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Thread: Luncheon with an "Ally"

  1. #1
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    Luncheon with an "Ally"

    I was invited to lunch by a local self-described ally of the LGBT community. She was a defender of a local Equality Ordinance, passed by one of the larger nearby suburbs that while supposedly protecting LGBT people, excludes "T" people in a big way. The politics of this don't matter - it was passed without any input from the trans community, and my opinion of the thing is that its problems outweigh the good it does. Others in the community disagree. The actual details don't matter, other than many big conservative religious groups are fighting to kill the thing. For reasons that don't really merit debate on this forum, and much to my eternal surprise, I agree with the religious people, and want the thing to die. Not for the same reasons, of course - in fact I completely disagree with them. (My complaint is that it allows trans people to be excluded from gender appropriate restrooms, and has unusually broad anti-trans exclusions for things like schools and charitable organizations.)

    Anyway, this woman had been posting a facebook campaign, and handing out flyers with her group in support of the Equality Ordinance. The religious folks, after all, are frankly posting lies about what the ordinance will do. The common theme is that men will be allowed into the women's room, putting the lovely daughter's of this burg at risk from cross dressing sexual predators. This is, of course, ridiculous.

    But the argument against this conservative hyperbole isn't "well, that's just a load of codswallop!" No, the argument is, instead "well, the ordinance excludes trans from public restrooms, so that can't happen!" In other words, both sides pretty much agree that trans women are the problem.

    That angered me. So I simply took to posting various polite comments on the various pages of the groups supporting the ordinance as to why the trans community didn't love it. Not surprisingly, these were deleted by our allies on those pages.

    That's the backdrop for my lunch meeting with Mrs. Ally. She told me she was on my side, and wanted to meet with me. She met me at The Meddlesome Moth, a really neat pub in the Design District in Dallas. (It was nice of her to meet me on my home turf.) We sit down, chat for a minute or two (we both are attracted to men in uniform, for example), it's all pretty nice. And I begin to think "Well, this is going to go a lot better than I had expected!"

    But not so fast - for next she asks me:
    "Have you had the surgery yet?"

    I reply:
    "What difference does that make? And uh, that's awfully personal! I mean would you ask that of another woman you just met? If I asked you about your genitals, wouldn't you take that kind of personally?"

    Her reply:
    "I'm not the one trying to prove they are not a man."

    I'm used to getting asked this question - honestly, I get asked it a lot. Like typically the first or second question. Sure, it gets old, but I didn't really expect it from a self-described ally. Her justification for asking it - "prove you aren't a man", really did upset me though.

    We talked some more, I tried to explain trans 101, we kept circling around the point about cross dressing sexual predators. It was a pleasant enough conversation on the surface, although the whole thing really depressed me. We took a nice photo together after lunch, and decided we'd meet and talk again sometime. I emailed her later, and told her that I did think that her question implied an awful lot of feelings of superiority to me, on her part, as I just don't believe most people would ask another person something like that on a first meeting, but I was used to that, since most people really don't think of us as being human beings. I don't think she liked that much, so I kind of doubt we'll meet for lunch again.

    She offered to pay, and told me to pick the place and pickup the tab next time. I guess at least I got a free lunch out of the deal.

    Anyway, yeah, allies. Yay.

    BTW, in this entire debate, centering on excluding us because of the fear of cross dressing sexual predators, no one actually mentions regular old MtF heterosexual cross dressers. It's like nobody knows there are any in this town. Not that I mind - I wouldn't want to see CDs getting hated on by the same folks who are hating on transsexuals. It just kind of struck me as surprising.

    Why do I even care about the equality policy in this hateful, conservative little town? See this thread:

    "Pass or Die"

  2. #2
    Diamond Member Persephone's Avatar
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    Thank you for putting up the fight! It is pretty typical that the "T" gets left out of "LGBT" whenever legislation is involved. It has happened several times at the federal level as well as in countless cases like yours. The reality is that the "LGB commujnity" considers us an embarrassment. They usually tell us something like "Ssshhh, let us get the bill passed first without your embarrassing presence and then we'll promise to put through an amendment to take care of 'you folks' later, but, hey, meanwhile we really need your support and your bucks."

