Posts Tagged ‘solidarity

03
Mar
11

I Do Care

This is my open response to the entry entitled “I Don’t Care” on the “Enough Non-Sense” blog.

Hmmmm.  Well, I’ve got a lot of disagreement with the things you state here, but clearly I’m reading and so are others.  This tells me there are many out there who feel as you do.  I’d love to respond more personally, but though you seem to do a lot of attacking, you don’t have an “About Me” page.  Too bad.  I’ve got one here, check it out.  I stand behind what I say.  Even when I am proven wrong, I find it important to own my words.  We appear to disagree, so I’ll have to respond more generally to you and your active readership.

I think all this divisiveness is sad really.  As a life-long student of politics, I can tell you it’s the primary tool that those who would oppress us use to keep us under their heel.

Still, anger is just too easy.  I could spend all day responding piece by piece to your statements just in this entry alone.  But your primary thesis is that you “…Don’t Care.”  So detailed refutations would be pointless.

A particular quote that struck me personally however was this one:

“I don’t care…if those who have recently transitioned feel that special legislation will smooth the edges of their life for they don’t realize that any success they may have with it lies in their ability to be perceived as what they think they are; just saying they are doesn’t make them so.”

I recently transitioned myself.  Four/five years on HRT and the effects have been dramatic and wonderful.  I even “pass” sometimes, though it always catches me off-guard when I do.  I try to be the best woman I can be.  The woman I am.  It’s really not difficult to do, I just let myself be myself.

I also have something like 20 years or so of Improv and Theatre training, so I can convincingly portray the Prime Minister of England if I really wanted to.  Just being a socially-acceptable woman is cake.  Again, I’m really just being myself and making minute adjustments.

I even won a friggin’ Pageant!  I’m the very first Miss Trans New England.  Even as an alternative Pageant, it’s pretty much the most mainstream, heteronormative definition of “Beauty” we have in our society.  And to be clear, because I mentioned I’m in theatre, I am not and never have been a “drag queen”.  I do sketch comedy and improv mainly, but have also done Shakespeare and more serious things.  I’m basically a good Yankee New England woman.

But.  I’m also 6’4″.  If you haven’t got that, it’s exactly the same height as Abe Lincoln.  (Who I played in a long running series of shows at Second City LA)  The practical upshot of which is that no matter how well I may “pass”, how “good” a woman I may be, my height will always invite close scrutiny, which is the enemy of complete “passability”.

Also, as an actor/writer/artist I’m not in a traditionally lucrative field.  Surgeries and such will come as I can afford them.  Which very well may be never.  I was not prepared to wait for that, so I started as I could and have never for a second regretted the choice.

I will likely always be read as Trans.  But I still need to pay the rent and maybe scrape together the lucre it takes to get to my next goals.

That requires employment.  Also, protections for basic things such as housing and services would be helpful.  I don’t think asking for the same access as anyone else is extravagant.

For these reasons, I fight for legal protections for all trans people.  Transsexual and Transgender identified alike.

Yes, we have a lot of differences among us.  What large group of people doesn’t?  But we have enough in common to stand together.

I wish you would stand with us instead of tearing us down.  I wish you would stand with me.

Slainte!

Lorelei Erisis

20
Feb
11

Time To Stand Together

I‘m going to say something here that is bound to get me in trouble.  I believe that not only do trans people of all types need to band together in a unified “transgender” movement, despite our individual differences.  I also believe we have an important place in the larger LGBT movement.  Not only that, but I believe we must find ways to support and band with larger movements for social justice and freedom all around the world.

Taking it to the streets

The time is NOW!

If we want trans rights now, we need to speak out with the strikers in Wisconsin.  If we demand our basic freedom, we need to support the free peoples of Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain.  If we want to end oppression of trans people, we must work to end oppression wherever it may be found.  We should concern ourselves with the plight of the poor and the powerless on the streets of New York; in the mountains of Appalachia; and in the fields of Afghanistan.

If you are saying to yourself right now, “But why should I concern myself with all of these other problems?  I have my own problems.”  Then you have answered your own question.  This is the very attitude we, as transpeople are up against.  Most folks don’t hate us, they just don’t see why they should be bothered to help.  They have their own problems.  And everything they hear and read and watch encourages this individual focus.

