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Minority (LGBTQ Edition)

A post by Jamie

Some time ago, I overheard someone say that people shouldn’t refer to marginalized groups by calling them this or that “minority”. I didn’t catch the reason why they said this at the time. And then I found myself sitting in the theatre at a queer film festival. The film was about creative non-fiction writers telling their coming out stories, and at one point, an individual who had become a queer radio host after coming out as transgender started to talk about the word minority. She said that referring to a group of people as a minority has the effect of directly minimizing their needs as much as possible. Thus, when the first major pushes for LGBTQ equality began, heterosexuals everywhere could be heard declaring that gays and lesbians are a minority. And the inevitable declarations of “why should we?” followed. Why should we change the way we talk to protect your delicate feelings? Why should we change this law so that you aren’t thrown in prison for holding hands in public? Why should we de-classify same-sex love as a mental illness? Why should we even care? In other words, you’re a minority. You don’t matter as much as everyone else. Stop trying to inconvenience us and just get over it.

This may come as a surprise to heterosexuals of this generation, but the same thing is happening within the LGBTQ movement, as trans* people demand to be acknowledged as human beings, to have access to better and more humane healthcare, and to receive better and more humane treatment from all of society (but especially from our so-called “allies”). This is what that radio host was talking about in the documentary. When she came out as transgender, people demanded to know of her, all sorts of “Why should we?” Gays and lesbians have been becoming an echo chamber for the same series of “Why should we?” that were used against them by heterosexuals, and it’s all pointed squarely at trans* people. The radio host stated, quite plainly, that this needs to stop. If it wasn’t a good enough answer for gays and lesbians demanding equality, it isn’t a good enough answer for trans* people demanding equality, either.

But why exactly is this idea of a minority so problematic (it’s statistically true that there are fewer LGBTQs than cisgenders and straights)? How do we answer all the associated questions starting with the words “Why should we?” How does this work? The answer to all of these questions is the purpose of this blog post today. And it starts with acknowledging that one of the reasons LGBTQs were (and still are) considered a minority in the first place: a lot of them were (and still are) entrenched in the closet, because being visible could (and still does) bring about dangerous repercussions. Not only does any out LGBTQ face the possibility of violence and homophobia that can further expose them to hostility or violence from other individuals or groups (e.g., does the Westboro Baptist Church come to mind for anyone else, here?), but they are  also likely to face barriers to securing housing, gainful employment, family support, support from friends, access to healthcare (e.g., one pharmacy in Vancouver, BC is legally allowed to maintain a trans-exclusive policy, enforced entirely upon visual inspection alone), and access to emergency shelter and trauma services (e.g., Vancouver Rape Relief Society won a BC Human Rights Tribunal legal battle, gaining the right to maintain blatantly bigoted policies towards trans* people by repeatedly publicly humiliating and shaming a transwoman).

What choice does someone left in this position really have, but to either deliberately get caught in the act of committing a crime so that they wind up in jail (a roof over their head and three squares a day), or to do whatever else it takes just to stay warm and suppress their appetite when they don’t have access to food (i.e., illicit drug use and sex work)? And how is that going to help them or anyone else over the long term? People who experience marginalization to this extreme rarely gain the social freedom necessary to work their way back into society from the fringes. And I can tell you from my direct experience, that even when a person pushed that far does make it back out again, that experience is with them for the rest of their life.

When I first learned that same-sex intimacy was actually a crime in Canada until 1969, and that systematic censorship of LGBTQ literature has only recently begun to finally wear off (somewhat), it put things into perspective. Then I learned what inhumane “psychiatric” treatments gays and lesbians were subjected to, for experiencing same-sex attraction until it was finally de-classified as a mental disorder in 1973. And then I learned about what was happening to intersex children in North America until this injustice finally became sufficiently visible to the general public in the 1990s, to generate enough social pressure to stop it.

And you know what else I found out about? Innumerable gays and lesbians (even in my current home of Vancouver, BC) who had sought sex reassignment even after same-sex love was de-criminalized and de-classified as a mental illness, because they couldn’t change who they were attracted to but felt enormous social pressure to socially pass for as straight as possible (many of whom transitioned back again in the 90s). Because de-criminalizing and de-classifying homosexuality just isn’t enough to make it socially acceptable — social attitudes need to change too, and changing a law isn’t like waving a magic wand that all of a sudden makes LGBTQs a socially desired population. This back-and-forth (and sometimes-back-again) transitioning still happens today, though perhaps for more complex reasons in many present-day circumstances (individual mileage may vary). This is just one more thing that is used as an excuse against all trans* people, to keep structuring gate-keeping policies so as to make medical sex re-assignment as inaccessible to as many people as possible.

And if all that didn’t induce a spontaneous emetic episode (or at least a touch of nausea), get ready, because it still gets worse. Trans* people who successfully access medical sex re-assignment are often persistently badgered, by the medical professionals they are forced to engage with, about their sexual orientation at every step of the process (right up to just seconds before they are being wheeled into the operating room). Though regardless of the answer an individual trans* person gives in regards to how they describe their sexual orientation, they cannot be refused for surgery for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual, either before or after re-assignment, they are still interrogated about it as a part of standard gate-keeping protocol. A pre-operative patient who has been, for all intents and purposes, heterosexually inclined for all the years prior to their decision to transition (e.g., a pre-operative transwoman who is sexually attracted to women and has been even before she was came out about her gender identity), is pressured to somehow change who they are attracted to and thus become heterosexual after surgery (e.g., that same transwoman, now post-operative, suddenly becoming attracted to men for the first time in her life). Even in Canada.

Oh yeah. And trans* people who successfully access medical sex re-assignment are actively encouraged by the medical team putting them through all of this gate-keeping bullshit, to step back into the closet when they wake up on the other side of their surgery booking. They are strongly discouraged from ever telling another soul that their flesh-package once looked different, or that they once lived differently because they were under a totally different set of social pressures. They aren’t even offered advice on how they might share their radical life change with an intimate partner in the event they are ready to do so. Not all trans* people want to, and it should always be their choice. But when you are only presented with one option or narrative to live by, you are not being presented a choice because the decision is clearly already made for you. Instead, post-operative trans* people are only ever advised to embrace what amounts to a double-life (not at all unlike how it feels to be in the closet prior to transition), and pretend that their entire life prior to transition just never happened. I’m sure that’s real helpful for dismantling the parts of the social script that promote transphobia and homophobia. Thanks for that, Western medicine!

“The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.”
– Japanese proverb

The fact is that LGBTQs who were discovered anywhere outside prison cells prior to 1969 were treated worse than pedophiles and rapists are now; and it may or may not surprise you to know that people who are HIV+ and dare to have consensual sex are treated no different from pedophiles and rapists today (regardless of their sexual orientation). Take a guess at which group is disproportionately more likely to come up against that barrier too. I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out what “choices” are left for a poz trans* person of colour (who finds themselves registered as a sex offender for no reason other than their HIV status). Think it’s already hard getting a sex change? Try getting one once you’ve been converted. And once you’re done playing around with that idea, I’ll just remind you that in 1948, the United Nations held a convention to define the term genocide, which concluded that forced sterilization fits this definition. And what do you know, but LGBTQs and people living with disabilities have been (and still are) targeted for forced sterilization. This is generally referred to as eugenics. Unless of course, the people you’re sterilizing aren’t legally people, or whose feelings towards people with genital symmetry make them all criminals. Then I guess you’ve found yourself a cute little loophole!

Literally, LGBTQs were (and still are) forcibly confined to minority status. This isn’t to say that gays will produce gay babies; rather, it is to expose the social conditions that threaten to hammer down or remove every “nail” that sticks out. Shouldn’t the issue then be, not precisely what proportion of the population are LGBTQ, but what is being allowed to happen to them (or what is/has been literally sanctioned by the government to happen to them against their will)?

