transgender


jamaica-transgender-teen-killing

Jamaican transgender teen’s murder by mob     < Click here to see article

Jesus.   It doesn’t even mention the female name that must’ve been more important to her than just about anything!

And please! Never mind the ‘reason’!! There is never any reason!!!

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
― attributed to Edmund Burke.

In this case, evil ran riot!

[sighs]

Well, it’s nothing new.

From the Southern Poverty Law Center article on ‘murder music’:

Jamaican dancehall star Buju Banton was considered a musical prodigy in 1988 when, at age 15, he recorded what remains one of his best-known tracks, “Boom Bye Bye.” Even in the difficult-to-decipher Jamaican slang known as patois, its chorus evokes violence and dread: Boom bye bye / inna batty bwoy head / Rude bwoy no promote no nasty man / dem haffi dead. (“Boom [the sound of a gunshot], bye-bye, in a faggot’s head / the tough young guys don’t accept fags; they have to die.”)

“For those whose familiarity with Jamaican music begins and ends with Bob Marley, “murder music” — and its stubborn worldwide popularity — will come as a serious shock.

“…According to the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), Jamaica’s only organization promoting LGBT rights, mobs assaulted at least 98 gay men and lesbians between February and July 2007 alone. …

“The source of another oft-repeated statistic, that at least 35 Jamaicans have been killed since 1997 solely for being gay, is unknown…

“In any case, powerful taboos against gays in Jamaica make compiling accurate statistics on anti-gay hate crimes difficult because victims and their families are afraid to come forward….

“Jamaica’s cultural homophobia has deep historical roots. The island’s fundamentalist brand of Christianity and its indigenous Rastafarian religion both condemn homosexuality in the strongest terms…

“Making matters worse, anti-sodomy laws criminalizing sex between men remain on the books in Jamaica and other former British colonies in the Caribbean. As a result, gay men are essentially viewed as criminals, making it nearly impossible for them to bring complaints about violence to the police. Though consensual sex between two women is not illegal, murder music nevertheless includes lesbians in its wrath….

“Even politicians at times have conferred legitimacy on murder music. Dancehall group TOK’s track “Chi Chi Man,” about killing and burning gay men, was the Jamaican Labour Party’s 2001 theme song. Its lyrics: From dem a par inna chi chi man car / Blaze di fire mek we bun dem! From dem a drink inna chi chi man bar / Blaze di fire mek we dun dem! (“Those who gather in a fag’s car / Blaze the fire, let’s burn them! Those who drink in a fag bar / Blaze the fire, let’s kill them!”) The melody of the chorus, ironically, evokes the Christian hymn, “Do You Hear What I Hear?”…”

Jamaica’s Anti-Gay ‘Murder Music’ Carries Violent Message | Southern Poverty Law Center

“15 Things You Need To Know About Being Transgender”

If you click on this link you will come to a Huffington Post feature about a California bill for transgender student rights;  and if you scroll down, you will come to “15 Things To Know About Being Transgender”.

The ones I really liked, thought relevant and useful to the inquiring mind are the following:

4. Gender Expression

Out of the three terms — “sex,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” — which do you think we notice most about people on a daily basis? If it were a person’s sex, then we would have to see under that person’s clothes or test his or her chromosomes (and even then we could get a conflicting report). If it were a person’s gender identity, we would have to either ask that person how he or she identifies or somehow get inside the brain and find the answer for ourselves. By process of elimination, you guessed it: it’s gender expression.

5. Orientation And Gender

If we look at society as a diverse group of individuals where heterosexuality might be the most common sexual orientation but not necessarily normal, then we can more easily see that human sexual orientation varies: some people happen to be straight, some gay, some bisexual, and so on. This does not necessarily have anything to do with a person’s gender identity or expression.

6. Coming Out To Oneself

Realization that one is trans can take anywhere from a few moments to several decades. Usually, trans people have an inkling early on in their lives that their assigned gender feels out of sync with their bodies. The self-realization process is extremely complicated. The human mind does its best to help us survive, which can translate into triggering intense denial. Because of societal constraints, it is common for a person to try to ignore signs pointing toward transgenderism, whether consciously or unconsciously.

