who apparently weren't our own allies for wanting to speak to our own issues. It was better addressed by the "allies" as their "professionals" and by this logic knew our own issues and could address them better than we did. HRC was "the 800 lb. gorilla in the room ... (that) must be dealt with."

Even after the new group moved away from being such fans of HRC, they still had to be friends with them as they "had to work in the same space."

That latter sentiment is pure BS. None of these so-called allies is required to "work in the same space" as NTAC or other Trans organizations kept out of the mainstream of the entitled Queer movement. None of them have ever gone through "proper channels" on anything with us, not even any of the newer Trans organizations now or in the future. Why lend credibility to any of that?

"I would like to be open with the public. I would like to not keep secrets or be careful when I talk. I don't want to have to plan things...I want to be outspoken. I want to say my opinions and I hope they're taken in the right way. I don't want to stop being free. And I won't." — actress, Angelina Jolie

Gay and Lesbian America are quite well established and are perfectly positioned for, and awash in successful ventures. They even have us (with our limited resources) giving them a hand to build up theirs.

Now take a look at Trans America and our own ventures. Where in the hell do you see anything of theirs reciprocated back to us in whatever configuration? There is no similar effort to build our functions nor any dollar-for-dollar return on funding, much much much less anything commensurate (considering the size of their community comparative to our small and quite limited cumulative income levels between our two communities).

And after so many years of demonstrated history, noticing the all-too-obvious patterns, we trans people are insistent upon building up gay and lesbian institutions for what again? Their outspoken leaders are ballyhooed and given prominence. Our outspoken leaders are shamed into silence – and they even enlist some of our own to assist in doing so!

It's been clear to many of us for most of this decade that there's nothing in this "LGBT movement" for Trans folk. We're appends that they begrudge but tolerate as they must appear politically correct. So these leaders do enough for appearance's sake, manage us best as they can and seek out ways to make it pay for itself.

Their leaders are heroes. Our leaders are zeroes – mere trash to be tossed. Not much unlike how Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were considered back in their day, as only in death were they fondly remembered. We're every bit as useful and wanted to them as sand off the beach tracked into their shiny vehicles.

Make no mistake: Sylvia and many of the trans leaders and rioters of those days despise the movement for its hypocrisy and hard-heartedness. And though we must recapture our own voice, our outspoken leadership are and will continue to be as welcomed and as necessary as sand tracked into their vehicle after coming in off of the beach.

As Barney Frank, the Big Gay Man On The Hill, has noted so many times: they don't know who [trans] are. And as it's always a Barney, or a Joe Solmonese or a Matt Foreman or a Rea Carey or a GLAAD or someone similar who's always our prominent face to the rest of the world in politics, media and representation, that's who America will always believe we are.

And yes, in case you haven't noticed, they're all gay or lesbian. And yes, if that's who some of you trans folks wish to build up and promote, then I don't want to hear a word when we get ditched (due to insufficient education on Trans) and subsequently assumed and developed as a future cottage industry for these very same folks to continue validating themselves while continuing to keep us at bay and voiceless. Look around your NGLTF: how many trans people have they hired onto their staff historically? How many in any of these groups were leaders or highly visible throughout the years? If you can't answer those questions, then you haven't been paying attention anyway.

"All people saw on television were a few of my outspoken supporters out front; and they came away thinking that was me." — Sen. George McGovern about his presidential campaign in 1972

Ten years ago, I was one of the so-called "moderate voices of reason." My goal was to try to get us to some understanding of the needs of both sides and get these established groups to understand us as equals and to forge actual egalitarian ideals in our pursuit of rights as painlessly as possible. For my troubles, I ended up being written off as a radical protester and an enemy to be isolated and buried a few years hence. Yes I was naive and paid a price most severe.

Well, I'm not buried any more, and am in no mind to play "compromising" games that again rip our voices away from us. Giving up your right to voice your displeasure is and absolute zero sum game. You get less than nothing: helping them make their job easier is your only result.

