California restaurant kicks out trans women, eats humble pie
By Matt Wood
Transgender Law Center assisted two transgender women in Los Angeles who were wrongfully asked to leave a restaurant in Burbank in October. While eating dinner, the two women, Jennifer Reid and Victoria Rose were approached by the restaurant’s manager and asked to leave, allegedly because their clothing was not appropriate for a “family restaurant.” The women rightly believed that they were being targeted because of their gender identity and contacted TLC for information about the law and their rights.
Transgender Law Center explained to Jenny and Victoria that the Unruh Civil Rights Act, California’s public accommodations law, prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in business establishments – including transgender and gender nonconforming folks alike.
(Any place that provides goods and services to the general public is considered a public accommodation – this includes restaurants, grocery stores, health clinics, hospitals, health clubs, homeless shelters and most social services).
Armed with this information, Jenny called the restaurant’s Regional Manager and demanded a public apology from the restaurant manager, a refund for the meal she and Victoria were unable to finish, and a promise that the restaurant would do remedial training with all of their managers and staff so that no transgender person would face this kind of discrimination.
Less than 24 hours after that conversation, Jenny was contacted by the Regional Manager who made a personal apology and arranged for the Burbank manager to apologize to Jenny and Victoria in the restaurant in front of the Burbank restaurant staff. Jenny and Victoria were also given a refund and extra gift coupons. Even more impressively, Jenny was then contacted by the restaurant’s Regional Human Resources Manager who was impressed with how informed Jenny was, and had decided to use some of the information from Jenny’s conversation with the Regional Manager to institute sensitivity training for all management and staff at the restaurant chain, effective immediately. As a result of Jenny and Victoria’s courageous self-advocacy, this restaurant chain is now on notice that transgender customers must be treated with the same dignity and respect afforded to all other customers.
Jenny and Victoria’s experience is an example of how transgender and gender nonconforming people often experience discrimination in their communities when accessing public accommodations, including being refused service, being treated differently than their non-transgender peers, or being victims to harmful verbal and physical violence when simply trying to carry out their daily activities.
If you need legal assistance, please call the TLC legal hotline at (415) 865-0176 x306, or via the online intake form at: http://transgenderlawcenter.org/help
Matt Wood is a staff attorney at Transgender Law Center
i want to network with other qtpoc involved in sex work
it’s strugglingtobeheard here, trying to reach out to some people that i would like to network with. i have talked about my involvement in the sex work industry. i am a queer genderfluid person who has been involved in this industry for about 6 years, on and off. right now, it is a lot more mild than the club scene i was dealing with in the past. but online camming is still a world of it’s own with the oppressions we face in our in space lives coming into our online lives. and so i want to network with other self-identified qtpoc (especially Black folks) who are involved in this work, either online or offline, who want to create or work together to create some kind of space where we can discuss, share and have some safety to just be us.
right now i am thinking something that is free and easy to start up, such as a password protected twitter, tumblr or facebook group. something along those lines. or even an email list where we can send each other messages. tinychat and gchat options or skype sessions as well. i want to protect people’s privacy, i know this is a big issue, so if you want to chat or collaborate but don’t want to reblog/call attention, i understand. a message marked private might be a good way to start, if you are comfortable.
i don’t have anything concrete yet, but my time at the allied media conference has given me a bit of energy and an idea and the sense that i might as well and see what i can do on my own and build from there. so if you are self-identified qtpoc who is involved in sex work (or seriously considering, maybe… maybe.) then i would love if you signal boost this, contact me, or those who aren’t pass this along to those who might be.
my ultimate dream would to be to set up a way to market ourselves to a qtpoc customer base so we would have less of the stress to deal with in our livings. but this is further down the line. so in the meantime, please signal boost or hit me up if you’d like!! if you don’t feel comfortable doing so or want more info, feel free to also message me in that regard.
A story on some trans experiences in China
Youths are leading the shift toward tolerance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community. Xu Jingxi in Guangzhou and Cheng Anqi in Beijing report.
Xu Hui’s parents locked him in a mill, hired an exorcist and psychologists, and forced him to undergo acupuncture that accidentally pierced his lung, in order to “cure” his feminine behavior. The boy enjoyed playing with his sister’s Barbie dolls and wore bras stuffed with tissue. “I increasingly felt like a girl but didn’t think too much about it,” says the 22-year-old, who now considers herself a woman.
This sort of thing gives me so much life.
(not because Xu Hui had this terrible experience or the misgendering but because it is good to read non-white trans experiences.)
“How to Kill a Transperson” by Ceridwen Troy
On Saturday, Sanesha Stewart, a transwoman of color living in the Bronx, was murdered in her own apartment. She was 25 years old. Her accused killer, Steve McMillan, had known her for months, yet when he was arrested, he claimed to have been enraged to find out that she was what the media coverage called not really a woman. He stabbed her over and over again in the chest and throat. She tried to fight him off; there were defensive wounds found on her hands.
On Tuesday, eighth-grader Lawrence King was in a classroom in Oxnard, Calif. He was openly gay, and often came to school in gender-bending clothing, makeup, jewelry and shoes. According to another student, it was “freaking the guys out”. One of them shot Lawrence in the head. He was declared brain-dead on Wednesday.
It is easy to look at cases like this and think, how tragic. How random. How senseless.
But then, you forget how easy it is to kill a transgender person.
You forget that all across this nation, faith leaders of all stripes, men and women who claim to speak for God Himself, call us sinners, call us abominations, call us evil.
You forget that at best the media depicts us as something to be pitied, something that our families must be strong and overcome. At worst, they depict us as abnormal, exploiting our bodies for ratings, exploiting the public’s fear of us for shock value.
You forget that on a good day, law enforcement agents are neglectful of us, and that far more frequently they join in our harassment. You forget the transwomen of color who are rounded up on suspicions of prostitution. You forget the beatings that go uninvestigated. You forget the molestation and rape we face when we are arrested.
You forget the medical establishment that drains our wallets for the therapy and hormones and surgeries they tell us we need. You forget the way we are then refused treatment when we are dying, dying of treatable diseases, dying of easily patched wounds.
You forget that, by the law of the land, it is legal in the majority of states to deny us employment, to deny us service, to deny us housing.
You forget the shelters and the rape crisis centers that will not allow us through their doors.
You forget that many of us do not even have family to turn to when we are at our most desperate.
You forget that the leaders of our own community have told us that it is not time for us to have rights, that it is not pragmatic for us to be considered worthy of the same respect as other human beings.
You forget that in our own circles, it is considered a negative thing to be too flamboyant. You forget the way our pride parades have been derided by our own community. You forget the scorn heaped upon drag queens by other gay men. You forget the fear to be seen in public with a friend who is considered too open, too queer.
You forget the way it seeps into the minds of transgender people, too. You forget the way a transsexual will shout that she is not a crossdresser, as if there were something wrong with that. You forget the catty names we call each other if we don’t “pass”.
You forget how many of us take our own lives every year.
You forget because the noise is always there, a constant drone in the background. Every newspaper piece that calls a transwoman “he” instead of “she”. Every talk show host who spends an hour talking about our genitals. Every childish taunt about “looking like a tranny”. Every transperson who talks about themselves as “true” transsexuals. Every activist and politician who tells us “now is not the time”.
You forget too, how easy it is to kill a person of color, with myths about “gangstas” and lies about immigrants. You forget how easy it is to kill a person living in poverty, cutting off her welfare because she is supposedly being paid to breed. You forget how easy it is to kill a sex worker, with sex-shaming language, slinging about slurs like “hooker” and “whore”.
You forget the message hidden inside every single one of those statements.
“You are less than I am. You are not worthy of the rights and respect that I am worthy of.
“You are not human.”
It is very easy to kill something that you do not see as human.
It is very easy to kill a transperson.
Because someone asked for my opinion of transsexual separatism
So, I looked up transsexual separatism on a google search. I could definitely use some more information about it and so I’m just going to offer an opinion based on my own experiences and leave it up to you and other readers to form your own opinions about it.
