From the Bridge

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #104, Winter 2004.

Sex and Marriage... and Mr. Bailey

A word from the Chair of the IFGE Board of Directors

The challenge in writing a quarterly column is that one is forever locked in a time warp? needing to say something relevant to the current events of, in this case, July ?03, when the world will have danced for four or five more months and set itself in a completely new arrangement by the time this is read. Not only will those July events seem distant, but my words, perhaps, archaic.
Well, before accepting that challenge, I would like to acknowledge that this issue of Tapestry will be in your hands as we move into the winter of the year, bringing with it Day of Remembrance on November 20th, Thanksgiving Day one week later, and then, for many, a season of various holidays of Light. It will be in your hands when the shortest day of the year, Winter Solstice, arrives and passes and we begin to anticipate springtime while enduring the quiet, cold snowy time of winter (at least those of us in the colder regions). We need the winter as preparation time for the light of spring and summertime.
In the light of the Summer of ?03, with the Supreme Court?s positive decision on Lawrence vs. Texas, sex became legal in the United States. In one fell swoop, this sweeping decision outlawed both same sex and opposite sex sodomy.

As someone in our community wrote in one of the many internet postings (and I paraphrase), ?We trans folks have lots of sodomy. It?s our victory, too.? And, well, yes, it truly is, despite the lack of mention of the transgender community in most articles related to the decision. The invisible T strikes again.
Among consenting adults, anyone?s genitals may now have contact with anyone else?s genitals, and no one will break your door down and haul you off in the middle of the night. This is great news for all of us?gay, straight, bi, trans, and not trans. This decision validates that consensual sexual behavior is loving and hot?not illegal and not the stuff of fear, shame, and secrecy, characteristics imbued on it for eons.

The Court?s opinion further emphasized gay and lesbian peoples? inherent dignity by stating, ?The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.? As I have said, this is good news for transgendered people as well, because the Court is saying the United States cannot demean someone just because they hold a particular personal characteristic.
The Court also left the door open to further civil rights?among them, marriage and family rights. This is good news for us as well, but could be tough news, too. The right wing has begun a backlash on Lawrence in its preemptive assault on gay marriage. Many, myself included, await the decision in the Massachusetts? same sex marriage case Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health, to see which is the more compelling influence on their decision?the right wing, or the Supreme Court in Lawrence.
As many attorneys working for transgendered people on issues of marriage, custody, and legal inheritance would support, we trans folks have been on the cutting edge of same sex marriage issues for awhile now?most notably, those postoperative couples in Austin, Texas and Santa Cruz, California who have successfully married?whether because the laws are discriminatory to either transgendered or LGB people, or because they hold strange loopholes.

My concern is that we need to educate our legislators, jurists, and communities on the issues surrounding sexual orientation/sexual identity, gender identity, and gender expression to illustrate that loving, committed relationships are a bond that is formed between individuals no matter what characteristics they may have. We here at IFGE aim to do just that.

At the moment, between the defense
of marriage acts (anti-same-sex marriage statues) at both state and federal levels and the court decisions being made in the likes of Kantaras, Littleton, Gardiner, and the Family Court of Chicago?s FTM case, there is a veritable Tower of Babel out there. This is all fodder for the right wing cannon of hate and prejudice. As
of this writing (See there? Is that a time warp?) there has been an appeal filed in Kantaras, which, if won, would set trans people back decades.

A compelling corollary concern is that many transgendered people decide to stay married post-transition. They redefine their relationships in many ways, but the core is, universally, love and companionship. These hidden same sex marriages are vulnerable to intrusion and possible dissolution by the state, which would cause the partners tremendous emotional, economic, and social hardship?to say nothing of the lost health care benefits. Legal challenges to this possible intrusion from the state could cause more cacophony in the struggle to legalize same sex marriage.

So, we transgender folk are likely to get caught in the crossfire of the backlash as the right wing?s unfurling campaign picks up momentum. I would urge you all to consider that silence begets more oppression and that action is not only life-affirming, but invigorating as well. Get prepared to be out and loud!
That?s why I call for us to all work together here. Civil marriage should be between two people who love each other, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, genitals, gender identity, or expression. Period. I understand that our various religious traditions may not see things this way?or even our President, who insists on continuing to blur the line between church and state. But that?s what Lawrence v. Texas is all about, when it makes these matters into issues of civil liberty and tolerance?and not solely religious issues.

Until next time...


It?s difficult to decide what to write concerning J. Michael Bailey?s The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism, as so much has already been said by so many for so many months now. As I write this, it has come to light that Bailey may not have followed the proper research procedures in place for human subjects research at Northwestern University and as such may have violated the trust and confidentiality of various people. If true, this represents a moral lapse of the worst kind and he should receive the full consequences of such egregious action.

Secondly, many others more articulate than I can be have already addressed Bailey?s assertion that his work is valid scientific research, and, instead, correctly called it pseudoscience. His book appears to be filled, not with the rigorous testing of a hypothesis, but with the work of a man with an agenda emerging from?dare I say?his own issues and his attempt to piece together justification for the way he sees the world. Good philosophy, perhaps, but not good science. I agree with these colleagues.
Third, I suggest some examination and review of the publishing process is called for. The publisher, Joseph Henry Press, a subdivision of the National Academy of Sciences is a respected scientific publishing house which may have inadvertently been drawn into this controversy when closer questioning of the manuscript might have been wise.

Fourth, why should we care so much? Again, dare I say, our own internalized transphobia? Let Bailey?s professional academic colleagues provide the considered scientific response to his work and behavior. We need not allow someone who demeans our community and looks to provoke an intense response the pleasure of that intense response and the attendant attention it garners. We, not Mr. Bailey, become the fools when we do so. Mr. Bailey and his book constitute a postscript?not a main act?to our long struggle for self determination, self definition, and self understanding.

Copyright ? 2003 by Moonhawk River Stone
Hawk Stone can be reached at: