Posts Tagged ‘bigotry’

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​An Open Letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

26 October, 2016

Thank you, Mr. Paxton. Thank you for making your opinions on transgender people so clear. In a cultural climate that does not question the unfounded fears and hatred lobbed against those who are different, it is good to know we can count on you to lead a national campaign of hatred and toxic Christianity against us. Thanks in large part to your bigotry we cannot use the bathroom, we cannot get an education, and, now, we cannot even expect our health care officials to use our names and pronouns much less give us medical and psychiatric care.

Mr. Paxton, your rhetoric against us has stirred the coals of hate and fanned the flames of a national Salem witch hunt. You have declared the transgender medical condition “evil.” You use debunked pseudoscience to incite hatred and promote very non-Christ-like attitudes. You have sounded the cry of discrimination against yourself and those who believe like you, but I ask you, are you truly being discriminated against? Have transgender Americans sued the federal government to prevent you from using public accommodations? Have transgender Americans sought legal methods of stripping you of your rights? Are transgender Americans filing suits to prevent you from receiving timely, appropriate, and life saving medical care? How can you consider yourself oppressed when you are the person doing these things and more to a vulnerable population both in your home state and in your country?

Mr. Paxton, you have brought forty-three (43) suits against the government all intended to curtail or remove laws protecting one of the most discriminated against populations in the United States. You sow division and approve rhetorical methods that paint those different than you as malicious, evil, and destructive. Your rhetoric and abuse of power has turned family against family. I know because I have experienced the result of your hatred and propaganda. Your campaign against other Americans, the legal actions you have taken against us, the ads you have supported that spread lies, hold up pseudoscience, and are filked with malicious intent has twisted the thoughts and attitudes of a brother who once stood beside me into a holier-than-thou, self-satisfied bigotry. I would ask if you are pleased with this result, but we both know the answer would be yes.

We, also, know that this is not really a letter to you because even if it found its way to your door, you would not read it. This is a letter besseching my allies to take a stand against bigotry. This is a letter to encourage those whose voices have been trampled by your culture of hate. This is a letter to those still undecided, those riding the fence of public decision, those who believe they can stay neutral in the face of active hate and bigotry. Ultimately, this is a letter to my few remaining family and friends in hopes that they, too, shall not be swayed against me by the rhetoric of a tiny, fearful man with too much authority.
In relation to this article by ThinkProgress.org: 

Providing Transgender People Health Care Violates Religious Beliefs, New Lawsuit Claims

From the article:

The suit claims that even providing “psychiatric support” as part of a medical transition would violate its “best medical judgment and its religious beliefs.” Even simply providing insurance coverage for such procedures would “constitute impermissible material cooperation with evil.”

Combined with a court decision last week that justified a funeral parlor firing a trans woman for religious reasons, this lawsuit sets a terrifying precedent for transgender people. If these cases reach the Supreme Court and it follows the same reasoning it used in Hobby Lobby — perhaps less likely without Justice Antonin Scalia, but still possible— it would create a society in which transgender people could legally be denied the necessary foundations of life simply because of their identities.

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Trans Girl with a Lesson Plan II

