The New Gender Paradigm
A few years ago I tried to be an advocate for the gender community. For a short time, that meant serving as a transsexual on Denver’s GLBT Government Advisory Committee.
My idea was to set up a series of panels – opportunities for the transgender community to meet various local government leaders and voice their concerns. The first panel discussion involved the Denver Police Department, since there had been a number of complaints about police harassment & discrimination against the LGBT community.
The panel included the Deputy Chief of Police, their Human Resources Manager and an officer from a district with a large GLBT population. Beside them sat a lawyer who specialized in LGBT legal issues.
The project began to unravel when I asked the Denver Pride Center to send a representative. They refused to offer any support unless they were given complete control over the meeting & the program.
I tried to include representatives from the Colorado Anti-Violence Program (COAVP). They pulled out after discovering the following sentence in the overview I had prepared for the meeting:
“What does it mean to be transgender?”
Their concern was that the word “transgender” should never be used as a noun. Emotions flared when I spontaneously replied that it was actually used as an adjective in the offending sentence. I apologized and switched to a different subject: COAVP had been providing LGBT diversity training for the Police Department. I asked what their training involved? At that point I was briskly shown the door. The Anti-Violence Program wanted no one questioning their work.
A few days later, the meeting itself seemed to be a success: The 70 transsexuals who attended expressed their concerns and asked hard questions. Afterward, the Department gave its thanks for the input and suggested a continuing dialog.
That never happened. The editor of the regional LGB Newspaper Westword stormed into the mayor’s office the next morning. He had been in the audience and was deeply offended that background material written by a physician would declare, “Transsexuality isn’t a mental illness.” The editor was certain that it WAS a mental illness.
I was dismissed from the Advisory Committee and there were no more panel discussions after that.
When I told my story to leaders of several transgender organizations, they each replied, “Well, ‘transgender’ shouldn’t be used as a noun.”
Transsexuals live in a hostile world. ...And the hostility is getting worse, not better.
Is gender grammar really more important than stopping police harassment?
Why is maintaining the Mental Illness Myth so important to the leaders of gay advocacy?
...And if it’s so important, then perhaps we’re underestimating the importance of eliminating the myth.
By the way, the person who demanded my dismissal from the LGBT Council is currently serving on the Board of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) in Washington DC. He represents me to the US government.