miss_s_b: (Fanigrling: Rumpole)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Something that has really warmed the cockles of my flinty old heart the last couple of days has been the number of people - of all genders, cis and trans*, from most sides of the political divides - who have come together to say "hang on a minute, THAT'S not on" to the way trans* people are being treated by the media. Slightly less gratifying is the way that this all seems to be centred on the media and how everyone on all sides is being mean to the media, and not on the actual people who are suffering - and if you need any proof of trans* people's suffering, check out the #transdocfail hashtag on twitter, also covered in the Grauniad and by Zoe; or maybe look into forced divorce - but that's par for the course. What has happened is that people are suddenly starting to pay attention to trans* folk and listen to their voices. This can only be a good thing in my view.

Obviously many of the articles over the last few days concentrate on Burchillgate. The ones that I am going to link to below constitute an interesting cross section for those who are feeling a bit lost as to what is going on.
  1. Everything You always wanted to know about trans* issues but were afraid to ask by Jennie Kermode in The New Statesman
    The New Statesman is doing a trans* issues week this week. Presumably this was arranged long before the weekend's events, but it's good timing from them. The piece I link to above is a very good place to start if you're totally clueless on trans issues.

  2. On feminism, transphobia and free speech by Laurie Penny.
    Laurie argues that feminism and the trans* rights movement should be fighting for the same objectives: To learn that the world is not divided into ‘normal’ people and ‘freaks’ with you on the safe side is uncomfortable. To admit that gender identity, like sexual orientation, exists on a spectrum, and not as a binary, is to challenge every social stereotype about men and women and their roles in society. Good. Those stereotypes need to be challenged. That’s why the trans movement is so important for feminism today.

  3. The Burchill controversy: a mixed blessing for the trans community by Zoe O'Connell.
    Regular readers might have noticed that I link to articles by Zoe a lot. This is because she is awesome. Read the very balanced and well-sourced article linked if you have any doubts on that. She has a way of summing things up that just slots nicely into my brain patterns. I'm not going to pull out a quote because I really think you should read the whole thing.

  4. Julie Burchill, transphobia, and hostility towards the victims of oppression by Dean Burnett in the Grauniad.
    Dean is a neuroscientist, and in this piece theorises that the Just World Hypothesis might have something to do with the irrational way many people who are supposedly advocates for social justice are behaving on this issue. He also says that given... the Guardian's perceived poor track record in this area, I felt it was necessary to have at least one piece published under the Guardian banner that presented transphobia as illogical and irrational, which it definitely is.

  5. What the hell is wrong with you people by Sarah Brown.
    Sarah is another of those people who I link to a lot because I think she's awesome. In this piece she comprehensively dismantles the idea that oppressed people and their supporters pointing out to bigots that they are being bigoted is an attack on free speech. This is something I struggle to understand myself. Surely if a person is free to speak then other people are equally free to respond? Isn't that what free speech means? I don't want to support the kind of free speech that's only free for the powerful and the rest of us have to shut up... The comments on this piece are also well worth reading.

  6. Savile: Denialism and the "grooming the nation" delusion by Martin Robbins in The New Statesman
    Lest we think this is all high-falutin' academic discourse, Martin points out the very real dangers that all women, cis and trans, face in our rape apologist culture. I would argue that this also applies in different ways to racial minorities, genderqueer folks that don't fall under the banner of "women" for whatever reason, and basically anyone who does not conform to our society's rigid standards of "normality". Nobody should be enslaved by conformity, policed by loudmouths on the street, and that's why I am a Lib Dem, right there.
Hopefully those articles have given you a flavour of why I feel so strongly about this, even though it nominally doesn't affect me as a cis woman. Firstly, even though I'm cis, there are people I love who are not. Secondly, I don't want to see ANYBODY oppressed by the powerful because of who they are. People don't fit into neat little boxes of worthy and unworthy just because they fit into demographic groups of one sort or another. We are all individuals, and some of us have more struggles than others, but those of us who are struggling less should be helping those who are struggling more, not demonising them.

So if you're poor, I'm on your side. If you're black, I'm on your side. If you're disabled, I'm on your side. And if you're trans? Damn right I am on your side. Because at the end of the day, we all need to work on this, TOGETHER.

