Monday, May 09, 2011

The Snail's Revolution

By Kelly Jean Cogswell

Since I wrote last, curfew was declared in Tunisia where demonstrators are protesting the interim government, and elections may not happen in July after all. In Egypt, Muslims and Christians are honoring their own recent revolution by killing each other. The Syrian government aims to prevent one by rounding up democracy protesters and shooting into crowds. Bin Laden who wanted an Islamic one got dead, along with Col. Khadafi's son.

And in just a few weeks, in delightful Paris, Texas, an African American man, Bobby Yates, is set to go on trial for rape even though he lost his lower limbs in a hunting accident over two decades ago and is also paralyzed. Yes, in 2011, the accuser, a 16 year-old white female, who came to his home with two adult white males in March of 2008, has been given the benefit of the doubt, despite Yates' demonstrated disabilities, and the 911 tape of him calling for help, and begging for the cops to come help him get rid of the three who had been beating on him.

It's also time for the usual spring antics of New York State Senator Ruben Diaz, who's organizing an anti-gay, anti-abortion march, scheduled specifically for March 15 to draw numbers from the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and rebuke the AIDS Walk held the same day. His main beef-- same-sex marriage which may be coming up for a vote in the New York legislature later this month, and may actually get approved.

Queers can already get civil unionized in Chicago which will largely give them the rights to visit their spouses in the hospital and parade around in knock-off Kate Middleton wedding dresses and buy a replica of her royal engagement ring in genuine plated metal, and purty cut glass advertised for only $19.99 on whatever channel that is that runs old movies and pitches ostomy supplies and those little dangerous carts that on Avenue A are always on the verge of running me down.

In more promising news, Andrés Duque in his blog Blabbeando reported that one of the most popular characters in "Gran Hermano 2011," Argentina's version of Big Brother, was transman Alejandro Iglesias who lasted for three months before getting voted out in March. In the process, he talked a lot about his experiences, and has become an important advocate for trans issues, including a law coming up for debate that would make it quicker and easier for Argentinean transpeople to get national ID papers that reflect their chosen gender and name.

The courts there have been relatively progressive, in 2008 allowing transwoman, Tania Luna, to change her name without requiring gender reassignment surgery, conceding the hard fought battle of transactivists to establish that gender isn't just about the body.

New York City is definitely lagging on that front, battling Joann Marie Prinzivalli, a White Plains transwoman born in Brooklyn who wants to change the gender on her birth certificate. She can't have surgery for health reasons, but in a conversation with asserts her identity is "not just genitalia". It's an urgent matter for transpeople. Most don't have surgery because it's hugely expensive, has health risks, and to a lot of people seems unnecessary because gender is located less between the legs than between the ears.

Her New York opponents pathetically claim they can't let her change her birth certificate because it sets too many precedents, and raises too many questions. Like whether a transwoman who still has a penis should be in a women's prison or a men's. And what gender they would be considered in a hospital.

Which strikes me as one thing that separates trans issues from LG and B issues -- just how far people get up in the business of transpeople. Not obsessing just about what you do in bed and whether or not you want to get it on with them, but about every little physical moment as you pass through the world from your choice of underwear to bathrooms to changing rooms.

Maybe the solution is to establish hundred of gender variations, not just two or three. Like little nations. So many that they became meaningless as brands of instant oatmeal, though they never would be. Countries are still duking it out, even if they share plenty of interests. And the citizens inside each of those are as split as anybody else into their little tribes of religion, custom, ethnicity, flavor, race,

Yeah, every time I check out the news, I'm reminded of how humans share something like 96 percent of their DNA with chimps, and 75 percent of their DNA with nematodes. Which does a lot to explain how patiently we have to root through the dirt to make any progress at all. In fact, sharing 48 modules of genes with plants, it's a miracle we can walk upright at all.

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