poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Transfeminism: Let Her Rip
By Hanne Blank
It’s been in the New York Times, so it must be official: Transpeople are here in number and they’re here to stay. Transsexuals (those who medically change the hormonal and/or anatomical aspects of their biological sex) and transgendered people (those who change or redefine their gender that may not include any medical change) are, as illuminated in the March 7 Times article “On Campus, Rethinking Biology 101,” increasingly visible and vocal, and they’re out there doing shocking, subversive things—like going to college and working for appropriate living conditions on their campuses. These efforts bring up any number of issues about equal access, but also about the nature and meaning of personal attributes we’re taught to think of as fixed and immutable, like sex and gender.

Trans may only now be gracing the pages of the Times, but it’s been an issue among feminists for years. From the long-running controversy over admitting only “womyn-born-womyn” to the nearly 30-year-old Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, to whether the lesbian community is losing its butch women to transsexuality, transfolk are forcing feminism to face difficult, sometimes uncomfortable, questions.

Such questions are not only about trans people, although they’re often framed that way. They’re questions about the nature of feminism, about essentialism and binarism and how we should challenge oppressive ideologies of gender. The question is raised, in some quarters, of whether trans issues belong in feminism at all. Isn’t it hard enough for feminists to create change without being asked to take on the cause of people who are something other than biological women?

Here’s an attempt at an answer: Feminism has been fighting for generations against the notion that biology equals destiny. Do we really believe it? Or are we still clinging to a mythos that insists there’s some numinous ontological essence called “man-ness” or “woman-ness”? Transfolk, increasingly numerous, loud and proud, are calling our bluff.


Police Commission gets 6 new members
Suzanne Herel Wednesday, April 21, 2004
The Board of Supervisors filled six of the seven positions Tuesday on the reconstituted Police Commission, which voters approved in November to give the panel more authority over charges of police misconduct.

The new commissioners include three chosen by Mayor Gavin Newsom: Omega Boys Club Director Joe Marshall and attorneys Douglas Chan and Joseph Veronese, son of former Supervisor Angela Alioto. The mayor's fourth pick, former City Attorney Louise Renne, will be considered by a board committee this week.

The supervisors appointed Theresa Sparks, a transsexual who has been a critic of police treatment of transgendered people; former police officer and commissioner Gayle Orr-Smith; and Peter Keane, a professor at Golden Gate University School of Law.


Silence aims to build LGBT awareness
By Brooke Carey
Sometimes silence can produce a deafening cry.
Members of the university community and local high school students will participate in several on-campus events today that coincide with the National Day of Silence, in which participants vow to remain silent all day.

The silence symbolizes the silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States on issues such as violence against gay men and lesbian women, and gay rights, said Patty Hayes, a graduate assistant at the LGBT Center, which is coordinating the event.
"I think it's very valuable to use silence paradoxically to speak loudly," Hayes said. "It's a really active resistance."


Different is normal for a special family

YOUNG Eleanor Whittle’s family could be described as being a little bit different.

Her father used to be a radical lesbian, her mother has given birth to four children by sperm donor and they all live under the same roof with two of her parents’ friends from university.

The Stockport schoolgirl, 11, yesterday addressed a conference in the Swiss city of Geneva to discuss her experiences of living in a “non-traditional family”.

Her 10-minute speech to a panel arranged by the International Service on Human Rights and the International Research Centre on Social Minorities discussed the unusual living arrangements back home in Heaton Mersey.

Her father, Dr Stephen Whittle, is a female-to-male-transsexual who started living as a man in the 1970s and is now raising four children with his long-term partner, Sarah Rutherford.


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