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19 Responses

  1. Ampersand
    Ampersand February 14, 2006 at 3:16 pm |

    And then entirely well-meaning people like Amp start thinking that transsexuals themselves want GRS to be morally mandated out of existence.

    With all due respect – and also, with all due appreciation that you’re being nice to me :-) – I never said that, and I don’t think that. Here’s what I wrote, that you’re responding to:

    More and more transsexuals are transitioning without surgery, or with plastic surgery but without genital reconstruction. I think that’s a good trend; there’s nothing wrong with transsexuals getting reconstructive surgery, but there’s also no reason that should be the one-size-fits-all solution for gender identity disorder.

    My view is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to GID. I’m opposed to the situation that seemed to exist 20 years ago, when no one seemed prepared to acknowledge that it was possible to meaningfully transition without GRS. And I think the trend away from that is a good trend, as I said.

    But I’d also be opposed to saying no one should have GRS, ever. What I advocate is patient-driven health care for GID, in which patients are supported in finding the solutions that work for them as individuals – including GRS surgery, for patients who are helped by it.

  2. Tex
    Tex February 14, 2006 at 4:26 pm |

    I’m not going to touch the analogy with assimilationist v radical trans identities, but I feel the need to speak up about the question of recognizing gay marriages.

    I think that there are lots of ways to recognize the commitments that people have made to one another. I just think using the state to do so is a crappy idea. Gays who want to get married are as free to disagree with me on this point as straight people who do.

    Where it goes beyond a question of tactics and pacing (kinda boring stuff to me. I’m not particularly opposed to the gay marriage struggle as I am opposed to those on the right who are opposed to it) is when it becomes a question of pushing people into marriage or, perhaps even worse, treating gay marriage as a sort of final capstone to any and all civil rights claims. This goes beyond the personal weight of that baggage and leaks into whether the ways that our rights discourses around marriage come at a very real and demonstrable cost to other things that I care about.

  3. Tex
    Tex February 14, 2006 at 4:38 pm |

    Another thing:
    I don’t think the analogy with McDonalds is fair in the least.

    Eating unhealthy food is a choice whose effects are mostly localized in the body of the decion-maker. It rots out your body.

    Now, does marriage rot out part of your self? Perhaps, tho I think that’s too harsh. That’s an entirely different point from whether or not the institution does harm in the aggregate, beyond its localized effects on those who participate in it.

  4. A
    A February 14, 2006 at 4:41 pm |

    I’m pretty anti-marriage across the board, but I don’t think that means anyone who wants to get married shouldn’t be able to. Ideally, no one would want to, but so long as anyone can, everyone should be allowed. I do worry sometimes that expanding legal marriage to include same sex and queer couple will strengthen the general disregard for nonconventional, nonmarried adult relationships, but again, I don’t think the solution is disallowing (painfully slow, glacial) expansion of rights for others, just because it’s not my turn next.

  5. KnifeGhost
    KnifeGhost February 14, 2006 at 5:19 pm |

    piny, I have to start with a clear and resounding “fucking exactly”.

    I don’t exactly see how a queer couple who marries does anything to invalidate a queer couple who doesn’t marry’s relationship any more than it invalidates a straight couple who marries. (Does that make any sense?)

    People who have their reservations about marriage are welcome to their views, even though I don’t share them. (I suspect “marriage” means something very different to them than it does to me.) But the essential fucking point, _essential_, is that people who aren’t comfortable with marriage are no more in the right trying to deny queer couples marriage than straight people who want to keep marriage straight do.

    I’m not at all comfortable with prescriptive values judgements, especially, as piny covered, given that it erases people’s right to make their decisions for themselves for their reasons.

  6. Tex
    Tex February 14, 2006 at 5:22 pm |

    I didn’t mean to cut you off from your community. I think your arguments about the scale between Christine Jorgensen and an unatainable ideal tranny are excellent.

    If in trying to separate the questions of gay marriage and trans assimilationism, are you in some way sacrificing a large number of people’s self identifications “for the sake of a political agenda they have no connection to.”

    I think that I can still agree with that and still think that the fast food analogy is unfair. I maintain that the analogy is unfair, because the business model that McDonalds uses wasn’t part of it’s original contention. The text you used said very specifically that
    Eating McDonalds food is bad for you
    and so that is why I thought it was too narrow. Now, if it had been an analogy not based on a pathology model but on a corporate responsibility one, I’d have a different approach. Your point about Fast Food Nation is well taken, and perhaps a fitting analogy, but I that’s not where I was coming from.

  7. Tex
    Tex February 14, 2006 at 6:20 pm |

    oh man. I’m missing a couple of verbs in there. I beg y’alls indulgences.

  8. IrrationalPoint
    IrrationalPoint February 14, 2006 at 7:07 pm |

    Good post, Piny. I would quibble with you on this point though

    ‘They either don’t agree that marriage is esentially patriarchal/misogynist/heterosexist/assimilationist, or they don’t care.’

    The fact that marriage has been essentially patriarchal/misogynist/heterosexist/assimilationist doesn’t mean it has to continue to be so. I don’t see why the institution of marriage should be regarded as static — why do we have to accept that because marriage has been a way for men to control women, it has to stay that way?

