By Radha Smith
April 18, 2014
Reposted with permission
I’ve been reading the latest “eviscerate a trans woman if you are a trans woman” battles. Mostly at advocate . com, but also through boing boing and Huffpo and a person called Zinnia’s petition.
It’s so hilarious in a rather sad and demented way. It puts me in mind of the battles in the 90s at Usenet and the bulletin boards of the early Aughts where a couple of the participants ran one, or contributed regularly to one.
Seems like about every ten years the same ole, same ole breaks out and through magazines, alternative newspapers or on the webz folks rise up and condemn and make fun of the views and experiences of the generation before them.
Trans female generations seem to be about ten years as those who come on appear to have almost no relation to those who went before. A lot of that prolly has to do with the historical fact that once you did your bidniz and sucked all the knowledge, sympathy and advice you could and saved up and had surgery/ies you moved on, thanking the universe that you no longer needed to deal with that anymore. I understand that.
But, along about the mid 90s that started to change. A few women wanted to maintain connection with something they started calling “the Community.” By the early Aughts there were lots of women who saw no need to be in stealth, or hidden as ever having been trans at all, anymore. They would have fights on those bulletin boards with those who were hidden about how “all transwomen” should act on that matter.
Now an even younger group has started pushing their elders. Thus, we have this developing battle that appears to demand to some degree that once more we all divide into a side, pull out huge machetes and begin hacking at one another in a rather gruesome and bloody fashion.
What fun! But, no thanks. I haven’t any desire to demean other people, question their way of making a living, or demand that people say nice things about me and not use words I say are slurs, while I am writing tone-deaf libels and generally nasty slurs about others. Seems like a free-for-all that I’d rather not enter.
Ya know, I think there may be a reason, Monica Roberts, why trans women of color are beginning to be the most visible and admirable trans women on the block. Ain’t seen a one of them carrying and using a machete on anyone. Least of all on one another.
This bs don’t win no one nuthin. But, in Murica it seems to take a lot of time to make history. Goddess knows, we like to slog through the same crap time and time again. Maybe we should honor Cristan Williams, by studying what she has to write rather than just naming her to a hundred person list. Especially if I’ve been named on that list at some point myself.
Or, I suppose we could just eviscerate each other while we wait for the haters to come and eviscerate us all, with real steel.
Today is Friday, 18 April 2014. As of this morning, you have raised $6600.00 to help Kate #StayAlive! Our goal is $75,000. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. xoxo
Hello friends and family,
This is Barbara, Kate Bornstein’s partner in life, love and art. I’m writing to ask—once again—for your help.
As many of you know, Kate’s lung cancer is back. It reappeared in late December in a lymph node behind her collarbone. The good news is that it did not travel far from it’s original site. Recent scans show it’s not in her brain or bones. The further good news is that it did not reappear anywhere that had been previously treated with radiation and chemotherapy. This means that the doctors can treat this new tumor aggressively and the treatment is likely to work. We have been assured that this cancer is still curable.
The bad news is that the treatment for this second round is way more intense than the last (and we thought that round was challenging!) This means that in addition to more intense chemo and radiation, she needs more supplements and alternative therapies to keep her fighting. She’s much weaker with this new treatment and needs to spend more on transportation to and from treatments. She has a hard time doing basic tasks, like preparing food for herself and the pets. Even getting dressed to go to chemo/radiation treatments is a challenge. Small tasks are not just physically, but also emotionally, overwhelming. This “brain fog” and the accompanying extreme energy drain are common, yet hideous side effects of the treatment. Worse yet, these effects will continue for months after treatment has stopped. This means we have no idea when she can return to work.
We are deeply grateful for your astoundingly generous donations of over $100,000 last year. It’s the support of her community—and we mean emotional, physical, and psychic support, as well as financial—that helps Kate #StayAlive. We still have a bit of that $100,000 left and we are stretching it as far as it can possibly go. (Let me take a moment to thank the people who are currently providing their services and products at reduced cost.) But Kate is going to run out of money very soon.
In short, if Kate is going to #StayAlive, she needs the financial support of her community once again. Kate wants me to be sure to tell you how hard it is to ask for this kind of support. She knows many of you have financial challenges of your own. Please give only if and what you can afford. All of the money raised goes directly towards Kate’s treatment.