13 May, 2016
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a trans woman trying to teach in a public high school? If so, read on and learn about my day.
     It started before I got in the building. The principal meet me outside and said that (we’ll call him) “K’s” guardian “isn’t going to let his grade stand. They’re gonna fight this.” I told him, “K has missed 29 days of school and was tardy 42 times on the days he was present. HIs grade is a 48% and he needs a 73% to pass.” The principal said, “I know, and I’ve got you 100%, but they’re gonna fight it.” So, a lovely opening to my day, but that’s not all that will happen.
     Because the seniors are no longer required to come to school, I have been substituting for other teachers. I start the day off with a teacher’s credit recovery class. I’m not in there for thirty seconds when the first of the kids comes in. He takes one look at me and says, “Oh, hell no. I’m not sittin’ in no room with an it.” They walked out and the three students behind him followed suit. In the end, I had one student in the classroom.
     Halfway through this first period, I get called down to the guidance office to talk to a student about his grades. Oh, surprise, it’s K. I explained to him exactly what I told the principal and tell him the choices he made during the school year have lead him to a point of no return. There is no recovery for fourth quarter. He will have to do summer school. Then I’m sent to sub another class.
     Twenty-minutes later I get called in to meet with a different student and his mother. When the mother enters the room she looks at me, winces, and averts her eyes. I’ve seen this before, you can’t be a trans woman and not recoginise this look. She is so disturbed or offended by what she sees when she looks at me that she cannot bring herself to look at me. My HR person had the same reaction when I came out at work; after that he never looked directly at me again. So, we all stand up to shake mom’s hand. I offer my hand and she will not shake it. I’m standing there like a dope with my hand out, as everyone looks at us feeling awkward, but not near as awkward as I felt or even awkward enough to justify not saying something about this situation. She slowly take a deep breath, holds it, loosely places her hand in mine for about two seconds, then wipes it off on her jeans while expelling her held breath so she doesn’t catch whatever disease I have. She avoids looking at me the whole time, even when I was speaking to her directly. Oh, and it is my fault her whole family is coming to see her son not graduate.
     Then it’s K again. We have to call his mom to talk about his grade. It’s a conference call with the principal and vice principal included. Mom doesn’t acknowledge my presence except to ask what work I will give him so he can graduate. I explain everything all over again. She refuses to acknowledge what I have said. I explain about the summer school program. She says, “I hope you won’t be teaching it.” That’s all I get out of her the whole meeting.
     Then it’s back to my room for thirty minutes. Five of which are taken up by K emailing me pleading me to give him some work that will raise his 48 to a 73. The next twenty-five are taken up by a student who was part of the group I sponsored. He spent his time trying to guilt trip, whine, threaten, and cry his way out of the 60% he earned. Mind you, he’s still graduating because he earned 90+ over the required percentage for the year. When that fails he tells me, “I’m disappointed in you You think that you fight for equality but you don’t. If you can’t see I’m a good kid and deserve a better grade then you don’t stand for equality.” I told him the conversation was over and he had to leave. He sat there arguing for ten minutes, refusing to leave the room, despite my asking and telling him to leave no less than seven times. He finally left when I went to page security to the room. He left saying, “I’m gonna pray for you because you need it. God bless you and thank you for the service you rendered.” I locked my door so he couldn’t come back.
     Then I dealt with another email from K. This one tells me he will be homeless if I don’t change his grade and I will have personally ruined his future.
     Now it is fourth period. I have had no lunch and no planning (which is supposed to be third period.) Instead, I go to a science classroom to sub for a ninth grade teacher. It is acknowledged by the administrator that this is a very poorly behaved class. He used the words “out of control,” Why he thought I was a good fit for that is beyond me. It takes ten minutes to get them out of the hall and seated. I have to shut and lock the door because there is a different group of ninth graders in the hall mocking the “man in the dress.” They begin banging on the door. The students ignore me, ignore the instructions, ignore the school rules, and ingnore everything except their phones. Well, all except one student, who we will call “H.” H gets on his FaceTime and begins telling a student at another school that some “he-she is supposed to be watching us.” H then tries to let the students from the hallway into the classroom. I stand in front of the door and block him. He says, “Hey, SIR, I wanna let them in.” I stand there and say nothing. He goes to sit back down saying “He looked like he wants to knock my ass.” I call for the administrator; when he arrives he takes over the class and tells me to write the boy up. I do, but I also realise that nothing will actually be done about it.
     Then it’s back to my room. I answer one more email from K who tells me I should have been telling him everyday that he was failing because the failed papers, failed tests, failed grades in the system, and the failed grades on his progress report weren’t enough to for him to know that he was failing.
     The phone rings. It’s the credit recovery teacher letting me know I’ll be teaching the seniors who failed . . . starting Monday . . . for the next month.
     I turn off the lights, curl into my desk chair, and hide in the dark for the next fifty minutes. Hoping no one else will call or knock before I can leave for the day.
That is what it is like to be a trans woman teaching in the public education system.
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The Truth is, You Did: Trans Reflections

4 May, 2012

From an e-mail dated 23 April, 2012:

. . . [T]his isn’t easy for me, you being a transgendered [person.] You understand that, right? Well, it’s even harder when you disappear for days or even a week or you post a bunch of transgendered stuff. You pretty much killed the person I knew, which makes you hard to like. . . . How can I get over it if you are not around?

