Way back in 1962 when I first tentatively came out to my parents I had a hero, April Ashley, who had her biography serialized in one of the tabloid newspapers.
When I started hormones in 1969 and started living as a woman I was the only person with transsexualism that I knew. My role models were AFAB women, mostly hippie/left wing women. I came out in what is the bohemian culture. Not the gay and lesbian culture and not the Casa Susanna/Tri-Ess pre-transgender communities.
I don’t think of myself as transgender. I abhor the pushing of gender, gender, gender as I find this gender thing to be little more than the repurposing/repackaging/recycling of oppressive sex roles. The sort of stuff one of my real heroes, Simone de Beauvoir wrote about in The Second Sex.
Since I am a believer in self examining of life and rejection of cliched thinking, which is often mindless acceptance of sloganeering rather than actual thought, I have found myself forced to ask if I should call myself or consider myself transsexual any more. Seriously… It has been over 50 years since I first came out, nearly 50 years since I started the process of changing sex.
It worked and cured me since sex reassignment surgery I lost all desire for changing my sex. I wish I could say I felt perfectly comfortable with my body, but with the exception of a few years when I was harshly training in the martial arts I have always felt weak or flabby or fat. I had a bout with anorexia for about a year or two before coming out as a dyke.
I love the word dyke. I realize it has become a forbidden word in the new world order of gender, gender, gender. I use to have a t-shirt I absolutely loved. It said “Warm Fuzzy Dyke” in about 120pt Comic Sans.
During the second half of the 1970s I learned to hold fashion and sex roles in utter contempt. I still had a subscription for Vogue and could not only name the various photographers from style but could probably tell you what cameras they shot and the film likely used to produce the images. In those days I wore the Nikon necklaces along with my t-shirts, jeans, leather jacket and running shoes.
I didn’t get SRS because of the clothes. I was a bohemian hippie with hair down my back, beads and any clothes I felt like wearing. What they call transition today was about changing physical sex and being a hippie woman/girl instead of a hippie man/boy. It wasn’t even about who I had sex with because in the days of free love I had sex with people not genitals.
What I am trying to say is i just don’t get the incredible ideological word salad of today’s “Transgender Community.”
I met others after the first few months on hormones and living out my trial period. It seemed like there were two groups of folks on hormones transsexuals who would get SRS and queens who wouldn’t. Lots of folks said they wanted SRS but never put in the effort to actually get it. In the mid-1970s heading into the 1980s people started using the term “transgender” for those folks.
Towards the late 1980s Tapestry Magazine and the IFGE started pushing “Transgender” as a collective descriptor.
I’ve been on line since the mid-1990s, an inconvenient surviving pioneer of the early days, one who still remembers things.
One of the things I remember is how there have been so many media messiahs who were going to validate and legitimatize the trans-communities. I also remember how after a few years they were either discarded or said something deemed politically incorrect and wound up publicly vilified.
Faces come and go Riki Wilchins was popular in the 1990s and is today treated as an out of touch dinosaur.
Mara Keisling is a legitimate long time activist not an attention grabbing media whore, and yet she has slid from the public face of trans-activism.
There are a hell of a lot of sisters and brothers out there fighting the good fight, doing activism in a way I gave up on many years ago. Some of them are freaking heroes for their commitment and spokespeople by their shear ability to articulate the problems and issues in a way that the mainstream can understand.
Me? I’m just an old hippie dyke. More articulate about lots of other issues than I am about those of a community I no longer consider myself part of.
I am bothered by the hailing of Jenner as some sort of Messiah. There has never been any sort of actual test as to whether or not someone is actually transsexual other than maybe Cybele’s Knife and getting actual SRS. Any sort of test for transgender is even sketchier.
It’s all perception and judgement. Way back when we used to say that someone, “smelled right.” That meant we perceived them as knowledgeable and sane, aware of what they were actually getting themselves into.
Dr. Benjamen’s real life test was another way of separating out sincere people from those looking for a thrill or wanting to live out a fantasy.
