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Transsexuals in Colorado

is colorado trans-friendly?

Forum: WMST-L
Date: 06/05/2002

On 06/04/02 12:23 pm, "Eileen Bresnahan" wrote:

I live in Colorado, where a transsexual who is doing everything possible to pass as the gender that is not congruent with her or his biological sex (yes, I know all about all the difficulties inherent in the sex/gender thing--five sexes, and all that other stuff--sex is as socially constructed as gender--got it)--but who has NOT had any sort of "sex reassignment" surgery--can get a driver's license that says they are the sex they are performing [snip] What this State-sanction indicates is what is obvious: crossing gender lines only in order to perform the same only dreary bullshit in the same old dreary guise destabilizes nothing.

State of Colorado does not protect trans people from the discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation, nor does it have hate crimes legislation that specifically targets bias-motivated crimes committed against trans people. In your very state, Fred Martinez Jr., a transgender- and gay-identified Dineh Two Spirit youth, was brutally murdered less than a year ago - and yet, the legislature once again voted down the hate crimes bill. To suggest that trans people's rights are sanctioned by the State of Colorado is a wild mischaracterization.

Why do you suppose the patriarchal, conservative, Republican-controlled, State is willing to do that--enabling transsexuals to marry (I guess) and whatever--to legally "be" the other gender? While it is not willing to let little old (imperfectly) feminine-appearing me do the same and marry my partner of 26 years?

The assumption that all transsexuals are heterosexual (or that the potential partners of transsexual people are not transsexual) is incorrect, heterosexist, and cissexist (that is, anti-transsexual).

By the way, please stop using "five sexes" as the example to illustrate the constructedness of sex/gender categories; Anne Fausto-Sterling, who proposed it in 1993, has already withdrawn it (see _Sexing the Body_, p.110). I can send you a copy of my paper, "From Social Construction to Social Justice: Transforming How We Teach About Intersexuality" (co-authored by Lisa Weasel, the Assist. Prof. of Biology at Portland State University), if you like, which discusses the harms of using "five sexes" theory in this way.

Emi Koyama <>

-- * Putting the Emi back in Feminism since 1975.

Forum: WMST-L
Date: 06/06/2002

On 06/06/02 09:49 am, "Eileen Bresnahan" wrote:

Many people today like to paint transsexuality as "subversive" because it "undermines" gender.

Duh. Transsexualism is not any more "subversive" than, say, woman-loving-woman. People are just trying to survive, running through the barbed wire sometimes like Fred Martinez Jr. did moments before his death in Cortez, Colorado.

But if it is so subversive, why is the patriarchal State so willing to authorize it, allowing legal sex reassignment for any transsexual willing to live as the "other" sex?

How many states and cities have civil rights statues that protect people from discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation," and how many also have "gender identity"? How many states and cities have hate crimes legislations that include crimes motivated by homophobia or biphobia, and how many of them also include transphobia? How many states and cities provide same-sex partner benefit to their employees, and how many of them provide insurance coverage for hormones and surgery for transsexual people? How many elected officials are out as gay or lesbians, and how many out as transsexuals? How many gays and lesbians are beaten by the police officers on a regular basis, and how many transsexuals?

By using an arbitrary measure to make an argument about who is more oppressed or sanctioned by the state, you are engaging in a decades-old pattern (within radical feminism) of ranking of the oppressions, which has been criticized by Cherrie Moraga, Patricia Hill Collins, and many others.

While the State is not equally willing to provide the same imprimatur to women-loving-women?

Did the State of Colorado issue you a driver's license that does not match how you feel comfortable living as? By describing transsexual people as having more rights than you because of a remedial policy that you did not need in the first place thanks to your cissexual privilege, you are making the same argument as the religious right when they claim gay and lesbian activists want "special rights" beyond those enjoyed by heterosexuals. It makes me sad that in a state where the majority of voters are willing to label gays and lesbians as sick and abnormal, even a self-identified feminist like yourself perpetuate such a "special rights" rhetoric when it is about the issue where you have the privilege.

As I pointed out in the last post, the fact is that transsexual people do not have the right to marry more than anyone else: it's only the heterosexual people who get the right, whether they are transsexual or not.

In fact, transsexuality is not progressive or subversive of the existing order of gender, it is profoundly conservative.

It is not any more conservative than everyone else who identify with a gender. Why do you assume that transsexuals have more responsibility to subvert "the existing order of gender" than anyone else? I see this as shifting of responsibility from the privileged group (cissexuals) to the marginalized one (transsexuals), like how people of color are often expected to do more work to dismantle racism than whites.

Emi Koyama <>

-- * Putting the Emi back in Feminism since 1975.