Tuesday, September 1, 2009
We Need A Training Course on Transgender 101
I can't help but think how the greater LGBT movement has been so focused on an orientation hierarchy they've dropped the ball with regards to "normalizing" trans men and trans women. There's been a huge push at reducing the anxiety and generating familiarity for lesbians and gays that it doesn't seem so "weird" anymore. It's still opposed by many but it's not a wholly foreign concept. Think of it in terms of how relations between whites and blacks were addressed.
As a cis-gender woman I often cringe at the public fumbles and stumbles of others who are lesbian, gay and straight alike who exhibit their lack of understanding of trans-related "issues". I have to qualify this with the quotes because I do not purport to understand what it's like to be a trans woman. Just as a white person will never understand what it's like to be black or a wealthy person not know all the ways they've benefitted from not being poor we all have our own set of blessings and obstacles. I do think the standard should be higher for the lesbian and gay collective but we as individuals can pick up the mantle as we see fit.
I expect reciprocity in my support of all LGBT "issues" but realize that as with many things in this society certain people of color may have an extra burden. I've also written about numerous cases of violence against black trans women like Lateisha Green and Duanna Johnson. I have also found that for every person willing to examine how they relate to others many still exhibit virulent discriminatory behavior. Including gays and lesbians. So if they engage in such foul behavior against their trans kinfolk how is that the straights will learn? Not to mention the racism and gender bias that exists amongst the entire population.
I am confident that I examine the ways in which I express my gender privileges if only because I'm willing to be put through the paces by others. We have to be humble enough to consider the fact that being well-intentioned is no guarantee of complete success in dismantling our prejudices. There is a big difference though from deciding to hate in thoughts, words and deeds.
There's been a discussion at Pam's House Blend about the review of this dance crew on an MTV dance competition show by a recording artist. The comments by Lil Mama displayed a lack of understanding that should be addressed but are by no means as offensive as statements made by gay politician Barney Frank for example. Any standards for evaluating behavior should be applied across the board. I see this as a teachable moment IF people are willing to learn. Like most reality shows they're edited to promote high drama and ignorant behavior for ratings.