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Preview: Comments on Center of Gravitas: Not Impressed

Comments on Center of Gravitas: Not Impressed

Updated: 2017-11-14T09:07:24.366-08:00


"The measure of our success is not how well we suc...


"The measure of our success is not how well we succeed in protecting the rights of people like ourselves. Instead, the measure of our commitment to real sexual liberation and social justice is how well we defend people who are the least like us."

Hear, hear!

I have a student who is transgendered. Last semes...


I have a student who is transgendered. Last semester she was in my class as a male, this time, I saw a familiar face but didn't figure it out till she came up and said "um, yeah, I didn't say "here" to my name cause this is it here on your roll and it would have caused some problems now. When I saw the old "boy" name and then asked what she prefered me to call her, she told me and we had a moment of smiling at each other. I said "OOOh, cool!" and was genuinely delighted that she has found a way to be happier. I can't imagine how scary that must be, to not know what your professor's response might be to a scenario like that.

I think I'm probably the only person who knows this about her. In our hometown, I know she faces daily danger. I recall a student complaining loudly about the mere existence of a Gay/Lesbian alliance club on campus. "What exactly do they do at their meetings? We should have a reporter go to one!"

I usually use the staff restroom, and hand't even given this element a thought, but I saw her going into the ladies' room (which, according to the way she is living is correct) but if someone who wasn't sympathetic saw her, knew she was "different" there could be issues. And she's a gentle person who is just trying to figure her life out, to live in a way that makes her feel okay.

Laws are made to protect the minorities for a reason, because often people want to hurt them. But I've seen this distinction made before, over and over again, in groups that OUGHT to know better "you're not a naturally born woman so you can't come" or "you're not a real... insert definition here" so you don't really understand.

It's the groups who are most trying to change things who are the ones who are most responsible for being decent about difference.

Mike: Why are those 3 marches your entire basis fo...


Mike: Why are those 3 marches your entire basis for judging "the queer community" and its inclusion or exclusion of trans people? Transwomen of color were the first folks to make a raucous at Stonewall, and non-trans GLBs have been benefitting ever since. Just a thought, but maybe part of the reason we didn't show up en masse in D.C. is because we're already one of the most vulnerable queer groups and can't afford the train to D.C., can't get the legal identification necessary to fly to the city, and are the most likely to be brutalized by the cops should anyone be arrested.

And if you don't think gender is important to non-trans GLBs - if you don't think a central part of homophobia is perceived gender transgression - then maybe GayProf should give us an early holiday gift and expound on that next...


Our willingness to push aside the transgendered me...


Our willingness to push aside the transgendered members of our community left me in shock. I don't want some of us to have some rights - I want all of us to have all our rights.

I feel as though HRC and other DC based "rights" groups have deserted our community. They've become too insidery - to centered in DC politics. And this is what we get when that happens.

The first March on Washington that I was able to a...


The first March on Washington that I was able to attend in 1987 was for Gay and Lesbian Rights.

The second March on Washington in 1993 was for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Rights.

The third March on Washington, the most irritatingly corporate and corrupt (also sponsored by HRC(F) was for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Rights.

If the consciousness of the Queer Umbrella took three marches over fifteen years to get it right, why do we expect the general society to swallow the whole hog of inclusion?

Part of being American is realizing that progress is made sometimes glacially and at other times in great leaps forward. We're also a nation of ugly compromises and like most countries in the west, generally horrified at watching laws and sausages being made.

Yes, the non-inclusion of transgendered persons is a terrible thing, but at the same time, perhaps we're headed in the right direction. We've got to do a better job of education about these issues to the public at large. And sadly, the Phil Donahue show isn't on anymore.

Hell, if DEAR ABBY can talk about transgenered iss...


Hell, if DEAR ABBY can talk about transgenered issues, the rest of the country should be able to deal:

Sarah: I agree with you fully. This whole measure...


