Today In Good News vs. Bad News

July 24, 2010 § 12 Comments


Bad news: A Merseyside woman was caught with child pornography that included pictures of children being abused.

Good news: She was not detained because she is a transwoman, and the judge understood what danger that would put her in, especially since it was required that she be put in a men’s prison.

Don’t get me wrong, I think child pornagraphy is despicable, particularly the kind that Voyce was looking at. The article mentions that she is facing 100 unpaid work hours, supervision, and being put on a sex offender registry, which I think is appropriate, and I hope she recognizes what she did wrong and changes her ways, and that the children victimized are receiving help and compensation.

However, trans* people in prisons, particularly prisons that misgender them, are often subject to horrific treatment. No one — not a possessor of child porn, not a rapist, not a murderer — deserves that kind of treatment. All people deserve some basic human rights, which should include the ability to identify as whatever gender they choose, receive treatment and/or surgery to make that happen, and not to be victimized because of that.

I do believe that broadcasting this in a national newspaper wasn’t the best approach. I am glad that I was able to find out about one judge that was doing it right in a corrupt system of justice, but I wish the woman in question had not had her name and picture published.  Outing a transwoman and associating her with something almost universally considered evil is going to open her up to transphobic attacks, though they hopefully won’t be as bad as what she would have faced in jail.

I also think it is worth noting that the woman in question stating in the article that she looked at pictures of the children to “come to terms with her troubled childhood.” Again, I firmly believe anyone caught with abusive child porn should face legal punishment, but I don’t believe that this woman is evil. I believe this woman, as a transwoman, had an extraordinarily rough childhood (and it hasn’t had a long time to recover from it — she’s only 20), and is trying to deal with it in ways that are, yes, harmful to children, but are the best she can do. I don’t condone her continuing to look at the images, but I really hope she is receiving sincere, non-judgemental support and help.


David Letterman, Comedian/Bigot

January 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

You may have heard the news that Amanda Simpson, a trans woman, was recently appointed by President Obama as a senior technical adviser to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. The National Center for Transgender Equality points out:

“What is noteworthy about this appointment is not that a transgender person is serving this administration—many transgender people work for the federal government—the real story is that Amanda Simpson was selected based on her exemplary credentials and not because she is transgender,” commented Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Countless transgender people are overlooked every day for jobs they can do very well. When an employer does not discriminate based on gender identity, they have access to more highly qualified people. That’s what happened here.”

So Simpson’s apppointment is certainly a milestone.

Now for the requisite media transphobia and transmisogyny hate cocktail in response, courtesy of David Letterman.

Letterman: Well here’s something interesting. President Obama has appointed a transgender person, a transgender person, her name is Amanda Simpson and he has appointed her to be part of the Commerce Department. We have a photo, here she is right there. Yeah, that’s Amanda Simpson, and she’s a transgender…

Alan Kalter: WHAT? AMANDA? Amanda used to be a dude? OH MY GOD! (Runs away)

(Audience laughs)

Letterman: (Laughing. To someone offscreen) Will you talk to him later for me?

LOLZ! Because trans women love to trick cis guys into sleeping with them!! (Also — why are you calling attention to the photo, Dave? Want to have proof for the audience that she looks “like a woman”?)

Sign this petition demanding that Letterman apologize.

Via Feministing.

Transgender Day of Remembrance: Recommended Reading

November 20, 2009 § 1 Comment

Today is the Eleventh Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. There’s great reading all over the place.

Questioning Transphobia; Shapely Prose; Shakesville; The Curvature; gudbuytjane; Feministing; TransGriot (and Monica again at Global Comment).

Rachel at Deeply Problematic says it nicely:

This is not the only day to recognize and fight transmisogyny and cissexism. If you are cis, you need to consider the privilege that you have just by existing. Think about the danger cis women are constantly in just because we are women. Trans women face exactly that danger, but their trans status makes them many times more vulnerable.

To the dead, you are not forgotten. And to the living, let us work together so that there may be no more names.

No more doctor’s note

October 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) just published this article with a VICTORY update on the struggle against the ‘Doctor’s Note,’ which required trans people seeking a name change to provide a note from a doctor, therapist, or social worker for “medical evidence.” While I should be (and am!) damn pissed this hasn’t been passed until now, this is really great news.

Thanks anyone who helped, keep loving, keep fighting!

