Subject: Morality & Gender
Date: Tue 23 Jun 1998 - 02:09:52 BST
Is transgender "cheating"? I don't think so, though I do understand that
transpeople often have to play with facts to tell the truth in a powerful way.
But what I am concerned with is a declining sense of morality and fair play.
Transpeople are faced with claiming themselves in the world, and to do that,
we depend that other people will give us a shot, will play fair. If they want
to cheat to win, win at any cost, the challenges for changing culture become
I get angry at people who don't use turn signals. It's a very simple thing,
almost trivial, but it is the thing most of us (the ones who drive) do the
most in a day that really shows courtesy, consideration and grace. Not only
are turn signals a good safety device, but by communicating our intentions to
others we have some sort of communication, some sort of awareness that we have
a responsibility and obligation to the people we share the road, the
neigborhood and the planet with.
I see lots of people who complain about the decline of morality and eithics,
but then they feel comfortable in cutting a corner, breaking a rule, and never
see how their tiny action contributes to a community that is becoming selfish
and short sighted, not where they want to live. The golden rule becomes
eroded and hypocritical people think that others are the problem, but their
inability to follow one way signs and angle park is just some freedom they
claim -- freedom to violate the codes that make social systems work.
"In my youth I stressed freedom; in my old age I stress order. I have made the
great discovery that liberty is a product of order."
I love the story about the man who paid adult prices for his 12 & 13 year old
daughters at the movie theatre. The tcket seller said "You could have told
me they were 11 and gotten them in for children's prices. Who would have
known?" He replied "They would have known."
We live in a society of rules, and of advertisers who know most people will
screw up the rules -- offer them a rebate, and many people won't follow the
rules and claim it. We keep trying to create compex systems and then
loopholes, and it all becomes odd -- much like the HBIGDA standards.
I think that transpeople and other queers have a deep investment in making
sure that we have social order, so that a few people who hate us and find us
taboo don't have the power to stop us. Social order means respecting the
dignity and worth of every person, and not cutting corners, breaking rules
just to get what we want.
Joanne Law from Gender Moasic in Ottawa did a presentation at IFGE Toronto on
legal issues, and her agrument was that in Canada there was actually freedom.
This freedom came from the fact that Canada limited personal liberties to
enforce social order, and that social order created more freedom, like traffic
laws, well enforced, create order that facilitates freedom of transportation.
I worry about a growing willingness to let the ends justify the means, to
break the rules "just a little bit" to get what we want, without any
conciousness of how that tears apart social order.
The challenge in my mind is about order and freedom. I don't want order that
restricts my freedom of expression, inclunding transgressive gender
expression, but I do want order that facilitates my participating in a society
without having to fight cowboys and rednecks who want to "do the right thing,"
whatever they see it to be, like miltia groups.
I worry about the loss of morality, worry what it means to queers who need a
code of fair play to be safe.
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