If we have learned anything from the recent actions in the Middle East and Africa, it is that change will only ever happen when the people band together.  When we set aside individual concerns and turn out in numbers to demand freedom for all our Brothers and Sisters.  We saw it in Egypt when bands of Christians stood and protected their Muslim allies as they prayed.  We are seeing it in Wisconsin in the crowds that flood the Capital to say no to an unjust policy that will do nothing but hurt their neighbors.  We see it anywhere people help each other out, simply because there is need.

We must remember that the fight for trans rights is the fight for human rights.  We can either stand together and march towards victory or stand apart and suffer under the fists of oppression.

The time is now.  Together we may succeed.

11
May
10

Let’s All Pull Together To Pass A Trans-Inclusive ENDA Now!!!!

What do we want?!?

Trans-Inclusive ENDA Now!

Okay folks, I just got off the phone from a nationwide conference call with some of the best minds and hardest workers in the trans community discussing ENDA.  We discussed the realities and the misleading falsehoods, the details and the broad scope.  It was a lot to take in quite frankly and I’m still trying to process a lot of what was discussed.

But since I’m an improviser and I believe in being in the moment and going with your gut to take you where the truth is, I wanted to share with you some of my initial impressions.

A lot of what was discussed were political details.  Hows and whys and the procedures to make this happen.  Good stuff and absolutely fascinating to a political junkie like myself, but not necessarily easy to convey without some additional study.

Basically what I got though was that this version of ENDA stands a very good chance of being passed and being passed as a Trans-Inclusive Bill!  It is not perfect, nor will it be.  There are problems with ENDA.  Not insurmountable problems though.  And certainly nothing as catastrophically bad as the conjectures that have been making the rounds of the interwebs for the past few days would seem to imply.

There will be no “Genital Inspector General” appointed and no spot checks at the restroom.  The provisions in regards to bathrooms don’t make me especially happy, but it’s nothing we can’t work with and it actually is an improvement on the current workplace situation.

Mind that: “Workplace Situation”  ENDA will not affect the restroom transgender people may use when they go out to Mackey D’s or at The Courthouse.  It governs only workplace related issues.  Basically the situation is this.  An employer will not be able to force you to use the “wrong” restroom.  Though they may be able to prevent trans employees from using the “right” restroom IF it is a multi-stall restroom and they have provided an alternate solution.

That’s important.  They must make a reasonable accommodation.

I agree, not ideal and not happy.  It still gives employers the ability to single us out and create a “separate but equal” situation.  It IS better than the current state of affairs though.  Where first of all, we have no actual employment protections anyway.  And second of all, as it stands today, employers in many states MAY actually force transgender people to use the “wrong” restroom

And that brings me to my next point.  ENDA will not be the end all be-all.  It’s not even going to be all that great.  I mean, if you can describe historic friggin’ legislation as “not all that great.”….  But it will be, as Gunner Scott aptly put it, “the floor that we’re starting on.”  It will be a building block on which to base state level protections and education about transgender issues.

And that is good.  That is excellent.

We will still need to pass laws at the state legislative level to provide stronger, better protections for our community.  But these stronger, better laws will have a national precedent to help us springboard them.  And once we can get them passed they will trump the weaker ENDA.  Meanwhile, ENDA will still provide at least some protection for transfolks in places that do not currently have any protections at all!  And some protections are a heck of a lot better than the no protections at all we have right now.

Yes, it’s true, it will be a bit of time and probably several stages before we see any actual language.  There is a lot we do not know about the final form ENDA will take.  But that’s just how it is in politics folks!  That’s how every bill gets passed.  The legislative process requires us to take some risks.  To take chances.

Right now, as a community, we are going to have to take a leap of faith!!!

ENDA needs our support to happen as well as to stay Trans-Inclusive.  It’s time to stop bickering among ourselves and pull together as one, unified and powerful community.  This bill must pass and it must pass this year!!!  We will wait no longer.

So get out there and call your Congress People.  Call your Reps and tell them that you as their constituent, as their VOTING constituent, need them to help pass a Trans-Inclusive ENDA now!  Then call your Senator, so we can get them buttered up and ready to throw on the grill once the Bill comes out of The House.

There’s a tremendous amount of energy out there in the trans community right now.  If we can focus that and join ranks with a single purpose, there is nothing we may not accomplish.

Now Go!!!!  It’s time to get to work and there is not a second to waste!!!

ORIGINAL IMAGE AND CAPTION REMOVED BY REQUEST

ENDA Now!

