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Hi, I'm Danielle (a writer, digital marketer, casual runner, and whatever other labels you want to pick and choose from). I also happen to be transsexual. I have a sneaking suspicion that it'll be a while until I publish my first best seller, so in the meantime, here are my thoughts on everything.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright doesn't dislike LGBT people, he just threatens to physically assault trans women

So Sheriff Chuck Wright of Spartanburg County, South Carolina (a county that sits on Interstate I-85, the major corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte) apparently decided to weigh on the "whole bathroom issue" - and his comments are not, shall we say, gracious.

Generally this type of news would make the rounds in the pro-trans sources like LGBTQ Nation, but even local stations are reporting on Sheriff Wright's violent rhetoric

My personal favorite is at 1:00 where he says:
"Gay people are people too, and I'm not into this making people feel bad about themselves because they make bad life choices - I make bad life choices."
He then goes on to say he doesn't dislike gay people, but I don't understand how he thinks people can't or won't feel bad when you tell them they make bad life choice, especially when considering that being LGBT isn't a choice. Plus, do you really need to point out how someone is messing it up? It's one thing to help out a friend who is making bad personal choices like abusing alcohol or drugs, mistreating their partner, being financially irresponsible - and pointing out those problems and helping with solutions. It's another thing to talk about sin and hypocrisy, as the Bible does in Matthew 7. But being LGBT isn't a sin. It isn't wrong. It isn't a choice.

“I'm not worried about the LGBT community, I'm worried about those who use that as a disguise to assault women and children,” he said.
Ah, citing the old hypocritical people will take advantage of this to break the law argument. The one that Republicans say doesn't work when it comes to handguns. I also addressed gun violence among many other public safety argument hypocrisies in a previous series about how the HB2 debate is an exercise in right-wing hypocrisy and really just about discriminating against ideas they don't like.

However, all those arguments aside, what does it mean when a sheriff says he makes bad life choices? Is that the kind of person you want policing your county?

You can watch the original video below:

Monday, April 11, 2016

An Open Letter to Dr. Michael Brown - President of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, North Carolina, director of the Coalition of Conscience, and host of the nationally syndicated daily talk radio show, “the Line of Fire”

This is an open letter to Michael Brown, who recently published a poorly argued open letter to Bruce Springsteen after Bruce cancelled his Greensboro concert in response to HB2. I have decided to respond to his letter section by section, as that will be easiest for the reader to follow. Everything in italicized quotes are Brown's own words, I have not edited for format or anything else.
Dear Bruce,
As a resident of North Carolina since 2003, I read with interest that you decided to cancel your April 10th concert in Greensboro because of HB2, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. 
Since residency status matters (for whatever reason), I would like to point out that I was a resident of North Carolina from 1994 to 2010, and a product of the North Carolina education system, as I attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, While I was not born there, having spent half my life in North Carolina, I consider myself Tar Heel bred.
In your statement you explained that, in your view, the bill is “an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.” 
You added that it was time for you and your band “to show solidarity for those freedom fighters” (speaking of transgender activists), and you ended your statement with these powerful words: “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.” 
I also read that your guitarist, Steven Van Zandt, has likened HB2 to an “evil virus” that is spreading through the United States in the form of similar legislation. 
These are strong words, and they represent strong convictions. So, let me first commend you and your band members for putting your principles before your livelihood, even to the disappointment of your North Carolina fans. I have read that you regretted not performing at the 1985 Live Aid concert in Wembley, and perhaps this is your way of saying, “I do care and I’m here to make a difference.” 
Whatever your motivation, I admire anyone who puts morality before money. My question to you and your band is simply this: In boycotting North Carolina and siding against HB2, did you really side with morality? Are you truly standing with “freedom fighters”?
This all seems well and reasonable enough - commending someone for taking a position on morality over money. I do however, wonder how Dr. Brown feels about preachers like Joel Osteen or the Christian music industry, neither of whom have problems collecting millions selling morality messages. But let's table that for now, because the rest of the letter is nothing more than an example of poorly executed logic.
I’m assuming you read HB2 for yourself and you’re not just listening to media reports attacking the bill or, worse still, getting your talking points from biased lobbyist groups like the Human Rights Campaign. (If you’re not really familiar with the bill, then click here and here and here.)
I actually have read HB2 and I understand what it means. Several of my friends, who are all lawyers, have also read HB2. They agree with my criticisms of HB2, which is also backed up by non-partisan organizations like Politifact. However, simply reading something does not mean someone understands it. Depending on the source, anywhere from 32 million to 45 million American adults are considered functionally illiterate. These variations are due in part because of different definitions of 'functional illiteracy' - but the basic idea is that while someone can read and understand the vocabulary in a chunk of text, they can't necessarily identify or apply the meaning/implications of that chunk of text.

So while Dr. Brown and others have 'read' HB2, that doesn't necessarily mean they understood it. For example, many supporters of the bill argued it would make all bathrooms unisex - which Politifact rated as false. So perhaps Bruce actually reads at a higher level than North Carolina lawmakers - or is just more honest. Either way, let's move on:
So, please allow me to ask you some questions. 
First, how do you know if someone is really “transgender” or not? Is it determined entirely by how they feel about themselves? If so, do you think that it might be hard to make laws based entirely on how people feel? Did you ever stop to consider that?
Medical professionals can help people figure out if someone is transgender, so this is fairly easily answered. The American Psychological Association has provided multiple resources on transgender issues. Regarding laws about how people feel - many of these already exist. Threats can make someone feel unsafe, and so many forms are illegal. Sexual harassment laws often include hostile workplace provisions precisely because victims feel threatened, intimidated, or offended. So to answer Dr. Brown's question - yes it's possible to make laws about how people feel - and many people, including the Supreme Court of the United States, have contemplated that very question. 

Second, what’s the difference between someone with “gender dysphoria” (or, as it used to be called, “gender identity disorder”) and someone, say, with schizophrenia or “multiple personality disorder” or some other psychological condition? In other words, if a man is a biological and chromosomal male but believes he is a woman, is he actually a woman, or does he have a psychological disorder?
There's a reason the DSM changed from "gender identity disorder" to "gender dysphoria" - mostly because they do not view gender dysphoria as a mental disorder. So the comparisons to schizophrenia and other psychological conditions are inaccurate - yet Brown is using them to suggest trans people are crazy. Since he's not a medical doctor, maybe it's best he leave those questions to people more familiar with the subject.
If he does have a psychological disorder, should we try to treat that disorder or should we celebrate that disorder? And is it right to call biological males who feel they are women and biological women who feel they are men “freedom fighters”? Perhaps that’s not the best use of the term? 
If you are deeply offended that I would dare suggest that many transgender individuals are dealing with a psychological disorder, could you kindly point me to the definitive scientific literature that explains that these biological males are actually females and these biological females are actually males? 
I’m not saying they don’t deserve compassion. To the contrary, I’m saying that’s exactly what they deserve: compassion, not celebration.
The APA describes a psychological state as mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. Since not all trans people experience distress or disability, it is therefore inaccurate to describe being transgender as a psychological disorder. If that is not "definitive scientific literature" by Brown's standards - then he needs to kindly point us to the credentials that prove how he is remotely qualified to make such an assessment.

Regarding "celebrating" trans people - I'm not exactly sure when/where this has happened, unless he's referring to the expanded coverage of recent trans celebrities like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner. When has the cisgender ('non-trans') mainstream really ever celebrated trans people? By targeting them for hate crimes? By discriminating against them in just about every aspect of their lives? Moving on:
But perhaps I’m being too abstract here, so let’s get really practical. Let’s say that a 6’ 4” male who used to play professional football and who has secretly agonized over his gender identity for years finally determines that he must be true to himself and live as a woman. 
Do you think it might be traumatic for a little girl using the library bathroom to see this big man walk into her room wearing a dress and a wig? Should we take her feelings into account, or is she not important? What if that was your granddaughter? Would you care if she was traumatized? And when you speak of “the human rights of all of our citizens” does that include little girls like this?
How does that little girl feel when a 6'4 cis woman built like a WWE wrestler enters the bathroom? How does that little girl feel when a tattooed woman and an angry scowl on her face enters the bathroom? How does that little girl feel when a woman carrying a handgun on her hip enters the bathroom? What determines what is/isn't threatening to a little girl's feelings? Also, it seems we've caught some hypocrisy in Dr. Brown's argument, because just a few paragraphs ago he was questioning how we can make laws dealing with feelings! Did he ever stop to think about that?

So moving past feelings, if he wants to talk about "practical" ideas, let's hear some! Does he have a single suggestion? Here's a thought: maybe that little girl's parent(s) could explain that people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, including women? Why should we promote the idea that all women are the same? How is that healthy? 
I understand that this gentleman will have difficulties should he decide to dress and live as a woman, but that is still a choice he is making, and it is not fair to impose his struggles on innocent little children, is it?
Ah, it's a choice that the "gentlemen" is making to live her life as a woman. The "it's a choice" argument was used against gays and lesbians not too long ago, and it's just as invalid now as it was then. No one would choose to subject themselves to this kind of ignorant bullshit from society if they could, which is part of the reason why suicide attempt rates are higher among the LGBT population than the general population.

Meanwhile, people are forced to deal with other people's choices all the time. A cis man doesn't have to "choose" to rape a woman, pay her less than her male peers, call her a slut, etc. - but a lot of them do. A police officer doesn't have to "choose" to shoot an unarmed black man in the back - but sometimes they do. A drunk driver doesn't have to "choose" to drive himself home - but a lot of them do. So why is a trans person's so-called "choice" (which again, isn't a choice) the most important "choice" we need to address right now? Oh. because it's the one Dr. Brown chooses to care about. And how is it fair for him to impose his struggles on innocent trans people? 
And what if this same man, whom we’ll assume is not a sexual predator, wants to share the YMCA locker room with your wife and daughter, standing there in his underwear as they come out of the shower stalls wrapped in towels. Is this fair to them?
Oh, I'm sorry - I didn't realize that women with children have never seen penises before. But on the subject of unwanted exposure to penises, why do so many cis men share pictures of their dicks with women who don't want to see them? Why do so many cis men pull down their pants and expose themselves to women who don't want to see them? Why is revenge porn even a thing? How is any of that fair to women? Why isn't he concerned about that?
Let’s take this one step further. If any man who claims to be a woman can use women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, then how do we keep the sexual predators out? I’ve asked people to watch this short video, giving examples of male heterosexual predators who donned women’s clothing to get into the ladies’ rooms, and I’d encourage you to watch it too. Without HB2, rapists and voyeurs and pedophiles would have free access to our women and daughters in the safety of their own bathrooms and locker rooms. 
Since you don’t like HB2 — indeed, your guitarist called it an “evil virus” — what’s your plan to keep the predators out? How can we tell the difference between a “genuine” transgender person and a sexual predator? Since everyone knows you as “The Boss,” what would you do to keep the ladies and children safe?
Spotlight is a movie that people should watch instead of the one Brown cites. While the church (Catholic or otherwise) is not unique in having sexual predators among its population, if the question is what do to we do to keep sexual predators away from women and children - this is a conversation that goes far beyond bathrooms (and churches). If 82% of rapists know their victims, keeping strangers out of bathrooms doesn't seem like the best opportunity to keep the ladies and children safe. But instead Dr. Brown asks what Bruce's plan is. Why does Bruce Springsteen and the rest of the world have to do Dr. Brown's thinking for him? Does Dr. Brown even have a plan, other than trying to keep transgender people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity? Wouldn't it make more sense to address rape culture's prevalence in America? 
And one final question. 
When you booked the concert in Greenboro, the laws in North Carolina were just as they are today: In public facilities, people had to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded to their biological sex. Why, then, did you agree to come in the first place?  
Why cancel the concert when things today are just what they were six months ago?
Again, I appreciate your sincerity, but I question your judgment. In your zeal to do what is right, you have actually done what is wrong.
Ah, he ends with a logical fallacy (tu quoque, or accusing Bruce of being a hypocrite). Strong way to finish to a poorly argued letter. Especially since it's preceded with a lie. You see, North Carolina law previously never required people to use the bathroom that corresponded to their "biological sex" - because if that statement were true, the Charlotte ordinance could not have passed because it would have violated state law. Or it could have been challenged in court and easily overturned. But it wasn't, because that wasn't the case.

So in in conclusion, Dr. Brown is a self-righteous sanctimonious anti-trans bigot who can't even come up with a single valid point that he himself has any thoughts on. Maybe he'd have less questions if he bothered to read more. But instead I'm fairly certain he'll write something about being "attacked" and "called a bigot."

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Here's how an NC GOP guy I went to UNC-Chapel Hill with exemplifies all the bullshit of NC HB2 (Part 1)

Introduction: I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with Larry Shaheen, and he was roommates with one of my best friends. Larry and I were friendly, we partied together, etc. - but since graduation we've only stayed remotely connected on social media. Over those years, his Facebook updates have mostly consisted of Carolina athletics, life events, and his shameless pandering for the NC GOP, as that's his job as a conservative political consultant. During the past two months, the big issues in North Carolina have been primary elections, Carolina basketball, and HB2. For two months Larry has shared status after status from North Carolina politicians, attacking the Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance's bathroom provision and vilifying transgender people. And Larry knows I'm transgender, as I transitioned after college.

This was/is not meant as an attack on Larry, though I can't say I appreciate two months of attacks on transgender people like me. Instead, this is an attack on the rhetoric of the right - the language, framing, and arguments used to fear-monger and advance a repressive political agenda. I had a conversation with him on Facebook on many of the statuses I discuss below - until he blocked me because he didn't feel my friends and allies bringing up his two drunk driving arrests in a conversation that's supposed to be about public safety and "common sense" was fair game.

This past weekend, he used this "personal attack" as a talking point on a TV appearance defending HB2 (you can skip to around the two minute mark). He admits he was an alcoholic (which is something I did not know) and says that people comparing his drunk driving to being a sexual predator is unfair. Others chime in that the personal attacks are "too dialed up on both sides." The thing is, we didn't say he was more dangerous than a sexual predator - we said drunk driving was a bigger threat to public safety than a trans person using the bathroom. This is statistically true.

Yet for some reason, trans people in the bathroom are constantly called a public safety threat, even though that myth has been disproven by source after source - even when stories are fabricated to vilify trans people.

So let's not talk about how drunk driving kills almost 10,000 people a year (and 200 children). Let's not talk about gun control laws that could prevent even one of the 500+ accidental shooting deaths each year (or any of the other 20,000+ firearm suicides). And let's definitely not talk about the fact that 93% of juvenile rape victims know the attacker, because 80% of the time it was a parent

Those are some awful truths, so let's not talk about those things because we have something much more serious to discuss - how letting trans women pee in the women's room will put women and girls at risk (even though again, there is no data to support this). Because this series covers two months of Facebook posts, I had to break this up into a series of posts outlining each and every ridiculous argument. This first part contains content pushed out prior to the passing of NCGA HB2. 

Feb. 5, 2016: Larry advocates for a "religious freedom" law that allows government officials to hide behind their religious beliefs in order to recuse themselves from doing their job. Even Governor McCrory vetoed this obviously discriminatory legislation, but Larry was more interested in making a political statement than promoting equality:

Feb. 23, 2016: Larry insists the City of Charlotte acted in an illegal manner by extending non-discrimination protections to LGBT individuals and that corrective action would be taken. Most reporting at the time suggested only the bathroom provision would be struck down, but HB2 turned out to be much more than that.
Notably, similar LGBT protections (that did not not necessarily apply to private employers and/or public accommodations) existed for years across the state without state-level controversy, including Asheville, Buncombe county (August 2012, amended to add gender identity April 2013), Mecklenburg county (October 2013), and Orange county. CharlotteBooneCarrboroChapel HillGreensboro, and Raleigh all had ordinances that only applied to sexual orientation. Where were the outcries then of "local over reach of power?" Maybe they were absent because they still had a ban on gay marriage, so they were feeling pretty on top of the whole LGBT rights thing. I don't know.

Feb. 25, 2016Larry shares Phil Berger's post attacking the Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance. Phil links to Dan Bishop's "defense" (that the language meant "all bathrooms would have to be available to all sexes") - which requires a very literal interpretation of the text. Politifact also rates this argument a lie (note a different NC Republican made the same statement). Regardless, statutory interpretation is commonly used to clarify legislative language, so if there truly was just a concern with the wording, it could've been adjusted and problem solved! But why didn't they take that approach? Because they consider transgender women "men."

As for Phil's "evidence" from Seattle, I won't use Phil's link but one that suggests this was simply an attempt to exploit the rule to get it overturned. I'm sure the timing two days before a vote on anti-trans legislation was purely coincidental.
The most commonly cited story of a man "claiming to be a woman" and actually committing a crime took place in Toronto. What is notably absent from most citations of this example is that this individual had previously "served four years in prison for sexually abusing a five-year-old girl, and while on bail for that crime, raped a 27-year-old intellectually-challenged woman in Montrealbefore committing these other crimes. That suggests this is not a case of someone "exploiting" a trans inclusive law rather than a tragic case of a shelter and the Quebec government not doing their jobs to keep a violent sex offender away from vulnerable people (probably because they were understaffed and underfunded as many women's shelters are, but that's another story).

Mar. 7, 2016Larry plays his GOTCHA card! Phil Berger's post states a convicted sex offender was involved in leading support for the ordinance (Snopes disputes his role). I assume he mentions this to imply that most other supporters are also sexual predators, waiting for the law to open up the bathroom for them to commit other crimes. Meanwhile, Larry omits a relevant detail from that Breitbart articlethe sex offender was a male youth minister who never claimed a trans identity). Instead, he used his position of authority to lure a 15 year old boy to his apartment to "fondle" him.
The Charlotte Business Guild should not have sex offenders in their organization, especially in a leadership capacity. But why isn't North Carolina looking into protecting women and children from all possible threats? Because in those cases, it's "a few bad apples" - and apparently that logic doesn't apply to trans people (jump to six minutes in for the real good hypocrisy, but that entire episode does a great job addressing trans panic).

Part Two (which dissects defense of HB2 based on the law's language) can be found here, or you can skip straight ahead to Part Three (which shows how the NC GOP calling everyone hypocritical is... hypocritical).

Here's how an NC GOP guy I went to UNC-Chapel Hill with exemplifies all the bullshit of NC HB2 (Part 2)

Editor's Note: Because of the massive amount of shameless pandering for the bigoted HB2 that Larry did on behalf of the NC GOP, I had to break this up into a series of posts outlining each and every ridiculous argument. This second post contains content pushed out in the immediate aftermath of the passing of NC HB2. You can view Part One here.

Mar. 25, 2016: Larry shares NC Speaker Tim Moore's post "defending" HB2:
Dissecting the claims (in order):
  1. Argues transgender people are men, going against what the majority of the world's medical, scientific, psychological, and human rights communities believe.
  2. States Charlotte overstepped its legal authority (which if true, should presumably be easily enforceable in court, rather than needing legislation to overwrite it?)
  3. Says HB2 only refers to public facilities and that companies can have whatever policies they want, ignoring that some private employees are required to use public facilities (ie - a transgender FedEx employee who has to pee while dropping off packages at a public building). Moore also ignores that now private employees who feel discriminated against by said private policies cannot sue their employer in state court - they must go through the additional burden of federal court (where the odds are less in their favor).
  4. Claims that the state cares about disabled people, who if discriminated against, will now have to sue in federal court (as will anyone else who feels discriminated against on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap).
  5. Claims that NC statewide non-discrimination mirrors that of the federal government, which isn't true because the federal government doesn't provide protection on the basis of biological sex. HB2 defines "biological sex" as "The physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person's birth certificate." Notably, the EEOC and several court rulings have used a different definition of sex that is not limited to what a birth certificate says - and the supremacy clause suggests the federal definition of "sex" probably has precedence over any state's definition anyway. Finally, this definition doesn't make "common sense" because a person could be male or female in any given state depending on how that state has decided to define "sex." (Not to mention, not every state allows people to change a birth certificate).
  6. Claims 1/4 of House Democrats voted for it because they knew Charlotte overstepped its authority, but when IndyWeek followed up with the Democrats who voted in favor of HB2, it turns out many didn't understand what HB2 would do, but none of them said Charlotte overstepped its authority (rather than simply bought into the "dangerous bathroom possibility" myth).
Regarding the last paragraph, apparently transgender North Carolinians don't count when it comes to "all" North Carolinians - otherwise there would have been some consideration for their basic biological need to pee.

