Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reality check requested plz

I should probably leave it alone, now, especially considering the author of this particular piece of wisdom, but this was really pretty special:

Should [trans women] be able to access women’s services, I would say generally yes. They would however be better served by specialist TW advisors within the women’s services sector, in that way getting specialist needs addressed. However, it may be problematic within general housing for DV due the the majority of FABs already in residence and who may be so traumatised that a TW that does not ‘pass’ (again, this is the perception of the other women in residence) would further traumatise them. This would have to be on a case by case basis, taking into account ALL shelter residents, not just the TW. Witchy I am sure would verify this. Rape counselling for TW rape victims could well be dealt with by existing rape crisis helplines/centres, however, one would think that a TW would be better served by having a TW advisor.

The second part, that of TWs in a serving capacity in women’s services. This would be generally no. As an adjunct for supporting TWs, yes, as mentioned above. However, many TWs do not “pass” as well as they think they do, especially on the telephone. To the FAB ear, most TWs sound like very camp queens, and this is very off-putting to an FAB expecting to hear a female voice on the other end of the telephone. Before you go ballistic, specialist services like rape counselling can be further divided within the FAB group, between lesbian and heterosexual women. Many lesbians would appreciate more focused care for their unique experiences of rape. That isn’t to say that it is any more or less traumatic for any victim of rape, just different, from the victim’s perspective. That is victim-centred thinking, not ‘phobic’ to any particular group.

Source link: follow the trail of breadcrumbs, I'm not in the mood.

So as I'm reading it, according to this person:

1) trans women must be able to physically "pass" in order to be admitted to an abused womens' shelter, lest they risk retraumatizing the other women

2) trans women tend to sound like "very camp queens" over the phone, which is also traumatizing for women who've just been raped or are otherwise in crisis

3) This is not, repeat, not "phobic" to any particular group; rather, we are concerned that every victim get as focused care for her particular experience as possible. We are fine with trans women counseling other trans women; in fact we feel that this would be best. Which is why we also tell lesbian staffers not to counsel straight women over the phone, lest -they- be traumatized by the experience. Oh, wait. * Well, anyway.

Am I missing something? I just want to be sure. I mean, I've staffed hotlines and walk-in counseling centers, but only under the auspices of the dreaded LGBTQ. Generally, ime, the M.O. has been, callers and/or clients can request a male or female or any other specification for the person they talk to; and if such a person happens to be staffing that day/night, why, we'll accomodate the client. Otherwise, the client has the option of either talking or -not- talking to whoever -is- on staff; and suggestions for other places to try may be given, such as they are.

That, and: we tend to be down with the "camp queens;" in fact, being rejected or abused for sounding like a "camp queen" tends to be among the experiences that might have led a client to come see us in the first place. Generally, we tend to chalk up such monikers/rejections up to "homophobia," not just "transphobia." I'm just that is just my hopelessly selfish anti-feminism showing again, though. Anyway, I'm sure that coming from a woman--excuse me, "born and raised female" woman, such things don't cause any harm at all, because women have no power. At all.

Also, lest we forget, it's not a -right- to volunteer for a womens' crisis center, that is correct. And presumably, the decision to be so exacting about who one does and doesn't allow to speak to or help victimized women is the right one. After all, the women are our first concern; and I'm sure it's true that the constant lack of funding and understaffing for any such organization -at all- takes a backseat when it comes to this sort of thing.

No; it's far likelier that an abused/raped woman will be traumatized by the mere presence of a trans woman or, I don't know, an unrepentant stripper (who doesn't actually talk about her job to the clients) on the staff than that the loss of a willing, caring, hardworking volunteer whose only flaw was having the wrong sort of physical presentation or career, might actually be more of a problem.

Because, silly me, personally I had kind of the opposite impression, but, well, I've been wrong before, so. Just checking.


Victoria Marinelli said...

Um... ya know what? I really don't feel qualified to speak to the specific trans issues at stake here. (Cuz I'm not, y'know, trans. Though some of my best friends*... ah, shit, never mind.)

