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

Monday, March 29, 2010

First All-woman Firefighter Recruit Class in the Nation!

With the first all-female firefighter recruit class in the country, Eugene rocks! Women are well-represented even in leadership positions within the Fire & EMS Department, and now this. Read about it here.

When you get down to it, it's not the size of the dog in the fight – it's the size of the fight in the dog! And it's pretty cool to live in a place like this.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Our Needs – and Yours

I started blogging about marriage roughly 2.5 year ago, during the campaign about Proposition 8, because a dear friend who had recently legally married her wife of twelve years was afraid she'd lose that special status. I began this endeavor by trying to use Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to "create a quality of connection which allows everyone's needs to be met." To that end, I engaged with the multiple posters to "The Opine Editorials" (and others), determined that I would find a way to connect and confident that NVC could guide us to solution(s) that would enable everyone's needs to be met.

I was na├»ve. After months of this engagement – after exploring the meaning of marriage more deeply than I had imagined, after trying every means I could think of to connect – I finally realized that I could not connect meaningfully with these people. They had a single story about me, and that is that because I am a transsexual, I am insane and depraved; because of their innate moral superiority and patriarchal wisdom, my needs really don't matter to them. I could not even connect to the degree that they recognized the pain, frustration, and anger that discrimination creates.

As I've considered this with the passage of time, I've come to see that this is part of the dominator relationship paradigm our culture has adopted since the first Goddess-based civilizations fell to the patriarchal warlords from the deserts and steppes. (For background, read "The Chalice & the Blade," by Riane Eisler.) This power-over system is what NVC attempts to replace, with a partnership model of relationships in which people work together to solve problems, rather than trying to impose solutions with force. In this domination system, a belief in one's own moral and/or innate superiority is essential to justify the oppression of others, whether due to race, sex, gender, religion, or sexual orientation – and judgmental religion is essential to justify that superiority. This can be seen even in so-called atheist systems, such as the Soviet Union.

The tragedy is that all the pain of oppression, and the immense energy expended to maintain or overcome power-over, is unnecessary. I still believe, with all my heart, that solutions that meet everyone's needs can be found. I have blogged with other marriage equality supporters that we would not insist on gay marriage if other means could be found to allow gays and lesbians full participation in society, including legal recognition of their relationships and families on an even basis with marriage. What I have found instead, is that those who oppose marriage equality also despise gay people. They have no interest, no willingness, to allow gays and lesbians full participation in society, on any level. Even as they often hide behind high-sounding declarations of love and tolerance, they hold the being of gays and lesbians to be depraved, evil, and undeserving of any social benefit. Again and again, I have seen them tell us (LGBT people) that our needs are met, even as we express our pain about our unmet needs. It is rare, though certainly not unheard of, for them to even recognize the pain that LGBT people experience because of the oppression and discrimination we experience. They claim that their advocacy is "for the children," but since every instance includes refusal to allow gays and lesbians full participation in society, regardless of the effect on LGBT children and the children of LGBT parents, I cannot discern sincerity. Because I cannot discern a place in which their advocacy of children is separate from their hatred and contempt of homosexuality and gender dysphoria, I cannot believe that those elements are separate; they are embedded with each other, and so their advocacy for children is not objective, but embedded, and born in, the cultural assumptions and domination paradigm of patriarchal religion – assumptions which my experience and education show to be false. I cannot accept that as a model for a society in which my own children grow and develop.

Over the course of my blogging I have shifted. As my frustration, grief, and despair deepen, I find anger, deep and hot, rise from those unmet needs. Along with my frustrations in blogging, I find it in relations with certain co-workers, who, even under a veneer of friendliness, yet make their contempt plain. I feel it in the frustration of my battle, for almost two years, to obtain equal access to health care under my employer's health plan. It burns hot with the challenges my children experience in the schoolyard. It rises from the social injustice of our dominator society in racism, in sexism, misogyny, patriarchy. And it's become harder and harder to keep that anger out of more recent blogposts.

The truth is, I don't know how to create a quality of connection that will enable everyone's needs to be met with religious conservatives and marriage-equality opponents, and I cannot find the status quo to be acceptable. I would like to find a non-violent solution, and toward that goal I'm still going to work. But I've found no success, and I have neither the patience nor the charisma of Gandhi. I feel torn between the models of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. I am determined to do all I can to transform our culture to a partnership paradigm of relations; but I refuse to be a victim of oppression, and I refuse to accept less than full participation in society for anyone – the homeless, minorities, women, homosexuals, and, most of all, my own children – the children of a transsexual.

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
Beloved's.
~Hafiz