Feb 26, 2008
Celebration of Life
We had Theresa's "celebration of life" yesterday. I was simultaneously moved and annoyed by it. There were two groups of people there -- her blood relatives and her lesbian community of friends. I would guess that there was about an even split between the two, maybe 20-25 in each camp, making the total attendance somewhere between 40 and 50. Theresa's brother, her ex-husband, and her two children dominated the service. Only an occasional nod was made to her partner.
I very much wished to bridge the gap between the two camps and let the blood relatives know that we all, in the lesbian crowd of friends, considered her family also.
We often use the word "family" when we describe other LGBT people. I really don't know how that practice originated, but I suspect it had something to do with the harsh reality that many of us are shunned by our birth families, or worse. So, when we find another soul, or group of souls, that accepts who we are unconditionally -- as a family surely must -- we provide that cherished appellation.
Spouses are, by dint of law, family. The fact that Theresa and her partner were together for 10 years meant nothing. Because, despite our best (?) efforts, Theresa had no will her partner stands to inherit exactly nothing from her estate. She is a legal stranger. And yet, in every practical way that matters, Theresa was her closest family.
I have only known Theresa as long as I've known my Girl, but I feel as if I've lost a member of my family.
I promise -- this is my last maudlin post for a while!
Feb 23, 2008
Goodbye, Dear Theresa
And just like that, she's gone. I miss her already. Monday is the memorial service. Now, we have to care for her partner. How do you console someone who's just lost her life partner?Life is too damn short.
To kill a Trannie - Part II
As if I weren't already sick of death.
The week before Creating Change here in Detroit one of our local television stations reported the murder of a "Cross-dressing prostitute", with a subtitle of "Man dressed as a woman found dead". The editor and I exchanged emails about the titling with her expressing her desire to be sensitive to our community.
Then, last week, the murder of 8th grader Lawrence King, 15, in Oxnard, CA was widely reported. In case you've been under a rock, this is about a young person being killed in his classroom at middle school because he was openly gay and wore "women's" clothing, makeup and accessories to school.
Today, I read about the shooting death of 17 year old Simmie Williams in Florida.
Perhaps, given this current spate of violence and death, I can be forgiven for my little rant over at Lobal Warming when I saw this post. I hate being politically correct; I think it's important that we have a sense of humor about ourselves. I guess today just isn't the day for a sense of humor for me. My earlier post about the Ann Coulter bitch can be found here (Yes, GM, I'd like to disassociate her from UM also!)
I am so tired of death
Most of you know me as a very optimistic person. I laugh easily and often; I love life. But, for what seems like an eternity now I have thought about death and what's on the other side of it. I am certain that it all started with the death of my (step) father-in-law just over a year ago. Following that, of course, was the death of my beloved mother last May. Last October 8 (the date of her death) and this past January 17 (the day of her birth) we paused to remember and reflect upon the life and death of my Girl's previous partner. A couple of days ago my friend Jami posted an entry that discussed, in part, suicide. A friend from law school posted just yesterday a tribute to one of her mentors who passed away this week, before her time (no link because it is on a private blog). And now, this.
We got the call last night. A very dear friend of ours likely will not survive the weekend. Just two weeks ago she and her partner stayed with us for a couple of days and we all enjoyed a movie and dinner together and excellent conversation (in an odd coincidence the partner was a former partner of my Girl's now-deceased ex). A few days later, complaining of pain in her abdomen, they took her her to the doctor. Long story short, she was ultimately diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer. This past Saturday (one week ago today) she was admitted to the hospital for further tests. Suddenly, her organs began to shut down, fluid began to build in her body and she lost lucidity.
I want very much to believe in life after death. I want to believe that I'll meet my family and friends in an afterlife. I want very much to believe in a god so that I can alternately pray to him/her and curse him/her for taking people from our lives before their time. So, if you do believe, would you be my stand-in and pray for Theresa and her family for me? I love you, Theresa. I am grateful that you will not suffer long. Thank you for being in my life.
Feb 20, 2008
Gay and Married -- in New York
Jami posted a question in comments about a ruling from New York state's highest court that said (unanimously) that the state must recognize marriages between same-sex couples performed in jurisdictions -- specifically Canada -- where it's legal. She referenced this article on the ACLU's website. She asked me what I thought of the ruling; I'll try and give a summary of my thoughts.
