Friday Philosophy: real people

I started out hoping to write about scarcity.  Specifically I was hoping to write about the scarcity of fairness and equality that to many people think exists, as if we can’t be fair to everyone and that it is necessary that some people have to have inferior rights in order for others to feel superior.

I wanted to write about just why that must be so…because I don’t think it does.

But I can’t get this exchange out of my head:

I’m a transwoman.

I have a rather large adams apple.  Am I not a woman in your opinion?


That was from a woman who thinks she’s more deserving of respect than I am, simply because she was born female.

And this came from a gay guy:

I got it

Code Pink has trannie members too so it’s not all women.

And people recced that comment.  I can only assume that’s because they agreed.

So I’m stuck writing something probably only for myself and a very small audience:  those who I believe could benefit from reading it will not.  Or maybe I should put that this way:  those whose reading it would benefit transfolk are unlikely to read it.  That is pretty much the nature of intentional ignorance.

Here’s a myth that it would be good if we could eliminate:

There are only males and females.

People have lots of ways they use to identify the difference between boys and girls, men and women.  A lot of them are only accurate to a point.  Number one on the hit parade of what people claim is chromosomes:  XY is male and XX is female.  But that ignores reality.  Those aren’t the only possibilities and they are not universally true.  Ilizane Broks was born with XY chromosomes and complete androgen insensitivity syndrome.  It amazes me that there are people out there who would claim this young woman (she’s now 21) is a man.  

It also amazes me that people who have never had a chromosome test think that’s how we differentiate sex.  But then I’ve always been at somewhat of a loss to explain the mass hysteria in people who think that it is incumbent upon them to be the authority on other people’s sex and gender.  I wish someone could explain that to me.

But we live in your world and you only allow men and women.  So we are forced to choose.  Shouldn’t that be our choice and not yours?

Here’s a test.  Which one is the man and which one is the woman?  Loren Cameron on the left is a photographer and author.  Carolyn Cossey on the right is a former model and Bond girl (For Your Eyes Only).  Loren was assigned to be female at birth.  Carolyn was assigned male.

What do your eyes tell you?  What does your heart tell you?  Please ask yourself why it is your business to accept anything other than what is presented.  

Some of us believe that biology is not destiny.  Shouldn’t we have the freedom of choice to do that?  Do not our bodies belong to us?

I beg you to look into your own deep places, be that your heart, your mind, or your soul, and tell me why these people should not be allowed to be the men or women they claim to be.

Leslie Townsend
model, comedian, author

Shannon Minter
Legal Director
National Center for Lesbian Rights

Alina Petrova
(in Russian)
computer programmer

Joan Roughgarden
Professor of biological
sciences and geophysics

Louis Mitchell
Still Black

Dierdre McCloskey
Professor of economics, history
english and communication
University of Chicago

Jason Cromwell
anthropologist, author

Laverne Cox
actress, dancer

Hiromasa Ando
speed boat racer

Just like other people we are sometimes straight, sometimes bi, sometimes gay or lesbian.  Just like other people we have lives to live and we deserve to live them as equal humans.

We do not deserve to be massacred, one at a time, because you discover what you can’t handle.  We do not deserve to be driven to suicide by the treatment we receive from the communities in which we reside.  We deserve a chance at life just like you.  

There is nothing to fear from us except for the questions that arise in your own minds.  We do not deserve to compile lists of those of us who have been murdered, year after bloody year, watching the toll rise, hearing the toll of the bells, paying the toll with our lives for merely existing.    

Equality is not a commodity that should be rationed to those you decide are worthy.  

Blood on the Edges


We are real people

real women

real men

Our lives are real

real lives

lived by real people

It is not your job

to proclaim


You are not

experts on

our existences

It is not your place

to deny our


–Robyn Elaine Serven

–November 21, 2008


Skip to comment form

    • Robyn on November 22, 2008 at 00:01

    (very old photo)

    Robyn Elaine Serven

    Professor of

    computer information systems

    Bloomfield College

    poet, digital artist

    human being

    Sinus headache sufferer.

  1. You had to post this the day after tdor, didn’t you :}  I am pretty sure only pf8 was still reading on the thread I posted this on some time ago (I owe you a phone call!  I suck!) and of course I’ve met ucc…and this screen name doesn’t link to diddly…so what the hell.

    hi guys!

