More on transgender v. transsexual

CRISTAN WILLIAMS | Cross-posted from Ehipassiko

Since my last post on this issue, I’ve met a few really cool folks in the “transsexual-not-transgender” camp. I was fortunate enough to meet one transsexual named Zoe. We messaged back and forth for quite some time over Facebook, and she really helped me to better understand where she’s coming from. And you know what, I 100 percent support her decision to self-identify herself as transsexual and not as transgender. The thing that seems to separate Zoe from the seeming majority of those in the TS-not-TG camp is that she’s not a hypocrite, she likes facts, and she speaks for herself instead of presuming to speak for all other transsexuals.

TS people don’t identify as TG anymore

A big problem with the idea that TS people no longer identify as TG is that it’s a demonstrably fallacious idea. The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force recently published the largest American trans study ever with more than 6,000 respondents. In this study, they actually asked how we self-identify. Care to guess how many self-identified with the term “transgender”? Ninety percent. Yup; as in almost everyone but a small minority.


Double standards are fun

Also, I’ve not yet seen the TS-not-TG group address a double standard I regularly observe:

• Most in the TS-not-TG group will regularly group TS and IS people together when talking about themselves because, they claim, being grouped together with other types of trans folk is offensive to them.

• However, most in the TS-not-TG group seem to have a blind-spot when it comes to acknowledging that in many regions of America, intersex people are offended when they are grouped with transsexuals.

• So, it’s somehow OK to demand that all transsexual people stop being referred to as transgender because the very idea is seemingly too offensive to contemplate, but it doesn’t matter that grouping themselves with IS people is incredibly offensive to some IS people. That double standard is what I think most might view as being hypocritical.

Grouping us together is something new that was done to us

I’ve also noticed that many of the TS-not-TG people feel that they were grouped with other types of trans folk only very recently. Perhaps where they come from, this is absolutely true. However, it’s demonstrably incorrect to make that claim for all transsexuals. In Houston, for example, our community purposefully began working to create one unified community that encompassed all types of trans people in the mid-1970s.

—  admin

Transsexual widow Nikki Araguz to appeal Texas judge’s decision declaring her marriage invalid

Nikki Araguz

Transsexual widow Nikki Araguz plans to appeal a state district judge’s ruling last week declaring her marriage invalid and denying her death benefits from her husband.

Judge Randy Clapp, of the 329th Judicial District Court in Wharton County, ruled May 24 that Nikki Araguz is not entitled to death benefits from Thomas Araguz, a volunteer firefighter who was killed in the line of duty last year.

Clapp declared the Araguzes’ marriage invalid because he said Nikki Araguz was born male and Texas law prohibits same-sex marriage.

In a press release sent out this afternoon, Nikki Araguz’s attorneys, Frye and Associates, announced that they plan to appeal Clapp’s decision to the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi “in a timely manner.”

Nikki Araguz also issued her own press release, saying she is “completely devastated” by Clapp’s ruling and providing background about her marriage and the court case.

We’ve posted both press releases in their entirety after the jump.

—  John Wright

Transgender? Transsexual? The power of words in self-determination

Nikki Araguz

Early this week, we had a What’s Brewing post here on Instant Tea that included information about what was at the time a pending ruling from state District Judge Randy Clapp in Wharton on a lawsuit challenging Nikki Araguz’s right to the pension of her husband, a Wharton firefighter who had been killed in the line of duty.

In that first post, we used the term “transgender” to refer to Araguz, which is the general umbrella term that we use here at the Voice. We based that on conversations with advocates in the trans community who told us that “transgender” is an umbrella term that includes all those who are gender variant, while “transsexual” specifically refers to those who have fully transitioned or are in the process of transitioning.

So I was surprised to see comments to that first blog about Nikki Araguz taking us to task for describing her as “transgender” instead of using the term “transsexual,” and pointing out that Araguz had, in her personal blog, asked that the media refer to her as transsexual instead of transgender.

—  admin

Black Transmen group comes to the Metroplex

Today I received an email from Carter Brown telling me about a new group here in the Metroplex, Black Transmen Inc.

According to Brown’s email, Black Transmen, with a Carrollton address, is “the first national nonprofit organization of African-American transmen solely focused on acknowledgment, social advocacy and empowering African-American transmen. Our services include: providing resources to aid in a healthy female-to-male transition, peer-to-peer mentoring, HIV/AIDs education and awareness, employment training, financial consulting and sponsoring local and national events — to name a few.”

The group has a Facebook page, located here.

I don’t know much about the new group yet, and I hope to be able to talk to Carter Brown and other members soon to find out more information that I can then pass along to our readers. But I do know that services and resources for transgender and transsexual people are few and far between here in North Texas. There are some groups out there — for instance, GEAR — that do a great job. But there are still a lot of gaps that need to be filled, especially when it comes to services for trans men, and African-American trans men in particular.

So here’s wishing Black Transmen all the best. I hope to talk to you soon.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Craigslist congressman sought trans women; Maryland marriage bill in jeopardy

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Republican Congressman Chris Lee, who abruptly resigned Feb. 9 after Gawker published his shirtless Craigslist photos, wasn’t only looking for cisgender women with whom to have adulterous sex. Gawker now reports that Lee had also posted an ad (above) seeking “passable” transsexual or cross-dressing women, which could explain why he resigned so quickly. It could also seriously complicate Lee’s efforts to smooth things over with his wife.

