Tina K. Russell

January 3, 2009

What inclusion really means

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 10:01 pm

Aleisha Cuff of Vancouver, BC:

A transsexual woman’s perspective
As a transsexual woman myself, especially one who considers herself a feminist, I often feel scrutinized by cisgendered feminists in ways that other women are not.

Trans women are in a tremendously difficult position: if we’re too feminine we’re acting as sexist caricatures, whereas if we’re too masculine that just proves we’re not women in the first place. If we speak up, we’re aggressively grabbing the microphone, and if we don’t we’re supporting the premise that women are meek and submissive.

The most troubling part, though, is that often in the middle of a screed against trans women the ‘trans’ part begins to feel secondary, and the focus of the anger becomes femaleness or femininity itself.

It is of great concern to me, then, and should be of concern to all women that the community in which I have experienced the most anger and bigotry for being a transsexual woman has been the community of cisgendered queer women.

Eventually I found a community of my own, although it was largely made up of people far from Vancouver.

In blogs and on message boards I began to find other trans women who felt like I did, frustrated with being excluded from the community of queer women. It was a place in which I could discover myself and begin to tell my story in ways I could feel proud of, the place I had hoped the LGBT community would be.

I didn’t just find other trans women, I found a host of queers who had become disaffected in one way or another with LGBT.

Most importantly, I found a place where I could meet women and it didn’t matter if I was trans or not, or if they were trans or not, we just got up to what queer women will get up to.

How often we’re seen as desirable is a fairly accurate measure of a community’s relationship with trans people. Inclusion isn’t inclusion if it stops at the bedroom door.

This brings me close to tears. It’s brilliant. I have nothing to add, other than that I’ve lived—and felt—every word.

June 25, 2008

Thank you

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 10:40 pm

globeandmail.com: Gender-bending: the original spirit of Pride
In an obvious way, transsexual rights are important simply because “trans” people are human. Discrimination and medical access are only the first thorn branches to sprout with this acknowledgment. In male prisons, rape of male-to-female transsexuals is widely documented and broadly ignored. Old-fashioned feminist organizations and all-female colleges continue to exclude “transwomen” as “not really female.”

More deeply — and this is the heart of the Colombian ruling — the emergence of transsexual rights means that gender identity is now something about which we can all now more collectively chill out. In seeing gender as part biology but also part artifice, one can worry less about one’s own conformity to whatever a woman or man is supposed to be. One can get on with being an individual.

A sign of evolution is the emergence of a new word in the public idiom, “cisgender.” From the Latin cis-, meaning “on the same side,” it means identified with one’s birth sex — literally “not transgender,” as heterosexual is to homosexual.

I like this column.

June 19, 2008

Protect the Poor, Innocent, Bamboo-Eating Minorities

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 6:34 pm

Letters – Standards of Free Speech, in the U.S. and Abroad – Letter – NYTimes.com
To the Editor:

Don’t fall into the trap that we in Canada have fallen into: that only free speech that doesn’t offend can be considered free speech. This is only a euphemism for censorship.

For those of us in Canada, it is too late. Once censorship has been given the cloak of official acceptability, it’s almost impossible to root out, because the advocacy groups that support it, and that now have the backing of the law, will do everything they can to hold on to their newfound powers.

We have opened a door that we can no longer shut. The United States still has a chance to save itself. Don’t throw it away. Roy Weston

Burnaby, British Columbia

June 12, 2008

I’m liberal on most things, but one issue I’ve always been fairly libertarian on is free speech. Once we decide that we need to outlaw certain kinds of speech as “hate speech,” we need to appoint people to decide what kinds of speech is acceptable, and I will always be against that. We do, of course, have judges to decide when “speech” becomes action, such as in cases of libel, inciting violence, or the classic “fire” in a crowded theater. But, that very limited scope of authority–of deciding exactly when you are acting rather than merely speaking–is what prevents judges from being able to overreach and decide what people can say or think.

Besides that, I absolutely loathe the argument that minorities need to be protected from public humiliation, or somesuch. Yes, I hate it when dumb, anti-transsexual, hateful, thoughtless garbage turns up in my Google News feed (which you can find to your right), but I never, ever want people standing up and declaring themselves to be my sole protection from idiots with keyboards. I don’t want people saying, oh, poor little Tina, she’s a woman, or she’s transsexual, we need to protect her from all those mean people out there who are saying bad things. Outlawing tasteless, thoughtless speech in the name of protecting minorities is essentially saying they are children who cannot stand up for themselves, and if you say that, I will personally plant Jennifer Granholm’s high-heeled shoe onto your behind. I’m a big girl, I can look out for myself.

I should say… those nasty words hurt, of course, but I’d much rather you stand up for me (and it does mean a lot!) by saying different, better things, and changing the dialogue from one that demeans people’s differences to one that celebrates all kinds of people. But… we can’t deal with lingering hate and resentment if people clam up and are afraid to talk because they don’t want to branded a bigot, or worse, carted off to jail to “protect minorities” from simple ignorance. The completely stupid and clueless things that were said about Thomas Beattie, the famous “pregnant man” (a concept more or less unremarkable in the trans community), were annoying, but I knew that people had to get the dumb stuff out of their systems (a pregnant man, how novel!) before we could move on into a new, more enlightened era. Similarly, I know that if somebody wants to put out the I Hate Tina Russell Gazette, where they declare me to be some vicious, he-she man-beast, it’s their right and my time would be better spent appealing to people’s intelligence, kindness, and sincerity–counteracting the hate–than define myself by attempting to shut the detractors down. (In fact, if I spent my time trying to shut my detractors down, I would forever be known as the woman who totally denies being a vicious, he-she man-beast.)

May 22, 2008

Thank you, Ottawa

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 11:48 am

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Michael A. Gilbert • Sex-change funding
[M]ost of us have no problem living in our birth-designated sex, and from the moment the nurse declares, “It’s a girl!” or, “It’s a boy!” everything seems to follow quite naturally. What we don’t realize is that we are the lucky ones. We do not have to struggle to pretend to be a gender that that does not fit, that feels unnatural and artificial. We are not mired in despair at not having a body that matches our mind. We are fortunate. We are not transsexual.

It goes on to describe how sexual reassignment surgery has recently been put back on Ottawa’s universal healthcare plan, as it is for most Canadian provinces, and how a socially conservative demagogue is fighting it every step of the way.

I don’t know if you quite know how good it feels to have someone stand up for you like this, in this op-ed. It’s heartwarming, it makes it worth it to go on. Props for this fella for standing up for transsexuals, for the Ottawa Citizen for publishing it as a special feature, and for Canada for standing up for my people. I have got to marry a Canadian.

Seriously, the passage I quoted just sums it up better than anything I could have written. Please, read the article, if you would.

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