Wednesday, October 10, 2007
October 8, 2007
I remember the first time I ever saw male cast member Miss J. on America's Next Top Model wearing a pair of high heels. (Did that seem strange to anyone else?). Although I don't frequently see men waltzing in stilettos around campus, the world has seen an upswing in the number of men who choose to wear women's clothing.
First, let's dispel the lies. Wearing girls' jeans does not automatically make a guy gay. Neither does wearing makeup, a fashion that originated with players in the music scene. Dressing in women's clothing does not mean he's "emo" or that he can't afford his own jeans so he steals his sister's pair.
While writing this article, I asked the guys I saw wearing girls' jeans what the deal is, and most claimed that the slender fit is more visually appealing to them. Buying girls' jeans is cheaper than buying a guys' designer brand that is cut the same way. Why the more slender fit? Well, I think we can all recognize that the reintroduction of the skinny, stovepipe, and cigarette jean style is a major factor in wanting to stay on top of trends. The fashion industry has begun to integrate this fad into their new lines. Urban Outfitters, Diesel, Chip & Pepper, and even Armani Exchange are presenting new skinny and more fitted jeans for men.
Women, too, are bridging the gender gap by donning typically masculine styles. Urban Outfitters, Alloy, and Gap are just a few companies that are continuing to push trouser-style jeans and slacks along with "His" button-down shirts, blazers, and neck ties. Wearing undershirts and boxers-style underwear is also becoming pretty popular with the ladies. However, instead of being seen as odd, more masculine styles for women are being accepted and incorporated into almost every line of designer clothing.
And here comes the double standard: Girls wearing men's sweatpants and a baseball cap draw much less negative attention than men wearing high heels. I have a very close female friend who has more ties than my father, and rarely does someone question her about her sexual preference or gender identity. Yet we label men for wearing tight jeans? C'mon.
But is there a line between being fashion-forward and just plain weird? If there is, I can't tell you where it falls. Over the years, men's and women's fashion have both taken risks. Who can predict how long this cross-gender clothing trend will last? So next time you girls feel like taking a break from those stretch jeans, trade your guy for his denim. Just don't be mad if his butt looks better in your jeans than your own. . . .
EDGE Boston Contributor
Tuesday Oct 9, 2007
Roberts, served as the Lobby Chair for the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) for several years, from 1999-2002, maintains her blog as a source of "News, opinion, commentary, history, and a little creative writing from an African-American."
Roberts writes that the schism between transgender people and gays, lesbians, and bisexuals run as deeply as those of the GLBT equality movement itself, to the episode in which Jim Fouratt, a founder of the Gay Liberation Front, excluded Sylvia Rivera, a fellow GLF founder and trans activist, from the GLF. Fouratt, whom Lynn Conway writes of as "A classic example of transphobia" in a 2006 essay posted as the University of Michigan website, continued to antagonize the transgender community as late as 2000, when he called M-to-F transsexuals "misguided gay men who’d undergone surgical mutilations" at a Stonewall observance.
Barney Frank’s recent maneuver to muster votes in Congress for ENDA by splitting it into two bills, a GLB rights measure that would theoretically be followed by a transgender version later on, is especially stinging for the transgender community given that the GLF saw to it that protections for transgender people were stripped out of a 1971 bill in New York that would have offered protections against discrimination. Then as now, the reasoning was that the bill would not be able to pass as long as it included protections for transpeople.
The bill, scrubbed of any trans-protections, did not pass until 1986, when Tom Stoddard, who would in later years head up the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, also opposed inclusion of language that would offer protections to transgender people. Protections for transgender people were added later on, but not before Sylvia Rivera died in 2002.
Janice Raymond, a professor of women’s studies and medical ethics at the University of Amherst in Massachusetts, wrote a book titled The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male in 1979, in which Raymond claimed that men receiving sexual reassignment surgery were attempting to enter and dominate the women’s rights movement; according to Roberts, a paper later authored by Raymond was directly responsible for the eradication of government aid for the transgendered poor, as well as to insurance companies dropping coverage for sex reassignment procedures.
Germain Greer, Roberts wrote, also authored anti-trans writings that, taken together with Roberts’ work, led to transgendered people being rejected by the lesbian community.
When the HRC was established in 1980, Roberts wrote, gay leaders at the time were still under the sway of those anti-trans voices.
As the religious right began its long and damaging ascent, using GLBT persons as their scapegoats and whipping boys, the GLB community tended to look at trans people as "crazy queens," Roberts wrote, and the fact that coastal urban GLB leaders viewed the country’s midlands as "flyover" country (that is, fit to be disregarded), when trans leaders were coming from those parts of the country, heightened attitudes of mutual distrust.
This meant that as the religious right emanated from Texas and then spread into the country at large with their field-tested agenda in which "family values" were flouted and GLBT people rhetorically flogged, the GLB and trans communities were too busy fighting each other to join forces and mount a more effective defense against the Bible-based anti-gay prejudice that was being actively promoted.
