Status Message

•September 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hi folks

Just before you ask – no, this is not goodbye! Okay, I admit, I dind’t pay a lot of attention to you lately – this seems to be the only downside of falling in love and being the only employee of a start-up company plus being active in several LGBT communities.

Fine, I haven’t been to jail (yet). I’m just rethinking the concept of this blog a bit and will adjust several things to spice it a bit up. Don’t worry, you’re not gonna lose little badass Liz, my attitude or anything else that you’re used to. Just excuse me for my ongoing inactivity and trust me – it’s not over yet.

Thank you for haning in there…

Liz

Zero Point

•April 25, 2010 • 2 Comments

It sticks like glue to the floor, the ceiling and the streets. It’s what surrounds us every time and everywhere and still we can’t see it. It’s not the matrix to be precise – but it would really fit that concept. It’s gender.

Let’s just stay with that matrix metaphor for a little longer. Every phenomenon we encounter can be mathematically described – well, at least it could if we were smart enough to do so. But what about gender?
Well, here we face trouble pretty soon. First of all this not all too big word has according to some dictionary not one single or exact definition. Many people – including me sometimes – use the wide term “gender” to refer to “gender identity” which would be as what or who we identify. On the other hand many (or even more?) use gender as the word that says as how others see you. And we’re back with the usual me-and-them thingy. We’ll get back to it later here and in another post because for the first time being the following thoughts can be applied to both views.
Right, first there was math. When we understand gender as including male and female entities we should ask ourselves what exactly these entities are, where they intersect and how much they do so. Remember, we’re still two-dimensional so far. I hope you remember statistics and set theory from your math classes, because we are going to use this now a bit – gee, I hate math!

Because simple math doesn’t always really work with everyday facts we need some assumptions to build on (we could also use more complex math here but that would be a bit off limits for the author).
First, we assume that there is a way to measure gender attributes of a certain behavior on some scale, giving either masculine or feminine points (to simplify you can compare this concept to a BEM Sex Role Inventory test[1]) and that the measures are given.
Second, we assume that we are somehow able to sum all existing attributes of a person up to an average.
Third, we assume that we are able to do this for all people in the world (or at least the Eurocentric part of it, ’cause most of us know the western society best).
And fourth, we assume that gender is static so we can have some data which is still valid after we collected it.

Now we have the ability to draw nice little diagrams to show how male and female we really are – may it be how we feel or how people perceive us. Well, there’s one flaw. Neither of the four assumptions above is really possible so it won’t work anyway. However, if we assume for a second they were it would be really interesting how the diagram would look like. A large pool around male and female and few in the middle? Or rather an ellipse with most in the middle and least in the outer region? Fine, we don’t know for sure – all we can do is watch or ask randomly people and take notes. However, I think we just proved that gender is too complex for math so far.

Fine, you may think now, why did she do such a bunch of talking when she just ends up with a simple one-sentence conclusion? We simply need a logic evidence to prove that something doesn’t work and that’s what I did now. Taking a gender role test doesn’t tell you as much as you might think.

During the work on this article, I took the BEM test for the third time in my life. The first one was about the time I came out – I was labeled clearly feminine with a really high ranking. The next time was after I started on hormones. I still was considered feminine, but pretty close now to nearly feminine. Now I did it today and I was only four points towards the feminine in the androgynous scale. Hell yeah, I hit zero!

What do we learn from this? Well sure, these tests also assign male or female attributes to things I wouldn’t consider male or female except when we speak of stereotypes. And I wouldn’t really say that for a pragmatic person a stereotype is something worth to accomplish. So when you happen to be in your current life situation more of a stereotype than usual, you just get coincidentally more feminine or masculine.
But there it comes, the really thrilling question – is there a Zero Point? Is there some place where you either have no gender at all or equal amounts of both (if there only were two). And is there something similar with sex?

If there were something like a Zero Point of sex in the way it’s perceived by others, I probably would have crossed it during the last few years. But if there would be a Zero Point of gender I played quite some time with it without ever really hitting it.

We can’t measure such a thing. And we often tend to forget that something as complex and often rethought and hard-fought as gender cannot possibly have two dimensions. There are way too many personal elements that intersect in too many places to avoid ending up in a multidimensional construct which we can’t just fill in bottles and sell on the black market. Male and female isn’t even nearly enough to be the only parts of gender.
But once again back to our famous number zero. How such something that complex which we cannot measure actually have a Zero Point? But I can promise you one thing – if there actually were a Zero Point, I’ll find it someday – but I’d rather say that we all have one point in this matrix – and we call that point ourselves.

