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the civil rights battle of our generation?

28 Oct

I’ve seen posters all around campus for the last couple of weeks which urge people to vote/volunteer for preserving gay marriage in Iowa. The bottom of the poster says “In 25 years, what will you say you were doing during the civil rights battle of our generation? …homework?”

Now, I totally understand the sentiment here. Oftentimes, people compare gay marriage to interracial marriage – there was a time when interracial marriage was illegal, but looking back on that time, most of us can’t understand what the big deal was. Same with gay marriage. Once it becomes legal in all 50 states (which it will, believe you me), people will start to wonder why there was such a problem with it in the first place. 25 years from now, it will seem so obviously awesome and necessary and constitutionally appropriate. It already seems that way to many people (including me).

That said, do I really believe it is the civil rights battle of this generation? I’m not sure. I think it might be one of the civil rights battles of this generation. I think we are still fighting for racial equality, gender equality, a smaller income/wealth gap. I think those are all civil rights battles of this generation.

That’s not to say that one kind of oppression is any more worthy of our time and energy than another. Rather, I just want to point out that there are many things we, as a country, need to be spending our time on. 25 years from now, I won’t just be looking back at what I did as an LGBTQIA ally, but also what I did as a feminist, a fighter of human trafficking, an advocate for racial equality…

Unfortunately, there is not one civil rights battle of our generation. We can’t lose sight of all of the battles being fought every day.


It’s National Coming Out Day

11 Oct

It’s National Coming Out Day, and I’m coming out for LGBTQIA rights, equality, and love. I’m coming out for all my friends who are constantly told their love is the wrong kind. I’m coming out for the boys who lost hope and now don’t get to see a better future. I’m coming out for the LGBTQIA youth who don’t make the news. I’m coming out because I can’t be free until all people are free.


7 Oct

on the blog for my Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, which unfortunately you can’t view unless you are a member of the class. This post also relates to and includes some information I posted in one of my first entries after restarting my blog. The original entry can be found here, and this is an expansion of those ideas:

This summer, I read “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity” by Julia Serano, an MTF trans woman. Besides being an incredibly eye-opening book, which I recommend to everyone, Whipping Girl also addresses certain vocabulary often mistakenly used when discussing trans issues. In the Introduction to Chapter 3 in Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions, the editors mistakenly use the terms “transwoman/transman” and “transgendered.” In her book, Julia Serano explains why these terms are incorrect, and how they perpetuate negative ideas regarding trans people.

First, using the word “transwoman” (or transman) is inappropriate. The two words should be separate (trans woman), as this phrase functions kind of like “Jewish man” or “black woman”…it is a descriptive phrase, not a summation of an entire identity, like “transwoman” might suggest. Serano says using a phrase like “transwoman” third-sexes or third-genders (both verbs) a trans person, thus “relegating [them] to [their] own unique categories that are separate from ‘woman’ or ‘man.’” Additionally, MTF and FTM are adjectives, not nouns, so using the adjectives MTF (male-to-female) or FTM as nouns is equally offensive. As Julia says, “I do not identify as a ‘male-to-female’ – I identify as a woman.”

Regarding the word “transgendered,” the addition of the -ed at the end of the word suggests being trans is something that is done to trans people, rather than something they choose and identify with. People are not transgendered, any more than they are straighted or Jewished. Transgender is a trait, not an action.

Finally, I’d like to draw attention to how important it is for trans people to be consulted whenever something is being written about them, or whenever trans rights/issues/definitions are being discussed. While I am not sure how Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions was constructed, it seems that the editors did not, in fact, consult trans people when writing the section on transgender and transsexual identities. Cissexual people cannot pretend to understand the nuances of trans people’s lives and identities anymore than straight people can fully understand gay people’s lives and truths, or white people can understand the lives of people of color.

I’d like to reiterate how strongly I recommend this book. Absolutely worth your time, money, energy.

Just read it

21 Sep

I don’t have time for commentary, so just trust me that you should read this.

today’s links

8 Sep

Hey everyone! I started this entry on Labor Day, which is why the first link references the holiday. These links are all very pertinent, regardless. ❤

Today is Labor Day, and even though my college doesn’t have the day off (OH THE HORROR), I’m trying to spend some time thinking about labor practices int the United States. After all, Labor Day isn’t just a day to sit around and do nothing. It could be a day to work for better work conditions. Colorlines talks about important workplace reforms that everyone should be thinking about this Labor Day.