I get lost in the word salad of transspeak but there is definitely something that seems off about Jenner. I’ve watched the last few years as people were burned by the frantic media whoring of Ashley Love, Parker Molloy, Zoey Tur and others who were rapidly rising stars who suddenly turned into spewing internet trolls.
Maybe it’s Jenner’s pronoun choice. Maybe the admission of the embrace of a political faction that is actively waging war against TS/TG folks.
All of a sudden people of the political faction Jenner claims ro be a part of are trying to pass laws making it a crime for trans-folks to use gender appropriate restroom. There is even a proposition proposed by the political faction he claims to be a part of that advocates for the murder of LGBT people.
Who is to say what Jenner is really up to. I could see him as poster boy for the anti-TS/TG political right wing. Either overtly or inadvertently.
I know people keep bringing up the Olympic athlete schtick, but that was nearly 40 years ago. Lately he is famous for being a media whore on a reality show with the Kardashians., hardly a credibility endowing profession.
You want a spokes person for the trans-community pick one of our MDs, one of our tenured Ph.D. Professors, one of our many lawyers. Pick Lynn Conway or Andrea James there are thousands, literally thousands of far better candidates than Jenner.
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/galileos-middle-finger-re_b_7119420.html
Alice Dreger’s new book, Galileo’s Middle Finger, is a curious addition to the literature of the anti-trans movement from a woman who has done some very good work on those who are genitally intersex. Unfortunately, her claim about searching for the truth as an activist, anti-activist, and historian falls apart on several very important points.
To review, Professor Dreger is a friend of Professor Michael Bailey, whose exploits with the trans community in the early aughts was described in his infamous The Man Who Would Be Queen. I reviewed the current attempt to rehabilitate Dr. Bailey by several of his friends, including Dr. Dreger, in a recent Huffington Post column. I’ve recently read her book as well as two reviews which just appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post.
The best description of the book is that it’s a rant, and an extremely tedious one at times, delving into a level of detail which bored even me, (and I’m familiar with most of the characters), by a woman I would call a neoconservative sexologist. Having performed the grueling work of an activist in helping protect newborns with ambiguous genitalia from mutilating surgeries without informed consent, she turned, grudgingly by her description, to protecting Professor Bailey from his trans critics. Her analysis of the behavior of the trans activists left her in such despair that she became a self-described “anti-activist.” This shift in thinking is reminiscent of the political neocons who were once proud leftists but turned towards the hard right during the Reagan years out of a sense of betrayal by their former colleagues.
As an historian, and one who is deeply concerned with her reputation as a truth seeker, she candidly admits the object of her concern is not without flaws. After admitting that she is not a scientist, she almost immediately claims that there is little evidence to back up the consensus position on human sexual development. Either she’s lying, or hasn’t done her homework. As I’ve presented, the developing consensus was already publicly available back in 2005 in a publication co-authored by many of the luminaries in the field, called “Atypical Gender Development.” In the ensuing decade the evidence has continued to pile up, but it has had no impact on her search for the truth. She still considers the consensus as ideologically biased and intent on a witch hunt, led by a number of well-known and highly successful trans activists. That one of these women is a well-respected economist (Deirdre McCloskey) and another is one of the most important inventors in American history (Lynn Conway) has no effect on her critique. Poor Professor Bailey has been attacked and must be defended by her, her actions enabling others to rise to his defense as well.
This non-scientist then admits that Bailey’s work on the trans community is not based on his own research, but is just his contribution to promoting the work of a Dr. Ray Blanchard. Dr. Blanchard is on staff at the notorious gender clinic associated with the University of Toronto (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) known as “Jurassic Clarke.” Dr. Blanchard’s typology of transsexualism, based on nothing more than his personal mode of classification, divides trans women (and note, there is never any talk of trans men, which in itself condemns this research, begun in the ’80s, as utter nonsense) into two categories — extremely feminine gay men and perversely erotically-driven cross-dressing men. There is no science to this analysis. There are no randomized and blinded studies, and no research into non-trans women who exhibit similar behavior. These Freudian constructs of Dr. Blanchard and his close friends and colleagues, including Drs. Bailey and Ken Zucker, are not based on objective criteria, but are rooted in the assumption that gender identity doesn’t exist and the trans phenomenon is composed of two different forms of sexual orientation. Unfortunately for them, the existence of gender identity (in the context of an intersex condition called cloacal exstrophy) was proven in 2004 by Dr. William Reiner, then at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and today the number of people who believe that transsexualism is a type of sexual orientation is similar to the number of climate change deniers. This small number is evidence for Dreger that they are actually a small remnant that is struggling to tell the truth to a politically correct, brainwashed mainstream of medical doctors and psychologists, who’ve been intimidated by trans women who happen to make up an overwhelming 0.15% of the population.
Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/galileos-middle-finger-re_b_7119420.html
This sort of corporate crap doesn’t even permit a worker to have a second job to make up for being only a part time employee.
Any company doing this should be required to pay $25 per hour for a minimum 25 hour week plus health care.
From Robert Reich: http://robertreich.org/post/116924386855
Monday, April 20, 2015
Dear Sisters, Amazon, Festival family,
It has been my honor and privilege to produce the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival for 40 years. It has been my life’s work, my deepest commitment, my constant challenge and my most profound joy. Every single thing of value I have learned in the world I have learned in the process of being part of building this beloved community. Almost every friend and family member who I cherish I have met on that hallowed ground, and every single way I have learned to put my mind/heart/shoulder into the purpose of creating something beautiful that honors womyn has come from the sweat I earned on that Land.
I am writing to tell you that the 40th Festival will be the last Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. The spirit of this community will live on forever, the friends and family we have found on the Land are eternal. Everything we have created together will feed the inspiration for what comes next. It’s possible that I will come back with something else, or that other sisters will take the inspiration of the Michigan community and create the next expression of our Amazon culture. What is true for me is that now is the time to bring this 40-year cycle to a close, stepping out on joy at our most incredible anniversary celebration.
We have known in our hearts for some years that the life cycle of the Festival was coming to a time of closure. Too often in our culture, change is met only with fear, the true cycle of life is denied to avoid the grief of loss. But change is the ultimate truth of life. Sisters – I ask you to remember that our 40 year Festival has outlived nearly all of her kin. She has served us well. I want us all to have the opportunity to experience the incredible full life cycle of our beloved Festival, consciously, with time to celebrate and yes, time to grieve.
There have been struggles; there is no doubt about that. This is part of our truth, but it is not–and never has been–our defining story. The Festival has been the crucible for nearly every critical cultural and political issue the lesbian feminist community has grappled with for four decades. Those struggles have been a beautiful part of our collective strength; they have never been a weakness.
For many of us this one week in the woods is the all too rare place and time where we experience validation for our female bodies, and where the female experience presides at the center of our community focus. A place to lay our burden down from the misogyny that pervades our lives from cradle to grave…a place to live in intergenerational community, and to live in harmony with Mother Earth. I know this is true for me. And I have a deep trust that each and every one of us can take what we have experienced on that Land and continue to create space that feeds our spirit, creates diverse community, honors our experience and supports our struggle as womyn making our way through the patriarchal world. Please take what you love about Michigan and use it to create something new and beautiful.
It is important that each and every one of us knows she is empowered to build on what we have experienced together on the Land. Everything you feel on the Land, everything you see – is something of spirit, and love, and passion for female empowerment….for womyn’s community. The Festival’s 40 years of culture and community are a powerful seed and our communal experiences have created fertile ground to plant in. I know that we will find inspiration and vision to create our next time and space.
For those of us who will be gathering for our 40th anniversary this August – let’s joyously hold up our incredible community and allow ourselves to be strong enough to consciously let go of this incarnation of her, with all the love we each hold in our beautiful hearts. Let us gather this August knowing that what we truly cherish about the Festival lives on in each of us, and more will come from this fertile ground. Let’s do this up together – Amazon proud!
I will meet you there in August – my eyes meeting yours, heart wide open.
With all of my love and respect,
By: Trudy Ring
April 21 2015
The 40th Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, to be held this August, will be the last, its founder announced today.