This is why that first person I overheard said that we need to stop talking about marginalized people as “minorities”. This is why gays and lesbians didn’t just stop pushing when straights responded to them with the first “But you’re a minority” and “Why should we even care?” And this is why trans* people aren’t going away when the Gender & Language Police start putting them on notice for failing to present normative and use binary pronouns, either. We might not even be a minority if we weren’t being methodically trampled down, sliced up, and forced to the margins of society, where we are often neglected or policed to death.

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Comments

  1. mynameischeese says

    “one pharmacy in Vancouver, BC is legally allowed to maintain a trans-exclusive policy”

    That’s appalling. I mean, everything else is appalling as well, but this is a kind of appalling I hadn’t heard of before.

  2. says

    Welcome to Unceded Coast Salish Territories, where if you’re Two-spirit (trans*), you’re not legally a person and therefore any decision at your expense is not legally discrimination.

  3. says

    “And then I learned about what was happening to intersex children in North America until this injustice finally became sufficiently visible to the general public in the 1990s, to generate enough social pressure to stop it.”

    Can someone elaborate on this? I’m married to an intersex person (identifying as female), yet am ignorant of past treatment of intersex people.

  4. baal says

    Not to speak on Haifisch’s behalf but I think the inter-sexed used to be assigned “female”, given surgeries to that end and the parents counseled to raise the kid as a hetero normative cis-gendered female. This wasn’t always the best outcome for the child.

  5. Pen says

    Historically, both minorities and majorities have been able to visit horrific treatment on outgroups. An analysis of the conditions that apply and strategies (not necessarily planned) which are used might be helpful.

    I would imagine that saying you’re not part of a minority when you are is less helpful than reminding people of all the myriad reasons why that shouldn’t be relevant. Also that we’re all members of minorities who are dependent on majorities for our treatment. The difference between the oppressed and non-oppressed is what happens, whether it helps or hinders, and whether it’s backed up by social structures and the force of law. The minority of very rich mostly white men keeps getting nice tax breaks. The minority of temporarily pregnant women gets to cut queues and take seats in buses. The minority of transgender people gets the treatment you outlined above.

  6. says

    The minority of transgender people gets the treatment you outlined above.

    The majority of transgender people get the treatment you outlined above.

    Corrected that for you.

  7. says

    Well, for starters, if an infant is born with what is referred to in medicine as a “micropenis”, they are assigned intersex status. There are all sorts of intersex conditions that are radically different in characteristic, and at least one that I know of that does not manifest until the onset of gonadarche in individuals assigned female at birth.

    Secondly, yes, the default medical sex intersex children were assigned to, up until the dramatic increase in social pressure in the 1990s, was female. So an individual born “medically ambiguous” would be subjected to one or more sex reassignment surgeries in their very early life. Many intersex individuals who had been reassigned, who later failed to exhibit expected gender/sex congruence in their social mannerisms, would be reassigned again later in their childhood.

    Thirdly, many intersex children were medically battered without prior parental consultation, and in some cases, explicitly against the consent of one or both parents (this is one of the many ways intersex activists were able to bring their collectively faced injustices to light).

    Now, keep in mind that I’m using the past tense here, but I’m speaking entirely of intersex history in North America. I am not informed enough on the issue at present to speak confidently to whether or not other countries have engaged in these practices or continue to do so.

    On the one hand, Western medicine (in North America) made magnificent advances in sex reassignment surgical techniques, which are still used now to treat transgender patients, because of what was being done to intersex infants and children. On the other hand, what happened to those individuals is a horrific violation that the discourse of Western medicine in North America is all too quick to pretend just never happened. And you can’t go in there even once without risking serious physiological impairment, let alone go back again multiple times to rearrange everything without compromising that individual’s capacities and long-term health.

  8. says

    Oh, and I almost forgot! Parents of reassigned intersex children were discouraged from ever disclosing to their children, what happened to their bodies. That is, parents who knew what had happened to their children — adoptive parents in particular weren’t always informed.

    Not at all unlike doctors actively discouraging trans* people who have just come off the operating room table, to never ever ever tell anyone what happened to their bodies.

  9. says

    Respecting the Vancouver Rape Relief Society case, I’m not entirely clear on what the court ought to have done. If rape victims perceived Nixon as masculine, wouldn’t that be disturbing for traumatized clients looking for a women-only refuge? Doesn’t a rape counseling centre retain the right to avoid engaging volunteers who immediately trigger thoughts of Schrodinger’s rapist in their clients?

  10. says

    Wait… “innumerable” gay men and lesbians went through the immense expense and difficulty (and social stigma!) of transition for the sake of dodging the social stigma of being gay?

    Citation badly needed.

    I have never, ever heard of such a thing occurring in North America, much less so it occurring amongst “innumerable” individuals. And certainly, if your goal is to ESCAPE social stigma, transition is HARDLY the answer. Frankly, this sounds like one of the many really cissexist / transphobic myths cooked up to help justify gatekeeping and the continued belief that there’s some kind of valid distinction between a “real” transsexual person and those who aren’t “really” transsexual and will “only regret it”.

    I mean, that’s what fucking South Park thought the motives of trans women were. Jeez, Jamie.

    This is almost certainly a myth, and an extremely destructive one at that. So please bring some evidence before casually invoking it for a primarily cis audience who may not know enough to sort the myths about transgenderism from the truths.

    I am aware, however, that in some SPECIFIC cultural contexts, certain SPECIFIC kinds of transgenderism are perceived as more acceptable than homosexuality (in Iran, for instance, an alternative to the death penalty for gay men is state-mandated gender reassignment… but ONLY MtF transitions are tolerated, and there’s still a ton of attendant social stigma). I am also aware that there are various cultural contexts in which the distinctions between different kinds of gender variance (TS, TG, CD, IS, Drag, etc.) can be indistinct, and sometimes overlap with sexually variant identities like being gay. North America, however, is NOT such a cultural context, and it would be absurd to consider being a straight trans woman or straight trans man a “step up” on the social ladder from being a cis gay man or cis lesbian.

    Also, I’d like to note that the DTES Women’s Pharmacy known for the infamous trans-exclusion policy are, to the best of my knowledge, no longer in operation. Vancouver Rape Relief does, however, maintain an ongoing trans-misogynistic blog.

  11. says

    Also… while I understand your wider point, about the potentially destructive implications of building our terminology around “minority”, I think it’s a really self-defeating and rather obviously false claim to make that trans people might not be a minority of the population if circumstances were different.

    We’re tiny. We’re a very very very small percentage of the overall population. Yes, if cultural conditions were different, I imagine there’d be considerably more of us, and we’d be considerably more visible, sure… look at how people treat gender in MMORPGs, for instance, for an example of how desire to explore gender in a more fluid way might be a much more common thing than we generally assume… but under no circumstances would we ever stop being, in a literal sense, a minority of the population. Not unless you dramatically shifted the definitions of who is or isn’t trans, anyway.

    But that doesn’t matter.

    It shouldn’t matter.

    We shouldn’t HAVE to discuss our frequency, or what percentage of the population we are, or have to put all that much energy into fighting the extreme underestimations made about how many of us there are… we shouldn’t be discussing this, or worrying about, or expending ourselves on it, because IT SHOULDN’T MATTER HOW FEW OF US THERE ARE. We deserve human rights ANYWAY.

    So the point about “maybe we wouldn’t be a minority”, aside from seeming to be just straight up inaccurate (or, at best, misleading), strikes me as similar to arguing for queer rights on the basis of “we’re born this way” / “it’s not a choice” / “we can’t help it!”. It’s playing into the very framework you’re challenging, and trying to assert that we deserve our rights BECAUSE [x], rather than that we deserve our rights REGARDLESS.

