Some thoughts on a previous dialogue. This is to serve as a gentle reminder that trans people have reasons to raise concerns and, if not concerns, at least some questions. Some of us continue to read about how the law erases who we are and how complacency contributes to the marginalized group at an alarming rate. Celebrating a marker without considering points raised by trans people is participating in silencing our voices when we raise concerns.
Will they serve the transgender population well? What about the gender queers? How will cishets and cisgays know the differences in determining how to move forward in treatments, asking questions and simply just having the dialogue? Does it matter to differentiate? Should a medical form encompass a bit more than just the umbrella terms, transgender? Some of us think it should. For instance, in a medical form, the term transgender could also accompany a series of questions to seek clarification and to help with codifying and classifying for actuarial studies. This makes a tremendous difference in a number of ways. Let’s look at some of the ways this could actually foster dialogue among practitioners to better serve the transgender population.
Are you MtF? Are you FtM? Are you in transition? Are you female but identify as male? Are you male but identify as female? Are you gender fluid and MtF? Are you gender fluid and FtM? Are you straight? Are you gay? Are you a lesbian? Are you a bisexual? Are you pansexual? Are you asexual? Are you intersex? Are you aromantic?
By what pronoun do you prefer to be addressed?
The above questions are some of the ways the exploration towards understanding the patient who presents for the first visit can help clarify who they are as an individual.
This matters. It matters because it will determine who we are as transgender-identified individuals. We are part of a rainbow. This same marker should be used for LGBT. It should not erase anyone else from medical forms from exploring their preferences and identities.
When non-trans people are quick to accept limited representation and dismiss questions by trans and take an adversarial position towards this very marginalized group – despite the validity of their questions, they must welcome questions and not view these as attacking. We need to move away from personalizing any criticism raised by those who are transgender individuals. We experience marginalization every day. Markers on forms are not necessarily all-inclusive and to hear anyone state that “this is a start” is farthest from welcoming all inclusive and intersectional sectors who serve under this umbrella term. “Microaggression, a theory coined by Chester M. Pierce back in 1970, hypothesizes that specific interactions between those of different races, cultures, or genders can be interpreted as small acts of mostly non-physical aggression.”
“Verbal and behavioral indignities are classic symptoms of microaggression.” Mary Rowe in 1973 who wrote about it on sex and gender.
Some of us have served on committees and experienced microaggression in settings right within our borders. This is not okay. It feels attacking when we raise valid concerns. It is time to move beyond the power struggle and move towards harmony, without taking positions that those of us who raise concerns are delivering these in an attacking manner.
Each year the Oscar Awards are given to individuals who were nominated as Best Performing Actor followed by all those in other categories for their excellent performance and achievements.
Having directed sets, plays and teams, I am cognitive of the hard work each individual contributes in efforts put forth to ensure that recognition didn’t happen because of just their single part; that it happened because they were a part of the team.
If anything cannot be stated enough throughout this essay, it will be this very sentence just written; emphasis on the importance of any participant’s collective work of art or act of force, in their role to deliver an exemplary outcome, cannot be undermined and only happens when everyone respects each person’s contribution.
In a few weeks in an upcoming conference at UNF, I will be sharing thoughts on the slow process the media plays in addressing public representation as well as misrepresentation of Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer-Questioning-Intersex-Asexual (LGBTQIA).
I don’t want to detract or undermine the efforts of actors who – on stage -as well as – on sets – come prepared after agonizingly studying their character roles, to ensure they deliver, as convincing as possible, without having to appear convincing at all, the character they portray.
While I recognize that actors are acting and aim to have a connection to their characters, even going as far as portraying the character building throughout their work and personal life, all to strengthen their identities in portraying the character. I know that t is through developing, practicing and shaping their roles in character studies, which will deliver outstanding performance and that it is a lot of bloody, hard work.
