Friday Philosophy: Stories at the Inn

By the end of the night we are expecting 5 to 7 inches of snow with a quarter of an inch of ice on top.  And my sinus is roaring in protest.  So the best I can do here is hope for something resembling coherence.

This morning there was a request by jlms qkw that we share A Few of our Favorite Things:

My favorite things are freedom from tyranny, especially the tyranny of the majority, the freedom to be Other, the liberty to be happy and at peace with myself.

But my most favorite thing is the ability to speak up for others who have not been as fortunate as I.

There are a lot of people who are less fortunate than I.  I cannot stand idly by while they don’t have the freedoms I have.

So I use the only weapon to fight for them that I have, which are my words.

Come on in and sit by the fireplace awhile.

Othniel wrote No Room in the Inn this morning.  If you haven’t read it, maybe you should.

For some people, there is very seldom any room at the inn.  If they are lucky, they might be allowed inside to warm their hands and maybe nibble some stew.  Metaphorically speaking.  It would do us well to remember that…as it would do us well to try to look at larger pictures.  If you’ll look at mine, I’ll look at yours.

No room at the inn is how many are feeling right now re: the news.  Warren, the US not signing the UN statement on equal rights because it might be interpreted as supporting equal rights in employment and housing and protection from being assaulted.

But for many of is, this time of the year is also a “No Room at the Inn” moment because of the grief for families lost.  I was once in that boat and know that there is nothing quite so disheartening as looking for a place to dine on a Christmas Day and finding all the doors locked, with signs posted about how they were closed so that their employees could spend the day with their families.

For someone who had just been discarded by their families, it was a tremendous blow, repeated time and again.

My world is better now, but there was a time.  There was a place…in fact there were several.  It pains me so when I hear someone play the “you guys have it so much easier” than them/us game…like it is helpful to compare oppressions.  Isn’t that how we all lose?

I stop and remember.

I’ve walked into restaurants and been refused service.  But then, I’m only a transwoman, so that doesn’t count.

I’ve had doctors refuse to treat me or make me wait in a separate place so the other patients wouldn’t have to be uneasy.  But then I’m only a transwoman, so that doesn’t count.

Many transwomen are unemployed or working the streets.  You won’t find them in high-end stores because they have no money.

Sometimes I don’t have to go too far for the memory.

As a post-operative transwoman (by 14 years), I was referred to an endocrinologist after having my thyroid irradiated.  The doctor told me she only treated “real women.”  I feared she was going to break something as she tried to climb out the window to get away from being in the same room with me.

Sometimes I do:

I remember when I came out and began my transition, my boss started to tell me that “for the good of the team,” “for harmony in the workplace,” I should resign.

I interrupted him and explained that “for the good of the team,” black people were not hired in the 60s, women were restricted to subordinate roles in the 70s, and GLBT people were denied employment or lost their jobs in the 80s.  Then I told him that it was time that, “for the good of the team,” bigots start losing their jobs.

When we get to that point, then the talk about this sort of “inclusion” [i.e. reaching out to bigotry] will mean something.

So why don’t we speak out.  Why don’t we scream for all to hear?

I’m a transwoman.   They don’t let us near the cameras or microphones.  We have cooties.

How do people hear the screaming of a heart crying out in pain?  How can they simply walk away?

I’ve seen people who have posted polls asking if people have been gay-bashed.  They never ask the follow up question:  how many times?

Nobody asks how many times we have been threatened.  Nobody cares about the threats to be raped or murdered.  Nobody asks if we have been told we will be fired from our jobs if we step one bit out of line, like by defending ourselves.

And there is never anyone asking, “Have you ever been arrested for being GLBT?”

Thanks, pico.  A homeless transwoman was found dead in Austin, probably not a victim of foul play.  But it easily could have been so.

Also dead, I recently was told, is Madeleine Joan Blaustein, after a short illness.

For speaking up when we are hurting, we have been called self-centered.

Next time you have your rights attacked, tell me how you would feel about it.

Oh, wait.  That wouldn’t happen, would it.

Equal rights is not about self-centeredness for those who don’t have them.  That would be where people are who don’t think they are important because have the luxury of not having to worry about them.  Apparently, that would include you.

What do I want this holiday season?  I want that which is unlikely to happen.  I want a soon-to-be president of these united peoples of America to speak to us…to all of us…and

as a gesture of good faith,…say something to the American public positive about GLBT people and their legitimate place in this society and equal rights?

I know it is too much to ask, but it could do so much more to reach across barriers than letting a right-wing preacher pray.

Like I said, my cooties keep me away from doing that myself.  But I will cede my time willingly.

Blind Eye



reaching out

so rarely

in our direction

Our vision

of equality

includes all

Isn’t that

how it

should be?

