I’ve been thinking very hard about something recently.
Time magazine has been receiving a lot of flak for calling trans the next civil rights frontier of America. Even I criticised this on my Facebook page. But while there were numerous other reasons to criticise the article, I believe this is one thing it was dead right on; albeit I think it’s the new worldwide issue, not just America. There may be legal recognition of 3-5 genders in parts of former Persia and in India and Thailand might have no problem with its ladyboys (hey, literal translation and one that those ladies who speak English from there prefer or don’t mind), but by and large it’s a struggle abroad, too.
Thing is, the criticism is that it makes it seem like the fight is over for women, for races, for homosexuals. It’s not, no, but the battle there has evolved and has momentum; it ain’t won, but it’s a matter of time, winning is becoming inevitable. Trans is sort of the new kid, our battles began … when would you like to say? With the fops and dandies of a bygone era? With the 20th century? Somewhere in the 19th? History is fun that way, depending how you want to interpret a question the answer could actually be since before we came down from the trees.
I was thinking about this because I wondered why so many of the things lately I’ve been seeing, sharing, talking about, etc. have been trans-rights. I realised because it is the new war for equality. Trans has had it’s battles, its skirmishes, but that was the underground, viva la resistance! Now it’s armies at war, now it’s faces like the young Jazz or the beautiful and talented Laverne Cox, now it’s something that is in the news every freaking day in some fashion or another. Now it’s on the cover of Time Magazine! Racial equality, women’s rights, gay rights? These have fought those battles. Kirk & Uhura kissed on national TV. Babylon 5 had a woman pope and president to say nothing of the force of nature which was Ivanova! Will & Grace?
Legally these wars are won. Note, though, I said legally. The need for an equal pay act isn’t a question of legal victory, it’s the get legal protection from a social ill. It’d be a legal victory if there was a law specifying women earn less than men; it’s a form of the Affirmative Action laws which made it law that society give blacks a chance so that they could take advantage of the elimination of the laws that kept them in second class status. Gay marriage is a legal win, and one that 20 of 50 states have been won in! Numerous countries have bowed out of that war and homosexuals have their rights — other fronts are still a bloody and brutal battle; some parts of the Middle-East, for example.
To say that transgender isn’t the new fight, isn’t the new war, isn’t the new frontier isn’t to invalidate the fighting for it that has already happened, nor does it say word one to deny that other civil rights battles haven’t and aren’t still in process of being fought. It just says that the battles are big, public, and people are actually aware of them now. More importantly the fights are being won! Before the fights were more to do with small measures of acceptance from this employer, from that family member, from this friend … now bottom surgery is slowly disappearing from the laws governing changing the gender on ID; now little by little gender-identity is being specified as a protected status – and if you think that isn’t important, talk to a homeless transgender person who can’t get even a job at McDonald’s and who has been denied housing, has been turned away from shelters … except maybe you can’t because odds are now the poor woman or man is dead, murdered for being who he or she is and in a few too many cases it was discovered because as ever when a group is marginalised so thoroughly — they turned to prostitution, and unless whoring is legal with nice safe and clean brothels to work in … well … not a happy scene.
I believe wholly that all people regardless race, religion, gender, sex, orientation, etc. are people. Some people are good, some are bad, some contribute better to society than others — but that’s because of who they are, not what they are. Catholics can be amazing people or utter twats; I’ve known Asians that were the most fantastic people you’ll ever meet and others who were the most hateful and horrible people; same with gay, trans, men/women/other … truly it matters not because labels don’t make someone bad or good, they just help us communicate things like “she prefers the ladies”, “he has a kind of reddish tint to his skin” and so on; our actions and our words make us good or bad people that’s what makes us “oh, he is such a saint!” or “God, she was Satan in her past life”.
So I suppose the answer to why I’ve shared so much related to trans is simply that besides the latest news on the latest fight won, the war for gay equality and the fight for women’s equality and the fight for racial equality … no, they’re not over, but they’re not news! We all know that battle is still being fought and what the issues are. The odd reminder now and then keeps the fight alive, the celebrating of the next milestone victory let’s us know yet another checkbox on the to-do list has been filled. Thing is I’m an author of teen fiction. I’m not an Advocate, this blog isn’t for promoting anything but myself and my work — and to fill in the time in-between that purpose I ramble and subject you all to the inner-workings of my psyche — it’s on Human Rights Campaign‘s website, or on George Takei‘s Facebook page, or Lizzie the Lezzie’s blog/Facebook that one can find a constant barrage of “this fight is being fought” “there’s a pride parade over here!” “oh bloody hell! can you believe someone actually said this to me today?!”. If you want live, up-to-the minute coverage of women’s rights, gay rights, racial rights, and even trans rights this is not the place to find that, those other places are. I’ll just share the news that catches my attention and right now the important part of that word, ‘new’, is the inroads that trans rights have suddenly found itself making. I am, for the time being, celebrating that. I think it’s beautiful and wonderful.
- The end of gender? North American society may be ready for more shades in between male and female (news.nationalpost.com)
- Laverne Cox Makes History on the Cover of TIME (colorlines.com)
- Why Time’s Profile Of Laverne Cox Is A Big Step Forward For Transgender Equality (thinkprogress.org)
- Efforts to force referendum on Md. trans rights law fail (washingtonblade.com)
- Carmen Carrera And Monica Beverly Hillz Address ‘Drag Race’ Transphobia Allegations (huffingtonpost.com)