WBEZ | transphobia http://www.wbez.org/tags/transphobia Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Privilege in a dress: Arrested Development's transphobic slip http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-04/privilege-dress-arrested-developments-transphobic-slip-106843 <p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.15; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2x16_Meat_the_Veals_%2831%29.png" style="line-height: 1.15; width: 516px; height: 290px;" title="Mrs. Featherbottom attempts to fly on an umbrella in 'Meat the Veals,' one of the classic program's all-time great episodes. (Still from Arrested Development)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Sometimes there&#39;s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can&#39;t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in. However, other times things just suck. This week, <em>Arrested Development</em> sucked.</p><p dir="ltr">I&rsquo;ve been excited for months about the promise of the show&rsquo;s return. <em>Arrested Development</em> is one of my favorite things in the world, a show that never sacrificed intelligence in its quest for jokes. Creator/writer/producer Mitchell Hurwitz created a show that was dense with jokes, some so brilliantly weird that it took viewers multiple views to pick up on the humor. Hurwitz reportedly spent weeks crafting some of the episodes, and it took Hurwitz five years to get the reboot off the ground. If the <em>AD</em> could come back, he wanted to get it right. The viewers deserved that.</p><p dir="ltr">However, a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.queerty.com/arrested-development-makes-tranny-joke-in-new-ad-20130421/" target="_blank">recent joke</a> from the show&rsquo;s promotional materials calls into question that capacity for caring about their audience. Writer Zinnia Jones&nbsp;<a href="http://freethoughtblogs.com/zinniajones/2013/04/arrested-development-of-good-taste/" target="_blank">reports</a> that the show has been using transphobic humor to sell its relaunch. One advertisement, which has now been pulled, asks viewers, &ldquo;Who&rsquo;s your favorite tranny granny?&rdquo; The caption is next to pictures of Tobias in drag, as Mrs. Featherbottom, and George Sr. in a dress.</p><p dir="ltr">On the joke, Jones writes,</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s...not funny at all. It&rsquo;s the sort of lazy humor that every comedy, given enough time, will arrive at eventually &ndash; like a Godwin&rsquo;s Law of transphobia. These low-effort attempts at comedy are made under the assumption that the mere idea of men in dresses, or trans people, is inherently laughable. Treating both as though they were the same is just the icing on the cake.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Although the show heavily featured &ldquo;men in dresses,&rdquo; the joke was never about Tobias wearing a dress. It was about the delusion that he could trick his family into believing that he was a woman, despite giving one of the worst drag performances in history. <em>Arrested Development</em> wasn&rsquo;t critiquing Tobias for wearing a dress; the show lampooned him for being a bad actor &mdash; and a hideously self-involved one.</p><p dir="ltr">Throughout the show, the characters&rsquo; persistent narcissism is the real target. The Bluths are the worst, most clueless people in the world, and that makes them hilarious. It&rsquo;s smart comedy about stupid people.</p><p dir="ltr">However, this joke is what is clueless and stupid. Instead of making the Bluths the butt of the joke, it&rsquo;s an affront to transgender viewers who believe in the show and are as happy to see it return as the rest of us. The show has a strong following in the queer and trans communities because a) it&rsquo;s funny b) we hate George W. Bush, too and c) it&rsquo;s hella queer inclusive, with multiple out recurring characters and a notable lesbian star. (Hi, Portia!)</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Arrested Development </em>premiered in 2003, when few shows would touch queer audiences with a 10-foot pole. <em>AD</em> made us feel embraced, and it&rsquo;s treatment of Tobias is surprisingly sweet when you think about it. What&rsquo;s considered funny about Tobias isn&rsquo;t that he&rsquo;s gay; it&rsquo;s that he thinks people don&rsquo;t know. Most shows would shame him for it. In <em>Arrested Development</em>, his wife and daughter stick by him anyway. What&rsquo;s more affirming than that?</p><p dir="ltr">This humor achieves the opposite effect, using transphobic language to marginalize transgender viewers. Jones writes,</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Here it is, the all-too-frequent reminder that this is not for you. It&rsquo;s meant for other people, so that they can laugh at you. It tells us that the fact of our humanity wasn&rsquo;t actually taken into account at any point between someone having an idea, someone cobbling it together, someone approving it, and someone clicking &lsquo;post&rsquo;. Just being able to go about our lives would be too much to ask &ndash; we have to be someone&rsquo;s punchline.