Thursday, November 17, 2011

All The News Thats Fit to Print

This is another shortish blast, but I do have something I'm working on that will be more detailed (and with pictures, too!).  Yesterday's post, cheering the passing of the Trans Rights Bill in Massachusetts leads me to today's complaint: why didn't this story pick get picked up much outside of New England?  One might argue that since MA is the 16th (correct me if I'm wrong with that number) state to pass a trans positive bill, it isn't that noteworthy.  One might argue that since the bill only covers roughly 33,000 people, it doesn't have any bearing on the vast majority of US citizens.  One might also argue that whatever limited resources are available to cover national news outside of one's geographic region are being focused on the OWS movement, which is more 'important' an issue than rights legislation for a small minority of US citizens.

Those may all be legitimate reasons.  Here are my equally legitimate reasons for why this news should have played out more prominently on the national scale (or at least in my local newspaper of note, The Washington Post):  The trans bill offers basic rights to a group that, while part of the GLBT umbrella, have often been left by the wayside in most legislative work geared towards this community.  I would imagine that the news of a group of people getting much needed basic rights is just as newsworthy (honestly, I think its more newsworthy) than the 6th state granting gay marriage rights, and yet the New York gay marriage bill passing garnered lots of media attention on a national scale.  Don't get me wrong, I am not against gay marriage, but I do wonder why the larger US news media is more invested in gay rights than trans rights, especially if we're all part of the LGBTIQ world.

Plus, I would imagine in a world where Chaz Bono is covered extensively, both pro and con, there would be some interest in other news worthy components of the transgender experience.  On another note, one would also think with the extensive coverage earlier this year of the beating of a trans woman at a Baltimore-area McDonald's, there would also be interest when a good story about the trans experience can be told.  In addition, locally here in the DMV, with the extreme and numerous incidents of violence against trans women in DC, plus the push to re-introduce trans rights legislation in MD, one would think information on aspects of the transgender community would be of interest to The Washington Post and other local news media outlets.

I guess the larger media is only interested in trans news if it is at best, part of our celebrity-saturated culture, and at worst, a violent spectacle that goes viral in a youtube heartbeat.  Which leads me to my other thought about the importance of this event, and how that relates to OWS.  The people who have worked tirelessly for this bill, for years, most without pay, sacrificing their economic livelihoods and their peace of mind working towards something that has been rebuffed both in progressive and conservative circles in the past (hello ENDA, among other things), are doing the kind of work OWS is about.  Here is a success model for what marginalized people can do, the 'little person' with little to no economic, political, or cultural capital,  staying undaunted in the face of incredible resistance, to make democracy work, and to give dignity and opportunity to a group of people who deserve it, and serve as an inspirational model to the rest of us looking for real change and real hope for millions of people on the outside of US society.  If the OWS wants to move from protest to action, then these types of efforts by trans people offer a great model for producing a more just world.

I may be romanticizing the process by which this bill became law, and as a queer gender-variant person partnered with a queer trans person, I may be hopelessly biased, but I do think it would have been nice to see this story picked up in more of the better known LGBT and Feminist blogs.  I also was a little sad to see soft-butch MA resident Rachel Maddow (I have no idea how she self-identifies) ignore it on her show.  I also am by no means well versed in trans political organizing, so I can only discuss as an outsider looking in at the process.  Looking in, I see something wonderful, and I offer my respect to everyone associated with the passing of this bill.

I guess that wasn't so short after all.

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