Mar. 26, 2016: Larry shares NC State Senator Jeff Tarte's post defending HB2 by taking on some FAQs. Most of  these points seem taken from Gov. McCrory and the NC GOP defensive playbook, and many have been cited as false or are cited as problematic by numerous lawyers. For example:

#2: Does this take away existing protections? GOP says no, Politifact says that's a lieSo does NC's WRAL News (they also add some nuance around #6 and #13). New Civil Rights Movement takes out #5 (however Politifact says it may be half-true). #9 has been thoroughly dismissed by multiple sources - some of which even point out that claims are falsified on the news by anti-trans opponents..

Incidentally, after such a long and thorough defense of the legislation, Tarte now sounds ready to find some middle ground according to recent comments he made in the Charlotte Observer. It amazing that two weeks of national backlash can get someone to reconsider that maybe their "facts" need re-examining.

Mar. 30, 2016Larry Shaheen shares another post by Dan Bishop (whose relationship with the truth seems questionable, see the Feb. 25 update in the first of this series). Ignoring that rights shouldn't be up for popular vote (because otherwise we'd probably still have slavery, interracial marriage bans, Jim Crow laws, and/or any other number of completely deplorable laws in place), let's take a closer look at what this conservative leaning think tank found out.
69% sounds pretty compelling, doesn't it? Now let's take a look at the question that yielded that result:
Does anything about that question seem possibly biased to you? Calling transgender people their "biological sex" (who "identify" as the opposite sex) is inaccurate, and generally not accepted language within the medical and scientific community. But notice how they frame the "pro-trans" position with words like if it makes them more comfortable while framing the anti-trans position as unsafe because it allows men to use the women's bathroom and lock rooms in front of women and girls. Does that seem consistent? No? Congratulations, you can read intent! The first statement implies trans women will do whatever they feel comfortable doing, while the second statement implies trans women will [deliberately or indifferently] expose themselves and make women/girls feel unsafe. That's what we call a leading question in survey design, and any honest surveyor is going to avoid them like the plague. 

Even if the Civitas polling was all above board and unbiased (which it is not), it's worth pointing out that in the late 50's less than 10% of Americans supported interracial marriage. So popular opinion shouldn't necessarily be taken as law of the land.

Part Three can be found here

Here's how an NC GOP guy I went to UNC-Chapel Hill with exemplifies all the bullshit of NC HB2 (Part 3)

Editor's Note: Because of the massive amount of shameless pandering for the bigoted HB2 that Larry did on behalf of the NC GOP, I had to break this up into a series of posts outlining each and every ridiculous argument made. This third (and final) post contains content pushed out after the NC GOP gave up on defending HB2 and resorted to calling businesses hypocrites. Start with Part One and Part Two if you haven't seen them.

April 5, 2016Larry has decided to share the NC GOP's next line of defense (after their previous tactics have been summarily dismissed by the national media): pointing out the alleged hypocrisy of corporations acting after HB2.
Yet again, we see Rep. Dan Bishop, who has displayed either an inability to understand logic or an unwillingness to use it, accuse PayPal of hypocrisy. Unfortunately for Larry and Dan, it's a thought process that's rather easy to dispute. Bishop is quoted in the Charlotte Business Journal:
“With respect to PayPal, they do business in Saudi Arabia and China” Bishop told me Tuesday, referring to repressive governments known for limiting the rights of women and free speech. “And a very large majority of our states don’t have gender-less bathrooms.”
But Bishop, like all the other GOP lawmakers accusing PayPal of hypocrisy, didn't care about any of that prior to PayPal's backing out of NC. In an even more stunning example hypocrisy, it turns out that the state of North Carolina has ties with Cuba, Iran, and Sudan. There are more examples of Republicans being hypocrites about HB2, so let's move on.

On the bright side, some of Larry's friends are growing tired of his ceaseless support for HB2:

April 6, 2016: One of the Charlotte City Councilman who voted against the non-discrimination ordinance continues the hypocrisy arguments and calls PayPal's move "purely political" - as though the NCGA passing HB2 in a single day was... not? Notice Larry calls out "the harmful and dangerous willfully misinformed rhetoric used by the left" - as though painting an entire class of people as sexual predators is not dangerous or harmful to trans people?
In the interview, Kenny argues that if everyone can tone it down, maybe we can make some progress. But there's a big difference between people like Kenny and Larry being called bigots and what the trans community is actually facing. On that note, here's just a sample of the results from the National Trans Discrimination Survey. The results from respondents were pretty depressing, as they showed: 
  • 41% attempting suicide, 
  • 26% being fired for being trans,
  • 50% being harassed at work,
  • 19% being refused healthcare,
  • 40% being rejected by family, 
  • 19% being victims of domestic violence,
  • 44% being denied public accommodations,
  • 19% being unable to change their birth certificate, even after surgery
April 6, 2016: (Apparently Larry didn't have much to do today except cheerlead for HB2). This shared post comes directly from Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. Notice that Dan's version of "hypocrisy" is that PayPal has a "mens room" - even though no one in North Carolina is arguing that there should only be unisex bathrooms (except maybe some of the Republicans trying to strawman the Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance). This is patently obvious because "non-gender specific" is not included within quotation marks, as it wasn't actually part of the ordinance. Lt. Gov. Forest knew better than to misquote, but still wanted to mislead. Which is why Politifact said Lt. Gov. Dan Forest lied. 
But the best part is Forest actually replied to a comment from one of Larry's friends:
And then Lt. Gov. Dan Forest double downs on his lie about HB2 with the misleading quotation of the ordinance! This is why he leaves "unisex" out of quotations while citing the rest of the Charlotte ordinance. He is clearly and deliberately twisting the words to try to make them say something they don't, all so he can claim moral high ground while signing his name to bigoted legislation as jobs leave North Carolina. I guess that's what the GOP calls "common sense leadership!"

April 7, 2016: Larry is continuing with the hypocrisy arguments (even though as a lawyer, he should understand that tu quoque is a logical fallacy), but this time it comes from Robert Pittenger, who believes that companies should be allowed to fire people based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. He points out that in Singapore, homosexual behavior is illegal - but he leaves out a couple of details:
  1. It's only illegal for male-male relationships (which is still not ok, but not the same thing as banning all homosexual relationships)
  2. The law is generally not enforced (9 people were convicted between 2007 and 2013, which is still 9 too many - but not nearly as bad as what Pittenger would have you believe)
  3. Transgender people in Singapore are recognized as the sex they transition to, and legally allowed to marry someone of the opposite sex
While Singapore, like many countries, does have work to do on LGBT rights, they're not the best example of hypocrisy that a Congressmen could come up with. North Carolina also sent $688 million dollars in exports to Singapore in 2013. And again, no one in North Carolina cared about any human rights issues abroad until it became convenient for them to point at PayPal.
Svend seems to understand hypocrisy better than Larry and Pittenger combined.

And that's it. That's what the NC GOP is doing right now. Coming up with either dishonest or downright indefensible claims to protect their asses after being torn apart by the media for two weeks straight. They cry that the "liberal bullies" are beating them, that "corporate hypocrites" are just kowtowing to their liberal overlords like the Human Rights Campaign, or that some small tiny faction of "freak" and "perverts" is trying to oppress everyone else. In other words, they've got nothing. 

They thought shitting all over trans people might be their last path to political relevancy in the 21st century - and it seems they misjudged. Maybe they can get their shit together by 2020 or 2024, but I doubt it.

Monday, June 15, 2015

caitlyn jenner is not the hero we deserve but the hero we need

Shameless plug for my most recent video.

Visibility is obviously good for the trans community. A recent HRC survey found that 22% of people know a trans person in real life, and that of those individuals - 66% view trans people favorably. So visibility obviously matters, but we (the trans community) still have a long way to go. Those survey results were released a little more than six weeks before Caitlyn Jenner's now infamous Vanity Fair cover and the 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer watched by 19 million people.

While it's probably safe to say more people know what "transgender" means than ever before, visibility isn't everything. Much of the commentary from the trans community since her coming out has been how Jenner's transition story doesn't really match that of the average trans person. "She's a billionaire with access to anything she wants and no worries about anything the typical trans person faces" they say, before rattling off any of a variety of issues such as:
  • being kicked out of your home for being trans by your parents,
  • experiencing bullying and discrimination at school,
  • trouble accessing health care (because the doctor won't take trans patients or lacks the education to properly treat them)
  • expensive surgeries (that are almost universally excluded from insurance coverage)
  • non-medical transition expenses (hair removal, new wardrobe, legal paperwork, etc.)
  • being fired or discriminated against at work,
  • navigating an indifferent legal system, 
  • encountering transphobic/hostile law enforcement,
  • being assaulted for being trans
  • all of which is in addition to rent, student loan debt, and any intersectional considerations (race/ethnicity, disability, etc.) experienced by the average person.
So tl;dr: Caitlyn's struggle is real, but it's not real hard.

Caitlyn would be the hero we deserve if she took on even just a few of these issues, throwing her support behind trans organizations to make progress on these causes (none of which are especially easy). Instead we get I Am Cait on E! Who knows, maybe that will be groundbreaking. Or maybe it will just be more superficial reality TV, this time with a trans lead. Yay? Yikes? We'll see.

To be clear, it is asking a lot of anyone to take on those issues, so her lack of activism (especially this early) as a point of criticism seems a bit unfair. However, it does seem equally difficult to praise her for transitioning in public simply because she's the most famous person to do it so far.

The general feeling in the trans community is that we've had enough transition stories play out in the media over the past few decades. They're so formulaic there's a drinking game based on them (that you should probably never play if you're attached to your liver), created by trans writers and directors who are guilty of using the tropes themselves. Maybe this helps explain why #beyondcaitlin blew up - we are ready for more serious conversations about more important issues and don't want this story to displace them. 

What we forget is how determined society is to steer the conversation in their own direction. People continue to falsely claim trans people pose a threat in bathrooms (doesn't seem so credible coming from a Duggar), that trans identities aren't valid, that we don't deserve any "special treatment", etc. Caitlyn Jenner's transition is a lightning rod for conservative hate, and she has now been drawing their fire for weeks.

In addition to all the criticism she gets for just being a woman

Obviously, there's the whole knee-jerk conservative/right-wing "this is wrong" response. There's also the concern trolling from the pseudo scientific fringe of psychology that claims we should be careful about letting kids transition and banning conversion therapy just because trans people are in the news. Naturally there's a radfem (radical feminists who exclude trans women from feminism) response that claims trans women exist to spite feminism or something like that - and the responses ranged from a "fair and balanced" selection of letters to the editor to the piece they should've printed that completely dismantled Burkett's argument.

Though the negative reactions were totally expected, some of the responses are surprisingly tolerant. Religion has never been a strong supporter of the community (the Pope compared us to WMDs!) - but some are starting to think that this isn't a fight conservative Christians will win, so they're suggesting they stop now before they lose all credibility. Conservative sympathy (and even indifference) is driving the other conservatives nuts, leading their arguments to become increasingly desperate.

Which might be why they quickly latched onto the invalid Rachel Dolezal comparisons, because now they could question her "transracial" identity and attempt to use it to invalidate transgenderism, even though transracial isn't a thing (at least not like that). Those comparisons have been beat down, perhaps no better than by Kat BlaqueEven People is rolling their eyes.

It's not new that people won't acknowledge our identities as valid - that they consider us 'deceptive' and 'liars' or pray that we die - but no one has drawn them out into the mainstream like Caitlyn Jenner. And as these arguments surface, trans activists, our allies, and Caitlyn's army can beat them in public forums - dismissing them once and for all.

We don't have to convert every bigot, but we've yet to quiet the bullies enough to let the rest of the class pay attention - and here's our teachable moment. Then we can move on discussing solutions for all those issues like healthcare access, barriers to updated identification, etc.

So while Caitlyn Jenner isn't the hero we deserve [yet?], maybe she's the hero we need right now. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

what does baltimore have to do with TBLG rights?

The recent events in Baltimore contrast sharply with Bruce Jenner's coming out interview and the Supreme Court hearing arguments on same-sex marriage. That juxtaposition has led some people to call out the LGBT mainstream (again) for not being inclusive and not addressing the issues faced by blacks and other racial minorities, regardless of their TBLG status. 

