Author Archives: kmliuws2

Politics of Location

Politics of location Before I moved to Bloomington I had never met a transgender person. Before I came to Bloomington I had only met two gay people that I know of. I wasn’t aware of LGBT politics. I assumed that gay marriage was accepted in England due to not being faced with hearing about gay issues all throughout my childhood and teenage years. Gay terms such as lesbian and dyke and homo were common. I was even called a ‘lesbo’ in high school even though I wasn’t a lesbian. I disliked being named a lesbian and reacted poorly to the name calling. I met what I assume was my first transgender person at Uncle E’s a year ago. Friends pointed the individual out and proceeded to assure me that person was ‘cool’. Like that made everything okay and as if being transgender was bad but okay because they guy was cool.

I came out as a bisexual by sophomore year and I have to believe that if I had not moved out of England I would not have come out. I lived what I thought was a happy straight life. Bloomington gave me a new lease on life and I met people that allowed me to break out of my shell. Bloomington has an accepting feel. Although to other liberal areas of the country Bloomington is not the most liberal. But to me it feels freeing. I have rarely come up against any negativity when it comes to my sexuality. Although this may have something to do with the people I associate with. As the years have gone by the number of gay friends has increased and the number of close straight friends has decreased. I have found my place in the world.

Bloomington not only allowed me to be more aware of myself it also enabled me to understand myself. Taking classes at IU enabled me to really understand my gender. I have had conversations with people in England and although most are accepting of my gender and sexuality they just lack an academic understanding of what it means to be gay. Or even what it means to be a woman. I owe a lot to the gender studies department over the last two years. I lived as a bisexual for 2 years and yet didn’t even understand what that actually meant. What my place in the world meant, what my voice meant, what oppressions I really was under. Going back to England, actually tomorrow, I will be living in that old world that I used to call happy and I couldn’t ever think of going back. Thank you Bloomington! Thank you Gender Studies.


Trans/Migrant -Christina Madrazo’s All-American Story

Trans/Migrant- Christina Madrazo’s All-American Story

Alisa Solomon

Madrazo is a transsexual women from Mexico. In april 2002 she announced she was suing the US government for $15million dollars. In May 2000 she was raped by a guard in an immigration detention facility in Miami Florida. The gurad was able to get off on a plea and was only sentenced to prison.

Solomon asks specific questions about Madrazo’s case

  • Why is rape so easy to commit in such a place and, on the rare occasions when it is prosecuted, so easily reduced to misdemeanor charges?
  • Why are the arcane systems of tort claims more accessible than criminal or civil rights laws?
  • How can Madrazo’s all-American dream of having the freedom “just tolive my life and be myself” be so thwarted, indeed, so trampled, by a range of bureaucracies representing a state that claims to be founded on such ideals?
  • How can it be that the very persecution from which she is seeking refuge was taken up as a cudgel by the state to which she appealed?

The article goes on to describe the environment that Christina Madrazo find herself in, in the detention center.

Then Solomon addresses a case that Katrina Rose analyzes, the title: “When Is an Attempted Rape Not an Attempted Rape? When the Victim Is a Transsexual.” –Schwenk v. Hartford

This was a civil rights action brought by a transsexual prisoner. Crystal Schwenk alleged that her Eighth Amendment rights-not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment- had been violated by a guard who sexually assaulted her repeatedly.

“Rose argues that the judicial approach in the case-most of all the judge’s assertion that Title VII barred discrimination not just on the basis of sex, but also on the basis of gender-has far-reaching significance for transgender rights in general.”(15).

The guard’s defense was that his actions constituted at worst ”’same-sex sexual harassment’ and not sexual assault.

“Schwenk filed charges under the Gender-Motivated Violence Act, the state of Washington insisted that the GMVA does not apply to transsexuals or men, even though it declares that “All persons within the United States shall have the right to be free from crimes of violence motivated by gender.”(15).  This statement suggests that a victims Transsexuality was the reason for the assault and therefore not an assault because the assault wasn’t based on gender.

Basically violence against transsexuals does not exist.

Madrazo was deportable when she was taken in to the detention however because she was from mexico she was kept in the INS. The high numbers of immigrants meant that they kept the Mexican immigrants in the dentention centre- in order to deter illegal migration.