    Just like whether being queer or trans is a “choice” is irrelevant to the fact that it’s a choice we should have a right to make, and emphasising the “choice” debate thereby legitimizes our oppressors’ claims, talking about whether we’d really be a minority under such-and-such conditions is irrelevant to the fact that we’re a population that deserves rights regardless of our size, and emphasizing the debate about how many of us there are again simply legitimizes our oppressors’ arguments that our numbers are somehow relevant to whether or not our rights deserve consideration.

  12. says

    Oh, one last thing:

    many many trans women coming from a background of having been gay were explicitly and deliberately disqualified under early gatekeeping policies due to the assumption that a history of having been sexually active as gay men was “proof” that they weren’t “true transsexuals” and were “just self-hating gay men”.

    There’s a lot of very loaded historical context to the idea you were invoking which, again, is a very good reason that it’s problematic to do so without including any of your evidence or data, or any consideration FOR that context and the potentially destructive implications.

  13. lochaber says

    As far as I understood it, minority doesn’t strictly refer to relative population size, but is a term used to encompass some groups general societal/legal status.

    Kinda like all the wingnuts whining on yahoo a couple months back when there was some announcement about white babies in the US now falling below 50%…

    Even if a given group is more numerous in a given area, it can still be considered minority status if they are not granted the same legal rights and privileges as any other group. And, even if they are granted those same rights/privileges, if those rights/privileges aren’t recognized/enforced. Or even if they just have to fight to get them recognized/enforced when other groups don’t.

    The way I’ve come to understand it (yeah, I was an uneducated privileged dick before…(I don’t think I can do much about the privilege, and I hope I’m less of a dick, and the education bit is a work in progress)), is the label of minority has more to do with status/power/privilege then it does percentage.

  14. says

    Nixon was not PERCEIVED as masculine or “male” by anyone. She was consistently read as a cisgender female. She was only fired after her employers discovered her trans status -explicitly- (either through disclosure or documentation, I can’t remember which). Regardless, she wasn’t some burly linebacker transphobic stereotype. It wasn’t an issue, and the cissexist assumption that such an issue would only arise if she was “perceived as masculine” is, well, cissexist… as is the idea that a transphobe being made uncomfortable by a trans woman is somehow MORE IMPORTANT than a trans woman being FIRED on account of those transphobic reactions. Why the hell does the transphobic cis people’s feelings take precedence over the trans woman’s rights to employment, even IF she “looked masculine” or whatever? And what reason would there be for her presence to “make people uncomfortable” EXCEPT for transphobia and bullshitty “trans women are rapists and perverts!” myths?

  15. says

    This state of repression really bothers me and always has. I must first come out as the hetero-breeder I am. I feel that I must delineate that so as to let it be known that I do not suffer the same specific forms of discrimination spoken of in this post – not directly anyway. I have my own discriminatory target of reference, but the method and causes are identical. I have always been that nail that sticks out and have been continually guarding against blows from the same hammer my entire life. I am ‘different’ and that is often seen in most cultures as being wrong and worthy of elimination to somehow protect the homogeneity of society. The reality is that EVERYONE is the same as that nail that sticks out. It just depends on what level of oblique angle the scrutinisers are willing to lower themselves to looking from. The reality is that we are all on a broad spectrum of difference and that when ANY of this type of discrimination is allowed to continue and progress, it belittles our collective humanity.

    I grew up being appalled by the level of institutionalised discrimination against gender orientation in Canada (amongst other things mentioned in this post). I was completely shocked when I first learned that Canada was still criminalising homosexuality, practising eugenics, and perpetrating genocide in the 20th century. How could such things be allowed after the atrocities of WWII which we so valiantly claimed a higher moral fibre as a nation for fighting against??? I quickly learned of the open hatred practiced around such issues in early grade school. In the third grade I was at the centre of an uproar in my community in Calgary due to my choice of a wonderful volume of works by Oscar Wilde which I had been reading since many years earlier. I had hoped to be able to discuss some of the literary methods employed and clarify some of the meanings of the political references which I didn’t understand within his works. I had never had any questions or misgivings about wholly accepting the varied forms of human love and passion regardless of gender orientation as a normal part of humanity. Reading many early ancient writings and other documents became the norm for me since my mother was a highly educated educator with a major in English and a minor in Linguistics. Nobody ever had to explain the intricate subtleties of human sexuality and attraction to me. The full spectrum of possibility was always plainly obvious. It was the discrimination that begged to be explained, and nobody could possibly ever explain such things in a logically cogent enough manner for me to come close to accepting the inequity. I was punished for personally crusading against the enforcement of literary discrimination solely based upon the gender orientation of the author. This is an important point as Mr. Wilde never openly alluded to the gender of the loves he spoke of so passionately in this volume of his work. I became the youngest person on record to have ever been expelled from school in the history of that city. Rather than even trying to present any defense of their bigoted stance, the administrators and government rulers of the day chose to placate idiotically concerned teachers and parents by eliminating the perceived threat to ‘their’ values (not the other children’s). It was openly suggested that; if I read such literature I would ‘turn gay’, if I retained a close and loving relationship with my mother that I would ‘turn gay’, if I was allowed to spread such open and fair idealism amongst my fellow students and boy scouts I would ‘spread the gay around’ – as if it is some type of virulent contagion. I think I’ve made my point and any further discussion on my part would just be rambling.

    All discrimination is based upon fear, the needless fear of ‘other’. This fear is what continues to drive humankind inextricably towards our own self-destruction. Sometimes I feel that there truly is “No Hope for the Human Race”, but I still maintain my own personal drive towards inclusion. I must, for I and my daughter would also be high on the eugenicists’ list of those to be eliminated as “Useless Eaters”. If you’re not sure why I put those terms in quotes then I suggest that you plug them into a search engine and discover for yourself how high up the ladder the sentiment goes, and how recently the plans have been in place to execute a sick and twisted methodology towards genocide in our own back yards.

    I shall leave this forum with one of my favourite quotes: “Not even the apparently enlightened principle of the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ can excuse indifference to individual suffering. There is no test for progress other than its impact on the individual. ” Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear (William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1952), p. 167-8.

  16. says

    Nixon presented very feminine, and if you are able to locate information about the case in what I surmise was a quick Google search of it, you may have overlooked the fact that she had been accepted as a prospective volunteer counselor already when she was approached half-way through an orientation and asked point-blank if she was “born a woman”.

    I have two X-chromosomes, and even I can’t answer yest to that question.

  17. says

    Well first of all, this is information from the queer community. It’s part of Vancouver’s history, even. And not only that, but while I fully respect and acknowledge the role situations like this have in relation to continuation of gate-keeping, it actually hasn’t stopped yet either.

    That is not to say that a majority of trans* folk in Vancouver are appropriately described as FtMtF or MtFtM or something completely different. It’s not even to say that a majority of trans* folk in North America are appropriately described this way. In fact, I chose the word “innumerable” because I could not possibly have a way to determine the exact number. I chose the word “innumerable” over words like “a minority/majority of”, because it goes right back to the problem this entire post is about addressing.

    The gate-keeping system is total horse shit, and I wish I could flush the whole fucking thing down the toilet.

    This statement, however, is not a myth. It may be over-simplistic of the intentions (and inner tensions) experienced by the people who went through it, but individual mileage will vary on that too.

  18. says

    I agree that human beings deserve human rights regardless of what proportion their actual population is.

    However, I am talking trans* here, which includes gender-fluidity and other forms of gender expression the Coast Salish would call Two-spirit. I don’t limit my conceptualization of trans-ness to people who identify in a binary manner and pursue the fullest extent of healthcare they can squeeze out of the gate-keeping system. I’m actually not sure if you conceptualize gender diversity in the same way.