According to Roberts, the early warnings about the religious right were largely ignored by the GLB community because, in part, the warnings came from the "crazy queens." Another source of resentment was the fact that GLB leaders pressed transpeople to back them up on legislation that would promote equality for people who were subjected to prejudice based on their sexual orientation, while still not acting to include any legislative language relevant to people who experienced bias based on their gender identity.
Roberts cites legal scholar Kat Rose in saying that efforts to promote such bills created a culture in which GLB people could discriminate against trans people in the workplace and elsewhere, even as they played the anti-discrimination card to benefit themselves.
Wrote Roberts, "When transgender leaders would balk at those demands or point out the hypocrisy of leaving us behind, they would state they would ’come back for us,’" much as Barney Frank did with the ENDA bill.
Historically, however, such returns to help transpeople onboard with supplemental or trans-specific legislation are long in coming, if and when they come at all.
The HRC commands special resentment from the trans community partly because in 1975, Steve Endean was largely responsible for excluding trans people from a bill to provide a measure of GLBT equality in Minnesota. Endean went on in 1980 to co-create the Human Rights Campaign Fund, which later coalesced into the Human Rights Campaign.
The pattern of GLB leaders blocking trans people from inclusion in equality legislation continued on through the 1990s, including Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby executive director Dianne Hardy-Garcia’s successful bid to exclude trans people from James Byrd Hate Crimes Bill. The bill was killed by Texas Republicans, but was eventually resurrected and signed into law as a GLB-only measure, by Gov. Rick Perry. Hardy-Garcia was, at the time, also a board member for the HRC.
Elizabeth Birch became the Executive Director of the HRC in 1995, but, Roberts wrote, was quoted as saying that trans inclusion in ENDA would take place over her dead body.
Seeing that not only board members, but also the executive director of the HRC was given to anti-trans attitudes convinced many trans people that the HRC was not only not helpful to their cause, but out to hinder their progress toward equality.
Roberts wrote that HRC lobbyists Nancy Buermyer and Winnie Stachelberg effectively sabotaged tans-inclusion in ENDA throughout the late 1990s, and that this led to the creation of NTAC in 1999 by trans leaders including Roberts herself.
NTAC began to view other GLB organizations as more compatible and cooperative potential allies, and in 2000 launched what Roberts referred to in her essay as an "’Embarrass HRC’ campaign" that included protesting at HRC events and publicizing HRC’s recalcitrance at allowing trans people to be included in ENDA. HRC felt the impact in its pocketbooks as donations to the organization were affected by the campaign.
Later on, trans leaders warned that the HRC’s shifting from state-by-state passage of equal rights laws to a pursuit of marriage equality was dangerous given the timing, just before the 2004 election. Those warnings were not heeded, and some commentators say that the marriage equality push, happening when it did, was a major factor in energizing evangelicals and other right-wing religious factions, leading not only to the election of George W. Bush in 2004 for a second term, but also to constitutional amendments in 18 states specifically denying marriage equality to gays and lesbians.
Trans people were angered by the result, given that anti-gay laws are often extended in ways that impact the lives and rights of trans people as well.
Last week’s attempted sleight-of-hand by Frank, with the quiet non-condemnation of the HRC, was one more taste of what Roberts characterized as "a forty-year-old stew flavored with historical hatred, arrogance, political miscalculations, communication failures, misunderstandings, mistrust, and Machiavellian duplicity."
Concluded Roberts, "The flare up this time may have not only burned the bridge that people like recently resigned HRC board member Donna Rose and others were trying to build towards a working partnership with HRC, but made any talk of doing that in the transgender community moot for years to come." . . .
It’s not often I run across a news story (or a film or book) that captures my experiences in the Land of the Free. More than once I’ve been warned that I was in the women’s room, as if I had made a mistake. I suspect my tiny physique and mirthful reaction convinces an accuser of her error, despite my short hair and sensible shoes.
Most women who have confronted me become contrite and apologetic when they realize their mistake. A few times, though, some have become hostile and condescending, as if there is something wrong with me because I’m not femme enough for her. I keep things light by replying, “The world is amazingly diverse, isn’t it?”
Being physically ejected from a bathroom stall for not dressing according to someone else’s standards of role attire, is not that far away from hanging a noose outside your office for not having the right skin color. Undoubtedly, the latter is a bit more frightening given recent eruptions of US racial tension. Since Farmer is black, and the bouncer refused to look at her proffered ID indicating she is female, it’s easy to suspect that race was an issue as well.
Few of us can forget the murder of Matthew Shepard or Brandon Tina. Recently, John Aravosis complained that gays, lesbians and bisexuals have to include transgender or transsexual (“T”) people in our political movement for equality. He fails to grasp that 1) we’re all equally viewed with derision by our enemies, thus equally subject to violence and discrimination; and 2) united we stand.
