As predicted, another teachable moment

The earth is flat; isn’t that obvious? I mean, it’s just so obvious, go outside and look. What!? How dare you suggest I don’t know! You have no right to force everyone to play along with your “world-not-flat” fantasy!

I think we should have compassion for ignorant people, I really do. But what about people whose ignorance is willfully, militantly, self-imposed? What about people who would hang their heads in shame if they were capable of realizing how baseless and uninformed their hatred for other people has been?

We reported here on the unanimous passage of the Montgomery County ordinance prohibiting discrimination against transgender people. As we said then, the unbelievably vicious opposition has been fixated on a single, fictional notion: That people will no longer “know” what kind of genitals the other people using a public restroom have. Seriously, folks. This is the focal point for the people opposed to this law.

To illustrate, here is a verbatim comment (in response to this one) from a local flat earther:

It is real easy, let me see if I can help you here.
1. If you are born with a Johnson, use the mens room.
2. If were born without a Johnson, use the ladies room.
3. If you were born with a Johnson and you pay someone to lop it off have your head examined.

It is not for society to re-work the bathroom arrangments that have worked perfectly well since the dawn of public restrooms in order to accomodate a handful of confused nuts who can’t make up their minds wether they are a he or a she or something in between.

-G.Stone

You may recognize Greg Stone as the “what part of illegal don’t you understand” guy, so things being “real easy” for him is to be expected. To be fair, Greg does get one thing right, and the Montgomery County Council agrees (as do I). People don’t need the government to help them go to the bathroom. Each of us is quite capable of determining which bathroom is the appropriate one to use, and the idea of potty police is about as literally nanny-state as you can get. Yet, this is precisely the argument of these pitiably anxious people: Regina Griggs of PFOX complains of the ordinance, “nowhere does it say you cannot use the bathroom of your choice.” Let’s make sure we understand this: They want The Government to promise them that when they are imagining the genitals of the person in the stall next to them (and you may reasonably ask why they would be doing that), they are not imagining the wrong ones.

Those of you who use public restrooms of either variety, feel free to weigh in here. Do people in either of these settings display their genitals to other patrons (other than the obvious minimal exposure at the urinal)? Has anybody ever seen that? No, of course not. The logical conclusion, then, is that we don’t know what they look like. Heads up, potty people. You have been going to the bathroom in the presence of transgender folks all this time. And, apparently, you have survived.

If you can remove the fingers you have jammed in your ears for just a moment, I will explain something to you. Human beings do not simply arrive in the world on two conveyor belts labeled “Johnson” and “No Johnson.” In most cases and for most purposes this is a good enough approximation, but it is not the biological reality of sex. We’ve done a good job of pretending otherwise, what with surgically erasing people (many more than most of you think) who are born with ambiguous genitalia and other states of being that refute this simplistic conceptualization. Covering up reality, however, doesn’t change it. I’m not going to give you a dissertation. See ISNA. See Dr. Dana Beyer’s comment here.

The bottom line is that sometimes people are assigned the wrong gender at birth, and they transition. At the point in their transition where it makes sense, they start using the bathroom designated for the gender they are living, because it would be silly and dangerous and look really weird for them to use the other one. The fact that this is just now coming to your attention pretty much demonstrates what a non-issue it is. Oh, one other thing – this usually happens long before they have surgery, if they have surgery at all.

Actually – and this is purely based on anecdotal evidence – the people who tend to get harassed in public restrooms are women with short hair and no makeup. Alison Bechtel did a hilarious strip (I can’t find it online, unfortunately) in which a conventionally feminine transwoman friend stands up for butch Mo in a public restroom after Mo’s appearance scares some poor lady. “Can’t you see this is a woman? Look a little closer next time, hon,” she says. Women don’t want to share public bathrooms with men (I have yet to hear any men complaining about “women” in the men’s room, but for the sake of parity we’ll just assume that as well). We get that, and no one is asking them to. That’s exactly why Greg’s construction above is so ridiculous. If women are uncomfortable with masculine women in the bathroom, just imagine how uncomfortable they would be with transmen. I don’t think they would be at all happy with that little scenario.

Now, maybe you are one of the folks who just feel that transgender people can’t really exist, and you express your feeling with phrases like “men who think they’re women.” Maybe you are one of those people who has trouble accepting that something you can’t see and touch – the neurological state that is gender identity, everybody has one – is biological. Please refer to the beginning of this post. The earth is not flat, and your refusal to personally get on a plane and prove this to yourself does not make it flat.

