Transsexual/Transgender Day of Remembrance.. There But For Fortune…

Yesterday I left a Facebook group called “Transsexual Liberation” because there was a twit on it who claimed she was going to pull a Fred Phelps and picket her local Day of Remembrance.

This person is a pre-op who has been out for less than a year and is a right wing asshole as well as a homophobe.  One thing I have noticed about so many of the people who feel compelled to trash TG people rather than question the cult like nature of the ideology is that they are quite willing to deny the humanity of not only transgender people but to trash post-transsexual women who don’t go along with or meet their peculiar standards.

What really blew me away is this person also regularly engages in red baiting and is generally a real live transsexual Michelle Bachmann.  She called me a socialist and I responded by calling her a right wing asshole because I’m not one of those squishy nice pacifist lefties who takes being red baited while hearing the mantra Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dalai Lama in my head.  I’m one of those nasty red/black sorts of lefties who verbally fights back.

Leaving aside the politics, there are a hell of a lot of people being treated like their being transgender or transsexual makes them into prey. They are considered worthless people that too few people care about. Therefore criminals who prey upon them are not subjected to the same level of police and court severity that they would be if they had murdered a middle class white woman.

Which brings us to another unpleasant topic: Axis of Oppression.

I noticed many of the trans-women listed were from  Honduras. The US government has sponsored repeated right wing coups, juntas and death squads in Honduras. Extremist right wing Catholic organizations have replaced the 1960s “liberation theologians”.  Right wing “evangelical” missionaries with their poisonous homophobia have flooded into Latin America.  Dire poverty has encouraged the rise of the drug cartels and extremely violent street gangs.

The vast majority of trans-women on these lists are people of color.

Many if not most are sex workers.

Many lack any alternative to sex work or the education to seize that opportunity were it made available to them.

Almost all TS/TG people have had violence done to them from the cradle.  Some of us are far more fortunate than others.  We have been privileged with white skin, good looks, education and opportunities to avoid the high risk life patterns most but not all of the TS/TG people on this list were forced to live in.

Since the 1960s and 1970s we have seen a concerted effort on the part of the right wing and the religious fanatics to rollback the advances in human rights, social justice and equality that grew out of the 1960s’ movements.  They demonized those movements, demonized the activists, ridiculed them as hippies, commies and utopians.  They used the media starting with Hollywood renegade cop movies to ratchet up fear so the public would demand ever more brutal police.  They cut all the programs that offered people an alternative to the streets.  They eliminated low cost housing and put people in the streets.

They escalated the War on Drugs after flooding the ghettos and barrios with cocaine and heroin.  They created a Prison Industrial Complex and filled it with people of color.

They crushed opportunity for the already marginalized so that often times the only survival alternative they had were either prostitution or selling drugs.

Video games like Grand theft Auto encouraged violence against sex workers.  Violent rap lyrics reduced all women to bitches and ‘hos’ and glorified violence towards the very women they degraded.

We allowed it to be acceptable for men to laugh and joke about how they would kill “faggots dressed as women” who came on to them.  A particularly vile lie since it is the men who make these jokes who come to the bars and strolls to buy sex from the TS/TG sex workers.

But society failed to censure that sort of advocacy of violence towards transsexual and transgender sex workers.

Yet we all live in a world where the religious right and thug thinking encourages men to kill us.  They use the lie that we deceived them as an excuse even when they come to trans-clubs to pick us up.

After all they are just “Trannie Trash.”

Shit… I even hear that from some of the privileged white  “classic transsexuals”, who came out in middle age while keeping their well paying careers and wives.

I looked around this weekend.  I checked out a lot of feminist blogs, LGBT/T blogs as well as the left wing blogs and I noticed something.  Those folks care and most of them are neither transsexual nor transgender.

I’d wager that more folks in the Occupy Movement care than in the Republican Party.

That is because empathy is a left wing trait.  Harshness and cruelty are right wing traits.

When I was little kid, a boy named Emmett Till was mutilated and lynched.  The story of his lynching outraged decent people everywhere.  Just as good people of all races stood with the Black Civil rights Movement against the conservative racism and evil of Jim Crow.

Today conservatives have resurrected Jim Crow with their efforts to deny the poor the right to vote.

I have been thrilled by the rise of the Occupy Movement and heartened by LGBT/T involvement in that movement.  Progressive people have been isolated for way too long in the ghettos of identity politics, where we are often tiny minorities within slightly larger minorities.  It is time to resurrect the spirit of the 1960s when we were all in this together and were all fighting to build a better world.

To do that we will have to free our empathy, open our hearts to compassion for other who are not identical to ourselves.  Listen to their need just as we would like them to listen to ours.

We need to put aside the John Galt mentality of “I’m number one and that’s who I am looking out for!”  It has become obvious that the one who dies with the most toys is still dead and has won nothing.  Perhaps making the world a better place for others is a better goal than amassing a mountain of crap no matter how bright and shiny or expensive that crap is.

