Tag Archives: trans

Recommended Reading for November 30, 2010

Jessica Pauline Ogilvie for the Los Angeles Times: Stuttering: Working to free the words

An estimated 3 million American adults have a stutter that didn’t resolve in childhood, according to the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation of America. As kids, many dealt with the giggles of classmates and confusion of teachers; as adults, they often deal with uncertain glances and the impatience of strangers. They’ve long sought comfort from each other, sharing their experiences at conferences and advocacy groups.

Eli Clare at eliclare.com/blog: Disability Pride (from a few months ago, but definitely worth a read!)

Disability Pride calls for celebration, hope, rebellion. We take shame, fear, and isolation, turn them around, and forge wholeness. Pride refuses to let the daily grind of ableism, discrimination, exclusion, violence, and patronizing define who we are. Pride knows our history, joyfully insists upon our present, and stretches into our future.

Wheelchair Dancer at cripwheels: disability is a feminist issue

By using disability as she does, she makes herself smaller, less objectionable to the man; she dismisses herself and undervalues herself. She does her best to dodge what might be a harsh remark
about her intellectual capacities. She does disability in the old way, a way in which the value of our diverse minds and bodies is not acknowledged. Her disability is a weakness that separates her from an actively feminist goal of being an equal partner in the conversation and the game.

Brittany-Ann at A Bookish Beemer: A Glimpse of an Employed Epileptic

I know. I’m saying it’s wrong. I’m saying that the hoops one has to jump through, if neurologically atypical as I am, just to ensure you’re not fired because of being neurologically atypical, is ridiculous. That I should first have to reveal my medical history (which is private) to my managers, then explain to them what epilepsy is, THEN explain how it affects me, to finally say that it might prevent me from coming into work someday in the future, maybe, is ridiculous.

WHEELIE cATHOLIC: Dear Illegal Parker

As I passed the half a dozen handicap spots, I noticed that your car didn’t even have a placard or plate. I wondered why even on Thanksgiving at a senior housing complex, someone would illegally park in an accessible spot. I suppose you didn’t think someone in a wheelchair might really need that spot.

If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading at disabledfeminists dot com. Please note if you would like to be credited, and under what name/site.

Recommended Reading for 19 November, 2010

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

little light at Questioning Transphobia: clamavi ad te. Please note that the post discusses suicide, abuse, and murder of trans people. If you think you can handle it, though, it is powerful reading, as is everything little light writes.

When you have been told you are less than human–less than sacred–less than beautiful–your community has failed you. When you believe it, it is because your community has failed you. I do not intend to mince words. … You deserve better. Because you are not the problem. You are not broken. You are not worthless. You are not a problem and you are not a mistake.

Liz at Dis/Embody: Thoughts on World Usability Day:

Now, of course, usability is not the same as accessibility; it is focused on ease of general use, for a mass audience. And, usability doesn’t always incorporate a universal design perspective in which the needs of those who face the most challenges are centered, with the understanding that products designed for that group may also be more usable by others.

That said, usability and communication is an interesting theme, as it seems to implicitly tie back to media accessibility in particular.

Interviews conducted by Meena Bakhtash at the BBC: Voices: Disability and the Hajj to Mecca:

The annual Hajj pilgrimage – a religious duty that every adult Muslim is expected to do once in their lives – can be a tough challenge.

But the obstacles are infinitely greater for Muslims with disabilities, who choose to take the journey.

Melissa Jenkins at the Sydney Morning Herald: Disability package gets tick:

The Victorian government is taking the right approach by directing the majority of its disability package towards early intervention, advocacy groups and unions say.

Kirsty Whalley at This is Local London: Disabled girl from Norbury a “health and safety risk”, says school

A disabled 11-year-old girl has been rejected by an academy school because she poses a “health and safety risk” to other children.

That’s all for this time. Send your links to recreading[@]disabledfeminists[.]com. Let us know if/how you want to be credited.

