Let me write plainly: we fall victim to a war of fear meant for others. In reading an article in Curve, a lesbian magazine on whether T is included or welcome in LGBT but also reading chats and articles about the proposed cookie bann from the girl scouts over trans girls, I was surprised to find Intersex children and intersex females to be given prominence in both of them.
I fear that already Intersex is the new catchword or idea, as it has shown up in general media from Terry Moore’s Echo to many, many other popular works in the last 18 months. And the problem is that very few people have the slightest idea of the dozen’s of intersex conditions much less what risks, markers or experiences each condition entail. Curve writer calls intersex individuals ‘chromosomal and anatomically diverse’ with a silent ‘challenged’ hanging above. I wish the article in Curve was done to bring education about the intersex individuals people already know, or barbaric ‘standard practices’ in North America, Australia and Europe on par with female genitalia mutilation known as ‘to circumcise.’ But as the article is about the T in LGBT, it is not.
T is itself not understood, even within gay and lesbian groups, even though it was T individuals who started the stonewall riots, and the idea of a collective identity and equality. T can include crossdressing for pleasure, dressing or presenting opposite to birth gender by choice or inclination, a medical condition known as transsexualism, trans which can mean almost as many things as individuals want it to mean, plus gender presentation as art/entertainment/persona such as drag kings and drag queens.
What does that have to do with intersex? Primarily what T or trans has to do with being gay: Only ignorance.
I remembered, while I looked at the pictures in Curve of a street protest walk of lesbians in South Africa, what it was like in the UK. In Victoria, however determined vanilla the inhabitants might want to be, discrimination comes often in subtle harassment, or the loss of certain equalities. In the UK, and we lived in a city which had at least a ‘safe(ish) area’ of two or three blocks, being out was the daily struggle against a population who believed that your right to exist was eliminated if you were out. That my existence, and even more so for out or suspected out gay men, was an actual threat. And you lived knowing that you may be attacked in your house, as several we knew were, may be attacked on the street in daylight, or killed, set on fire, hung, stabbed. I remember the week there was a stabbing of a gay man a day in London. That is just what it was: which is why we met in secret, we went out on valentines to a gay only establishment, etc. While transsexuals, and trans individuals, had a level of concentrated harassment from the entire community where they lived until they often chose to kill themselves. Three hours was the record for one person who came out as trans before being knifed. A local Cardiff trans individual had their home broken into and was attacked by a group. Standard. And as the FBI hate crimes, the book Pink Blood on Canadian Hate Crimes, the work by Arthur Dong on Serial Killers of Gays, and news reports universally indicate, the person harassing, attacking and killing trans individuals always thought they were gay.
Indeed, ‘fag’, ‘homo’, ‘queer’ are often carved into the bodies of killed Trans individuals, or reasons given for why they were killed. Sometimes that is a drag queen, who is tortured for three days being being set on fire, or by a man in NY who chasing after a T female they had been attracted and flirting with, shot them, and while the woman was on the ground, fired into them, reloaded the gun then unloaded it entirely into the woman. Why? Because, as the person said who shot, “I ain’t no fag.” Does the confusion that a woman isn't a gay man stop someone from death or serious injury? No.
As the murder of the transsexual Gwen Araujo in California showed, a jury will not convict of murder if there is sex or sexual attraction of men toward a female (for under the UK law, Gwen could have likely been legally female). The state prosecution (the people who represent the police and state attempting to prove that having four men strangle and smash Gwen in the head with a frying pan, shovel, tin cans until dead was murder) first could not or would not charge murder. Then, when charging murder, the prosecutor said that decisions to flirt, have overt sexual attention or acts between two consenting adults was ‘indefensible’ for Gwen because she was T. The defense said that the four males acted ‘as anyone would’, known as the ‘gay-panic/trans-panic defence’ (now illegal in California…for hate crimes against gay men).
It is clear that T women and trans individuals are being killed because others are worried people will think THEY (the person interacting with a T person) is gay. That is exactly what you will see in the interview of a man who murdered and multilated a trans female in Arthur Dong’s documentary Licenced to Kill. Plus the killer refers to the woman as 'it' (which is not an uncommon slur against T individuals). The Gwen Araujo case showed that a male consenting to Anal sex with a female was okay. But if the medical history or genitalia were suspected, even to hunting and killing that person LATER, as occurred in BC, was ‘involuntary’, 'natural', 'normal.' Yes, 'normal' to kill so someone doesn't think you are gay. Why? Because it is so univerally recognized that people hate gay men. Men don’t want to be thought of as gay so they killed someone who they thought made them look gay. They were ignorant, and someone died.
See, Gwen having sex with a guy is called ‘heterosexual’ as who you have sex with is orientation and whether you see yourself as male, female, androgynous or neuter is gender.
