More anseriform foolishness than is absolutely necessary.

I hate you. Please go away, and take your smug cissexual “allies” with you.

I really can’t muster many words at the moment. After hearing about [TRIGGER WARNING: discussion of epic transphobia] your latest failure, I’m heading home for the afternoon for some hot tea and a soothing bath. Maybe I’ll hide under the covers for a while.

Seriously? This shit [I'm not linking to it, wade over to the original piece at your own risk] is a hazard to my mental health. I can’t be the only trans person who feels this way. I’d add that your shit is also a hazard to my physical health, given the logical consequences of having yet another public “dialogue” about such “challenging” issues.

And yes, I do struggle with mental illness, and yes, I am seeing people about it. Look, I know a substantial portion of the population hates me, views me as broken, defective, deviant, and dangerous. I know that there are plenty of folks out there who, either through privilege or active hostility, want to hurt me and my family. I know this, because it’s fucking happened. And yes, I know that plenty of supposed cissexual “allies” speak harshly about me. This shit can be hard to deal with, you know?

Surely, you know what it’s like to live on guard. You’ve had practice steeling yourself against the next, unpredictable blow in a society that most of the time barely tolerates your existance. You know it’s stressful and painful. I know this, because prior to several months ago, I regularly read many of your posts and the accompanying comment threads. Ironic is not the word I’m looking for. Cruel, perhaps.

Stop digging. I don’t want to hear you talk about fostering dialogue (on whether my identity is valid), or challenging readers (about whether bigotry is acceptable), or about how you’re not a safe space (Good for you! It must be so fun and “edgy” for you guys to not have to worry about people who aren’t you). This is all so last week for me. And every week.

Thus, I ask you to STFU already. Seriously.

H/T: C. L. Minou, via Shakesville

N. B.: Hate is a strong word, and I’m not entirely sure that it’s the correct word for what I’m feeling. I need time to process. Lest anyone Bilerico apologists take this as evidence of my hateful, unbalanced nature, permit me to remind you that I’m not the one passing off hate speech as part of a “debate”.

Originally posted at Duck, Duck, Gay Duck the First.

Here’s some background and personal thoughts to accompany my recently posted letter to Morehouse administrators.

As some folks are already aware, Morehouse College recently announced a new “Appropriate Attire Policy.” According to CNN, the policy prohibits several things, including “the wearing of “women’s clothes, makeup, high heels, and purses” by members of the all-male student body. In public comments about the policy, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. William Bynum implied that “about five” students were particularly problematic, in that their wearing feminine attire and “gay lifestyle” did not fit the college’s vision of Morehouse men. This latest incident does not come out of the blue. As Reverend Irene Monroe writes, there has long been tension within the Morehouse community about the possibility of gay or bisexual Morehouse students.

I have seen a few blogs carry this story, as well as CNN. I haven’t yet seen anything in The Chronicle of Higher Education, perhaps because there isn’t anyone in their offices who has the vision to see this as one of the top 10-20 stories in higher education on any given day. Hopefully this will change. The Morehouse gay students’ group, Morehouse Safe Space, hasn’t spoken out against this policy—reports are that they largely supported the new dress code. As a white woman, life-long northerner, and a transsexual woman who constantly has to fight for her right to be included in women’s spaces (and not relegated to men’s ones), I’ve had to overcome my worries about having my voice dismissed on this issue. However, more people need to speak out. Read more…

18 October 2009

Dr. William Bynum

Vice President for Student Services

Morehouse College

830 Westview Drive SW

Atlanta, GA 30314

Dear Dr. Bynum:

I hope this letter finds you and the Morehouse College community well. It is in part due to the respect I have for your institution that I am compelled to write to you today in regards to Morehouse’s recently announced “Appropriate Attire Policy.” While I have many personal and professional discomforts with dress codes, I indulge you to consider three issues with the portion of the attire policy that prohibits the wearing of clothing typically associated with women.

First and foremost, I am gravely concerned with the impact of this policy on gay, bisexual, transgender and queer members of the Morehouse community. This policy tells some of your community’s most vulnerable members that they should be ashamed, and that they are not welcome. As an educator, I find this stance counterproductive. As a queer woman, I find any policy that fosters the self-hatred I so often see my brothers and sisters struggling under to be abhorrent. As the Morehouse College administration is well aware, self-hatred is not the only form of violence facing GLBTQ Morehouse students, faculty, and staff. This policy would appear to condone further hostility towards my family at Morehouse, notably the roughly five students you have referred to in public statements. I am as fearful as I am confident that this policy is a step in the wrong direction.

Second, while you are justifiably proud of Morehouse’s tradition of producing leaders of the black community, I ask you to reconsider who that communities includes. When your community included Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., did it also include Bayard Rustin? Does your community include Moses Cannon and his late sister Latiesha Green, who were both shot because a young man objected to who they were, as they sat in a car in our city of Syracuse? Is their family part of your family? LGBTQ people of color have leadership to offer your community. In the face of oppression, they and I need leaders of our own. Will Morehouse graduates provide them?

Lastly, I ask you to consider the economic, psychological, and physical violence that all women, particularly women of color face. Women will not be able to end this violence on our own. The letter of a white, female college professor will not end this violence. In addition to our own collective strength, we need men who are willing to be leaders in their communities. We need Morehouse men. How does a policy that encourages the hatred and fear of femininity and feminine accoutrement bring my sisters and me closer to equality and safety?

I am sure that you have received many passionate pleas on this matter. I anticipate and appreciate your patient consideration of the needs of our respective communities.

