Friday Philosophy: Bummer of a week, mostly

I can’t say it has been a top of the line week.  Given that last week included the death of the faculty colleague I work most closely with, one might have expected this week to have little direction to go but up.  But one apparently would would have been wrong about that.

Of course leading off with Memorial Day weekend was a giant indication the week wasn’t going to be a whole lot of fun.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ramps up for veterans, whether the public is supposedly honoring the live ones or the dead ones.  As a former draft dodger who was arrested by the FBI and forced to serve as an alternative to spending five years in the Oklahoma State Pen, I’m not terribly proud of my service…but I did the best I could while I was there.

Irony is one of the things the military does best.  What better MOS for a draft dodger than military police.  There was method in the madness, however, since at the time, Nixon had told the public that draftees would not be made into combat troops and combat troops would be brought home from Nam.  What he failed to mention was that MPs were not combat troops, that the combat troops would be replaced by MPs and the draftees would be trained as, you guessed it, MPs.

I was smart enough to figure out that if I signed up for another school after MP school, namely correctional specialist (prison guard) school, I would not have enough time for a tour of duty at Long Binh Jail (LBJ) in Nam.  So I did.  And I graduated from that school and was sent to…prison.  To be precise, I was stationed at the United States Disciplinary Barracks (the prison for the Army and Air Force) at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.

And I did my best while I was there.  I was eventually chosen, because of my background in math, to work in the Prisoner Pay Unit of the Finance Office.  When my time was up, I mustered out as a Spec 5…with a Presidential Commendation, for all the good that was worth.

What that became worth when I came out and started transition was exactly nothing.  I was regularly harassed by Boys State thereafter.  Being a veteran was worth zip.

A transwoman friend of mine regularly told me of her experiences interacting with the Veteran’s Administration.  It sounded pretty horrible to me.

So listening to people honor our troops always leaves a sour taste.  This year was no different.

On Tuesday it was followed by the decision in California.  I understand that people are trying to paint it for the best, but truthfully it sucked.  My partner and I have a civil union in New Jersey which the state has said has “all the rights and responsibilities of marriage.”  Except, you know, it doesn’t…unless maybe you work for the state.

But I don’t want to write a big thing about Proposition 8.  It’s been done to death, right?  At this point it just brings out the people who think GLBT people should just shut up because there are so many more important issues.

That the Prop 8 decision happened on the same day at the Sotomayor pick for SCOTUS certainly was unfortunate.  I work at a school with a student population that is 12% Latina (18% Hispanic) and the choice will have a huge impact on the self-esteem of those students.  On the other hand, given what I know about the general attitude of our Hispanic students towards GLBT people, I wish I knew more about the the attitude of the nominee.

I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

While we’re on the topic of judges, there have been quite a few folks writing online about how “activist judges” are bad, about how the people should decide, either by vote of the populace or legislatively on issues such as equality.  When I read such statements, my heart takes a blow, for I know that there is very little chance that “the people” think transfolk deserve equal rights or protections under the law.  But then, that would only be looking at history, so what do I know?

Then again, we don’t have a very good record with the courts lately either.  In Kasti vs. Maricopa County Community College, it seems to have been taken for granted that a pre-operative transsexual woman using a woman’s restroom is an inherent danger to other women using the restroom.

I’d like one person to show me one case of an actual preoperative transsexual woman ever sexually attacking another woman in a restroom.  But facts don’t seem to matter in this case.  People assume that transsexual women are most likely perverts…heterosexual men…looking to either rape women or molest little girls.  I’ve got to wonder if the men who think that way do so because that’s what they would do if they had the chance.

And whenever I think that thought, I feel ashamed of myself because I know it is not all heterosexual men who think that…or even only men.

In the back of my mind is the memory of being arrested for using a women’s restroom during transition, even with permission of the owners, because the alternative was to use a men’s restroom and likely be raped or beaten to death or both.

But that safety issue doesn’t count…just like my being a veteran doesn’t count.

When equality is sought through legislative process, we get this sort of thing.  (Here’s a later update:  we lost.)

We are constantly told that the reason that we don’t get our needs recognized is because we haven’t done enough education.  But when we try to do that, people stay away in droves.

What has been really frustrating is witnessing people making fun of the Republican attacks on the concept of empathy when some of those people have been the same folks who have told us that we need a thicker skin.  But I’ve already written about that:  On the Thickness of Skin.  We can hope that some of those folks rethink some of what they have said in the past.

Then yesterday, a commenter said that anyone who is transsexual is

seriously miswired psychologically to want that

Apparently only crazy people change sex.  So why are you listening to me?

So it has not been a very good week…except that it is my spouse Debbie’s birthday week.  The birthday was actually Wednesday, but that was the day grades were due at City Tech (part of CUNY) so we didn’t really celebrate it until yesterday with some shopping and dessert crepes.

We can hope that next week will be better.  There is always a chance.


Arranging the Pieces

Time Passing

Day by day

my hope

for a better world

wanes

as ignorance

dominates

the desire

for knowledge

of what

a better world

might mean

for such as me

I try to pick up

the pieces

of a useful life

and lay them

in a meaningful

pattern

for all to see

Too many

turn away

too often

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–May 29, 2009

19 comments

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    • Robyn on May 30, 2009 at 12:02 am
      Author

    …over the past week.  And I am so tired of people telling me that my disappointment in my fellow man is anger.  People should feel free to interpret their own emotions, but measuring the feelings of others is probably a mistake, don’t you think?

  1. It sure hasn’t been boring lately has it?

    .

    So we got THAT going for us.

    Which is nice.

    .


    • Alma on May 30, 2009 at 1:04 am

    because we haven’t done enough education.

    I think its because so many close their ears when we speak.  I keep trying to yell louder so they will hear.

    • Robyn on May 30, 2009 at 1:30 am
      Author

    …at Daily Kos.

    • Robyn on May 30, 2009 at 2:28 am
      Author

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