Wednesday Blogaround

Sociological Images: The Growing Wealth Gap Between Blacks and Whites
- Lisa blogs about a study of this expanding gap in the U.S., whose authors point to public policies which help to create and sustain it. Bonus: A white guy immediately shows up in comments to whitemansplain where the real problem lies. Because he is concerned.

Sociological Images: Vintage Men's Magazines and a Pre-Consumerist Time
- Lad's mag covers from when Men were Men and Women were, well, pretty much the same, in this particular context.

Womanist Musings: Spark of Wisdom: Gay Love for Straight Titillation
- Regular Wednesday Muser Sparky on the I'm-not-A-Gay-I-just-play-one-for-the-straights phenomenon.

Womanist Musings: 'Tis the season
- What is America's Greatness composed of? Renee's guest RavenScholar can tell you, because she has been so fortunate as to receive a brochure from those who know.

Womanist Musings: Dear White Feminists Stop Erasing my Womanism
- Renee speaks for herself.

Womanist Musings: Too Disabled To See Your Children
- TW for really shameful and distressing treatment of a disabled mother. Oil Spill Gulf of Mexico 2010
- filling all your news-of-the-omnivorous-petrolosaurian-nightmare-which-will-be-with-us-for-a-long-long-time information needs.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Anatomy of a Slur
- Ta-Nehisi makes several excellent points while illustrating something much valued at Shakesville - how to be wrong, rightly.

Tiger Beatdown: THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE: Advice for Deleted Commenters, From a Puppy
- Lest he know not the delights of internet friendships, I would like to introduce to Dudley Q. McEwan one Hektor, An Adorable Puppy. Hektor enjoys eating, and going Up, but not Down. He also does a smokin' takedown of Chivalrous Gentlemen who feel obliged to explain to Ladies, on their own blogs, what The Deal Is.

Pam's House Blend: The White House and Pride Month . . Who's on the list for its reception
- Pam notes that the White House's celebration of Pride Month will entertain a select list of guests, and a select list of issues.

Pam's House Blend: California Transgender Advocacy Day: No Slackactivists There
- Autumn posts audio* and video* interviews with (mostly) trans people who talked with their state representatives on California's first Transgender Advocacy Day in May, and writes about why she thinks these records are important.

* The video is about 24 minutes long, and the audio quality is variable as the interviews were done in public spaces. There is no transcript and I'm sorry but I can't manage one. The approximately-12-minute audio-only interview is with the mother of a trans child and the audio quality on that is much better. I will try to transcribe that now I have the Blogaround up. I will add it to this post, below a fold, when done.

ETA: And, dang! I keep forgetting to invite y'uns to drop links in comments. I'm so glad you know that already. But, for anyone who's new here, links to your own posts or posts you'd like to share are welcome in comments to the Blogaround.

UPDATE:Transcript of Autumn Sandeen's interview with Alicia, who participated in California's first Transgender Day of Advocacy by joining in lobbying CA state legislators for trans rights, in support of her child and other trans people, is below the fold.

This transcript is of a trans woman interviewing the parent of a young trans girl. The video linked to above, on the other hand, consists of interviews with trans people who participated in the lobbying action. I apologize for transcribing the voice of a parent while not transcribing the interviews with the trans people themselves. As I said, I couldn't do the video, but I thought this interview would nevertheless be of interest as Alicia is the mother of a trans girl who has, I believe, just finished the 1st grade, and how trans children are being parented is a matter of significance to trans people.

(I don't know the correct spelling of Alicia's name; I'm just using the spelling of this name which I have seen most often. I apologize to Alicia if I've gotten it wrong. I looked up the names of the CA state legislators mentioned in this interview and am pretty sure I named the right ones and spelled them correctly, but if anyone sees a likely error in that or anything else, please point it out.)

Autumn: Hi! This is Autumn Sandeen, with Pam's House Blend, and I'm here with . . .

Alicia: Alicia.

Autumn: And Alicia, you're the parent of a trans youth, right?

Alicia: Yes.

Autumn: And we're here today at the Transgender, um, Advocacy Day, right after the Transgender Leadership Summit that we've just had for the last three days. And we've been advocating for, well , today, at the Advoc - at this Advocacy Day, we've been lobbying, uh, our state legislators about legislation that we're concerned about. So, first of all, talk about, you know, did you - how many legislators did you meet with today?

Alicia: We met with three of them today. Fortunately for me, 'cause this was my first time, we met . . .

Autumn: So you're a first time lobbyist?

Alicia: . . . friendly ones. Oh, yes. I have never darkened the door of this capitol.

(both chuckle)

Alicia: Uh, yeah, uh, we, uh, we went and we saw Fiona Ma's assistant, and we saw Mark Leno, and Tom Ammiano at the end. So . . .

