Friday, February 15, 2008

Resolutions

Once again I am writing on subjects related to my job however, and always, I do not represent or speak for GLAAD. These thoughts are my own and are separate from any work associated with GLAAD. OK, here we go.

I have never been a news aficionado. I have always had a great interest in feature stories, human interests and op-eds, but I have never cared much for hard news. The closest I have gotten to being a news junkie in my past was my 24-hour radio-a-thons with MPR (KNOW). When I lived on my own MPR was my backdrop to washing the dishes, doing laundry, and other household chores. I also listed to the BBC late at night as I wrote papers and surfed the Internet, but their analysis and pithy comments allowed me to enjoy myself more than the abrasive writing style of newspaper journalists.

Now, of course, I spend a good seven hours a day reading news, analyzing news, offering suggestions, and trying not to tear my hair out with the sensational transphobic reporting. This has opened my eyes to some of the reporting done at Fox, The New York Daily News, and The New York Post, which I would never have read otherwise. Knowing that I would be immersed in news stories once I started at GLAAD I made a New Year’s Resolution which I have yet to keep: never read the comments made on online news articles, youtube videos, and transphobic blogs. Every time a story is published about a transgender person the worst, cruelest, ugliest comments appear like chicken pox all over the Internet revealing the appalling sense of humor and decency some people have. The only people who have been cruel to me in my transition are strangers on the streets and in bars, and my parents. When someone gets to know me, when we begin to connect, that fear and anger disappears. So I know that these comments are made out of a lack of knowledge, a hatred of the unknown, a desire to incite responses…yet I cannot read them without becoming overwhelmed by sadness and anger.

These comments aren’t just about gender, however. Whenever transgender people are mentioned issues of class (especially employment and homelessness) come up, issues of illness and mental disability are raised, racial issues inevitably arise, and sex work rooted in sexism and misogyny is mentioned repeatedly. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by the ignorance and hatred that is bred by the politically enforced silence on these issues that I feel unable to respond. But I have to. We all have to. We have to stand up to all these discriminatory comments even if it causes us to shake in our boots because the world is not going to change without our voices. And believe me, every time I call a reporter I get the shakes all over, especially if they’re male.

So, I will continue to try and ignore those comments, and in the meantime to lighten the mood here are two fantastic articles about transgender stories being told and celebrated:

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