[1]: To take the test, you can download it here.

Gender Assignment & Determination

•April 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Two babies were sitting in their cribs, when one baby shouted to the other, “Are you a little girl or a little boy?“
„I don’t know,“ replied the other baby giggling.
„What do you mean, you don’t know?“ said the first baby.
„I mean I don’t know how to tell the difference,“ was the reply.
„Well, I do,“ said the first baby chuckling, „I’ll climb into your crib and find out.“
He carefully maneuvered himself into the other baby’s crib, and then quickly disappeared beneath the blankets. After a couple of minutes, he resurfaced with a big grin on his face.
„You’re a little girl, and I’m a little boy,“ he said proudly.
„You’re ever so clever,“ cooed the baby girl, „but how can you tell ?“
„It’s quite easy really,“ replied the baby boy,
„You’ve got pink socks and I’ve got blue ones.“ [1]

Yes, the determination of gender is complicated. However, we are used to a binary gender system, which already starts when (and sometimes even before) we’re born. We take the newborn and look down to see what it is – a boy or a girl. When it has a penis it’s a boy, otherwise it’s a girl. The first keyword is ‘otherwise’; it’s rarely replaced with ‘has a vagina’ – why look for something that looks less obvious? Sure, a baby can also have both, but hey, we got good surgeons to make one of the two genitals disappear – who would like to have a child that doesn’t fit in a binary? No we can tick the M or F on the release form and the sex is clear; and with that also the gender.

Now comes the long time of growing up and learning to eat, to speak and to be a proper boy or girl. Nowadays it might be that we are allowed to play with cars and puppets but still – we learn the code of the assigned gender role. Our anatomy is made our destiny, by the help of well-meaning parents teachers and even other kids; they want that we fit in so we can get along well in this cruel world out there. This might sound cynic and it is; sometimes the best intentions lead to not-so-good results. We’re told often some things like ‘you’re a boy, so behave like one’ but rarely ‘you are you, you’re a person’.

Sure, the presence of two sexes makes sense for reproduction so evolution wasn’t all too stupid. But when even the sexes aren’t always as clear as we think (There are people with XXY, XY-women and a lot more) we can say that evolution – or if you’re religious God – doesn’t just work with black-and-whites. Now we put gender in the mixer and turn it on; but for some reason it won’t mix! In our Eurocentric culture, gender role is way more binary than even sex although gender actually blurs more than sex ever could. We assign a M or a F and then it’s done – this is what you are supposed to be for the rest of your life – and even if it’s listed under ‘sex’, gender comes along quite quickly.
When I was a little kid, my mother was often told ‘you have a cute girl’ and she replied ‘no, it’s a boy!’ – even long before my official ‘transition’ I asked her why she insisted so much in me being a boy and she said: ‘because I thought it’s important that people know what you are’. She said this more out of instinct and couldn’t give me a rational reason for it.

But that is the key question – why is it so important what you are? Well, one thing is easy and obvious: we need to know whether to say ‘he’ or ‘she’. But why is this so important? We only know two options, boy or girl. We don’t even have a vocabulary for anything else except the word ‘it’, which is often used in a quite pejorative way. It; the hermaphrodite; the tranny; that thing. We look at a person and ask ourselves as one of the first things whether it’s a man or a woman – this makes some sense when we are looking for a partner because sexual preferences do exist (yes, really). But we also do it when we’re in a relationship or when we don’t find someone attractive. We want to know what someone is, we feel safe when we can assign someone to a group: Worker or banker, strong or weak, thin or fat, men or women. But what happens when we can’t?

As a out transsexual woman who doesn’t pass always I’m quite used to being stared at. There’s a basic set of reactions people have although they don’t intend to show them to me. One is joy: ‘Hey cool, they don’t just exist in telly but also in the real world – she’s gotta have guts’. Another one is confusion: ‘What is this, a man or a woman?’ Some of these people never come up with a result and forget about it pretty soon. And the third one is disgust – yeah, no kidding! But the fewest of them would actually attack me or call me a lower being – most of them are after a few seconds quite ashamed of their reaction.

