Friday Philosophy: Mulligan Stew

It seems to happen periodically, but with unfixed period.  Sometimes my thoughts are in too much of a jumble to make much sense out of them.  I took a look through the past year’s columns and discovered at least three occasions in which this happened in 2008.  Each time I still managed to cobble something together anyway:

March 28:  Thought Salad

May 2:  Mixed Veggies

Sep 5:  Stone Soup

Hence, I guess, the name of this edition.  Hopefully there is some of the meat required as part of that hobo dish.

The ingredients:  identity, privilege, memories, creativity, pain.  Not necessarily in that order…and sometimes in combination.

Perhaps the reason I’ve been having trouble concentrating the last week or so has been my back/hip pain.  It’s a vicious circle sort of thing:  the ligament problem in my hip (it tends to slide out of place) causes inflammation, which causes me to be unstable when I walk, which causes the back pain, which causes more problems with walking, which causes more hip pain.

Yes, I have exercises for the hip, which are supposed to stretch the ligament..  No, I don’t do them.  They are more painful than the original pain.

◊  ◊  ◊

My verbal abilities may have been somewhat waylaid, but I’ve been blessed to discover other avenues of creativity since I transitioned.  I’ve created several graphics over the past week and will display them en route to the end of the piece.  Larger versions will appear if you click on the thumbnails.

With any luck, I may discover a poem along the way.

As a teacher, I have the misfortune of discovering young adults who have told me, when I have given assignments where they can express their creative nature, “I don’t know how to be creative.”  I think that’s one of the saddest sentences I know.

◊  ◊  ◊

A month ago, on December 1, the city of Kalamazoo, MI, enacted protections for its GLBT residents by adding the phrase “sexual orientation, or gender identity” to the list of “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, marital status, physical or mental disability, family status” which may not be used to disqualify people from housing, public accommodations or employment.”



The American Family Association of Michigan fought against this act.  December 30 was the day their petition drive was due to submit 1400 signatures to put this up to a vote of the people.  Their prime attack was that the act would allow transgender people to use public restrooms.  More specifically, what they fear is that “men would be able to use the women’s restroom.”

Rescinding the ordinance will stop potential violations of the privacy rights of women and children in public restrooms, locker rooms, and showers.

Alas, I commented in the DK diary on this subject, pointing out its real purpose in this regard, which was to deny transsexual women the right to identify as women.  And believe it or not, I discovered amongst my fellow members some folks who wouldn’t want me to share a restroom with their wife or daughter, folks who think that even 16 years after my transition, I am not only a man but also a man interested in raping their women and molesting their children.

I was shocked.  I still am.  

I do not have any update on the situation.  I do not live in Michigan.

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In Feminisms tryptamine wrote about privilege this week.  That’s always a tough subject for me in particular and for transwomen as a group.  I acknowledge that I have had a certain amount of privilege growing up.  But the privilege I seem to mostly have now is the privilege of being thought to be other than the woman I view myself as.

I do not consider that to be a good thing.

From that previous diary:

I personally don’t think the idea of a person born a woman, but now a man sharing a locker room/restroom would be nearly as much of an issue as the other way around, but I could be wrong.

Mr. Man has no problem with a transman in a men’s locker room, just the other way around.  Why?

◊  ◊  ◊

Meanwhile, someone else was pushing the following idea in teacherken‘s diary about Rape:

Make the standard punishment for rape Sexual Reassignment Surgery.

That would end it cold.  Few of the men who rape would do so if there was even the smallest chance of that happening to them.

So if people meet someone who they identify as having had a sex change from male to female, they would be free, if they wished, to assume that person had been a rapist?  How exactly would this help transwomen become accepted in this society?

Can someone help me out here?

I had a lengthy discussion with the woman who voiced that last opinion.  I was amazed at how much erroneous information she had about the lives of transfolk here, mostly because she doesn’t see it in her country.  She has never even visited the US.

◊  ◊  ◊

That and some more unpleasant conversations this past week were punctuated with the news of the death of one more transwoman, along with her boyfriend, and the disrespect accorded her even after death…and especially the transphobic commentary spread across the Internet because she happened to be a sex worker…though I doubt the latter really mattered as much as her being trans.

