Whatever Happened to the Transgender Tipping Point?

From The Daily Beast:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/31/whatever-happened-to-the-transgender-tipping-point.html

After the optimism of 2014—the ‘Transgender Tipping Point’ as decreed by Time magazine—trans people are facing an onslaught of legislative prejudice.

Samantha Allen
03.31.17

In 2014, Time magazine announced “The Transgender Tipping Point.”

Laverne Cox adorned the cover in a blue dress.

The author of the cover story, Katy Steinmetz, declared that “another civil rights movement is poised to challenge long-held cultural norms and beliefs,” chalking up the emergence of “new policies” to the “new transparency” that transgender people were exhibiting after “emerging from the margins to fight for an equal place in society.”

The narrative was clear: Transgender visibility was good. It could change the country. And although Steinmetz herself was careful to qualify that the “transgender revolution still has a long way to go,” Time’s headline made it seem like a critical threshold had been crossed. Progress is linear, it supposed, and there is no going back.

That narrative—I am sad to say on March 31, the Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV)—is wrong.

In 2017, the White House rolled back federal guidance protecting transgender students, effectively scuttling a potentially precedent-setting Supreme Court case in the process.

There have already been at least seven reported murders of transgender people in the United States, placing it on track to be one of the most violent years on record.

And even after North Carolina reached a controversial legislative “compromise” yesterday over its “bathroom bill” under pressure from the NCAA, some Texas legislators are trying to pass a bill similar to HB2 this year.

If 2014 ever could have been described as a “Transgender Tipping Point,” we might say that we’re now in the “Transgender Dipping Point”—a moment when, despite increases in media representation, the sort of tangible progress that felt within our grasp a few years ago may now have been delayed well into the next decade or beyond.

Wherever you look, transgender people may be more visible but they are still facing the same problems in 2017 as they were in 2014.

They are still being denied life-saving health care, discriminated against at work, and harassed in public. Transgender athletes are still being stigmatized for daring to participate in sports. Cisgender actors are still being cast in transgender parts.

All the while, anti-LGBT groups have been doubling down on transphobia, fundraising around bathroom laws now that the same-sex marriage decision seems all but irreversible.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/31/whatever-happened-to-the-transgender-tipping-point.html

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The dark side of “visibility”: How we slept on trans people becoming the new scapegoats of the right

The Taliban Christian Right have decided transfolks are the perfect scapegoats.  There are some frightening parallels between their behavior and the behavior of the Nazi when they first came to power.  If you are out and or obvious you might want to consider relocating to some place safer than certain states.  It isn’t cowardly to put personal safety first.

The following was published a year ago.  It is truer today than ever.

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2016/03/30/the_dark_side_of_visibility_how_we_slept_on_trans_people_becoming_the_new_scapegoats_of_the_right/

The “transgender tipping point” was a welcome milestone—it’s also made trans adults and youth more visible targets


Wednesday, Mar 30, 2016

I was happy to hear about the International Trans Day of Visibility two years ago. I agreed with the sentiment that the Transgender Day of Remembrance in November being the only trans holiday was morbid and depressing and that celebrating happy, healthy trans lives was a positive goal. I was happy to be one of many allies pushing awareness of March 31 as a “day of visibility” last year.

Which is why I was surprised when one of my close friends, who is trans and who hadn’t heard of the holiday, responded with a scowl when I told her about it.

“My goal isn’t visibility, my goal is survival,” she said. “The Jews were extremely visible in 1930s Europe, how much good did it do them?”

Since then I’ve been thinking about the relative shallowness of “visibility” as a goal in and of itself, especially since the past two years have been one long performative celebration of trans visibility.

