Newsweek and Larry King

Aqueertheory has posted a great analysis of Newsweek's article "Young, Gay and Murdered," which focuses on the death of Larry King. You can find it over at Below The Belt.

From Below the Belt:
While murder victim Larry King recently become a sentimentalized martyr for the LGBT rights movement, Setoodeh tries to show that ‘the reason Larry died isn’t as clear-cut as most people think.’ He suggests that the victim brought the violence onto himself by stretching ‘the limits of tolerance’ and ‘push[ing] his rights as far as he could’. Larry ‘was a troubled child who flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon’ - therefore, we should avoid turning him into a poster-child for the LGBT movement. He is not the right kind of victim.

We cannot allow ourselves to keep blaming the victim; we need to stop assuming and legitimating heterosexual privilege. Following Setoodeh’s logic, Larry should have been ‘on the down-low’, he should not have defended himself from homophobic abuse, and he should have refrained from acting on any of his crushes. While any ‘reasonable adult’ would have probably done this, to badger a child into stifling hir identity is cruel. Larry tried to live a queer life to the fullest, but he was brutally cut off because of homophobic social norms. Unfortunately, all LGBTQ people face this risk. Believe it or not, we all have a gun to our heads.
Sara Whitman also offered this terrific commentary on the article at the Huffington Post.

Young, Gay and Murdered. Lesbian assistant principal suspected of a "gay agenda." King's troubled past leading him to a group home placement shrugged off as a minor event in a series of his own trouble causing.

As if kids get taken out of homes because they "accuse" their parents of hitting them. Another top notch effort of reporting, the adoptive father gets to simply say, "Not true," and that's it.

Because it's really about this bad boy, who wore girls clothes, got what he deserved. Homosexuality was the evil here. Playing "grown up" without knowing it could get you killed.

Personally, I'm not surprised by the Newsweek article- after all, what's more likely to sell papers, a condemnation of queerphobic violence, or criticism of us "freaks" who won't conform to the heterocentric norms like those "normal" people who make up their target audience?


Congratulations, Thomas!

Thomas Beatie has given birth to a beautiful daughter, Susan Juliette.
The Bilerico Project has more information, including an awesome video from Good Morning America.


Musings on Gender and Definitions.

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to Kate Borenstein's Gender Aptitude Test. Now, this isn't the first time I've taken the test, but it got me thinking. You see, I identify as male. I don't give a rat's ass about how others view me, I feel that I am supposed to have a penis. This seemed to really mess up my score, however, as I felt that many of the answers didn't actually reflect my thoughts.

I've been told that I am TS because my gender identity is male, and there is a growing body of research that suggests that there is some sex differentiation within the brain. The majority of transpeople I know (which consists of a fair number of non-binary individuals) tend to relate their gender identity to their bodies, and specifically the presence or absence of features typical of a certain biological sex. I don't assume that every TG individual is within the binary, yet there are numerous answers offered that suggest that, if one identifies strongly as a member of a binary gender, they must assume that others do also.

So, that got me wondering: how were people defining gender when they wrote or spoke of it? It all seemed to fall into two categories: How one relates to their bodies, and how one's body affects how they relate to the world. So, I have to ask- how do we make a distinction between the two? This isn't the first time I've voiced my frustration on the lack of distinction between the various facets of gender. Gender's a complicated thing, and yet we use the same term to refer to vastly different things. The idea that "gender is caused by socialization" is just as true as the term "gender is biological and innate," depending on how one defines gender.

Seriously, people, we need some new terminology. I have yet to see two definitions that refer to identical aspects, and it's getting frustrating. How are we supposed to get real dialogue going regarding gender if we can't even agree on a definition? Yes, gender refers to whether a person identifies as a member of a certain sex. Yes, gender refers to how one portrays themselves as a member of the sex they identify as. Yes, gender is how a person allows their biology to influence their roles, actions, and thoughts. Yes, it's socialized, but it's also inborn. And yes, you can agree with everything said there, if you use various legitimate definitions of the word gender. Add to this the constant confusion of the words sex (referring to a person's biological and/or genetic state of being male, female, intersexed, or a eunich) and gender, and you get something that seems somewhat scary and overwhelming to the average person who never really has a reason to wade through this stuff when they have someone willing to tell them that gender is just another word for sex, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a freak/sinful/sick/whatever.

Frankly, I can't blame them- I grew up in an environment that pushed that type of thought, and I've seen how pervasive it can be. The term gender has become some sort of monolith, and the number of conflicting yet accurate definitions in use makes it complicated, especially since many authors do not explicitly state which aspect of gender they're referring to. I had a textbook which contained three different definitions of gender, while my professor used a fourth in her lecture (which differed from the fifth used by a substitute when she fell ill part way through the semester).

So why haven't we come up with any new terminology? I'd like to see some thoughts on the matter.