Surely in writing this post, which is a highly personal meditation, I have to begin from the admission of my own lack of principled stance over time. My opinions have changed and developed in the course of years.
Today the principal of Grant High School sent the parents of the Class of 2017 an email, notifying us of the suicide of one of the members of the class. Aditi Staub. This notice, which my 18-year-old son Michael Kepler Meo did not receive, had a significant impact on him because he recalled being very friendly with Staub, as a freshman, before the young man’s transition to female presentation.
He wondered whether his discomfort with the female, Aditi, as opposed to his warm appreciation for the male, Jack Staub, contributed to the tragic outcome. In discussing this sad news I advised him that I had just today learned that the head of the Healthcare for All Oregonian movement in my city, Portland, a woman named Robin Cash, is transgender. She writes today:
Analysis of today’s news: (TW: this is dark)
Today Trump announced trans people cannot serve in the military, and simultaneously that Taiwanese manufacturer FoxConn is making a $10 billion investment in building factories in Wisconsin. These two announcements are connected. This day has Steve Bannon written all over it.
I don’t personally care whether we can serve in the military, and don’t particularly want to get into a debate about whether this is an issue trans folk should focus on.
I connected this to the fact, which I had already shared with him, that the treasurer of the statewide Green Party, Trish Driscoll, as well as its secretary, Christina Lugo, are both of them transgender male-to-females. I am perfectly comfortable with these two last people — I may have met Robin Cash, but I do not recall it well, if at all — but I am not comfortable with the prominence of transgender people within the political party in which I am an activist. No, it is not that I am not comfortable . . . it makes me wonder about the nature of the political party.
I don’t know whether the suicide rate of transgenders after the sex-change operation is four times that of the rest of us, or six times. It’s a lot, and that’s all that matters. It doesn’t drop down to anything like a rate comparable to the general population. I consider the demand for transition to a different sex to be unethical, although I am willing to let people do it. That suggested to me the Green Party is run by people I like personally, but whose ethics I do not accept; that is, that I ought to quit the Party.
I reject that option because I reject the idea that we all have to agree on everything before we can work together on social justice. Let me continue, however, to riff on my own lack of consistency before the reader demands an elaboration of the rational basis for the above “unethical” comment. I have previously celebrated those women who have breast implants. I posted their pictures on this blog.
That got me more or less read out of the Green Party, for “sexism”.
How can I allow, indeed glorify, surgical implantation of plastic bags into a woman’s body and then turn around and condemn in for god’s sake moral terms the surgical transition operation?
Well, that suicide rate has a lot to do with it. I will admit, as well, that my masculinity is involved, and I am conscious of a general social re-evaluation of people with penises and testicles at the present time, and so as one of those folk, I claim that there’s an inherent difference between adding a bit of padding to a body part and cutting your entire genital equipment out.
Perhaps I am in error. I don’t think so, but then again, there was a time when — it was back when I was in my 20s — I opposed equal rights for gays. I can remember George Balint, a Hungarian refugee I knew in the late 1960s, pointing out to me how widespread homosexual behavior and status had been in many different cultures around the world. I lived in Oakland, California, then, and I subsequently came to meet a wide spectrum of gay men. I learned to acknowledge my own liking for submissive feminized individuals willing to give me blow jobs. It was not enough for me to engage in the practice — just as I’ve never been to bed with a prostitute, but I’ve certainly thought about it (and my opposition is not purely to the empirical problem of sexually transmitted disease, but also to the payment for affection). Homosexuals also have a higher suicide rate than the general population, but less than transexuals. The argument that many gays have contributed, in so many different ways and means, to the heritage of human accomplishment which I appreciate — science, music, education, the arts in particular, but there are too many to mention — also contributed to my change of opinion.
If everyone in leadership positions of a political party of which I am a member is/were gay, that would also make me wonder what’s up, even though I’m firmly on board with gay people having no bar to social, economic, or legal acceptance. I do wonder about the Green Party of Oregon, but not enough to leave.
That’s about it.