Why is it that those of us who are transgender and/or gay persons, belly ache rather loudly about cisgender persons taking on roles of those who are transgender or gay? Why do we sound angry or unappreciative? Is it because we are not even considered capable and therefore, leave others who cast actors in these roles, to feel culpable? Is it that we are disqualified because we are transgender or gay persons? Why are we passed over?
Some of us feel it is an injustice to impart roles. To cisgender persons when these could be played by the very party who represent us or any particular population for that matter. An illustration dates back to just a few decades ago when white actors portrayed Native American Indians. I must say that their performance wasn’t all that convincing since it felt off somehow, (not meaning any disrespect) but, I think the same could be said of the white man portraying an African American, African, a Middle Eastern, Mexican, Latino and Asian character.
As someone who has performed the roles of characters, I know that it is bloody hard work. It is even harder work for the minority actor to achieve, because of all the cultural practices of the misunderstandings, misappropriations, misogyny and the long ties to cis behaviors, within a binary world, whose players participate in marginalizing a population – directly affecting the minority individual – cast in the role representative of them. The minority among the majority has been examined time and time again by sociologists, interested in the field of study, including preschoolers of the minority functioning within a native group. Studies show that they have behavioral problems unique to their culture of which there is a correlation between socioeconomic and psychological factors stemming from the first generation of immigrants. One such study referred to as the Generation – R study from the Netherlands included 7925 participants. This study was not in any way involving or about LGBTQIA, but rather to any minority race and culture. “When considering generational status, we found that the risk was particularly increased in children of first-generation immigrants, though the second generation also presented more problem behavior. A potential explanation for this finding is that immigration risk factors such poor proficiency of the native language and cultural barriers, more common in first than in second-generation immigrants, can lead to social isolation and associated stress in mothers, which may affect children’s behavior [1,34].”
We can say the same about our culture since many cisgender persons just do not understand the language binding our sense of who we are as much as how we live and practice. When some of us are asked why we dress like men, when we are women, we have to explain ourselves. When we are asked why we don’t hang with our gender, we have to tell ourselves, once again. When we are asked why we emulate specific characteristics, we have to remind those posing questions and seeking clarification that we are who they see and that following is cross-sectional throughout history as much as it is in the world of cisgender persons. We have to continuously explain ourselves even to the detriment of exhausting ourselves. We have to step out even among some of our sub-cultural groups, who seem to also fail to recognize differences.
The roles are given to actors who portray people from other classes, rich or poor; other populations and subcultures among cultures; race, creed; blind or deaf, etc., in no way make the actor a lesser human being. In fact, their role requires some strenuous efforts in character studies; the study of history, the study of subcultures within the culture, as well as the study of current affairs to understand the character role they portray. It is doubly hard for the minority; just because the majority truly doesn’t really “experience it through our eyes and ears.”
Efforts to improve LGBT health include:
Curbing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) with interventions that work.8
Provide supportive social services to reduce suicide and homelessness risk among youth.9
Appropriately inquiring about and being supportive of a patient’s sexual orientation to enhance the patient-provider interaction and regular use of care.10
Provide medical students with access to LGBT patients to increase the provision of culturally competent care.11
If the actors stood their ground on behalf of those from minority groups or pushed the talent agencies and scout agents to seek individuals representative of the minority group, that would shed light on efforts made by everyone to ensure that the measures were taken to insist that these roles are filled by those who could best portray the character.
Is this being done? Are we assuming that it isn’t being done?
The worst representations were of those who as whites performed as Africans. Makeup artists had to work hard in producing a convincing outcome. Not quite.
What about those who pass? An illustration of someone who passes is the person with sight and hearing who portrays a blind or deaf character. Do we bellyache about the lack of representation when casting blind or deaf characters? Do the blind and deaf actors complain? Do we ever hear, see or read about any of the blind and deaf actors complaining? Pause … yes. They had and had to prove even more so than those with sight and hearing that they are exemplary at acting. Why is it that we have to “pass” at all?
What about Down Syndrome characters? We now have Down Syndrome actors who portray a character with their genotypes. They are performing in a character role.