Caitlyn Jenner became a magazine cover girl in the name of “visibility” and has continued to do highly visible things like entering a golf tournament, blogging about her love life, starring in a reality show and speaking out in defense of Ted Cruz. We’ve had a streaming show about trans issues win a Golden Globe, we’ve had a feature film about trans issues nominated for Oscars (winning one for Best Supporting Actress). Ever since Time ran its famous May 2014 cover of Laverne Cox with the optimistic title “The Transgender Tipping Point,” everything’s been looking up for trans people, right?

Well, no.

The progression from visibility to tolerance to acceptance within the LGBT coalition has infamously been uneven between the LGB side and the T side. If one were to try to make a parallel (an extremely imperfect one) with Time’s “Transgender Tipping Point” with Laverne Cox and an earlier moment in queer history, it’d probably be something like Ellen DeGeneres and her character both coming out on Ellen in 1997 (a moment pivotal enough that there’s a website named for it).

Did the dramatic moment of a well known entertainer proudly coming out as gay on TV, with widespread support from the media and the industry, end the oppressive invisibility of gay people? Did it, as Dan Savage put it, get better?

Sure, absolutely, in the long run. But then I tend to agree with Martin Luther King that given a long enough run, yes, things get better–but what happens while we’re waiting for that long run is a much more complicated story.

Ellen coming out on TV came after a run of 1990s media garnering attention and box office dollars out of promoting “visibility” of the gay community to Middle America–whether it be dark, tragic takes on the AIDS crisis or cutesy introductions to the culture of drag and camp. There was a vanguard among the (still mostly straight) cultural elite convinced the “gay tipping point” was coming, after the bloody battles fought by ACT UP in the previous generation and at Stonewall in the generation before that.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2016/03/30/the_dark_side_of_visibility_how_we_slept_on_trans_people_becoming_the_new_scapegoats_of_the_right/

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Don’t let establishment opportunists ruin the resistance movement

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/09/dont-let-establishment-opportunists-ruin-resistance-movement

As a powerful grassroots movement emerges, some want to use it for their own gain. The history of the Tea Party has important lessons on how to avoid that


Thursday 9 March 2017

The fury currently welling up against our demagogue president is a gorgeous thing. The Women’s March on Washington bowled me over by its sheer numbers. The town hall meetings calling Republican representatives to account are delicious payback for decades of phony populism. The combination of the two is one of the healthiest political developments I have seen in many years.

But opportunism never sleeps, and with the rage and the resistance of recent weeks some far less noble characters have seen a chance to develop a new con. They’re up on the resistance bandwagon right now, rending their garments, shaking their fists and praying that no one holds them responsible for the dead end into which they’ve steered us over the years. Inveighing loudly against Trump has become, for the people I am describing, a means of rescuing an ideology that has proven a disaster.

Comparing this moment with the Tea Party tells us a lot about this misdirection. In its 2009 heyday, the Tea Party represented a kind of superficial secession from the Republican party, which had discredited itself with the series of disasters we call the George W Bush presidency. Throw the old leaders out, the Tea Party seemed to demand, and start fresh.

But that’s not really what happened then, and it’s probably not going to happen with the hack politicians, million-dollar consultants and smug journalists who led Democrats to utter powerlessness this time around.

Yes, the Tea Party brought down many Republicans, but in truth it was a way of rebranding the same old Republican party without the stink of George W Bush attached. Conservative activists back then looked out over an economic disaster brought on by libertarian idealism – by a generation that worshiped bank deregulation – and insisted that what we needed was more deregulation, that we needed to go full-on free market. That’s the achievement of the Tea Party.

There is a possibility that the resistance to Trump will turn out the same way – that it will become a vehicle for our Enron Democrats to avoid accountability. “I don’t think people want a new direction,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in December. Now is not the moment for infighting, others have insisted, but for unity and togetherness. Unity behind the existing leadership, that is. Changing the personnel in the C-Suites will only weaken us, they will say; hell, we can’t even afford to see our leaders criticized.