I am less patient than Dr. Beyer, who suggested to one such person that he must think epilepsy should be treated with exorcism. He, unsurprisingly, took offense at this. After all, maybe a couple hundred years ago it was “obvious” that epilepsy was caused by possession, but we know better now. It is indeed insulting to accuse someone of thinking that epilepsy should be treated with exorcism. There is a good reason for that, and it is called “knowledge.” We continue to acquire more of it, and sometimes it challenges things we have taken for granted. It’s not bad to find this uncomfortable, that’s a very human response. But, that is how the acquisition of knowledge works. Discomfort passes once we understand something. It requires a willingness to be open to new information, but I think most people have that.

A few of you have not removed the fingers jammed in your ears, because you have an agenda. You are only interested in trying to erase, by any means necessary, anyone whose existence causes you discomfort. You are the people whose ignorance is willfully, malevolently imposed, not only on yourselves, but on anyone else you can infect. You are uncomfortable because you choose to be – and frankly, you deserve worse.

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30 Responses to As predicted, another teachable moment

  1. Linda B says:

    I don’ watch Oprah much, but the last one I saw happened to be about people who are born with ambiguous genitalia. It was interesting and definitely an eye-opener for me re: how frequently this happens. Kinda pokes a few holes in that whole “God made us to be man or woman” sentiment. God made those people, too.

  2. David says:

    Thanks, Linda. I did not see that Oprah, but I’ve heard quite a bit about it. This apparently started with the Oprah book club selection of Middlesex, which I’m just getting around to reading now.

    People seem to be able to comprehend intersex conditions that manifest in some tangible way, but when the part that developed as non-congruent is the brain, they lose it. Suddenly it’s “oh, that’s imaginary, that’s just mental” like the brain is something other than a physical organ. It’s very strange. I think it goes back to Descartes and the Church.

  3. Greg Stone says:

    David :
    Here you go yet again.
    Sorry my mixed up friend, but the science and biology are on my side. You can pontificate from now until the cows come home, but your Johnson is a state of mind nonsense is just that, nonsense. Trying to legitimize the actions, wants and desires of an abnormal minority by way of their sexual confusion is just silly.

    When having to defend a position void of common sense and rational thought it is predictable to toss out a few refrences to the flat earth society and that stand by boogieman the church.

    I am sorry if you are miffed that the overwhelming majority of normal everyday people take offense to the notion that society should toss out or disregard normal societal behavior at the behest of an abnormal yet vocal few. Very few I might add.

  4. Jonathan says:

    David,

    Do I hear the sound of one “normal” man talking to/about himself?

  5. David says:

    Teachable moment:

    A rhetorical device often used by people who have nothing to back up their feelings is to attribute a false argument to their opponent, and then argue with it. Greg doesn’t understand the information being presented here, so instead he has made up an inane position he calls “Johnson is a state of mind nonsense.”

    No one has made that argument; in fact, what I’m saying here is exactly the opposite. The only people who talk about gender identity as a “state of mind” are those who are hostile to transgender people.

    Gender identity is in fact a state of brain, the result of events that take place during a narrow period of fetal development. It can’t be changed. If that thing inside your skull isn’t biological, then what the heck is it? This is quite different from what folks like Greg mean by “mind.” They are still confused about the brain as a physical organ, as opposed to a repository for the soul and other such mysterious stuff. That’s the problem that goes back to Descartes.

    Yes, both “common sense” and the “majority” insisted at one time that the earth is flat (and that the sun revolves around the earth, and that if women compete in athletics their uteri will fall out, and that slavery is part of God’s design, among other notions). That is precisely why it is such a good analogy for people like Greg. He just “feels” that things are the way he thinks they ought to be. How convenient for him.

  6. David says:

    Dave,

    I don’t think there’s an operation for that :). The only treatment is called “growing up.”

  7. C.M. says:

    Out of curiosity, what percentage of the population are transgenders?

  8. G. Stone says:

    David:
    You know when you are winning an argument when the opposition falls back on comparisons to slavery, the insertion of God or religion when it is not germane and other such mysterious stuff. Other such mysterious stuff ? You are hanging your hat on other such mysterious stuff ?

