Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Sad State Of 5%

5%

Regular readers often take the time in e-mail to tell me what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong.  I recently received two very conflicting e-mails.  One was to thank me for all of the posts that I have written in support of trans rights and the other was to accuse me of devoting to much attention to trans rights.  Gee, what’s a girl to do?

image I decided to actually count the posts written in support of trans rights and it turns out they amount to approximately 5% of the total posts.   I was shocked when I came up with this figure as I assumed that I had dedicated more attention to transgender issues and yet when I look around the blogosphere, except for blogs specifically dedicated to trans rights, I doubt there are many blogs higher than this figure. What does this say about the importance of trans rights in a community that claims to value intersectionality?

There are often times that I will come across a story or an issue and not cover it because I am still very much in the learning phase of my activism. There are occasions that due to the high level of violence faced by the trans community, I feel compelled to speak out as forcefully as my limited knowledge will allow.  I found myself wondering are people not speaking because they have not done their due diligence in terms of trans rights and they are afraid of offending a community that they are trying to advocate on behalf of, or has trans rights  just become  another trendy thing to advocate occasionally because it is PC to do so? 

Part of being an ally is making a conscious decision to learn about the issues of the community that you are trying to advocate on behalf of.  This takes a conscious effort, as society will continue to affirm various isms thus ensuring that those of us that have undeserved privilege seldom consider the true cost of the social hierarchy that we have naturalized. 

While there are those that feel that 5% is a good effort, I suggest that it only appears so because we have so erased trans people from our everyday discourse that any mention in a positive light seems like a good act.  What this tells me is that though I have made a conscious effort to challenge my privilege, I must continue to be steadfast in my effort to learn because 5% means that cisgender issues continue to be over represented on this blog. How can 5% be understood as too much coverage, or even sufficient coverage with the life and death issues that trans people face everyday?  

When legislation is suggested to codify the rights of transpeople is  met with campaigns to demonize them as child abusers, there is an issue with inequality.  When ENDA has yet to be introduced in this years congress and HRC had no issue dropping transpeople from the suggested legislation, clearly their murders, assaults and indignities have become socially acceptable.  When radfems publicly declare them mentally ill and close spaces like Michfest under the guise of so called “transexual terrorists,”  and the need to protect “womyn born womyn”, clearly recognition of our shared humanity continues to evade us. 

I know that I still have a lot of learning to do but if you can forgive the occasional mistake on my part, I am committed to trying harder.  I know that there is far too much at stake to allow the silence to continue.  I can never walk in your shoes or truly understand all of the issues that you face but my firm and abiding belief in the equality of all people, means that I am committed to doing the work necessary to become a good ally.  All people matter and these are the words that I live by.


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