Friday, December 14, 2012

Time for GLAAD to Update its Standards

With the imminent Supreme Court decisions on marriage, there's a revival of discussions of marriage equality in the press. In headline after headline, I keep seeing "gay marriage."

FFS! My marriage is not a gay marriage. It is just a marriage.

The articles don't always stick to the term "gay marriage," so why is it in the headlines? Why is it permissible at all for the press to use that term? Why does the press often refer only to "gay and lesbian couples," etc., which erases marriages like mine?

It's because of GLAAD's Media and Style Guide. GLAAD told them it was okay to use that language.

GLAAD is the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. They are the standard the press looks to when dealing with "gay and lesbian" issues. GLAAD also purports to represent people besides gay and lesbians, but they have been doing a terrible job of it for years.

Here is why:

In GLAAD's Media Style Guide, GLAAD tells the press it is okay to say "gay marriage" for purposes of length. GLAAD also refers to families like mine as "gay and lesbian" even though we are definitely not.

I got a civil union in VT in 2006. The person I married is transgender and IDs as male, and I am on the trans* spectrum. Neither of us IDs as gay. He is queer and I am bisexual/queer. We are no longer together and until very recently we could not divorce because Ohio is a constitutionally bigoted state. If we'd gotten married after he changed his legal marker from F to M, we wouldn't have had to go to Vermont to get a union. We could have married in Ohio. And our marriage never would have been called "gay" at any point.

The thing about this shitty media guide is that bi and trans and queer and other people have been complaining about it to GLAAD for years and GLAAD just doesn't seem to give a fuck. So I'm not holding back with the cuss words, because erasure is erasure whether it's a gay person erasing people like me or a straight person erasing people like me. Get your fucking shit together. This is not the "gay and lesbian and everyone else" club. Queers like me have a right not to be defamed or erased too. The disparities between gay and lesbian people and everyone else in QUILTBAG continue to exist in part because gay advocacy groups like GLAAD are propping up systemic discrimination.

This blog post discussing this same exact issue is from 2008. I know the people at GLAAD saw the criticism because more than one person told me they e-mailed those image macros to GLAAD. When GLAAD updated their media style guide in 2010, they saw fit to ignore this and other feedback they've received from bisexual, transgender, and queer advocates about what is wrong with what they are doing.

So fix that shit already, GLAAD!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Workplace Discrimination is Alive and Well

Courageous Danielle Morantez came out as bisexual while working for the Salvation Army. She was then fired. Read her story on Bilerico.

I want to start by saying the following: We should not have to live in a world where we must weigh the financial well-being of our family against being our authentic selves in all our daily actions. When our culture forces us to make this choice or face the consequences of discrimination, that is the definition of oppression.

Sometimes people say bisexuals have "straight privilege." The thing about that supposed straight privilege is that it didn't keep Danielle from getting fired. Not even being partnered to a man and already having a child made Danielle straight enough in the eyes of the Salvation Army.

What happened is probably illegal according to VT's laws. But the Salvation Army may have an exemption from discrimination laws because they are a faith-based organization. Isn't that some bullshit? Why should religious institutions get a free pass on discrimination because of their beliefs? Instead, shouldn't religious institutions be some of the organizations pushing the hardest to pass and enforce anti-discrimination laws? What would Christ say about taking away the only income a family has?

I saw a poll (I wish I had the source) saying 87% of Americans polled thought one couldn't be fired from their job for being gay. The thing is, in the majority of American states, it's still totally okay to fire someone for their sexual orientation. There is a ruling from the EEOC that anti-transgender discrimination is illegal but it's pretty new. It's thought it will apply to all federal laws, but how it will be enforced remains to be seen.