ENDA Rally at City Hall in Northampton

People Come Together!!!

( To look at the Bill yourself, go here:  The Library Of Congress: Thomas Jefferson Legislative Information Section And search for Bill Number HR3017 )

Northampton Trans-Inclusive ENDA Rally News Segment

Northampton Trans-inclusive ENDA Rally Article in The Socialist Worker

Photos by Madeline Burrows and Elle St. Claire (Amazing Shot, but Sadly Removed -LE)

24
Jan
10

Some Thoughts On The Word “Transgender”

I wrote this as a response to an excellent post in The Bilerico Project discussing the validity of the term “transgender”.  There is quite an interesting discussion developing in the commentary section following the post and I felt compelled to have my say.  I highly recommend checking it out.  Here is the link: “Should We Scrap the Word “Transgender”? By: Dr. Jillian T. Weiss”

It made me think, and of course write, and I wanted to share what I had to say with you my Dear Readers, as I felt it was important.  Please feel free to weigh in and discuss yourselves in the comments.

Here is what I wrote:

First of all, excellent post.  I believe polite dialogue on this issue within the community is always important.  That said, here’s my take.

I myself identify as a transsexual woman.  I have been on HRT for several years and am still pre-operative.  There are a number of reasons for this.  Financial of course.  Also, being careful to take my time and let things progress as naturally as possible.  But lately, my reasons have also been political.  The more concerned individuals, strangers and the general public seems to be with the state of my genitalia, the more inclined I am to leave it as is.  I am a woman.  I live breathe and think as a woman.  Unless we are sharing intimate relations, or I’m naked onstage (which has happened and probably will again…), the state of my genitalia should be of no concern.

I am medically altering my body and mind with the use of hormones so I identify very technically as transsexual.  I also however identify as transgender, again for very political reasons.  We are fighting an uphill battle to win equal rights for our community and I believe we need every body onboard that we can get.  It is only through solidarity within the community that falls under the transgender umbrella and with our allies in the larger GLBT community that we can hope to win these rights.  When we are splintered we are weak.  The only people this benefits are those who would oppress us.

That doesn’t mean we have to agree on every single nuance, but it does mean we MUST stand together and include every single person that faces discrimination based upon their gender identity or presentation.

It is not conformance to outdated ideas of what constitutes a “properly gendered” individual, but education of the general public as to the perception of gender and the evolution of what that represents, that is what we should be doing.  In plain English, we need to make them understand that what truly defines gender in a public setting is not anatomy but presentation and perception.  Okay, so maybe that’s not such plain English either, but it’s a complex idea and by ignoring the complexity of it we do a disservice to the movement.

The label “transgender” indeed represents a great deal of variation on a theme.  The theme of gender variance.  Perhaps it would help to think of it in terms of Jazz music.  The tune, “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” can be played in any number of different styles with all kinds of different interpretations and still remain recognizable.  Whether by Louis Armstrong, Doris Day, The Mamas and Papas, Ella Fitzgerald or Erasure, it is still the same song although with widely varying musical and perceptual impact.

While “transgender” may include some folks with whom we may be personally uncomfortable, if we can’t find a way to accept them, how can we ask others to accept us?

I have faith also in the general public.  On a non-political, everyday interaction level, I have found most people, if you give them the chance, are quite capable of open-mindedness and acceptance of transgender people on an individual level.  And they are certainly capable of also sorting out on a practical level when someone is, for instance, entering a restroom to use it in the manner it is meant for and when there is a person whose intent and actions in entering a restroom are socially and legally inappropriate.

Of course there are those who will panic and judge all of us without thinking, but that is why we need legally protected rights and general education.

Finally, as performer who works in a popular medium, sketch comedy and improv, it is my experience that people often need a certain generality or shorthand in order to easily and quickly grasp larger concepts.  I can refer to someone who is “African-American” in a scene and give an audience a general enough idea of what I’m talking about.  But if I say, “You know Joe in the office, the medium-dark-skinned, Indiana born and raised, Hravard Educated, Gay Man of Haitian and American slave descended, African origin ethnicity, guy in accounting?” instead of, “You know Joe in the office, the African-American guy in accounting?”  The whole thing will come to a crashing halt.  Too much information.

We need generalities to understand the world.  And if you want to know how an individual SELF-Defines, well then, just ask.

Lorelei Erisis at Noho Trans Pride 2009




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