Remembering Our Dead, Echos From Our Fallen Sisters
February 17, 2008
Counting the Cost
February 27, 2008

“Sometimes, We Just Have to Pay Full Price.”

My partner is a nut about sales. If it isn’t on sale, it doesn’t get purchased. So sometimes, when we run out of a breakfast staple and such, I have to remind her of that basic fact of life: “sometimes, we just have to pay full price.”

And then, the phrase comes back to haunt me. This usually happens around the evenings, these days. She’s been talking about returning to work in a capacity which would take her out to job sites with contractors and crew, some of whom could know from her previous 20 years of work in that trade that she is trans. And I’ve been having troubling dreams about both that and my own job, where I’ve been back for several months with no trouble beyond the occasional rude exchange, and now all of a sudden I’m dreaming repetitively about getting shot in the head. The latter is not something I’m actually afraid of during the light of day, so I’m wondering what is bringing this all on. Am I sensing something nasty coming, or am I just reading the trans-related news way too much? And that’s when that dirty little voice says to me, “sometimes, we just have to pay full price.”

And that’s when I start thinking about how far we’ve come… or haven’t as the case may be. The first GRS surgeries were performed in the 1940s, and with the rise of Nazi Germany and its pogroms, the invention of “stealth” soon followed. We’ve been in hiding ever since. Don’t get me wrong — I’m on record as defending a woman’s and man’s right to go stealth if they feel it’s best for them. We earn that. But the wholesale movement toward stealth — the lack of barely anybody to stay behind and educate the masses — has meant that we’ve only made small strides during that time. The first known piece of trans-inclusive legislation didn’t happen until 1993, and most of those strides have been since then. And without adult transfolk there to lay that groundwork, a crisis has developed. Because now it is children on the front lines.

I apologize for wandering, but I think this is what has been bringing me to tears, the fact that the battles that transfolk largely hid from are now being fought by Lawrence King and the girl in Denver who has fortunately as yet not been outed by the media. Maybe this is what’s been causing the dreams — guilt for not taking the bullet, in hopes that in some way, they might not have to.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that would work. There’s no reason to believe that any awareness generated from a transwoman’s death in Calgary, Alberta would change the mind of the people who helped load Brandon McInerney’s bigotry gun in Oxnard, California. It’s the unfairness of the situation that bothers me.

And I am not misplacing my anger. I’m still outraged at the shooter, at the climate that made King’s murder possible, at the religious right which is doing everything it can to make things treacherous for the student in Denver and others, at the lack of protections for kids and transfolk, at the lack of parents who’ll teach their kids that shooting someone for no good reason is a bad idea. And the whole concept of hate-killing itself is indefensible — the risk of peril, violence and death should not be the “price” for anything. But it is 2008, the Jerry Springer Show was cancelled how many years ago, and we still haven’t given the world a more realistic face? People can jump up and down and border on co-opting King’s death all they want, but sooner or later, someone will have to realize that our community shares some of the blame.

And I don’t mean to paint all the community with the same brush — there are definitely some soldiers out there with hearts on their sleeves… usually fighting alone, or close to it. And as a baby activist myself, I’m still learning how easy it is to become painted as “fringe,” be alienated for a myriad of reasons, and be hamstrung by lack of funding and support. Often by our own.

Many medical professionals and even many parents have come to understanding the transgender experience enough that kids no longer have to hide until they’re forty, before starting to living their lives. There will be more youth and children transitioning in the face of society.

Like the middle-class families looking at the national debt and thinking, “let the next generation take care of it,” many of the community would rather just let the conflicts fall to someone else.

“Sometimes, we just have to pay full price.” But paying it should never have fallen to the kids.

(Crossposted to Dented Blue MercedesΒ — some of the above may be borne of the state of the community in Canada)

19 Comments

  1. BotenAnna says:

    Uy I should have done one more sweep, I came off as being exclusive to MtFs when that was not my intention since I forgot to clarify where I was going. D: I specified “Trans women” because as positive depictions arise, to anyone with a soul attacking a cute, flawlessly passable, and sweet girl just because she used to have a penis looks extremely cruel and mean to people very quickly. Before anyone gets upset with me over why being cute and passable is important, as much as I’d love to live in a world where nobody cares that I have an ugly and mannish face, that’s just not the way things are and it’s not within our power to change that. There’s a reason baby seals still exist and all kinds of insects are now extinct. It will take pretty transwomen to advance the cause, whether we find this fact agreeable or not.

    FtMs have it rough in different ways that I don’t entirely understand, but since the vast majority of them tend to be very passable after a few months of testosterone and if necessary, breast removal, they tend to unsettle people much less in the first place. Plus there’s the unfortunate and stupid notion that trading “up” to be a guy is more understandable than us saps that would give up our glorious manhood to be a mere woman. (ugh) How they will help will be a bit different, and more logical, I think. For example, FtM bottom surgery sucks and there’s plenty of good reasons to not get it at the moment that don’t make them any less of a man, so why require SRS to change genders? Since it’d be difficult to make the law different depending on “direction” it’d be a boon to transwomen who don’t want or can’t afford SRS, as well.