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Whenever jokes like these are made, people are quick to defend it as un-PC and the creators as equal opportunity offenders. However, what is equal opportunity about this joke? For the trans community, &ldquo;tr*nny&rdquo; is considered a hateful slur, comparable to using the &ldquo;n-word,&rdquo; the six letter &ldquo;f-word&rdquo; or the Jewish &ldquo;k-word.&rdquo; You would never see <em>Arrested Development</em> ask its audience who their favorite &ldquo;n-word&rdquo; is.</p><p dir="ltr">What makes it okay with trans people? Where was the outrage?</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s because in comedy, we often see hierarchies of offense &mdash; people who are seen as okay to make fun of without much backlash. When <em>The New Normal</em> called intersex people &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/because-racism-so-last-year-new-normal-making-fun-intersex-people-now-104822" target="_blank">pathetic</a>,&rdquo; many viewers barely batted an eye. People don&rsquo;t seem to give a flying truck that <em>Two Broke Girls</em> regularly makes Asians into desexualized, &quot;<a href="http://www.grantland.com/blog/hollywood-prospectus/post/_/id/41440/yo-is-this-racist-2-broke-girls-and-the-new-long-duk-dong-we-never-asked-for" target="_blank">Yellow Panic stereotypes</a>.&quot; When someone says the word &ldquo;f*ggot,&rdquo; we know to be scandalized. Look at what&rsquo;s happened to Isaiah Washington and Mel Gibson. Homophobia helped kill their careers.</p><p dir="ltr">When Stacy Lambe of Queerty&nbsp;<a href="http://www.queerty.com/arrested-development-makes-tranny-joke-in-new-ad-20130421/" target="_blank">wrote about</a> <em>Arrested Development</em>&rsquo;s transphobic slip up, many commenters called Lambe and Jones&rsquo; critique &ldquo;attention-seeking outrage.&rdquo; Eric Auerbach wrote, &ldquo;Transphobic humor? Give me a f*cking break.&rdquo; TinoTurner felt that the criticism only showed that Queerty is &ldquo;really hard up for stories.&rdquo; The respondent instructed Lambe to &ldquo;f*ck off.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">By telling trans people they don&rsquo;t have a right to be offended, it upholds the idea that it&rsquo;s okay to make fun of some and not others, a marginalization that shows trans people aren&rsquo;t worth caring about. We saw this same calculation in a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/4ad20b4edf/michael-shannon-reads-the-insane-sorority-letter" target="_blank"><em>Funny or Die </em>video</a> this week, when Michael Shannon read off Rebecca Martinson&rsquo;s infamous &ldquo;sorority girl letter.&rdquo; Shannon and <em>Funny or Die</em> took out Martinson&rsquo;s use of the word &ldquo;f*ggot&rdquo; but kept in &ldquo;ret*rded.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">What makes it okay to offend differently abled folks? <em>Funny or Die</em>&rsquo;s misguided idea that they aren&rsquo;t part of the audience. They aren&rsquo;t watching the video to get offended. My brother is differently abled. Just because he isn&rsquo;t watching doesn&rsquo;t mean he doesn&rsquo;t receive that message every day, when kids push him at school or mock his inability to read. He isn&rsquo;t just called a &ldquo;ret*rd.&rdquo; He&rsquo;s also called a &ldquo;f*ggot,&rdquo; just like I was &mdash; but for different reasons. The other kids at school don&rsquo;t think he&rsquo;s gay. They want him to feel weak and pathetic. It&rsquo;s about power.</p><p dir="ltr">These words shouldn&#39;t just be painful for him. They should be painful for all of us. Ableism, homophobia and transphobia are an embarassment to everyone.</p><p dir="ltr">At its best, comedy can work as a force for healing and take that power back. <em>Jezebel</em>&rsquo;s Lindy West&nbsp;<a href="http://jezebel.com/5925186/how-to-make-a-rape-joke" target="_blank">reminds us</a> that the best jokes work upward, critiquing those who are in power, rather than mocking the already marginalized. The best comedy opens up a space to ask questions about society, offering us an avenue to laugh and to critique. Although we think about it just as entertainment, comedy is about social justice. It&rsquo;s giving a voice to the voiceless by finding the laughter in our pain.</p><p dir="ltr">A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thebacklot.com/louis-cks-extraordinary-ten-minutes-of-gay-tv/06/2010/" target="_blank">scene from</a> the TV show <em>Louie</em> is a model for how boundary-pushing comedy should work. In the scene, Louie C.K. and his comedian friends discuss gay sex with Rick Crom, an out gay comedian. They ask Crom probing and often homophobic questions about his &ldquo;lifestyle,&rdquo; which exposes their discomfort with the issue. The scene sets itself up for bigotry as a way to combat it. Crom schools them:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&quot;I don&rsquo;t think about p*ssy. I don&rsquo;t care what you guys do. You&rsquo;re the one&rsquo;s who asked me. You ask me this sh*t every time I&rsquo;m here. I talk about gay sex more with you guys than I do any of my gay friends. You guys are obsessed.