So why do some, who wouldn’t necessarily be intolerant in their principles, react like this? Disgust, even in its lightest forms, is quite a strong reaction to someone who does actually take showers. One part is probably about sex. We are used to the model of two sexes and we’re used to shame as much as sexualisation. So when we see someone transgendered and don’t know much about the subject we put her/him in context with sex, both the sex and often even the thought of having sex. And then one feels disgust because it goes further than the usual set of knowledge reaches. The other reason is even easier. We are used to binaries in gender, sex and role. A person who doesn’t fully fit into one or the other box is a threat to the system and makes one feel uneasy. When we cling to that system too much a threat turns the reaction from fear to disgust. As I mentioned in my example, most people who react that way feel ashamed pretty soon for their reaction and ask themselves why they just reacted like this. They are not intolerant per se and we could only blame them for living in a small world and not questioning its borders. The dangerous ones are those who aren’t ashamed of that reaction and actually might attack you for being what you are. The other ones aren’t dangerous in everyday life, although they make you feel uneasy and might vote against a better transgender law, so their danger is rather a political one than a physical threat.

The real problem here is our binary gender system. We can determine the physical aspects of sex quite easily, like genitals, chromosomes and so on. That’s fine. The problem isn’t the assignment of a sex at birth, because that can still change (although it should be easier to change sex legally and there should be at least three categories). The problem is the equation that our society still seems to see as carved in stone:

sex = gender

Gender is even way more floating than sex and there are no clear borders here, except the fictional ones that many take for granted. Sure, with feminism some of them blurred a bit, but the actual system remains the same. We don’t even have enough words for the things that are someplace ‘in between’. Sure, as a transsexual you can use the ‘born in the wrong body’-metaphor and it works quite well to explain to cissexual people what we are. But it’s still their terminology, not ours. It’s doesn’t include small parts, the fabric of our personal gender. Some even use the ‘I was a man and now I am a woman’-metaphor, but that only describes genitals or society’s view of our role. There’s no full metaphor for being transsexual and there’s even less for the transgendered. Kate Bornstein already described this more then fifteen years ago:

[…]As a people, we’re short on metaphors, any metaphors, and when we find one that people understand, we stop looking. It’s time for transgendered people to look for new metaphors – new ways of communicating our lives to people who are traditionally gendered. [2]

We could rather see gender as a Rubik’s Cube, a lot of colors and many, many ways to arrange them. Some just happen to come along when we play with the cube and some are brought into position with intention. Sometimes one might despair because one’s unable to solve it properly and sometimes we’re faster with that than others can follow. And when someone hands you such a cube, you’re not obliged to put it on a shelf and let it catch dust – you can think about it, look at it and play with it – change it to what you like most. And there’s no rule saying that it looks best when all color is on one side!

So what does that make me? Pink or blue? Woman or man? Smartass or freak? Actually none because there’s no such thing! It’s just words to describe something that we need a word for; and words are identity. All I know is that I’m definitely not a man and never was one. But I am a woman and on the other hand I’m not. Some who might read this might feel as if I’d slap in their face right now, so please wait and let me explain. First of all we need some words to describe a gendered and sexual identity, like: transsexual woman, lesbian, queer, some subtle aspects of genderqueer and so on… When I say that in some ways I’m not a woman this doesn’t mean that I am none; it means that I’m a transsexual with the background of a transsexual and don’t need to play or be a cissexual; the only reason why I like and want to pass is because it makes life easier, to get less insulted and properly addressed. So yes, I am a woman, but I’m not a cissexual woman. With my attitude I’m probably not exactly what most people mean when they say ‘woman’. But still; I am a woman, just not only that. I already was seen by transsexuals as some kind of poster-girl because I have a lot of feminine attitudes and (honestly) never really had something like the famous ‘male privilege’. Maybe that’s why I can afford such a wide definition of gender pretty easily although there are very few people that would actually have thought that my view of my gender is that fuzzy. Before you misunderstand me now, in my view I am a woman, it’s only that my definition of woman is more inclusive than those of many. I can also still say that I’m a lesbian when I’m attracted to someone not so clearly gendered female or transgendered. Many others would say that from then on, I’m not. Stretching the meaning of words and labels taken for strict is quite unusual in our society but here’s the key: What and who you are is not how others define you, but how you define yourself. And with a good reason for being what and who you are there’s hardly a way to take it from you.

What you are assigned is not necessarily what you are. What you change in the assignment is not necessarily seen the way you see it. What you are isn’t always the same as who you are. And even more important:

Anatomy is not Destiny [3].

