Slowly, I’ve observed more media coverage of trans issues and while it may not always use the right language or take the most open-minded approach, visibility is still the fastest way to revolution. A result of that visibility, however, is a slow bubble to the surface of people’s heated differences in opinion, knowledge and experience on what being trans means. There are splinters and factions even among the LGBT’s, where my ultra-lefty queers are intolerant of and keep away from spaces not predesignated as safe, my gay and lesbian colleagues want to take an insider attitude with offensive “tranny” jokes, and a sad number of near and dear straight allies still need an explanation as to why a finite gender or physical change isn’t necessary to identify as trans.
This week in particular, for 7 days leading up to the 11th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, there was a spike in published articles about the topic.
People Magazine has a brief interview with Chaz Bono, who recently came out as trans. What we have here is a celebrity-mongering grocery store glossy taking an assimilationist approach to Chaz’s romantic relationship with lipstick-looker Jennifer Elia, and insisting that it’s a heterosexual union. An excerpt from a facebook comment thread about the article: “barf.” Why? A lot feel that trying to paint our queer relationships as a variation of straight only serves to weaken the power of our unique, queer perspectives. It’s the ways in which we are different that causes people to learn and reflect about what is outside of their experience. This article doesn’t teach you anything.
The Red Eye’s blog had a better, if still problematic feature around a younger woman named Adrianna King who has overcome homelessness and is now engaged in her community. The author, Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz did a good job of telling King’s story, but there is still a hint of northsidism (a Chicago problem where people stereotype the northside as “safe” and the southside as “phobic,” and runs so deep it has caused institutionalized discrepancies in funding for GLBT services) and she never burdens Lakeview residents to take ownership of their racist attitude towards the youth that visit the local LGBT community center. To say nothing of the horrendous comments left by reader JimLkvw , this article and the online response is a prime example of the need for more mainstream dialogue about queer issues on publications like the Red Eye. It might be the only chance we get to reach people like JimLkvw.
Finally, I came across an article about some recent killings of transgendered women in Guatemala. Mind you, these horrific crimes happen all the time in all nations. But being chapine myself, I could picture what the streets looked like, what the passersby did (probably nothing), and the nightmarish sounds and words that were exchanged while these crimes happened. It’s a long way from Chicago to Central America, and to think the families and friends of these women will probably have no legal recourse, it’s important to reflect on the physical and emotional pain that is being dealt with by our transgendered families all over the world. It wasn’t until recently that the United States included gender in its anti-discrimination laws, and it’ll be some time before that legal reality translates to instances of curbed behavior.
I just shared this link with some allies from the American Psychological Association. Unfortunately, trans is still a disorder on the books, sorry to travel so near that touchy area. However I thought this page used language that was accessible to most people, particularly if you are unfamiliar. If you are reading this and you’re a post-queer, post-feminist and so far post-everything that you are so far post-over it, there’s a facebook group for you. Not to be flippant, but we can’t get anything done without allies. The basic numbers make it impossible. If you aren’t at least trying to engage your surrounding community, including those that are not just like you, who are you helping besides yourself?