Sarah: I agree with you fully. This whole measure suggests that (white) gay men are being asked to become complicit in a system and institutions that maintain oppression. In some ways, I am inclined to give it a Gramscian reading.DykeWife: The demand for conformity from mainstream gay and lesbian writers and others is shocking to me. They are more than happy to dictate how people should configure their lives and relationships.I really hope that Harper doesn't ever get a real majority. shudderElizabeth: Pierre Trudeau is always right! Well, except when he made bad bargains with the evil oil interests in Alberta. . . Or construed multiculturalism narrowly. Still, I think he will be remembered as one of the most influential political figures in North American history. Then again, I have a touch of Trudeaumania.Torn: It actually makes me feel better to hear that you and others agree. Sometimes it seems really bleak.Artistic: I think the monogamy/marriage issue is another example where the queer rights movement has gone off track. Don't even get me started about the ways that upholding dysfunctional heterosexual standards is not the road to sexual liberation.Anon: I am glad that you are around on this blog.Chad: It turns out that those who consider themselves "pro gay," even those who are actually gay, construe that identity very narrowly.ROG: That is another frustration with me. This is an old strategy that we can find over and over again. Mexicans are pitted against African Americans; Men of color are pitted against women of color; all people of color are pitted against queer folk. One would hope that we would be smarter than to fall for this crap. Turns out, not so much.Steven: I agree. While I obviously think that the legislation would have important consequences for those who identify as GLB, their rights are increasingly being protected within major corporations (who have found that it is costly to discriminate). Yet, the transgedered folk have little of those types of guarantees.Cooper: It is depressing to hear about the murder in your small community. I always expect more of Canada. The desire of individuals to decide if one "can help" their sexuality or gender drives me insane. Cause shouldn't matter or be an issue.Baron: Another element that really bothered me about the (white) gay male writers and leaders of lobby groups' call to celebrate this moment was that it exposed their national chauvinism. They are still under the delusion that anything the United States does is somehow "revolutionary" or "exceptional." That sad truth is that the U.S. has not been a leader in the world in human rights for a very, very long time. As a nation, we should actually be very embarrassed by the debate around ENDA and its final form. Americans are so insulated and certain of their rightness that they celebrate anything they do as if they are the fist to think of it.David: I can understand and even respect the "some protected is better than none argument." For my part, though, the particular circumstances surrounding this debate on ENDA does lead me to say that those who identify as GLB should have shown solidarity with the T. It's hard position to take, obviously, but I think that we should have rejected passage. Here is my thinking:If this bill had never included transgendered people, I might feel differently (though would have still been very annoyed). In this incident, however, the original bill included them and they became a bargaining chip. The leadership in the Congress explicitly named transgendered people as a liability. They also allowed stereotypes about transgendered people to make "straight-acting" GLB people more palatable to other members of Congress. The way this bill played out means that we would gain protection of our rights on the backs of transgendered people. To me, that is unacceptable. It would have been a profoundly po[...]

Politics make me sick. This isn't and wasn't abou...


Politics make me sick. This isn't and wasn't about doing what's right. I bet half the votes on ENDA were totally unrelated to ENDA itself, but were dictated by what the voter was getting in return for their vote.

Our government no longer functions for our benefit.

I honestly don't understand how a member of any minority can justify discrimination against any other minority, or even prejudice against anyone, period. And I don't know why "all men are created equal" is so difficult to understand, assuming the reader has gotten over his infantile sexism.

Flaming out could be considered a crossgender beha...


Flaming out could be considered a crossgender behavior! When homophobes turn against "feminine" men, it's because flaming isn't an acceptable expression of masculinity in their little world. A lot of homophobia is rooted in transphobia, only you hardly ever hear about the latter.

"Measures like ENDA are about protecting our right...


"Measures like ENDA are about protecting our rights, not granting us rights."

This was the part that rang the most true for me.

I don't know why it's so hard to live with people whom are different. As naive as that sounds, it's still something I can't understand. How can someone's gender, whether born into it or not, have anything to do with whether or not he or she has the same rights as anyone else?


Yep, I was thinking the same thing. I think the av...


Yep, I was thinking the same thing. I think the average gay man (and lesbian) is probably more conservative than we'd like to imagine. This whole issue is really disappointing. The sad thing is, if anyone really needs protection at the workplace, it's transgender individuals. They have to endure so much hardship on a regular basis. Gay leaders really dropped the ball on this issue. And it's a shame.

Great post!

So when anonymous student comments call me feminin...


So when anonymous student comments call me feminine, are they reacting to my faggotry or my transity? I'm fairly sure it has something to do with my tendency to flame out when I'm rattled and hardly anything to do with intimate knowledge of my non-normative genitalia as the airing of the later in the history classroom would be deeply inappropriate.