That said? All of this hand-wringing over the safety of women's shelters brings me right back to my first involvement in the battered women's movement. Namely, in Olympia, Washington (in 1990 & 1991), when my (female-born, non-trans) partner was battering me, and I had one hell of a time getting access to services. Why? Sure, there was the issue of the battered women's movement failing, then, to competently address same-sex domestic violence and sexual assault (thankfully there have been marked improvements since then, though of course there is much that could still be done). But that wasn't the main issue.

The main issue for me was that my abuser had been both a volunteer and a part-time employee of the one battered women's and sexual assault service agency in town, Safeplace. (As mentioned here, among other places.) So, for instance, the first time I called their hotline, I happened to get the one worker with whom my abuser had worked very closely, who (at that point) was very friendly with her. And, naturally, this also meant that my abuser knew the location of the "confidentially" located shelter. I had absolutely nowhere to go where I wouldn't be stalked by my abuser.

And this was a specifically feminist organization, run as a collective. (To be clear - and fair - they did eventually ban her from the organization, and finally helped me to get a civil protection order, though this did not come about without significant struggle.)

But let me tell you that one of the main things I had to confront at the time was this deadly gender essentialism, where women are always good and lesbian battering doesn't exist (or it's "mutual battering" or some such shit, I mean, HELLO, my abuser had a juvie record for attempted murder.) I was actually called "Judas" in cafes and such because the women's community was so pissed off by the fact that I was "airing dirty laundry" and whatnot. (Really, I couldn't make this shit up. I really did get called Judas. One of the more surreal moments of my life, among many.)

And my abuser? Was regarded as some kind of heroine because she supposedly embodied this notion of a "strong woman." Whereas they largely exiled me - they could not associate themselves with a battered woman when that woman's abuser was a female-born, bona-fide-breast-owning WOMAN. It drove them nuts.

It seems to me that the vast amount of energy expended on gender-essentialist diatribes could be better used in, you know, reaching out to women (however you might define same) who need and deserve access to safety resources. There is, certainly, a legitimate need for services that are specific to certain populations (e.g., Deaf community advocacy on behalf of battered women who are Deaf). But it seems to me that, generally speaking, the battered women's movement must work to develop services that are more comprehensive, rather than more restrictive, working in coalition with specific advocacy groups to make those services accessible to everyone who legitimately needs them.

* Note: This is tongue-in-cheek. Pains me that I should have to specify that, but there it is.

Daisy said...

My postmenopausal voice is as deep or deeper than any "camp queens"!!! In fact, that is *exactly* what I sound like, a feminine deep-voiced person!

Maybe *I'd* upset the gals, too!?

Hoo boy.

belledame222 said...

Thanks, Victoria. And yes, exactly. Exactly. It has more ramifications than just excluding trans women from even the meager protections the battered/sexually assaulted womens' movement can provide. "Women good, men bad" doesn't cut it. Not because "what about the men" (although services for abused men is a whole nother if related subject, I suppose, one which I gave up trying to discuss with folks at feminist critics', but...yeah, anyway); because "hello, women can be abusers too; what do you propose to do about this?"

What is a "safe space?" To me, it's what you make it, not based on superficial and yes, supposed non-essentialists, gendered characteristics like how convincingly someone wears a dress, bone structure, depth of voice. And frankly, the poorer the people running the shindig are about genuinely being able to judge character and enforce boundaries that are actually protective of the clients, not just their own prejudices, the less "safe" the place is going to be.

And that's without even the whole: hello, understaffed already, and you're turning people away because, essentially, you don't like the looks or sound of them.

And you know what else: I'm just about ready to go all out and call this as I see it: homophobia, pure and simple. The attitude this bunch has about lesbians is complicated but still deeply problematic imo; and it really shines with, well, shit like this. "Camp queens." I wonder what, say, Judy Grahn or Dorothy Allison would have to say about a bunch of mostly straight women uttering these wisdoms, you know.