Farmer’s case highlights another point Aravosis misses: Farmer is not transgendered, yet suffered from T-discrimination. Her case raises the T discussion to a legal level, which Avavosis is well advised to follow. Part 2 of the Gay USA interview includes a lucid discussion of sex, gender, and role discrimination, showing how this type of discrimination impacts straight women as well. In Part 3, Michael Silverman of www.transgenderlegal.org explains more of the legal issues behind the action filed on Farmer’s behalf.
As one blogger wrote, “Effeminate gay men and ‘butch’ lesbians are subjected to anti-transgender bigotry as well as anti-gay bigotry. For many in our country, 'transgender' is equal to 'gay,' and there's little distinction when it comes to hate.” At this same blog site, someone else writes, “ALL lesbians, gays and bisexuals are engaged in transgender behavior.”While Aravosis would further alienate sexual radicals from each other, Khadijah Farmer shows how that is not even possible in a world that deems some of us too butch to pee in public restrooms. . . .
For months now, an amazing coalition of LGBT organizations has worked tirelessly toward passage of the first transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act bill in Congress. Yet in a weak moment at the very end of September, key legislators got cold feet and threw us out. Reaction was immediate and overwhelming. Almost all of the country’s LGBT organizations -- the list continues to grow -- spoke out loud and clear in opposition to this ejection. Legislators had no choice but to give a trans-inclusive ENDA another chance.
If the developments of the last few days have you wanting to know more about what “transgender” really means, you’ve come to the right place. In the next 800 words I’ll cover the key things you need to know. You may not be aware that I’ve actually written 20 Advocate.com columns over the past two years on transgender awareness -- you can find links to all of them on my own Web site. But no matter; I’ll include links below where my back columns provide more information on particular topics.
Let’s start with terminology. The trans-inclusive ENDA covers employment discrimination based on sexual orientation (who you love), gender identity (who you are), and gender expression (how you look and act). The last two are a bit of a mouthful, so they often get referred to as the “transgender-inclusive” parts for expediency.
Unfortunately, because of the stigma associated with any adjective beginning with “trans,” many people affected by issues related to their gender identity or expression also deny being transgender and could be missing the fact that this bill is for them too. These people include the man or woman who occasionally dresses in drag, the intersex person born with any one of a number of conditions that make their sex inconsistent or ambiguous, the swishy man whose feminine behavior provokes catcalls, and the masculine woman who gets harassed when she uses the ladies’ room. . . .
by Ray Ceo, Jr.
October 10, 2007
During a lunch meeting, I met Susan Stanton, a transgender woman from Largo, Fla. Recently she was fired from her job as City Manager because she came out to her employers that she was transgender. She wanted them to know that she was going to be having surgery. Her termination made headlines, and during her keynote speech CNN moved about the room to film her.
Because she was a City Manager there were hearings regarding her termination. She had to sit there and listen to people explain why she should not be allowed to keep her job. One of them, she said during the lunch, was furious that tax dollars would be going to pay for this operation, but not in the form of health insurance that still deems this surgery as "cosmetic" or even corrupt corporate spending, rather, they were outraged that her salary would pay for this operation, and her salary is from tax dollars.
This person believes that she cannot spend her money on anything anyone deems "immoral" because it is taxpayer money. Oh, what a sad little world we live in if anyone believes that to be true.
Currently, our U.S. House of Representatives is just a few months away from ideally passing the Employee Non-discrimination Act (ENDA). However, last week, ENDA was introduced to include "gays, lesbians, and bisexuals" and not to include transgender people. HRC National demanded that the United States House of Representatives delay action, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi agreed to delay action by two weeks.
The logic behind removing "transgender" from this bill is that it would be easier to pass if we leave thousands of transgender people behind, and they are probably right. It would be an easy battle if "transgender" was just left off. However, I refuse to stand for that. Perhaps easy is not always right.
We cannot knowingly discriminate against a group of people. We cannot tell transgender people to wait for their rights while I get my mine. That is not only not following constitutional values, it's just plain wrong.
One of the co-sponsors of this non-inclusive bill is the beloved Tempe Representative Harry Mitchell. I used to respect and admire him a great deal. I hope when EDNA is reintroduced, I still can.
I think we need to start fighting for some equality.
Too often the transgender community is left out. Too often they are ignored and left behind. This cannot be tolerated, or continue to be practiced anywhere by anyone, specifically within the LGBT community. They face just as much — often times more — hatred, and discrimination for who they are than every other group of people.
Thursday is National Coming Out Day. A variety of organizations will be tabling on Hayden Lawn from 11a.m. to 4p.m. Some of them will be doing everything they can do demand that ENDA include the transgender community. Appropriately enough, the theme to this year's National Coming Out Day at ASU is "Come As You Are". You do not need to be homosexual, bisexual, transgender or even questioning to support an inclusive ENDA. But you do need to know the difference between right and wrong. I certainly know that my new friend Susan Stanton cannot be left behind while I gain some workplace rights, all because of who she is.
Ray Ceo, Jr. is joining thousands in writing letters to demand that ENDA include the transgender community. To help or get involved, e-mail him at: email@example.com.