Recommended Reading for October 19, 2010

Corina Becker at No Stereotypes Here: Real Communication Shutdown

I was recently asked by a person on Twitter to participate, and I responded that there wasn’t much of a point, since I am Autistic, and do not require to learn about difficulties that I myself face in communicating.

kaz at Kaz’s Scribblings (DW): trials and tribulations — learning foreign languages with speech disorders

in my forays into foreign languages, I have discovered that if I speak slowly and focus on pronunciation I automatically slip into stronger therapy. And I do mean automatically. And, like, I can’t even think “okay, I’m going to talk normally now”, I actually have to intentionally try and modify various sounds to be untherapylike. . .

Katherine Creag at My Fox NY: Woman Couldn’t Buy Inhaler During Asthma Attack

“I had exactly a twenty-dollar bill. It came to twenty-one and change,” Jack Brown said. “I offered him my cell phone, my wallet. I said I live right around the corner. I come in here all the time.”

He was told the inhaler with tax would cost just over $21. He was short a dollar and change.

staticnonsense at Some Assembly Required: Intersections of Disability and Transgenderism

Trans people get othered a lot. We’re pushed off as crazy, disordered, for challenging the social norms of gender and sex. Either by choice in trying to deconstruct this ancient structure, or simply by existing. Throughout history we’ve been institutionalized or “fixed” (or tried to be) simply for existing as ourselves in a world that focuses so strongly on the cissexist concept of penis = man = masculine and vagina = woman = feminine. Even now the disconnect of the body and one’s self identity is seen as a disorder, one that mu

Chally at Feministe: Unreality and the politics of experience

And it’s a bizarre experience because the person in the best position to speak about their own experiences and emotions is the person who has them. And, personally, I find the desire to go over horrible experiences with a fine tooth comb, tease them out, decide – retrospectively, calmly, objectively – on an appropriate response, (an appropriate reaction is whatever I judge to be appropriate, thank you very much) to add a whole new sickening layer to what I experienced. And then there are those demands for more details and irrelevant details and painful details, because whoever is “listening” thinks they get to decide what’s important.

If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading at disabledfeminists dot com. Please note if you would like to be credited, and under what name/site.

Recommended Reading for 14 April, 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

A smiling Vietnamese woman pictured in a seated position in a doorway with her prosthetic leg standing up next to her. Her right arm is amputated at the hand and her left arm is amputated at the elbow. Behind her, two older adults are seated.
Huol Srey Von (21) is a multiple amputee who has lived with her grandparents since her family house collapsed last year. The Cambodia Trust provides her with prosthetic limbs to improve her mobility and to enable her to participate in community life. Photo: Simon Larbelestier (via Cambodia Trust on Flickr)

Adam Hetrick at Playbill: Next to Normal Creators Kitt and Yorkey React to Pulitzer Win

“We wanted to do something that would shake things up a bit. I saw a television report about ECT, about shock therapy, and I said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that still goes on.’ So I called up Tom and said, ‘What about a musical about a woman who suffers from depression and has to go through shock therapy?’ And Tom agreed, I don’t know why. But thank God he did!”

I haven’t seen this musical, and I’d be curious to get reports from readers who have. I want to be excited about representations of disability winning Pulitzers, but this quote does not exactly inspire confidence.

Steve Esack at The Morning Call: Ready, Willing, and Disabled

Cameron has reached the maximum schooling age for special education students, forcing them to leave the safety net that is the Bethlehem Area School District. His minimum-wage job will shift to another student. His family will have to navigate myriad social programs to help him find new employment that will allow him to keep the dignity he feels when he cashes his paychecks.

