Saturday, February 11, 2006

Abuse and Confusion in the Trans World

We've noted the confusion among "trans" people before. But any time we read their own words, we're disturbed and saddened, both for people already drawn into this, and all the young people being led into this unhappy world by our high schools and gay clubs.

Quotes from the founder of the monthly "trans" event called "GenderCrash" (see recent profile in Bay Windows) illustrate this confusion. (Identified as "he" in the article, the photo appears to be of a woman):

An organizer and outreach coordinator for The Network/La Red (a Boston area domestic violence organization serving lesbian, and bi women and transgender people), and an abuse survivor, Scott admits he’s seen his share of trauma. He says one of the most difficult things about his work with The Network/La Red is raising awareness about domestic violence within the GBLT community.

“I think we can have conversations about violence that happens to us from outside the community but when it comes to violence within the community, people get really hush-hush and want to justify and excuse it away. And we just can’t do that.”

Scott says its critical for gay, lesbian and trans people to accept that partner abuse happens in our community — because we are likely to experience it ourselves. “With GLBT folks — across the board — we see one in four being a victim of partner abuse at one point in their lives.”

Early trans activism, Scott argues, revolved around issues of older, white middle class MTFs [male-to-females] who pressed for such rights as having insurance companies cover medical transitions. But working class trans people and trans people of color, Scott says, don’t have the luxury of those concerns. “Their main issue is getting a job and having a place to live. We can’t skip over that step. We need to start there and work our way up.”

“We are still a pretty racially divided city, both mainstream and GLBT and you can see that playing out in the trans community as well. I think that in some places that transwomen have been accepted into some lesbian and dyke spaces like the Dyke March and other things. And then in other spaces it’s not so accepted.

There are definitely gay FTMs [female-to-males] who are in the gay male community that have made a space for themselves and aren’t necessarily spending a lot of time in the FTM community but are in the non-trans gay male community. So I think it’s like having to choose which label is going to be predominant. There’s not a lot of space for someone to be their whole selves. There is [still] homophobia within the trans community; there’s transphobia in the gay and lesbian community.”