Kids, Sex, & Gender

August 3, 2009 § 11 Comments

The other day I was on the playground with my campers, who are going into third grade, and the topic of pregnancy came up. Several of the kids were adopted, as was one of my co-counselors, so conversations about different kinds of families and how they are made had come up before, but never in this much detail.

I suddenly remembered that it is difficult to answer kids’ questions: they are blunt and persistent, having yet to be hushed by what society deems acceptable to discuss in polite company. How do we talk to children about immensely complicated issues, in language that’s simple enough to understand but doesn’t shed necessary intricacies and ambiguities?

When they asked, “Why would someone give up their baby to be adopted?” I replied, “Sometimes people don’t have enough money to take care of a baby, or they are too young, or they are too busy, or they don’t want a family. So adoption is great because it means that kids can have a family that loves them and takes care of them, even if their birth parents couldn’t.”

When they asked, “So, where do babies even come from?” I replied, “They grow inside a woman’s body until they’re big enough to be born.”

When they asked, “But how do you make a baby?” I replied, “That’s a question you should ask your parents when you get home. They probably have a specific answer for you.” (This one was hard: I know the technical answer, of course, but not the social one. Who knows what these kids will go home and tell their parents I said? Who knows what their parents want to say themselves?)

Then they asked, “But what about the pregnant man?” Instantly I remembered I’d just said that babies grow inside women’s bodies — a little ignorance check. I chose my words carefully: “The pregnant man’s name is Thomas, and he used to be a woman. That means that he was born as a girl, with what we call ‘girl parts,’ but when he got older he felt like he wanted to be a man so he asked people to call him a boy and changed the way he looked a little bit. So he is a man, but he still has the parts that make him able to grow a baby.”

“What do you mean he felt like he wanted to be a man?”

“Well, I don’t know exactly. I don’t really know what that feels like. But I think it must be a bad feeling, right? Can you imagine feeling a certain way about yourself, but the whole world felt a different way about you? It would be confusing and frustrating. So it’s great that he got to become what he wanted to be.”

Conveniently, my head counselor popped into the conversation at just that moment to say, in an amused tone, “Well, from what I’ve read, the pregnant man is really a woman.”

Thanks for the playground transphobia and identity denial.

Read This: Another sister attacked

June 30, 2009 § 3 Comments

TRIGGER WARNING: Descriptions of hate-motivated violence.

CaitieCat at Shakesville brings us the story of Leslie Mora, a trans woman who was harassed and brutally beaten in Queens on the night of June 18th. From a report by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund:

Throughout the attack, Leslie’s assailants called her a “faggot” in Spanish. The attack left Leslie with multiple injuries, including bruises all over her body, and stitches in her scalp. Police called to the scene found Leslie nearly naked and bleeding on the sidewalk. They also recovered a belt buckle from the assailants that was covered in blood.

And from CaitieCat’s spot-on reaction:

Despite shouting anti-gay slurs at her in Spanish while they attacked her, the assailants have not been charged with any hate crime, as the Queens Co. DA has declined to even investigate it as such.

There are a whole bunch of things I could point out about this: that it’s just about the most obviously hate-based crime I’ve heard of in a while, that calling it only assault leaves out that they were only stopped from killing her by the passerby — why isn’t it attempted murder, exactly? — that there was no bail set for two men who tried to kill a random stranger on the street.

That people will be saying it was her fault for walking alone on the street late at night, or that she’d been drinking, or blah blah victim-blaming blah.

On average, at least one transgender person is killed in the US each month. It seems only by the intervention of “good fortune” that Ms. Mora didn’t join so many of our sisters and brothers already listed at the Transgender Day of Remembrance site.

Very often when I read stories like these on other blogs, I can’t decide whether or not to repost it here because I have nothing to add to the well-crafted and respectful responses that brought me the information in the first place. But I think that not reposting, not getting the story out there through as many humble outlets as possible, is a large factor in the erasure of unfortunately less popular and less discussed feminist/progressive injustices. So I will keep on reposting with minimal comment, because the stories I share need to be heard.

Quick Hit: Another Transphobic Murder

June 26, 2009 § Leave a comment

KAMILLAKamilla is yet another woman murdered for being trans. I’ve not much to add to Renee’s takedown. Here’s to hoping her story is told and that there are no more like it.

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