Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Gender Justice, Transgender Day of Remembrance

Cael Keegan spoke on "What Now? Gender Justice and the LGBTQ Movement After Marriage."

In 2014 there were 12 transgender people murdered. In 2015, there have been 22 transgender people murdered so far. Despite the news media focus on transgender issues, awareness is not at the "tipping point." Where is the coverage of the increasing transgender "eradication!" Why is it missing?

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance that would have protected classes of people from discrimination based on 15 characteristics including gender identity and sexual orientation failed to gain enough votes because of an anti-trans ad campaign which focused on sex offenders in bathrooms. Cael named this an part of a continuity of anti-trans rhetoric and cited Michael Warner's book The Trouble with Normal and Susan Stryker's work, in which she makes the point that the abililty for transpeople to marry doesn't bring security: it is not equal to transgender rights and privileges because the marriages can be challenged and legally dissolved against the will of the married couple.

Cael pointed to neoliberalism and the current silence about the AIDS crisis, a silence which is "pointed and performative," having the power of preventing action. Lisa Duggan's book The Twilight of Equality? neoliberalism, cultural politics, and the attack on democracy states that since Reagan, the reduction of public health, welfare, etc., comes from the idea that the only "public good" is wealth and that those who fail have failed to manage their lives as if they were investment portfolios.

Prior to this time, there were 2 positives: Roe v Wade made abortion legal in 1973, and homosexuality was removed from the DSM. However, in 1976 the death penalty was reinstated, transgender was pathologized by being added to the DSM as "gender dysphoria" in 1980 and in 1981 was excluded from Medicare coverage. In 1985, gay men could no longer be blood donors. From 1986-96, sodomy laws were upheld, people with HIV+ status couldn't emigrate, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" became military policy, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed; however these 4 were overturned from 2003-2015. In 1994, ENDA failed to be passed, and in 2007 GENDA, a trans-inclusive version of ENDA, failed. In 2008, there were 81,542 deaths from AIDS: where is our memorial, our permanent structure for public mourning and recovery? Why has no one been held accountable for this medical neglect?

The drive for marriage equality divided transgender people and people of color from lesbians and gays; it seems to have come as a direct response to AIDS, institutionalizing and removing radicalism. The erasure of AIDS became the erasure of brilliant and creative activists. Publicizing trans-positive organizations such as Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project, the Critical Media Project, and Fierce, helps to reverse silence and denial. Cael stated that we need larger societal reforms: prison reform, decriminalization of drugs, removing the death penalty, de-capitalization of the state, and de-gendering institutions which help people.

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