  19. says

    Yes, and it is my point here that to say “racial minority” or “sexual minority” is to expose the fact that these groups of people are socially marginalized, and then put them back on the fringes.

    It does nothing to engage with the fact that they are marginalized, or expose the reasons why that is the case. It’s dismissive, and it’s an important kind of blowing off their collective concerns that I think deserves attention, because it just maintains the conditions that put them there, in that status, in the first place.

    When we say “sexually marginalized” or “racially marginalized”, it’s not just for extra syllables. There’s an important shift in the paradigm going on there.

  20. says

    First of all, you’ve just pointed out that one need only be perceived as sexually diverse or gender-diverse to suddenly be targeted by the hatred and bigotry aimed at LGBTQs every day (which is systemic). It’s literally happened right in front of me, and I could clearly see that the young man it was happening to was getting a few decibels beyond simple defensiveness, so I stepped in between, and the homophobe started on me as a result. When he quickly determined he’s talking to an actual queer, he threw in some transmisogyny too, and then threatened me with battery before I called 9-1-1, prompting him to high-tail it and run (that 9-1-1 phone call was never filed, even though police actually showed up within minutes and appeared to be taking a report).

    And secondly, yes, everyone is hammered down. That is the only means through which all this inequality can be maintained. One of the sneaky things about being a member of a privileged group is that you so rarely have to acknowledge all that’s been robbed from you too, unless you persistently come up against that barrier, in which case, it’s suddenly not so clear that you’re straight-up privileged (like when I use my racial privilege as a white person to dismantle and interrogate racism and the construction of homogeneous whiteness in this society, and suddenly, I’m a target for threatening other peoples’ privileges).

    But we are not all hammered down with the same quantity of force, or in the same ways, at the same frequency, or for the same reasons.

  21. says

    I also can’t help but wonder if we’re experiencing a difference in how we conceptualize the word minority. Whereas I am explicit in stating that it isn’t just about numbers, but rather, to confine an oppressed group to an eternity of oppression and to minimize, erase, and dismiss their concerns as much as possible, I’m not sure if you’re carrying this into the comment you’ve left.

    We live in a faux democracy, after all, where the dominant cultural attitude is that “majority rule” is the law of the land (and whether or not that proves to be illusory and highly manipulated, is beside the point as well as a rhetorical question). The word “minority” carries a particular flavour of (lack of) social power, that I personally keep in mind at all times, and deliberately apply my efforts to not re-enforcing this fallacy at my own expense (not to mention so many, many, many other people who I profoundly relate to even though we are different).

    And that’s all really completely beside the point that I honestly do believe very few people would identify themselves as cisgender and heterosexual if it wasn’t enforced upon everyone (with significantly more force and violence towards those, like you and I, who defy it anyway).

  22. says

    See, and I guess I could have added this to the original writing, but I didn’t think I had to explain this at the time I was composing and editing it, we live in this illusory democracy here, where the word “majority” means “right”.

    But if the majority doesn’t say what the corporations and colonial interests want to hear, they’re coerced to correction.

    So when I say “minority” when talking about why we should stop using that word to describe and confine marginalized and oppressed groups to the status of “Doesn’t concern me”, I’m not just talking about numbers. Literally, I am never just talking about numbers. That’s not how my head works.

  23. Pen says

    You misunderstood me. Transgender people are a minority within the group of all human beings. All members of that minority get the treatment. Same with the other two minorities I mentioned who happen to get nicer treatment.

  24. says

    So in other words, after reading this post, you will continue to insist on using the word minority, knowing full well that makes you complicit with what happens to this population as a result of not being willing to do anything to challenge their status by something as simple as changing the way you talk about them as a collective?

    Speaking as a trans person here: thank you so fucking much for thinking of me as innately valuable and deserving of humane treatment, every time you continue to use the word minority.

  25. says

    Very true indeed. Although you make the assumption that being perceived as ‘Queer’ somehow makes you more of a target than others may be. I hope that you have not, and will never meet the same levels of unjustified hatred and overtly acceptable violence towards you that I have throughout my life. I know, it’s like we’re comparing penis size in this regard. I doubt that any law enforcement agents have ever singled you out of a group of other drivers on the road simply due to how you ‘look’. I further doubt that you have ever had to dodge gunfire from said law enforcement personel due to their hightened fear state regarding what they perceive your ‘look’s to be indicitative of. I claim no special status in the group of outsiders regardless of my experience. That is a trap lain in the path of all people by long dead architects of modern society. I fully accept all of what you have said and acknowledge your rightness/correctness on the topic at hand. You are not my enemy, and I am not yours either. This is a good and enlightening discourse which needs to reach a wider audience. If only the world did not have stones for ears, then all would be able and willing to see the other as being similar enough that we should count ourselves as comrades in our joint survival. Thank you for allowing me to have some voice in this select forum. I will enjoy staying informed by posts on this blog and may hopefully be able to provide some service to your sub-community by spreading acceptance amongst our jointly perceived ‘others’. Peace.

  26. hannanibal says

    Let’s all stop using the word minority because an illiterate half-fish says so.
    Think I’ll pass on that one.

  27. says

    Well everyone, pack it in. Some asshole with just the CLEVEREST WORD-PLAY EVER isn’t convinced. Might as well just give up the whole enterprise now!

  28. says

    My mother worked for almost 20 years as a medical assistant to a urologist. She lived in central California, where the vast quantities of pesticides and fertilizers and the economic need of pregnant farm workers to toil in the fields until their water breaks meant a large number of “anomalies” in their children. As I recall, the incidence of intersex birth among migrant farmworkers is about 200 times that of the American population as a whole.

    Working with a urologist, she saw a great many of these infants. Typically, the newborn would be surgically altered to resemble a female and the parents would be told to raise the child as a girl. As I recall, the matter was common enough that it was covered by California’s Medicaid program, if done in early infancy. Female was chosen because the alteration was easier, and because the adult would be “passable” without needing additional hormone treatments.

    What they found, though, is that identity is much more than just a hormone cascade, and that the castration of genetically male infants did not prevent them from developing a male gender identity. This caused a huge amount of psychological trauma, especially given that many of these people had been raised in traditional, very cis-oriented cultures. By 2000 — in California, at least — most urologists were strongly pushing back against the practice and advising the parents to have the child tested for genetic sex and raise it accordingly. This, in turn, has led to a greater focus on the endocrine disruption caused by so many fertilizers and pesticides, but so far nothing has been changed in that regard.

  29. abear says

    HG; You are obviously a paleface. When are you going to stop your trespassing on Turtle Island and head back to Europe?

  30. says

    I’m using trans well within the broadest possible interpretation: ANYONE for whom the relationship between gender, sex, and assignment significantly falls outside of the assumed, oppositional binary. I’m NOT really in need of any lectures on the fact that there are trans people who don’t fit tidily into conventional “trans man” and “trans woman” identities, nor do I need to be informed about the Two-Spirit tradition…

    …and, tbh, I think that term gets exploited and tossed into “trans” ideas in a very appropriative and ignorant way by a whole lot of people trying to score rhetorical points. For one thing, I’m not sure if it’s actually accurate that Coast Salish peoples had a two-spirit tradition, it’s CERTAINLY not their own word, and a lot of the “Natives tolerated trans people! They called them ‘two-spirit’!” narrative is not only forcing one cultural conception of gender into another, but requires a sort of naive, Pan-American attitude about “First Nations Culture”, which was NOT some monolothic, unified thing. SOME cultures and tribes had concepts of sexuality and gender that were more open than the contemporaneous Western binary, but that wasn’t the case for ALL indigenous cultures of the Americas, and the concept where it did occur didn’t always occur in the exact same way. The original “Two-Spirit” idea is, IIRC, a specifically Navajo concept. Finally, indigenous American cultures changed and shifted over time. They weren’t locked in a static form that remained from antitquity to colonization, with all the same ideas of gender remaining fixed throughout.