    And of course…posting a trans pic is kind of “pass or not” version of “hot or not” as a subtext…which is icky and strange.  It’s like…ok…if a person thinks I’m mostly normal, I haven’t helped someone who doesn’t pass…and if not, well, I’ve just added a new asshole to my collection…

    But what the hell.  Yep, we’re real people.  Not all that damn scary.

    • Robyn on November 22, 2008 at 00:50

    Just made some changes to the poem.

    While you are waiting:

    Dana International:  Diva

  2. would get anything done for the next month.

    I’ve got no dog in this fight; I’m the guy who everyone wishes they were born as (not literally, but demographically), a white male with average looks, above average intelligence because I was born to two very intelligent parents in a good school system. I have a college education and many talents; I had no external factors that crippled me, unless  you count my father as a functional alcoholic.

    And yet I’m the guy in this story who hasn’t held down a job in four years, and can’t get out of bed in the morning because I’m convinced the world doesn’t want me. I’m convinced that one can’t tell the truth about anything – let alone sexuality – and that the honest amongst us are doomed to silently watch it all burn down around us.

    So – what I’ve discovered is that this country, for all it’s advertizing and travel slogans really doesn’t understand why it’s even here. Here’s my theory: We all thought that “freedom” meant we were “free” to have the world around us look just the way we wanted it to. Now if people are bathed in and immersed in that mentality long enough, each person gets the idea that whenever they see something in their community that doesn’t fit the model of what they think their community should look like, then something has gone terribly wrong.

    It’s tragically twisted how most Americans actually hold the belief that democracy was only means to an end; so that the person they elected could act like a dictator and make the world look the way they was sure it should look. Pin them down in an argument and you will instantly see this is true, and have enough arguments with enough people and you’ll soon see that the word “United” is a joke to be anywhere near the name of this country.

    And I have a neighbor….Oh, do I have a neighbor. Check me out on Kos and do some reading; he’s a guy who’s achieved the American dream. He worked hard and still does, raised a family, has a house and some money to buy the things he likes, and he’s a hard core Republican who won’t admit it. (he reminds me he’s a registered Democrat, but strangely all his arguments favor Republicans and demonize Democrats). And this guy, who’s been married over 35 years to the same woman says that gay marriage threatens his marriage.


    I know he feels he’s never been within a thousand yards of anyone who is gay, only because he is so clueless that he doesn’t realize people he encounters every day are. I have to say that in a community as small as ours, it would be a good hour’s drive to get to anything as ‘exotic’ as TG or TS – because the Catholic Church here is still more powerful than the mob ever was. Sometimes they shared the duties.

    Now, trust me – I’ve been around the block so many times with him on this that there are grooves in the sidewalk, but it’s his stand. Gay’s are destroying society – as if they just showed up on the world stage when Bill Clinton became president.

    Now – what I’m not telling you is that I’m in a different closet of my own. I have a powerful sadomasochistic streak in me, and I have engaged in some heterosexual S&M activities, a few public parties and several private encounters in my own basement. I’m not an amateur.

    If he knew what I was into, I guarantee you that in a town of 20,000 people which is only famous for our anti-immigration neighbor, there would be crowds of hundreds gathered outside my house if word were to get out. Why?

    Well, everyone KNOWS what those people do, dont’ they?

    So, we’re stuck in a society that believes freedom really entitles them to believe only what they want to believe and disavow anything that contradicts them or makes liars of them. Freedom really means that even if I say I don’t do something in particular, my “title” says that I most certainly do in general.

    I’m sympathetic to you; but I’ve got no answers to how to move this country or the world closer to the ideals it already thinks it has but really never holds. I, like you, am guilty of a pre-conceived set of thoughts that are well-established in other people’s heads, and all the legislation in the universe couldn’t change that. And yet we have the Republican party not only unconvinced of the wisdom that you can’t legislate morality, they’re now actively working towards making it happen anyway.

    I hope I didn’t go too far off into the weeds here; I’m rather wrapped up in how the people in this country are doing a far better job of attacking each other than the terrorists did; and we are so blind to our own paranoia, delusions, misconceptions and misguided ideology, we can’t even have an intelligent discussion about the consequences.

