Monday, October 24, 2016

Major transgender presentation and discussion in Arlington VA Sunday night

Sunday night, the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA) sponsored a pot luck supper and discussion group in the meeting room at the Central Library near the baseball field of Washington-Lee High School. (Somehow my mind flashes back to the Westside Discussion Group i Chelsea in NYC back in 1973, with topics like “are gay resorts really gay?”)

The subject was “Trans Matters” and the presenter was Roxanne Edwards.  The presentation and discussion were extensive, about 90 minutes (until 7:30 PM).

There was a slide show and the tone of the presentation was quite firm. One of the leading slides asked people to nod that this is a safe space.  There was mention of the use of pronouns.  Normally, in the trans community, the preferred pronoun refers to the gender the person transitions to.
The terms “cis-gender” (perceiving oneself as having a gender identity commensurate with biological birth gender) and transgender (no part participle) were defined.

There was another chart of “alphabet soup”, explaining some acronyms.  “Transvestite” has nothing to do with transgender and is viewed as an undesirable word.  Roxanne discussed the movies “Dressed to Kill” (1980, Brian de Palma), “Klinger”, and “Tootsie” (1982, with Dustin Hoffman, which I remember well) and I believe mentioned “The Way We Were”.

There was also a "Genderbread Person" combination chart which recalls to my mind the analysis of Paul Rosenfels and his polarities.  (Paul used to say most cross-dressers are straight, and many transgender people have kept relationships, which may have started as heterosexual or homosexual, after transition, something I could not want to traverse intimately).   But rather than “on-off” or binary 1’s and 0’s, the new charts are a series of continuums.  Many millennials or younger adults want to fit in the middle on many parameters (that suggests comfort with gender-bending and appearance-changing, to deny old stereotypes of gender – a topic I cover in detail in Chapter 2 of my 2014 DADT III book).   I’d add that have seen gay men “cross dress” temporarily than then appear as “male” as possible the next day, like someone a pitcher would not hang a slider to. There is a lot of machismo-worship in the conventional gay male community.

She defended the activism on the bathroom bills by saying that some people cannot succeed in school or at work unless allowed to use the restroom of their choice and comfort.

I presented video for the event at this Wordpress post. Video 11 covers her argument on the bathroom issue. Video 12 mentions the military and Video 13 concerns my question on what old homophobia was really all about.

One other transgender person in the audience discussed heterosexual married life as an evangelical male in the past.  She said she now likes to waffle in the middle on the gender identity spectrum.

The very latest that I find on court cases is the Supreme Court's temporary block in August on a Virginia school case (Reuters) and a Federal judge's order on the North Carolina case, late August, here.

Update: Oct. 25

The Williams Institute at UCLA has published a statistical study of transgender identity by race and ethnicity in the US, by state, here.

Update: Oct. 28

The Washington Post published an op-ed by Gavin Grimm, at Gloucester High School in Virginia, "I'm transgender and can't use the student bathroom; the Supreme Court could change that."

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