T. R. Xands at Adventures of the TV Addict, the Wannabe Writer, and the Should-Be Famous: I’m sure that attitude will get you everywhere

You think it’s pointless to talk to POC because you fuck up every time? Why were you expecting it to be easy? Why don’t you sit back and learn a spell before you become the great Crimson Advocate Avenger. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever get a hang of this disability & gender thing, and at night I often wonder to myself if I’ve accidentally said anything ableist today or if I could have stopped someone from doing likewise. Sometimes I think I’ve internalized homophobia or racism without even realizing it before. But the LAST thing I do is throw my hands up and get mad at the group I’m trying to learn from for not “teaching” me properly. They get enough shit, they don’t need my ignorant self roaming around looking for cookies and pamphlets; about as much as I need our plentiful campus feminist heroes sending me fliers to diversify their group.

Michelle Diament at Disability Scoop: Down Syndrome Takes Center Stage On Fox’s ‘Glee’

Disability Scoop: What do you think of the fact that Glee is including a character with Down syndrome?

Lauren Potter: I think it was a brilliant idea. It tells Americans that it’s really good to have a daughter or son who has Down syndrome.

C. L. Minou guest blogging at Feministe: We Are the Dead (content warning, discussions of sexual assault and murder)

Even though a trans woman, like many other women who have been assaulted, might long for an all-female environment to aid her recovery, there is no guarantee that she’ll be accepted there. And often no guarantee that anyone else will have her. Even in large cities, finding a trans-positive or even trans-accepting victim center is likely to be impossible. There is nowhere to turn for many trans victims of rape or assault, which is why the sexual assault numbers for trans women–high though they may be–are almost certainly drastically underreported.

Lisa at Happy Bodies: Portraying MS

In addition to being rather inaccurate to most people’s lived experiences of MS, I find the “expiration” language to be offensive. Things that are “expired” are dead, trash, not fit for consumption, over and finished with. Just because people with MS may have limited use of some parts of their bodies, or experience pain or other sensory phenomena in their extremities does not mean that their bodies have “expired”.

I’d like to end this roundup with a special shoutout to a Jezebel commenter, somedisaster, who wrote this really lovely paragraph in a comments thread in which ableist language was challenged:

The only reason words like “lame” and “retarded” function as insults is because people consider there something to be inherently bad about BEING “lame” or “retarded.” If they were really divorced from ableism, they wouldn’t work as insults, because they would be neutral words. You can’t claim a word is divorced from its offensive context when its offensive context is the sole reason it is used as an insult.

How about you? Have you been reading (or writing) anything of interest lately?

Cycles Are Hard To Break: Disability and Domestic Violence

According to a 1997 study which I see cited in a lot of places but can’t actually find a copy of, unfortunately, 85% of women with disabilities in the United States have experienced domestic violence. Other studies pinpoint the rate at lower levels, but seem to generally agree that women with disabilities are at least twice as likely as able women to experience domestic violence and intimate partner abuse.

For women with disabilities, domestic violence is a very serious issue which is complicated by disability. It can take many forms, including insidious ones which outsiders would not necessarily recognize as domestic violence, and intervention becomes complex when you realize that many crisis and counseling centers are inaccessible. The limited resources available to able women are even more limited for disabled women.

When I worked for a domestic violence and sexual assault hotline/crisis center several years ago, one of the questions I was most commonly asked by outsiders was: “well, why don’t women just leave?” Many people are aware that the answer to this question for able women is: “it’s a complicated situation.” Take that to the power of 12 for a woman with disabilities: How can you “just walk out the door and don’t look back” when you’re a wheelchair user being kept on the inaccessible second floor and you’re dependent on your abusive partner to get out the door?

For women with disabilities, leaving an abusive relationship may mean losing a carer. It may mean losing children, because the courts are often reluctant to award custody to women with disabilities. It may mean being deprived of autonomy by people who think that people with disabilities cannot make their own decisions. It may mean institutionalization. It may also end with being forced back into that abusive relationship.