    Dave ( not Weintraub ) A good part of my job is designing play and recreation spaces for special needs children. This includes children with every conceivable disability. Be very careful with your assumptions as to my beliefs regarding disabilities. Disabilities and the subject at hand are however, apples and oranges.

    Carry on advocating for the radically abnormal.
    Good luck.

  9. David says:

    You are hanging your hat on other such mysterious stuff?

    No, you are. Please learn to read. All that you have done here is to demonstrate that you are a cruel, nasty person.

    And yes, Dave, this prejudice is entirely due to its association with “sex.” These folks are stuck on stupid because they can’t get their minds out of the gutter.

  10. David says:

    CM,

    The answer to your question depends on what exactly you are asking. I assume you mean people who developed with incongruity between their neurological sex and other biological markers, which is a very broad category. Transgender people (it’s an adjective, not a noun) may or may not have surgery for many reasons, so estimates based only on rates of completed surgeries or those seeking surgery are going to be inherently flawed. For that reason, and that the data it’s based on is decades old, the standard prevalence estimate of 1 in 30,000 for MtF transsexualism and 1 in 100,000 for FtM transsexualism is a gross underestimate. This estimate was calculated by a Swedish researcher in the 60s, and because there have been no large scale epidemiological studies since then, the same numbers are still cited. Obviously, factors such as access to treatment and modes of communication have drastically changed, and the number of people seeking treatment has increased tremendously. Looking just at the numbers for completed surgical reassignment for MtFs in the U.S., we see an estimate of 6000-7000 in the 1970s, and 14,000-20,000 from 1990-2002. These data are from a very recent paper (September 2007) that surveys the methods for estimating prevalence over time and suggests methods for recalculation using accumulated incidence data. The authors also point out that only a minority of people with gender dysphoria will ever seek medical help. The disparity between the estimates of FtM and MtF prevalence is likely due to the guys being able to assimilate and disappear much more easily. In actuality, the numbers are probably roughly the same, with the caveat discussed below.

    The prevalence of visible intersex conditions is estimated to be around 1:2000 live births (for a benchmark, about twice the prevalence of Down’s). This presents a further complication, as the traditional treatment protocol up until very recently has been to surgically alter these babies and instruct the parents to keep it a secret. They are almost always reassigned and raised as girls, although they often aren’t (not exactly ‘God’s design,’ more like ‘people playing God’s design’). More and more of this segment of intersex people are seeking to repair the damage that was done to them without their consent. We are talking about not just one thing here, but a varied array of conditions, some much better understood than others. One neglected area that Dana Beyer (see the link in original post) has worked hard to bring to light is the effect of DES on fetal neurological development, for example.

    Sorry that I haven’t been able to give you a definitive answer, but you should have some sense by now of why there isn’t one. A large part of the problem is simply prejudice.

  11. C.M. says:

    David and Dave, Thanks for the information. I have been meaning to look it up ever since the Montgomery County decision.

    On the topic Linda B is referring to in the first post on the Oprah Special. I have heard some of the stories of those born with, what I deem a genetic abnormality or ambiguous genetilia, and my heart goes out to them. Some of the decisions (and surgeries) made on the behalf of these babies and children is horrible to hear. Lifetimes of denial and cruelty that was result of being born “abnormal.”

    Personally I don’t think G. Stone is referring to people born with genetic abnormalities.

    I am thinking out loud here, so bear with me:

    Gender dysphoria literally means being uncomfortable with one’s assigned gender, and from what I have quickly read, is a psychiatric classification. This has less to do with one’s sexual organs than their feelings – sometimes life long. If the Gender Dysphoric never gets a sex change operation, but wants to live as the opposite sex, they are still genetically a woman or man. This is the subset (I believe) that created such a conundrum when it came down to restroom issue. Someone pointed out that these transgenders are using the bathrooms of their choice and nobody know the difference. Probably very true. My question is, is there widspread gender dysphoric harrassment happening in MD and across the county that the Mont County Council had to write this ordinance, or it is just a political stunt by a bunch of Politicos? This website points out all kinds of “stunts” of Politicians on the other side, claiming they are wasting time and money on social issues that are not important to the public that is supposed to being served. Is the Montgomery County ordinace taking care of a real problem?

    If someone wants to slam me for asking honest questions, I’ll just remove myself from the conversation.

  12. David says:

    First of all, I would never slam anyone for asking honest questions. It’s reasonable to ask what the problem is that the ordinance is supposed to address, and whether it addresses it in a reasonable way.