Is it fair to state that a really superb actor could perform any character of any population? Yes. We would say that this person had to work doubly hard to be convincing without appearing this way. Do we even understand that it is even harder for the minority actor to represent someone from their group? Do we get that the minority are inside the borders of the majority?
Is it fair to state that the marginalization of a population hinges on participatory efforts by those who are unaware of the role they play in real time opposed to the character they should be playing? They could turn down the role. Right?
Actors earn a living. Inside the borders of the entertainment industry is a world comprised of shareholders, bankers, board members, producers, etc., who play an even more powerful role and in a twisted sort of fashion could end the careers of many individuals. I, therefore, am reluctant to bash an ensemble, who as a collective force, participated in delivering their contribution to bringing a successful outcome.
I am one of those individuals who wants to affect change in the way our industry, repeatedly casts actors who replace those from the very population they portray.
Some of us even have felt this way about efforts put forth by allies who should be giving the LGBTQIA the platform but, who stand in place of all these individuals representing us as if we are incapable of it ourselves. We know we need allies! Not anyone of us denies the strength in collective bargaining tactics. We understand more than anyone outside of our borders that we must align with the forces of those who stand up on our behalf to show support as well as encourage others of their group to do the same. Political strategizing consists of a number of principle practices without participating in criminalizing or marginalizing minority populations. Yet …, we experience the counter-intuitive.
I will not bash actors who performed the role of you or I. I will criticize their speech delivery in not addressing the issues and why acting as the minority is a privilege. Many actors have stood up and made political statements as the world looked on. Last night would have been a successful evening if a transgender person could have performed a speech right alongside Jared Leto on behalf of transgender persons. How about Janet Mock?
I think what many of us, who have opinions about the Global Awards, feel is that the privilege of playing the role of a minority isn’t recognizing that LGBTQIA are a minority, and it feels a bit as if we are removed from the human element. Even comedy has a place at the political helm. Otherwise, we are behaving entitled. We fail to underscore the messages. We fall short of our human side when it becomes all about accolades and very little about the roles of human suffrage.
Living a life as a minority everyday, every waking hour, calls within us an alert state; at a heightened level, which we cannot afford to reduce to a low hum and not because we don’t want to, but rather because when we do, it is then that we are at risk in falling prey to the misogynistic and homophobic/transphobic practices by those who think it is their place to stand against or for us without realizing their role and how they affect us on a level impossible with which to connect, because in their daily life they do not have to defend themselves. Why is it that in the Dutch study and many others like it, the minority are classified as having behavioral problems? Pathology assigned and we are labeled as disturbed in some way. Is it any wonder that we appear angry? The studies are done to protect the minority in efforts to reduce the pitfalls of any minority group not well understood. We implement practices and hope that we can actively legislate on behalf of the individuals who are victimized and often lack representation across all realms.
Here are some arguments on why political correctness doesn’t have a place in public discourse. For those who spoke on bill 2012-296 at the city council hearings last year, reports came in that there was an attempt at censorship by some of those within our borders who served on the Jacksonville Committee for Equality, including manipulative control by city council members in undermining those who, like LGBT, spoke out about abuse and threats they had encountered over the years. One of the city council members compared the LGBT to citizens living in Egypt. Whether anyone at the time realized it or not, the insults weren’t just directed to LGBT in Jacksonville but were also directed at Egyptians; Kimberly Daniels, one of the city council members, stated she had heard that some of the Egyptians practiced bestiality and necrophilia; implying that gay people did the same. The outrage could be felt throughout the room, and while there were many unkind and untruths spoken, ranging from some of the city council members to those in the audience, the LGBT voices seemed to be nullified in the eyes of those who were homophobic. The rules had to be followed. Anyone who spoke at the city council hearings had (3) minutes without uninterrupted time by either party from the audience, which wasn’t always a practice adhered to by some of the city council members. Much debate ensued on whether or not the LGBT were presenting favorably as citizens. Destiny children had their theories. Those who had impressions based on absolutely minimal historical fact and mostly false rhetoric were determined to lead the process under the assumption that political correctness would nullify any negative perceptions.