His e-mail continued that train of thought for another four paragraphs, but that passage encapsulates the essence of his complaints, i.e. I have periods where I isolate myself from others. [I refuse to address the idea that I murdered my former.]

My first instinct was to trash the letter. The sender was brash with his statements. I had not heard from him in four months, and that was only after I initiated the conversation. I could have made similar complaints about him and his inability to deal with change. I set the letter aside for several days before working up the nerve to re-read and respond to it. Was there truth in his accusations? I didn’t want to think so, but we never want to confront our shadow-selves. I needed to sift the letter several times to find any truth, but it was there. A trembling, shadowy part of me making herself small and unnoticed in the corner.

From my response dated 27 April, 2012:

I do have a tendency to drop off the radar, but I do not do it to hurt you. When I disappear I’m trying to avoid hurting you. There are things in our shared history that occasionally make it difficult to be around you and sometimes the only way to deal with it is to isolate myself for a time. It’s easier than dredging up things you probably don’t remember.

There are things that were said and done by friends and family during my time pretending to be a normal, cis male that still trouble me, but how can I discuss them without making the other person feel bad or learning things about them I do not want to know? In my guise, people felt free to say and do things around me they would not have said or done had they realised they were in the presence of a transsexual. Sometimes it was in small ways like rude remarks or poking fun at people who appeared trans* or non-binary. Sometimes it was in large ways like a Halloween evening in Duluth when a transsexual woman came into Fitger’s by herself and the three people I was with made fun of her, commented on how ugly she was, and continuously referred to her as him. And sometimes it was in huge ways like when people I knew would talk about “queer bashing” and “smear the queer,” occasionally going so far as to invite me along.

From his e-mail dated 29 April, 2012:

If I did something to hurt you, just tell me.

The majority of these things have been forgotten by the other people, but I remember each of them. They helped build the wall I hid behind and they reinforced my decision to stay closeted. Being out and gaining a modicum of respect for my identity does not erase these memories. There are times I look at people and all I see is their privilege and their ignorant or bigoted past. I remember the things they have said and done and wonder if they still feel that way and are just hiding it the way I hid myself. How do you tell someone something they said to you fifteen years earlier has left you scarred and suspicious?

From my response dated 1 May, 2012:

Several years ago, while we were out eating, you pointed out a person you described as “faggoty” and suggested an “ass whopping” was the cure. You probably wouldn’t have said that had you known who I am, but you revealed something about yourself that bothers me. I felt like you were threatening me as much as you were threatening the other person.

That is the reason I disappear at times. Every time someone I care about said or did something bigoted it was also directed at me. Unintentionally? Certainly they would not have shown that side of themselves if they had really known me, but that does not make it less intentional. They revealed a prejudice and by invalidating one trans* person’s identity they invalidate every trans* person’s identity.

I know people change. Fear and bigotry can be overcome with education and interaction. I try not to let what people have said or done in the past taint who they are now, but there are times it threatens to. So, I hide myself away from people until their old prejudices fade into the background and I can interact with them without forming new prejudices of my own. It is not an ideal way to handle problems but it works.

Usually.

From his e-mail dated 5 May, 2012:

I wouldn’t have beat YOU up.

The truth is, you did.

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Transmisogyny

4 February, 2012

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Vandalism is the wonted destruction or tainting of another person’s property done out of sheer maliciousness. There are few feelings worse than learning you have been attacked by someone in what should be a safe place. We go home each day seeking a refuge from the events and catastrophes of the outer world. Home is meant to be somewhere we can let our guard down and relax. A violation of that space leaves a person feeling alone and vulnerable.

Misogyny is a prevalent attitude in which a number of (not all) men reserve a special ire for women who carry, present, or stand-up for themselves in any way that infringes on their male ego or sense of patriarchy. To be female is to be lesser than the male bodied, to be de-valued and erased.

Transmisogyny is a coupling of misogynistic attitudes with the prevailing transphobia. It is a hatred of trans women for who they are and the changing understanding of gender and patriarchy in regards to the rules of power and privilege. It is a double shot of hatred dumped on a minority that has been systematically denied equal rights and protection under the law and are still pathologised by the medical and psychiatric communities.