Women with disabilities who experience domestic violence can be made financially and physically dependent by their partners. Patterns of abuse can include depriving women of medication and routine care. They can include total isolation from friends and family members. They can include sexual abuse, ranging from rape to forced sterilization. They almost always involve total control and the use of coercion and threats; physical violence does not have to be present for a relationship to be abusive. They often involve deprivation from financial and social independence, including economic abuse in the form of confiscating funds which belong by rights to the disabled partner.

People with disabilities often literally lack access to domestic violence resources in their communities. They may not be aware of domestic violence services and may be unable to label what they are experiencing as domestic violence. If they attempt to report abuse, they may face disbelief, even from people like members of law enforcement who are supposed to take such reports seriously. Indeed, women with disabilities may encounter social attitudes that suggest that they actually deserve to be abused; “caregiver fatigue,” people say. “It looks abusive but it’s really not,” they also say. The abusive partner may in fact be praised by members of the community, and viewed with sympathy by people who view the disabled partner as a burden and who are not seeing the dynamic at home.

Help is increasingly available for able women in domestic violence situations. The same is not true for women with disabilities. There needs to be a greater push for accessibility in shelters. A greater push for intervention services specifically targeted at women with disabilities, including training for counselors and advocates which includes discussions of the unique axes of oppression experienced by disabled women. There needs to be a greater awareness of the fact that trans women are even more likely to experience intimate partner violence in their relationships, and that abusers often target disabled trans women. There needs to be a recognition of the fact that, for abusers, disabled women make a particularly appealing target.

Is your local domestic violence center accessible? Is it trans-inclusive? Does it focus on heterosexual relationships, or does it recognize that abuse can occur in a broad spectrum of relationships? Does it specifically offer disability services? Does it respect neurodiversity? Do representatives of disability services in your community know how to look for the signs of domestic violence and receive training in intervention? What is your community doing for disabled women experiencing domestic violence?

The feminist community at large has made domestic violence an important issue, but what is it doing for disabled women?

An Introduction to Gender Terminology

I and others are going to be talking about the medicalization and pathologization of trans* gender identities here at FWD/Forward in the coming weeks and months, so I wanted to put up a definitions post so that we can all get familiar with the kind of language we will be using. I want to note that, uhm, people write entire books about this issue. So, obviously, I can’t cover all the ground in a single post. This is a starter to lay out the basics, not a definitive dictionary.

I also want to note that this terminology differs within the social justice movement, and in various areas of the world. This means that you may disagree with some of my word use/definitions here because they are coming from a specific perspective. Remember: This is a starting point, not an ending point. If I really flub up, please let me know; I’ve tried to be very meticulous about the structure of this post, but I do mess up, and I would like to have my attention drawn to it if I have mischaracterized something (or someone).

The gender binary is a construct of gender which views gender as falling into one of two camps: male or female. Under the gender binary, these are the only options. Gender essentialists believe that assigned sex at birth is also one’s gender for life. Other folks believe that it is possible for one’s binary gender identity to differ from one’s assigned sex; e.g. someone may be assigned male at birth and later realize that she is a woman. Take, for example, a person with a gender identity which differs from assigned sex in the sense that she was assigned male at birth and knows she is female or in the sense that he was assigned female at birth and knows that he is male. This individual may be referred to as a trans person or said to be trans gendered, and as a transsexual person if he or she pursues medical treatment such as hormone therapy, top and bottom surgery, etc. These trans folks still fall within the binary, however: They have a gender identity which is male or female. (Though they may not necessarily subscribe to the idea that gender is a binary, it’s just that their gender identity happens to be on the binary!)

It’s important to note that intersex individuals (more information on intersex folks) are a problem for the gender binary. Under the rules of the binary, they should not exist, which means that being intersex is treated as a pathology which must be corrected. Historically, intersex people have been subjected to invasive surgical procedures at birth in which a gender is medically assigned. In some instances, these individuals later turn out to be trans gendered, as in the case of someone who is assigned male who later turns out to be a woman. These individuals may also later realize that they actually have a nonbinary gender identity.

