When it comes to light that I’ve made the switch, oh – not that one, but the apparently even more mind boggling and scandalous switch from left to somewhere on the right — my left leaning friends will always exclaim, “BUT THOSE PEOPLE HATE YOU!”
And, what they mean is, you’re a transsexual, those right wing people hate you! I remain calm and state that actually, I have not encountered that really, well, not as they imagine I have. However, I have to admit, after a sigh, that yes, I do see blog posts now and then that appear to indicate less than a — perfect understanding of transsexuality. OK, damn it, yes, even a couple of my favorite bloggers have expressed disgust and confusion, and condemnation, on a couple of occasions. Maybe, it is possible then that some of them do – hate me or hate what I am. However, I don’t know if I would take it that far, to “hate” — but certainly, a few are disapproving and have weird ass ideas about trans people.
Of course, since I’ve been transitioned for over 21 years, however one counts these things, I am possibly a bit less sensitive. I am a man first and foremost, although I got there in ways that most men do not. I am confident of my masculinity and manhood, even while remaining aware that I am different. And being different in and of itself is not so bad. After all, there are many things about me that are “different”. I am half American Indian, half Latino (Hispano) and even so – light skinned and with light eyes and even – when I leave it alone, light hair (before it grayed). I am a poet and punk and bohemian and I prize difference and individuality, even eccentricity. I mean, I’m not the run of the mill non-trans straight white male if there is such a thing. And, yes, I have nothing, against straight white males, I am often mistaken for one. And, I am — straight, or at least, heterosexual. So, I have grown a bit of a thicker skin over the years. Like most men, I’ve learned ya gotta roll with the punches and a “victim” attitude is not real manly. The majority of people don’t sympathize.
I am also aware that many kinds of people are confused by or are upset by me, not just the right. The left wants me to “queer gender” and just “queer” period. I can understand that my difference makes me “some kind of queer” but I also feel just like an average straight dude a lot of the time, and not queer gendered at all. And, for me, that works just fine. My life project is not to create a world without binary gender, and I actually have little interest in such a world. However, I certainly don’t mind if someone else feels “non-binary” or gender queer, but it could also be – that we are in two different worlds, even if in some ways, our worlds are related.
I have always been in awe of the ability of the human sexual imagination to create and generate possibility. So, I respect actually, the gender queers of the world. However, I also understand that all possibilities are limited by the actual world we inhabit of flesh and blood. For me, transsexuality is very much about flesh and blood.
I have radically altered, changed my biological sex, and for me, that transformation is the root of my understanding of transsexuality. Not so much an identity as a process, although the process does help to contextualize my identity as male. And, while it is an imperfect process and helps to create a complex identity, that male identity is also more coherent, than some give it credit for. Additionally, the process of sex change is again, simply a process and does not dictate politics. That process of sex change does not make one a Democrat or a Republican or a left winger or a right winger, it is not a cult or a political party. It is a sex change. (I’ve said this elsewhere, like in a book I wrote)
But that’s an aside… but it is by way of background to my perspective on this perplexing matter of allies and people who are, not necessarily allies. I can write more on this as the blog goes on, it is beyond a single entry.
What I mean to say mainly is this — it is true that sometimes, the people I otherwise agree with or even admire do not apparently understand or approve of transexual people. I was shocked today to see this post by Kathy Shaidle, someone I have featured here on Liberty Wolf. I was thrilled when Kathy noticed one of my first posts, one where I pulled a story about Johnny Rotten being an apparent Israel supporter from her blog. We both have at least a couple of things in common, we were punk rockers in a past life, and I can attest that the punk never really rubs off. And, we are both former leftists. But here she writes and quotes from a news story:
‘Human rights’ are crap, and transexuals are sick, lonely and confused
A renowned human rights lawyer allegedly pushed to his death under a Tube train was living a secret life as a transsexual escort.
David Burgess, 63, who was also known as Sonia, offered his services on a website, where he advertised himself as a ‘pre-op’ transsexual escort looking for paid encounters with men.