Warmest Regards,

Katherine J. Forbes, Ph. D.

CC: Ms. Melissa McEwan

Rev. Irene Moore Monroe

Ms. Monica Roberts

Ms. Pam Spaulding

18 October 2009, 930pm

My apologies to Reverend Irene Monroe for completely and inexcusably getting her name wrong in my initial post. I really do read her online work, and find it troubling that I didn’t get her name correct.

Originally posted at Duck, Duck, Gay Duck the First.

…or I get to keep more of my money due to my newfound heterosexuality.
…or I can be lesbian, feed my family, but not both.

It finally came this week. My family and I had just returned from a free (unless you count the jewelry we pawned for gas money) weekend vacation with queer family. Waiting in the mailbox, was a sweet taste of heterosexual privilege, in check form, no less. It was a lovely, and totally expected gesture.

Me and my newly hetero lover debated how to spend the money. Vibrators? Glitter? As subversive (although I understand the my straight, er, fellow straight friends also use such things) and fun as those ideas are, we decided to use the money to deal with the latest disconnect notice from the utility company. Indeed, our inability to pay our bills and provide for our daughter was the impetus. We simply couldn’t afford to be lesbians anymore.

At this point, I probably should explain things. My family has health insurance through my employer. In addition to my daughter and me, my family includes my partner, who is, er, was, a lesbian. While the State of New York extends health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of its employees, federal regulations make the accounting a bit bizarre.

Health insurance is really important and essential (although not essential enough that everyone automatically gets it), that employees’ contributions to health insurance premiums are tax-free. Usually. If you’re the domestic partner of an employee, your sweetie pays for your health insurance premiums after income tax is taken out of hir check. Also, any employer contribution to your health insurance premiums counts as income, because your health insurance is a bonus. This whole set up is to protect the children. Or something.

If you turn your domestic partnership into a federally approved (heterosexual) marriage, a few things happen. You pay fewer taxes to the federal government (due to differences in withholding, it’s not yet clear to me what this means in my case, but my bi-weekly take home pay appears to have risen by a three digit amount). You get to file taxes jointly, which has its benefits. If you’ve already overpaid the taxes on your new spouse’s insurance benefits, your employer might end up sending you a check in the mail, like mine did:

There are all kinds of benefits to marriage, which plenty of other folks have cataloged. These include deeply personal rights, like hospital visitation, as well as any variety of financial benefits (including the costs of not having to pay a lawyer to secure some of the benefits that go along with marriage).

One assumes that straight couples regularly turn their domestic partnerships into marriage. In our case, I happen to be transsexual, which by the very bizarre logic of the federal government makes my lesbian relationship hetero (more on this later). Of course, the big point is that most gay and lesbian couples can’t just choose to receive these benefits for their relationship. That, and I got a check in the mail for not being a homo.

One of the many reasons I don’t like talking about the fact that my sweetie and I are married is that I’ve seen random people use transsexual people’s relationships as punching bags far too often (regularly, even). I don’t want to have to defend my lesbianism, nor my partner’s, to accusations based on what other people thought about me at my birth. We don’t identify as a married heterosexual couple—we never have, for that matter. Read more…

From Blue Jersey, Congressman Rob Andrews (D-NJ), chairman of the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) subcommittee of the House committee on Education and Labor, talks about the future of ENDA.

What’s striking about this conversation are the same four things that have been coming up seemingly everywhere:

1) Politicians don’t think very highly of trans people (certainly, not highly enough of them to take a chance by publicly supporting transsexual Americans’ right to not be fired for being trans).

2) It seems clear that ENDA won’t become law this year, but politicians still feel the need to remove trans people from the legislation, to gain some sort of “moral victory” in the form of getting legislation to the floor of the Senate. (Indeed, given that the Democratic leadership says that it’ll come back for trans people shortly, such a “victory” hardly seems to be paving the way).

3) Civil rights laws never protect everyone, so why start now? (Zuh?)

4) Trans people really need to educate people, and show that they’ve got a coalition behind them, if we’re going to included them. (Which strikes me as odd, given that’s pretty much what’s unfolded the past week).

Originally published at Forked Tongue and a Dirty House

Again, I’ll be brief, because this story is everywhere.

Refuses to join coalition is really a diplomatic way of say that the Human Rights Campaign lied. It’s been HRC’s policy since 2004 to not support employment non-discrimination legislation that does not include trans people. Last month, HRC Joe Solmonese reiterated this position, telling the nation’s largest annual gathering of trans people:

We try to walk a thin line in terms of keeping everything in play, and making sure that we move forward but always being clear that we absolutely do not support and in fact oppose any legislation that is not absolutely inclusive, and we have sent that message loud and clear to the Hill.

Here’s the video.

And on October 2nd, the HRC board of directors released this statement:

Therefore, we are not able to support, nor will we encourage Members of Congress to vote against, the newly introduced sexual orientation only bill.

This led Donna Rose, the only trans person on HRC’s 40-member board of directors, to resign, writing a heartfelt and eloquent letter, which she has made public. If you click on any links today, please read Donna’s letter.
Read more…

The University of Oregon’s student newspaper reported last week on the construction of single-occupancy changing rooms on the Eugene campus’ student rec center.

I have to admit a bit of jealousy towards students, faculty and staff at the U of O and Ohio State; both institutions offer these valuable resources. At most colleges and universities, including mine, the only changing and shower facilities available are large single-sex locker rooms– my institution has three large student athletic centers, including one with three women’s locker rooms, two locker rooms, but no single-occupant changing facilities.
Read more…