10. Sex, Gender And Nature

Many plants and animals can be both male and female, biologically speaking, at the same time or at different points in their lives. In a comparison of 34 postmortem human brains, scientists found that the part of the brain comprising a small group of nerve cells thought to pertain to gender and sexuality were similar in trans women and non-trans women. Although the study only had one trans man’s brain, it found that group of nerve cells to be similar to that of a non-trans man. Perhaps Dr. Milton Diamond put it best when he said, “Biology loves variation. Biology loves differences. Society hates it.”

On Thursday June 16th, I attended a screening of “Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria” put on by Radical Women. Here’s a blurb advertising the movie from the email:

“This Emmy Award-winning documentary tells the story of the first known collective uprising against queer oppression – a multi-racial rebellion in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district that took place three years before the Stonewall Riot in New York. The revolt connected to issues of police harassment, housing rights, war resistance, and sexual liberation. View and discuss this enlightening film.”

This is a very good synopsis and gives you the context within which it was viewed and discussed. And obviously, I was interested in the fact that it was started by a bunch of feisty transwomen.

It was shown at the Radical Women’s Freeway Hall.  It was the first time I’d been to one of their meetings. I thought it would be the perfect place to watch the movie – within a diverse community of like-minded people.  I was not disappointed. The people were friendly, kind, perceptive and very tuned-in.

At one point during the movie, everyone applauded and cheered, while I struggled to contain my own grief; it was just that powerful for me. It was the kind of grief you feel when you’re in a safe place, within a supportive community.

There was a lively discussion afterwards. Many perceptive points were brought up. A couple of people spoke about how women are expected to do painful things to their bodies in order to look “attractive”. The pros and cons of  “corrective surgery” and the right to choose was discussed. This was a very sympathetic and understanding crowd. This is the kind of experience I had been seeking & hoping for! As such it was very fulfilling.

During dinner beforehand, I met several people and chatted. One of the women (there were men there, too!) asked me if I was going to “Slutwalk” on Sunday. I said I’m not really into that kind of thing. She explained that the genesis of Slutwalk was a groundswell of response to a police officer in Toronto who, speaking at a safety & security panel at the university, advised that, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

Someone else chimed in with an example of  how rape is treated in our society: a woman had been gang-raped while attending a fraternity party in New York. In the trial that followed, she was subsequently grilled and smeared by the defense, as victims usually are (and often by the police in the course of their investigations – “What were you wearing?”)

She hadn’t in any way provoked the rape – as if rapists needed provocation! As if there were actually such a thing as “incitement to rape”. It’s just blaming the victim; all too familiar; all too common. So much so that it is internalized by the victims and society in general. What’s the subliminal message there?

I was convinced. I went to the gathering before the march at Bobby Morris Playfield in Cal Anderson Park. I even did my best to dress a little slutty. For a while people were just standing and milling around. I almost left. I wasn’t really “with anyone”, just there as an individual. Somehow, the thought that “this is a community, my community – and if not, let me make it so” – kept me there.

We marched down to Westlake Center. On the march and at the rally there, I kept having the impulse to leave. My boots were killin’ me, yo! lol

At the rally, after a bit of a wait, the impassioned words of the speakers kept me in thrall. Three women spoke about their rapes. Alyssa Royce, who spoke first, said that one 1 of 6 women are raped in their lifetimes (sounds a bit low.) Then she asked, “How many people here have been raped?” I held up my hand. It was a powerful moment. Grief swelled up in me. I fought the impulse to leave.

She spoke of the brutal rape she experienced when she was 18, woken in bed by a man with a gun that threatened to kill her and her father if she made any noise.

Christy Forester spoke courageously and movingly about her rape.  Cee Fisher of Radical Women spoke about people of color, saying how much more often that community is victimized. She also spoke passionately of the need for a strong feminist community – very inspiring. Thanks for that! Elizabeth Fawthrop of the International Socialist Organization spoke about activism around women’s rights to autonomy in reproductive care with the group Seattle Clinic Defense. The presenter/MC from Slutwalk Seattle spoke about men and children being victims, too. I thought about the high incidence of abuse in prison. Maria Gardner, a young transwoman of color, spontaneously got up and spoke  of her experience being raped, very courageous and eloquent.