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">The scene then abruptly turns. After Crom&rsquo;s speech, Louie C.K. asks if Crom gets offended when C.K. uses the word &ldquo;f*ggot&rdquo; in his stand up. Crom tells him he can technically use any word he wants, because he knows C.K. doesn&rsquo;t mean to offend, but C.K. has to realize what that word says to gay men. Using that word tells gay men that, like the bundle of sticks it refers to, they deserve to be tied up and burned. &ldquo;F*ggot&rdquo; affirms the our history of violence against queer people.</p><p dir="ltr">This scene was an extraordinary moment in television, proving that humor can be a tool for dialogue and education. It can help to heal our wounds, instead of reopening them. In taking the transphobic material down without apology or comment, <em>Arrested Development</em> hopes trans people and their allies weren&#39;t paying attention and that no blood will be shed over it. But we&#39;re watching. We&#39;re a part of your audience. We expect better.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can find Nico on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang" target="_blank">Twitter</a> or&nbsp;<a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-04/privilege-dress-arrested-developments-transphobic-slip-106843 We need to give up transphobia http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/we-need-give-transphobia-106351 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:16px;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2013-03-05-chain-fence-4_3_r536_c534.jpg" style="width: 386px; height: 290px;" title="Image of MMA fighting cage, where a trans fighter has stepped into the ring for the first time (Jae C. Hong/AP)" /></span></div><p style="font-family: arial;"><em style="font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 14px;">Trigger warning: Transphobia. A lot of transphobia.</em></p><p style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.3950813978444785" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">A month ago, my friend Todd Clayton came out as a recovering transphobe in an incisive <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/todd-clayton/queer-community-transphobic_b_2727064.html">essay</a> for the</span><span style="font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Huffington Post </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">entitled &ldquo;The Queer Community Has to Stop Being Transphobic.&rdquo; In the piece, Clayton details his own journey on transphobia and inclusion, how a Lana Wachowski speech opened his eyes to the quiet bigotry in his own life. He hadn&rsquo;t openly attacked trans people or worked against their freedoms. Clayton was transphobic in a lot of the ways our community members are: insensitive and dismissive, not realizing the ways in which trans lives and struggles intersect with our own.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.3950813978444785" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">When he asked me to read it, I told him it was a common experience of cisgender people in the community. As someone who came from a similar place as he did, it was my experience. I told Todd that if he ever published it, I would come out with my own story. This is that story. It&rsquo;s not easy to tell. I&rsquo;ve been holding onto it for awhile, keeping it secret and safe. But it can&rsquo;t stay secret any more.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">My name is Nico Lang, and I used to be transphobic.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I never thought about myself that way. I thought that my emotions were normal and valid, feeling justified in my passive disgust for trans bodies. The first time I heard about trans people was when my father talked about seeing </span><span style="font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The Crying Game</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> in the theater and the way the audience convulsed with shock when the heroine&rsquo;s &ldquo;secret&rdquo; was revealed. My father claimed that people walked out or threw up when confronted with the image of transness or a life that didn&rsquo;t fit their binaries.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I was a teenager. Binaries were all I knew. Like Patty Hearst, I grew to love my captivity. I identified with my oppressors, working to uphold that marginalization in my own life.