Monday, November 17, 2008
I'm glad to see that Duanna Johnson is getting some national coverage in the NY Times, and to see that the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition received an outpouring of donations to help cover the cost of her funeral expenses. I hope that justice is served, and that some scrap of silver lining can be made of this too-common tragedy. If there is further accountability within the police department, if her estate can continue to press the lawsuit against the MPD, if people around the country hear her story and understand a little bit that transgender men and women...well. I don't know what to say that doesn't sadden me that I have to say it. We're here. We're real. We live our lives, we deserve respect, and we sure as hell don't deserve to be insulted or beaten or murdered for being different.
This Thursday, the 20th, is the international Transgender Day of Rememberance. I hope everyone who is reading this will take a minute, of silence perhaps, to remember and honor the dead.
Posted by Eli at 4:57 PM
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thanks to Jack for saying, as usual, exactly the right thing about such a tragic situation. It is very bad that Californians decided to deny gay people the basic right of marriage. It is much worse that trans folks (especially trans women, especially women of color) are continuously disrespected, denied basic rights (including marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual!), not to mention assaulted and murdered. And yet, thousands of people aren't marching in the streets to protest transphobia.
It's hard not to be bitter. I don't want to set up a false dichotomy- marriage equality is a worthy cause, one that I am in favor of. Clearly, everyone should be able to marry whomever they choose, and it's great to see an outpouring of positive support for the cause. I'd prefer activism around this issue to a completely apathetic gay community.
But I'm saddened and frustrated that same-sex marriage is the biggest issue associated with the LGBT community. It's what politicians get asked about, and their carefully minced words get used to declare them pro-gay or anti-gay. Certainly gay issues and trans issues don't always overlap, but there are plenty of trans folks supporting marriage equality and agitating and protesting against Prop 8, and generally being the T holding up the end of the rainbow acronym. It sure would be nice to see some reciprocity, and to see some acknowledgement that there are other more serious issues facing this community than whether or not the government will recognize your relationship and give you a tax break.
Jack has posted a link asking folks to donate in equal measure to however they donated to the fight against Prop 8. I didn't donate to the No On 8 campaign, but I just donated here.
My rightous anger/grief is getting all mixed up with my personal grief from my cousin's death earlier this fall. It was the first time I'd ever been in a funeral home, the first family member I'd lost when I was old enough and privy to the jagged logistics of a death- the decisions to be made, the money that needed to change hands. It was a hard, dreadful week, and never til just now did I consider that it could've been much harder.
Posted by Eli at 7:12 AM
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I didn't know much about the difference between the two, save that I've only ever heard HMOs referred to with scorn, and I remember one Dykes to Watch Out For comic featured a character wearing a tshirt that read HMOphobic. It turns out that it basically has to do with how much freedom you want to be able to choose your own doctors and specialists vs relying solely on the people that are chosen for you. The HMO is also the cheaper option, in terms of monthly deductions from one's paycheck.
What struck me the most, as I settled down to compare the two and make my choice, was how similar (and surprising) they both were on the topic of transsexuals. Both booklets contained an extensive (though not exhaustive, as they took pains to disclaim!) list of items not covered by the plan, ranging from refractive eye surgery to infertility treatment to foot orthotics. But waaay at the top of this list (both lists!), clocking in at number three, the third most important thing that these insurance companies want to make clear they will not pay for was, and I quote, "Transsexual surgery, including related drugs or procedures." (One said transsexual, the other "gender reassignment")
Wow. Really? Number three? I wasn't surprised to find that my specific health care needs wouldn't be covered, but I was rather surprised to see it so explicitly stated, and so early in the list. I was rather under the (apparently misguided or outdated) impression that trans health issues were, while not being supported by the health insurance companies or even most medical practitioners, mostly flying under the radar. When I had to fight my Union to grant me short-term disability leave after my chest surgery, they tried to deny it because it "wasn't medically necessary" and was "cosmetic" but they didn't have any explicit No Transsexuals rule. It was more de facto discrimination than blatant.
It was surprising to see my health care needs so clearly invalidated like that. I wonder when that line was added to the list, and what the reasoning was to make it the third item. Is it because trans surgeries are so expensive? (though I dare speculate that part of the reason they're so expensive is that so few surgeons perform them, in part because of a lack of support/funding from the medical establishment, from research of new techniques to insurance payments.) Is it because trans health care makes up a large percentage of insurance claims? (unlikely, it seems, given how few of us there are.)
There is so much to be said about trans heath care and how and why we don't get insurance coverage and how and why we ought to. I hope to have more of an opportunity to organize around this issue in the future- it's more important to me than, say, same-sex marriage. Not that I don't think everyone should be able to get married because, hey, I do! It's just when I read about the huge protests thare going on now against Prop 8 that just passed in California, I can't help but be astonished that this is such a big deal. Seriously, can we get some of that energy directed towards the myriad other issues in this country?
Posted by Eli at 8:28 PM
Monday, November 10, 2008
A trans person was elected Mayor of Silverton, OR! I've found a few news items through Google News, (and deliberately haven't clicked on any of the Fox News clips- don't really care to spoil my morning with whatever they have to say!) and they mostly appear to be doing a good job of coverage. Stu appears to fall under the much broader gender-variant umbrella definition of transgender, and is not transsexual, despite the cringe-worthy headline "Sex change we can believe in!" headline I saw from one newspaper. It's great to see a gender variant person holding public office (Stu has been a City Council member for a while, apparently) and living their life effectively without fear of recrimination. Way to go, Stu! Way to be a role model!
oh yeah, and the most important presidential of my (most people's) lifetimes was decisively won by the man by far best qualified to do the job, thus salvaging the last vestiges of my faith in my fellow americans to do the right thing. thrilling moment, particularly when our man Obama gave a shout out to the gays in his acceptance speech. also, i'm delighted to see that the three heinous anti-choice measures in colorado, south dakota and california were shot down, just as I am saddened to see that the various anti-gay marriage (california, florida, arizona) and anti-gay adoption (arkansas) bills passed.
Posted by Eli at 5:53 AM