◊  ◊  ◊

And it all stirred up so many memories I’d rather not remember…of someone trying to run me down with his car…of being arrested in Boise for using the women’s restroom at the bus station…of standing outside a Vino‘s in Little Rock after a Womyn’s Coffeehouse at which I read a couple of poems, making arrangements to be interviewed on Queer Frontier, the local community radio GLBT show and having rocks hurled at the host of that show and myself while a group of 10-15 high school kids called us dykes, and actually being thankful they recognized me as a dyke and not a tranny…of having the cops show up and say, because we were still able to stand up, “no harm, no foul.”

Those memories make it difficult to talk about privilege, but I will try, if that’s what anyone wishes to do.


Circular Rainbow

Unlock your mind

Words and images

wrapped in sounds

and silence

tracing a pathway

from here to there

beginning to end

With any luck

or perhaps skill

meaning is transferred

from me to you

and learning

emerges

The transaction

transpires

free of charge

to anyone

who is open

to the experience

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–January 2, 2009

51 comments

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    • Robyn on January 3, 2009 at 12:02 am
      Author



    Israel Kamakawiwo’ole:  Somewhere Over The Rainbow

  1. as we move between the last one and the new one.

    That is as far as my insight goes right now!

  2. Especially the first one after the fold.

  3. … over at the Orange — best way to pick up the latest memes as you puncture them, lol.

    Really found the Feminisms diary frustrating and I couldn’t dredge up the energy to engage there.

    If you take requests, I hope you’ll do another weavemothers soon.

    I think you’ve brought them enough thread!  lol, and apologies if my humor tonight is too crass.

    • Robyn on January 3, 2009 at 1:31 am
      Author

    Orange

    • Alma on January 3, 2009 at 3:32 am

    I still get shocked by peoples ignorance and paranoia, but it happened a few times in this piece.

    This:

    And believe it or not, I discovered amongst my fellow members some folks who wouldn’t want me to share a restroom with their wife or daughter, folks who think that even 16 years after my transition, I am not only a man but also a man interested in raping their women and molesting their children.

    and this:

    So if people meet someone who they identify as having had a sex change from male to female, they would be free, if they wished, to assume that person had been a rapist?

    Besides the shock there was horror.  Just thinking of that last one and the escalated danger it would cause trans folk.

    You may not have had a clear idea in your head when you wrote this piece, but I think it turned into an excellent piece.  An high emotional impact one.

    Really nice poem and art work too.  You bring me sunshine everyday with your work.  I wish I could return the favor.

  4. I personally don’t think the idea of a person born a woman, but now a man sharing a locker room/restroom would be nearly as much of an issue as the other way around, but I could be wrong.

    It’s the same reason why homophobes are terrified of gay men but not of lesbians; and it’s all about power.

    Please forgive me if I do not express this well, but here’s the thing:

    These men relish their power.  Their power over.  Their “divine right of kings” (read: maleness).  The thought of another man willingly giving that up–either to become a woman, a transperson; or to be a gay man [and yes, this is stereotyping, but it’s not me doing the stereotyping] terrifies them.  Threatens them in a deep, unexamined, subconscious way.

    I don’t know why, but it seems that their fragile little egos cannot accept that not every man wants that power, or needs it.

    To this type of man–let’s call him Joe the Plumber–if another male, anywhere in the world, willingly cedes the (male) gender tyranny over women & small animals, it is a threat to his own hegemony.

    Logic has nothing to do with it.  The fact that you are truly a woman who was, for many years, stuck in a male body, has nothing to do with it.  The fact that gay men are hardwired to be so, has nothing to do with it.

    It’s about male insecurity, and how someone else being different might impact on their worldview and their own experience of their own maleness.

    Robyn, I hope this makes sense.  I know what I’m trying to say but am not sure my words are conveying it properly.  But I’ve thought about this a lot, and it’s why lesbians and female-to-male transpersons are not threatening, while male-to-female transpersons are.  Lesbians are still women (ergo, not as important, and a challenge to be bedded, not a threat to masculinity), and female-to-male transitioners can become bowling buddies [but are still, in their minds, female].  

    Y’know?

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