2. A marriage equality bill that passed the Maryland Senate last week is suddenly in jeopardy in the House, where it was once thought to be assured of passage. The Washington Blade reports that the bill is short of the 71 votes it needs, with at least one former co-sponsor having caved under enormous pressure from the religious right.

3. The King’s Speech was the big winner Sunday night at the Oscars, taking home five awards including best picture, best director and best actor. For a complete list of results from the 83rd annual Academy Awards, go here.

—  John Wright

Fact-checking Some Memes Regarding Transsexual People And Transgender Community

Thumbnail link to Facebook crosspost of Autumn Sandeen's Pam's House Blend essay 'Why Transgender Activism'
Within my Facebook pages is the crossposted essay entitled Why Transgender Activism.

One of the people who read the essay on Facebook left a comment in the comment thread. The commenter said this:

Autumn, what policy changes and lobbying are necessary for the Transgender movement when you exclude the Transsexual from the equation? It may be a stupid question, but I’m unable to think of any off the top of my head

There is no doubt in my mind that the premise for the question is incorrect. There isn’t a movement to exclude transsexual people and transsexual people’s issues from transgender activism — transsexual people’s civil rights are perhaps the major focus of transgender community activism.

Below is my answer to the commenter. I’ve added links and graphics for the response here at PHB (that one can’t eas asily add in Facebook) so people can reference documentation regarding my remarks; the documentation is to show that what I’m stating has factual basis.

__________, there are many memes out on the web that many are accepting as truth regarding transsexual people and transgender community that can be fact-checked. Some of the memes, when fact checked, turn out not to be truisms.

One meme that isn’t a truism is that I see crossdressers, drag performers, genderqueer people, and transsexual people as all being the same thing. I don’t. There are distinct differences between these groups of people, which is why there are different names we use for all of these groups of people.

But that said, there is also the commonality between these groups of gender expression that doesn’t fit into western society’s sex and gender norms. All of those groups of people are subject to discrimination and sexual harassment based on the commonality of gender expression; the sociopolitical transgender community umbrella exists as a movement to work on public issues that are common between those who don’t fit in society’s sex and gender norms. Stating that there are commonalities between groups of people doesn’t mean that differences are erased, it just means that within sociopolitical arenas, people have reason to join together to focus based on sociopolitical commonalities.

Another meme is that transgender activism excludes issues relating to transsexual people’s freedom, equality, and justice. That’s verifiably not true.

As one example that challenges the veracity of the meme, here in California where I live there are people who identify themselves as transgender who worked with Equality California — a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community organization — for passage of the Equal ID Act (AB-1185) in 2009. Thumbnail link to Equality California's Equal ID ActAssembly Bill 1185 would have allowed qualified transsexual people born in California to return to the county of their birth to obtain a new birth certificate reflecting the correct gender, as well as any accompanying name change. There is law in California that implies that post-surgical, California born transsexual people who no longer live in the state don’t have standing to petition California Courts to change the gender marker on their birth certificates as California born, transsexual Californians have standing. The bill passed both state houses, and was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

AB-1185 wasn’t legislation that was designed to remedy a sociopolitical issue that impacts crossdressers, drag performers, and genderqueer people, yet lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists all worked together to get that bill passed through both state houses. That’s what sociopolitical umbrella community activists do — these sociopolitical umbrella communities facilitate bridge building between subcommunities of a broader community. These coalitions of subcommunities specifically do work on issues that are of common interest of all, yet these coalitions also to work on issues that only effect a small number community members that fall under the sociopolitical umbrellas — sometimes these coalitions work on issues that effect a majority of the community members, and sometimes these coalitions work on issues that effect only a small minority of the community members — but these sociopolitical coalitions, formed under community umbrellas, provide the best opportunity for creating change for all of the community members at one point or another.

So, I’d argue against the truth of your premise that transgender activism doesn’t include work for transsexual people. There are many more examples than just this one example of transgender activists (along with lesbian, gay, and bisexual activists) working together to remedy transsexual people’s unresolved issues within broader society than just this one case I outlined above.

You wouldn’t have to look very hard or long to find more of this kind of example — Please take some time to do some looking for yourself to determine if the memes you’re hearing or reading can be verifiably fact checked to confirm or debunk the meme that you’re hearing or reading. I believe you might be surprised by what you discover about some of the memes you currently believe if you do some fact-checking of your own.

Another example of broader communities working for change of law or regulation for the benefit of transsexual people is the ACLU taking up the case of Illinois birth certificate gender marker updates in the case for Kirk v. Arnold. If you look at how the ACLU filed this case on their website, they filed it under LGBT Rights | Transgender.

It’s not always a perfect marriage between transsexual people who don’t choose to fall under the sociopolitical transgender community umbrella and those who choose to fall under the umbrella. It’s not always a perfect marriage between transsexual people who don’t choose to fall under the sociopolitical LGBT community umbrella and those transgender identified people who choose to fall under the umbrella. I don’t think I need to explain how badly transsexual people have been treated at times by other community members in LGBT community.

However, transsexual people’s lives have been improved by transgender community activism; transsexual people’s lives have been improved by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community activism. It’s not just theoretical that transgender activism has had positive impact for transsexual people; it’s not just theoretical that LGBT activism has had positive impact for transsexual people.

And, it’s not just theoretical that the activism accomplished under the transgender and LGBT community umbrellas will have positive impact on transsexual people into the future.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin