Thursday, February 24, 2011

NYC's LGBT Center Reveals Bias

Something bogus is happening at the NYC LGBT Center:

Sherry Wolf is a member of the Siege Busters Working Group, which was planning a "Party to End Apartheid!" for Israeli Apartheid Week at the LGBT Center, where they'd met regularly since last summer.

Then, pornographer and ardent pro-Israel Jew Michael Lucas complained on Tuesday about the event, it was canceled, and Siege Busters was evicted from the Center.

Wolf, a long-time and well-known activist for both gay rights and socialism, talks to Runnin' Scared about her 23 years of being active at the Center, now being labeled an anti-Semitic Jew, and having her group kicked out without so much as a phone call.

Part of what enrages Wolf is that the Center didn't even bother to contact the group. (The Center said in a statement, "When one group's meetings or activities interfere with the Center's focus on our core mission, we reserve the right to ask this group to move." The Center didn't mention that it had played host to an Israeli Apartheid Week event in 2008.)

Follow the link above to read the interview with Wolf. You can also read more of what Michael Lucas said and the Center's short response on the issue here.

I haven't written much about my views on Israel and Palestine in this blog. Though I definitely hold opinions on the issue(s), I don't feel my personal views (or anyone else's, really) are that relevant here. It seems to me that if what Sherry Wolf is saying is true, then it was inappropriate of the Center to cancel this event. If the Center has allowed other potentially politically controversial events to take place, and it lets groups meet there that are not specifically LGBTQIA in focus, then their actions against this group are unfair. Furthermore, it seems ridiculous to evict the group based on one complaint when they'd been meeting there for months already.

So, is New York City's LGBT Center's plan simply to avoid all controversy in the future and cancel everything that might be offensive to someone? Or is it simply to cancel that which doesn't fit in with the current political status quo...? Or is it to follow the money? Or all three?

It can't be all or nothing. Voluntarily claiming the title of "LGBT safe haven" means the Center must be a safe haven for all, not just for those who are in power. Either you welcome the diversity of queer voices on this issue, or you stay out of it completely.

One more thing: this whole casual usage of "anti-Semitic" in reference to anyone who is critical of Israel has got to stop. The last time I checked, questioning - and seeking the most socially just path - were both incredibly important Jewish values. Whether or not one agrees with the Siege Busters, anti-Semites they are not. Sorry.

P.S. A note to Wolf: I heard a rumor there are also bisexual Jews in addition to gay, lesbian, and transgender ones. I heard this blogger might even be one. I also heard that "gay and lesbian" is not the same thing as LGBT. Just something to keep in mind, maybe, when you're making general statements about queers (and oppression, and privilege, and pinkwashing, and all those sorts of things).

Friday, February 4, 2011

Study Sheds Light on Trans Discrimination

The National Center for Transgender Equality and the Task Force released a report today, "Injustice at Every Turn," which details the results of the largest transgender discrimination survey to date. Few studies have been done which take into account gender identity and expression at all. The sample size and focus of study make this survey and its results especially important.

Some of the results are what you'd expect, and some are not. For instance, 41% of respondents had attempted suicide. That percentage is 26 times the national average and is higher than the rate among veterans and people with a diagnosis of depression.

Read the report.

Via the American Prospect, which offers excellent analysis of the results in the following article: Counting the Transgender Community