The measure to pass the bill failed, as did the amended bill.
Two of the city council members, Denise Lee and Warren Jones, voted in favor of the bill, which encompassed the full inclusive language and, if passed, would have protected LGBT; the watered-down version failed a 10-9 vote.
It became quite evident that the arguments presented weren’t enough. Very little focus was placed on statistics from valuable sources, such as Centers for American Progress (CAP), SAGE, and GLAAD, including our local organizations, such as JASMYN. The civic leaders who spoke up didn’t present economic arguments other than to say, “It is the right thing to do.” While that may be what the LGBT and the community of their allies believed, it wasn’t a sentiment shared among mainstream Jacksonville. Civic leaders could have easily presented measured data to support the need to vote in favor of bill 296.
Reports came in from a few individuals that the civic leaders took measures in their own hands, moved through matters very quickly, barring very little time for educational measures by those who were well equipped to dialogue about the differences in the bill and the proposed amendment, causing the Committee for Equality to lose control of the process.
Hours of deliberation and months later, the community of LGBT felt betrayed and angered for some reason. The discussions among those who talked about the process complained, they had been misled by those on the inside who served on the Jacksonville Committee for Equality. The Jacksonville Committee for Equality defended themselves and felt they had lost control – despite the well-intentioned efforts of those who spoke out on behalf of the bill. The LGBT community learned too late that the fully inclusive bill had been replaced with the amended version and was told that every measure would be taken to include the full inclusive language at another time. Historically, this failed as Orlando some years ago. It was pointed out by Equality Florida’s executive director, Nadine Smith and Joe Saunders, who now serves House District 49 in Florida.
The transgender community felt deceived, and for good reasons. The population of transgender persons runs the highest risk for homicides worldwide, and according to GLAAD, 45% of reported hate murders were Transgender women.
The LGBT community didn’t have any idea what had happened last year. The LGBT and some of the allies lost faith in the process, which brings us currently to the same concerns; the newly formed committee has some hoops through which to jump if they are to win back the trust of those who felt marginalized and thrown under the bus.
Is it any wonder why the transgender community of Jacksonville was angered by anyone from within the borders agreeing to the proposed amendment? Those from within the borders claim they did not see this coming and expressed heartfelt sadness over the shift that occurred. Will they be in control this time around?
When the LGBT could not have their feelings validated without being viewed as negative by even those from within the borders, they experienced what many victims suffer, trauma. Claims were heard that they were blamed for having negative views and, therefore, would somehow affect the political platform and took the criticisms personally. Some of these individuals will not speak out for fear that they will be verbally attacked.
In defense of the LGBT, not one individual was prepared to hear city council members pass degrading remarks at those who reported incidences of being fired because of their sexual orientation or whose property had been vandalized. The LGBT who reported the incidences were led to believe that their behavior (for merely having a sexual orientation other than that of heterosexuality and gender nonconformity) caused the vandalism and were the reasons for losing their jobs. What would this mean for heterosexuals who are gender non-conforming? How many of these individuals have experienced marginalization? Is anyone listening? Does anyone care enough to ask these questions within this population who might be mislabeled as gay and denied equal opportunities?
Lastly, the LGBT were angered by political correctness enforced upon them within their borders. One such individual, Professor Steven Lance Stoll, spoke up and challenged the city council members on why they were following a book written back in the Bronze age. Did any city council members vote against the bill and the watered-down version because of their religious beliefs?
Currently, nine city council members were honored at First Baptist Church for heeding FBC advice to vote against the bill. Please visit YouTube for more information on FBC honoring the city council members. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJxO0D4d9Fo.
The Witherspoon Institute, on August 13, 2013, published an article on Dissecting Public Discourse written by Stella Morabito, who points out that the problem with political correctness, or PC, is that “we all perpetuate political correctness when we succumb to the fear of contradicting PC” truth.”
