Monday, March 05, 2007

no news is good news

Ah, the continual frustration with transphobia cropping up all over the news. First there's the case of the city manager from Florida who's been fired because she came out as trans. As my friend Sharon McGowan at the ACLU once said (or something very similar), any time you're willing to employ someone as a man but not as a woman- someone with the exact same qualifications and performance- that's sex discrimination. A city official in this case said they don't think the "[she] has the continue as the city manager."

What's YOUR definition of integrity, buster? Because to me, someone who's decided to be honest about their identity and life plans, while going about those plans in a thoughtful, responsible manner, smacks of nothing BUT integrity.

So that's our bads news, reported by a gay paper in a pretty respectful way. Now let's move on to our good news, reported by the New York post in a disrespectful, blatantly transphobic way. Jack over at AngryBrownButch has a good post and call to action on the issue (with a new follow up post from today), so go check that out for the whole scoop, but basically, the story is:

Our heroine, a young transwoman, is a ward of the state; thus it is the responsibility of New York City to provide medical care for her. They refuse to pay for her transition, she sues them. At long last, a sensible judge in Manhattan Family Court ruled in her favor, saying that the City is obligated to pay for her sexual reassignment surgery. Hooray! The New York Post, bastion of ignorance and sensationalism, runs a piece (I can't bring myself to call it an article) entitled "Free To Be He-She" that is so disrespectful I could spit. Booooo.

For Pete's sake, can you at least pretend to be a newspaper? The damned AP Stylebook has guidelines on the matter.

And while we're on the subject, once we've gotten past those little basics of, oh I don't know, not calling people by the wrong name or pronoun, maybe we can make a motion to strike the words "sex change operation" from the lexicon.

"Sex change" is problematic enough, but it works for some people, and it's descriptive, I suppose, so I'm not totally ready to get all up in arms about it. Yet.

But operation? It's a word that gets thrown around all the time regarding trans folks, and it drives me up a wall. Every time I hear it, or read it, I feel like this guy does when someone lets the tweezers touch the little metal edges of his body cavities, like a buzzer startling in its harshness has been sounded. It's too much to hope for, undoubtedly, but I do wish I never hear anyone ask me about my "operation" ever again. I mean, really. Does anyone use the word "operation" anymore except to pathologize trans folks?

If someone busts up their knee, do you ask them how their 'operation' went? Probably not, because it's an outdated term that evokes scary/sketchy lab coated mad scientist type medical prodedures. Using it to refer to trans folks and our transitions is just another way to dehumanize and sensationalize the process...not to mention group together under one vague, outdated term a whole array of options available to people who want to pursue medical transition. No transition looks exactly the same as anyone else's, and it's not some thoughtless presto-sex-chango endeavor. It's intensely personal, and private, and doesn't need to be discussed with such prurient terminology.

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