Dan Savage links to (and quotes) an article about the impatience of the American people and our unwillingness to understand that solutions to pervasive societal problems will take time to implement. That’s not to say, however, that there aren’t some problems which have quick solutions, or which deserve immediate attention because of the amount of time they’ve been ignored.

You know all that stuff about reintegrating people into society after they’ve served time in jail? Well it’s all talk unless you’re working to do things like “ban the box,” which prevents employers from asking applicants about their criminal records. How is someone supposed to reintegrate into society if they can’t get a job?

Feministe has cross-posted a series of three posts from the Global Maternal Health Conference in New Delhi. Here are one, two (about how important context is for maternal health) and three (about outpatient abortion services).

You obvi need to read the new Vanity Fair article on Sarah Palin. See Dan’s post about that here.

Stand up for the rights of LGBTQIA students in schools by reading this article and adding your name to the petition.

teaching moments

5 Sep

we took a vote on the way our bathrooms would be gendered. two teaching moments occurred:

1. we did the votes on pieces of paper, and were asked to write down our preferred gender (so they would know to make a single-gender bathroom for men if most of them wanted it, or for women if they wanted it). anyway, it didn’t ask for “sex,” it asked for “gender,” so I put down “woman.” I recognize and accept that my biological sex is female, and am okay putting that down if the question is asked of me, but would prefer to answer “woman” when asked about my gender. To me, gender is more purposeful than sex and results from experience and growth and life. I identify as a woman because I feel like it’s something I’ve grown to, something I’ve chosen for myself, something that is strong and beautiful and flawed, whereas “female” is something that was assigned to me by someone else.

Anyway, a girl sitting next to me saw me write “woman” for my gender, and asked me why I wrote it. I think she was confused as to why I didn’t just write female. So I got to explain to her everything I just explained to all of you.

2. The rule for voting was this: if even ONE person said they unequivocally needed a single-gender bathroom, there would automatically be one, even if the majority of people said they wanted gender-neutral bathrooms. For example, if even one girl said she wanted a single-gender bathroom, there would automatically be a women only bathroom. I asked why that was, and they (the Student Adviser and the Residence Life Coordinator) said they wanted everyone to feel as comfortable as possible. I asked what if a gender neutral person felt really uncomfortable choosing either a men’s or a women’s bathroom? why aren’t we worried about them feeling safe and comfortable? i didn’t really get a good answer to that question, but there was a half-hearted attempt at justifying it by saying that we cater to the most conservative person. Um, horrible reasoning? I also ran into a tad bit of unspoken animosity as a result of me challenging the idea that one gender binary-conforming person’s interests trump the interests of everyone else. Dear person who gave me asshole-y looks during this conversation: genderfucks, transsexuals, gender neutral people, intersex people all exist. Your rights do not trump theirs. They have just as much a right to a safe space as you do. A compromise would be more productive than just simply asserting the rights you claim as a member of the majority.

In the end, we did come to a compromise. One bathroom is woman-only, and one bathroom is gender neutral. I have chosen to only use the gender neutral bathroom, not because I am genderfuck or transsexual or gender neutral, but because I think it’s important that everyone feels comfortable entering that space, and I want to show that gender neutral bathrooms can work for all kinds of people.

Teaching moment number three, which did not involve the bathroom vote:

A person I just met, who has since become a friend, used the word “pussy” in a derogatory manner toward one of his friends. I asked him not to use the word, and explained that it bothered me because he was equating a body part of mine (which I love and take pride in) with weakness and fear. My pussy is not weak or scared, it is powerful and a great source of joy for me (and others). This leads to the greater issue of equating femininity with weakness. Feminine=strong, wonderful, powerful. Not worthless or weak. Next time you insult someone, please think of a non-gendered word, because I take offense when you use my body to bring other people down.

(p.s. look forward to a future post about using gendered insults)

During the course of the conversation, I had a learning moment, too! We were brainstorming words to use instead of “pussy” that could convey the same message without being super ultra sexist, and we came up with “sissy.” I have no personal experience with that word being anything other than a synonym for weak. But my gay friend spoke up, saying that “sissy” is a word used to describe/make fun of gay men. He told me about how he was called a sissy throughout his childhood, and I promised him I wouldn’t use that word either.

Can’t decide which is better, teaching or learning. Thoughts?

2 Sep

I’m really digging butch in america, which jessi has on their blogroll.