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Dear everyone, please stop raising money with transphobia

April 20, 2010

I love a good charity as much as the next person. I’m all about creating change n’ such (sorry Obama, the queers went there first).

Anyhow, this video about men in heels from the Minneapolis (and St. Paul) paper really pissed me off. It immediately reminded me of this cute story about crossdressing hospital administrators that showed up in Syracuse last year. Both, of course, were ‘good natured’ fund raisers for worthy causes.

In Minnesota, men were walking in red heels to raise money for victims of domestic violence. And it was hilarious! And not the least bit ironic. I’ve also had people laugh at me for wearing clothing that they thought was inappropriate for a person of my assigned gender. I raised $0 in the process. Also, I’ve had people threaten violence against me. Oh, and there have been other women who have died as a result of similarly hilarious inappropriate actual choices of gender presentation.

The hospital administrators in Syracuse were raising money for heart disease research as part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign. On a very slightly related note, my partner and I now choose to go elsewhere as a result of a series of very negative experiences at this same hospital. The last time we were in the ER, our displeasure about how they treated us (and how it was completely at odds with the treatment of the straight couple in the room across the hall) led us to file a complaint with the State of New York. I’m not trying to impugn the entire hospital. I’ve had positive (and neutral) experiences there, and I know at least one person who works there. However, given the extreme distrust many trans people have with medical professionals, and given that multiple people at multiple levels have made it clear on multiple occasions that they’re not particularly comfortable having my family hang out there, this particular event seems ill conceived.

Women. I don’t think these folks are using the same definition as I am. They certainly don’t seem to be helping women like me. This is a shame, because I think I’m on the same side of the controversial issues of violence and heart disease as they are.

Why even go there? Domestic violence, indeed all violence, is bad. And it’s not just the province of straight couples, BTW. So how’s this for a campaign: Nobody should beat anyone. Ever. We need your support.

Likewise, about this disease thing. Heart disease? Bites. Breast cancer? It’s a horrifying, and horrifyingly common disease. It also bites. Hard. What is so hard about that? Why do we have to reduce women to cutesy, disembodied bobbies and hilarious family-safe not-boobies to make the point that we need to do more about cancer? Why do we need to crossdress in a hilariously demeaning way to remind people that heart disease also kills women. Actually, it sorta takes away from the whole disease-y aspect of the causes. I’m not saying that people who have heart disease or breast cancer are miserable. I am saying that having one of these diseases is kinda a raw deal, and the whole wheeeee! boobies! men in dresses! thing kinda undermines the value of the lives of the women you’re ostensibly trying to help.

I like fun. Actually, I love fun. Fun is fun. But from my perspective as a woman, and a transsexual woman at that, these fundraisers aren’t the least bit fun or funny. And perhaps they do help to appeal to men to do pitch in time or money for a good cause, as brebert, a commenter in a thread at Shakesville suggested. I don’t want to dismiss this (I suspect ze’s on to something). However, I thought the goal was to value the lives of women, not diminish them.

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