One of my favorites was poet Tara Hardy. She read one poem and recited three.  All four poems just rolled out effortlessly, powerfully. One of my favorite lines encouraged the “Uncommon Woman” to “…wear your grief like a party dress…” It definitely spoke to me. I have a lot of grief issues.

All of the women were powerful speakers. It was so good to hear those strong, empowering feminist words ringing out in Westlake Center. Bystanders and people passing by stopped and stared with slack jaws. It was a good experience, an incredibly empowering event for me. I totally re-adjusted my thinking about a lot of stuff. I’m glad I was there.

Alyssa Royce speaks    first speaker, very moving

Poet Tara Hardy     I especially like the poem “Uncommon Woman”, which starts at 9:42

Cee Fisher speaks   for Radical Women

Christy Forrester speaks   very moving

Liz Fawthrop speaks    of the ISO and Seattle Clinic Defense

the MC/presenter and Maria Gardner speak     eloquently

Slutwalk Seattle.com  and  Slutwalk Seattle on Facebook – the organization. They need donations! It’s a great cause!

Seattle Clinic Defense – get involved!

Radical Women Seattle on Facebook

ISO Seattle on Facebook  and  Seattle ISO website

lots of photos of Slutwalk

The march paused at an intersection, photographer unknown. We had to pause repeatedly at intersections. It was annoying! Seems like it would’ve been easier for the police to just make traffic pause while we passed through. There were lots of gawkers with their camera phones stuck out at all the “sluts”.

the crowd gathers at Cal Anderson Park

at Cal Anderson Park

I love the expression on this guy’s face and the sense of community/family I get from this photo

Christy Forrester at Westlake Center

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Before I got on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): seeking to define what I was in search of.

________________________________________________________

feelings, yesterday.. like sinking gently down in bliss

ahhhhhhhhhhhhh…….
sliding softly backwards…  inwards…
thoughts dawning over me

those feelings
what were they about; for; of?
feelings felt about what?

so quickly past me, in seconds
leaving no details
only the knowledge and certainty
of having felt them

only the memory
lingering in my brain
– though physical, in impression –
– such a few seconds later –
…lingering…

I want that, more of that…
that is the me that I want to be

I won’t grasp –
I’ll just keep searching
with confidence & perseverance
until I
feeeel those things again
…know again, what I once knew…

feelings:
giving someone something they weren’t really expecting
answering an oh-so-familiar glare with
my gentle gaze
knowing & tender

seeing things through
different eyes
a sigh…
something in my walk
lighter…

a feeling of softness
a feeling like sinking
gently giving in
utter and complete immersion in a long drawn-out moment
heaviness gone
– for me, the heaviest, most powerful feeling of all
the weightlessness of a quickly falling elevator
completely natural
lasting longer,  more intense
forever…
this won’t… go… away…
it’s not external
it doesn’t depend on your Science

I believed the lies, once
– it was an illness, a weakness
– something to be ashamed of

now, I’m empowered
now, I know better
now, I’m feeling better

womanly feelings:
what were they about; for; of?
feelings felt about what?

it’s not about anything
feelings,
womanly feelings

(2003)

Ingersoll Gender Center  is one of the first and oldest peer support groups for transexual people in the world. It has been continuously ongoing since the late Seventies. Ingersoll has played a vital role in the lives & transitions of countless individuals – not the least of which, my own.

Founder Marsha Botzer is one of the foremost authorities and activist/spokespersons of the transgender community. Ingersoll has been extremely influential and important in the development of transgender rights world-wide.

I attended meetings at Ingersoll for a couple of years; then became a facilitator for a year or two and served on the board briefly. I feel such appreciation for the many people that have given so much to keep Ingersoll going over the years. Metaphorically speaking, and in reality – through rain and snow and hail and sleet, Ingersoll has been there for the trans community.

This poem was briefly published on Ingersoll’s website, right before the move to the (now defunct) Seattle LGBT Center. I think there was a request that some content be written for the website re: the new Ingersoll-to-be: a new location and infrastructure, with an emphasis on the emergence of a new generation. You know – and folks just wanted a change… lol

Today Ingersoll is vibrant and revitalized. It’s truly a new era. They currently hold meetings at the Seattle Counseling Service, which is itself a groundbreaking institution, providing support for the the transgender and LGBT community.