My basic understanding of it is, that transsexual people have very specific needs, including legal and medical, which are often overlooked in the LGBT movement and side skirted in many conversations in some transgender spaces. Specifically, I am thinking about certain theoretical conversations that go on in the genderqueer community and people who identify as transgender but do not pursue body modifications.
As someone who got into a certain trans community identifying heavily as genderqueer and not at the time pursuing or showing a huge interest in body modification, there was a lot of frustration I had about accessing resources. First of all, people assumed that I was going to do medical transition when it was something I was still trying to make up my mind about, independent of other peoples opinions. Second, people implicitly told me that they would only take me seriously as a woman identified person if I did medical treatment, including certain feminists who managed women only spaces. There was also a frustration that many resources available for trans people was only about medical transition. The invisibility felt high and I was mad that the dominant representation of the trans community was of transsexuals, primarily transsexual women.
I’ve since learned that there was something crucial I was missing in my perspective. While my frustration and sense of invisibility were very real, I think I misplaced anger on transsexual women for being dominant, when I believe that transsexual women are often not in control of the visibility they receive. While before starting hormones and also passing, me being transgender was sometimes interesting to people but to many it was also unremarkable, which was frustrating. Now I feel like everyone I meet is really surprised to find out I’m a transsexual woman, and often they’ll have a ton of questions. They’ll either ask me if they’re not feeling too intimidated, or they’ll ask my friends. I get asked to do interviews regularly by my college’s newspaper or research projects. I’m absolutely fascinating. It doesn’t help that I’m an artist and that through dance my body is always a spectacle. While before, my transgender identity could be overlooked, now it’s something that most people have to come to terms with in one way or another. This hyper-visibility is one that shows how different I am from the rest of society and the many different ways I don’t fit into legal and medical systems. Anytime I have to do anything bureaucratic, I can see the person hesitate over what names and categories should be used for me. I don’t really have a solid option of fitting into a box right now, even if it was one that misrepresented me.
I think it’s important to recognize this hyper visibility as violent. I get outed to people routinely. I can see people not recognize as an entire person, but only see me as a transsexual woman. Transsexual women, particularly of color, are the ones who are recognized most often on the Day of Rememberance. Sure passing is an illusion, it’s a conditional cisgender privilege, but it sure helps a lot of transsexual women survive. So does explaining our genders in a binary way. I don’t believe my gender to be binary, but when I’m coming out to a straight cis guy who is hitting on me, I would much prefer to explain everything in binary terms and as a medical condition but it’s often the only way that they will begin to see it. In many ways, transsexual women who have been so marginalized by society don’t have the privilege of identifying in non-binary ways and being affirmed by our communities and allies.
I can see this as something being frustrating for transgender communities to see. I know transgender theory, and for the large part, I think it tries to create a gender fantasy that isn’t the reality that many of us face. I still consider myself genderqueer, but I feel uncomfortable in genderqueer spaces bringing up the fact that I have a real desire to pass as a cis woman sometimes because of my saftey or that I will often times explain myself in binarist terms to cis people. I’ve always viewed genderqueer as more of a perspective, but I feel like many people get caught up in the idea trying to represent genderqueer through certain dress styles and dogmatic language uses. In a lot of ways, genderqueer spaces are not designed to include the struggles of transsexuals. Things we face as transsexuals are often directly against the dominant ideologies of genderqueer communities.
So back to transsexual separatism…
I definitely think there is a lot of work that needs to be done to make the representation of transgender people to not be just that of transsexuals. I also believe that transgender person that de-values trans woman should also learn to disidentify from much of the transphobia they portrayed in the media and Day of Rememberance. The high rates of murder and violence are enacted on the trans* community evenly, but located primarily trans women of color. Tranny jokes are about trans women. I think it’s interesting how there are certain transgender radicalists, who might have read a book or two on transgender theory or identify as post-gender, but cringe at seeing transgender women in their spaces or having a voice in the movement.
