Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Capping the 'T'

John Aravosis has a piece up on Salon detailing some good news, though not from his perspective. He says that the insistence of some gay groups of including Transsexuals¹ in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)
[T]his year is also the first time that ENDA actually has a real chance of passing both the House and Senate -- but only if gender identity isn't in the bill. So the bill's author, openly gay Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., dropped the transgendered from the bill, and all hell broke loose. Gay activists and 220 national and local gay rights groups angrily demanded that gender identity be put back in the bill, guaranteeing its defeat for years to come. Many of them, suddenly and conveniently, found all sorts of "flaws" with legislation that they had embraced the previous 29 years. They convinced House Democratic leaders to delay action on ENDA till later in October. They'd rather have no bill at all than pass one that didn't include the transgendered.
Aravosis makes all kinds of arguments in favor of a bill that doesn't makes transsexuals a protected class, but they all boil down to pragmatism and they are entirely persuasive, stipulating the good of his ends -- "we can pass this now and cover most sexually-discriminated against persons; half a loaf is better than none, etc."

But, as he later realized, that didn't matter. The transsexuals were hearing none of it. One hardly thinks that Barney Frank can be denounced as a wet who "doesn't get it" -- but there it is. Or rather, the transexuals said they would win the persuasion battle. Here's the amusing quote.
If Barney can't get the bill passed, then he should leave it to Tammy to get the job done. I can speak to the wavering Congresspersons in half an hour and give them enough of an understanding to respond effectively to any hate speech from the Republicans. Instead we show our cowardice again and run.
To which my reaction is "hehehehe." Trans-sexual rights means this sort of thing.
The dispute centers on transgender patrons and the use of the club's restroom facilities.
Last year, [club owner Tom] Anderson asked Michele deLaFreniere and some other patrons to leave the nightclub because they "freaked out" female customers by using the women's restrooms.
When the transgender patrons tried to use the men's room, they complained that male patrons harassed them.
"It was determined that the safest course for the protection of all was to exclude these particular individuals because their conduct was creating tension at the nightclub," Anderson said.
DeLaFreniere said it was a matter of discrimination and filed the complaint.
DeLaFreniere, 52, has lived as a woman since 2004.
(There's more of the same here.) It was "bathrooms" (along with "women soldiers") that sunk the ERA 30 years ago, and "bathrooms" is just as potent a weapon as ever. Oh ... I'd kill for the right to be the ad-copy writer for the RNC.

But who cares, right? We're right and better to stand on our rightness and get nothing rather than compromise on a compromise a principle, move the ball downfield and fight for the rest later. (But then "maybe some folks in our community are afraid that trans people will highlight the gender nonconformity in the gay community and drag straight-acting gays into the sunlight.")

This sort of politics, expressive rather than instrumental, is what the inherent fractiousness of identity politics and what the inclusivity-uber-alles left produces. The transsexual's comments about discomfort are also an example of what happens when a group of people take anathematizing psychology as a norm of public argument ("you're self-loathing," "gay panic," "why are you so obsessed" ... the whole panoply). The weapon will be deployed in civil wars too.

I remember seeing years ago on CSPAN some gay-rights umbrella forum, and the members of a Hispanic group Llego² seized the microphone and staged an ostentatious walkout over their not being included in the ethnic ragout of the panel. Other people started yelling at them ("you have been invited!!") A yelling match live on CSPAN??? Yep. But when politics is presumed to be based on identity and demonstrative expressions therein, this is the logical result.

Later at the same panel, a Filipina dressed down the representative from the Log Cabin Republicans, who was trying to make a point about gay groups respecting intellectual diversity (the only kind worth anything, BTW) among homosexual persons. Close as I can recall, she said: "for me, the struggle for gays is inseparable from struggling against the attacks on my community" (she was referring to the immigration debates of the 90s). "I don't know, maybe you agree with those attacks and want to degrade my people as long as others don't degrade you white gays," etc. On another CSPAN show, a Booknotes interview, bell hooks criticized the Million-Man March (and Cornell West's participation in it), on the grounds that it was a march for patriarchy and against women. So it didn't matter what it did for blacks. Quoting from memory: "if we learned anything [from the past], it is that the struggle for liberation, and against white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, is indivisible. The parts are inseparable."

The best thing about being a conservative is that liberals are so marinated in their own self-righteousness that they do half your work of demonizing them for you.
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¹ I do not use the word "gender" in the context, where it is a biased, prudish codeword for social-constructionism. French nouns have a gender; human beings have a sex.
² As an aside, while searching for some art for this piece, I learned that Llego had since gone defunct and a group called Unid@s was trying to become the Hispanic gay group of choice. But what I couldn't stop laughing at was the rationale in the Blade article for the "@" character. It's a combination of "o" and "a," the respective typical markers for the masculine and feminine cases in most Spanish nouns, adjectives and pronouns.
“Unid@s means ‘everybody together,’” Serrano said. “We use the ‘at’ symbol because when you want it to refer to females you use ‘unidas’ and males, ‘unidos.’ We use ‘unid@s’ to show our diversity, unity and inclusivity.”
But ... but ... it makes the group's name unpronounceable in English, Spanish or any other language, kinda like Prince's. You still have to make a vowel sound, a single sound, between the "d" and the "s." There's no way around that fact, so you'll either say "unidos" or "unidas." And be exclusive and sexist. Sigh.

1 comment:

Jeron said...

Maybe that bar owner could install a 3rd restroom. On the the first could be a stick man w/the word "men;" on the 2nd could be the stick woman w/the word "women;" and on the third could be a picture of "pat" from SNL. Glad to see you posting again, CM.