Autumn: Wow, you did meet a gr - friendly group, there. I mean . . .

Alicia: Very friendly.

Autumn: I hear Mark Leno's name and I'm like, that's a pretty friendly, um, yeah - he's written, like, AB 96, so, that - you can't get more friendly - which is the one that gave the first housing and, um, employment protections in our state, back in 2003, 2004. So. Yeah, you can't have met a friendlier group, there. Um, talk about why it's important to you. Why, why, why are you here - you're not trans, so . . . (laughs)?

Alicia: No, but I have skin in this game, too.

Autumn: So what's your skin in the game?

Alicia: Well, I have a young child in elementary school who, uh, has been noticeably gender-variant to us, uh, since about age 3 ½ to 4 and, um, a lot has happened in the past year. We, uh - the child has been very gender-fluid up until, um, the last year or so, there was a shift, where she basically says, "Mama, I'm - I'm mostly, mostly, mostly girl." Last year, it was, "I'm both boy and girl" and I heard all these stories about her earnestly trying to explain to her friends on the playground the concept of two-spirit. We used to tell stories about, um, we had heard the fable of Bat, in Aesop's fable, it was turned into an Indian legend? And we, uh, when we were listening to it told, it was all about how Bat, you know, was in two worlds - neither a bird, nor a beast, and, uh, we hadn't heard the story before and we thought, oh, this is good, this is gonna be about middle people, and their value, and then the end of the story becomes: (mock-preachy voice) and they threw him out, and that's why Bat to this day lives in a cave and has no friends!

Autumn: (laughs) That's kind of a hard story, too.

Alicia: It, it was. So I spent weeks wracking my brain, usually at four o'clock in the morning, trying to figure a way to reframe that story. And, uh, we did come up with one, um, where Bat becomes a mediator, thank you very much, between the birds and the beasts, and she was happy and drew pictures of it. But she was framing herself for a long time as having one foot in both worlds, and then the reality of first grade hit. Kids were not getting it, were not going along with it. It was, kid, ya gotta be one side or the other. Ya go with the girls or the boys. And, so, the decision gelled over the summer that, you know, it was time to really socially transition. Um, it's the best thing for her. So, we have progressed now to where, fortunately we didn't have to change the name because it was one of those names that goes both ways - except for the legal name. We had to, uh . . .

Autumn: Right, you changed the legal name, but not . . .

Alicia: We changed the legal name . . .

Autumn: But the spelling is . . .

Alicia: Yeah.

Autumn: . . . you know, different, but the, the name is the same, you know . . .

Alicia: Yeah.

Autumn: You didn't have to change the name, how you refer to your child. It's just . . .

Alicia: Yeah, yeah. The decision to do that came up real clearly when the school photos came out. And, uh, yes . . . (sigh) other parents: watch out for those outsourced photo vendors . . .

Autumn: Yeah.

Alicia: . . . 'cause they just get a dump of file from the school district which gives the legal names.

Autumn: Ah . . .

Alicia: It, it can hit you so many ways, um, where the child gets outed constantly and you never kind of know where it's going to come from. So we thought, look, the most expedient thing is, do the legal name change now, and it gives her - she doesn't have to have that history, that paper trail as she moves into adolescence and adulthood.

Autumn: Right, and as we all kind of move around, it's not going to be like, it's not going to follow her as much as it u - you know, as much as, in the old days, it would have followed. So . . .

Alicia: Yeah.

Autumn: Um . . . so, when you m - how did you feel going in to different legislators and advocating on behalf of your child? What kind of difference did that kind of make for you, and did you see any kind of legislator response?

Alicia: It got easier with each visit, for sure. It's funny, I, I knew ahead of time who we were going to see - at least two of them, uh, they added the third one today. Um, but . . . I knew, I knew already that, I mean, heck, the bill I was, uh, mostly speaking about, the Mental Health At-Risk Youth bill, was written by one of the guys I saw today, and yet, I tell you, last night I could not sleep. It's, I think, partly, it's just not being used to this kind of role. Um, temperment-wise, I'm a back-of-the-room sort of person, and this is one - I think, one of the things I've learned, just - I think it is about being the mother of a gender-variant child, is - first they, first they scramble your gender-schema all around, and you have to tear your g - , tear it down and rebuild it, several times. And I'm a data- analyst, so, um, I'm familiar . .

Autumn: Oh, there you go, you're used . . .

Alicia: . . . with what happens when you have to tear apart your schema . . .

Autumn: And you've got wonderful black-and-white thinking going, with the data stuff you know . . .

Alicia: Well . . .

Autumn: . . . to a certain extent.