I mean I realize that there were already endemic problems with racism and ableism and obviously here, transbigotry (yes yes I know, no one's REALLY bigoted, not REALLY, they don't -hate- anyone so QED), no surprise, join the club.

but, yeah, furious. Fuck you, lady. I'll take the help of one of my "camp queen" friends over your tender mercies any day of the week.

GallingGalla said...

I'll take the help of one of my "camp queen" friends over your tender mercies any day of the week.

Damned spot on, belledamme.

I went to a women's wellness day event here in Philadelphia in 2006, and they were still having to educate women that woman-on-woman violence even exists.

Regarding the trans woman aspect: Canada was on my short list of countries to emigrate to, should a rethuglican be elected (or rammed through by force or fraud) in 2008. Then I found out about Vancouver Rape Relief Center. That center's policies are bad enough, but when the Canadian Supreme Court backed VRRC in kicking out trans women, and given the vile shit that they've got posted on their website, I determined that Canada is a pretty damned hostile place for trans* folk, maybe worse than the US, if that can be believed. It doesn't help that the only gender identity clinic in Canada (that I'm aware of, anyway) is run by Ray Blanchard, the fuckwad who came up with the "autogynophilia" bullshit, which can be summed up as "trans women are just men who fantasize looking like women"; he and Bailey are the darlings of transphobes everywhere.

Renegade Evolution said...

VM is so right, if your abuser happens to be a're screwed. So many people think that female on female (or hell, female on male) domestic abuse does not exist, even when you have more than a few people saying it does...with the scars to prove it. And yep, sure enough, when I had the evol female ex...frankly, anyone willing to help with that problem? I sure as hell wouldn't have cared if they were a cis/trans at all.

Stassa said...

Hey Belle. Just realised how furious you are about this whole trans exclusion/ trans misogyny thingy. And you're cis.

So, you know. On behalf of me, being trans, thanks, chica.

belledame222 said...

de nada. honestly, I look at this shit and I think: the difference between this and good ol'familiar homophobia? -squints.- negligible. and in fact, I'm increasingly convinced that there's de facto homophobia there, too; I don't care how many of them claim to be clear-eyed-gazing lesbians, or you know really really aspire to be such as soon as they can get it up to leave their huz-bins. "camp queens?" fuck YOU, lady.

belledame222 said...

plus the sheer smug petty gratutious cruelty and willful ignorance, all wrapped up in sanctimony and handwaving about "feminism;" ffs, this isn't feminism, this is shit. Just...shit. And they can go and fuck themselves, I've had it. they're like the Fox News of the feminist blogosphere.

Kim said...

Hugs to you Belle, but a skim read is the best I could give this. I am so tired of that crowd I cannot read one fucking sentence of this stubborn drivel they keep spewing.

Just wanted you to know I'm alive and still visiting your bloggy-woggy!

Kim said...

"plus the sheer smug petty gratutious cruelty and willful ignorance, all wrapped up in sanctimony and handwaving about "feminism;""

That about sums it up.

Sara said...

I once tried to contact VRR, though I'm not sure my email was even read.

I contended it was all a superficial issue and not at all an issue of life experience.

In short, that treatment would not have worked on a butch woman. She might have gotten some issues with them and be told "appear more feminine" or something, but I really doubt they would have told her "Sorry, voice too deep, shoulders too broad."

The whole Nixon vs VRR was construed around the experience of being a girl, being careful of not making it a lookism issue - though some of the articles on their site clearly laid it out as a "looking like a man-in-a-dress issue", but where the heck did they get the evidence first of all?

When I contacted them, I told them that if I wanted to go there and volunteer, they'd never know, and they'd never care, because they wouldn't suspect me.

belledame222 said...

hey, welcome, sara

belledame222 said...

yay for alive Kims!

stainless said...

wait, woman-on-woman violence exists?

I never got that mem--- oh, wait, yeah I did.

(you should be able to guess who this is, most likely. not puttin the usual nombre on, sure you can also guess why)

Sara said...

Hi belledame.

I'm also Schala. I only post as Sara cause that's my blogger ID, and maybe eventually my legal first name.

belledame222 said...

Hey Sara! welcome by any other name :)