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">When I met a trans person for the first time, I didn&rsquo;t think my emotions were hatred, but they had to show on my face. For the purposes of this essay, her name was Megan, and she was one of the oddest characters I&rsquo;ve ever met, the kind of person you&rsquo;ll never forget. Megan claimed to be a vampire and drink blood; she also told us stories of being a general&rsquo;s wife and getting married in Egypt, as if she were a real-life Orlando or Candide. She wanted to believe she led a life that was too big to comprehend. </span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I thought she was pathetic. Rather than looking at her identity as a natural defense mechanism for a conservative Cincinnati that would always see her as an outsider, I refused to understand her. I didn&rsquo;t try. My friend told me that Megan had been kicked out of her home and most schools she&rsquo;d attended. This should have helped me be more compassionate, but my heart couldn&rsquo;t open to let her in. I still think about her sometimes. I don&rsquo;t know if she even knows I have anything to be sorry for, but I want to apologize anyway.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Like all hate, I held onto it and secretly nurtured it in my refusal to believe there was anything wrong with the way I felt. On my first day of Human Sexuality in college, we watched a video on transitioning, one that included thorough graphics on gender assignment surgery. Just as the doctor discussed creating a vagina out of the shaft of a penis, I tapped out. I went for a drink of water. I milled around in the halls, checking fake text messages. I didn&rsquo;t even have a texting service at that time. I just couldn&rsquo;t go back in there. This wasn&rsquo;t what I&rsquo;d signed up for.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I wasn&rsquo;t sorry yet. I started to feel the void where sorry was supposed to be, the same one I felt when I saw</span><span style="font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Transamerica</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and turned away during its brief flash of nudity. I couldn&rsquo;t look at her, just like a part of me couldn&rsquo;t comprehend the identity of a trans masculine classmate of mine. When a friend showed me what trans masculine bodies looked like (from a coffee table book he owned of Loren Cameron&#39;s work), I almost couldn&rsquo;t believe it. </span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">This is an actual quote: &ldquo;But they look so </span><span style="font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">normal</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.&rdquo; It would be years before I learned to regret those words. I wish I could go back in time and punch that person in the face.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I wish there were a moment where I look at my behavior and realized that I needed to change, but life isn&rsquo;t like that. There isn&rsquo;t always a moment; there are a million moments, where you are made accountable to your lack of compassion and openness to the experiences of others, and that part of you will always still be there, nagging and pulling. Sometimes hate stays the same way it did before, and sometimes it lives on in racism, sexism and homophobia. Sometimes it just takes a nap.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">My hate was always secretly directed inward. From an early age, I <a href="http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/when-i-was-a-girl/">identified as female</a>, and it was years before my parents could get me to put on a pair of jeans. I wanted to wear dresses. I settled for sweatpants. Most kids were obsessed with Barney or Chuck E. Cheese; I wanted to be like Jane Fonda, in her spandex and matching headband, commanding a room of women to be their best selves while protesting the war in Vietnam, winning Oscars and being married to an eccentric billionaire. Many of us grew up secretly believing we could have it all. I knew I could. Jane told me so.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">My father has the same name as I do, and I didn&rsquo;t want his name, just like I didn&rsquo;t want his maleness. I went by the name &ldquo;Nicky.&rdquo; When my parents resisted, I started spelling it in increasingly elaborate and stripper-esque ways, like &ldquo;Nicki,&rdquo; &ldquo;Nickie,&rdquo; &ldquo;Nikki&rdquo; and &ldquo;NICKEE*.&rdquo; I dotted it with hearts, wrote it in pink and shellacked it with glitter. Some kids have to come out; I was barely ever in.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">For a long time, my parents let it slide. This was at the height of my brother Jonathan&rsquo;s illness, and my mother&rsquo;s days were too filled with breathing tubes, doctor&rsquo;s visits and press appearances to pay attention to anything else. My brother was born with a condition that they didn&rsquo;t have a name for. Basically, his insides swelled until they couldn&rsquo;t anymore. It was like his brain was trying to push its way out.