    What I would like to say to all of the people who demonize and make demagogues of everything that doesnt’ look and act just like they do is what cowards it reveals them all to be. Isn’t it odd to have some pious blowhard say “Oh though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death I shall fear no evil. But you show me someone who has sex differently than I do, and I’m paralyzed with fear, hatred, and loathing”…

    All i’ve got is that those of us who are honest with ourselves and with others may be taking more grief from them since we’re both vulnerable to their tactics and they’re immune from believing anything they don’t want to – but I sleep so much better at night, knowing I treated my fellow human – man, woman, or any combination thereof – as well as I wish to be treated, and that’s why I’m not on my knees in a particular building every Sunday asking to be forgiven for all the people I’ve condemned in the previous six days.

    Thanks for the diary, Robyn. I hope we all find that peace that has become as elusive as unicorns in this country.

  3. We have men who are members and staunch supporters. They generally stay in the background, mostly by choice, but some of them get involved with the actions and demonstrations. From left to right here’s me, Jim, Liz, Tighe, and Lynn, standing in front of Hempstead Harbor, Sea Cliff on the way to the presidential debates at Hofstra.

    Midge (formerly Mitch) Potts identifies as female and personally I feel it is only common decency to respect that, as does the rest of CodePink. Midge is a very cool, classy, talented and smart WOMAN in my book – and a friend. When Valerie Plame was in NYC doing a book signing, I made damned sure I got her to autograph a copy for Midge! Ann Wright brought it down to her in DC for me.

  4. I cannot understand why anyone shouldn’t be allowed to be exactly whatever they are or whatever they want to be.

    Too many busybodies running around inserting themselves into other people’s business.

    I mean, I’m a regular kinda straight white guy, but I don’t give a shit how people live their lives so long as they leave me to live mine in peace.

  5. so why do we divide ourselves, race, gender, size, age it is all the wonderful mix of humanity. Thank you again Robyn, for getting down to the real and the pain that we inflict on our fellow humans and ourselves. Divide it up in chromosomes, or what ever we deem real and it all boils down to the totality of being a human. Nature runs the gamut why can’t we?

    Human Progress seems linked to technology and humans need to realize that technology whether it measures or alters needs to be the handmaiden to liberation and human potential. Sexuality is not black or white it like the rest of nature lives in the mix, the shadings that make the whole. While a heterosexual (I guess) if my mate had not been dressed in woman’s clothes when I met him would he have attracted me sexually.

    It’s so much more fun to live in a space that loves the differences and realizes that we all are gender wise a big mix and not only tolerates but embraces our differences and common sexuality. The physical is not our limitation and society does not define our sexuality, mind body or spirit.  

    • Robyn on November 22, 2008 at 01:37

    …in Orange.

  6. You are really hitting your stride here.

    I’ll email OTB about putting TransGriot on our blogroll.

    Yes, seeing all those pictures yesterday, having human faces put to the story, gave me a whole new appreciation for what you (and jessical, though I’m sure she’ll deny it!, lol) are teaching.

    I think with the election of Obama and the vote for Prop 8 … Americans can’t stick their heads in the sand any more about either race or gender or sexuality.  They’ll fight hard, but it’s on the wide cultural screen now.  And because of that, what you and others write has become even more important, imo.

    • Robyn on November 22, 2008 at 02:49

    Major mea culpa for posting Jamieson Green’s pic instead of Loren Cameron.

    • Alma on November 22, 2008 at 08:05

    Now to get it out to the masses.  Have you tried sending any of your work to newspapers as letters to the editor?  This piece with the wonderful pics might not transfer well to an LTE, but I think some would.

    If you don’t mind I’d like to print up a few copies of this to leave in strategic places around town.

  7. Our serving of those fine qualities that make up the human “nature” (and I will argue that there is such a thing) is not large enough to overcome the fear that makes us glower at each other from our separate tables.  

    And, shucks, darn it, we have to start by feeding ourselves.  Robyn, you are the maitre d’ (and the cat’s meow).

    Whew!  That was not an easy metaphor to carry to the end.

    • kj on November 22, 2008 at 18:48

    comes nowhere close to being a sufficient response…

    for the essay, for the links, for the comments and conversation.

    of course, i still don’t what ‘cis’ means, but it’ll come.  🙂

Comments have been disabled.