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
bagfish: Really, you can't pass (Gandalf)
From: [personal profile] bagfish
Thanks for this round-up Jennie. I read the original Suzanne Moore article in the Graun last week and was appalled by her flippant denial of trans* issues as being important, made even worse in some ways by the fact that I have always rather liked her writing and the points she makes on social justice. I hate it when people who should be able to understand and that I have looked up to fail so badly, it feels like a betrayal.

I didn't read the Burchill article on the basis that it sounded horrific (and I hate the woman and most of her views, always have done), but have read quite a lot of the comment around it.

What I seem to be seeing is almost a division by age - the feminists in their late 40s to 60s (e.g. Julie Bindel and her ilk) just can't get their heads around trans*-rights issues. I don't know how these 1980s and 90s opinion formers became so inflexible, but it seems that they are refusing to open up feminism to everyone, they want to keep it white, cis and mainly middle class, and the conflicts are arising in the intersections - with for example PoC, trans*, fat and disabled people. I have seen a lot of conflict in these interstices on fora such as Feministe and Shakesville.

Anyway, hopefully the dinosaurs will either be led to see the error of their ways, or be swept aside by the next wave of people dealing with rights for all marginalised groups.

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 08:15 pm (UTC)
ginasketch: (gender)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
What's sad is a lot of LGBT rights were won by trans* women of colour- and so many LGB don't know this. They don't know their own history! Trans women DIED for their rights.

Not surprising since organisations like Stonewall swept it all under the carpet though.

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
bagfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bagfish
Ha, I'm definitely a bad feminist and ally then, I didn't know that either. I shall go and find out more about that...

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
ginasketch: (flirt)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
Not knowing is fine.

Not knowing and refusing to learn is the bad thing.

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
bagfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bagfish
Thanks :D

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 09:17 pm (UTC)
ginasketch: (flirt)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
Good starting point: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/20/stonewall-holding-back-transgender-equality

Stonewall need one of those stars that says "I don't think you tried at all."

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 09:22 pm (UTC)
ginasketch: (flustered)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
Anyway, to cut a long story short: LGB groups like Stonewall often say Trans people shouldn't be included, because it's not a sexual orientation - it's a gender thing. When they plainly forget that trans* people fought alongside them for their hard won rights, and in heteronormative culture we were ALL seen as the weirdo "queers" who drunk at the same pub.

I don't get the hate. In fact, I'm glad I don't get it.

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 09:47 pm (UTC)
bagfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bagfish
FFS, what is it about people and organisations kicking the ladder down behind them?

With friends like Stonewall, who needs enemies. The fact that Stonewall felt it could speak for trans* people whilst cutting them out of the discussion with the government is appalling, and the use of "tranny" in the video is just, well, they surely should have known better. Arrghh!

edited for punctuation fail...
Edited Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 09:48 pm (UTC)

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
bagfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bagfish
I know what you mean about acknowledging people's work, I find it so hard to understand people who deliberately downplay the work and fighting for rights that other people/groups do. It's almost like they think that someone fighting for slightly different (but intersecting) rights devalues their own fight. Really odd and really wrong.

And yes, I feel horribly ignorant about a lot of the history of Trans* and LGB activism, but I'm prepared to admit the ignorance, and go away quietly and find out more. I still think it's v hard being an ally though as I often feel like I will say the wrong thing, so don't say anything at all in support which is also not productive.

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)
ginasketch: (surprise)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
I kind of had a feeling you just didn't realize what you were saying. There's a difference between ignorance and refusing to learn- i.e. I hate when people INSIST that I educate them about something when they could easily google it. The number of times I got asked "what does cis gender mean?" this week was annoying.

And we've all said ignorant stuff, myself included. No one has a gold star- the difference is when you try to learn from it.

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 08:54 pm (UTC)
ginasketch: (q hat)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
Because their philosophy can be summed up in five words:" screw you, I got mine."

Date: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 08:12 pm (UTC)
ginasketch: (smug)
From: [personal profile] ginasketch
Firstly, even though I'm cis, there are people I love who are not.

<3 you too

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