Friday night I put up a video of Joan Baez singing  “There but for Fortune”, a Phil Ochs’ song.  One doesn’t have to be a transgender sex worker living on the streets to have empathy for that person.  All one has to do is acknowledge the privilege that comes with birth, white skin privilege, class privilege, education privilege and find that spark of humanity in your heart, that drop of empathy that says, “There but for Fortune go you or I.”

Dallas Occupies Donald Rumsfeld Event

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Police pepper spraying and arresting students at UC Davis

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Anger Sowing Seeds of a New Consumer Movement

From In These Times:

A new study suggests consumer rage against businesses is at an all-time high.

BY David Sirota
November 18, 2011

As we all know, America is angry. Really angry. To put it in pop culture terms, we’ve moved from the vaguely inspiring agita of Peter Finch in Network to the wild-eyed, primal-scream rage of Sam Kinison in Back to School.

When we pay attention to politics, we get peeved at Congress and the presidential candidates. When we tune into sports, we’re annoyed with squabbling players and owners. When we turn on the news, we fume at the smug pundits. And when it comes to the economy, we’re in a tizzy at big corporations.

Most of this indignation is nothing new; it is atavistic fury expressed in the modern vernacular. Yet, one strand of our anger—the kind directed at big business—may be truly novel, as our chagrin is no longer just that ancient animosity toward excessive corporate power. Instead, it has also become a personal disdain toward firms we deal with on a daily basis.

This is the key finding of the latest report from the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State University. Its findings show that after years of rising anger, consumer rage has reached an all-time high.

Back in 2004, ASU’s researchers theorized that such apoplexy was an outgrowth of affluence. “Households simply have more products and services today, and thus more points of contact, increasing our chances that we will have a problem,” they wrote.

But, of course, 2004 was a comparatively prosperous time. Today, by contrast, recession-battered consumers have access to fewer products and services and yet are angrier at companies, meaning the sentiment likely reflects a response to deeper trends.

One of those is a decline in craftsmanship in the era of free trade and offshore production. With America now awash in foreign wares, we’ve imported the developing world’s lax regulatory standards and, thus, its lower product quality. That means poorly constructed furniture, malfunctioning electronics and all the other shoddiness that drives customers nuts.

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Skin In The Game: Super Committee Cuts Could Lead To Worse Health For Gay And Transgender Americans

From Think Progress:

By Kellan Baker
Nov 18, 2011

The ongoing budget and deficit reduction negotiations carry far-reaching consequences for every American. But further capping or cutting funding for vital health programs such as Medicare, community health centers, and Medicaid place communities that already face disparities in health and access to health care, including gay and transgender Americans, under even greater threat.

Heavy cuts to health care entitlement programs and health programs funded by nondefense discretionary spending would put these communities at serious risk of losing assistance essential to their well-being. Many gay and transgender people, like other Americans, rely on entitlement programs such as Medicare and stand to benefit substantially from the expansion of Medicaid and other promising provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Most importantly, further cuts to discretionary spending threaten to undermine the national health infrastructure that protects the health of all Americans and that is critical to closing the disparities that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population.

Programs and initiatives at risk include:

Data collection by HHS on sexual orientation and gender identity that would allow gay and transgender disparities to be identified and effectively targeted

– Biomedical and behavioral research on HIV prevention and treatment at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health

– Primary, preventive, and other direct health care services through community health centers, which will serve an estimated 40 million Americans by 2015, including many gay and transgender people and their families

– Mental health services that help gay and transgender youth and adults cope with depression and other consequences of bullying and discrimination

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11-17-11 1a – Occupy Brooklyn Bridge, with Adam Gabbatt – Countdown with Keith Olbermann

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Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Opens Eastern Front for Neoliberalism

From In These Times:

By Michelle Chen
Friday Nov 18, 2011

With the U.S. economy stuck in a constant rut and Europe going into a tailspin, President Obama is looking to escape to the East. While the nations of the Asian Pacific rim face strains of their own, from massive inequality to climate change, their growth rates look positively zen compared to the stagnant economies that used to run the world.

So for the past several days President Obama has been charming Asia-Pacific officialdom, hoping these “emerging” economies can prop up the West’s sagging empires. At home, the White House has sold its vision for the “Pacific Century” as a boon for U.S. jobs, and abroad, he’s looking to consolidate influence over Asian leaders with subtle overtures toward checking China’s regional power.

The centerpiece of this program is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would involve Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, in addition to the U.S. While it would build on existing trade ties in the region, critics see it as an unprecedented supersized neoliberal agenda repackaged with the bow of modernization and “development.”

But according to fair trade activists, the deal may end up not only failing to bring significant job opportunities, but laying the groundwork for an economic regime built on offshoring, deregulation and the swapping of national sovereignty for corporatocracy.

Negotiations have proceeded quietly for months, cooking up sweeping new trade rules for the nine partner countries (with diplomatic nods at another enfeebled giant, Japan). The factsheet reiterates the usual boilerplate lines on ensuring a “competitive business environment,” and “securing fair, open, and transparent markets for services trade.”

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