But people get that confused. And people who are the most aggressive to defend their orientation as ‘hetero’ or harass others for not being hetero are also the least likely to be aware or understand such distinctions. So, to them, they are harassing a ‘super-fag’, or ‘super-dyke’ or ‘unnatural being’
Except that it is becoming less acceptable to attack trans individuals in some parts of the US simply for existing. The amount of films where the villian is a cross-dresser, a transsexual or a trans has diminished from the heyday of the 90’s and early 21st century to a thankful rarity (when intersex individual as villian started rising).
So when people can’t ‘get’ trans kids, those who are ‘educated’ bring up intersex kids, pointing out that there are several tens of thousands of girls who have or have had ambiguous genitalia, or are intersex. Sadly, they don’t know enough about intersex conditions or individuals to say much beyond that. And thus individuals are starting to connect trans with intersex. So we have gay men, which is about orientation, and those who hate gay men killing T-individuals, which is about gender, now attacking and villanizing the intersex, which often is more of a medical experience.
In the kind of horrible irony, for the last few decades, gays and lesbians have often been trying to dump the T out of the human rights groups on the basis that ‘everyone hates T people.’ When that hate is more about the perceptions of expression of gay and lesbian identity than understanding and hating people for having a medical condition which requires hormones. Sort of like the two fathers in the same year who was afraid their two year old were not ‘man’ enough, and to avoid them being gay decided to teach them boxing, until they killed them.
South Africa, in the military with aparthied, gays who could not be ‘made straight’ were forced to become transsexual women. Meanwhile, in North America, Michael Bailey (a man who seems obsessed with finding who is and who is not gay in order to, in his own words, ‘fix that in the womb’) puts out a book saying that all transsexual women who live as women are actually gay men (The man who would be Queen, is the book name AND the name of the ‘academic presentation’ he made at over a dozen universities).
So, hate gay men? Attack t-women, so says academic Michael Bailey.
And so Governor Bush did, in Texas, eliminating marriages between transsexuals and non transsexuals. And when he became president, he used federal authority to refuse green cards for legal marriages if one of the individuals was transsexual in their medical history. And other states followed. And when those who advocate that people should be exactly as they were born, like ‘Adam and Eve’ because ‘God doesn’t make mistakes’, people start talking about intersex condition. And remember, what most people know of this is when House, M.D. in season 2 or 3 comes into the father and tells him that he isn’t having incest and rape with his daughter, but rather he’s gay……because his child is intersex.
As so officials, as the Curve article pointed out one case, are eliminating marriages, or rights of those found to be intersex. This is not because they know what intersex means or the various conditions, but simply on the basis that it, like this T and Trans stuff and the whole GAY thing is WRONG. And so, as I watch, and worry about the future of a group which have suffered at the hands of adults and children since a young age, or who only find out about it when something else, like infertility occurs. And there is, at present, no literature in the west to explain.
But Japan does. Japan is obsessed with children, and the same way girls’ day, on the 3rd of March (3/3), and what used to be boys’ day on the 5th of May (5/5 – now ‘children’s day), has included trans children day on the 4th of april, (4/4) and the manga title ‘Wandering Son (available in English now), and the anime of the same name (available at crunchyroll) about a girl who identifies as a boy and a boy who identifies as a girl, and how they progress, in school, in meeting each other, in limited acceptance. Into the Light, now in the 8th volume in english, is about raising an autistic child, so all could understand. And the series IS, for ‘InterSex’ are individual volumes in which a different baby is born with a different intersex condition. In the series readers can see the pressure on the parents for early operations, and the effect for those who have conditions which develop later in life. IS not in english, however I have several of the books in translation and will email the first book to you if you request it on my mpshiel address (email@example.com) and then the next two after confirmation of getting the first book.
The series is sadly the only functionally plot driven but educational series or book on intersex conditions. I have previously reviewed the two books in the west: Middlesex and Annabel, and shown how not only did both authors NOT do any research but the conditions they present are not intersex, nor realistic of intersex experience.
In a war of ignorance, no one wins. And with each law that passes, whether it is intended towards gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans, or intersex, any removal of rights is an injustice to us all. Worse when we shoot people for something that is literally encoded into their cells.
In finishing, I have been asked several times why those with intersex conditions don’t like ‘hermaphrodite’ as a term. Beyond that there really aren’t any hermaphrodites in the greek sense, it is the same way gay men don’t like the host of names for them, or how people don’t like to be referred to as ‘white man’s burden’ or ‘Our little brown brothers’, or many other common phrases in the US, Canada, UK, EU, Australia and New Zealand for immigrants from certain regions, or those who were the first nations.
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