Activism and Politics > Activism

TS Defamation League - TSDL

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Teri Anne:
In her July Action forum, Cassie (one of my heroines here) stated:  "As groups go, the transexual community doesn't seem to be very active. Witness this forum which seems to get so little attention. It's like this is the place were posts go to die."  That July forum presented an assortment of insightful posts that listed the many reasons TS's don't get involved...money and time required for transition...the desire to finish transition, become your inner self, be it male or female, and stay there.  The proverbial happy ending.

Yet many post ops find themselves here, contributing and helping in any way we can the next generation of TS's.  I wonder if a website (or part of an existing website) could be started that dealt with portrayals in the media that are offensive to the transsexual community.  It would be kind of an Anti-Defamation League for us.  No money would be required from our busy struggling TS's....only an email would need to be sent to to the offending production company, television company or advertiser.  The implied threat to them would be that they would lose customers, viewers or advertising revenue if they didn't change the offensive portrayal.

I get occassional emails from GLBT organizations urging that I send an emaill regarding legislation to this or that congressman.  My idea would be that the emails would be targeted more towards the money people.  As an example, there's a Citibank commercial that promotes their anti-identity theft capability.  Unfortunately, to show theft they showed a male credit card thief posing as a woman -- or vice versa.  To me, it was upsetting because it reinforced the NEGATIVE STEREOTYPE of males posing as women as being bad and devious.  I don't think Citibank meant to be mean towards us...they just didn't think they'd be hurting any feelings.  And, of course, it's not just our feelings that get hurt.  These negative stereotypes can reinforce acceptance of the idea of being suspicious of us, that we're deviant.  It infers three words:  something's wrong here...  People's subconscious may remember that negative image in the next job interview you attend.

Not all "guy in a dress" portrayals annoy me.  I laughed with "Some Like It Hot" (How DOOO they walk in these things?!).  "Mrs. Doubtfire" wasn't just funny...it was warm and wonderful...you liked Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire and you wanted her to win.  Some stereotypes are good..."the prostitute with a heart of gold."  I hear great things about the current movie, "Transamerica."  Negative stereotypes hurt minorities.  You've seen them:  The supposid penny pinching Jew, the Amos and Andy-drawling black, the mafioso Italian, and lately, the Islamic terrorist (40% of the Islamic people in the U.S. are apparently black).

I don't know what you'd call this email effort.  TS ADL comes to mind but unfortunately when you put together the S and the AD, you get SAD...definitely not an image to promote.  Maybe it wouldn't need to be group at all.  I don't know if this "Activism" section of "Susan's Place" would be an appropriate place to start.  If, for example, we found an entity that painted a negative stereotype, we would post a request for emails here and tell people what email address to send the complaints to.  The emails would NOT be sent under the banner of "Susan's Place."  The email letter appeal would have a stronger affect if it looks like it's coming from individuals.  If people here aren't interested, they won't send an email.  We could urge other GLBT groups to join us in this email campaign. 

Susan, and others....if this is an inappropriate suggestion for an "Action" post, feel free to let me know and I'll (or you can) delete this post.  Thanks for listening.

Teri 

Northern Jane:
Do you think there is enough negative portrayal in the media to warrant a special Web site or page?

I have often wished that we TS and former-TS could get organized enough (in sheer numbers) to have some political clout. We could do SO much good if we could pressure regulators to change laws or "policies" where they need to be changed, to pressure those who control the purse strings of healthcare providers, and maybe even put forward a collective and positive public image!

I mean THINK about all the unique characteristics that most of us possess! We have FOUGHT our way through confusion, ridicule, discrimination, public embarrassment, and god knows what all else to achieve internal unit and peace. We have had to raise and fork out tens of thousands of dollars just to get where others are by accident of birth! We underwent surgery or multiple surgeries. Often we had to give up the most important things in life, things others take for granted, just to achieve our proper place in life!

TS people (largely) are VERY deep thinkers, have questioned the very basis of human identity, and have a tremendous capacity for understanding and caring. A very large percentage of TS people are extremely intelligent and accomplished, hold key positions in complex and technical fields.

As a group, I think TS people are extraordinary people and worthy of acclaim - in some societies, we ARE viewed as extraordinary people to be respected and admired - North America just doesn't happen to be one of them.

(Sorry, but I have never felt that the association with gay, lesbian, and <not allowed> people reflected well on transsexuals. In the case of so many TS people, the psycho-sexual inversion is so strong that I have never seen it as "a gender issue" but rather as a physical deformity.)

Northern Jane:
Do you see being lesbian as being connected somehow to being transsexual or are your "preference" and your GID seperate issues?