Here’s the PayPal link to donate: http://bit.ly/1pkRV4K
Whether or not you can donate, you can help Kate #StayAlive by letting others know how they can help. Please forward/post/distribute this message widely. For inquiries and/or offers of help, write to KateStayAlive(at) gmail (dot) com.
And just so you know, Kate is truly appreciative of all the supportive tweets and other messages she’s been receiving. Please understand that although it’s hard for her to respond to all of them, they mean the world to her.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
& Team Kate
By: Calpernia Addams
April 17 2014
To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child. —Cicero
Some time in the early 2000s, I saw a profoundly troubling trend being born in the newly popular Live-Journal-type blogs. It later spread through Tumblr and Twitter, across our small, bright quilt of communities: an online thought police. The officers of the thought police felt deeply entitled and were intent on unraveling a half-century of LGBT community-building to insulate themselves from what has become the unendurable offense of much of today’s activism: feeling offended.
The Internet is a world of words, whether typed, superimposed on cat pictures, or spoken in videos, and decades of boundary-shattering LGBT culture have delivered up dictionaries full of scandalous language that make children — particularly those who’ve been windburned by a lifetime of hovering helicopter parents — very uncomfortable.
Right now, the endless flap over the gender community’s language is a hot topic, with RuPaul’s televised shemale and tranny games highlighting the question of who gets to say what in our balkanized communities. The language cops, in this case conservative trans women who object to their use under any circumstance, want tranny and other such words completely banned. I understand the arguments against the insult, but I don’t think these torch-wielders realize that transsexual women do not own the experience of gender crossing or the language created around it. Both the experience and the language have a long and hard-fought history across many groups; our history books are full of these stories. In seeking to blot out our internal language of historical words like tranny, the thought police are essentially burning books, one word at a time.
I am an artist. I’m far from being placed among the best in my fields (at least by those who want to hold a measuring stick to everything), but I feel this identity deeply. My deepest and most banal experiences all flow through the lens of my creativity, which I express as art. Before I am a woman, a transsexual woman, or even a physical body, at my core, I am a soul who loves to create whatever beauty I can from whatever I have at hand.
The world is full of those who create, and also those who destroy. Flaubert said, “One becomes a critic when one cannot be an artist, just as a man becomes a stool pigeon when he can not be a soldier.” Those who criticize their own community’s artists as transgressive word villains while producing nothing themselves might find uncomfortable resonance in that quote.
The LGBT community has historically been a source of art, culture, and wit that guides the world’s tastes. In being forced to embody the artifice of acceptable lives, we learned to create art itself. We wrote love songs to those we loved in secret. We brought together those who shared our marginality. Pushed to the fringes, we were often forced to find dark humor in the worst of circumstances. Through it all, disempowerment, rejection, and violent punishment lent an intrinsic sense of transgression to just being ourselves. And pain does inspire some of the most moving art.
From of that artistic heritage came the words we have created and reclaimed to describe ourselves. I feel slightly ridiculous talking about slang words like tranny and shemale, words I myself do not choose to use. But I’m not going to asterisk them out or hint at them, because if you’re reading this, you’re most likely a grownup and I’m going to hold you to that. Faggot and dyke have reached the sort of homeostasis that racial epithets have in their communities; taboo for outsiders but reclaimed in the culture’s art, with full awareness of the history. But control over the language of gender travelers is still being fought for in the LGBT community, and like children squabbling over an inheritance, transsexuals, genderqueer people, and drag queens all lay historical claim to these words.
In the United States, a major difference between us and non-LGBT people is how we are shaped by our struggle against society’s rejection and punishment. As this struggle has lessened, so have some of the differences in our formative experiences, and one result is the emergence of the kind of comfortable, privileged scold we once only saw warming the pews of conservative churches. Like those who demanded chastity and temperance with little experience in the ways of sex or booze, our modern-day conservatives would strike words from the lexicon that were created long before they first tinted their Twitter avatar to Equality Red.
Continue reading at: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/04/17/op-ed-burning-books-one-word-time