This morning I discovered I was at the crossroads of these actions and attitudes. Last night my door was vandalised by person(s) unknown. Their opinion of who I am was expressed in the most horrific and derogatory slur you can hurl at a trans woman. The slur was a message: we don’t like what you are and we know where you live. It is a threat. It is a promise to escalate. It is a warning for me to leave and a warning for others to disassociate with me. It is a reminder of my status: sub-human. Transsexuals, specifically trans women, stand out and are a visual threat to the patriarchal system that places one gender (male) as the superior and one (female) as the inferior. Trans men, says the patriarchy, are less of a threat because they are “women” expressing a healthy desire to be better, to be more than they are, even though they will never achieve it. The threat that trans women represent by nature of their existence, however, threatens the whole system because it means someone of “superior” status is “electing” to become of “inferior” status. This possibility cannot be given credence in the patriarchal view and the easy way of invalidating it is to dehumanise and pathologise the offending party. This is the same reason pathological transvestism is only defined as a male wearing female clothing, the reverse is not considered pathological, but as normal and acceptable.

What was written on my door is a threat against my person, but it is, also, an attempt to discredit, defame, and de-humanise me so they can feel more comfortable living in their skin with their prejudices.

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“Guardians” of the Public Morality

31 October, 2011

Let me be the first to say that I am anti-racism, anti-bullying, and anti-hate. I am transgendered. I know, first hand what discrimination is. I have been beaten. I have had my property vandalized. I was once shot at. I know discrimination. I know hate. I know what it is to be labeled a second class citizen.

Now, let me say something else. I am also against the “guardians” of public morality. You know the kind I am talking about. Those, who often but not always, have the power and privilege in society and feel guilty about it. Typically, the “guardians” feel their power and privilege places them in a unique position to comment on things and, because they are inured in their power and privilege, they just assume that their point of view is accurate and are quick to condemn those who do not “fall in line” with it. These “guardians” do more damage than the bigots. Bigots are typically easy to spot and one does not take their attitudes to heart. The “guardians” are harder to spot. They claim to be your ally but in their mad-dash to defend you (and often to assuage their own guilt) they promote a stereotypical view of who you are.

The world would be better off without these so-called-allies stepping in and turning minorities into cases and projects. The “poor and underprivileged are so powerless they cannot help themselves” attitude of social justice is a denial of the other. It denies them the right to stand up for themselves. It denies them the right to pick their own allies. It denies them the power and privilege of self-determination and becomes another way of keeping them down, maintaining the status quo, while looking like the “guardian” is offering a helping hand. “Let’s change things; without actually changing anything.”

This applies to a number of ad-campaigns as well. The idea that just an image is going to stop racism, genderism, ageism, and bigotry in general is a faulty one. Not even the cruelest of visual campaigns against a group of people can succeed in and of itself. There is a pre-existing mentality that fuels the campaign and gives it the strength it has to shape opinion. A number of the “anti” campaigns are the stuff of Halloween candy, a treat for the eye but no substance. The authors of such campaigns, however well-intentioned, forget that you cannot change an attitude just by appealing to the eye. If it is the pre-existing mentality that fuels bigoted visuals, the reverse must also rely on a pre-existing mentality. They need to appeal to those who are already of like mind in a simple way that is easily recognized as true and rely on them to get the message into society. Individuals change individuals. The NO H8 Campaign is a perfect example of an effectively run, long-term campaign. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the “I Am Not a Costume” campaign. It is offensive to me (and I am speaking only for myself and not representing the opinions of others) because it is flashy and gimmicky. The “coolness” of the campaign kills the message. People pay more attention to the slick images and graphic styling; they love the art, but they lose the message. This campaign is short-lived. It will be around during Halloween and will cease to garner any public notice afterward. It does not promote lasting change because it has no staying power and does not recruit like-minded people as advocates.

As a member of the minority, the second class, the discriminated against I have every right to choose who I make my allies. If you have a different opinion, that’s fine. But don’t try to make yourself my ally. I am strong enough to defend myself.