    Basically if this was some kind of war, transwomen would be the marines. We bust down the door, dazzle everyone, and get the attention and knock out the large, intimidating, but weakly defended forces. Transmen are the infantry, going in and methodically removing enemy forces that the marines aren’t as well equipped to handle. πŸ™‚

  2. BotenAnna says:

    Uy I should have done one more sweep, I came off as being exclusive to MtFs when that was not my intention since I forgot to clarify where I was going. D: I specified “Trans women” because as positive depictions arise, to anyone with a soul attacking a cute, flawlessly passable, and sweet girl just because she used to have a penis looks extremely cruel and mean to people very quickly. Before anyone gets upset with me over why being cute and passable is important, as much as I’d love to live in a world where nobody cares that I have an ugly and mannish face, that’s just not the way things are and it’s not within our power to change that. There’s a reason baby seals still exist and all kinds of insects are now extinct. It will take pretty transwomen to advance the cause, whether we find this fact agreeable or not.

    FtMs have it rough in different ways that I don’t entirely understand, but since the vast majority of them tend to be very passable after a few months of testosterone and if necessary, breast removal, they tend to unsettle people much less in the first place. Plus there’s the unfortunate and stupid notion that trading “up” to be a guy is more understandable than us saps that would give up our glorious manhood to be a mere woman. (ugh) How they will help will be a bit different, and more logical, I think. For example, FtM bottom surgery sucks and there’s plenty of good reasons to not get it at the moment that don’t make them any less of a man, so why require SRS to change genders? Since it’d be difficult to make the law different depending on “direction” it’d be a boon to transwomen who don’t want or can’t afford SRS, as well.

    Basically if this was some kind of war, transwomen would be the marines. We bust down the door, dazzle everyone, and get the attention and knock out the large, intimidating, but weakly defended forces. Transmen are the infantry, going in and methodically removing enemy forces that the marines aren’t as well equipped to handle. πŸ™‚

  3. BotenAnna says:

    I’m mostly optimistic about where things are headed, but I see a rough road to get there. Having gay rights advance so much within my lifetime gives me hope, and recently there has been minor but promising positive depictions of trans people in the media–see Dirty Sexy Money, Ugly Betty, and Transamerican Love Story. I’ve become a huge fan of TLS because Calpernia is extremely likable and down to earth, and a good role model. While it’s on a gay-only cable channel and doesn’t command the audience it would on a network, it’s a great start and gets a good amount of mainstream attention. Plus, the gay community isn’t exactly transphobia-free either πŸ™

    I bring this up not as a raging fangirl of the show/Calpernia, but because much like with gay acceptance, the key lies in positive depictions in popular culture. I really hope that TLS, Money, and Betty are a sign that there is more to come in the realm of positive media depiction. Another advantage is that the fundies that fought against positive gay portrayals especially in the 90s have much weaker ground for trans women–with gays they could base their attack on gay characters being defined by a type of sex, and sex being dirty and gross and far too taboo to talk about when THERE MIGHT BE CHILDREN LISTENING just like, totally destroys morals and stuff. While I’m sure they’ll try, they look far more ridiculous attacking a sweet, humble, and undoubtedly feminine figure like Calpernia Addams and their attempts will backfire faster and harder.

    It’s sad that along the way there will be more hate crimes, more murders that are enragingly sad enough without them being buried by the media as well, and more of all of us personally being in danger. However, things will get better, and within our lifetime. Keep blogging, keep talking, keep writing your representatives, keep living in a way that makes you happy. It all matters.

  4. StacyM says:

    Actually, civil rights protections for LGB *and* T people were passed in Minneapolis in 1975.

    I suspect that the culture is a wee bit different out there. Guess where I’m moving to at the end of the month? πŸ˜‰

  5. StacyM says:

    Actually, civil rights protections for LGB *and* T people were passed in Minneapolis in 1975.

    I suspect that the culture is a wee bit different out there. Guess where I’m moving to at the end of the month? πŸ˜‰

  6. Stellewriter says:

    We see children suffering, just like as we had in our youth, and our guilt is over our inability to stop it. However, the world has progessed from teasing and bashing freaks, to wanton killlng. So now, it is two victims instead of one. We can blame ourselves, or we can put the blame back in the hands of those who are parents and have responsibility. I have seen nothing in the media regarding the home life of the killers. Nothing has been revealed to give a hint of what kind of household or social background of the parents or perhaps gang friends. Where does a kid learn bigotry, and where does a kid learn to use a gun to settle insecurity and disregard for others? Where does a kid learn to hate and have malice?