As you can see there is a link there to a wrenching story about a trans woman who was murdered by being pushed underneath a train in the UK. This is apparently being investigated as a murder and a suspect, a young woman, is already in custody. The article refers to the trans woman as “he” and I was unsure as to whether she was transitioned or cross living part-time and still living as male, but – it does appear that she had transitioned (although relatively recently) and also– apparently, she was a secret prostitute or escort. The paper was simply being disrespectful and sensationalistic. Of course, sex workers or escorts/prostitutes are often killed and their lives are seen as next to worthless. This is true regardless of whether they are trans women or non-trans women.
What struck me about this particular post was that it appeared to be so callous about the loss of a human being’s life, someone who was apparently murdered. I was shocked that her death was not noted as being brutal and wrong, nd that she was simply written off as “confused”. As though transsexuals deserve to die if we are confused or lonely. This woman, no matter what one may think of her life or identity, was just murdered in a horrible way. She has friends and family, and I am stunned to see her death written about like this.
Certainly, this is what my dismayed friends on the left have been warning me about all along: “those people hate you!” You can’t be on their side, they hate you and — even, would sneer over your dead body if someone killed you for being trans. Or even if someone just killed you. They hate you that much. (it has not been established that Sonja was murdered for being trans)
Now, I know Sonja, was a Human Rights attorney, and maybe this explains at least some of Shaidle’s vitriol. While it looks as though she did some work for cases involving North Korea, work that is likely to be a very good thing — the association with Human Rights are often grounds for suspicion given the Canadian Human Rights Commissions and their attack on speech. I can well understand Shaidle’s dislike of Human Rights attorneys and the machinery of Human Rights activism. I mean, she has been brought before the Canadian Human Rights Commission for hate speech, and now, her husband is also being sued for his anti-Section 13 activism and the contents of his blog Blazingcatfur. His crime? He linked to the website of Mark Steyn. The story here: :
Richard Warman Sues Blazingcatfur for Linking to Mark Steyn
Now, Shaidle did not get pulled in for speech against transsexuals, like the remarks above. What happened was more of a confusing amalgam of weirdness from one former HRC employee named Richard Warman who is using Section 13 for all its worth. He’s also sued Ezra Levant, a Canadian publisher, for publishing the Danish Mohammed cartoons. He lost that one, but it was a long three year circus. Here from Ezra Levant:
The Circus of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Free Speech
That post is from 2008, but it is a detailed rundown of the effect of Section 13 and how some, like Warman, intend to use it to shut down diversity of opinion in Canada. And, when I say diversity of opinion, I mean just that.
While I find Shaidle’s remarks about the horrible murder of this transsexual woman in the UK hateful and wrong, I also will defend her right to state her beliefs in her blog, or to write them in articles, or to put them in emails to friends. While I disagree and am personally mortified, I also recognize that she has a right to her speech, just as I have the right to disagree on this blog. The remedy is not censorship but more speech. Otherwise, I have no illusion that my right to speech, might be curtailed as well at some point in the future, and maybe, right now if I was a Canadian.
Thankfully, I am an American, and I have the protection of the First Amendment. But, we live in times when the term is “hate speech” is increasingly used to shut people up in spite of that. When people are bullied when they express opinions not in line with certain sensibilities, right or wrong. There is always that threat that speech could be curtailed and on campuses, it is – often unconstitutionally. There are organizations like FIRE that fight that fight and usually win.
Recently, here in the USA, in another recent blog post, Shaidle also clued me into another interesting battle around speech. Radio show hot Dan Fagen was pulled off the air after Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski threatened him with legal action for “illegal electioneering” when he satirized her write-in campaign for Senator. Sarah Palin, in a recent Facebook entry, is taking up his cause. According to Palin, this type of on air satire is not electioneering but an exercise of free speech. She could be right, but Fagen was pulled off the air because lawsuits are costly and he is not on a radio station with deep pockets. Sarah Palin writes of this on her Facebook page here: Lisa, are you going to shut down my Facebook page for writing this? . I quote:
“Yesterday, Lisa Murkowski’s hired guns threatened radio host Dan Fagan, and more importantly, the station that airs Fagan’s show, with legal action for allegedly illegal “electioneering.” The station, unlike Murkowski, who is flush with millions of dollars from vested corporate interests, does not have a budget for a legal defense. So it did what any small market station would do when threatened by Beltway lawyers charging $500 to $1000 an hour – they pulled Dan Fagan off the air.