The Salvation Army has long been a hater. There is a growing movement to boycott their bell-ringers at Christmas. It's incredibly disappointing to find a charity being so uncharitable. It's especially a letdown in the case of the Salvation Army because they have helped so many people. The thing about the Salvation Army is that some of their members have and will actually refuse to give aid to poor people who are queer because of the Salvation Army's homophobic beliefs. And, of course, stuff like what happened to Danielle also happens. As long as people turn a blind eye to the Salvation Army's bad behavior, the Salvation Army will continue to perpetrate injustice (in the name of Christ, no less!).

You can't be neutral on a moving train.

Here is a sentence from the Salvation Army's mission on their home page: "Its [the Salvation Army's] mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination." Emphasis is obviously mine and not theirs, lolz.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Stop Erasing Us

1. "Gay and lesbian" is not synonymous with "LGBT." They are not the same thing. Queer and trans issues affect other people besides homosexuals. If you say "LGBT" and then use "lesbian and gay" interchangeably for the acronym, you look like someone who doesn't know what they are talking about.

2. Our marriages are not "gay." They are marriages.

3. Marriage equality (and any other LGBTQIA issue) does not only apply to gay people. Every time you talk about marriage law as if it only applies to gays, it erases people like me who are not gay and who still don't have access to fully equal relationships under the law.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hey, Barry. I'll believe you when I can get a divorce.

So President Obama finally said he personally supports marriage equality. How progressive of him in an election year where power gay donors have already said they'll no longer support him because of his hesitation about whether or not queers are citizens/humans.

But, Merideth! Why aren't you peeing yourself with excitement about Obama supporting teh gaymarriage? Well, Internet, let me tell you. It's time to get real.

I have been in a civil union since 2006. My partner and I are no longer together. I can't get a divorce because most states don't have marriage equality, and even the places with marriage equality don't usually recognize civil unions. Keeping DOMA around keeps me married - well, almost married, because a civil union isn't really quite the same thing as a marriage.

I have already written more than one draft post about this issue. I never got around to posting them because each time I'd start it was too discouraging to finish. The BBC did a pretty good news/video story about couples who can't get divorced that I think does justice to the way I feel about it. Hint: Having a legally binding relationship that you don't want and that you can't end really sucks. It's just miserable, and it has real potential for consequence. It's also a constant reminder that you are not an equal citizen under the law.

Last October I moved to New Hampshire. I moved here for reasons unrelated to my union, but by a stroke of luck this state is one of the only places in the world where I might be able to dissolve my civil union. Unfortunately I'd have to have some sort of pro-bono miracle to pursue a divorce (or whatever you call it for our separate-and-not-equal almostmarriage).

President Obama supported marriage equality before he ran for president. He backpedaled on the issue around the time he decided to run. Then, at the LOGO channel debates in 2007, Obama told the moderator Melissa Etheridge that wanting to call our unions "marriage" is "an issue of semantics." He said he wanted to give us all the same federal rights, just not with the same word. He never delivered on that federal promise. Now he's essentially taken a "states' rights" view on the issue.

States' rights is what has kept me stuck in my civil union. From before our union to well after our split, my partner and I both lived in Ohio, which has a constitutional amendment to keep queers like us from having all the rights Ohioans are supposed to get. Our marriage civil union certificate was basically invalid the moment we took it beyond Vermont borders anyway. But Vermont now has full marriage equality. If it hadn't been for the Ohio amendment, we might have contemplated going back to VT and upgrading our civil union to a real marriage so then maybe we could get a divorce at home. Yeah, that's right, they didn't automatically upgrade all the civil unions to marriages. You have to go file for it. You also can't dissolve any Vermont union in Vermont unless you have been a resident there for a year.

If all this weaving in and out of legality across borders and within them sounds like a convoluted, confusing and annoying process to you, imagine having it be your actual life.

Some say Obama's record on LGBTQIA rights, like the rest of everything else he has ever done, is "tantalizingly close to being terrific." It never has gone far enough. Open LGB service in the armed forces is not enough! There is so much injustice based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression that his administration won't touch. In addition to neglect of action there are homophobic, biphobic and transphobic policies the Obama administration actively continues to enforce. But, you know, personal support of marriage equality.

