Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today marks the 11th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a day that was created to remember the all too short lives of those who were killed as a result of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The memorial day was started in 1998, after Rita Hester was murdered. The case, like most anti-transgender murder cases, has yet to be solved. In addition to being a day to remember and grieve for trans and gender non-conforming people who’ve been killed, the day also acts as a time to raise awareness about the violence that happens against trans people.

In an interview with Glaad blog, Ethan St. Pierre was asked his opinion on what TDOR meant to him. St. Pierre is an FtM transsexual gender activist who has been lobbying Congress since ’91 on behalf of hate crime victims and survivors, and works with the Remembering Our Dead Project as a coordinator of TDOR.

“It means a lot of things. Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day when we come together to remember those that we’ve lost, but it also reminds us of how unsafe we are and how we are targets of violence – and that nobody is really safe from it.  If you’re a trans person, especially if you’re an unemployed trans person out on the street, there’s a really good chance you’re going to lose your life.

It reminds me how unsafe we are.  And it reminds me how much work we have to do to educate people so that it doesn’t keep happening.”

Every day is a perfect opportunity to learn something new, so if you are unfamiliar with the problems that face the transgender community, the constant threat of violence always knocking at their door, become aware. Become an ally and help make a difference in people’s lives, talk to people and hear their stories, and share your own.

For more information please visit:

Transgender Day of Remembrance Information:

TDOR-Official Page
Feministing on TDOR
Pam’s House Blend on TDOR
Questioning Transphobia-The Drowned and the Saved
Glaad Blog with Sassafras Lowrey

Information on Trans Issues

Pam’s House Blend
Glaad Blog
Questioning Transphobia
Feministing

For Your Entertainment:

In addition to remembering those we’ve lost, it’s not a bad idea to celebrate the achievements of the transgendered/transsexual persons who have made it into our lives through a variety of media. This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are plenty more transgender and transsexual artists/musicians/writers and people out there–please support them in their efforts!

Music:
The Cliks
Antony and the Johnsons
Tribe 8
Lynn Breedlove
Wendy Carlos
Chastity Bono

Television/Film
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (film)
Kinky Boots (film)
Transamerica(film)
Velvet Goldmine(film)
Eddie Izzard (Comedien)

Literature
Kate Bornstein
Julia Serano
Rachel Pollack

A (slightly belated) Return to Feminism Friday!

Nowhere to Run—Fox News on Domestic Violence 

My summer job happens to be in a company where the only TV (in the lunchroom) is turned to Fox News 98.5% of the time.

The other day, one of the morning stories was dealing with domestic violence. Fox tends to cover a lot of missing mom (not necessarily woman) and missing children stories. A coworker noted that with the missing mom/woman stories, the primary subject often seems to be the husband/boyfriend. So when the story about domestic abuse came up, I was intrigued. And at first I thought the story was okay—it dealt with a very real problem and seemed pretty straightforward.

Then I thought about the dialogue between the main news anchor and the reporter about what options were open for women who are victims of domestic abuse.

The conclusion that both of them reached was that there are very few—(read: no) options for these women.

At one point the main anchor asked, “What’s a woman supposed to do? Run into the woods?”

To the people at Fox News, women’s shelters clearly don’t exist. I’m not going to argue with the fact that leaving an abusive relationship is dangerous—because it is. But women do have places to go—they just aren’t recognized for what they do. There are more animal shelters in the states than women’s shelters—an interesting fact. To some degree, it does say a lot about where society stands that abused animals are more important than women’s well being.

Another point that the fox news anchor kept driving home was that women need to be careful of who they were dating. It was all about the women’s decision—the news anchor and reporter said nothing about the fact that men have a responsibility to control their behavior. The men, according to the segment, were simply psychotic and therefore the implication is that men have no responsibility in their actions. If they beat up their partners—well clearly that is a bad situation but the woman clearly should have recognized the fact that he was overly violent in the first place.

For a man to be excused because of his ‘violent’ or ‘aggressive’ nature is absolute crap. The news anchor actually made an interesting comment when she noted that men get used to expecting certain things of their women and when they don’t get it, they get angry. But that was as far as the comment went—there was no exploring where that viewpoint comes from, it was just stated as a fact. Of course, I’m crazy to expect anything else from the news channel, but it’s still an important aspect because it needs to be addressed in a public forum.

One cannot say men are naturally aggressive whereas women are naturally passive and just leave it. It’s not nature—it’s social conditioning. Boys are encouraged to play with GI Joes and play at sword fighting whereas girls are encouraged to play with unnaturally shaped Barbie dolls and dream of their future wedding. Children that digress have to deal with the socially conditioned and hard to shift ‘reality’ as their parents and their community berate them. Otep

Women are aggressive. Look at the Otep Shamaya, the lead singer of a metal band. She doesn’t go onstage and sing about love, or courtship or heartbreak in a whispery, quiet or soothing voice. She screams/yells/growls about things that have made their way into her experience. She is raw, she is powerful and, most of all, she is aggressive. She is in every way equal to her male counterparts, perhaps even surpassing them.