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Ingersoll new beginnings

a new ethnicity

a new culture

new breed

new look

new kind

a new age

rol l l l l l l l ing

into Ingersoll

we salute you!

your rugged and beautiful lines

lining up at the doors

rol l l l l l l l l l l l l ing

into Ingersoll

Welcome!

I called myself Miss Amy for a while. Not to be formal and all… It’s become sort of a term of endearment.

I was frustrated – I didn’t understand why so many of my community seemed to be homophobic. Giving myself this name was “copping an attitude”. I wrote this short essay which got printed in the Emerald City Social Club’s newsletter in 2004. The Emerald City Social Club is a vital and ongoing part of  Seattle’s trans community. I got a lot of positive comments; someone wanted me to do an “Ask Miss Amy” column.

Well, okay – please remember that this is my opinions and perceptions – I don’t claim to speak for anyone else. From my point of view, things have changed a lot in 6 years. Please forgive my clumsy attempt at feminism…

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I’ve been calling myself Miss Amy. Maybe I’ll just start calling myself Miss.

I started calling myself Miss Amy sometimes because it is:  1. An acknowledgement of what I feel is my debt to gay culture as a transgender person.    2. More fun than plain old Amy. It’s camp.  3. An affirmation about gay sexuality; about effeminacy; and femininity, in general. 4. I associate it with feminism. And:

5. An idea that came to me from reading the book “Honey, Honey, Miss Thang: Being Black, Gay, and on the Streets” by Leon Pettiway. I was inspired by its depiction of an unapologetic, proud identification with femme sexuality within the trans community by people of color. They were sad stories. I found it harrowing but identified with the protagonists.

[It seems to me that there is a whole segment of the trans community that is too often invisible – the transwomen of color. And as in everything else about American culture, they have contributed so much. I have an impression of black transwomen being germane to the present day trans self-image; a very empowered persona that goes back many decades ; maybe, all the way back to Africa. Link:  ‘5 Black Trans Women Who Paved The Way’]

According to my dictionary, Mr., Miss, Mrs. and Ms. are all words added before a name as a  “title of courtesy”.

There is no information given in the title Mr. that tells us whether the man is married or not. One would think that it isn’t important; that it isn’t any of our business.

The title “Miss” is the closest real challenge to male prerogative. It is derived from Mistress, which is sometimes used to denote a woman in a position of authority. Look it up. (Actually, Mrs. and Ms. are also derived from mistress.)

Do I want to challenge the idea of male prerogative? Or should I simply seek to exist completely independent of it? There is something about femininity that seems to transcend this whole question. I love this about femininity. It is so not male. It is something else, altogether. It is powerful.

Ms. to me will always be a word that exists in relation to the word Mr.  It’s a made-up word; it was made-up to be the equivalent of the title “Mr.”  As such, it has no real identity or personality of it’s own; other than as a gender indicator that is not marriage-specific. It exists as a response to the male title, Mr.

As a gender indicator, I think it should carry a more independent meaning than that which is in relation to ; it should have more gravity. Why not an affirmation of something that is powerful about women? Ms. always seemed to me kind of frumpy and self-consciously PC.

Miss seems more empowered than Mrs., to me. You are still a commodity as a Miss; therefore, desirable.  It is socially acceptable to pursue someone who is a Miss.  It is much less socially acceptable to pursue a Mrs.; if acceptable at all. Certainly not so in ‘mainstream’ American culture; or in Muslim culture, for example.

And okay, let’s not commodify ourselves. I know that. It’s a whole different topic; maybe two or three.

How do culture and language objectify women?

Why can’t Miss mean the same thing as Mister? Why can’t a woman always be a Miss; which is what she starts out as, anyway? Why not; even if she is married? Whose business is it, anyway? It is apparently not considered “courteous” to give that information out about men on a casual basis. So what’s the problem?

More and more women are keeping their maiden names. Why not keep the same “title of courtesy?”  Why wouldn’t a woman want to be called Miss?

The truth? They do. Just think about it. Wouldn’t you like it if someone called you Miss?

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