From what I can see, transsexual separatism is an attempt to re-focus conversations and resources in trans communities back to helping transsexuals obtain legal and medical rights. When the deaths of trans women of color are often martyred by transgender communities but still given the least amount of voice in transgender spaces, I do believe that something needs to change. The discrimination that transsexuals face is real, and any transgender person that argues passing is morally wrong has a ton of privilege that allows them to occupy that position. I believe that the most gender radical act a person can do, is to help those in the community that are discriminated the most.
I also don’t believe that transsexual separatism is the the best tools we have. I am thinking of Audre Lorde’s essay, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”. I don’t believe that separatism will accomplish the goals we want. While many transsexual people are rightfully angry that transgender spaces de-value their experiences, I think that there needs to be more conversations and acceptance of various transgender identities. I think that instead of building a movement on the basis of separatism, we need to build a collective understanding and support for one another. We need to stop judging people’s experiences or the perspectives in which they understand it. College education in gender theory certainly affects the ways in which transgender people understand their own identity, but this shouldn’t stop us from forming alliances with others who have not had access to this and it certainly shouldn’t be cause for us to de-center them from our work as activists.
I think that at a certain point we need to take a step back from the activism we partake in, and remind ourselves it is not about or for us as individuals but as communities. So if you identify as a trans activist, understand that your experiences only describes a small part of the community. If you haven’t already, spend some time really getting to know various parts of the community and listen with open ears and open hearts. Even if their perspective is totally different than yours, taking some time to form community and a sharing space will do a lot more good work than you think. I think that once we learn to stop judging first, and instead prioritize building a loving home, we will no longer need to have discussions about transsexual separatism.
It’s reductive and ultimately cissexist as all hell to say that nonbinary trans people have the exact same experiences as binary trans people with the same birth assignment.
These things are complicated, particularly because the vast majority of nonbinary people do still have to live in a world where they will be assigned a binary gender by the people they interact with. Indefinitely. For their rest of their/our lives unless they have the means and cultural capital to find and survive within a pretty niche social circle (that may be completely inaccessible to them for other reasons). Some nonbinary people (regardless of birth assignment) will be assumed to be men (and they may or may not pass as cis men); some will be assumed to be women (and they, also, may or may not pass as cis women). A lot of times you can assert a nonbinary gender and still be assigned a binary gender—except this time you’re assigned a binary gender and you lose a good amount of cis-passive-privilege. All of these factors (and more) play a huge role in how various nonbinary people are treated and how much privilege they have: social circle, cis-passing privilege, sex characteristics, transition history, desired medical transition, access to medical transition, masculinity/femininity, race, the gender you’re assigned currently (not necessarily the same as what you were assigned at birth. At all), pretty much any other issue that affects cultural capital.
I am sooo sick of seeing how the majority of people I follow right now discuss “nonbinary” like it’s one gender or one experience of gender and one experience of oppression (or, at best, two experiences of gendered oppression: one if you were AMAB and one if you were AFAB). It’s hard not to generalize, but it’s not that hard.
Seriously, I don’t get it.
Why do I have to tell you anything?
If you really don’t like dick well then when you invariably find my cock all you gotta do is be a decent fucking human being and go “oh shoot, sorry, I think we’re sexually incompatible here” and then we can shrug and laugh and go our separate ways.
Or I dunno, if you like the rest of me you can play with that and we can leave my dick alone. I don’t need you to do shit to it to have a good time.
If cis people had fucking souls and were decent then it wouldn’t even be a question. No one would expect us to disclose anything. Our privacy would be honored and if sex became impossible well then we’d go our separate ways.
But no. You fuckers have to expect we give you all the details. Put ourselves at risk. You just have to see us as disgusting or vile and be violent dangerous self obsessed evil husks. You just have to build your attractions off stereotypes and assume all trans women are the same.
You’re the ones who make this complex. You’re the ones who fuck this all up.
It is your fault.
So why should we have to do anything about that?
It’s on you.
Handle your own crap.