    Greg S. isn’t really referring to anyone, per se, because he flat out doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Even worse, he’s not interested in learning about the topic; he’s only here to ridicule and spew his hatred for people he doesn’t know the first thing about.

    The classification of “GID” as a psychiatric disorder is basically an artifact. Other psychiatric conditions don’t have medical treatment protocols, they have behavioral or pharmaceutical treatments that are aimed at creating new behavior patterns or changing the way the brain functions. What we’re dealing with here is a congenital structure of the brain that develops, as I said, during a specific prenatal period. This isn’t something that can be changed with drugs or therapy, it’s just the way it is. Once neurologic sex is determined, if other biological markers of sex develop in an incongruent way, it is those markers that are wrong.

    Usually people want to make chromosomal sex the baseline of “true” gender (unlike Greg, who really wants it to be the genitals). I don’t know if you remember the Olympics one year, there were accusations from us that some of the Eastern European women’s teams had men on them, and so they tested everybody. It turned out that 2 or 3 of the U.S. female athletes were XY, and they got kicked out. It wasn’t that the U.S. team was trying to pull off what they were accusing others of, these women had no idea they were anything other than statistically normal women. As I recall, one of them had a husband who, upon finding this out, divorced her (Isn’t that nice? Family values). The point is, the fact that these women were XY had no effect on their gender identity, because whatever else happened, their neurology developed as predominantly female during that critical period. It turns out that there is a small number of people whose chromosomes don’t match anything else. When someone has surgery to bring their external embodiment in line with their neurology, they are not changing “genetic” sex, which is actually irrelevant in that case.

    One thing I find funny is that the very same people who are savagely hostile to transgender people are often also the ones who insist that male and female are inherently different and complementary, and that this is an immutable biological fact. In that sense, they are right; gender identity is an immutable biological fact. It may or may not be congruent with chromosomal sex, or internal reproductive and endocrine structures, or genitals and secondary sex characteristics. Those can all vary independently. None of them is a completely reliable indicator of “true” gender, without exceptions. I understand what you’re saying. It’s common for people to want to draw a bright line between intersex conditions (of “the body”) and transgender people (erroneously thought to be of “the mind”), but it doesn’t exist.

    To single out and treat “GID” as a psychiatric disorder in practice would be the equivalent of treating epilepsy as a psychiatric or mental disorder. Nobody does that, because it would be a waste of time. It’s not a mental phenomenon. Neurological is not the same as mental.

    With regard to the Montgomery County ordinance, there was testimony to the discrimination that’s occurring. The ordinance itself (here) simply extends the existing law that prohibits discrimination in the areas of “housing, employment, public accommodations, cable television service and taxicab service.” These are the areas in which Montgomery County residents are already protected from discrimination on the basis of 14 other characteristics. I encourage you to look at the testimony I linked to in the previous post here. This is just one case in the area of employment, but I think it’s representative of the problem.

    I don’t think there can be any question that there is discrimination against transgender people in any community you could name. Just look at the attitude of G. Stone; how could there not be when people like him feel it’s acceptable to be so abusive? It’s legitimate to ask whether non-discrimination law in general is the best remedy to such problems, but that’s really a different question since this is the expansion of an existing law. It will have tremendously positive consequences for the few people protected (they will now have the right to petition for redress of grievances, like everyone else), and very few if any consequences for anyone else. This ought to be clear from the fact that the opposition has to make up fictional scenarios about bathrooms to scare people. The ordinance as written doesn’t have anything to do with that.

    I do recognize that ultimately the answer lies with education, and so that is what I’m trying to help with here.

  13. C.M. says:

    David, That is a lot of information to digest on a Sunday morning! Thanks for taking the time to type it out. No doubt I have missed some finer point, so I will tread carefully with my comments and questions.

    I originally heard about the Montgomery County Ordinance on the Chris Core show one morning, Core’s attitude being “Doesn’t the MC Council have anything better to do?” I admit, I concurred. The time, energy and money it took to pass this ordinance was my underlying concern. It was a discrimination issue that I believed was already covered under and existing (ordinance) law. From a public policy perspective it seemed redundant, and coming from Montgomery County, made it suspect. Ike Legett’s comment on the immigration issue were absurb, to me this sounded like another “we are more enlightened” situation. I don’t doubt that Ike takes great pleasure is fashioning himself a champion of the underpriveleged/misunderstood. The situation with the mobile home parks land being sold so that that land can be developed, shows that many in MC have a tin ear when it come to the underpriveleged. If such an ordinance were to come before the LC BOS I would hope that the necessary language could be changed (if necessary) without the hype and grandstanding.