First, I want to be clear that marriage is not the be-all, end-all with respect to gay civil rights, in my book. Frankly, I think marriage as an institution carries too much power in our culture and I don't think it's fair or reasonable basis upon which to allocate benefits, privileges and obligations. That said, I chose to get married (also in Canada) and I completely believe that allowing some couples to marry and not others is invidious discrimination and needs to be stopped.
I think, therefore, that it probably goes without saying that I think the ruling itself is correct and overdue (Download new_york_ruling_on_canadian_marriage.pdf).
Essentially, the court said that just because a marriage wouldn't be valid if solemnized in New York didn't stop the state from recognizing it if it were valid where performed. It cited several instances where such marriages had been recognized in the state's history (including a marriage between an uncle and a niece, performed in another US state (not able to be performed in New York because of statutes regarding consanguinity) and a marriage between an opposite sex couple that were under 18 when legally married in Canada (not able to be performed in New York because of statutes proscribing the legal age to marry as 18 or over)).
The court gave two reasons under which it could have found the marriage between same-sex couples invalid - a statute explicitly prohibiting recognition of such marriages (what the court called "positive law") or if such marriages are prohibited by something called "natural law". The defendants in the case argued that the marriage should be prohibited as against the strong public policy of the State of New York. It is the court's treatment of the last two issues that interest me the most.
First, the court gave short shrift to the idea of same sex marriages being against the "natural law". It noted that in order to prohibited under this rubric, a marriage would need to be "offensive to the public sense of morality to a degree regarded generally with abhorrence" and simply stated that such a case "cannot be said here", limiting that exception instead primarily to incest or polygamy. Personally, from a cultural standpoint, I think this is huge. It is not that long ago that it would have been this ground upon which a ruling against this couple would have been issued.
Second, the court noted that New York "unlike the overwhelming majority of states" had not enacted a mini-DOMA (legislation denying full faith and credit to same-sex marriages validly solemnized in another state). This, stating the obvious, is the part of the ruling that goes to whether or not this decision in one state can be duplicated in another. It is not the mere enactment of a mini-DOMA upon which a state can rely to deny equal recognition to otherwise valid marriages, such as this one, but it is strong evidence that a state can rely upon to prove its claim that such recognition would be violative of the state's public policy. If a state's population feels so strongly that it should deny these rights to a class of people that its elected legislature passes such a law (or, worse, a constitutional amendment) a court will almost certainly view that as dispositive. UNLESS, a plaintiff can win her case by striking down such a law as a violation of the US constitution. Therein lies the hope that this ruling in New York could eventually spread to those states whose populace have enacted such hateful and discriminatory law. And, for those states that have not enacted such law, citing to this case in New York, while not providing any binding precedent, can only be helpful.
Way to go, New York!
Does that answer your question about what I think, Jami? And, y'all should check out Jami's post regarding civil unions. No, they are NOT marriage.
Feb 19, 2008
To kill a Trannie
This article showed up in my inbox; I'm afraid I don't know where it was originally published, so I don't have a link:
How to kill a transperson
February 15th, 2008
By Ceridwen Troy
On Saturday, Sanesha Stewart, a transwoman of color living in the Bronx, was murdered in her own apartment. She was 25 years old. Her accused killer, Steve McMillan, had known her for months, yet when he was arrested, he claimed to have been enraged to find out that she was what the media coverage called not really a woman. He stabbed her over and over again in the chest and throat. She tried to fight him off; there were defensive wounds found on her hands.
On Tuesday, eighth-grader Lawrence King was in a classroom in Oxnard, Calif. He was openly gay, and often came to school in gender-bending clothing, makeup, jewelry and shoes. According to another student, it was freaking the guys out. One of them shot Lawrence in the head. He was declared brain-dead on Wednesday.
It is easy to look at cases like this and think, how tragic. How random. How senseless.
But then, you forget how easy it is to kill a transgender person.
You forget that all across this nation, faith leaders of all stripes, men and women who claim to speak for God Himself, call us sinners, call us abominations, call us evil.