Gee, that was a rather long one. But I don’t have more time for you now because there are more things in my life than gender. Vacuum cleaners are way more hated but they still are somehw significant…

List of References:
[1]: Quite common joke, original source unknown.
[2]: Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaw, Vintage Books, 1994
[3]: Quote taken from: Lisa Lees, Fragments of Gender, Lulu, 2005

Gender Expression

•March 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

When we talk about gender expression we first need to ask one basic question: What is gender? First things first – nowadays we don’t ask our mom, we ask wikipedia: Gender is the wide set of characteristics that are seen to distinguish between male and female entities, extending from one’s biological sex to, in humans, one’s social role or gender identity.
Wait – gender identity? Sure, we can look this up as well: Gender identity (otherwise known as core gender identity ) is the gender(s), or lack thereof, a person self-identifies as. It is not necessarily based on biological fact, either real or perceived, nor is it always based on sexual orientation. The gender identities one may choose from include: male, female, both, somewhere in between (“third gender”), or neither.

Sure, these definitions are rather brief and explained more closely in the linked articles but let’s work with these quotes now. Again – what is gender for us? There are definitions like the ones we just read and they aren’t all too bad. But can we draw such clear and strict borders when talking about a rather fluent phenomenon? Drawers don’t work because we rather speak about tendencies. Gender isn’t just the “s” before the “he” or the x or y. So let’s picture gender as an open box. So we rather could ask what – and how much of it – is in the box.
So, what kind of things are in this box? Let’s start with the sex; sure, you might guess that a transsexual writer would say that our genetic or biological sex has no influence on who we are – but it does. Even if a lot of the influence is only what we see when we look at our body (primary and secondary sexual characteristics) and how people perceive us, it is definitely relevant. Let’s add how we see ourselves not in the mirror but when we think about us or in our thoughts and feelings. But does gender really end with that? Many people would say that things like whether the kid plays with cars or puppets could be added to gender – I’d say it’s not that easy. But couldn’t we add things that aren’t all too obvious? When we say gender is a substantial part of who and what we are, couldn’t there be more to it than many guess – things about us that are not socially gendered can be just as well part of our gender.

With these things in mind we can leave the not all too short prelude and get to the topic. What is gender expression? In the context we look at it we don’t speak about biology. What I mean with this term is what we do – may it be consciously or unconsciously – to express or show our gender. There is a large risk of misinterpretation here: one can project something into someone that he or she isn’t. One can misread something as gendered which isn’t or the other way round; and last but not least we can misread something completely. And yes, before we continue with another basic thing (most of you will be annoyed because you know that) – when I speak of gender as a whole as well as parts of that gender I don’t perceive them necessarily as binary entities.
But how do we express gender? It’s how we dress and style, how we act, small gestures and body language, how we speak, what we say… you name it. Even something apparently simple as how we dress is way more complex than we may think – it’s way more than just skirts versus pants. We can find here already quite transgressing tendencies and one doesn’t have to be transgendered to transgress gender. Even definitions like tomboyish woman or effeminate man won’t do the job completely. And the often as neutral considered jeans-and-T-shirt look isn’t as neutral as it seems for we still read some gender when we see someone dressed like that. Still, there are strict borders here: When we see someone we read as male in a cheerleader dress or someone we read female in Charlie Chaplin style we get confused. Interesting here is that women tend to have more choices than men – or do you see often men wearing skirts or dresses? On the other hand we are used to women wearing suits. But also here a women’s suit is designed quite differently from a mans suit. So far I didn’t tell you anything you couldn’t see by yourself. But when you buy clothes you nearly always buy them gendered. Sure, there are also ways to break with such binaries pretty much – you could combine a skirt with high heels and a very masculine jeans jacket. Maybe you just try something like that and maybe it’s just your gender – or a gender of your own. The only thing you should keep in mind while reading this is that masculine and feminine can be far from male or female – although both is gendered.

But there’s more to life than nice clothes. Accessories work more or less the same way so we don’t look closer at them. Still, there are many other ways of doing gender and we use most of them every day. There’s the voice. Did you ever notice that women tend to raise their voice towards the end of a sentence? Maybe one could compare the sound of it with asking a question, something like “Hi, I’m Liz?” – but of course (and fortunately) it’s not that extreme. There are of course way more subtleties to language but this example shows quite well what I mean. And also here we can make a gender of our own. There are many expressions that would be read as binaries like a male or female sound of a voice; but I take every bet that you did (and also do) encounter many situations where you couldn’t assign certain attributes to the person by using binaries – a woman can have a low voice and a man can raise his voice towards the end of a sentence.
Now, there are also gestures that we assign a gender. How do you gesticulate? How do you open a door or hold a cigarette? Just to make it clear, not everything is necessarily gendered but also here we read a lot in the context of a person’s gender. We don’t do this consciously except when we question a person’s gender. As a transsexual you hear a lot like “this looks really feminine” or “I wouldn’t do this, it’s too masculine”. On the other hand, when we take someones sex for granted we rarely question such things, except we have another reason to assign a gesture to someones gender, like: “She’s a lesbian so it makes sense when she acts masculine”. But when everything seems to match the classic gender binary we get confused when something small doesn’t add up but we rarely realise what it is. It’s basically the same thing about how we walk and how our facial expressions work.