Barack Obama does not deserve a parade of praise for being unable to remain a coward on a single issue. Ronald Reagan wasn't a great guy just because he finally said the word "AIDS." It's important and historic that a president said out loud he supports marriage equality. But that's it. Obama supports marriage equality because support is now the least-risk position. A majority of Americans are already on our side.

President Obama is not the leader who has brought LGBTQIA equality to this point. The leader who did that is us. I hope that in the months to come when we consider our demands and what we are trying to achieve and what is holding us back we will remember all these facts.

I would love more than anything to be proven wrong about what I'm about to say, but I doubt much else is going to happen on LGBTQIA rights before the election. That's why I say I'll believe Barack Obama really supports marriage equality when I can get a divorce. We'll see if Obama's statement has any effect on things like his administration's rampant deportation of foreign people from binational LGBQ couples. Which one satisfies you more: ABC channel interviews, or executive orders...?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On Radical Feminism and Transgender Identity

Some radical feminists have issues with transgender people. That's not news to me - I've seen it in Internet Feminist Arguments for years. But I'm finally fed up with this shit enough to write about my coalescing thoughts surrounding it. As someone who probably identifies more closely with radical feminism than with any other kind of feminism I feel I must speak out against this problematic view. Many radfems get it, but there are so many who still don't, and I don't understand the clamor for willful ignorance in any form from people who cry for gender change in society.

Here are some of my qualms with transphobic feminists:

1. It seems like transphobic feminists don't actually know what transgender means. FFS, look it up. "Transgender" is an umbrella term that encompasses many identities. It isn't just a code word for MTF transsexuals. If someone insists on using a false definition of what transgender means I don't think it's worth further engagement with them on the topic until they establish understanding of the basic meaning of the word we are actually discussing. I'm personally not going to waste my time reading your anti-trans treatise if you demonstrate in the first sentence or two that you don't understand the meaning of "transgender."

2. One of the most fundamental roots of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia is misogyny.

3. The fight against the patriarchy's tyrannical gender binary and gender dominance/submission paradigm necessarily involves anyone who wants to challenge those gender roles. This group of activists includes feminists, LGBQ people, trans* people, intersex people, asexuals, and our allies as well as others. The answer to the question from LGBQ people on why the T belongs in our acronym has the same answer.

4. It is an anthropological and historical fact that many cultures have a gender that falls outside of today's Western/American view of the gender binary. Cultures that have three (or more) genders are usually quite accepting of the "alternate" gender(s) because these gender(s) are actually encoded within their cultural rules. Therefore, to say transgender identity falls outside of history and has no context within societies is ethnocentric and factually incorrect.

5. Feminists frequently ask men to stfu and listen to women when women tell men something is sexist. In this vein, feminists who aren't transgender need to stfu and listen to trans* people when we tell you something is transphobic.

6. Although the burden of education regarding the issues oppressed people face frequently falls to those same oppressed people, it is our right as the oppressed to refuse teaching you "(oppressed group) 101" at any time if we're fucking tired of explaining shit. If as a feminist you don't believe it is necessarily always your duty to explain feminism 101 to people, stop demanding that transgender folks have to explain transgender 101 to you. Look it up on the internet. If you are educated enough to know how to use blogs or blog comments I know y'all know how to use the internet to look stuff up.

7. I really don't understand what feminism has to gain when feminists insist on creating a world outside of gender oppression and then demand of transgender folks that they recognize the essential nature of female gender. To me that's like saying, "We want to challenge the gender binary, so we're going to reinforce the gender binary against people who fall outside the gender binary in order to erase the gender binary." It's logically inconsistent thinking.