The storied women-only event, first held in 1976, has been the subject of controversy in recent years because of its exclusion of transgender women, with many artists and organizations deciding to boycott. Founder and organizer Lisa Vogel gave no reason for ending the fest, however, in a Facebook post announcing the decision.
“We have known in our hearts for some years that the life cycle of the Festival was coming to a time of closure,” she wrote. “Too often in our culture, change is met only with fear, the true cycle of life is denied to avoid the grief of loss. But change is the ultimate truth of life. Sisters — I ask you to remember that our 40 year Festival has outlived nearly all of her kin. She has served us well. I want us all to have the opportunity to experience the incredible full life cycle of our beloved Festival, consciously, with time to celebrate and yes, time to grieve.”
She acknowledged, “There have been struggles; there is no doubt about that. This is part of our truth, but it is not — and never has been — our defining story. The Festival has been the crucible for nearly every critical cultural and political issue the lesbian feminist community has grappled with for four decades. Those struggles have been a beautiful part of our collective strength; they have never been a weakness.” She urged the “Festival family” to “please take what you love about Michigan and use it to create something new and beautiful.”
The exclusion of transgender women from the fest has led performers such as the Indigo Girls, Antigone Rising, and Lea DeLaria to withdraw from the event, and last year several national LGBT organizations signed on to a petition from statewide LGBT group Equality Michigan calling on the festival to change its rule limiting attendance to “womyn-born-womyn.” Festival organizers have said this is not a formal policy but rather an “intention” that puts “the onus on each individual to choose whether or how to respect it,” but petitioners said that did not equate to inclusion and noted that the controversy dated back to a transgender woman being thrown out of the festival in 1991. Just in the last couple of weeks, however, three signatories withdrew their endorsement of the petition.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights “has removed our name from the petition and will be actively engaged in conversations in which we honor our differences while also pursuing a conclusion that supports the gender identity and inclusion of all women in Michfest,” wrote NCLR executive director Kate Kendell in an April 8 letter to Vogel, posted by the online publication TransAdvocate, which withdrew as well.“We have faith that such a resolution is possible.”
15 April 2015
Women in tech have been told to lean in, back off, be bigger blowhards and simultaneously let others shine. But by far the most inspiring – and probably the most effective – piece of advice is the one found on the otherwise rather mysterious new website tableflip.club: “Fuck that, we’re done. It’s not us, it’s you.”
Meaningful change, the anonymous woman behind the site told me over email, requires not just tweaking but reinvention from the top down: “It’s virtually impossible to change a sick system without being the one in charge.”
You can’t destroy the master’s house, it seems, when the master’s a tool.
Her site went up on Monday and hosts a single, 500-word piece of writing giving voice to years (or decades) of exasperation:
“When we try to play by the rules (which we do because we’ve seen what happens to women who don’t) we’re denied opportunities because we aren’t “ready” for them – and we are ALSO denied the things you say we need in order to BE ready. When we do these things without your corporate approval, we do it knowing that we may be the next woman who gets quietly fired for being too forward. When we try to take a seat at the table like Sheryl said we should, we’re called presumptuous.”
The solution: “It’s time we take our potential elsewhere.”
What makes her campaign so novel is that it applies the language and techniques of political activism to something that’s been treated as a business problem. Many self-help books and workshops designed to support women at work actually place the onus of responsibility on them, encouraging women to brag more but promise less, to be more assertive and less aggressive.
But the tableflip.club founder rejects the idea that women should try to adapt to the demands of an already-broken system in order to survive: “Flipping the tables takes the ‘just try harder, just sit at the table’ advice and flips it on its head. We’re already trying so goddamn hard and it’s not working, women are leaving in droves. So we need to change something”.
Opting out is straight out of the universe of boycotts and strikes. It acknowledges that the problems faced by women in tech are inherently political, and can’t be solved by a human resources department. The difficulties women face aren’t the problems of one woman, or one team or one company. They’re not just limited to Adria Richards or Brianna Wu or Ellen Pao; they’re not just Twitter with its no-women board or Wikipedia with its 91% male editors. The problems are systemic – and no amount of attitude adjustment or leaning in on the part of those who get screwed by the system can possible change it.