    I’m using trans in the broadest meaningful definition. And we’re still, statistically, a tiny minority of the population. That’s just the actual facts of our situation, and I don’t think fudging those facts for political gain is EVER a good idea, or going to be more useful than destructive for us in the long run.

  31. says

    People wouldn’t define themselves as cisgender and heterosexual IF the cultural framework weren’t set up such that it’s ever meaningful or necessary to do so, sure. In fact, most cis people DON’T identify themselves as such. Most cis people don’t even know the fucking word. They just think of themselves as “normal”. Similarly, the whole concept of straight/heterosexual is ALSO very very recent, only coming about once they stopped to simply regard themselves as “normal” in opposition to homosexual.

    The question isn’t about them identifying as such anyway, it’s about how they define and identify US, the Other.

    And I have very little patience for “what if” liberal thought experiments about ideal circumstances where our entire cultural system shifts dramatically. Those are rarely useful for addressing what’s going on today.

    But regardless of how cisgender, transgender, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, etc. get DEFINED and how frequently people are or aren’t IDENTIIED as such, it’s nonetheless going to remain the case that MOST people won’t feel any dysphoria about their physical sex or feel any need to articulate their gender in opposition to or outside of the one they were assigned. That’s going to remain the case. It will also remain the case that MOST people will primarily experience sexual attraction to those who have “opposite”, sexually dimorphic anatomy, more or less. Those with masculine bodies will continue being generally more attracted to those with feminine bodies, and vice versa.

    If you disagree, and think straightness and cisness (by which I mean the basic concepts those words refer to, not the entire socio-cultural constructs built around them ) are only the majority they are because of social conditions, well… I think you’re just wrong. And I’d ask for WHY you’re making that assumption, and whether you have evidence or arguments to support it.

  32. says

    Saying “innumerable” suggests that this is a common, recurring issue, that happens to a significant enough group that it has bearing on how we view the nature of the relative social stigmas assigned to homosexuality and transsexuality themselves.

    Again: given the incredibly destructive and culturally loaded quality of the assertion you’re making, I think it’s reckless and irresponsible to just slap on a vague and misleading term like “innumerable”, not provide any hard data, and continue avoiding actually answering my question and saying where you got this info.

    So, where did you get this information? Why should I trust you, and that source? How often did this ACTUALLY occur? How often did it occur relative to how often it DIDN’T? And how did the situation actually play out?

    If this is just some story you heard about a friend of a friend in Vancouver or something like that, then yeah, I’d say it is INCREDIBLY IRRESPONSIBLE to frame that as “innumerable gays and lesbians transitioned to escape the stigma!”, given, again, the historical context of the idea you’re invoking, and the, well, innumerable trans women who were disqualified from treatment under the assumption that they were “just self-hating gay men”, and the innumerable trans women who live with considerably greater risks and oppression than gay men despite they’re escaping the supposedly suffocating stigma of homosexuality into a conditional ‘straightness’. And the innumerable trans women who were NEVER actually seen as “straight” no matter who they actually dated, and how many have been harassed or abused or beaten or even murdered under the idea that they were “deceptive gay men”.

  33. says

    OK then.

    RE: Two-spirit, I guess I should either take your word for it over someone who actually is Coast Salish (or Cree), or not respond any further to this comment.

  34. says

    You don’t have to trust me. However, it is literally impossible to answer your questions, because it’s impossible to quantify how many people (even in Vancouver alone) went through more than one transition and for what reasons.

    I’ve met them. We’ve talked about it. Their existence is documented. There may not be many, but then again, there may be a lot who are living invisibly/anonymously. There may be a lot more who transitioned for the second time to something genderqueer or in-between. And how would I know, of genderqueers and other in-betweens, how many have transitioned at least once before? Why is it my business to ask them?

    Innumerable, not because “ZOMG LOOK HOW MANY”, but because they cannot be spotted and counted as if it was the annual census.

  35. michaelgray says

    abear says:

    HG; You are obviously a paleface. When are you going to stop your trespassing on Turtle Island and head back to Europe?

    Cue the anonymous HalfwitGefiltefish pulling out a bogus “Get Out of Jail Free” card in 3, 2, 1 seconds…

    Honestly, you lot are totally certifiably bonkers loony-tunes insane.
    Completely loopy, and western white cis-tern privileged loopy at that.
    You have become the things that you spitefully hate.

    Turtle fucking island. Who, over the mental age of 7, believes that crap?

  36. michaelgray says

    Crommunist need blog hits to pay rent.
    Him work out way to generate kontroversy.
    Him get fucking mental patient to pen blog.
    Hits roll in.
    $ roll in.

    He learn from Big Brother PZ Lyers how dun.

    Crommunist bank manager him plenty happy

  37. says

    If I see an actual Coast Salish person come in here and tell me that they had such a tradition during in their pre-colonial culture, sure, I’ll take THEIR word for it. I’m not going to take YOURS.

  38. says

    Yeah, I don’t really trust you, if you can’t actually back up your claims. And I certainly don’t think you should be blogging about trans issues if you casually throw around terms like “innumerable”, and dangerous concepts like “gay men transitioning just to be straight!” without careful attention to how those terms and concepts will be taken, rather than simply what you oh-so-innocently MEANT by them.

    Intent’s not magic, Jamie.

  39. hannanibal says

    Great reply Crom.

    Going by the quality of this blog post I doubt Half Fish could convince me to jump in a lake if I was on fire. Feel free to lap this shite up all you like though mate,t is after all your blog and you are equally responsible for it’s content as the guest blogger.
    I’m sure the extra blog hits off these train wrecks are extremely lucrative for you. Not so much your Half-Fish friend.

  40. hannanibal says

    A “two-spirit” living on “Turtle Island”. Sounds like something the Japanese forgot to animate.

  41. hannanibal says

    Yes, because FTB bloggers don’t make money proportionate to their bloghits *giggles*…Oh, wait.

  42. says

    I publish exactly how much money this blog makes every month, and 100% of the revenues go either to charity or to Kiva loans. This “controversy for hits” meme is both stupid and easily debunked.

  43. says

    The funny part of this comment is that you think you’re PRETENDING to sound illiterate, but the thing you’re saying is actually as stupid as you’re pretending to be.

  44. says

    I know they make money. But pretending it’s some mega awesome amount and that they’re making up controversy is stupid, and also funny. Hence my word choice.

  45. Pitchguest says

    I drink my own pee. Not because I have to. Not even because I want to. Because it’s the only way people will pay attention to me. I’m very sad.

  46. hannanibal says

    I love Turtle Island. Unintentionally hilarious. From this day forth I’m referring to the U.S. as Turtle Island. It seems very apt somehow. Just like Merkin.

  47. hannanibal says

    Cool Crom. What charities do you donate to? Outlets For Loons? The Fund For Disenchanted Two Sprit’s Living On Turtle Island?

  48. says

    If I didn’t have emails to indicate when a comment like that, that then disappears, was added here, I’d have missed that little nugget.

    Because speaking at all makes you automatic spokesperson, and we’re just like the Borg. Amirite?

  49. says

    You know, I could answer that question, about what “Two-Spirit” means, if you want. But I’m really enjoying you flaunting your ignorance and racism as though it makes you look superior and worldly and so-above-it-all.

  50. says

    I’m sure you’d be satisfied that a random poster on the intertrons is who they say they are.

    I’m also sure that you’d be satisfied at this point thinking I’m lying or otherwise being unconscionable in what I’ve expressed here, no matter who I’ve spoken to, under what circumstances, and what was exactly said.

