Hearing privilege is a real thing. Most people are at least marginally aware of the Deaf community, and the proliferation of ASL in high schools and colleges has helped shed light on the traditions and history of American Deaf culture. In spite of this increased visibility, little attention is paid to the continued social and economic barriers the Deaf community face. Contrary to the myth of mediocrity, the full potential of Deaf people is often limited by oppressive and marginalizing social policies, norms, and general public obliviousness. Lydia Callis writes about audism and its implications (don’t know who she is? Learn more about her).
“Last thing you remember, you were walking down the street– now you are lying in a hospital bed. The lights are so bright you can barely see, and your whole body is in pain. You try asking for assistance, but none of the medical staff can understand you because none of them communicate by using American Sign Language (ASL). They hand you some paperwork and ask you to write your questions on a note pad, but all you want is a conversation. What happened to you? How did you get here? What are you supposed to do now?”
When I opened my Facebook today, one of my close friends had posted this on my wall:
“Wake up, it’s Christmas!”
It made me laugh, and a little teary, because really it did feel like that – that exquisite breath of hope and desire hovering over the day. My darling queer nephew woke us up this morning, poking his head in to whisper “Did you hear!?” We grabbed our phones to see, excited….I had visions of tiptoeing down the hall, hoping to catch a glimpse of Queer Saint Nick, and as we peeked around the corner of our virtual living room, we found this:
I’m not gonna lie, there’ve been a lot of tears. I’ve been obsessed with scrolling through my feed today, seeing all the pictures and posts, all the kisses and rings and declarations of love. It’s a heady thing, to have a feed literally filled with nothing but sunshine. It’s a big deal.
I’ve vacillated mightily today. I’ve cried tears of joy and rage. I’ve imagined a thousand weddings and mentally designed two thousand rhinestoned gowns, all while cursing the proprietary and historically oppressive institution. I’ve been excited, then furious with myself for being excited about something so freaking stupid.
It’s stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The government denied civil contracts based on assigned sex, and then after decades of sweat, tears, blood, and lives, the government finally decided that maybe sex is not a legitimate reason to grant or deny the associated benefits of that contract. I’m furious that it took so much and so long to get something accomplished that’s not even close to the biggest issue in my community. What kind of idiot am I to jump up and down for this? You don’t get cookies for doing what you’re supposed to do.
And how can I cry tears of joy when there’s so much suffering? How can I throw sunshine to Obama after he shut down Jennicet Gutiérrez’s cry for help earlier this week? How can I be excited about the increasingly widespread acceptance of trans representation in pop culture, when there’s little activity in areas that actually impact the lived experiences of trans folks themselves?
How can I not be excited? How can I not feel a little victorious, a little hopeful? How can I not cry when I think about Chloe’s little niece, who’ll be present at her (other) aunt’s now-legally-sanctioned wedding next Friday, never knowing a world where that wouldn’t be a thing? (I admit, I also cried when I imagine that baby showing her grandkids pictures in 60 years…”your aunts got married a week after the laws changed!”)
It’s a foothold, though. I think it can mean more than just marriage. Having SCOTUS-sanctioned legal protection in one area will make it easier to get it in other areas. Marriage equality can be another tool in the toolbox, but we can’t be fooled into thinking that marriage was the battle. It wasn’t. If we could spend the amount of money, time, energy, and meme-making on these other issues as we did on marriage equality, maybe we could make some progress that would feel more meaningful for the people in our community who are suffering.
So I guess I’m gonna accept that this day and this issue will always bring mixed feelings. It’s paradoxical, but not untrue, to be excited and angry. I can be jubilant, and still heartbroken. So I guess I cry, and let the tears mean what they mean.
So now that it’s done, here’s a new To-Do list (it’s actually the same to-do list, but now we’re less distracted):
Remember when Obama won, and there were a ton of asshats who went around proclaiming racism dead in America? This is the same thing. Don’t be fooled into believing marriage equality means heterosexism is dead in America. It’s not.
Hailey Reissman has gathered seven different TED/TEDx talks to highlight the difference in every Trans person’s individual, lived experience.
“Alice Miller was born in a body that didn’t feel like hers. Every day, Yee Won Chong has to debate whether to use the men’s restroom or the women’s. Geena Rocero found success as a fashion model — but kept her birth gender a secret for nearly a decade, fearing what others would think.
All these people have transitioned into their true gender. And all of them made the decision to share their stories in a TED or TEDx talk. What these seven stories show: There is no one “right” way to live a life. And no one should have to spend a life hiding who they are.
Below, seven talks on living life expressing your true gender:”
The membership and allies of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network respond to announcements of AASECT award winners:
“It is outrageous that a book with this history and an editor with this ethical approach to his work be given this award. How can AASECT make claims about increasing diversity and supporting under-represented communities while, in the same breath, rewarding this book? The message this sends is “we say we want diversity, but only on our terms.””