[Posted at the request of Ashley Love; Transphobia is always stale and it always reeks]
We protested last night in front of the British Consulate, New York, because a very alarming situation is happening in the UK. A transphobic DVD named “FIT” has been approved to show children and youth in public schools. The anti-transsexual slur “tra**y” is being used, which is used as a taunt and insult when bullies and bigots harass people perceived to be transsexual, intersex or gender non-conforming. The protest was presented by Media Advocates Givivng National Equality to Transsexual & Transgender People (MAGNET) and International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE). MAGNET’s press release: http://www.themagnetsource.blogspot.com/2010/11/protest-of-stonewall-uks-bullying.html
Outside the British Consulate New York “Dept 4 Education OR Dept. 4 Transphobia? Edit Out The T-Word!”
Stonewall UK is behind the messaging in the PSA. We chose last night to protest to coincide with the Stonewall Awards in London, whic took place last night as well. Originally, the London LGBT community was going to protest outside the awards, but Stonewall UK gave into the gay and lesbian community’s demands to advocate for marriage, so it was cancelled. However, Stonewall UK did not even address the transphobic DVD, therefore devaluing the needs of trans people. Many UK transsexual and transgender people are outraged that the demonstration was cancelled even though the (mis)educational video has not been edited. Since we wanted to show solidarity with the UK trans community, and because transphobia in any classroom affects us all, we decided to have our own protest in New York. Too many times trans people get thrown under the bus when gay and lesbian people have their needs met, and we are sick of having our human rights tampered with.
The FIT DVD is supposed to be an “anti-bullying” video- however, the use of the taunt and slur “tra**y” is used- which is a verbal form of bullying which leads to dehumanization and violence. How did an anti-bullying DVD become a DVD that bullies trans people?? This outrage is being ignored by Stonewall UK, who not only advised on the DVD, but has an unhealthy past with the UK trans community: Stonewall UK excludes them from their mission statement, yet has the audacity to (mis)represent them, and has even been caught back lobbying against their interests. There should be “no taxation without representation”. This colonial practice is abusive, and goes against the human rights of trans people living in the UK. From MAGNET’s press release “The United Kingdom is very pioneering by having the Gender Recognition Act. The Department of Education is obligated to uphold this Act (verbal abuse is still abuse and sometimes hurts more than stones). The anti-trans slur must be edited out”.
Trans people initiated the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which catapulted the modern LGBT movement, yet Stonewall UK hijacked the word and oppress the same people who started Stonewall! This is appalling, and we must respect our history
If this video is shown in schools it will affect the US trans community as well because the promoting of a stigmatizing anti-trans slur in an “education” video will give every transphobe and bigot the “right” to get away with using that word, and will refer to the FIT DVD as an excuse. Much like the “N” word affects the Black community, we need to take a stand against the T Word
Many UK trans advocates and leaders asked us to continue with our protest. Some of them feel inclined to not speak out publicly against Stonewall UK because of political reasons, access, etc. We feel this video is NOT a time to compromise. Many people are disappointed that many times “token trans leaders” get either seduced by the bureaucracy, compromise for career advancement, ignore the complaints of their own trans people, are “out of touch” with today’s youth or submit to the same establishment that oppresses the people they are supposed to represent. We must not give in until the transphobia is edited out. Our children need us to be adults who protect them.
The T-word is very controversial. For example, it’s used as a way to dismiss a woman’s (who was born with birth challenges and a medical condition) womanhood. A woman born with a medical condition is still a woman, not an “it, sub-woman or “tra**y””. This is not a Halloween costume, it’s her life. Many drag performing MALES appropriate transsexual issues or words. It may be all fun and games to a drag performer to use words to be “hip, shocking, offensive or sensational”, but not to a trans woman who’s hate crime assailant is calling her the T-word as he murders her, or to a trans person who gets called that on the bus by a trans-phobe or bigot. Stigmatizing pejoratives are not “cool”, they hurt really badly, and the trans youth will be ridiculed in their own classroom unless the transphobia is edited out from the DVD. Name calling and taunts are a form of verbal bullying, and many times lead to physical violence .I don’t hear Asian people just dying to use the N-word just because it’s “cool” in hip hop music videos and then telling Black people to “lighten up”. Likewise, I get annoyed when gay men and drag queens fight to be able to reclaim a word that is not theirs to reclaim. Some of their entitlement issues and insensitivity is astounding, and oppressive. The director of FIT, Rikki Beadle-Blair, is a gay man (not trans), and does not have the right to tell women (usually the slur is directed at MTF women) what to be offended by. This is sexist, arrogant and clueless in regards to the mental violence and dehumanization that the word inspires. He claims “I hear kids use the word sometimes”. I hear Black kids use the word “ni**er” and girls use the word “b*tch”, but it doesn’t mean I should put the slur in an “educational” video(especially for children’s schools where bullying is a crisis and LGBT youth are committing suicide),for crying out loud!
We ask the British Department of Education, The Teachers Union, Equality and Human Rights Commission and Stonewall UK to protect the well being of all the children who attend school, and make the responsible and socially conscious decision to edit out the dehumanizing pejorative from the DVD. Normalizing the T-word, much like how the N-word was normalized decades ago to degrade Black people, will have severe consequences for the acceptance of trans people in mainstream society. It’s unbelievable that an oppressed minority group, especially children, could have their human rights be disrespected like this by authority figures. As adults, we must protect trans children. Teachers being forced to show DVDs with anti-trans slurs will do no such thing. The good news is that the decision makers involved still have a chance to do what’s right and fix this horrid mistake.
After the protest outside the British Consulate we went to the Stonewall Inn (unlike Stonewall UK, Stonewall Inn does not oppress trans people, and in fact, it was trans people who initated the Stonewall Riots of 1969, so how bizarre and shady is it that Stonewall UK excludes trans people, and advocates for anti-trans slurs to be in “educational” videos to be shown to children which is a form of verbal bullying.