Miami Herald reported that Madrazo had tried to be sexual with another male detainee. There were no sources for this statement and Madrazo was not given the opportunity to dismiss that claim. Alisa Solomon stated that the readers were no interpreting Madrazo and her case as “Mexican tranny equals perpetually sexcrazed prostitute, bringing perversion and pecuniary lust to America; therefore, she solicited sex. And therefore (though this is only tacitly implied) she could not have been raped.”

“The prosecutor supposedly pressing the case on Madrazo’s behalf explained to me that he wouldn’t have been able to win a rape conviction “beyond a reasonable doubt” because in addition to the guard’s semen (determined by DNA tests on underwear Madrazo had the presence of mind to keep as evidence) some of Madrazo’s semen had also been found on a towel in her cel1”(19)

Solomon states, “The possibility of a wet dream or involuntary ejaculation seems to have escaped the prosecutor, or at least to have seemed not at all compelling compared to the readily available assumption that a Mexican transsexual would have wanted it”(19).

Solomon reads Madrazo’s actions as her asking American to protect her and instead a guard raped her. But what Solomon also goes on to state and I have to agree with her is that Madrazo spoke up and stood up for herself and every other person who has been abused or is a transsexual or even a migrant. She may not have won the case but she did not just lay down and take it.

‘Discrimination? Certainly Not!’ Check this out!

I was working on a different blog and i came across this video. Although this is a forum for transgender issues specifically i felt this to be especially important and i have no doubt that people in the trans community would find this interesting. I also wanted to stimulate a discussion on this particular issue of illogical rationale about same-sex marriage. I do believe the banning of same-sex marriage to be illogical. The GLBTQ community does not want a contract in place of a marriage certificate. That is not the same as marriage. Getting married is different from having a civil union. And as human beings we are entitled to marriage. The constitution used to say a white man and a white woman can get married. After the Civil rights movement it changed to say: man and woman. The time has come to change it again.

There has been a lot of discussion over whether people of color should fight for gay rights. The reason for bringing this up is because a large amount of people are ignoring the campaign for same-sex marriage declaring: ‘its nothing to do with me’. It does affect everyone. You could have a dear gay friend and not know it. You could be sitting on the fence about a friends civil rights.

Lets not forget that the Gay rights movement started at the same time as the Civil rights movement and feminists and members of the GLBTQ community fought for Civil rights. The suffering might not be in as larger number as it was for people of color BUT as we have seen over the last few months, the number is becoming dangerously high. The GLBTQ community has been killed and discriminated against. They do fear for their lives when they walk down streets or go into certain stores or towns and even states. The degree may not match that of people of color but the same acts are being committed. Discrimination is discrimination. End of story. My rant is over enjoy the video:

Lets hear what you think? Check this website out (provider of this video)

GLBTQ Campaigns! Including ‘It Gets Better’ – Dan Savage

It Gets better!!

Recently there has been a lot of coverage about the deaths of boys due to homophobic abuse. Six in the last few months have sparked pleas from individuals such as Ellen and also from writers. Dan Savage is a well known writer who in this case is reaching out to LGBT teenagers. This article was posted on the website. It includes a campaign video that is meant to let teenagers know that life is hard growing up being ‘different’ but it does ‘get better’.

This first video includes Dan’s husband. The couple talk about growing up as gay teenagers. I felt this video to be especially important as this campaign was influenced by the death of 15 year old teenager Billy lucas. Hopefully everyone will enjoy and let me know what you think. Dan also comments that he hopes that readers and viewers of the article and video will pass on the video and help with the awareness of bullying and homophobia.

Tim Gunn responds to the ‘It Gets better’ campagin. He shares that he, himself thought about killing himself.

After watching a lot of the podcasts produced by Dan Savage I am recommending readers to go to youtube and type in his name and watch a few of them. He seems like a very fair writer and entertainment pundit. I also posted his column ‘Savage Love’

When researching Dan Savage i came across one of his blogs about Sham marriages. This video was attached. It makes the banning of gay marriage seem laughable. It was highly entertaining and put everything into perspective for me. How would jews like it if the world banned them from going to synagoges and declared that they had the same rights as everyone else but they had to go to the christian church. Its the same realm of thinking. Take a look:

Here is the link to the itgetsbetterproject channel.


The Bloomington Beacon

I found this wesbtie that is a resource for people in Bloomington and also in Southern Indiana in relaton to Trans issues.

It gives information on:

1. Passing

2. Hormones

3. Health

4. Surgery (info & results)

5. Surgeons

6. legal issues

7. Community groups

8. National Organizations

9. Activism

10. Events & conferences

11. Trans Elders

12. Trans Violence

13. Domestic Violence

14. General or Faith specific Spiritual Resources

15. Genderqueer specific resources

16. Two-Spirit Resources

17. Crossdresser specific resources

18. Trans Youth

19. Friends, Family & Ally information

20. Intersex resources

The site has an abundance of information. It could be useful to anyone interested in Trans, individuals going through transitioning, indidviuals post op and even usefully topics for this G205 class blog.

I know what I’ am – David Valentine

I know what I’ am

In the chapter I know what I Am: Gender, Sexuality, and identity Valentine presents his experiences with various interviewees and for the most part expects to be able to classify each individual into some form of a category. What he comes up against is the individual views and understandings of self and the desire not to be categorized. In some instances Valentines view of a group such as Gay is represented by an individual he might have understood previously as Transgendered.  

Valentine asks three questions when trying to rationalize the information gathered from his experiences during interviews:

  1. How is it, then, that Nora or Tara can access strategically, and in different ways- the language of ‘transgender’ while others who are assumed by social service agencies to be transgender often have never heard of the category at all?
  2. What does it mean that Tara can employ and creatively extend ‘woman of transgender experience’ in this context while using different terms in others, some of which resonate with ‘transgender’ and some of which do not?
  3. How does her creative assertion of ‘trans African’ modify what ‘transgender experience’ can mean?

The complications that Valentine faces are the different distinctions of identity for each individual. Valentine expects each individual to know who they are based on categories or to at least be able to sum up their identity in ten words.

“For transgender-identified people themselves, identity, whether understand

as internal and external or as socially produced and contingent, is deeply

felt indeed.(108)”

When even the individuals dismiss categories such as a woman or transgendered Valentine becomes confused as to why some individuals feel they fit into no category offered. It is more important that they know who they are themselves inside even if words cannot explain their identity.

‘‘Meat Market whom I discussed in the previous chapter. Some of the

people I discuss below claim to “know what I am,” and others claim

not to know who or what they are. But, I will argue, none of these people’s

 understandings of themselves or their desires are intelligible in political

categories of collective agency, because of the gap between their

understandings of personhood and the political categories of identity

which claim to represent them.(108)’’

Valentine wants to futher prove the idea that transgender as an identity can be located in a distinct domain: “gender” and conversely that identity politics erases the analysis of the well-established discrimination that exists.

 “Like Rita (who I quoted in the introduction), Anita claims a number

of different identities: gay, drag queen, man. While she did not claim

to be a transexual or a woman, she did not dispute my characterization

of her as “living as a woman” (3.1) and noted that she does “everything

like a woman” (3.2). In other words, being on hormones and living as a

woman did not make her either transexual or a woman. But later in the

interview, she said: “I don’t wanna go back to a man, you know,”

implying that even if she is not a woman, she is no longer a man, despite

her earlier assertion that “I know I’m a man” (3.3). (115)”

Valentine depicts that the interviews were intended to highlight that differences between individuals in terms of sexual relations, age, gender identity would produce reasoning for categorizing and pushing all the different types of individuals involved in to the Transgender box. However Valentine reasons that:

 ‘In order to reach people you wish to help, you need to understand and use the categories by which they understand themselves. (134)’

and also that by using the categorization of ‘transgender’ we are not recognizing the complexity of self that the heteronormative world would draw attention to when anaylyzing a person that fitted into the heteronormative box. An example that ‘Transgender’ in the heteronormative world is really viewed as ‘other’. There is therefore a need to treat unfamiliar and unknown quantities like anyone else. With the respect that they can be complex too and not easy to classify.