And so the thinkers of the “center left” proceed to hold their failed leaders above scrutiny and to redouble their commitment to the shabby ideology that allowed Trump to win. Former prime minister Tony Blair, the British face of Clintonism and one of the principal forces behind the Iraq war has been doing just this. Writing the other day in the New York Times, Blair used his audience’s horror at the Trump phenomenon as an excuse to urge them into battle against, yes, the left.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/09/dont-let-establishment-opportunists-ruin-resistance-movement

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She was an ultraconservative Texas Christian. Then Kai was born and everything changed.

From Fusion:  http://fusion.net/story/393673/texas-bathroom-bill-sb6/

By Kathryn Joyce
3/26/17

On the Monday before Christmas break at an elementary school in Pearland, Texas, just south of Houston, a five-year-old girl named Kai went with the rest of her kindergarten classmates to the library. Physically slight but hugely affectionate with silky blond hair, Kai loved her teacher, her classmates, and her school.

Yet a short time later, Kai’s family claims, she was crying and standing over a puddle on the hallway floor. Accidents aren’t uncommon for kindergarteners, of course. But when Kai’s mother, Kimberly Shappley, picked her up that day, Kai was wearing different clothes than what she’d gone to school in, her original outfit was wet and balled up in her backpack, and she was distraught.

“That day she made a big deal of it, because in her mind and her heart, it was a different feeling, and she knew it was different,” said Kimberly.

Kai assured her this accident wasn’t because she’d gotten distracted playing or waited until the last minute. It was because Kai is transgender, and adults at her school took too long to figure out what bathroom she should use.

Kai’s own classroom, like all kindergarten classrooms at her school, has a single-occupancy, unisex bathroom for everyone to use. But when Kai goes to the cafeteria, library or gym, she isn’t allowed to use the regular girls’ restrooms, thanks to a confusing workaround the school district came up with last spring.

When Kimberly first approached the Pearland Independent School District last year, saying her child would be starting school in the fall and she hoped they might find a private way to accommodate her, school officials initially seemed amenable. But days after that conversation, Kimberly said, the superintendent, John Kelly, lamented to the Houston Chronicle about the “social engineering” of Obama’s Departments of Education and Justice in mandating that public schools let trans students use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

The May 2016 directive, clarifying that gender identity was a protected category under Title IX— the federal law that forbids sex discrimination in public schools—was an assertion of dominance from a “hostile vocal minority,” Kelly said. “What’s next? Legalizing pedophilia and polygamy?”

Continue reading at:  http://fusion.net/story/393673/texas-bathroom-bill-sb6/

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Coming Out as Transgender Made Me a More Effective CIA Officer

From The Atlantic:  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/transgender-cia/520050/

An intelligence official explains how being honest with herself and her colleagues helped her serve her country.

Jenny Hall
Mar 20, 2017

I sat in a bunker hoping the incoming rocket did not have my name on it. I was a young CIA officer, called by September 11 to serve, and found myself amid generals and sheikhs, writing for presidents—the life I’d dreamed of since childhood. Drained by 18-hour days and fitful sleep, my demons flooded the moments of peace. In the dark, I heard fighting beyond the wall, thought of friends killed and wounded, and remembered my secret.

You feel explosions before you hear them, and there was a bomb at the center of my life that no one could see. I was transgender, and feared I would lose my family and friendships. It was before an Executive Order protected transgender employees, and I imagined myself ridiculed or fired if I admitted the truth. I had heard a story about what happened to one CIA officer who had taken that step:

“Once upon a time, an officer with decades of experience lost it; clearly the stress. One day he decided he was now a woman—hilarious I know—and wanted everyone to believe him. Management didn’t know what to do with the transsexual. CIA had only just accepted gays; the officer left the Agency.”

When I was a child I knew that trans-people existed, but I knew I couldn’t possibly be one of them. I was going to make history, not be some freak on television. My self-discipline and self-hatred marched in lock-step.