    Enough about Ike and co though.

    I looked at the testimony and I have seen other news stories where someone going through a sex change operation has lost their jobs. I don’t know what legal standing an employer has in firing a person merely because they went through a sex change operation when it has no bearing on their job performance. I am not particularly enlighted, don’t know if I know any transgenders (perhaps I do?), but I am a champion of individual freedoms. It is no skin off my nose if someone makes the choice to live like the opposite sex or have a sex change operation, as long as they are not asking for and receiving special accomodations or rights.

    The biological vs neurological aspect is the crux of the misunderstandings. It is hard to grasp. I know many people believe that the “neurological” reasoning for sex change operation and the promotion of such a life choice is a thinly veiled attempt at social engineering and making what is abnormal the normal. This is not the fringe of the Right Wing, this is a mainstream opinion held by many people. It is simply an opinion, based on religious or other beliefs. People are entitled to them, as wrong as you think they are. I also think it wrong to mock people’s religious beliefs. Tolerance goes both ways.

    I don’t see G.Stone’s comments as abusive, I see them as flip. I also don’t see any hatred, but maybe mockery? I see mockery on your website, I have pointed out the wee-wee picture of Delgaudio before. I don’t know if you hate Eugene, but I hope not. No doubt you don’t agree with some people, including G. Stone or Delguadio on much so you are more inclined to take immediate offense to their comments and opinions. I don’t agree with you on many issues but I would never follow you around, take funny pictures, post them on a website and solicit opinion from a group that is hostile to your cause. To me that sounds a bit abusive, but Eugene is a public figure, so perhaps you find some justification there. What you are doing with your website is much of what many people do in their postings, etc on blogs. I truly see no difference.

    Having said all, I think you will find many people that find the bathroom issue ridiculous. I can’t stand public bathrooms – to me they are a necessary evil. Let’s all use them, wash our hands and walk away.

    Sorry to be so lengthy. I appreciate further comments. I am not trying to solicit a war. I have learned something from your information and hope a non-confrontational dialogue can continue.

  14. David says:

    Absolutely; dialogue is the point. Let’s try to reach an understanding on the abusive language issue. As it says in our commenting policy, “this is our house,” this is territory that belongs to the GLBT and allied community. My job is to administer it. I welcome disagreement, but I won’t treat this space as if it’s neutral territory and anything goes. Where we draw the line (because it’s our house) is at the premise that we don’t or shouldn’t exist. Whether GLBT people have the right to be who we are is not subject to debate here. As for mocking Delgaudio, et al: Our mission is advocacy for the GLBT community. That means that we’re going to analyze and expose people who have made it their mission to do harm to us. If that material is sometimes mocking or harsh, that comes with the territory. He’s a public figure, and he uses his position to harm people. We would fail to do our job if we didn’t call attention to that.

    That’s very different from a commenter coming here to ridicule and malign an entire category of people, strangers, who he knows nothing about and who have done absolutely nothing to harm him, and acting as though they are not even deserving of basic respect. That’s not dialogue. If such a person feels compelled to express contempt for our community, there are plenty of other places they can do that.

    This, I think, is the point of disagreement: there are people who feel that they are harmed by the existence of transgender people. I appreciate the way you’ve articulated this: Seeing a marginalized minority group seeking the right to participate equally in society as “a thinly veiled attempt at social engineering and making what is abnormal the normal.”

    When people have this thought, what is it that they are really saying underneath that loaded language? What does it mean to take the “abnormal” and make it “normal,” and why do they care? How does it adversely affect them?

    We have another occasional commenter – Jack – who engages in this sort of debate, and what he means by “abnormal” is anything that is statistically outside the norm (left-handedness, green eyes, etc.). So that’s one meaning. People used to get very upset about left-handed people, and forced them to use their non-dominant hand, and for some reason we don’t do that anymore. I’m not really sure why, but we don’t. Now we provide left-handed people with special backwards scissors and baseball gloves and whatnot, and don’t really worry about it, unless we’re sitting to the left of one of them at dinner, and then we might just trade places. Are those accommodations “special rights”? I don’t know. I guess they kind of are, somebody has to manufacture those scissors – but then, there’s a market for them, they are providing something that a particular abnormal group of people finds useful, and life seems to go on.