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">They didn&rsquo;t name my gender variance either. They figured that if they didn&rsquo;t pay attention to it, the problem would go away, like a car alarm or a Jehovah&rsquo;s Witness. My father expected that I would grow to only love the things he did; he expected me to give up Barbies for G.I. Joes and teatime for football, the sport he so loved. He just wanted us to be playing on the same team. He didn&rsquo;t expect to see me in dresses.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">As a culture, when we see a man in a dress, we do one of two things: We laugh or we beat it out of him. We do that in different ways. My parents caught me playing Cinderella at daycare one day after work, and they didn&rsquo;t hit me or punish me. They didn&rsquo;t throw me on the street or pawn me off on a religiously conservative relative. They just showed me that wasn&rsquo;t an option. This isn&rsquo;t what boys do. I was never taught that it was okay to be a woman or that it was okay to be myself. Boys aren&rsquo;t princesses; they rescue them.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">They didn&rsquo;t realize that one day I would need to rescue myself.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Hating yourself is easy. I found a million outlets to hate myself. I had Jesus, who was nailed to a cross because I wasn&rsquo;t good enough. I had the locker room, which helped me learn to hate my body, on top of hating my soul. I had the guys who would wait outside my Pre-Calculus class to stare at me as I walked by, treating my queerness as a spectacle. I had the uncle who stopped talking to me when I came out, who would only direct questions or statements to me through my mother. He didn&rsquo;t hate me for being a socialist or wanting to tear down his capitalist patriarchy because of my political beliefs or any interesting reason. He hated me for the same boring reasons everyone else did. He hated me without even knowing why.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Boring or not, hate sticks. And low-simmering hate is particularly dangerous, because it&#39;s easy to ignore. Hate becomes a pattern, and you learn to hate for the same stupid reasons everyone else does. You hate without even knowing why, not recognizing that hate is a reflection of yourself. </span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">You don&rsquo;t choose to give up hate one day and wash your hands of it forever; the feelings stick with you, and they take lifetimes to cleanse. It&rsquo;s not enough to simply not hate people, and you don&rsquo;t get a pat on the back for looking at Lana Wachowski and saying, &ldquo;Oh, I accept you now. Here&rsquo;s an award. Go us!&rdquo; You have to actively work to include trans people in your lives and spaces, accept a callout when you get it wrong and educate yourself to be better. You have to be accountable to yourself.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">As Virginia Mamey Mollenkott argues, </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&quot;It is vital for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals to recognize our movement </span><span style="font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">as basically a transgender movement</span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.&quot; Mollenott tells us that it&rsquo;s not just about homosexuality. It&rsquo;s about being queer -- or &nbsp;different from the norm. Our struggle is about gender. She writes, &quot;The fact that the most effeminate gay men and the butchest lesbians are the most endangered among us should alert us to the fact that society cares less about what we do in private than it cares about a challenge to its longstanding gender assumptions.&quot;</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">There was a time when I accepted not hating people as enough and credited myself as a good ally for &ldquo;having trans friends.&rdquo; </span><span style="font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Look how far I&rsquo;ve come! </span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">However, our engagement needs more than love; it needs action. Trans people are some of the most visible and at risk in our collective struggle, and we must actively work with trans people, rather than simply for them. Gay cisgender men need to stop wondering where the T is and realize that the T is all around us, organizing and working to make the community safer for all of us. The trans movement isn&rsquo;t the next movement. </span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Look around you. The movement is happening now, whether we care to recognize it or not. </span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The movement is <a href="http://kokumomedia.com/kokumo-music-2/">KOKUMO</a>. The movement is <a href="http://tv.msnbc.com/2012/12/04/being-transgender-no-longer-a-mental-disorder-apa/">Kate