Teri Anne:
Your discussions here, whether or not GLBT groups speak for us, is, I think, worth pondering.  Like Melissa, I was straight before transition and am now considered gay.  Thus, you would think that having a GLBT group speak of my issues is okay and, for the most part, it is.  In a cruel or indifferent world, I welcome their help. And they know what if feels like to be discriminated against and "made fun of."   The only problem is that TS's joining forces with GLBT groups probably confuses outsiders....we insistingly tell society that being TS is a "gender identity" issue, not a "gender preferrence" issue, and then we join forces with GLBT group (or more accurately, I presume, they took us under their wing for protection.  I thank them for that).  It must be confusing for outsiders.  And there's no winning public perception sometimes, no matter whether I decide, as a post op F2M, to date men or women.  If I date women I must be gay.  If I date men, I must have had latent gay tendancies. 

It would, for my purposes, be better to separate the "gender identity issue" from the "gender preference issue" in  a group that purports to speak for me.  Under this reasoning, it would be better, for me, to have our own TS organization that would simply be TS, nothing more, nothing less.  I know that many would say that it should be a TG group and, perhaps, there should be one of those, too.  For my purposes, a TS group could take our issues which are specific to our community.  This isn't to say that there wouldn't be arguments even within the TS community on various issues.  It would just try to remedy the situation where TS community has had to go for decades with each TS having to deal with life-threatening issues on their own.  They could chat or write about these issues in a TG website but there is no entity that they could really call their own...one that would protect them solely.  Psychologists and surgeons go to great lengths to separate the casual gender benders from people who, in their soul, feel they are TS.  While we share many issues with the TG community, there are many issues that are TS's solely.  The whole process of RLT, surgery, and job descrimination are issues that a CD, for instance, would rarely face.  There are more subtle issues, also.  A CD, perhaps, may not feel PAIN when they hear a comedian mock "guy in a dress" appearance or the old standby, "Ha, ha.  He thought he was a woman trapped in a man's body."  But we, as TS's, know it's no laughing matter to us.  Its not a joke.  It DEMEANS us, in the same way Amos and Andy demeaned blacks with a lazy drawling negative stereotype.  It's even worse when Citibank has "identity theft" commercials of guys possing as thiefs to women's credit accounts.  It has the subtle inference that, perhaps, any guy who acts female could be an IDENTITY THIEF rather than someone in transition.  I'm sure that many in the conservative right thinks of all <not allowed> as identity thieves.  But, if we try to point out that hurt to society, they will say, "What do you mean?  Your own TG group, by including drag queens, is saying that this whole tumult about gender is something to not be taken seriously.  I can understand that argument also -- that by bending gender, drag queens could be telling society to loosen their grips on the idea that males and females are like two different species.  In that way, contradicting my own personal paranoia, drag queens could be actually helping us, rather than hurting us.

In the best written shows - shows like "The Practice" -  I notice that the writers will argue a court case from totally opposite viewpoints.  Both viewpoints are intelligently thought out and magnificently presented.  You listen to one side and you think, my gosh, how could the other side be any better?  But then the other side speaks and it has an equally intelligent defense.  The writer/creator of that show has stated that he finds it interesting how there can be two equally intelligent viewpoints to most issues.  Issues like abortion and whether or not to go to war have equally passionate defenders.

My point, regarding a specific TS group, would be that we would best offer our brilliant argument if we spoke for us and us alone.

TERI ANNE
 

Leigh:
Hi Teri

Estimates for the US population of women who have completed surgery seem to range between 30K and 50K.  Of this number how many would consider themselves effectively stealth and how many would risk that by coming out and asking for equality?  For that matter how many would want to step up and brand themselves as a transsexual woman?  I am sure it would be less than 10% of the total population.

What passes for government listens to numbers and 5000 maximum people is merely a whisper in the dark.  This particular community has no numbers, no power base for leverage.  Look at it this way.  If we cannot agree on who has the right to use a bathroom what chance to we have of convincing some semi homophobic/transphobic politician  of who we are and what needs to be done?

If someone is stealth, what more do they need?  Yes the right to legally marry despite chromosomal differences.  If that was granted then the legal rights, inheritance and all would  or should be granted.

As an out lesbian I have no rights nor at the present rate will I ever have any.  Society granted me the right to be me but that’s it.  This is why I am involved in the women’s community.    If I was a str8 identified woman then I would be in their face demanding equality.   

There are dozens of small to medium sized groups that are working for T recognition bills.  None have had much impact on a national level.  City , county and state  they have done some but there are probably 45 states that have no GID bills and less that 75 major cities that have legal protections.   If we can’t get cities to pass ordinances what are the chances that it will happen nationwide?

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