Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Self-Preservation: Why I’m a Liberal #2

I'm a trans woman, a full-blown member of the LGBT community. By default, my choice of primary political party affiliation must be Democrat. The GOP has established itself in opposition – even violent animosity – against me and every other gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans person in the country. I can't understand the Log Cabin Republicans, gay members of the party that desires to oppress them. They're like the gay versions of House Negroes.

Regardless of what conservatism may have meant in the past, it currently stands against equal rights and justice, firmly on the side of oppression and judgment. Conservatives have placed themselves in opposition to Thomas Jefferson's defining statement of American values: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Every effort of LGBT people to indulge in these rights, which conservatives take for granted in regards to themselves, is met with determined resistance by them. The oppression – frequently but not always unintended – is often invisible for these conservatives. In the same way, many white people have no understanding of how our culture oppresses black people, and many men are clueless about how it oppresses women. Those individuals who do not take this stand are drowned out and neutralized by those that do. Votes count for something, and actions speak louder than words.

This is not to say that conservatives have bad intentions. Often, their intent is only to support the institutions that have supported them, in our culture, for decades or centuries – religion, law, tradition, marriage, family, and so on. I have no trouble with that; in fact, I support them, too. The difference lies in that I believe there is room for all of us. I support those institutions not just for the majority, but for all of us.

When it comes to LGBT issues – to allowing gays to marry, to antidiscrimination laws, to universal health care, to fair taxation, etc. – I believe that we create a better society when all are welcome within it. I have experienced the social pressure to conform to a norm that is unnatural to me. I know the isolation and desolation of the closet. As a compassionate human being, I want to do all I can to relieve that pain for all. I also believe that the society we will create from granting gays, lesbians, and trans people an equal place at the table, will not be an immoral hell, but a healthier, happier, and more peaceful society. I believe that everyone should have the right to express themselves, not only within the parameters of this nation's First Amendment, but also in respect to the way they present their own gender. I believe that everyone has a right to safety within their own community, and given the bullying and abuse of gender variant children on schoolyards, and the frequency of gay- and trans-bashing incidents, we must counter the demonization of LGBT people wherever we find it. In fact, as a trans woman, I'm an activist just by showing up.

These beliefs are born in the conviction that people do not choose to be gay, or trans. I know I didn't choose to be trans; it was something I fought hard against for 40 years. It's born in an intimate knowledge of my own morality and genuine family values, and in the proximate knowledge I have of the values and morality of the gays, lesbians, and trans people of my acquaintance. It's also born in my own religious conviction, in the words of Jesus: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." "Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you." "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" "God is love."

Ultimately, it comes down to two worldviews. One values unity of culture, the comfort and ease of living in a world where every interaction with another human is predictable – it orients around a status quo; the other values the variety of diversity, enjoys engaging with and is curious about people one doesn't understand, and orients around openness, love, and acceptance. I embrace the second. I also recognize the need for balance. Without some unity of culture, it's hard to find our place in the world, but without diversity, culture is boring and oppressive.

In sum, my liberal views on LGBT issues come from both prior conviction and resistance to discrimination. They come from native belief and self-preservation. But even if native belief weren't there, the needs for safety and self-determination trumps all; even if my beliefs were conservative, I would still ally with liberals in my own defense, and in the defense of those who share my condition.

* Standard note: I value dissenting opinions as crucial to the maintenance of freedom and democracy. While I would like to write convincingly, to influence opinion and sway the balance of power my way, I also consider the conservative viewpoint to be important and meaningful. I do, however, believe that political discourse does not have to be nasty and vicious. I prefer to listen to and respect my political opponents. I ask the same from them.


David Carrel said...

"In sum, my liberal views on LGBT issues come from both prior conviction and resistance to discrimination. They come from native belief and self-preservation. But even if native belief weren't there, the needs for safety and self-determination trumps all; even if my beliefs were conservative, I would still ally with liberals in my own defense, and in the defense of those who share my condition."

I think that a lot of conservatives would write the same thing when it comes to issues such as abortion, gay rights and probably some more issues as well. Unfortunately both sides take those issues they disagree with and then decide that since they disagree on those, they must disagree on everything else.

anne said...

Hey girl,

You know my stand--each of us must be responsible. To allow another to act as a proxy starts to take away that responsibility. But I'm way, way, way out there, politically! That, too, you know. With the way things are, we are all oppressed, even the self-righteous, right-wing, money grubbers who are jealous of everyone, even those who look and think like them.

So I begin with each person I meet and just try to act at that root level. Do not buy gas. Try to buy local food. Do not spend on more than I need. Do not go into debt. Do not pay bank fees. Etc., etc.

But I gave up long ago trying to convince anyone. All I can do is set an example.

So here's an e-hug for Seda, no matter what she appears to be, for she is what she says she is, not what we say she is.

Be there, girl.

Fannie said...

Beautiful post, Seda.

Seda said...

I can see that in the case of abortion - not self-preservation, but preservation of life, which is similar in that deep needs for safety aren't met. However, I'd have a hard time seeing how making it illegal to get me (or a gay or lesbian) fired just for being different threatens the safety of anyone. Or making it illegal to evict me or turn down a loan just because I'm trans. Or how about making it so that we pay equal taxes? How does that threaten your safety or well-being? Even recognizing our marriages - that may frighten you with the possibility of some future degradation of society, but there is no immediate harm (and that degradation may not occur - won't, in my opinion). It does not affect your marriage, or your family - unless you've got a family member who is lesbian, and can finally marry the woman she loves.

I think in that case, what conservatives would call self-preservation - what they fear - is not the loss of safety, but the loss of power. When gays gain equal rights, conservatives no longer have the power to shut us out of society. They don't have the power to make us invisible. And so everyone can see our ethics, our morality, and our humanity.

As for disagreeing, I think we'd be better off to have a different electoral system, to allow more political parties. Then you can form coalitions around issues, instead of just dividing social issues into two monolithic opposing camps and ignoring issues of corporate malfeasance, empire, and military excess. The fact that we are the first modern democracy should give us a clue: we're not the best democracy, just the most primitive. The Founding Fathers knew this - they knew they were making an experiment, and that they were pretty sure of not getting it right the first time. That's why they made provisions to amend the Constitution.

Hope all is well with you, and the baby is doing great!

Thanks for the hug *here's* one back!

Yes, all we can do is be an example. Tend our own garden, so to speak. But it is enough.

Thanks, Fannie!

cheapofraud1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seda said...

Sorry, Cheapo, this is not a commercial blog, and I don't print ads in my comment section. Good luck elsewhere, though. said...

New essay "The Gates Affair:Why We Care" yours to publish
Dear readers and webmasters,

Author Daniel Bruno Sanz has written an essay about Gatesgate.  We encourage its publication and distribution.
                                                          Navas S.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
- 4th Amendment to the The Constitution of the United States of America

arab girlscool said...

This is such a nice addition thanks!!!
عرب كول
شات صوتي إنحراف كام سعودي كول شات صوتي مغربي

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our