I noticed many people took exception to this in the comments or when it (or a similar sentiment) was shared. "How dare you!" or "How short-sighted!" were common responses. Some claimed that homophobia is more common in the black community , a myth that has been addressed repeatledly over the years. Others compared the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement, as though being denied a marriage license in Alabama is analogous to the Selma March (sorry SFGate, the two movements are not that equatable). Notably, the Stonewall riots were led by queer and trans women of color - though the history of Stonewall (like most history) was whitewashed, but let's move on...

I'm pretty sure the deaths of trans women of color (TWOC) are being covered by LGBT mainstream groups (and that they will comment on Baltimore soon enough, just like they did with Ferguson). The LGBT mainstream also points out that more than half the deaths [in the US] of TWOC are the result of domestic violenceWhen people discuss the murders of trans women they often suggest they were murdered *because* they were trans when that's not usually the case. Which isn't to say trans status doesn't play a part, because it often does, but once you start to examine how those deaths could have been prevented (collectively or individually) you realize.... 

Trans women [of color] are routinely denied access to shelters, jobs, education, and other things that would allow them to live a relatively 'normal' life instead of being left with the [state] criminalized world of drugs and survival sex work due to a lack of other opportunities. As a result of the criminalization of socioeconomic disadvantage, trans women [of color] often encounter a law enforcement system that doesn't care about them, so they stop calling the police altogether to avoid additional harassment and humiliation. And this is on top of the problems caused by a lack of access to medical care, the difficulty of updating legal documents with correct gender/names, geography, and transportation (or lack thereof) - all of which play a part in worsening outcomes.

That right there is the compounding effect of systematic discrimination. That shit is fucked up, and that's the over-simplified version. Of course gay marriage is conservative when compared to that, because while being able to marry the person you love and have that marriage recognized by the state is important, it's not life or death - so why are we focused on that? 

Maybe some role play will help:

In Scenario A, you're a 16 year old black trans girl. Your parents kick you out because you're trans, your school doesn't protect you from bullying so you drop out, and you can't get a decent job. When you finally find a job [that doesn't challenge or reward you] - unreliable public transportation (if it exists) and time consuming commutes chip away at your job performance until you're let go. Then you can't pay your rent and you start doing survival sex work. You're assaulted. You use to escape and eventually end up in jail. The subsequent criminal record makes it even more difficult to break the cycle. 

Incidentally, this is why some younger trans people loath older ones (like Jenner) because they had the privilege and resources to avoid most (if not all) the above. The response is that older transitioners lose friends/partners/children, jobs/careers, the ability to 'pass' or 'blend' due to decades of the wrong hormones, the psychological trauma associated with decades of repression, and so on. Many people who experience part (or all) of Scenario A think those costs pale in comparison, so they're dismissive of the rebuttals. (Hold that thought).

In Scenario B, you're a gay pair of white men who can't get married. As a result, you pay more in taxes, your partner can't share your health care plan, and your relationship creates some additional legal burdens around estate planning.

Doesn't Scenario B look a lot more manageable than Scenario A? Of course! That's because people in Scenario B have already gone through Scenario A and survived, so why would someone dismiss that struggle? Because that couple has socioeconomic privilege, duh! The economic benefits of same-sex marriage (taxes, healthcare, etc.) presuppose the existence of income and wealth - things people currently experiencing Scenario A struggle to obtain - so of course Scenario B pales in comparison.

I think most TBLG organizations understand how intersectionality worksWhile they may not appear (or be) as inclusive as they could be, they recognize Scenario A is very similar to the realities faced by minorities beyond the TBLG. That they choose to discuss societal issues through the lens of LGBT rather than the lens of race or class doesn't seem that problematic.

What appears much more problematic is that the average person (and the average LGBT person) doesn't seem to fully appreciate how intersectionality works. Many of them have personally experienced parts of Scenario A - they've lost family, jobs, got beat up - and it got better. If they could overcome why can't everyone else? (See: fundamental attribution error)

Naturally activists are unsurprised when the 'more privileged' express their indignation at seemingly being called racist and indifferent to Baltimore. Yet I think some activists miss the valuable distinction between education and vilification. Ending racism/white supremacy does nothing to end other issues like sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, classism, fundamentalism, etc. How do you honestly tell someone which one of those is the 'worst issue?' Is it some formula like "number of people oppressed (n) multiplied by the severity of oppression (x) raised to the number of years of oppression (t) divided by the quantity of total possible privilege (P) within a given society minus the actual privilege (p) enjoyed by the sub-group?" Then does the identity with the lowest score get everyone's time, money, and attention? Or do you ration resources based on some other formula?

This is why some are critical of identity politics, not because they are against the actual identities themselves but against attempts to "win" the oppression olympics. Intersectionality theory is important to describe different groups and the interplay between different forces/oppressions - but it's not as useful when it comes to political theory. 

There are unsavory political considerations too. Conservative's dollars and votes are just as valuable as progressive's, so picking single issues like same-sex marriage and ending military discrimination appear more expedient than the minefields of political issues that come up when you start discussing socioeconomic intersectionality. Single issues are also easier to communicate and simpler messaging helps with fundraising. This is the somewhat inevitable byproduct of a political system that prioritizes action based on campaign contributions rather than justice, a system that ignores that a large part of the population can't afford influence, either with their wallet or their ballot. It can be difficult to vote assuming you're even allowed to vote and aren't burdened with needing to obtain an ID - this is how the compounding effect of systematic discrimination works.

We can and should discuss how various forces like racism and economic injustice combine with other oppressions. That helps us understand why the citizens of Baltimore are upset and how the trans experience can be difficult. But what we do to address one problem or the other or both goes far beyond "my/these politics are more important than your/those politics."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

why bruce jenner matters

A lot of trans activists and commentators are going to be getting out their MacBooks over the next couple weeks to dissect the Bruce Jenner interview. What does it mean for the trans community? What doesn't it mean?

His interview (and I use "his" because during the interview those were the pronouns he requested) is great for trans visibility. However, visibility is not tolerance, and tolerance is not acceptance. Trans people still have a long way to go - something acknowledged during the interview. It's important to not succumb to "victory blindness" and ignore all the issues facing the trans community.

Which is why a lot of people wrote about how they weren't going to watch it, didn't watch it (because it's not important), or didn't think it would matter for TWOC. Then Zoey Tur jumped on CNN to dissect it a second time because she wants to ride the Bruce Jenner relevancy train as long as she can before people realize she's Trans Fox News.

People claimed Bruce's choice of male pronouns (friendly fact: some trans people, especially early in transition, prefer to use their old name and pronouns until they're ready to switch to a new name and pronoun) would confuse the public. Or that it triggered them. Some were disappointed when they realized the 'big reveals' of name and appearance won't come until the reality TV show airs on E!