Meanwhile, the State of Massachusetts announced today that they are suing the federal government over same-sex marriage and DOMA's infringement over the their state law per federalism. Meanwhile, trans people in that same state still have no hate crimes protection, no employment non discrimination and few if any job prospects. So do you think our voices have been heard? Do you really think that we actually matter? Or maybe fear and poverty aren't so bad, hmm?

This deep-seated mistrust of G&L institutions and functions didn't form in a vacuum and didn't happen overnight. This has been roiling underneath for quite some time. And it's about to boil over....

"When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose." — Like A Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan


proudprogressive said...

well Said Vanessa as usual. I have a sneaking sinking feeling that once again the empty promises and psuedo apologies of the Homosexual Rights Corporation will gladly through us under the bus again. And yeah what went down on the Blend just layed bare that after two full yrs of the most intensive organization , and speaking out there are too many in the TLGBQ demographic that refuse to awknowledge our humanity and needs..and OUR needs are not a negotiating chip.

JaynaPavlin said...

all I can say is well said Vanessa; even many of our trans orgs seem more beholden to G&L interest groups than to the communities they represent.

proudprogressive said...

Its time for change of strategy seriously the voice of reason, the multi prong approach , working within to change the lgb system is all well and good. But as said - our lives our Transgendered lives don't matter to THEM AT ALL. If we did we would not be held hostage to the priorities of the franchised and by that i mean the main stream gays and lesbians. What started as a human rights issue at Stonewall and before for the GENDER VARIANT became an Aids Movement, a marriage Movement and we still have no visabilit about how much blood , lack of access and opportunities there are for those who cannot assimilate into main stream "lgb" culture. And there is willful ignorance - there is the same willingness to scapegoat as there was since the blood letting of 07 on Americablog..these people have not educated themselves and i watched that Blend thread MANY MANY trans people educated , on the cis gendered word controvery - and we do this again and again to no avail -

so my suggestion is we jump the shark yep ! Think big and build along with the QUEERS who get it , that this is about systematic classism , and oppression on every front medical , social services, education , safety, legal issues. And we begin to build a movement that envisions an Expansion of the Civil Rights Codes of 64 and makes sure that church and state are well seperated - Stand up Keep standing up.

the lgb wants crumbs , they can afford to accept crumbs because fact is , it is easier to be "gay" in our society now - And as you say so MANY of us have donated , given time to gay issues , to issues that really don't effect us all that much as we fend off starvation literally for too many of us.

- its time to ally with other grass roots groups or pacs that have a platform that is truly human rights oriented. We have nothing to lose and possibly something to gain long term..this is for the Trans kids not even born yet. Just today Monica Roberts has a post up on the BET awards..whose who in the Black glbt and guess what ? NOT A SINGLE TRANS POC mentioned.

so yeah - fool us once shame on you - fool us about a gizillion times Shame on us. Its time to focus on doing for ourselves and holding our organizations accountable for hiring trans people, representing us not only to the public but reflecting and creating wealth for ourselves.

I have labored too long under that reasoning you yourself once held - the work together , be the moderate voice. But they consistently mistake our kindness, willingness to work together as weakness. And it is as you say a ZERO SUM GAME. The score is in - its time we all got this memo.

Anonymous said...

"You've just said a cotton-pickin' mouthful." - Robert Preston from Victor/Victoria

At 50, I still manage every once in a while to see things that give me hope for all gender-variant people and the human species as a whole. Your blog has done both. I know now that there are more people who have seen what I have seen and know the truth. Keep shining the light, girl. They will eventually see it, just as we have. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Nicely put.

I've held the position you propose for years...many, many years. Every time I voice it the insults, put downs, and silencing are legion.

As admirable as it may be, the TG advocates are too invested in the GLB. The transgender will lose their identity and implode if they are not able to cling to the GLB. One has a better chance of teleportation than convincing the transgender that the interests of the GLB are not necessarily in their best interest.

Why? The umbrella is way, way too big and covers too many groups whose agenda are not compatible.