8. The idea of any sort of monolithic right-way-to-do feminism stands in contrast to feminist progress because it excludes certain feminists. While discourse is necessary in order to build a more successful movement, and while we all need to recognize our own internalized sexism, there is never a need to perpetuate hate speech against a section of society that faces extreme discrimination based on gender. If we want to create a movement that will accomplish further change we must examine our own prejudices and the stereotypes we hold. Many transgender people are active feminists even while frequently remaining excluded from feminist causes due to binary language (e.g., language about issues that affect all people assigned female at birth but only uses the term "women" to describe that group). All the infighting between feminists who identify as women and feminists who don't only serves to divide us. Name calling and insistence on ignorance are forms of horizontal hostility and do nothing to further our cause.

9. This one is closely related to but not quite the same as #5: Stop insisting that you're not transphobic even as you spew transphobia. If you are being transphobic, it is within the rights of trans* people and allies to call you out on your bias. If you need to include a "but" clause after professing you're not a bigot, you are still a bigot. Take feminist advice to heart and check your privilege.

10. Male to female transsexuals do need to examine the privilege they have previously experienced. Female to male transsexuals need to examine the privilege they gain as they are transitioning. Transgender people who fall outside these categories need to examine any gender privilege they may have. People comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth need to examine their respective gender privilege. Everyone needs to examine their other forms of privilege outside of gender. What's so hard to understand about examining privilege?

No Longer Cowtown [Edited]

I recently relocated to New Hampshire for career and financial reasons. Because of the move, I decided to change the name and layout of my blog. I haven't blogged in a while because I've been busy with other stuff. It was also difficult because my computer was broken and I had to use others' machines to get online.

This break from writing has allowed me to reevaluate the purpose and focus of this here blog. As Cowtown Bisexual, it focused on stories related to bisexuality, to LGBTQIA communities, and on Ohio-related news. I'm going to expand the scope of what I write about. I hope this expansion of focus will permit me to be more in-depth about my views, prompt me to write more, and permit wider discourse regarding the intersection of topics. Please update your links accordingly! I'll be finalizing the layout sometime in the next few weeks, and I'll definitely be writing more in the future :)

ETA: It appears my blogroll has been erased of content for some reason. I'm going to have to add every item back manually. This seems like a good place to request your favorite blogs and/or a link to your own blog if you want me to follow it. Please consider the list very much in progress for the next several weeks.

Friday, July 22, 2011

We're Number One!

Ohio leads nation in toxic air pollution [Dayton Business Journal]

Ohioans are subject to the most industrial toxic air pollution, according to a recent study. Ohio’s toxic air pollution levels are 36 percent higher than any other state in the country, according to an analysis of Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Columbus Ranked #8 in Nation for Creative Vitality

Check it out! According to the Vitality Index, Columbus is 8th in the nation for creative vitality. The index measures "a city's human strengths as it respects its social, cultural, and economic complexities."

This report is done by Creative Cities International, LLC, who describe themselves as a "global team of the most dynamic and experienced practitioners in culture and urban planning, market and financial analysis, architecture, transportation and the creative industries."

The report follows on the heels of the announcement of NEA grant funding of Columbus Public Art 2012. Through this competitive process, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, City of Columbus, and the City’s Columbus Art Commission won $150,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts. This money will be distributed to 10-15 artists to support temporary public art initiatives.

Indie Art Capital: I still believe!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

NAGAAA Ends Anti-LGBTQ Policy

The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance has decided that bisexuals and transgender people should be allowed to play on their no-more-than-two-straights teams. They have also decided to determine sexual orientation based on self-identification (instead of things like a roomful of people who get to question you about your sex life and then vote on whether you are gay enough to play gay softball).

It just took a lawsuit.

I'll leave you with this quote:
The problem with a narrow definition, said Christopher Stoll of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represents the plaintiffs, is how to define “gay.”

“How do you prove if someone is gay or straight?” he said. “One of the most disturbing things about the league’s position in this case is that there’s only one way of being gay, or one view of being gay. The definition did not include bisexual, or transgendered. Our clients break the stereotypes of what gay is supposed to be.”