Southern Comfort

I saw this documentary, Southern Comfort, a few months ago and have been meaning to post about it ever since. It was a really touching story, and an interesting look into the life of a few transgender people living in the Deep South. The focus of the movie is a trans man, Robert Eads. It’s about his story and battle with ovarian cancer (which he eventually succumbs to) and the people in his life, including his partner, Lola, pictured here.

What makes Robert’s story particularly remarkable is that he had tried to get a hysterectomy during his transition, but his doctors refused. The procedure would have saved his life, as he eventually was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. His other friends in the film also talk about the transphobia they faced in receiving necessary medical care. It’s a serious issue, and not just for trans people living in the rural south.

It’s a great documentary, I highly recommend it. Southern Comfort is also the name of a yearly trans convention that happens in Atlanta, Georgia.

Why Marriage Isn’t My Golden Ticket

From the ACLU’s blog, the Blog of Rights Symposium. Thanks to Nancy Goldstein for inviting to participate! In a related vein, I was recently on NPR’s Here and Now with Robin Young also talking about gay marriage. This was particularly fun, as it was me and a log cabin republican. You can listen to the show here, the segment begins five minutes in.

It’s official. Same sex couples can get married in California, as of 5 p.m. PST on Monday. While most people in the GLBT community are celebrating the decision, my excitement was rather muted. While I am touched by the stories of couples getting married after 50 years together, I know that marriage isn’t my golden ticket. Marriage isn’t my golden ticket unless I’m lucky enough (or even want) a long-term monogamous partnership. It isn’t my golden ticket unless I have a job or a partner with healthcare benefits. It isn’t my golden ticket unless I have an inheritance to worry about, or a pension to be concerned with.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, a radical activist and writer has been one very vocal voice of dissent. From her piece at Alternet:

Gay marriage does nothing to address fundamental problems of inequality. What is needed is universal access to basic necessities like housing, health care, food, and the benefits now obtained through citizenship (like the right to stay in this country). Legalized gay marriage means only that certain people in a specific type of long-term, monogamous relationship sanctioned by a state contract might be able to access benefits. While marriage could confer inclusion under a spouse’s health-care policy, it does nothing to provide such a policy. Marriage might ensure hospital visitation rights, but not for anyone without a spouse. Marriage may allow for inheritance rights between spouses, but what if there is nothing to inherit?

While I would not go as far as Mattilda to say that I oppose the CA marriage decision, I agree with her that a movement so focused on marriage is not a movement that represents my activism and interests. She also makes the important point that marriage is not a cure-all. So many problems exist in our society that deserve our attention and it’s upsetting to me to see the majority of the resources of our movement being allocated to marriage-only fights. Social benefits should not only be afforded to those who enter into long-term romantic partnerships. I said as much on a recent segment of NPR’s Here and Now.

Thankfully there are groups and activists who are working for a broader vision of what marriage equality might look like. Queers for Economic Justice put out a Beyond Marriage statement in 2006, with pages of important sign-ons in support of their principles:

The current debate over marriage, same-sex and otherwise, ignores the needs and desires of so many in a nation where household diversity is the demographic norm. We seek to…diversify and democratize partnership and household recognition. We advocate the expansion of existing legal statuses, social services and benefits to support the needs of all our households.

As a queer Latina working in the reproductive justice movement, my vision of social justice focuses on putting the needs of the most marginalized members of our community at the center of our organizing. The current marriage-focused movement fails to do this. Issues like universal health care, immigration reform, comprehensive sex education, ending gender-based discrimination and violence are central to my activism and I would love to see a queer movement that reflected these values as well.

DSMV Controversy

I posted about this yesterday over at Feministing, and I wanted to link here in case you didn’t see it. There was some really good conversation in the comments, be sure to check it out.

An exerpt:

The American Psychiatric Association appointed members at the beginning of May to the Committee on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders for the revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

This committee will be reexamining the DSM-V, which is the manual of mental disorders that controls the diagnosis and treatment of gender and sexual difference. It was a big deal when homosexuality was declassified as a disorder, and some queer and trans activists are calling for gender identity dysphoria to be similarly declassified.

Since then, lots of people have been expressing their concern about two particular appointments: Ray Blanchard and Kenneth Zucker (who has been appointed as chair).

From Rea Carey, Acting Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

We are very concerned about these appointments. Kenneth Zucker and Ray Blanchard are clearly out of step with the occurring shift in how doctors and other health professionals think about transgender people and gender variance. It is extremely disappointing and disturbing that the APA appears to be failing in keeping up with the times when it comes to serving the needs of transgender adults and gender-variant children.

Read the rest of the post over at Feministing.

Blog discovery: Lesbian Dad

Thanks to the handy dandy Google Reader (looking for a quick way to read/skim a lot of blogs? check it out) I stumbled upon a blog called Lesbian Dad. I’ve only just started looking it over, but this caught my eye in the about section:

    les•bi•an dad n, neologism 1. a. A lesbian or genderqueer parent who feels that traditionally female titles (i.e., “mother”) don’t quite fit, and who is willing to appropriate and redefine existing male ones (i.e., “father”): She was a tomboy when she was a kid, so it’s not surprising she’s a lesbian dad as a parent. b. Often a non-biological parent in a lesbian family, whose role relative to the child in many ways resembles that of fathers.

Rock on. Sounds pretty rad to me, and I can definitely relate to some of LB’s thoughts on gender and parenting (even though I am not yet a parent). There is even a glossary of terms related to queer parenting. Check it out.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Tomorrow is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Julia Serano, a writer and activist whose work I really love wrote a great short piece for Feministing about the day. Check it out.

Article about lesbian motherhood and HIV/AIDs

This is a really touching and well-written piece about one woman’s journey to motherhood during the HIV/AIDs epidemic. HIV really changed the landscape of gay and lesbian family creation forever, since it made casual donor relationships almost impossible because of the fear of passing on the HIV infection.

Resources for lesbians who want to become parents

I recently spoke at the NYU LGBT Center, as part of a Queer Lunch series they have (called Quench). I was talking about the connections between reproductive rights and LGBT liberation. It’s a topic I enjoy discussing (you can check out an article I wrote about it). But after the talk, one woman came up to me and asked about resources for lesbians who want to start families. I realized that I had little to tell her, except to point her toward the parenting section of the LGBT library the center had created. So I went home and did a little more internet research, and here is some of what I came up with. Please, if you have more resources, post them in the comments.

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