Why is there

no reaching out


or otherwise

…but concrete

would be better…

towards this



to the people

in our behalf

would assure us

but seldom

oh, so seldom

reach out

in our direction

The symbols

we have had

so often have died

like rotten fruit

on the vine

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–December 19, 2008


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    • Robyn on December 20, 2008 at 12:01 am

    …to give her final exam in Brooklyn (she failed, but the students are supposed to wait) stole any time I had to find some music.

    And truthfully, I have no idea what would be appropriate for this.

  1. of the every day way we play split and divide with one another and assign the tag of deserving or undeserving to those of us who have been deemed culturally appropriate to exclude and demean and still most who do that like to think of themselves as “decent” people who have a moral network on which to base their hatred and fear. Thus, they can dole out these assumptions while still feeling good about themselves too morally or intellectually lazy for self examination or doubt.

    Whatever. I rambled. Thanks.

  2. Photobucket

    • Alma on December 20, 2008 at 1:02 am

    What touching stories of what you’ve had to go through in your world.  Just a few of many, I’m sure.  So many slights, hatreds, and brutalities aimed at trans people, so unfairly.  I listen and I learn and I disseminate.

    Everytime I hear another item of injustice, it sets me firmer on my path, firmer in my beliefs, and gives me renewed strength for fighting.  So keep them coming.

    • Robyn on December 20, 2008 at 1:20 am

    The music I woke up to after my surgery, given to me by my daughter when she arrived.

    • Robyn on December 20, 2008 at 1:32 am

    over there.

  3. …and this is only tangential to this diary…

    …and let me say at the outset that in real and true ways, neither you and I are especially priviledged, for the obvious reasons…

    …the more Warren diaries I read (most recently BF Skinenr’s, Over There) the more I want to just yell “I don’t care!”.  I mean, I agree it was an awful pick and it says everything that everyone says it does.

    But I’m also like…my god, the united states has the highest incarceration rate in the world, my own state is cutting off all payments to the poorest of the poor — twenty six thousand people with so little it would make you weep will now have nothing — and the US is still engaged in a war without end which is piling up brown bodies at a rate which exceeds imagination and is largely unremarked.  And all these things are the ground we stand on, the brutality one must ignore to pretend that things are even slightly fine.

    And then I think…but one doesn’t obviate the other.  Which is true.  But on some level…I really believe that the greater crime informs the smaller.  That if you are part of a society that destroys human beings wholesale, then recognizing the humanity of people like me is either an afterthought or a luxury or a recognition of humanity under absurd duress, like being nice to another person fleeing a burning building.  I believe in being nice to the other people running for their lives!  It keeps the aisles orderly and may be the essence of decency.  But the fact we are both sitting in front of computers, warm and dry…and so are all the nice gay folks Over There (who have us  beat in priviledge, most cases, any day)…they too have so much.  And we’re all living in a world informed by, shaped by, the treatment of those with nothing at all…

    …anyway, not going anywhere useful.  This should probably be a diary but nobody at all would rec it :}

    • kj on December 20, 2008 at 2:34 am

    read anything on warren, anything.  just a yuk feeling and no time to delve into details.  but the “yuk” went to badgoo/bad joo after reading this essay.  

    there are times for symbols and gesture.  this is/was one of those times.

    I know it is too much to ask, but it could do so much more to reach across barriers than letting a right-wing preacher pray.

    yes, damnit.

    • Robyn on December 20, 2008 at 3:13 am

    …but not surprising.  The Austin transwoman, Jennifer Gale, was not allowed in the homeless shelter, run by the Salvation Army, unless she slept with and showered with the men.  So she slept outside…and it got too cold.

  4. is a slap in the face to all equal rights globally. It is especially a blow to LGBT people. Gestures, are telling. Bush gave us the finger literally. What does this inauguration choice say to me, it says that under the guise of unity, the same ‘values’ or ‘culture’ that supported and empowered the regime that we all sought relief from is still calling the shots. The litmus tests of hatred and ignorance from Saddleback are more important to the new administration then anyone’s real values, including Christians.

    The darkness that we have been through has a seat at the table, and will accompany the new order. I find it appalling that this creepy hustler preacher is leading us in prayer. Will he be bestowing medals to Obama? What are we praying for I ask?  Nothing, I or anyone of humanist decency let alone spiritual beliefs can unite with. I want these blasphemous preachers and fundamentalists out of my government. I will not watch this historic event because I have had enough of being told that this is what faith or culture or values are. Symbolism I cannot believe in in all good conscience, or accept as having a place in our government.            

    • kj on December 21, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    i’ve posted this video here many times, but it so good, refreshing, beautiful, “make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain” and when Bruce goes silent so Melissa alone sings, “So Mary, climb in…”  i just grin every time.

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