    And I suppose no matter what I say, you’re already satisfied that I somehow believe the nuances on the use of the word Two-spirit, from Navajo to Coast Salish to Cree, which I readily acknowledge are different, are irrelevant and that I intend to promote pan-Indianism.

    All because I can’t point you to a full text PDF scientific peer-reviewed source on the subject.

    Well, I’m happy to disappoint you on this one. Sure seems to me like you’re actually looking for reasons to be angry with me for failing to satisfy your standards for this topic within 1600 words. I wasn’t aware all my writing on my experiences learning about this subject matter had to be measured against your work on it.

    If that is not the case, then disregard that last paragraph. Otherwise, I will remind you that I am a person too, and though I may have a different opinion or my emphasis on this subject may be characteristically different from your preference, what I have to say is important too.

  51. says

    WELL I GUESS I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS FIRST before I typed out that last comment, huh.

    Thank you so much for your investment of confidence and even the most minimal trust in my ability to speak for my own experiences, and to speak to issues and insights from others that I have encountered that aren’t spoken of (or are spoken of as a fictional narrative with the express purpose of confining people). But most of all, thank you so much for being an ally, instead of trying to tell me that my voice isn’t valid.

    You’ll probably notice that was sarcastic. Because that comment makes it transparently clear to me that this was never a sincere conversation between us here. SO GLAD.

  52. says

    In 1492, indigenous peoples found Christopher Columbus lost at sea.

    http://unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com/about/

    You can pretend you own this land and that borders are a real and totally legit thing, or you can acknowledge who was here, who is still here, and whose continued oppression will threaten justice everywhere until something gives — and that’s either going to be the heads of ignoramuses who pretend colonialism isn’t even a Thing, or it’s going to be eradicating institutionalized threats to equality so we can all coexist peacefully.

    http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2012/10/25/allies-no-more/

    I know to someone like you, it’s probably obscure and “new”, but this has been 500 years in the making.

  53. Pitchguest says

    Seriously though, why IS the atheist community so homogenous? I certainly can’t figure it out.

    FUCK EVERYONE WHO ISN’T EXACTLY LIKE ME!

  54. says

    Your reading comprehension is pretty pathetic. I don’t identify as Two-spirit, it is simply how I and other people similar to me are described in some indigenous cultures (the exact meaning of that word, and thus who it describes, depends on which culture you are speaking from).

    No one said it was an offensive term except you.

  55. says

    As per what you actually wrote, hannanibal, when you actually give an argument for your dissent instead of just misdirected anger or whatever is driving your input here, maybe then your comments won’t get edited.

  56. Pitchguest says

    I read the dictionary once, and the word “slander” was in it.

    STOP EDITING MY COMMENTS AND BESMIRCHING MY STERLING REPUTATION AS A BLOG COMMENTER!!!

  57. kbonn says

    This is silly, and I am shocked that you are either doing this or letting it happen Crom. Ban people or reject their posts, Don’t edit what they say, that is really dishonest and serves no purpose.

    I’d much rather see Natalie and HaifischGeweint continue their discussion. Or see you(Crom) add in your thoughts about the term ‘minority’ and its usage in the context of the OP and if you also find it harmful.

    How does editing posts to make people appear to say something they didn’t help anything?

  58. says

    I’m glad you (i.e., not me) thought that was a conversation we were having. Wish I could say the same, because it sure comes off as a lecture to me.

    Ironic to try to say what’s dishonest after making that kind of an observation.

  59. says

    SHOCKED, are you? Well I’ll just have to learn to live with your disappointment. It might take some time and deep soul-searching, but… oh wait no I’m already over it.

    The fact is that these assholes are coming here in order to be “dishonest and to serve no purpose” except to derail or fling shit at a conversation. There is a limit to my patience, and they’ve exceeded it. The comment edits pretty accurately reflect the level of maturity that they’ve brought with them – I’ve taken great pains to preserve their tone, if not the specific words.

    It’s interesting that the two people you specifically say you’re interested in hearing more from have not had their comments touched in any way.

  60. says

    I’m as welcome to critique how you frame gender and concepts surrounding them, and what issues you do or don’t emphasise and how, as you are to critique how others frame and emphasise them. It has nothing to do with “measuring up” or anything. You said several things I found suspect and moreover dangerous, and I’m (theoretically) free to raise those objections, just like you were free to object to conventional use of the word “minority” in the first place.

  61. says

    What? It couldn’t POSSIBLY be sincere, because I found your responses to my critiques to be lacking, and decided to disagree with you?

    That the ONLY way it could ever have been a sincere conversation, and I was treating your voice as “valid”, is if I ended up thinking “Sure, this all sounds totally legit then! I enthusiastically support your ideas!”

    It was an act of respect, and validation of your ideas, that I engaged you in the first place. But apparently I shouldn’t have bothered.

    Cheers then.

  62. punchdrunk says

    I’m just wondering if there’s a reason the banhammer never falls. It’s pretty obvious these guys are just trying to be as destructive as possible.

    His house, his mess, though. *shrug*

  63. says

    Oh well, I enjoyed the post – made me think – unlike the comments from the pitters. No idea what the ‘edits’ are all about but from personal experience there is no possible way you could dumb-down any of MKGs, Hanannibals or Pitchguests comments.

    … And the pitters actually manage to be confused and annoyed about why they are banned and treated badly on blogs here! Finding it very hard to believe their outrage is not all manufactured :-)

  64. says

    “She was consistently read as a cisgender female. She was only fired after her employers discovered her trans status…”

    According to the court, she was “immediately identified” by Danielle Cormier “as someone who had not always lived as a girl or woman.” As a result, she was rejected from a volunteer training program at the outset, on 29 Aug 1995. She was never fired by an employer, but rather was refused the opportunity to become a volunteer, because of a combination of her appearance and life experiences.

    I’m not at all confident that VRRS did the right thing here, but I’m having trouble coming up with a justification for discriminating against men which doesn’t also discriminate against those who might be perceived as men. Schrodinger’s Men, as it were.

  65. hannanibal says

    Belligerently feigning ignorance is a surefire way to have people respect my opinion and value my contributions to this and other discussions!

    Also, making fun of people’s screen names. No more compelling argument than that, eh comrades?

  66. mattisironen says

    You pathetic piece of shit fuck. I can’t believe I actually defended you as one of the more sane FTB bloggers once. Have a blast with your nano-wit commentariat who think John Stuart Mill’s opinion on free speech is some sort of a punchline.

  67. kbonn says

    Quite right Crom, but I doubt you would edit comments from another blogger on the site, or the guest author you invited to post on yours!

    I am not defending trolling or the trolls. But honestly, editing their posts is basically the worst response you could have. If you intend to not respond to them, just remove the comments and let the actual discussion continue. Trolling trolls doesn’t get you anywhere and you come off as childish as they are.

    I understand it’s frustrating to deal with, but that hardly justifies making people appear to say something they didn’t, with no way to prove otherwise. Its just really dishonest.

    I am not suggesting that you let the trolls roam free and do as they please, but just remove the clutter and/or ban those doing the cluttering.

  68. kbonn says

    If you have some problem with what Natalie is saying, or the way she is saying it, that is between you two. It seemed to me she took exception to some of the things you claimed, and asked you to back up some of the other things you claimed. You’ve responded to her and she to you, looks like a discussion to me. If you dislike the type of discussion it is, that is hardly me being dishonest about it.

  69. birdterrifier says

    I think there are great political reasons to define one’s group as a minority in the US, though I’m not versed in Canadian law. In the US, we have a strong heritage of defending minority rights after all that is part of why the Bill of Rights were established. That doesn’t mean that minorities aren’t prejudiced against and sidelined for generations but it does give them an opportunity to eventually establish specific rights that will hopefully never again be threatened by majority rule.

    I understand the social stigma of feeling like you are not as legitimate as the rest of the populace just because you represent a smaller portion though.