    I think that probably a different meaning of “abnormal” is embedded in the thought we are considering, the meaning that is a synonym of “wrong” or “broken.” That’s kind of what this is about, because “broken” things should be fixed, and “wrong” things can just be rejected. In this sense of the word, “abnormal” left-handed people have been made “normal,” because we no longer see them as wrong, only as a statistical anomaly. By insisting that gender identity is not biological, people can feel morally outraged by its variations and justified in their cruelty – but why do they have that need in the first place? What do you think it is that these people are so afraid is going to happen if there is widespread understanding and acceptance that some people are just born with this developmental incongruity? Why should this be such a big deal beyond the person affected and their immediate family?

    I don’t see how the need for a person to correct their gender assignment when that situation arises would have any adverse impact on complete strangers. They might find it hard to understand and they might feel uncomfortable because of that, but that’s all. On the other hand, efforts to deny the basic things that everyone needs to live have a devastating impact on the lives of transgender people. You ask about the “legal standing an employer has in firing a person merely because they went through a sex change operation when it has no bearing on their job performance”; that’s the kind of thing the Montgomery ordinance was written to address. Previously, an employee fired under such circumstances had no recourse, and now they can petition the Human Rights Commission the same as anyone else fired for a reason unrelated to their job performance. The existing law did not apply to gender identity, so this wasn’t redundant. The small number of people it will help will be helped in a very significant way. On the other hand, it is a very simple extension of existing law that will go virtually unnoticed by everyone else. The only reason so much attention has been expended on it is the unwarranted opposition, who admit in their own literature that their objective is to “inflame” and to generate lawsuits (“merit or no merit”), because they “get attention.” They are the ones wasting the Council’s time and creating a controversy where one didn’t exist.

    Sure, people are entitled to their opinions, and those who have a strong need to believe that gender identity is a fiction will cling to that belief no matter what the evidence is to the contrary. The point is, it’s an opinion. It’s not the basis for special rights to discriminate against people just because they don’t like them. The presence of transgender people in the world and in the workplace might make these folks uncomfortable – deeply uncomfortable, in fact – but the existence of other people they don’t like is not a violation of their rights. Transgender people are not doing anything to them. Furthermore, the enjoyment of equal rights by people they don’t like isn’t a violation of their rights, either. Yet, that’s exactly what they’re claiming.

    I understand that a lot of the fear and stereotyping is not even intended to be malicious, and is based on people just not knowing much about the topic. That’s fine – but when it’s presented as “people are entitled to their opinions even if you think they’re wrong” it becomes something more than what (I think) you meant. There’s an edge there, as if real people don’t matter any more than others’ opinions about them. I don’t want to be insensitive to the fact that this makes people uncomfortable, and that really isn’t their fault. But, that discomfort is not justification for what we’re seeing. What in your opinion is driving the leaders of the opposition to this law, those who are working to “inflame”? What is their desired outcome? I’ll tell you what I think: They want these other people, who already have the burden of dealing with a complex medical condition, to disappear into an underground existence, or better yet, just disappear. This is certainly an effort at social engineering. They want it to be as difficult, unpleasant, dehumanizing, and dangerous as they can possibly make it for a person to undergo transition, because they don’t think that anyone should do that. It doesn’t matter in the end why they think this, the result causes innocent people to suffer and is immoral.

  15. C.M. says:

    David, Didn’t you take G. Stone’s words from another site to start this thread? If someone posts something on another site but it is “mocked” here, it is not something that happened in your house. Sounds like people aren’t free to express their opinion elsewhere, or they will be mocked here. Makes me think twice about posting on some of the other local sites.

    I’ll respond the rest later.

  16. David says:

    You bet. Anyone who makes disparaging remarks about our community, on another blog, in the media, from a dais somewhere, in any venue whatsoever, may indeed find their words presented for ridicule here. It’s interesting that you see that consequence as impeding their “freedom” to express themselves.

    The freedom of speech that we all enjoy means the freedom to say anything you want, however ignorant or offensive. It’s not freedom from the consequences of saying something ignorant or offensive. That’s the case for everyone, everywhere. Some bloggers choose to censor any comment they disagree with, others allow a free-for-all. We have the policy we have.