I say blowjobs for all the queer men who understand the concept of coalition politics and that ENDA in any form is not going into law this year or next year (motorcycles for the queer women, while I'm at it!). It just might pass the Senate if we throw the gay men and the lesbians under the bus along with the trannies and let the hot bi babes have a historic legislative victory.

God I am tired of stupid people. I wish having teh gggay gave you extra intelligence.

I've got a 10% chance of being murdered? Goddamn ...


I've got a 10% chance of being murdered? Goddamn it.

I would be alarmed how quickly everybody is willing to throw me to the wolves, but it's gotten rather predictable.

I hope all the transphobic gay men can prove that they're as "straight acting" as their craiglist ads say they are, or else they've traded their souls for nothing.

I completely agree with your depression over the g...


I completely agree with your depression over the gay transphobia that has been viciously aired throughout this debacle. Particularly galling to me is the way people like John Aravosis have framed the argument: you're not part of us unless and until you can prove you're part of us. Shouldn't queers of all people adopt the opposite presumption? And are people so deeply involved in gay rights movements really so unaware of the history of actual queer political action and intra-queer-community debate as to suggest that no one has really ever tried to make the case that the T belongs in the LGB? (Rhetorical question; the answer is sad and obvious.)BUT one thing that has been appallingly unmentioned in this entire debate is a technical but crucial legal point: When a court is faced with interpreting ENDA or any other law in an actual case, there is a HUGE difference between Congress having been officially silent on a relevant interpretive issue and Congress having affirmatively rejected it. In the former circumstance, many transgender people could themselves potentially recover damages under a sexual-orientation-only ENDA, because many instances of anti-transperson discrimination will involve the hallmarks of discrimination against their perceived sexual orientation. In plain English? Bigots call transwomen faggots and transmen dykes. That's the sort of direct evidence on which a court can, and some courts almost certainly would, find that the trans plaintiff suffered sexual orientation discrimination.BUT if Congress has affirmatively said that they did not intend to include gender identity in ENDA, then the defendant in such a case has a ready-made defense--Congress specifically voted to exclude events of this sort of event from protection. There are other ways a court could interpret such a rejection, but when it comes to issues of s.o. and gender identity, the less confused courts are the better.Conversely, Lambda has been running around arguing that many gay men and lesbians are less likely to recover under a gender-identity-free ENDA, because defendants can argue that they did not discriminate against the employee because s/he was gay but because her gender performance was weird. First of all, there is existing case law, at the Supreme Court level, that provides some protection for non-normative gender performances under the gender prong of Title VII. It's not strong enough, but it's stronger than the misleading interpretation put forth by Lambda. (There is also case law that rejects the extension of the Title VII gender prong to encompass s.o., but a defendant who argues, i.e. admits on the record, that they discriminated based on gender performance is effectively waiving the relevance of that latter case law and willingly submitting themselves to the existing gender performance case law, which is less favorable for them. In other words, employers can get caught in a legal catch-22 here, from which L/G plaintiffs could benefit. Lambda is dissembling by not engaging these points.)Secondly, and more importantly, the doomsday scenario predicted by Lambda is actually MORE likely if Congress votes on and rejects inclusion of gender identity. As it stands now, it would take a crafty lawyer to come up with such an argument, and a court would be free to reject it. If Congress rejects a gender identity amendment, however, Congress would have effectively written the crafty lawyers' briefs for them, AND courts are likely to see themselves as REQUIRED to accept such a defense. After all, Congress has spoken in what appear to be no uncertain terms.None of this has any bearing on the question of whether gender identity deserves inclusion in antidiscrimination law. Of course it does. Nor[...]

Agh, blasted proof-reading skills. Last sentence s...


Agh, blasted proof-reading skills. Last sentence should of course read 'If gaining rights means throwing out the rights of the T crowd, then I'm afraid the answer's yes.'

David - one reason is that the more people who sho...


David -

one reason is that the more people who shout, the louder the shout will be. Since those who are transgendered are even less numerous than the LGB lot, it is going to be even more difficult for them to get heard. Do you believe people will generally push for a trans-version of ENDA as much as they pushed for this one?

Don't ever, EVER think that progression is inevitable. It isn't. Every struggle in civil rights can suffer set-backs, can be stalled, can be defeated, can be revoked. Don't believe me? Two words - Guantanamo Bay. You have to constantly fight.