  70. says

    Not the whole thing, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was as laughable as his opinion on dissent. Pretending that dissent is valuable because of some innate quality of dissent is a cute little fairy song that he sung, but… that’s all it is. As we’re seeing here, now, with fools leaving tiny minded ‘dissent’ under the banner of FREEZE PEACH.

  71. says

    I am completely shocked by the overt racism and bigotry being displayed by several posters here. I personally worked for several years with a number of indigenous groups throughout Western Canada and feel compelled to attempt to inject a tiny bit of useful information into the less educated amongst you. If anyone really wants to find out about two-spirit, or any other well know and documented First Nations issues they will find that it is quite easy to find information sources. Here is what is available from Wikipedia. You may not think that they are a valid information source, but all one needs do is follow the links. BTW – Turtle Island, is a very important organisation in BC. Another issue one could easily discover information about if one was really interested in promulgating the truth, not just media-hyped factoids.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-Spirit

    http://www.turtleisland.org/

    Seriously… a little effort would be nice to see in those who wish to not be discriminated against due to misinformation.

  72. says

    No, Natalie, you are way off base here. I don’t have borderline personality disorder, and I don’t think like someone who does either (which is apparently what you expect me to believe!)

    Your approach to what you feel is suspicious and dangerous is to attribute your own feelings to my statements, without considering the possibility that I have made a claim that is not accurately reflected by your reaction — that, and, the only way I can prove this is with some sort of peer-edited scientific evidence that simply doesn’t exist (or perhaps you’d prefer a total violation of medical confidentiality, whereby I hack into electronic medical charts so I can quote the doctors’ themselves?).

    THAT is the lack of sincerity.

  73. says

    As I’ve stated above, I was born with two X-chromosomes, and even I can’t answer yes to the question “Were you born a woman?” or “Have you always lived as a woman?”

    This Nixon case isn’t about people being perceived as men. It’s about perceiving someone as trans (and that being attributed negative characteristics) because they don’t measure up to some arbitrarily determined standard of womyn-ness that is kept secret until it’s violated.

    Why are they so concerned about a feminine woman like Nixon, allegedly triggering their clients, but they aren’t concerned at all about butch lesbians who pass for male?

    And if you think only men rape woman or commit acts of domestic violence against women, I’ve got news for you.

  74. says

    The US and Canada have a “rich heritage” of multiple types of simultaneous ongoing genocide, to confine indigenous peoples and other ethnic groups to “minority” status.

    I don’t see how that’s in defense of “minorities” created through colonization, slavery, pandemic disease, underhanded treaties systems, supplanted government, creation of reserves, displacement of people even from the reserves created, more slavery, residential schools, head taxes, anti-immigration law, micro-managing the day-to-day life of everyone living on reserves, laws preventing people from voting or accessing certain types of employment on the basis of their ethnicity alone, exploitation, wage-slavery, internment camps, over-policing, and I could keep going, but at this point, I really don’t see the point.

    I’m not patting anyone on the back who congratulates the colonial governments for their “rich heritage” of defending “minority” rights.

  75. reneehendricks says

    I’ve personally done such looking and researching. Being from an area that HaifischGeweint loves to bring up as an area of local indigenous people, I’m pretty savvy. The rest of this person kvetch on “minorities” – yeah, not so inclined to agree.

  76. says

    I’d advise you (and everyone else persistently saying stuff about Turtle Island without reading that page I posted earlier) to reconsider the scope of the term Turtle Island.

    It is meant to refer to all of North and South America combined, as ancestral indigenous territory.

    http://unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com/about/

    One doesn’t need wikipedia to find out what First Nations and indigenous peoples have to say about the term Two-spirit, either. Plenty of indigenous writers actually publish about it, get research projects about it started, or contribute to other publications such as independent film. They are even in the news (though not the white news networks).

    I really advocate for finding publications online that are written by the people speaking from their own culture, rather than some generic approximation edited by who-knows-who (wikipedia). Such as this one:

    http://apihtawikosisan.com/2012/03/29/language-culture-and-two-spirit-identity/

    (There’s a mention in that article about the term Two-Spirit being adopted by Cree culture in the 90s, because it was considerably more positive/neutral value than their former derogatory word — and honestly, this is like English speakers adopting the word schadenfreude as part of the English language)

    Oh, look, here’s another one:

    http://www.rainbowresourcecentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/TwoSpirit.pdf

    That’s of course, if you are going to use online resources as a start. You might look for different resources if online is not your preference, but I would still advocate for finding resources from within those communities, not from without.

    I haven’t read through all of them myself, but I’ve certainly read a lot more on these issues from indigenous writers than from white writers. I’ve also had more face-to-face conversations about it with indigenous people than with white people (indigenous people are everywhere — I don’t recommend badgering them about an issue you’d particularly like to hear about, but if you demonstrate a sincere interest in their culture and traditions they are generally enthusiastic to share with you). I take their word for it rather than someone with an observer bias.

  77. reneehendricks says

    Hmm. I don’t know. How about someone who’s background is of the indigenous people you so love to bring up? How about you leave the actual history of to those who lived it and have relatives who lived it? I’m sure you’re an expert in your particular background (trans*). I won’t try to give lectures on that background. Try to afford the same to those you shamelessly bring up?

  78. says

    Cultural elitism and personal anger seem to cloud your perspective quite often…

    “You can’t possibly understand my perspective because you have never experienced it in EXACTLY the same way yourself.”

    There are many First Nations Chiefs (you know, the real representatives) who have completely the opposite view from what you espouse about exclusion.

    …decide for yourselves whom I am refering to by this comment.

  79. says

    Yeah, I suppose directing people to the writings of indigenous people is bringing them up “shamelessly”, isn’t it.

    I suppose advocating for people to understand some basic points of unity with indigenous peoples, and directing them to resources not written by me but by indigenous peoples themselves, is using them as a mouthpiece for my ideas.

    That’s really what you’re trying to tell me I’m doing here, is it not? Why don’t you just come out and say that you think I fetishize indigenous people, and that you think I objectify them by saying “Hey, you might want to read what this person has to say about their own culture instead of looking it up on wikipedia (which can be edited by anyone, and which often falls short of providing accurate information about cultural traditions and terminology)?

    Because I’m sure you also believe that all indigenous people hold some sort of magical consensus, even though you can talk to some and get a completely different answer than will be provided to me when I talk to some others. And even though you don’t have to look any further than Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network online, to find out about First Nations communities who reject their assigned spokespersons, living right next to First Nations communities who are delighted to have Alteo in that position.

    Because I bet you think I think in black-and-white, too. But I don’t.

  80. reneehendricks says

    But, HaifischGeweint – what if you’re actually engaging someone who might have a heritage in the very group you seem to so frequently bring up? What if that person doesn’t feel comfortable with you as their mouthpiece? I mean, would you want me, a cisgendered, bisexual woman to speak for you or give out aspects of your life? I’m thinking not. Nor would I. So, my point is perhaps you should think before you act as a spokesperson for a group you’re not a part of. And do think carefully before responding – you only know a *tiny* portion about my background :)

  81. says

    Just a point about misinformation…

    Wikipedia can NOT be edited by anybody who wants to, anymore. It is rather jealously vetted by a dedicated staff of highly intelligent and informed mediators who work directly in varied fields of scientific and social research.

    I would prefer to get my information leads (not sources) from such a dedicated group of professionals, than from anyone’s personal blog postings.

  82. says

    Let me get this straight, so we’re crystal clear on this:

    Your standpoint is that when I recount any amount of detail of conversations I’ve had with someone of an ethnic group I don’t belong to, I’m playing mouthpiece for the entire group.