This was merely a brief introduction to a complex topic – I hope I gave also those who never dealt with it some thought-provoking impulse. But I have good reasons to guess that many of you already thought about most of this – so keep on thinking.

Your thoughtful Liz

Sex Change, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll!

•February 19, 2010 • 5 Comments

Hi folks

As a reader of a blog which also deals with transgender subjects you might like to hear something about my life, at least when it’s connected to the topic. And for I know that you stalk me anyway it doesn’t really matter to write something personal for once.
About two weeks ago I had my SRS and I’m still alive and kicking.  They gave me a lot of nice painkillers as drugs, so I just missed the rock’n’roll, but with my mp3-player I could also try to make up for this. Now I’m already back home because everything went better than usual (except the pain, but “no pain, no gain” is still one of the real truths in life). Sure, it’s boring and one can’t do all too many things, so I had to recruit my friends for shopping, entertaining me and carrying me around. But it seems to me that I spent more time in the hospital with visitors around me than alone, so entertainment did actually work.
As it looks I’ll have time to write something useful here soon again and keep on entertaining you.

Behave and be brave
Liz

My Lesbian Telly

•January 26, 2010 • 2 Comments

Did you ever notice how many lesbians appear on television lately? To make it even simpler we leave “The L-Word” away for the first time being. TV-Shows are actually an interesting measure for current trends in society because although their basic pattern doesn’t change, side subjects do so; and they actually do it quite rapidly sometimes. Some years ago (probably starting in the late nineties) it was a trend to show gay guys acting effeminate and being way more stylish than the straight ones. Nowadays it’s about lesbians that seem to have taken their place. However, we’re rarely talking about main stories and also not about main characters in shows that don’t explicitly deal with LGBT subjects. There’s the bisexual Thirteen at House MD; In Bones the character Angela is bisexual too. Then there’s the lesbian FBI Agent in Knight Rider, but I guess she’s already out of the show again, I actually didn’t follow it enough to tell for sure. We could list some more examples but I think these will do to get the point.

First of all we notice that many of the female supporting characters which are or were put in a lesbian context are bisexual. Not that I would have something against bisexuals but still one notices this surprising amount pretty soon. I could end up with some attempts to explain. Some characters were originally designed as straight or the writers didn’t actually think about whether they might be lesbian or bi – so when they introduce a lesbian couple she just can be bisexual by logic. Number two is that they were on intention designed bisexual because so they could be of interest to a larger public. Number three is even simpler: they were just designed bisexual without any tactics in mind and this whole discussion would have been obsolete – but this would be a rare case with nowadays mass media.

For the simplification I talk in the rest of this post of lesbians, even when a lot of the characters are bisexual. It is interesting that lesbians are quite often in supporting roles lately, some years after the gays were. On the other hand lesbians went in public in a large scale after the gays already were. Whether this has an influence on this phenomenon is something I can’t say for sure.
But it’s sure that basically all of these lesbian characters have supporting roles – in the large scale shows there’s close to never a lesbian (or gay) leading role when it’s not the topic of the show. So don’t screenwriters dare to put us that high up because we might bite? Not really, most of us are being fed well. So there remain only two reasons I could think of. First, we live in a heterocentric society. Although we might guess that when we stick to statistics “only” 90% of all leading characters should be straight, this isn’t really the truth. We do have other minorities (for instance race) in many important roles; but still filmmakers tend to the male, white and straight hero – although nowadays one can sometimes also see a woman. But honestly, they’d fear that only a minority could identify with a lesbian in a leading role so they just leave it. When we follow this thoughts we end up with the second reason – there’s a lot of people that can’t identify but in addition also would be pissed off if suddenly in television everyone would be equal – they are called the Religious Right. We could add all the fans of Al Quaida to that corner and some other suspicious individuals to complete the scheme. I’d wonder how the TV shows would look like when the larger part of them would be produced in Western Europe.