Which is why people are crying betrayal. The transgendered wanted to depend on the rest of us. What was upsetting wasn't that we conceded ground after a long, arduous struggle, but that some queers felt they couldn't get rid of the transgendered fast enough.

And if we can't look after our own people, what sort of message does that give?

Should the LGB crowd have to wait for their rights? If it means throwing out the rights of the T crowd, then I'm afraid the answer's yes.

While I completely agree with your conclusion that...


While I completely agree with your conclusion that the T should not be excluded from rights protected by ENDA, I believe that is not because they are "gay" in any way, but because they are also an oppressed group with the potential for perhaps, even greater discrimination. Equal treatment and protection should not be denied to any group.

My main point of concern is with the grouping within the GLB community. Clearly they are and have been largely accepted (if not embraced). But I still feel the need to ask whether they consider themselves gay or if, like Larry Craig, they might say: "I am not gay; I have never been gay."

That said, I love parenthetical comments. It makes me feel like an insider.

I can't jump on the bandwagon here. I hope in the...


I can't jump on the bandwagon here. I hope in the many comments I've made around the blogosphere that I have aired my support for the ENDA bill that passed without denigrating or implying any inferiority for the transgendered. I too agree that everyone deserves rights.

But if it's not OK for transgendered individuals to have to wait for their rights, why is it OK to tell gays, lesbians and bisexuals that they must wait for theirs? If it is at hand, must we not only turn that hand away, but also spit on it?

roger green, in his comment, references "divide and conquer," and certainly from the acrimony that rose up from this bill, the queer community did a fine job of dividing and almost conquering itself with little input from the real enemies on the right.

Why is setting a precedent for a future inclusive bill that WILL become law - God willing - after 2008 such a failure? Why is it so impossible to believe that a future bill WILL include transgender rights? Why do we have so little faith in ourselves and our community? If we don't believe in "us," trust "us," why should our straight allies? A difficult and imperfect decision was made in a very hostile political climate. Yes, it was expediency. But betrayal? That kind of black and white thinking belongs with the right-wing extremists.

There was an odd moment in this post. Perhaps it w...


There was an odd moment in this post. Perhaps it wasn't a very large one, but it was there, buried in the middle of a paragraph - 'Fuck off.' Not screamed, simply said, it's the sign of a man who has become so tired that he's nevertheless losing it with the dangerous idiots around him.

I tend to accept compromises easily, but this was certainly a compromise too far. To get ENDA on the table a whole section of society (who need the protection more than we do, let's face it) were pushed under a bus. I may understand the rationale - something is better than nothing - but we shouldn't be dancing in the streets when others did get nothing.

I'm confused over ENDA full stop, actually. Considering legislation in other countries, why is it so difficult for the US to push forward gay-and-trans-positive legislation?

A very thought provoking post.Even here in this sm...


A very thought provoking post.

Even here in this small, isolated city we had a transgendered murder recently which has generated a lot of public discussion. A co-worker had the opinion that it's not like being gay, because "you know, you guys can't help it ... but 'those' people choose to be that way". He really believed he was being forward thinking, too.

I feel sad and troubled in the face of this kind of thinking, but it is even worse when it comes FROM us. When are we going to start realising that dehumanizing anyone does the same to each of us.

Me saying that I echo your sentiments has been a r...


Me saying that I echo your sentiments has been a repititious but true statement on your blog. But I would go even further that the most affected or the ones who would benefit the most from this proposal are those of the transgendered community.

Divide and conquer. I'm sure I've said this befor...


Divide and conquer. I'm sure I've said this before, but when one group's oppressed, we're all oppressed.
And you see this all the time: black men dissing women's rights, e.g.

Given that I've known quite a few self-described "...


Given that I've known quite a few self-described "pro-gay" liberals who actually feel that transgenderism is a mental illness, I can't say I'm surprised.

Sometimes I wish the ancient Mesopotamian/Northern Native American idea of the "third gender" had been taken on instead of old Western notions. Would have made things more interesting, at least.

Amen x5 from one of your bi trans fans.


Amen x5 from one of your bi trans fans.

So right on this one - most of the progress that h...


So right on this one - most of the progress that has been made in LGBT issues lately is at the expense of trans and bi folks. This weekend I'm presenting about monogamy and how it may not actually be the best frame for human rights will be interesting to see what people are talking about for sure.