    Or is it that even stating that there exists a Thing that is like an idea or concept, within this group of people, and that this Thing doesn’t necessarily mean to them what it means to another group of people who have a similar Thing that’s even by the same name, is playing mouthpiece?

    Because I’ve gotta tell you, it sure sounds like what you’re telling me is what I’ve heard before (although this will be the first time I’ve ever heard it from someone who isn’t as white as I am): essentially, STFU, whitey.

    I know what I was told, and I know who shared it with me and under what circumstances. I also know that when I advocate for people who are seeking information, to seek out the publications, writing, videos, or other media that are produced and circulated by the very group they want to find out more about, that this isn’t playing mouthpiece.

    I’m completely comfortable with you disagreeing with me. I think it’s pretty clear why, and I stand by what I’ve written and the decisions that have been influenced by other (surprise! Coast Salish) people who would also disagree with you.

    Because I don’t expect you to be a part of a hive mind — you shouldn’t expect that I’m part of one with all of colonial society, either.

  83. birdterrifier says

    HaifischGeweint said:”The US and Canada have a “rich heritage” of multiple types of simultaneous ongoing genocide, to confine indigenous peoples and other ethnic groups to “minority” status.”

    Um but we’re talking about two different things, though, aren’t we? Americans of course committed horrible atrocities against indigenous people just like so many other cultures throughout history and pre-history. They made them minorities but we’re talking about modern 1st world civilizations where minorities are not created by the government. The rich history I was speaking of, which I thought was relevant to what you wrote originally, was that minority statuses, today, give those ranks an elevated status in the eyes of the government. But only because those affected people joined together under a single banner which helped their voice reach heads of state or the courts (especially the courts). The Bill of Rights was always meant to establish freedoms for citizens against systemic prejudices but the scope needed to be forced wider and that’s what we continue to do each generation.

    “I don’t see how that’s in defense of “minorities” created through colonization, slavery, pandemic disease, underhanded treaties systems, supplanted government, creation of reserves, displacement of people even from the reserves created, more slavery, residential schools, head taxes, anti-immigration law, micro-managing the day-to-day life of everyone living on reserves, laws preventing people from voting or accessing certain types of employment on the basis of their ethnicity alone, exploitation, wage-slavery, internment camps, over-policing, and I could keep going, but at this point, I really don’t see the point.

    I’m not patting anyone on the back who congratulates the colonial governments for their “rich heritage” of defending “minority” rights.”

    Since I’m a card carrying member of the Lenape tribe, live in Oklahoma and graduated with an anthropology degree, you didn’t need to enumerate for me the many horrors visited upon American Indians and I can’t see how that was relevant to what I was arguing. We can continue to act as though the government that exists today has a strong resemblance to the government colonizing and ruling America from 1776 to the 1950’s or we can judge our government and the people that head it by what it does today. Native American tribes consistently win court cases regarding mineral, water and land rights and have good control over how their ancestors’ remains are treated. This includes forcing new construction to first test the site for American Indian remains and to remove those remains and hand them over to the corresponding tribe.

    But, in your long list decrying the atrocities committed by former governments, you don’t stop to think about the problems on reserves today. Alcohol and drug abuse, sexual assaults and extremely poor education opportunities. This stems from a lack of a strong governmental presence and I don’t see this being solved any time soon and that’s a modern day atrocity.

  84. michaelgray says

    Editing comments like a manic 5 year with Tourettes is lower than low, you know.
    Keep it up, please!
    At least you’ll be doing the hard yards of revealing Free from Thought Blogs to the world as to exactly the asylum that it has become, making my task of revealing screaming hypocrisy a breeze.

    This is all being screen-capped, you know:- before and after shots of your vandalism against the enlightenment.
    Your infantile editing is on record, for all sane folk to view and judge.

  85. michaelgray says

    How much more “sullied” can your cowardly assumed name become?
    You have edited the words of others, in the pretence that they are original, to (at best) defame them in an astonishingly irresponsible, immature and infantile manner.

    Your pseudonym could not be any further sullied, even if you expressed support for Greg Laden’s behaviour.

  86. says

    Once again, I disagree. When what’s happening to indigenous people puts Canada on the UN’s watch list, because two separate Cree reserves declared a state of emergency and the Prime Minister’s response was to blame their chief, we’re talking about a society in which colonialism isn’t something confined to the past tense. The James Bay Agreement may have made a few Cree communities self-sustainable in Canada, but that hasn’t fixed the problem.

    The treaties haven’t changed. The government sitting on its hands having a debate about hand sanitizer while a pandemic flu sweeps across the nation hasn’t changed. The government itself hasn’t changed, even. The last residential school in Canada closed a mere 16 years ago (that’s not a typo). The Indian Act is still in effect, and its sole purpose is to micro-manage the lives of every status Aboriginal in this nation until they are fully assimilated (and thus, have lost status and Aboriginal title, law, and treaty rights). The over-policing is really beyond words, and very much a present tense issue. I don’t even watch the news (often… I don’t have a TV but I still look sometimes) and I still hear about indigenous men being picked up by police, driven out to remote locations, and beaten — or just being executed in police custody either by weapon or criminal negligence causing death.

    Once again… That word minority packs a punch, and I don’t even have to talk about the past to detail the reasons why, because it’s still happening now. I’m glad for you that you come from a better social standing and that you are able to report positive community engagements with colonial government (I can hope that the same is possible here some day, like it was intended to be from the start). The same situation in Canada, however, is rapidly reaching a breaking point with many of the First Nations communities, while a majority of non-indigenous communities appear oblivious because of a lack of mainstream reporting on the issue.

  87. says

    The funniest part about this little rant, is that despite it, women are the ones gendered as overdramatic.

    REally. How do you write this

    You have edited the words of others, in the pretence that they are original, to (at best) defame them in an astonishingly irresponsible, immature and infantile manner.

    and not laugh at yourself? It’s not like he hasn’t been honest about who he’s editting. If it’s this fucking important to you to have your words kept pristine, why not get your own blog? XD

  88. says

    “And if you think only men rape woman or commit acts of domestic violence against women, I’ve got news for you.”

    So we are in agreement that the VRRS was wrong to discriminate against cis-men as well as trans-women?

  89. says

    OH NO! The people of the world will have to decide between the CLEARLY NON-CREDIBLE guy who used a modified banhammer to deal with obvious trolls, and the REKNOWNED CREDIBILITY of the crowd who thinks that “Free from Thought Blogs” and “Half Fish” are the height of intellectual discourse. However will my reputation survive the scrutiny of such mental giants? Oh I just don’t know…

    Honestly dude, I don’t know how you take yourself seriously.

  90. julian says

    hendricks could try to be less of a shitstain on humanity but I think she’d fail.

    Seriously though, HaifischGeweint maybe be a lot more aggressive (ad sometimes pigheaded) than most but linking to, encouraging the consumption of media from and prodding others to read more from disadvantaged groups is not stealing their voice as the shitstain says.

  91. says

    Lol, Michael Kingsford Gray, from the Slymepit, is accusing Crommunist of being immature!

    I also add my voice as one who doesn’t know how MKG manages to take himself seriously. But then given his avatar I always see him as Father Jack anyway, he makes more sense that way.

  92. im says

    “In fact, most cis people DON’T identify themselves as such. ”

    I DO! Well, sort of. Its… complicated.

    I am a conformist to the last.

  93. im says

    I am assuming charitably that the problem is that, as soon as people hear ‘minority’ they 1. assume that it is Not Their Problem and 2. place it’s relative importance even lower than the proportion of people in the category.

    I think that this kind of rhetoric has the risk of making people count everything of equal importance even when that is blatantly not the case.

  94. says

    I really disagree that any person reading “this kind of rhetoric” as you put it, would automatically jump to “everything is equally important” by default.

    I think a lot more people will jump, one eye-opening experience at a time, to “everything is connected”.

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