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Please begin with an informative title:

I am an activist for my people.  I perform my activism with my words, which is the tool I have at hand.  Sometimes I am repetitive.  I am a teacher.  Some lessons are hard.  That's a clue to the fact that they are important.  Important lessons need to be taught, time and again, using different words, approaching the issue from different points of view.  That's what I do.  Some of you claim that I do it "ad nauseam".

Many of you know me as the transsexual woman (or whatever you call me).  Some of you know me as a poet.  Some of you see the teacher in me.  Or the glbt activist and PFLAG parent.  I am all of these.  I am a human being.

This all started with a joke about Ann Coulter belonging in a men's prison.  It ends much differently...

Intro

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I'll lay aside the part about how insane it is to send transsexual women to men's prison and the near-death sentence that probably is.  But I will not lay aside the fact that some people think that joking about Ms. Coulter's looks in regards what they think is her questionable gender is appropriate.  I'm a feminist as well...former co-president of my county NOW chapter in Arkansas.  Was it funny when right-wingers called Janet Reno and Madeliene Albright men because of their looks?

At the time I wrote:

If this weren't about Coulter and I wasn't transsexual, it would still be wrong to attack people because of their appearance.  The feminist in me finds it especially egregious to attack women by asserting that they look like men.  What?  A woman isn't "feminine enough" in her appearance for someone else?  What kind of message does this send about the place of women in this society?  Are you or anyone else here really comfortable with that state of affairs, where women are degraded because of their appearance?

But it is about Coulter, isn't it.  What part of that evil woman is a clown that she needs to be made fun of?  And what part of making fun of her requires the disrespect of a group of people?  Isn't it enough that we (I'm only one of about 20 transgendered people here, to my knowledge, but I'm the one who speaks up the most (not everyone is as out as I am)) ask you not to do so?  Sort of like gay people asking that 'gay' and 'faggot' and 'dyke' not be used as terms of derision.  When did progressives and liberals start practicing such disrespect?  I thought it was the other people.

I'm not just writing this for you.  I hope other people will read it as well.

Then I started thinking.  I do that.  It's a gift.  And a curse.  I thought first about how appearance is such a poor gauge of people.  What does it say about ourselves that when we encounter minds, we judge their packages?  What kind of humor is involved in making jokes about people's appearance?  I just don't see that as an acceptable trough to dive into in public for the sake of a joke.

Some people say that means I don't have a sense of humor.  Hey!  Guess what!  I don't laugh at jokes about race either.  Don't you think race is about appearance?

I was reminded it was going to be Martin Luther King Day.  I wrote about Martin and Coretta after Coretta's death.

Art Link
Landscape of the Mind
The Candy-colored Clown


In my dreams
the eagle transforms
into the dove of peace
every soul is sparked
by precious pieces
of Martin and Coretta
their essence permeates
the landscape
of my mind
fairness prevails
people are kind
nice caring helpful
human warmth flows
toward everyone
through everything
replenishing the fabric
of this mortal coil
There's always fair weather
where justice reigns
the justice that Martin
saw from the mountain top

Then I awake
let out a gasp
and cry out
in despair


--Robyn Elaine Serven
--February 17, 2006

Martin and Coretta mean a lot to me.  I marched in the Poor People's March in 1968.  I like to think it was in Martin's spirit.  At a GLBT conference we sponsored in the late 90s Keith Boykin told us a story I will never forget. I hope none of us do.  He spoke about gay rights to an assemblage of black religious people, I have forgotten if it was a church or another conference.  Afterwards he was asked, "Who is the gay Martin Luther King?"  He responded, without hesitation, "Martin Luther King."

Indeed, Martin Luther King is the human Martin Luther King.  And Martin knew that you can't even get to The Mountaintop if you are not willing to climb the hills.  Getting over that appearance thing is one of the hills.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Robyn's Perch on Mon Jan 15, 2007 at 11:12 AM PST.

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