Alicia: Well, fortunately, I don't. Uh, I work in fuzzy data.

Autumn: Oh, ok.

Alicia: But it's still - I know that, um, at the data, at the database level the, the schema is rigid.

Autumn: Right.

Alicia: I actually did find myself - one time, talking to, I'll just say a large bank that we were doing some data merges with and, uh, they wanted me to give them a dump of, not just the names and the SSNs of all of our employees, but also their gender. And I said, "What? What the hell do you need that for?" 'Cause we were just merging systems that were about access. And I said, "We don't have that. We don't keep that. What are you, crazy?" And, and I said, "Oh, don't tell me. Don't tell me it's also a binary syntax?" Oh, yeah. And I said, I'm sorry but we don't have that. You're going to have to . . .

Autumn: Adapt.

Alicia: Yeah, you're going to have to figure out some other way to merge.

Autumn: You're going to have to adapt to us, rather than the other way around.

Alicia: Uh, but yeah, I - but it's still - the rearranging is the first thing you have to do. So, um, and it's, it becomes, actually - it's a growth thing - you're like, whoa . . .

Autumn: But it's your own child, so you're like fighting for your own . . .

Alicia: Yeah, it's a combination of oh, you know, " O brave new world, that has such people in it", and at the same time, you are at the gut level terrified, because we're all aware of how trans people are treated, and if you haven't even been living, you know, close to the trans community . . .

Autumn: You still know (chuckles).

Alicia: . . . you have an even more - yeah, and you also have, I think, um, you know, the stuff that comes, that stuff that comes to your mind when you, you know, if you flashed a bunch of pictures in front of us, we're remembering the real, real hard, hard stuff, 'cause that's what gets into the news.

Autumn: Right.

Alicia: You don't get nice . . .

Autumn: You're hearing, right, you're hearing about Angie Zapata, and Gwen Araujo, and, um, oh my gosh . . .

Alicia: Yeah.

Autumn: . . . I can think of some other names . . . uh, you know, but it's just one of those kind of, that's what you hear about, and of course, as we're relating statistics, uh . . .

Alicia: Umm.

Autumn: . . . at this event, I mean, one of the horrifying statistics is 67% of trans people, uh, have talked about, um, facing employment discrimination at their jobs; only one in five of them are actually fighting back, um, and then, 19% of our population has at some point been homeless. So, it's kind of like when you're dealing with statistics like that and then applying them to your own child, that's kind of a . . .

Alicia: Yeah.

Autumn: . . . it does kind of put you in a position where you've got to elbow for some room for your child, don't you?

Alicia: Yeah. So you kind of split yourself into - one part of you is just, well, by God, it's not going to happen to my child. Things are going to be different. It's a different generation; we have more support now. We can make stuff happen, we - because we have to. Then the other, dark side, that usually comes and visits in the wee hours of the morning, is that, that fear come back. You have to hold it at bay, all the time. I mean, when somebody said, somebody, today, in the press conference, mentioned Gwen's name, and it's like a Pavlovian response for me, I just start to tremble.

Autumn: Yeah, I know. In my case, it's like, I covered the Angie Zapata trial, so this is like . . . 18-year-old young woman, you know, killed. And it's, same thing as Gwen Araujo.

Alicia: (softly) Yes.

Autumn: You know, just became very personal and very . . . and of course, when I look at my peers and just think, how many names are on the Transgender Day of Remembrance list each year, you know, who could be next?

And you never know, you know, how people are going to react. And so it is kind of like - you know, it's your own child. I can only imagine, I mean, I imagine, I know how much - you know, it just, I can only imagine how much this would be very, very hard to be the watch - the watchful person over somebody else knowing that they're in a position where something bad could happen, but you having to fight to make sure nothing bad happens to them.

Alicia: (softly) Yeah.

Autumn: Am I pretty much summing it up right? (laughs)

Alicia: Yeah. No, until I became a parent I had no idea the depth of my parents' love for me.

Autumn: (quietly) Yeah.

Alicia: (quietly) I mean, you don't . . . you just can't concieve it. It's, um . . . there's not a word for it.

Autumn: Yeah. It's very hard. Well, anyway, well, thank you for meeting with me, Alicia, and talking about your experience. Um, it's really important to know that when we're talking about legislation that protects, um, gender identity and expression, this is not just adults we're talking about. We're also talking about elementary school-age children, like your child. And, she needs the same protections and, if she is going to come into a better world than the one that's there now, um, we're going to have to fight for it to make sure it happens.

Alicia: (quietly) Yes.

Autumn: Well, thank you again, Alicia.

Alicia: Thank you.

Autumn: And this is Autumn Sandeen with Pam's House Blend, signing out. Bye.

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