    I'm a little concerned that she's got a picture with you, now she's got a "See, I'm good with those trans folks on this, here I am havin' lunch with one of 'em."

    And the worst part is... we fall for it.

    Hugs,
    Persephone.
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    Yeah, I regretted the photo after the fact, I had the same thought. I don't know if she'll use it for much though. I think she felt pretty bad about it all by the time I finished communicating with her.

    It doesn't really matter though - the ordinance is passed. It will either be rescinded by extremely conservative, extremely religious folks, or it will stand.
    Either way, my opinion on the matter doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

    And with either outcome, trans people here lose. How much we lose, and for how long, is subject to discussion. My guess is that they won't fix this thing for at least a decade, regardless of the outcome. That's historically how long it's taken in other cities here in Texas where a similar type of ordinance was passed. They really don't like us here in Texas. Hopefully this thing doesn't survive and get cloned all over the state.

    I get annoyed when people who clearly don't seem to understand my situation try to speak for me.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nikkilovesdresses's Avatar
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    God Paula, what a degrading scenario. I'd rather lunch with a bigot than a hypocrite. I'm sorry so little progress has been made in your redneck of the woods. On the other hand she did offer to continue the dialogue- perhaps you should take that at face value, it would be an opportunity to chip away a little more of the carapace.
    I used to have a short attention spa

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    We'll see if she wants to talk again. I kind of doubt it - I think my litany of things that are difficult about being trans really depressed her. Not in a way that really changed anything - I mean, she runs a page supporting the policy. How do you go from support to "um, nevermind, this sux. thx?" And after all the discussion, she mostly thinks the solution is unisex bathrooms. Once she started telling me "um, I'm not with the city," I figured the conversation was pretty much over.

    I'm pretty used to being humiliated. This wasn't even the worst conversation I've ever had about genitalia as a trans woman.

    The whole bit about "proving I'm not a man" kind of hit me in the face though - especially by someone who was otherwise so pleasant, and who really wanted to be on my side. Sometimes it's hard to face that for the most part, nobody is on our side. I think that is the part that bothered me the most. It won't ever really matter what I do, or who I am, to some people, as a trans*, I am simply permanently "less than," well, everyone else.

    She later told me that her reason from getting involved in all this, a teenage trans guy friend of her daughter's, had decided to detransition. So really, she doesn't have much reason to worry about this stuff in the long run. I guess we'll see if she carries on, though.

  6. #6
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    It is a tough thing. Depending on the sway this "ally" holds, there can be value in trying to educate her. If she disgusts you enough, it can be to the point you don't want to be around her. Not an easy scale to balance. If you think she can be educated, and that it is an education issue, is she going to be a voice in the future that you would want say the right things on the side of trans instead of throwing us under the bus? It is difficult to combat an "ally" that is listened to when they are telling the world incorrect information. Politics suck.

    I feel for those who feel the T is left out. We can always argue about the balance of activities, but in Utah we are pretty inclusive. We also have a great Senator who understands it all and keeps the right words and thoughts in front of the government for every bit of the LGBT community.

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    Platinum Member kimdl93's Avatar
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    I have to wonder what it is about these folks that leads them to perceive all minorities assexual predators. I guess it's a handy, visceral lie. The same lie that lead to whites only water fountains, whiites only restrooms, only and lynchings.

    Easy come, easy go;
    Easy left me long ago...

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    Cissexual is cissexual, LGBQI etc. notwithstanding.
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    Gold Member Rachael Leigh's Avatar
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    I always find the argument over if you allow someone in a restroom in the gender they are presenting and if they are really a man somehow they might be only doing it as a sexual predator, I guess they arent bothered by the fact that a women could also be one. Paula I am in the area and have followed that story as well and while I am a person of faith I was not sure I was in favor of the ordinance myself but I had other reasons that I felt it was not necessary. I think to many times cities are getting hung up on making all these special laws for every group and all and why isnt it just better to say there should be no discriminating based on sex,race,or religion. Pretty simple.

