fuck the gender police

Today is the National Transgender Day of Remembrance, and if there's one thing I regret about having had a plague cough/virus for a week and a half, it's not having had the time/energy to write about this week of events. There were movies, meetings and talks, and damned if I didn't sit on my couch coughing my way through all of them. Hope some of you got out for them!

The culmination comes tonight in the Atrium Building, where I may be (though the plague's not entirely over):



From the City of Eugene's website

Why do we have a Trans Day of Remembrance? Well, it's because there's an awful lot of violence against trans people. There's an awful lot of gender-policing out there that means real, sustained, horrific violence against people who don't meet some culturally imposed and totally fucked idea about gender norms.

One estimate says about 160 people were murdered this year. And that's a lowball, says the report, from Transgender Europe:

Yet, we know, even these high numbers are only a fraction of the real figures. The truth is much worse. These are only the reported cases which could be found through internet research. There is no formal data and it is impossible to estimate the numbers of unreported cases.

And that's not all. Today, a young trans person writes at Feministing about suicide rates among trans folks. This is such a painful reminder that just living in this world is an everyday hell for many people.

Before I moved to Eugene, I used to do a lot more activist work, including running a fair number of groups at the Women's Resource and Action Center at the U of Iowa. The main group I ran was called The Gender Puzzle. We used Kate Bornstein's funny, smart My Gender Workbook to talk and write about everything from the gender police to the difference between gender and biological sex. I met a lot of people who identified as gender-queer, young straight women who simply wanted to investigate what the heck gender was supposed to mean to them, and, of course, trans folks. Some people were barely beginning to explore their transitions from male to female or female to male, and it was such a privilege to know them, to learn that a Mary Kay consultant might be a transwoman's resource while a young transman could get support from his family to be his real self.

At the time, I was a columnist for the UI's Daily Iowan. I remembered how hard the winter holidays were for me with my family as I was coming out as a lesbian, and I knew they'd be harder on some of my trans friends. Some were parents; some had to go home to their parents; some were staying away from home so they didn't have to deal with telling their families who they were. Some had very religious families with people who rejected them out of hand. Some were told how wrong they were. And that filled me with massive fury — come on, they were the bravest people I knew! They survived long years living in bodies that didn't feel like their own. They survived. So I wrote a column — one of those things that just pours out of you, feels like it was almost written for you — that ran in the DI on Dec. 1, 2000. I know this is all braggy, but to my mind, it's the best thing I've ever written. I mean, FUCK THE GENDER POLICE and all, but this wasn't for them — it was for the people I loved.

The DI doesn't keep online archives back that far (for no reason that I can tell), but luckily it was reposted (heh, without my permission, but so what? It benefitted me!) in its entirety a couple of other places, like here.

And now here, after the jump.

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