    Yes, we have a new generation of children facing a life of suffering and terror, as well as a new generation of terroristic bigots and hate mongers.

    Unfortunately, Barney Frank and HRC will never admit to the blood on their hands. However, the transgender community, who is a victim, should not accept responsibility for the crimes of others.

  7. Stellewriter says:

    We see children suffering, just like as we had in our youth, and our guilt is over our inability to stop it. However, the world has progessed from teasing and bashing freaks, to wanton killlng. So now, it is two victims instead of one. We can blame ourselves, or we can put the blame back in the hands of those who are parents and have responsibility. I have seen nothing in the media regarding the home life of the killers. Nothing has been revealed to give a hint of what kind of household or social background of the parents or perhaps gang friends. Where does a kid learn bigotry, and where does a kid learn to use a gun to settle insecurity and disregard for others? Where does a kid learn to hate and have malice?

    Yes, we have a new generation of children facing a life of suffering and terror, as well as a new generation of terroristic bigots and hate mongers.

    Unfortunately, Barney Frank and HRC will never admit to the blood on their hands. However, the transgender community, who is a victim, should not accept responsibility for the crimes of others.

  8. Peg says:

    I share your fear, for you, for myself, and especially for our youth. We’ve must pull together, stick together, and if unable to fully educate the masses, freedom must be legislated, in no uncertain terms.

    I don’t care what people think about me, I still deserve the same rights and freedoms as any human being.

    Thank you for a powerful emotional piece.

    Best regards!
    Peg

  9. Peg says:

    I share your fear, for you, for myself, and especially for our youth. We’ve must pull together, stick together, and if unable to fully educate the masses, freedom must be legislated, in no uncertain terms.

    I don’t care what people think about me, I still deserve the same rights and freedoms as any human being.

    Thank you for a powerful emotional piece.

    Best regards!
    Peg

  10. Mercedes Allen says:

    A correction:

    The article was an emotional moment, so I did blunder through one part. “The first GRS surgeries were performed in the 1940s, and with the rise of Nazi Germany and its pogroms, the invention of β€œstealth” soon followed” — by GRS, I’d meant the modern vaginaplasty as we know it, and I stated the wrong decade (it was the 1920s). My apologies.

  11. Mercedes Allen says:

    A correction:

    The article was an emotional moment, so I did blunder through one part. “The first GRS surgeries were performed in the 1940s, and with the rise of Nazi Germany and its pogroms, the invention of β€œstealth” soon followed” — by GRS, I’d meant the modern vaginaplasty as we know it, and I stated the wrong decade (it was the 1920s). My apologies.

  12. Battybattybats says:

    It doesn’t sound normal to me yet, and I intend it never to if I can do anything about it.

  13. Battybattybats says:

    It doesn’t sound normal to me yet, and I intend it never to if I can do anything about it.

    • StacyM says:

      Actually, civil rights protections for LGB *and* T people were passed in Minneapolis in 1975.

      I suspect that the culture is a wee bit different out there. Guess where I’m moving to at the end of the month? πŸ˜‰

  14. Felix says:

    Isn’t it alarming how a phrase like, “the latest transgender teen murder” sounds quite normal after a while? πŸ™

  15. Felix says:

    Isn’t it alarming how a phrase like, “the latest transgender teen murder” sounds quite normal after a while? πŸ™

  16. Battybattybats says:

    It’s not paying a price.
    That would require a purchase of some kind, a deal done, something owed.

    No this is an oppression, a punishment. It’s like a robbery, it’s like an unfair tax. This is imposed, stolen, not owed or purchased.

    These victims aren’t responsible. We stopped saying women were responsible for being attacked, we stopped saying they were paying the price for dressing provocatively, we howled with outrage at the Mufti who when discussing a series of gang rapes used the analogy of unveiled women as uncovered meat and men as cats.

    These victims don’t owe anyone. Freedom of expression is a basic fundamental right.

    While I was reading about the latest transgender teen murder today an old song by the Manic Street Preachers came on the tv in the background. ‘And if you tolerate this, then your children will be next’.

  17. Battybattybats says:

    It’s not paying a price.
    That would require a purchase of some kind, a deal done, something owed.

    No this is an oppression, a punishment. It’s like a robbery, it’s like an unfair tax. This is imposed, stolen, not owed or purchased.

    These victims aren’t responsible. We stopped saying women were responsible for being attacked, we stopped saying they were paying the price for dressing provocatively, we howled with outrage at the Mufti who when discussing a series of gang rapes used the analogy of unveiled women as uncovered meat and men as cats.

    These victims don’t owe anyone. Freedom of expression is a basic fundamental right.

    While I was reading about the latest transgender teen murder today an old song by the Manic Street Preachers came on the tv in the background. ‘And if you tolerate this, then your children will be next’.