I bottled up my problem, and tried to live up to the CIA’s values: to “put mission before self” and “go where others cannot.” But CIA has other chiseled words: “the truth shall set you free.” How could I speak truth to power but not be honest with myself?

Sinking into depression, I built a double life; living as a woman outside work and changing genders in Langley’s unisex restrooms. My juggling act faltered at a staff meeting when a friend whispered that I had forgotten to remove my mascara.

The trans-community has a joke: “What’s the difference between a crossdresser and someone who changes genders? Two years.” The punchline ignores the trans-people who never transition or find happiness outside the gender binary. But for me, my hours as Jenny lifted a terrible sadness in my life.

If you found out you needed glasses, and discovered that the world is filled with beauty and color that you thought was just a blur, why would you ever take them off?

I finally reached the breaking point. I was failing at my job and found myself crying in the bathroom. I walked into my boss’s office and closed the door. She later told me she was relieved when I told her. From the look on my face, she thought I had cancer.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/transgender-cia/520050/

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This Whole “Are Trans Women Real Women?” Thing is Gross

From The Medium:  https://medium.com/@emmalindsay/this-whole-are-trans-women-real-women-thing-is-gross-1b15f3d7ad41

The question is not whether trans women are “real,” but what is the real motivation behind defining some women as “real?”

Emma Lindsay
March 23, 2017

One of my facebook friends posted some article on how to be an ally to trans people. Something about the article rubbed me the wrong way, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what — so I asked my friend why she’d posted the article. Did you find this article helpful when interacting with the trans people in your life?

She told me she didn’t know any trans people, but wanted to make clear that she was a safe person to talk to about trans issues. As it happened, she actually did know a trans person, she just didn’t know that person was trans. Apparently her method of broadcasting her “trans-safety” via facebook shares was not effective. This friend has always to me represented, like, something that is deeply wrong with liberal culture. The desire to be open minded simply for the sake of being open minded, not because you have come up against a situation that requires it, seems fairly toxic. Additionally, the belief that by dealing with something in the abstract, that by reading enough articles about it, you’ll be equipped to deal with it in real life, seems woefully misguided.

I have a few trans friends, and at times I have behaved problematically towards them. I’m not proud of it; I’m just trying to be honest. You can’t learn how to interact with people via facebook articles. You can’t get to the point where you’re this flawless ally without being a fucked up ally first. And, to get real with you, I try to be a good ally, but I still got trans women on the internet telling me how transmisogynist my writing is, so clearly I still got some shit to work on.

But, despite my problematic bigotry, a surprising number of trans people have forgiven me my issues and opened up to me about their feelings and thoughts on gender. Which, is actually a little weird in some ways.

Truth be told, early on some of my feelings on trans issues were a little TERFish. I remember talking to one of my old friends about feminism, and she said something like “a lot of feminists want to abolish gender, and I really, really don’t want to abolish gender.” She was a trans woman, and she didn’t want to abolish gender because she liked being a woman.

But… I was sort of one of those feminists who wanted to abolish gender! I was into math and science, the sports I liked were fighting sports (wrestling and jiu jitsu) and I had just suffered for a long, long time to do the things I wanted to do as a woman. And, for some chick to be like “omg, all this girly shit IS GREAT — LET’S KEEP DOING GIRLY SHIT” was very threatening to me initially. It triggered an almost instinctual panic: is some of my autonomy going to get lost if I fully embrace the trans movement?

Yet, despite my fears, I liked my friend and I saw how important this was to her, so I just rolled with it. I certainly fucked up a few times, but whenever I did, it was always accidental. Nowadays, I fuck up less because I just think of her as a woman. A quirky woman, possibly a morally questionable woman, definitely a loud woman, but mostly just a woman who is not substantially different from my other female friends.

Continue reading at:  https://medium.com/@emmalindsay/this-whole-are-trans-women-real-women-thing-is-gross-1b15f3d7ad41

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Robert Reich: The Resistance Report 3/27/2017

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