    This site has a purpose, and that purpose and the house rules are clearly defined. Others can choose to ignore us, engage us respectfully, or attack us, but we’re not going anywhere.

  17. C.M. says:

    David: I mentioned freedom to claify your policy to scout other sites and call people out on this site. You consider yourself a watchdog on behalf of the GLT community, there are plenty of other sites that do the same for their particular cause. I am glad I have anonymous handles on other sites, not that I comment on GLT issues too often – if ever actually.

    My other thoughts on the “abnormal” discussion, left handed people used to be thought to be possessed by the devil – so we have certainly evolved. The word abnormal is used all the time, it is relative to the discussion and there is a spectrum. I am probably abnormal in many ways, mundane as they may be, but it doesn’t stop me from using the word to describe myself when applicable. Abnormal means not normal or typical, it doesn’t equal wrong, which is the context it is taken in all the time. If I lived in a very liberal community and was a Christian Conservative I would be considered abnormal, I would take no offense.

    My opinion on leaders that “inflame” situations such as the MC ordinance goes against both sides. My concern lies with what is necessary and proper in terms of money and energy that goes into passing policy (or ordinance) – whether it be on the local, state or federal level. Basically this led to my first question, was the ordinance necessary? I am sure there is more information for me to read. You presented your side, which I appreciate. You won’t see me defending politicians on either side that use scare or inappropriate tactics. That probably makes me abnormal too!

    As far as comfort level and opinions of the GLT community, I think it is changing. It is partially generational IMHO. Just my observation of course, but I doubt many in my parents generation even know what a transgender is, therefore their opinion on an ordinance like MC might be a resounding “No way” without any real information. I don’t know of anyone that wants transgenders to dissappear, it is quite the opposite, most people I know don’t CARE whether or not someone wants to change their sex for whatever reason. Do they agree with it? Probably not, but it doesn’t make them bigots.

    I could go on all day, but suffice it to say I don’t particularly care for the mockery on any site. I am not a complete stick in the mud, I enjoy a good joke and I love self-depricating humor, I try to spend as much time as possible laughing – it is the great stress reliever, but I also enjoy dialogue. The mockery and name calling doesn’t do much good. I am not a saint, I do use it, but as I get older (and perhaps wiser) I realize it is unnecessary and barrier to understanding the other side of the debate – whatever the debate is.

    Rant over, comments welcome.

  18. David says:

    C.M.,

    I apologize for your comments landing in moderation; they’re not supposed to and I don’t know why they’re being flagged. There must be a reason, but it all looks pretty random to me.

    There really isn’t much here I would disagree with. I can’t quite tell if you are expressing agreement with me on the usage of “abnormal” or not; there’s the dictionary definition, and then there’s the way it’s actually used. It’s not just that it’s incorrectly interpreted to mean “wrong,” it’s that it is sometimes intended by the speaker to have that meaning, especially in reference to sexual minorities.

    Now that you know what I think, I hope you’ll go see what the “other side” of the Montgomery Co. ordinance issue has to say. Among other things, I think you’ll see a lot of evidence of the word “abnormal” used in an intentionally disparaging way. I’d be interested to know if what they are doing strikes you as in any way reasonable, or if it’s obvious that all they have is a scare tactic. You should know that leaders in the transgender community have tried repeatedly to meet with these CRC folks to talk about their (the CRC’s) concerns, and they have refused to meet. They have a website at http://www.notmyshower.com which presents all of their talking points; knowing what I know, it’s laugh-out-loud stupid, but of course it’s intended for people who don’t know what I know.

    I guess that’s the reason for the mockery you find distasteful. I understand, and agree with you about that on one level. Certainly, folks who don’t know any transgender people and are totally unfamiliar with the topic, and would therefore possibly be concerned about the fears raised on that website are not bigots, and don’t deserve to be mocked – just as, as I have said many, many times, people who voted for the Virginia so-called “marriage amendment” because they thought they were protecting the institution of marriage are not bigots. They were just doing, to the best of their knowledge, the right thing, not intentionally trying to harm anyone. And I am not mocking them; I think you’re absolutely right about that being a barrier to understanding, and if that’s how my words are perceived I need to be more clear.