Does all this sound heavy handed? It is. It is an interference with Dan Fagan’s constitutional right to free speech. It is also a shocking indictment against Lisa Murkowski. How low will she go to hold onto power? First, she gets the Division of Elections to change its write-in process – a process that Judge Pfiffner correctly determined had been in place without change for 50 years. She is accepting financial support from federal contractors, an act that is highly questionable and now pending before the FEC. And today, she played her last card. She made it clear that if you disagree with her and encourage others to exercise their civic rights, she’ll take you off the air.
The concept of “electioneering” involves several issues, but typically refers to campaigning at the polls, which is appropriately banned. Under federal law, it can also mean paying for advertising on broadcast media during a federal election cycle, and it requires disclosures if done by groups and corporations. Fagan used satire to mock Murkowski’s write-in efforts and encouraged Alaskans to run as write-in candidates. That is not illegal. That is free speech.
Individuals like Dan Fagan have a fundamental right to speak their minds without threats from the incumbent Senator from Alaska. It is hard to find a constitutional right Americans cherish more than the right to free speech.”
She continues to say that Fagan has often insulted her and her family in the past, he is no friend of Sarah Palin. His remarks have been hurtful and possibly quite unfair, here:
“Dan Fagan has not always agreed with me, but I will gladly defend his right to speak freely on his radio show, which he has often used to criticize me. In fact, Fagan has actually used his radio show to attack and insult me, my husband, my children, and my family in just about every way possible. He was especially insulting to my son, who left for a war zone to defend Fagan’s right to attack our family. But when I was his governor, I never would have dreamed of threatening his right to free speech. I support him in this fight because this D.C. Beltway thuggery, as exemplified by Lisa Murkowski’s latest threat, is ruining our country. ”
I agree with Palin that free speech must be defended in this country even if the speaker is someone we violently disagree with, or find personally hateful. Even if they insult your family, or — your manhood or womanhood. Because without free speech, the gates are opened for all kinds of governmental abuses and eventually the dumbing down of debate. As a writer, I understand the stakes are high. As a trans person and a member of at least two more minorities, I know that censoring “hate speech” will only work against my interests and even the interests of my group in the long run. It is all about who has the power and who gets to say something is officially off-limits, and that tends to shift with the winds.
I wish Kathy Shaidle’s husband all the best in fighting this suit, and I urge anybody who wishes to support her and her husband Arnie in this cause to contribute here: Contribute here and read his thanks ahead of time from Blazing Cat Fur
Maybe someday Kathy and I can talk about trans people and the whole kettle of fish can be sorted out in a different way. Or, maybe not. Maybe if I’m pushed into the path of a moving BART train she will sneer that at the time of my demise my bedroom was found to be a den of chaos, I was not working and died dead broke with a small three legged dog as my only companion, and of course, it should come as no surprise then that I was — transsexual!
However, let it be known even so that I was not a fan of the Human Rights Commission in Canada, and I am, in fact, quite suspicious of them here or anywhere they pop up. And, I sincerely hope that Canada rids itself of Section 13 before I get my dual citizenship (as a Canadian Native from my mother’s side, I’m eligible) and some loony uber-left feminist calls me a misogynist, woman hating, notorious gender queer hating trans man and hauls me in front of the Canadian Human Rights Commission for “hate speech”. Yes, that happens. The vitriol runs not only one way, but from the left as well. Why do you think I started reading right wing blogs? Hah.
Or, maybe, upon obtaining my Canadian citizenship, I will be hauled before the HRC for — linking to Kathy Shaidle!
Stranger things have happened.