What happens in groups? Is it normal to witness self-assignments without any votes being cast? What makes some of these individuals privileged? Granted, some of the individuals now have experience from which to draw they did not have last year. Will they listen to those who raise concerns, or are they more concerned, once again, about behavior, personalizing the criticism received by those who do speak up or raise concerns?
I was one of these individuals who was told that I am half cocked because I called people to task and asked many questions. I removed myself from the committee after realizing that my voice would not count and was viewed as politically attacking and inappropriate, even though I raised concerns based on rumors circulating from last year and public comments made by the LGBT. My overall concern with the process is, will the floor communicate with the committee? Will those who question the process encounter repeated harassment with emails calling for private one on one meetings. Will they be accused of being half-cocked?
Morabito talks about psychological manipulation and its correlation to suppression. “If we think of PC as bacteria, suppression is like the darkroom and the culture required for the bacteria’s growth and replication.”
She refers to suppression as one of the twins, while the other is “saturation.” Morabito dissects the outcome and pointedly refers to this as producing an illusion that shifts public opinion by heavily saturating them with an impression, ‘opinion cascade’ as she calls it. The outcome? Regulating the opinions of others. Politicians understand twin processes well enough to know that it results in “shaping public opinion and the political process.” according to Morabito.
Morabito writes that in 1999, an article on ‘availability cascade’ was published on a ‘related concept’ in Stanford Law Review. The purpose is to prevent people from thinking freely and falling victim to practice survival mode for social acceptance.
We have some people within our community who have been successfully silenced in this manner through social isolation and vilified as the enemy by those who might have experienced the fear of going against PC.
Some of us watched and observed the toxic effect this had on our community and soon realized that some of the players classified themselves as our allies. A rhetorical question some of us had “Are some of our allies dispelling truth?”, And no pun intended here with the use of the label ‘all lies.’ Still, it seems even some of them are propagating the idea that censoring behavior, expression, and individual style must meet the standards of their plan for PC. Are they correct? Are they suppressing voices within our borders from the outside? Do they have the right to do so? Who grants them this privilege while we stand by and recognize that even among some of these allies, they do not understand the gay culture. It is even more disturbing that within our borders, even some of the LGBT want to compare LGBT rights to the black race issues. A black person will tell you that there isn’t any comparison because the race issue continues to exist in the present day. They cannot escape from being black. Why then is there this need to continue to focus on the religious argument and play the race card? Why are we not educating the public on the different types of sexual orientations since anyone of any color and creed can have sexual orientations? Is it because the religious evangelists have successfully managed to brainwash individuals from birth through tainted, hateful rhetoric? Isn’t this equally as damaging as any other addiction, or is it deliberate, and can we call this out as abuse? Isn’t it disturbing when we hear of people raised with fundamental religious views that take their own lives or those of others because of their sexual orientation?
Morabito points out Cass Sunstein in a chapter of his book titled “On Rumors” 2009, referring to “chilling effect” as a tactic and essentially did everything he could to discredit Obamacare. Could we say this is what FBC and the Family Policy Council attempted?
What is Morabito’s recommendation in all of this? She suggests avoiding isolation instead of doing the work by having conversations with others in the community to build a stronger voice. Morabito writes, “if enough people come out of isolation and shed the fear of speaking their minds, a genuine cascade of truth will ensue.”
Social media allows for this opportunity. However, some LGBT and allies have been verbally attacked on FB by those who viewed their remarks as negative. Who are these destiny children? Why are they so afraid? Do they believe that speaking the truth and raising concerns will result in adverse outcomes?
To read more about Stella Morabito, please refer to her article on Public Discourse. It is an excellent read. The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, and The Human Life Review feature some of Morabito’s articles.
The information pertaining outside of any references made to Morabito’s article does not in any way reflect her views. These are views gathered from various LGBT members in the community who over time, have expressed similar sentiments along with the author.