    ‘Even if marriage has managed, or can manage, to supercede historical and current sexism, privileging marriage and even couplehood over other intimate human relationships is bigotry. When queers opt into marriage, they opt into all the poisonous baggage that goes with it.’

    I agree that privileging marriage/couplehood over other relationships is bigotry, but why does the fact that someone wants to get married mean that that person is privileging marriage over other relationships? Surely one can want to get married and still recognise that other people’s non-marriage relationships are not inferior.

    I’m not at all comfortable with prescriptive values judgements, especially, as piny covered, given that it erases people’s right to make their decisions for themselves for their reason

    Exactly.

    –IP

  9. Tex
    Tex February 14, 2006 at 7:57 pm |

    I screwed that last post up big.

    As for the most unintelligible part of what I failed to say right:

    I think that the tactics employed on a movement level (which I think I’m going to separate out from the decision to marry or not. Feel free to call me out on this one if it’s an unfair distinction) are not always comparable to the different types of transitions. So, I think that in eliding the two, there’s lots of crucial stuff that can get lost. If I’m reading you right, separating them out cuts people off from their communities. I lost a clause or two drafting my comment, but I just wanted to add that insisting too forcefully on connecting the two, even for argumentative purposes, runs the risk of ignoring those in either community who would reject lumping their own self-identification in with that of the other. In general, I disagree with the people who think that the two have nothing to do with one another.

    However, one place where I think your analogy sags is with regard to the question you pose at the beginning of your post:
    is this any of my business?

    With regard to people’s different transitioning strategies, I cannot compellingly see how it is any of my business how they go about doing it.

    However, I think that marriage is different because it involves so much more social participation. This point may well be undermined by your passport example, showing that recognition by others is a key in the value of both. In that way, you’ve made me reconsider some of my thinking on the issue, and I’m really aprpeciative for the insights that you bring to it.

    My biggest quibble with the gay marriage movement has been not with those who opt for marriage, but with those who wish for marriage not to be one of many options, freely chosen in a pleasant, tolerant liberal way, but instead the best option for all people. Rather than ask why marriage should be assumed to be a patriarchal tool, I think the burden really is on why it won’t be used that way. I want more assurances that mere triumphalism about “choices” to feel secure that it won’t be used as a cudgel, since there are already plenty of conservative gay and straight voices preparing to do just that.

  10. KnifeGhost
    KnifeGhost February 14, 2006 at 9:25 pm |

    ‘They either don’t agree that marriage is esentially patriarchal/misogynist/heterosexist/assimilationist, or they don’t care.’

    I think if we replace “essentially” with “inherently”, we’re cooking.

    And, quite frankly, to make the case that marriage is inherent patriarchal/misogynist/heterosexist/assimilationist or whatever is a flat out denial of the lived experience of many many married people. Although there may be a case to say that this is historically how it has played out (and I _really_ don’t want to get into that discussion here), it’s not the case that all marriages happen in patriarchal/misogynist ways. The history of the formation of the institution (and I think the reading of history that paints marriage as inherently patriarchal and misogynist is simplistic at best) is not the institution as it is lived by its present day participants.

  11. F-Words
    F-Words February 14, 2006 at 9:58 pm |

    Marriage as a Feminist Institution

    It’s hard enough to get out of a controlling or abusive relationship as it is, but it becomes doubly so when you’d be leaving behind all your assets and possessions. Were the couple married, contributions to the household that aren’t strictly moneta…

  12. mythago
    mythago February 15, 2006 at 2:21 am |

    I think the burden really is on why it won’t be used that way.

    Well, for one thing, it’s a little harder to have a patriarchal family model when you don’t have a patriarch. Or when you have two. That’s precisely why the far-righties don’t want same-sex marriage; it messes with their Ward and June idealism. They simply cannot conceive of marriage that isn’t male dominant/female submissive, which, needless to say, means one male and one female.

  13. m. luminous
    m. luminous February 15, 2006 at 1:21 pm |

    Piny, I just wanted to thank you for your posts on trans issues. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately, because I just spent the past three weeks caring for an FTM as he recovered from top surgery and a hysterectomy , and we’ve been talking about all this stuff. He fully intends to get married to a woman, and he says he misses being part of the lesbian community, even though he knows that he never quite belonged to the lesbian community in the first place.

  14. Rex Little
    Rex Little February 15, 2006 at 2:17 pm |

    The fact that marriage has been essentially patriarchal/misogynist/heterosexist/assimilationist doesn’t mean it has to continue to be so

    Today’s misogynists certainly don’t think it has continued to be so. They routinely advise men to avoid marriage because (they say) it gives women power over men. Listen to radio talk show host Tom Leykis, for example.

  15. Tata
    Tata February 16, 2006 at 1:17 pm |

    Theorizing makes my head hurt. While I respect you for working out these ideas, I fear for committed people of any kind without legal documents who suddenly find themselves in dangerous situations. People of all stripes can suddenly find themselves barred from hospital rooms or losing homes or custody of children they raised in loose and loving situations. It’s painful to contemplate and happens every day. One unforeseen event, and the cold wind blows through quiet lives.

    If we could get around those legal points, we could contemplate marriage on its own merits. Until then, marriage may be the only means of holding on to what is rightfully ours in the first place.

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