It is important to note that I am not calling for “better representation” of those I discuss above, or the simple elaboration of new categories, but rather a reexamination of a system which, in both practical and theoretical terms, marks Miss Angel, Anita, or Jade as “other.”  (137)

The suggestion is that we try to first understand these particular individuals on their level, with their theoretical terms and with their perceptive in order to better understand them and better represent them.


Lucy transitioning- helpful & encouraging documentary!

“Lucy Teen Transsexual in Thailand” – BBC 3 documentary (Part 1 includes explicit images of a surgery)

Lucy is a teenage from england. She was born as Richard. She realized during puberty that she was a Trans She believed that her parents and friends would disown her. Lucy especially found it hard to tell the male member of her family. Lucy started to grow and dye her hair along with buying feminine clothes. She changed her name and began to live as a woman.

Lucy went to a leading (SR) sex reassignment surgeon to see if she could construct a vagina out of her male genitalia. Lucy didn’t feel comfortable with her mother in the room and felt extremely uncomfortable even looking at her male genitalia. She was approved but then had to get approval from psychiatrists to make sure that she wouldn’t regret it after the surgery was completed. The process was pretty extensive.

Lucy then went on to start the next stage which was breast augmentation. Her skin was very tight so she had to have her breasts inflated over a few weeks. She began researching the last stage of her transformation. Lucy’s mother was unable to go to Thailand due to work commitments so she took her Grandfather and Uncle.

Lucy decides to go with a doctor in Thailand. Her surgeon performs around 4 SRS operations a week and arpox. 50 a year are UK patients. Lucy is asked key questions such as whether cosmetics, sensation or depth are more important. Lucy is cleared by the Thai Surgeon for the operation.

Lucy has many worries and feels isolated, lost and scared with about 2 days from surgery. But she reaffirms that she knows it’s the right decision. Her Grandfather and Uncle are very supportive throughout the transition but all she wants is her mother by her side. Lucy did not sleep that much the night before the operation and declares that she just wants it done and over with. She refers to her male genitalia as ‘an emotional distress’.

Part five of the documentary shows parts of the SR surgery. The surgery took over 5 hours and is now 100% a woman. Lucy is in immense pain after the surgery and can barely speak. Every 15 mins for the next 24 hours Lucy is checked in on as there are many possible health problems after the surgery. Lucy expects her grandfather and uncle to be by her side for the rest of the month but they had their money stolen from them and have to break the news to Lucy that she will be alone for the rest of the recovery time.

The day after the surgery she feels the full effects of the surgery. She is now able to look at the lower part of her body and not feel distress. She jokes about sexual intercourse and remains upbeat! Her grandfather & Uncle tell Lucy break the story about their money being stolen and realizes she has to go through the rest of the process on her own. 5 days post operation and Lucy will get to see her post op genitalia. Having the dressing removed is very painful due to the swelling.

Lucy cries declaring that she is the happiest she has been in her whole life so far. ‘i think im just going to be sat here on cloud nine’. Lucy is allowed to shower in part 6 which means it will be the first time that she gets to walk with female genitals. She describes how her movement felt different and how it is to walk as a woman. She could feel the weight below lifted from her ‘shoulders’.

After 7 days of forced bed rest and no visitors she becomes bored and the days feel longer. Lucy is now able to use the toilet without the catheter ‘going to the toilet felt right’. Lucy is now allowed to leave the hospital but must stay in a hotel in Thailand for 3 weeks. A member of the surgeons staff will show Lucy how to insert a dilater in to her self Twice a day for an hour at a time for 6 months. This is to prevent the internal wall of the vagina from healing up (part 6 shows this process). Lucy realizes that she has to spend 21 days on her own and is inconsolable. All that she wants is to be home and show her parents how happy she is. After 21 days she travels home and meets her mother at the airport as just Lucy.

I thought this documentary was immensely informative. I really enjoyed this documentary. It gave me a better understanding of the process, the surgery, the recovery and the emotional issues that go along with making this decision. It is more than just a ‘sex change’ its mini life changing events over the course of a month that will change the rest of her life. I hope that this post will educate people and maybe help anyone that is either thinking about transitioning or who has transitioned and needs the support and understanding of someone who has been through the SR surgery.