Friday Philosophy: Slopes of the Slippery Kind

Here it comes again.

At a time when the country of Pakistan, not what anyone generally conceives of as a bastion of progressive attitude on GLBT rights…Pakistan for %^&$%^’s sake…can have its Supreme Court rule that transfolk should be able to enjoy the same rights under the law as do the so-called normal people, there is a struggle in this country to even admit we are human beings, deserving of the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Or, failing those, at least the use of a bathroom.

This mostly is not what I had intended…or wanted…to write about this week.  I was thinking of something more abstract, more philosophical, if you will.  But, as always, news happens.  Sometimes that news sounds good…like the passage by the Senate of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, aka Senate Amendment 1511 to Senate Bill 1390, aka the Defense Appropriation Bill, which is one of those things which I’d like to very much believe in but have been tricked enough in the past to have a voice in my head say, “Wait until it is signed into law.”

And, in light of the situation with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, I have to admit that my irony bone is having a major seizure of some sort.

Some have pointed out that 38 states already had hate crimes protections for sexual orientation, with the insinuation that a federal law of this sort was not so urgent.  I’d like to point out that only twelve of those states have hate crimes protections for transgender people.

Note:  For those of you who think “sexual orientation” covers transfolk, stop it.

Along the way to the passage of the Hate Crimes Bill (which, for those of the “thought crime” mentality, adds GLBT people to the list of protected categories developed starting 40 years ago (if you are complaining only now, why is that?)), there was a telling admission by someone on the right:

This is the first time you would have written into law a government disapproval of a religious belief held by the majority of Americans-that homosexuality is sinful,” says Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. “It’s more of a slippery slope argument than about the law itself.


So, you see, it’s not that they think GLBT people shouldn’t be protected from hate crimes, but rather that this “slippery slope” thing needs to be nipped in the bud…and what better way to do that than building a major chasm between normal people who deserve overly-equal rights and those people who deserve no rights at all.

Have you ever noticed that the slippery slope always pops up when abused classes of people try to assert their humanity?

My original intention was to follow that line of thinking onward.  Maybe someday I can do that.  But meanwhile the news from the front lines in the struggle just didn’t stop.  

The struggle even takes place in what are considered our most liberal states.  

In Syracuse, NY, Lateisha Green’s murder was judged an incidence of manslaughter instead, because, apparently, Dwight DeLee shooting her with a rifle wasn’t intended to, you know, actually kill her, but just cause bodily harm.  On the upside, this was judged a hate crime because DeLee was found to have done this under the impression that Ms. Green was a gay man, rather than the straight woman that she actually was.  Lateisha had been living as woman for 6 years, having begun transition when she was 16.

Not so random fact:

According to the FBI, 16 percent of the roughly 9,000 hate crimes committed in 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available, targeted the LGBT community. The two more common types of bias-motivated crimes, those based on race and religion, are already covered by the federal hate crimes law, adopted in 1968.

Less than random comment:  Just think how much that data might be changed if law wnforcement actually counted crimes against transfolk.

In court, according to observers Lateisha Green didn’t exist and the person she was before she transitioned was the “man” who was killed.  Or “injured to death,” as the jury concluded.  

I ask once again:  If a person’s friends and family accept one of us, isn’t that enough?

I fail to see why the prosecution had to portray Moses Cannon as a gay man rather than Lateisha Green as a straight woman.  It was, after all, only an important distinction to know what the perpetrator perceived her sexual orientation to be, not what some lawyers perceived it to be.  And Mr. DeLee gave that away when he called her a faggot before he shot her.

Yes, some of the people who identified him as having said that later recanted…but that may have had to do with the threats directed toward witnesses by Mr. DeLee’s friends and family.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, House Bill 1728, aka An Act relative to gender based discrimination and hate crimes, is being relabeled as “The Bathroom Bill” in order to make sure that transfolk do not gain equal rights to you other folks.

Has anyone, anywhere, ever presented a case where a transperson has committed a rape, sexual assault, or molestation of a child  in a public women’s restroom?  I’m not saying it has never happened, but unless someone has evidence that it does, is there any reason to deny us the rights other people have based on false supposition?

Can anyone identify the fallacy in the following statement by an opponent?

This clause opens a dangerous legal loophole. Because of the bill’s vague wording, any man could legally gain access to facilities normally reserved for women and girls simply by indicating, verbally or non-verbally, that he inwardly feels female at the moment. Public and charter schools and their sports teams and facilities are not exempt. This is the dangerous reality of this bill.

Anyone?  Buehler?  Anyone?

Can anyone show me where there has been an epidemic of men claiming to be transwomen in order to access the rights we have?

Hint:  What rights?

But I am not a fool.  As soon as a bill for our rights gets labeled “The Bathroom Bill,” I know that the odds of it passing are virtually nil.

So I have a question.  Why is it that the “slippery slope” phrase comes up most when people up at that top of that equality hill are busy pouring oil on those of us who are trying to climb that hill?


Dividing Wall

Slip Sliding Away


come and go

when you worry

about slipping

off your high perch

at the top of the cliff

you euphemistically

call a slope

that separates

you from us

I guess you worry

about ending up

where we are now

having to worry

about what we do

about having to climb


to have a chance

to survive

to gain a handhold

on a place

in your society

hoping you don’t

stomp on our fingers

The slippery slope

is too often

a melting cliff

of ice

maybe carved

out of your hearts

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 27, 2009


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    • Robyn on July 18, 2009 at 00:01

    …of the Episcopal variety:

    Title III, Canon 1, Sec. 2 of the Canons of the Episcopal Church states: “No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons. No right to licensing, ordination, or election is hereby established.” This resolution would revise this canon by adding “gender identity and expression” to this list of protected categories of access, but not of right.

    This revision is based upon our increased understanding and practice to respect the human dignity of transgender people– transsexuals, and others who differ from majority societal gender norms. Gender identity, in and of itself, should not be a basis for exclusion from consideration for the participation in the ministries of the Church.

    Interesting:  After the above was adopted, there was a change in wording:  

    All baptized persons shall have full access to the discernment process for any ministry in this Church, lay or ordained, except as otherwise provided by these Canons.

    It is not lost on me what exactly it means that once transfolk are included, then everyone is.  How about you?

  1. …in the blog mine…if I like it then there might be something amiss…but I do appreciate the ones where you cut loose a little.  

    • Robyn on July 18, 2009 at 01:30

    …in Orange.

  2. with a dull knife right now.

    It’s as if they know their world is dying right in front of them.

    • Robyn on July 18, 2009 at 02:48

    …since the traffic to other diaries is going to approach epsilon really fast.

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