And as far as men go, not all of them have psychopathic needs to dominate. To say that they do is not only missing completely the idea of men having a social responsibility to do unto others as they would have done unto them, but it’s making them into stupid animals that haven’t got the ability to take responsibility for their actions. It’s like people are saying, “oh, men can’t help it. That’s just the way it is.”

And that is completely ludicrous. To say something like that is as harmful to men as it is to women.

The issue of domestic violence/intimate partner violence needs a radical shift in point of view. I’ve addressed domestic violence in a purely heterosexual view—because that is how Fox viewed it and—to be frank—so does an overly large part of the population—but intimate partner violence is not unique to heterosexual couples.

It’s important to recognize that abuse can happen between any two people regardless of gender and that abuse takes many forms—from physical to emotional. A woman can abuse a man and a woman can abuse another woman just as easily as a man can abuse a woman.

Remember that there are many aspects to abuse.Because the topic is so significant, we need to know the facts. And we need to rework education on intimate partner violence—explore where ‘violence’ comes from and recognize that it’s not only men that have the tendency toward violence.

So keep these in mind and educate yourself about these issues…and don’t listen to Fox news! (though I’m sure I don’t need to tell many of you this!)

When Violence Becomes “Acceptable”

The tragedy at Virginia Tech has left everyone in shock. It’s a clear act of violence which in turn has resurrected several questions. Should there be more gun control? Does the media focus too much on violence, and is that focus leading to consequences? Should that pervasive violence be taken out of television, movies and video games?

There are no easy answers to any of these questions. However, oddly enough, I’m not here to discuss this. I’m here to discuss something far more silent.Queer as Folk

There is no question that what happened at Virginia Tech is an atrocity. Such an act is violent and out of hand. Yet, in some cases, violence seems to be an answer–sometimes even applauded.

I attended a discussion on same-sex violence that dealt with the myths concerning same-sex relationships and abuse within them. Some examples: In lesbian relationships-women are ‘naturally’ not abusive and their relationships would tend to be egalitarian with no problems here. (Read: Aggression, according to gendered identities, is a masculine trait so no female could possibly be aggressive or abusive.); in gay male relationships-their emotions could get the best of them and lead to a very violent relationship on both sides. Or there’s the other side of that: gay men are weak and would certainly never do harm to each other because they’d prefer to sit in a room sewing.

The one that really shocked me was the myth focusing on transgendered people. “If they didn’t try to be something that they were not, they wouldn’t get beat up.”

Let me repeat that:

“If they didn’t try to be something that they were not, they wouldn’t get beat up.”

This sort of statement is, in fact, parallel to the statement: “Women who dress provocatively are asking for rape.”

Both of these statements blame the victim and excuse the person who committed the violence.

This to me indicates that there is a larger problem than violence in video games or other media. The problem lies within the way people see each other and the “US vs THEM” mentality that so many people hold on to. I cannot help but to sound ridiculously naive when I ask why people cannot see each other as people. I do not understand how it is OK to commit an act of violence against another person-period. Especially when this person’s mode of expression is not in any way harming another person, it’s just them trying to be honest with themselves.

Yet, there remains the “if they didn’t try to be something they aren’t they wouldn’t get beat up mentality.” Who has the right to put people into boxes and say “this is where you belong”?

In addition it should be said that those who are transgendered are not trying to be something that they are not–they’re trying to be who they are. By telling them that they cannot dress in a certain way we are denying them the right to be themselves. Imagine a world where this was turned around. Where it was required to dress as the opposite sex or else you would be abused in some way–be it physically or emotionally. Where if you didn’t conform to these standards you would be putting your well-being–your LIFE at stake. Where the simple desire to express yourself is punishable by those who dictate the boxes that you are supposed to fill. Imagine you decide to try to live outside of the box. Dress the way you feel, love who you want to love in such a way that harms no one. Imagine that by doing so you’re confronted. Physically hit to the brink of death. Put in the hospital with doctors looking down on with contempt in their eyes. Newspapers that portray you not as the victim, but as the problem.

Not a pretty picture, is it?

I ask of all of you: WHY is it so very difficult to stop seeing the world in “US vs THEM” terms? WHY is it so hard to recognize that people who aren’t YOU have emotions? Have to live in the same world that you do and face challenges the same way you do–only theirs is immensely troubled by the fact that they have to wonder if the day they wake up will be the day they get attacked out in the street and sent to the hospital because they’re “different”. And that difference won’t go away, whether the attackers are punished or not…because as long as we think of them as different, when in fact they are not, they will feel a weight on their shoulders that “normal” people don’t have to bear.

The sort of attitude that goes along with the “he/she deserved it” needs to go. Violence should not be acceptable in real life directed toward anyone. I ask of everyone to have compassion for yourselves and others around you. Don’t treat people differently because they aren’t you. I don’t quote religious texts much but I will say this–the bible does say “Love thy neighbor,” correct? Well-that gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans-gender/inter-sex person IS HUMAN and they have as much right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as anyone else does.

In the end: the key lesson here is to learn to respect everyone, not fear people because they’re different from you.