With that we come to the last thoughts. The fewest of these supporting characters with lesbian background are actually presented as if it would be a simple fact that they were lesbian. Many of the reactions of the other characters or even just the way the story is told imply something like fascination. This goes from “Lesbians must be cool” up to “It’s hot that she’s into girls (obviously from a guys view here)” – but honestly, can you recall a situation where she just has a girlfriend and there’s no special way of presenting it? When I get asked whether I have a boyfriend or not and I reply that I’m a lesbian people very rarely react like this. Either universities are just way ahead of their time or the audience of mass media just wants a bit more drama than in the real life…

Transsexuals in Politics and Transsexual Politics

•January 7, 2010 • 1 Comment

After the election of Amanda Simpson as Senior Technical Advisor by the Obama government many talk about the newest invention in this world: transsexual politicians. Maybe it reminds you a bit of the election of the first black president of the USA – the first of a certain kind in a certain position, to simplify the statements in the press. Well – neither Obama nor Simpson were the first of a kind – although it seems with Obama that he’s the first reasonable president when we look back to the last eight years. But hey, there were black presidents in many countries before and there were transsexuals working for the government in even more countries (the second one is an educated guess because we don’t appear that easily in the statistics, considering the fact that many might live stealth).

But besides minority cards, there is something way more important we shouldn’t forget: Is the person qualified for the job? Well, to stay with our examples, I’d say both of them are overqualified – just look at the last two decades and what kind of presidents and technical consultants the US had in this time. So let’s say (and hope) that they were chosen by ability and not just to fulfill a minority quota.

Now, what can we do with a transsexual in the American government? The religious right – not all to righteous though – already speaks of infiltration by minorities that shouldn’t exist. But hey, they always complain when someone more intelligent than them gets a better job than them an when this person is even not an average boring jackass it gets really ugly. The problem with this is that it stirs up the climate for hate crimes, witch-hunts and the holy inquisition. And of course this is the case because there are more (normally also not all too intelligent) contemporaries that rely on what other people say without questioning it.
On the other hand, for the whole transgender community, this appears to be a victory after what happened to the last trans-woman who was supposed to work for the US government. Diane Schroer had a job offer as analyst in terrorism prevention but never got the job when her employer figured out that she was a transsexual. This was 2004 – and it took some time for the courts to acknowledge that she actually was discriminated based on her gender identity.

Now we have a transsexual consultant in Washington, a former rocket scientist that can be named in the same breath as Lynn Conway. This proves one thing: Yes, we can have success. And also: Yes, we can actually be smart, although many people are scared to death of this fact.
And still we’re stuck with politics; but there are a lot more transgender in politics than one might think – especially in Europe. Italy has a trans-woman in the parliament but she is or was harassed quite often by that annoying right-wing Mussolini-Woman (yes, that Mussolini clan) and even Switzerland nearly got a transsexual in the parliament. Of course she had also to fight for her rights in court and won, but long after the election was over so she couldn’t get a seat anymore. And my city Zurich which also has a lesbian mayor has a trans-man in the parliament. So if we recapitulate and look at it from the world of simple phrases: Yes, we can – and probably we won’t give up until we are normal citizens.

But of course there are two things that remain to be said. First of all, we don’t seem to be normal citizens at all when the average newspapers write of the “First transsexual woman in US government” and when her former name is mentioned more often than her qualification for the job. Seriously we are still at the point where the (boulevard) media finds it very exotic and trilling to talk about a transsexual’s transition rather than about her success.
And the second thing goes to all of us: Keep in mind that there is a difference between a transsexual in politics and transsexual politics. An out transsexual politician already has it hard to do her job and be judged based on what she can instead of what she is. And trust me, this small difference is enormous. But also keep in mind that not every transsexual doing something new or great has to do this as a transsexual activist. I’m the first one to support transgender politics but we can’t expect anyone transgendered in politics to do this just for us; they also might have other goals and priorities in life. The worst thing that can happen is when the expectations from the public are mirrored in the expectations from our community – we should know better than them. First of all, we should judge a transsexual in politics like anyone else – based on what she does. If she does activism, great! And if not, fine – it’s her decision and not ours to make.
Just so you really don’t misunderstand me: A person is a person and someone working for the state is also more than just a transsexual. Let’s just celebrate our moral victory and raise our expectations – but towards the world and not towards the few transsexuals who made it in public as successful persons: They have to do their job, not ours. And I’m sure they’ll do it very well.

Your political Liz

 
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