Then Jenner said "I'm not gay." Oops. Apparently that'll confuse everyone about sexuality, even though he did say sexuality and gender identity aren't related. Admittedly, he could've covered that better - and he'll get better at articulating his identity with experience. Most cis folk probably took that to mean he's never been with a man and only has been and will be with women, and those who are confused will eventually figure it out. Well he should've called himself a lesbian or a gay woman, but he's also still using male pronouns for the time being, so technically that's.... not really the point. Expecting the general public to "get it" the first time they hear it is just as unreasonable an expectation as it is to expect Bruce to say it right the first time.

Some argued that Bruce would make it look like trans women sit around and suddenly declare "I'm a woman" and expect the world to treat them like it when they look, sound, and talk like a man. Yikes. Makes those those critics who use whatever pronouns they want when talking about Jenner because "they just can't" sound a lot more amicable. And these are trans women making these arguments, by the way. The self-righteous ally from Slate didn't even have a chance to weigh in.

After it was over, many questioned the value of visibility, reminded us how much privilege Jenner has, and how we have so many other more important things to talk about. Like the standard trans talking points of death and discrimination, many of which were covered in the interview. Just to be sure though, let's make sure we discuss death and discrimination again just so you get it. Heaven forbid we talk about Bruce Jenner's story or how Kanye was supportive and what that means for mainstream America. Could we see pro-trans hip hop in the future? I mean, if someone wants to win a Grammy the trans experience seems like it'd be the best source material of all time.

The interview went about as well as a trans interview can go and some described it as a challenge to us to raise the bar on trans issues. 17 to 19 million people watched it Friday night - and I'm sure many have watched it on some streaming service since. #BrucerJenner trended on twitter all weekend and into Monday. I've heard several people share stories of transphobes in their lives, often fathers, who have contacted their adult trans children to try to make amends. That is powerful stuff. That matters. Who is in the conversation and how they're participating is changing, both of which are important steps forward.

CNN said it's the culture's 'transgender moment' but it's not entirely clear what CNN means, especially when that moment includes anti-trans legislation, lack of health care access, difficulty updating legal documents, and violent discrimination. It does seem hard to see how this matters in light of so much marginalization and mistreatment.

And that's a reminder that this was largely for a cis audience. The interview wasn't "who can be the best trans spokesperson" - it was about Bruce - the Olympic decathlete who beat Soviet Russia - now the most famous person to ever come out as trans. The audience wanted to know about the secret struggle of the person who they looked up to and admired for a decade. Or they wanted to keep up with the Kardashians. Maybe both.

I get that the trans community has been burned by celebrity personalities in the past. I get that there's a lot more to do. I get the coming out will come with more frequent and more negative criticism of trans identities. There will be lots of triggering media and people will still bully trans women to death on the internet. The struggle is real, and the struggle is inevitable. So dismissing and downplaying this event, doing pre-emptive damage control, talking about what those 2 hours should've been used to say instead - how does that make things better for anyone?

Critics argue that Jenner is so unlike average trans people that he's an awful example. They argue he has not and will not be marginalized in the ways that large portions of the community are (as though publicly transitioning isn't its own version of hell). They point to his wealth, Republicanism, age, status, and life as the perfect embodiment of cisnormative supremacy. But isn't that subversive? Is there a better sleeper cell? Think about that Wheaties box sitting on every breakfast table: Jenner was America's hero, he had reached the pinnacle of success, aaaaannndd he was just as scared/human/fucked up as everyone else until he spoke his truth.

What happens next and how he uses his platform, if at all, remains to be seen. In the meantime, how are we as trans individuals and the trans community going to use this 'moment' to build momentum?

Monday, March 16, 2015

the appropriation of black and hispanic trans deaths by white trans women and political opportunists

I think the trans community overstates and appropriates trans murder victims (especially black and hispanic trans women) to advance a political agenda that ignores many (if not most) of the urgent needs of the people actually being victimized. Said differently, transphobia isn't killing trans people as much as institutionalized racism, misogyny, and classism is killing trans people.

When you read about trans violence, whether it's in an op-ed in the NY Times or even my own blog, you often find a phrase like: 'trans women, especially trans women of color, are disproportionately subject to...' [discrimination, violence, etc.]. Especially undersells the problem so I'm going to stop using that phrase ("women of color" can also be problematic for different reasons, so I'll try to avoid it too).

When I started working on this blogpost in early February at least 4 black and Latina trans women had been murdered. Since then, more names have been added to the list. At the end of February there were 11 queer/trans victims in 2015 - ten of whom were black or Hispanic. Now in mid-March the list is up to 13 LGTBQ victims. Seven or eight were 'trans' in the typical transition narrative sense, which raises the question why all gender identities seem to count in death but not in trans politics, but let's move on....

Janet Mock has discussed how trans women of color 'fall between the cracks' at the intersection of race, class, and gender and that's a point a lot of people miss when they make transphobic violence a rallying cry.

We often describe trans deaths as the result of deadly transphobic bigots running into trans people on the streets because that's exactly what happened in the murder of Islan Nettles. However, sometimes trans people die for reasons unrelated to their trans status. Half of these women were killed in intimate partner violence incidents. Golec's dad had a violent substance abuse filled past. Jessie Hernandez was killed by the Denver police while operating an automobile, so calling that a murder may not even be accurate (though it is suspicious).

Of these victims, only one (Ms. Edwards) seems to be clearly a victim of transphobic violence. For the past two months most people in the LGBT space thought she was a gay man who sometimes dabbled in drag (so her name isn't even on some of these 'trans only' lists). Her story is proof that transphobia doesn't end with death. Transphobia is why the media doesn't pressure police to solve trans crimes, why victims are misgendered (and reluctant to file reports), and why victims are blamed for being a sex worker, involved with drugs, or not disclosing their trans status to someone who invokes the 'gay panic' defense.

In these other cases, trans status may or may not have played a part. Maybe the murderer was ashamed of his/her relationship with a trans woman. Or maybe violence in queer relationships is just an issue that needs to brought out into the open and discussed more honestly. Yet here they are named as murdered transgender victims with the implication being they were murdered because they were trans. Maybejust maybe what we're actually seeing is better visibility of victims who happen to be trans. After all, if trans people are some percentage of the population, that means we should expect to see our fair share of murder victims too.

So I think it's time we stop with the 'trans' death count and focus instead on telling the stories of the black and Latina trans women who are murdered - stories of individuals - not numbers. Any amount of trans violence is unacceptable, but that doesn't mean we should embellish and exaggerate it just because it's politically expedient (trans people are not 400x more likely to be assaulted or murdered).