Bornstein</a>. The movement is <a href="http://transgriot.blogspot.com/">Monica Roberts</a>. The movement is <a href="http://juliaserano.blogspot.com/">Julia Serano</a>. The movement is <a href="http://www.wehappytrans.com">We Happy Trans</a>. The movement is <a href="http://janetmock.com/2012/05/28/twitter-girlslikeus-campaign-for-trans-women/">Girls Like Us</a>. The movement is the <a href="http://www.transmonthofaction.org/">Trans Month of Action</a>. The movement is being broadcast all around you, and it&rsquo;s <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/491163934264456/">coming to Chicago</a> this weekend with <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Trans100?ref=ts&amp;fref=ts">The Trans 100</a>, celebrating the incredible diversity of the trans community. Trans people are here. Are we paying attention?</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I thought of Megan this week when GLAAD <a href="http://www.advocate.com/politics/2013/03/24/glaad-affirms-commitment-trans-and-bi-people-alters-name">announced</a> that it would be changing its acronym. The organization will no longer stand for the &ldquo;Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation&rdquo; but GLAAD, as in the emotion. </span></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">This reflects that the </span></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">organization</span></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> not only speak</span></b><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">s for gays and lesbians, but also includes trans people in its mission. This was announced even though the G and the L will remain in the organization&#39;s name and their board is <a href="http://americanapparently.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/glaadt-gltaad-glaad-adds-trans-equality-to-its-mission/">mostly comprised</a> of white, cis males -- much like HRC, our friendly neighborhood transphobes.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I don&rsquo;t discredit them for that. I know personally that we all have to start somewhere, and that we can&rsquo;t move forward without taking that first step. However, in <a href="http://www.thenation.com/blog/172925/white-people-have-give-racism">giving up transphobia</a>, we must do more than just mention trans folks. Trans people are worthy of full inclusion, and they must lead, speak, sign, march, walk and wheel next to us (or in front of us). We must realize that their perspectives and issues are as worthy of championing as ours. We need to shut up and learn to listen. As GLAAD moves forward, I hope they continue to listen and push inclusion further. I hope we all do.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">A month ago <a href="https://twitter.com/janetmock">Janet Mock</a> very politely called me out on Twitter for getting something wrong in an article I wrote on transphobia in <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-01/observers-transphobic-bullying-what-war-trans-women-looks-104924">The Observer</a></em></span><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, and I learned from her. I haven&#39;t always been great with callouts, but this time, I was happy to get schooled by the best. My work isn&rsquo;t perfect. My work needs to be pushed and to push itself. I&rsquo;m still learning -- and that includes learning to love myself, finally. Personally, I&rsquo;m still <a href="http://inourwordsblog.com/2012/01/10/coming-out-yup-im-genderqueer/">figuring out</a> what gender <a href="http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/things-ive-learned-from-writing-under-a-gender-neutral-name/">means to me</a>. Like everything else in my life, it&rsquo;s a journey.</span></b></font></span></p><p style="font-family: arial;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><font face="georgia, serif"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If I saw Megan today, I wouldn&rsquo;t just apologize to her. I would thank her. After all, she succeeded in at least one way: I never forgot her.</span></b></font></span></p><p><em>Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly characterized the makeup of the GLAAD board. Ten percent of the GLAAD board identifies as transgender. It also mistakenly characterized GLAAD&#39;s mission statement. GLAAD&#39;s <a href="http://www.glaad.org/about" target="_blank">mission statement</a> includes trans people. </em></p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><em style="font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 14px;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can follow Nico on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/Nico_Lang">Twitter</a>, <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com">Tumblr</a> or on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/NicoRLang">Facebook</a>.</span></b></em></span></p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/we-need-give-transphobia-106351