You forget that at best the media depicts us as something to be pitied, something that our families must be strong and overcome. At worst, they depict us as abnormal, exploiting our bodies for ratings, exploiting the publics fear of us for shock value.
You forget that on a good day, law enforcement agents are neglectful of us, and that far more frequently they join in our harassment. You forget the transwomen of color who are rounded up on suspicions of prostitution. You forget the beatings that go uninvestigated. You forget the molestation and rape we face when we are arrested.
You forget the medical establishment that drains our wallets for the therapy and hormones and surgeries they tell us we need. You forget the way we are then refused treatment when we are dying, dying of treatable diseases, dying of easily patched wounds.
You forget that, by the law of the land, it is legal in the majority of states to deny us employment, to deny us service, to deny us housing.
You forget the shelters and the rape crisis centers that will not allow us through their doors.
You forget that many of us do not even have family to turn to when we are at our most desperate.
You forget that the leaders of our own community have told us that it is not time for us to have rights, that it is not pragmatic for us to be considered worthy of the same respect as other human beings.
You forget that in our own circles, it is considered a negative thing to be too flamboyant. You forget the way our pride parades have been derided by our own community. You forget the scorn heaped upon drag queens by other gay men. You forget the fear to be seen in public with a friend who is considered too open, too queer.
You forget the way it seeps into the minds of transgender people, too. You forget the way a transsexual will shout that she is not a cross dresser, as if there were something wrong with that. You forget the catty names we call each other if we don't pass". You forget how many of us take our own lives every year.
You forget because the noise is always there, a constant drone in the background. Every newspaper piece that calls a trans woman he instead of she. Every talk show host who spends an hour talking about our genitals. Every childish taunt about looking like a tranny. Every trans person who talks about themselves as true transsexuals. Every activist and politician who tells us now is not the time.
You forget too, how easy it is to kill a person of color, with myths about gangstas and lies about immigrants. You forget how easy it is to kill a person living in poverty, cutting off her welfare because she is supposedly being paid to breed. You forget how easy it is to kill a sex worker, with sex-shaming language, slinging about slurs like hooker and whore.
You forget the message hidden inside every single one of those statements.
You are less than I am. You are not worthy of the rights and respect that I am worthy of.
You are not human.
It is very easy to kill something that you do not see as human.
It is very easy to kill a trans person.
Feb 07, 2008
Creating Change and the City of Detroit
As my Girl and I prepare to attend the 20th anniversary of Creating Change to be held in Detroit this week, it is with great excitement that we read the following announcement from Triangle Foundation (full disclosure, I was just named to Triangle Foundation's Board of Trustees).
As an aside, it is amazing to me how many of our lesbian friends, and clients, have never heard of Creating Change. Admittedly, I only asked 3 couples but not one of those six women had heard of it. Is it the middle-age demographic? This will be my third one and I'm quite excited. Last night, we went to The Ark in Ann Arbor and watched Kate Clinton. Damn, she's good.
Detroit City Council Welcomes Creating Change,
Supports Transgender Rights
On February 5, the Detroit City Council passed a two-part resolution opposing discrimination against transgender individuals and welcoming the National Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality, Creating Change. Creating Change is bringing more than 2,000 LGBT and allied activists to the Renaissance Center Feb. 6-10.
Triangle Foundation, the state's leading anti-violence and advocacy organization, and the ACLU of Michigan's LGBT Project, have worked closely with City Council to include gender identity and expression in the city's anti-discrimination ordinances.
"I can't think of a better time for City Council to pass this resolution than the eve of Creating Change," said Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for Triangle. "We will continue working with the ACLU to help Council translate this resolution into an ordinance that will protect Detroit's transgender residents, workers and visitors - like the ones coming this week for Creating Change."
“We applaud the City Council’s passage of a resolution welcoming the Creative Change Conference and its statement that it opposes gender identity or expression discrimination," said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the LGBT Project. "When it passed its human rights ordinance prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in 1978, the City of Detroit demonstrated that it was a leader among major United States cities in its commitment to diversity and equal opportunity. It’s only appropriate that 30 years later, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has chosen the City of Detroit as its host for the Creating Change Conference, where LGBT activists and allies from around the country will convene to work towards full equality and opportunity for LGBT people."