[personal profile] tyresias
Before this post goes any further, let me make the following perfecly clear: while I usually allow for a great deal of room for people to hold opinions different than mine in comments to my posts, anyone wishing to express an anti-choice sentiment would do well to prepare themselves to be removed from my flist. I do more than my fair share of educating both IRL and in communities (notably [community profile] feminist) but this isn't an entry in which I'm prepared to do so with regards to reproductive rights. Debates with other points in this post are encouraged.

I will begin by situating myself. I am pro-choice in a very broad sense of the expression. I believe each individual has the right to make the decision about hir reproductive system, sexual practices (eg BDSM) and bodies in a whole (eg euthanasia, bod mod, drugs, self-harm, the latter two I do advocate for harm reduction practices). With respects to my former reproductive system, I did look into the possibility of freezing eggs and even though I chose not to fight Mount Sinaii with respect to their decision on me pre-hysto, I did advocate for them post-hysto to change their practices and got them to reverse their policy so now transmen with the financial means can choose to freeze their eggs if they so wish.

Interesting note: I have found it fascinating to read discussions over Thomas both in Canadian specific and US-dominated forums. The overwhelming assumption in Canadian forums has been that anyone opposed to Thomas's pregnancy must do so for anti-choice reasons but overwhelmingly people have been pro-choice and I've only read pro-Thomas's choice remarks to date. But this is a narrow understanding of the situation, in no small part due to the fact that it is the only element of the debate that has been heard North of 60. Overall, I find it fascinating to observe the differences in which the 2 spheres are discussing the same phenomena. I have to remind myself they are in fact discussing the same thing from their respective starting point in the world.

In US dominated trans forums I have seen really ugly shit from anti-choice transmen who claim that no "real" transman would get pregnant post-starting medical transition and all kinds of really vile shit that makes me want to strangle people. I've also though read some really important discussions on the impact of Thomas's media exposure on the rest of us. No, this isn't going to derail into a "why do guys who disclose make it harder for us stealthies to get on with our lives." Had Thomas just exposed his pregnancy to Oprah and company, I'd have gotten on with my life not paying attention to him. In case anyone on my flist is wondering, no, Thomas isn't even close to being the 1st transguy to get pregnant post-transition. I've known a few IRL, a few more virtually so as a concept, it's nothing new to me and in and of itself, isn't something I'm particularly interested in. It's been happening for years, at least a decade and a half if not longer (which would not surprise me one bit). But it is the other thing he is bragging about and its impact on anyone in a situation similar to mine with US ID that this post is about.

What bothers me about Thomas Beatie isn't that he got pregnant years after having been on T for 2 years and getting a double masectomy. I don't think pregnancy impacts his manhood, "trans cred" or is otherwise makes any sort of statement on his identity other than he'll soon become a parent. But he did something on Oprah as well as pretty much all other media outlet I've seen that is gets right under my skin and makes me prone to thinking of him as a self-centred inconsiderate a-hole. He's made a point to brag about the fact that he's doing this despite being legally male. Now where this is problematic is that he's exposing one of the only loopholes FTMs benefit from as a result of MTF-centrict legislation. Most legislation (including the former/soon-to-be ex) in Oregon, where Thomas lives, stipulated that a single surgery is required to change one's legal sex marker. So his top surgery, as was my case here in Ontario, was all he needed to get his legal M. The reason I call this a case of MTF-centrism is because most legislation is based on the assumption that MTFs only need bottom surgery and is done without knowledge of FTM medical transition. As problematic as this is (and make no mistake, I believe this to be hugely problematic) what this situation (for anywhere in a similar predicament as Oregon and Ontario) was someone to give legislators a reason to amend the law to make bottom surgery explicitly required to change one's legal sex marker. Neither MTFs or FTMs should need bottom surgery to change their markers. I would be all over advocating for the newly implimented situation in NYC where anyone can change their markers essentially upon request. But instead, the way Thomas has gone around flaunting the loophole without saying "the requirement should be no surgery" or anything along those lines, his exposure has cause Oregon's legislature (along with a few others) to introduce a bill to amend to make bottom surgery mandatory. In effect, once this bill passes (and it is expected to pass without much opposition at all shortly), anyone (MTF or FTM) who had hoped to change their markers using anything but bottom-op (eg facial feminization, top surgery) will be bared from doing so. How kind of Thomas to laugh to the bank with his book deal while many transpeople are about to get royally fucked over. Sorry but that doesn't go over well at all with me. Least of which because it may have an impact on me directly. While I've changed everything in the UK and Canada (and no one could, that I know of, institute legislation with retroactive consequences) I have not yet managed to change my SSN or green card information. But even if I get bared from updating either, I'm in a far less terrible boat than US citizens who will live the rest of their lives in the US or be denied changing their papers outside the US because they cannot change their US papers (as I was able to change certain UK papers because I had met Ontario requirements even though I did not in fact meet all requirements for someone born in the UK).

That is unforgiveable to me. When your actions screw over entire segments of already disenfranchized portions of society, you had better believe I judge you to no end. I don't care if Thomas didn't think about it before speaking, his "good intentions" (as he surely would claim he had them) don't change the consequences from his badly executed actions. So while I will continue to check the anti-choice fucks on US-dominated trans forums, I wanted to bring it to the Canadians' attention that there are reasons I'm not joining the "I support Thomas Beatie" Facebook group or whatever. No, I am not thrilled when this idiot gets brought up into discussion in spaces where I'm functionally stealth and I hear largely positive reactions to his choice. I do not want Ontario legislators (Dalton and George, I'm looking your way) to get any ideas like Oregon did.

This world we live in is undisputably transphobic and Thomas's actions should not have the sort of impact they are. In a happy world, I could sympathise that I should not be pissed off at Thomas for daring to expose transphobic legislation, you might even expect me to be impressed he did. But he isn't advocating for the legislation to be changed in a positive way (that is to remove conditions to change one's sex marker), he isn't taking responsibility for his actions by lobbying Oregon to not pass an amendment making it harder to change an F to an M and vice versa. I don't know if he's aware that this is happening (what with being knee deep in nauseating self-congratulations), but again, ignorance of the consequences of his actions does not remove responsibility from reacting to them (the consequences).  That is why I'm angry with him. 1. He should have thought about the fact that the transphobia that's resulted in him getting bad health care extended to other components of society including the sex marker changing requirements. 2. when that reality came to his attention, he should have begun to petition Oregon's legislature and anywhere else that is going that route. Is it anyone's job to be an activist? Of course not. But you chose to take media centre stage and cause that sort of shit, than yes, I think you owe it to try and at least help prevent the sort of disaster he has created for pre-sex marker changed transfolks. It that fair that his choice to go that public about his pregnancy results in this? Of course not. I never said life was fair and I, as a pro-choice person, do not owe him support just because he has dealt with shit on one front while dumping a whole lot on another that matters just as much to me.

I now expect to be called an asshole for being so hard on Thomas. I probably am being unfair to him. I will continue to judge him until someone gives me really good anti-oppression based reasons not to.

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tyresias

October 2012

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