The nonbinary view of gender recognizes that humans actually express and experience gender along a spectrum. Gender identity, in other words, is not as simple as “male” or “female” although these are points on the spectrum. This view does not pathologize intersex people and makes room for people who do not identify with a male or female gender. The umbrella term trans is sometimes used to refer to these individuals (and sometimes not, depending on where you are), and they may also be referred to as nonbinary. In this case, “trans” refers to someone with a gender identity which differs from assigned sex at birth, as discussed above, but in these instances, that gender identity does not fall along the gender binary. I tend to use “nonbinary” rather than “trans” when talking about people who are not on the gender binary to avoid confusion between binary trans and nonbinary trans people. Nonbinary trans folks people may self identify as genderqueer, androgyne, neuter, third gender, intergender, genderfuck, etc, but none of these terms is an appropriate umbrella term for nonbinary people. Some individuals identify as nongendered or agendered, which is yet another facet of the gender identity spectrum.

The umbrella term trans* is sometimes used to refer to the entire trans spectrum. I may use this term when I want to discuss all people on the trans* spectrum, including binary and nonbinary people. I do want to briefly note that not all intersex individuals identify as trans*; while they are outside the binary, this does not necessarily make them trans*. We need to avoid making the mistake of lumping intersex folks under the “trans*” umbrella.

Above all, self labeling is important. However someone identifies is how that person should be identified by others. On the flip side of this, it’s important to try to avoid automatic gendering; don’t assume someone’s gender identity on the basis of appearance, in other words.

Obviously, as a nonbinary, I subscribe to the nonbinary view of gender. And because we live in a society which is structured around the binary and which tends to center the experiences of cis (more information on the term “cis”) people who have a gender identity which conforms with their assigned sex, living as a trans* person is incredibly difficult. We are assaulted because of our gender identity and expression. We are reduced to our genitals (or lack thereof). We are policed. Seeking medical treatment can be frustrating and dangerous. We may be denied medical services on the basis of our gender identity, as seen, for example, among trans men who are not given screenings for cancers of the breast, cervix, and ovaries.

Part of the way to address this is to start breaking down barriers, to get people thinking about experiences which differ from their own. Deconstructing the binary and decentering cis people doesn’t threaten or hurt anyone’s gender identity, but it would make the world a lot safer for us. And for trans* folks with disabilities, talking about these issues is literally the difference between life and death.

Here are some other terms which may come up: transphobia (discrimination/prejudice against trans* people), transmisogyny (specifically, prejudice and discrimination aimed at trans women), binarism (prejudice rooted in a rejection of the gender spectrum), cissexism (discrimination which stems from gender essentialism), gendering as a verb (referring to describing gender identity, as in “I try to avoid gendering people until I know how they prefer to be gendered.”).

Some examples of terminology that is not acceptable to use and will not be tolerated in comments here: a transgender (“transgender” is not a noun, and it should also be “trans gender”), a trans (“trans” also isn’t a noun), tranny (unless it is being used in a reclamatory sense by a trans person), woman born woman/women born women (cissesexist and often used in a transmisogynistic sense), biowomen/biowoman, biomen/bioman, biological sex (everyone’s biological, folks–if you’re thinking “assigned sex at birth,” then please use “assigned sex”). It’s also not appropriate to say “transwomen” “transmen” etc–please put a space in, as in “trans woman” and “trans man.” We use a space because we want to avoid creating a new gender; we are using “trans” as a modifier. A trans woman is a woman. A transwoman is…something else.

Here are some links on this topic to get you started with some more material: Questioning Transphobia, bird of paradox, Holly at Feministe, TransGriot, and Julia Serano. I encourage you to do some seeking on your own to learn more about gender identification and the complex terminology which surrounds it, because there’s some very diverse thinking on the issue. Please be aware that comments on this post are being carefully moderated.