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    What you understand sex and discrimination to encompass does not mean the same thing to others. For this to work in the way you suggest, it must ultimately be supported in court cases (even when written into agency regulations). This is just starting to happen – narrowly – in the United States in the context of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. How far that will go is anyone's guess. One thing to keep in mind is that some kinds of sex discrimination, regardless of how you construe sex, is allowed. The basis for this these days is generally rooted in biology. Trans people don't simplify that. They complicate it. The easiest example to cite is gender reassignment surgery status.

    Keep in mind also that the law doesn't always cleanly distinguish between sex and gender.

    We are a very long way from the kind of clarity you are implying and would like to see.
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  11. #11
    Gold Member Kaitlyn Michele's Avatar
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    Paula one of the first things a transitioned transsexual ever said to me (that I can recall) was this..

    "you have to be ready to find out that everybody is against you"... I didn't find that to be totally true, but I can't think of anybody that just said "woo hoo" right out of the gate..i have a hit rate of 100% of people that said they would help me find a job and didn't...and a 100% hit rate of interviews that went very well with no call back (even tho as a man I was a best in class professional that had head hunters crawling all over me for years)

    the unfairness of life is what it is. I think the woman's comments were just so symptomatic of how we are marginalized and/or dehumanized by cisgender people...

    you weren't trying to convince her of anything..you are just existing as you exist... you were just meeting and talking
    its a breathtakingly presumptuous statement that she can make because of her human privilege vs our less than human status that is embedded in her mind

    she sees no issue with asking questions about your genitals or demanding you to prove you exist, she is not capable of understanding.

    I recall at a monthly T oriented party I used to attend a few couples came in unaware of the party... they were actually friendly but over time it was obvious they were having a great time at the freak show...at one point I was talking to a couple and the guy just reached out and grabbed my boobs.... "are they real?"...With instinct, I grabbed his C*ck and Ba**s so hard he cried out ..I said "are they real?"....his girlfriend just exploded in laughter.... but it was the laughter of "ha ha the tranny freak made you small"....it was one event, but a microcosm of reality...

    the way out of the mess is to thrive against the tide as best you can and accept what is as it is... she is not your ally, she is not really a hypocrite because she is clear that you are less than human, she may or may not "help" you but its not because of her acceptance of you as an equal...

  12. #12
    Silver Member Angela Campbell's Avatar
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    The question about "the operation"


    yeah. It is asked because to most cis people the genitals is the defining point of whether you are a man or a woman. Simple as that to them. If you haven't had "the operation" you are a man, if you have you are kinda, sorta a woman. But not really. They ask because to them that is all there is to it. Most truly think it is a simple thing, get an operation and bazinga you had a sex change, they have no clue as to the rest of it, and they really don't care.

    Since the genital area is the defining point to them they naturally must ask you since that helps them determine if you are a boy or a kinda, sorta, almost, girl.

    I have said this many times....if you have not experienced this you cannot possibly understand it. You can sympathize, you can support, you can be knowledgeable....but not understand.
    All I ever wanted was to be a girl. Is that really asking too much?

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    That was pretty mean and uncalled for her asking about that and her statement. Some friend. She does not get it it at all!

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    Member Karen62's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulaQ View Post
    "Have you had the surgery yet?"
    The condescension and lack of compassion or empathy of that comment is stunning. Especially when coming from a self-described "ally" (exactly your point), and right at the start of a first-time conversation. It sends shivers down my back. But, I suppose I needed to hear this, as this might well be what I will face in the coming months as well. Wow. Thanks for the cold splash of water in my face (although it was really your face, Paula, that suffered the actual cold splash -- mine was only a vicariously shared moment).

    The whole LGBQ (and only T if we have to have them) thing is an eye-opener for me. I work for a pretty big company and they have an organized LGBT social group within the company email system. I've just looked into this group this week (I am still in baby-step mode in my emergence from years in the shadows) and wondered about this very issue. I discovered one of my colleagues is one of the leaders of this group, which is great news. I wrote an email to her this week and mentioned that I wanted to chat with her sometime about the group -- that I wanted more information and was glad that I already knew her. She instantly responded that she'd be happy to talk about it with me. My intention is to ask about the status of trans people within the group. I didn't reveal anything specific about me in the email, other than my awareness of and interest in the group itself (and her leadership in it). I'm hopeful that it won't be the same old LGB club with Ts shunned to the back corner of the room, but I am determined to find out. I'd like to have some support at work as I move forward in my fledgling plans for transition coming this year.

