Tag Archives: transgender

Black Women Whose Names Should Be Household Words: An Ongoing Series


Debbie says:

When I wrote about Lucy Parsons, I mentioned Pauli Murray in passing. Her name came up again in conversation recently, making me want to write more about her here. It is really hard to do justice to Murray’s legacy. Murray was a lawyer, a women’s rights activist, an author, and the first African-American woman to be ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church.

According to Wikipedia:

In 1940, Murray sat in the whites-only section of a Virginia bus with a friend, and they were arrested for violating state segregation laws. This incident, and her subsequent involvement with the socialist Workers’ Defense League, led her to pursue her career goal of working as a civil rights lawyer. … Murray graduated first in her class, but she was denied the chance to do post-graduate work at Harvard University because of her gender. She earned a master’s degree in law at University of California, Berkeley, and in 1965 she became the first African American to receive a Doctor of Juridical Science degree from Yale Law School.

Thurgood Marshall called Murray’s 1950 book, States’ Laws on Race and Color, the “bible” of the civil rights movement. In 1966 she was a co-founder of the National Organization for Women. Murray held faculty or administrative positions at the Ghana School of Law, Benedict College, and Brandeis University.

An important mentor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she is featured in On the Basis of Sex, the (fictionalized) story of GInsburg’s first gender equality case, but is not mentioned in The Notorious RBG.

Again from WIkipedia:

Murray struggled in her adult life with issues related to her sexual and gender identity, describing herself as having an “inverted sex instinct”. She had a brief, annulled marriage to a man and several deep relationships with women. In her younger years, she occasionally had passed as a teenage boy.

Murray coined the term “Jane Crow” for gender equivalents to the restrictive “Jim Crow” policies of post Civil War “reconstruction.” A relatively new biography, Jane Crow: The LIfe of Pauli Murray by Rosalind Rosenberg, identifies Murray as, among many other things, transgender.

I find it impossible to think about Murray without wishing I had known her.

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Trans Rights are Human Rights


Debbie says:

One of the right wing’s most potent strategies against us is their ability to keep moving the needle, and make it so hard for us to focus. The outrage of the day is surpassed by the outrage of the next day, and everyone’s eyes follow the action.

Thus, I want to be really sure not to lose track of the current administration’s claim that it will erase the existence of trans people altogether, using an executive order to declare that “genitals at birth” are a permanent marker of a person’s legal gender.

First, this hasn’t happened yet, though I have no doubt that it’s a genuine plan and they will try to make it happen.

Second, it’s impossible. Sports oversight bodies have been trying for decades to clearly and fairly identify sex and gender, and they have never succeeded. And they are dealing with adults. When the White House uses genitals “at birth,” they erase all kinds of intersex people, including those who are identified female at birth and then have testicles descend at puberty. It won’t work.

However, if enacted, this policy will cause endless pain, suffering, and discrimination to many of the one million or more trans and nonbinary people in the U.S., and will inevitably cause a large number of unnecessary deaths: from people who are unwilling to seek medical attention, from suicide, and more. It is a disgusting, inhuman policy–exactly what we expect from the current people in power in our country.

Since doing nothing is perpetuating evil, I commend Christianna Silva and Lucy Diavolo’s article in Teen Vogue, How to Help Transgender People Fight the Trump Administration’s Policy Memo.

First, they say, Vote! If you feel like you’re hearing this message a lot, it’s because (whether or not your heart is with the American two-party system), it’s the most important thing you can do right now to fight the nationalist, authoritarian movement trying to completely take over our country.

Next, reach out to your transgender and nonbinary friends:

If you have trans friends, cook them a meal, buy them a present, or visit their house to help with chores like laundry and cleaning — things that can fall by the wayside when you spend all day in bed crying. Demonstrating tangible support for trans people is a way to let them know they’re not alone.

Here, I’m going to depart from the order they present, because I think this is crucial. They say, donate directly to trans people, especially trans women of color.

Rewire.News reporter Katelyn Burns put out a call for crowdfunds on October 21, and it’s a great place to start looking for people whose lives you can impact now. Similarly, hashtags like #transcrowdfund on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr are full of folks brave enough to ask for help.

Note that last sentence; it does take courage to ask for help, and courage deserves response.

Then, call your representatives at the federal, state and local levels. This doesn’t work so much for me, because I live in the heart of the blue bubble (and to the left of the blue bubble) and all of my elected officials are in at least basic sympathy with trans people’s right to exist and thrive. But it might work for you, so take it seriously.

Educate yourself, then educate your friends and family.

Read up on transgender rights in the U.S. and across the world, and then send some of your favorite resources over to your friends and family. Call and text the cis people in your life about accepting and supporting trans folks. Talk to your cis peers about how you can support the transgender people in your community.

Learning the language is a key step toward being able to effectively advocate for trans people’s rights, and getting to know the issues trans people face on your own will save them a lot of explaining.

Donate to trans-led organizations, especially local ones. They offer good links which you can go find, if you haven’t spent all your disposable cash on the #transcrowdfund sites.

And, finally, stay involved, especially as the new federal policies enter public comment periods.

“Many proposed changes to federal regulations, like the one written about in today’s New York Times, have to go through something called ‘notice and comment,’” [ACLU attorney Chase] Strangio explained. “So, through mail, people are able to say what they think about a federal rule. This is a huge opportunity for citizen engagement, because even if it doesn’t impact the administration’s decision, it will be easier for pro-LGBTQ+ organizations to argue in court that the measure is discriminatory.”

We are connected human beings who owe each other thought and care. If you’re cis, this is your chance to be part of the response. If you’re trans or nonbinary, you’re in my heart.

Follow me on Twitter @spicejardebbie