    This does not mean that nobody is a bigot, though; some people are professional bigots (they get paid for it), and some other people are unaccountably proud of their bigotry. You hit the nail on the head when you said you hoped you wouldn’t get slammed for asking honest questions. I think that someone could have presented the same idea that Greg presented in a different way. It could have been posed in a way that was seeking dialogue, not dismissing people as unworthy of consideration. It could have been posed, for example, as “I don’t mean to offend anyone, but it just seems obvious to me that people with male genitals should use the men’s room. And I can’t understand how anyone born with a penis could not want it, maybe somebody can help me understand that.” We might not end up in agreement, but that would be an honest approach that acknowledges there might be something the person doesn’t understand, some information they are missing. That’s all we’re asking here. Greg could still do that if he wanted to, there’s nothing stopping him, but he hasn’t. I don’t think he believes there’s anything he could understand better. He thinks he already knows everything he could possibly need to know about this, even though that appears to be nearly nothing. And that’s why I used his quote as an example; honestly, if I were going to write a parody of such a remark, I couldn’t have done a better job. I don’t single people out like that for no reason.

    And I’m not a saint, either. There are things I’ve written here that I’m not entirely pleased with, and saw later as too harsh or not generous in spirit. Hopefully we all improve with age and experience, at least that’s the goal. I appreciate the dialogue 🙂

  19. C.M. says:

    David,

    People use ignorant in the same way as abnormal, it is not necessarily derogatory but is used by many people to be demeaning. The flip side is the hysteria when either word is used, even when used properly. Words have meaning but intent is different. I won’t get into that discussion!

    Good Exchange. I’ll be checking back periodically.

  20. C.M. says:

    I can’t believe G.Stone has not posted a reply to any of this yet, he normally follows up.

    G.Stone – are you out there?

  21. David says:

    C.M.,

    Are you expecting him to engage in a respectful discussion? I could be proven wrong, but I don’t think he’s interested in that. He’s now claiming on Too Conservative that we’ve blocked his comments. He is not now nor has he ever been blocked here, and the invitation stands to change his approach to one seeking dialogue.

  22. Greg Stone says:

    hello !
    Testing one , two, three is this thing working again ?

  23. David says:

    It was never not working, Greg. The last comment from you was Dec. 1 @ 11:40, ending with “Good luck.”

  24. C.M. says:

    I just thought it was weird that G. Stone never checked back, but he is back!

  25. Greg Stone says:

    David:

    Going on memory I tried ( a very long post ) responding to your post dated the 4th, I believe it was Wed the 5th. I tried again yesterday. You and I both know this to be true. I say that in I assume you or someone has the ability to track previous attempts. I am not a computer guy so I don’t know. However, I do know that it I tried several times and was unsucessful. All of a sudden today it works again. Amazing.

    Why would I change my approach ? David your problem is disagreement and disrespect are the same thing. For you tolerance and exceptence are joined at the hip. It is not good enough to tolerate, one must now except and that exceptence must be presented in a manner friedly to your world view.

    Sorry, I like my approach just fine.

  26. David says:

    Greg,

    As I told you on Too Conservative, the last we heard from you was your comment on Dec. 1. There are no further comments from you in moderation, and you have neither been banned nor placed in moderation.

    If you have something to add to the discussion that doesn’t violate our commenting policy by using disparaging language about members of our community, please do so. Others seem to be able to express disagreement without being disrespectful, as has been discussed on this very thread.

    What will no longer be tolerated are abusive language and insults, so that’s why you would change your approach.

  27. Greg Stone says:

    David :
    So CM’s post was sent into cyber space ( moderation ) and mine was not ?
    These posts having occured on or about the same time is what just a coincidence ?

  28. David says:

    Greg,

    Please refer to #29, first paragraph. There have been no comments from you in the moderation queue. If there were, you should have been alerted that your comment was in moderation. I was disinclined to believe your story, not because it’s not technically feasible, but because of your timing and lack of communication. I have had my own comments disappear on other blogs, and, having learned the hard way, I always copy before submitting now. This happened to Jack once here, but he sent me a note instead of making unfounded accusations. I recommend that you take the same approach if something seems odd. I would not ban or moderate a commenter without telling them why, and I certainly wouldn’t do it just because I disagree with them.

    If you have a comment, post it – however, bear in mind that I will no longer tolerate abusive language or insults directed at members of our community, per our commenting policy. Refer to the discussion in #21 if this is unclear, or email me at info@equalityloudoun.org.

  29. Greg Stone says:

    Abusive Language such as ?

  30. Pingback: Equality Loudoun » Conversations we need to have

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