    Karen

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    The woman who was so rude was straight, and cis.

    I had lunch with another trans woman, and three allies, a gay guy, a lesbian woman, and a straight guy. It was another trip into the anti-universe, where the discrimination and intolerance I have the misfortunate of observing on a regular basis don't exist - just ask my lunch partners. The really disturbing one was the other trans woman, who really seems to question whether or not discrimination, and transphobia occur. She's never really experienced them apparently, so she questions that they happen. So tough, to transition, be well off and white, transition after retirement, keep your spouse, and have your day spent either in the mall, or in the LGBT church where she is a minister. She's also the one of us who really wants to compromise on the much disputed ordinance - we should just be happy we get anything. That's a very southern female trait - I have to give her that though. (She certainly has that down WAY better than I ever will.)

    I'm not very compromising about this. I will die before I will admit that I am not a woman. I am very serious about that - I told everyone at the table that. I'm not trying to pick a fight, be obstinate, get in the way of progress, anything like that. But the ordinance we discussed is really screwed up, and in essence, if I agree with it, I'm admitting that I'm not a woman. The gay folks at the table certainly understood that. (I must not be a woman by law if random strangers can decide my gender, and which restroom, I get to use - and that's precisely the problem with the ordinance. Well, one of the problems...) I've waited too long, fought too hard on this to feel any other way. I can't control what others think. I can't control the laws they pass. I can't make myself not bound by them. But I don't have to say I agree with them when they negate my identity. Quite the contrary.

    It was pretty frustrating. I felt a little out of sorts - maybe I'm losing my mind - only thinking that I live in a world where most people don't really believe we are human beings - not really. So I went to my therapist, did a reality check, and yep, sure enough, there's lots of discrimination out there against trans people. All those incidents that I've observed first hand, heard testimony about from other men and women - yeah, that's really for real!*whew* that's a relief! Oh wait....

    I met with an actual ally at the support group mixer I co-hosted tonight. A gay man, he approached me about doing trans education in his church, because he believed that we were experiencing the same things the gay and lesbian community faced years ago, and he feels it's WRONG for them not to be our best and strongest allies. So we talked about building bridges between us. He came to our mixer to learn about us. He listened to one of our trans men tell his life story. I hugged him, after we spoke - it really restored my faith to meet someone who gets it - and is humble enough to know that he doesn't understand it all. It really made my week.

    So sure, it's a hard, cruel world out there, full of selfish and self-centered people. But there are some genuine and good people out there, and they pop up where you least expect them.

  16. #16
    Silver Member Rogina B's Avatar
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    "Fully gender inclusive" HRO's are the only ones of value and they merely set a tone of tolerance for a community.Haters can still hate,but acting on it can POSSIBLY get them in trouble..only that. As I see it,when a person asks "if you have had THE surgery?" then it is an instant reveal that they are not on our side and an automatic "Yes" is an appropriate answer...What difference will the truth or not make anyway? Need to know and they don't need to know...I think much of Texas is a very difficult place for the alphabet community.

  17. #17
    Curmudgeon Member donnalee's Avatar
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    I'm confused; in what way is this woman an ally? Helping to pass an ordinance that discriminates against a particular group while calling it an "Equality" ordinance is the height of hypocrisy (let alone absurdity); she really needs to get her mind out of the toilet.
    ALWAYS plan for the worst, then you can be pleasantly surprised if something else happens!

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    Haters and mind in the toilet? Hypocrisy?

    Maybe. Really - maybe yes and maybe no.

    The difference between this person and the person on the street saying the same thing is that she thinks she is an ally and wants to be one. Clearly she doesn't understand trans issues from the trans perspective, however. Hence there is more of an opportunity to turn the situation. One of the patterns I see developing is the tendency to call trans people out for being combative. There are times and places for that. This sort of situation is probably not one of those.