As Stalin said, one death is a tragedy but 10,000 deaths is a statistic. So lets look at that math more closely before we get back to focusing on the real tragedy:

There's not a lot of information out there regarding the trans prevalence rate, or how many trans people there are in any given population. I've previously used a 1:3,000 rate that represents the estimated prevalence of post-op or SRS seeking trans women (based on work Lynn Conway did with SRS data from western European studies). That's an extremely conservative lowerbound (a bare minimum) that undercounts the trans population as not all trans people can access or even want SRS. Conway thinks 1:500 is probably a better guess, but the Williams Institute's .3% rate is even higher at 1:333. The range for 'transitioning in some part' seems to be somewhere between .1% and .5%, while the broader gender non-conforming umbrella could be as high as 1-2%. If we use .3% that'd mean there are about 800k trans people in the United States over the age of 12 (320m Americans * 84% who are over age 12 * .3% trans prevalence rate).

According to the FBI, the violent crime rate in the United States is 387 for every 100,000 people while the homicide rate is 4.7 per 100,000. And yes, I'm aware hate crimes are known to be under reported - and that trans crimes are poorly covered (if at all) in the media, making other forms of tracking pretty difficult.

Applying the FBI's 4.7 homicides per 100,000 means we'd expect to see ~38 trans murders a year if the rates were identical to that of the general population (4.7 * 8). That's three times as many trans deaths as were actually recorded in 2014. Keep in mind that if you use a higher trans prevalence rate, you'd expect even more murders. Doubling the prevalence rate from .3% to .6% means you'd expect there to be ~76 trans murders per year.

If you adjust those numbers for race and gender it becomes obvious how some trans women are obviously at higher risk. Blacks and Hispanics are about 29% of the general population, and women are about half the US population, which means ~15% of the trans population should be TWOC - and those black and Hispanic trans women account for more than 90% of all trans murder victims.

Notably, white trans women were killed less often per capita than cis white women. Yes, there are issues with applying one white trans death per year against the white trans population, and yes, there are other forms of violence (in addition to murder), but the point is that transphobic murder appears to be an issue almost exclusively affecting trans women of color.

(Note: All of this analysis is constrained by data sources of limited accuracy, which when applied against large population sets can cause wide variance in the output of the model. The big question is the trans prevalence rate since that sets our denominator. While there could be unreported deaths, such as murders of deep stealth trans women, it seems reasonable to assume those would be non-trans related and/or not frequent enough to significantly increase the count). 

Nevertheless, this should raise the question: Why do white trans women keeping talking about how they'll end up murdered for being trans?

I think we (white trans women) need to stop talking about how 'victimizing' it is to be trans and instead talk about socioeconomic oppression. Parker Molloy speculated that the deaths of TWOC don't get as much coverage Leelah Alcorn's because of racial bias in the media, but that's only half the story. This goes beyond media bias because there's just as much prejudice and racism in the trans community as there is in the heteronormative mainstream. Euynbul Lee was on point when she called out those in the trans community who "failed to recognize how their combined power and prejudice produce undeniably racist ideologies, as if their trans identities erase their systematic privileging over trans POC."

I think a lot of trans people need to paint themselves as victims in order to justify their otherwise ridiculous politics.

The most cited source for trans victimization is the National Trans Discrimination Survey - that's where the infamous "41% of trans people attempt suicide" statistic comes from, even though it was 41% of the survey respondents - which included cross dressers, drag queens, and other identities that trans women typically want nothing to do with because they're nothing like us, right? Right! (Oops, there I go talking about inclusion of gender identities only when expedient again - I'm looking at you Zoey Tur).

To be clear, any percent of a population attempting suicide is too much. However, the NTDS was distributed online and through trans/LGBT networks and support groups, so there's probably a degree of selection bias since the people taking the survey were the people closest to the trans community. It seems unlikely that there were a lot of stealth respondents or individuals who transitioned and moved on, so 'positive' or 'neutral' trans experiences are likely undercounted. The survey respondents also don't reflect the general demographics of the United States, so the data is neither random nor representative, yet many cite it as though it represents the entirety of the trans community. Also worth noting is that the survey methodology reports that the 'attempted suicide' count itself may be inflated, as many people 'count' non-serious attempts, etc., which isn't to say that the NTDS isn't useful, but that we should be careful when playing the victim card.

That individuals appropriate these statistics and deaths is not an accusation so much as it is an observation of overall community dynamics and how they lend themselves to fear. A fear that is not rational when there is no deadly backlash for the white, middle-class, trans community.

This fear is so irrational that it even lead some to defend a someone who raped a 15 year old cousin because that was the past and she was doing important work tracking trans violence. Think about that: a convicted sex offender running an organization that tracks violence against vulnerable members of society. That is indefensible, yet some ask, "who will track the violence now?" as though that's more important.

It's undeniable that transphobia plays a role in many of the deaths of trans people - but it doesn't in all of them. Yet if I were to question the motives of people overplaying the 'trans violence' card (especially white trans women), I'd be accused of some variation of victim blaming and kicked out of the trans club. Someone said to me that I shouldn't be surprised that the trans community can have messed up politics just like everyone else - but I often feel like our politics are more messed up because we should have better perspective on these issues.

Then again, what's a better platform to prove "trans people are just like you!" than political opportunism, racism, and fearmongering?

EDIT: Since this came across a little harsh I'd like to elaborate a little. 

This is not a some people have it worse argument or a demand that white trans women (or white trans people) should simply check their privilege and shut up. The point is that on the issue of trans murder, white trans people should at least have the courtesy to read the stories of the victims whose deaths they cite in articles talking about trans discrimination and oppression.

Trans discrimination is a real issue that affects all trans people in a variety of ways. The 'perfect' transition does not exist and being trans is often hard even when socioeconomics aren't a concern. Being trans can be violent, painful, and frightening - I understand that. I've been there. I did not intend to diminish or downplay any trans/queer person's experience but should've put a disclaimer making that clear (so I'm preemptively calling myself out on that). 

A lot of factors play into trans discrimination and it is compounded by race, wealth, family support, employment, access to medical care, access to housing (including homeless shelters), criminalization of drugs and sex work, age, disability, and a lot of other things. The trans population mirrors the general population - and so do our issues. Trans* is not a monolith - we are a .5% to 2% slice of the entire world, we just happen to be trans. Being trans is an issue on its own, but we shouldn't let it be the only one we think about when it comes to discrimination. In addition to thinking about things like trans inclusive ENDAs we should also be thinking about how to make the judicial system [that would enforce such a law] more accessible and fairer so that all may benefit from the law. 

Said differently, there is a difference between equality and justice.