    Regarding answering yes to the question… I would not do that as long as one's surgical status has any legal importance. You may undermine yourself in a situation where a third-party was acting legitimately on that information out of sincere belief. Better to simply demur.
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    @donnalee - the ordinance in question protects sexual orientation and gender identity in housing and employment (note the absence of gender expression), but excludes sex segregated places like restrooms, locker rooms, religious groups, charities, and schools.

    It's the exclusions that are the problem.

    Some argue that we're better off as trans with housing and employment protection, because we're already excluded from restrooms.

    I disagree - we aren't mentioned at all in the old ordinance, it asserts nothing about us. The new one attempts to segregate on physical sex characteristics, and as such,is a total freaking mess.

    They hoped to avoid opposition from religious groups by writing it this way. They were naive about that - it has plenty of opposition.

    @LeaP - I simply told the truth after she pressed me about it. I am ways truthful about who and what I am. She isn't a hater because she didn't deny my right to exist, not assert I faced perdition because of my identity. She simply had no frame of reference outside of her cis-privilege, and had done very little research on us. Also, as a woman in the south, there's strong element of "be happy you get anything!" She's culturally programmed like that - it takes an effort of will not to be.
    Last edited by PaulaQ; 01-30-2015 at 10:37 AM.

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    I will disagree with you on the comment about Southern women. Granted, I am a Northerner. Born and bred in New England, with my direct line living in the same small area for nearly 400 years. That said, my wife was raised in Louisiana and Virginia. (At times more a source of conflict then trans issues!)

    I have worked in the South oh, going on 10 years, and I've owned homes in several areas of the South. I live there now. It took me a while to pick up on communications subtleties. But one conclusion was that Southerners are neither more passive nor less capable than anyone else, regardless of sex. I worked at one company that went through literally scores of mergers and acquisitions. I saw management teams at more than one of the other companies that traded on those sorts of perceptions, generally to be eaten alive. The interactions were different than might take place between two Bostonians, to be sure. So were the paths to action. But the results were frequently devastating - and surprising - to the acquired firms' teams. Our CIO – a Southern woman – personified this behavior.

    I see much the same in my own employees and peers. I do see a tendency toward strongly deferential responses from those subordinate within my organization. I have had to learn the hard way not to project those kinds of responses into outcomes.
    Last edited by LeaP; 01-30-2015 at 11:19 AM. Reason: Format, spelling
    I am older than I once was,
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    After changes upon changes
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeaP View Post
    I will disagree with you on the comment about Southern women.
    Well, it was pointed out to me by a southern cis woman I know. I dunno - it didn't fit me well so I just reported what I was told.

    The woman I had lunch with on Monday, though, at the very least was of the opinion that a little protection was better than nothing, and that it would be unfair to punish gays, lesbians, and veterans (people added in the ordinance) by not supporting the ordinance. (I've heard that from lots of people - including other trans*.) She didn't consider the damage the exclusions would do - particularly the way they were worded. And ultimately, as I told her, all of that is too bad. I didn't make this mess, the trans* community wasn't consulted before it was passed, so I certainly don't have to support it, as much as it galls me to be in the same position as the religious bigots. The HRC isn't supporting the thing either, for the same reasons as me.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulaQ View Post
    that from lots of people - including other trans*.) ... the HRC isn't supporting the thing either, for the same reasons as me.
    OMG, my faith in humanity is restored ...
    I am older than I once was,
    And younger than I'll be. ...
    After changes upon changes
    We are more or less the same;
    After changes we are more or less the same.

  23. #23
    Member angpai30's Avatar
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    I am surprised because HRC tends to forget the T in LGBT a lot. I have seen a lot of HRC stuff that they support that totally go against Trans all together. I even saw their logo on an Anti LGBT Billboard. Most Transsexuals in Utah will not support the HRC because their positioning on LGBT issues is unclear. As for this bill... I would think that they would at least have consulted with the T community before putting it into effect. It just goes to show the most people still have some kind of phobia towards trans even some allies.

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