Tuesday, June 14, 2016

RANT: Politics of Sexual Assault - Who has it worse, the blame game, and why "Hunting Ground" may be distracting our focus

I would like to take a moment to talk about college age sexual assault.

Let's start with the facts, from RAINN, and then I would like to take a little bit of time to unpack some concerns I have over documentaries like "The Hunting Ground", sexual assault training that either blames men or plays a game of "who has it worse.

To begin with, some nifty charts from RAINN.org


What I would like to point out with these graphics is that 18-24 college age women, are 3x more likely to be sexually assaulted if they are in college and 4x more likely if they are not in college as compared to other women of remaining age groups. This corresponds with (Langton 2014) who found that among women of college age, non-college females were 1.2 times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault. While (Langton 2014) it has also been found that sexual assault victimizations were more likely to go unreported to police for students (80%) than non-students (67%) some of the other factors for underreporting tend to go hand in hand for the two similar age populations.

This notably differs from research of male respondents that shows that college men are 5x more likely to be survivors of rape or sexual assault than non-students.

Why is this important? On the one hand, it is not. Our job in being there for survivors is to be there no matter what...it is not to play games in regard to who is the most victimized. If we were to play such a game, Native Americans aged 12 or older experience 5900 sexual assaults per year and are twice as likely to experience rape/sexual assault compared to other races (source RAINN https://rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence). So, if this were a "we should spend our resources where there is greatest need....we would be investing so much more in regard to helping Native American survivors.

The reason I bring up these statistics though and these charts is because I feel that for as much good documentaries such as "The Hunting Ground" have done, they have focused the lens of our social justice on college campuses in a way that gives the impression that this is where all of this kind of violence occurs. The danger in that is in not serving the communities we are supposed to serve better with a less myopic view. Further, it politicizes a discussion away from a broader focus on better resourcing a variety of solutions in our communities outside of the campus setting.

Again, ultimately, in a client centered model it does not matter what demographic a survivor is coming from ....our job is to offer help.

But, this brings me to my other concern of focus. ...that being the oversimplification of discussion about sexual violence as regards men, both as survivor and as perpetrator

The recent CDC findings from the National Intimate Partner  and Sexual Violence Survey (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6308a1.htm?s_cid=ss6308a1_w) demonstrate that although prevalence of rape is still predominantly among women (19.3% compared to 1.7% for men), 23.4% of men compared to 43.9% of women survive sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes, a fact that often does not enter our discussions on sexual violence .

Further, from the CDC report found...

"For female rape victims, an estimated 99.0% had only male perpetrators. In addition, an estimated 94.7% of female victims of sexual violence other than rape had only male perpetrators. For male victims, the sex of the perpetrator varied by the type of sexual violence experienced. The majority of male rape victims (an estimated 79.3%) had only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims had only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (an estimated 82.6%), sexual coercion (an estimated 80.0%), and unwanted sexual contact (an estimated 54.7%). For noncontact unwanted sexual experiences, nearly half of male victims (an estimated 46.0%) had only male perpetrators and an estimated 43.6% had only female perpetrators."

This paints a picture that still "male heavy" shows that females also contribute as sexual violence perpetrators. What triggers me about has to do with a webinar I attended which tried to 1) lay all of the fault for sexual violence at the feet of men as a class 2) tried to explain it with social darwinistic evolutionary biology theory that casts men as pure agressors (and which I affectionally call useless garbage science) and 3) underplays the role women currently play in this violence...with indications that those numbers are rising.


Look.... these kinds of sex/gender politics in regard to victim and perpetrator or based on "who has it worse" do none of us any good and do NOT help us address better research to understand the problem or find real solutions in our communities. Ultimately we should be treating each survivor with so much awe that they even came to us and then we should be listening to their story and helping them get through it without playing blame games, or anything like that which only tends to scapegoat at best and detracts from healing at worst.

Monday, June 6, 2016

On Litmus tests for being transgender

Perspectives from transition - thoughts of crap I have been through because I am transgender.

When I decided to take action to be myself in the late 90s and early 2000's I saw a few therapists. At the time (and please comment if this is still happening now) the people I say tried using "litmus tests" to determine if someone is transgender.

So, a client comes in and says, "Hi, I am Katy and I believe I am a woman on the inside" . Instead of taking that at face value therapists would try tricky questions to "determine" whether you really were transgender or not....as though your personal affirmation was not enough and you had to pass some mysterious test.

Therefore, my first experience was a disaster. I cried all the way back from Houston. The therapist insisted that since I did not insist enough that I was a woman that I must not be ready and I should "spend some time in the community and try it out to see if this was for me". Let's unpack that a little. So, because I was polite and respectful to what the therapist said I was ambivalent or somehow not sure of who I am? Bullshit. Despite my cursing and bluster nowadays I am actually quite a reserved and quiet person...much moreso back then. Somehow my refusal to argue about my identity was a sign my identity was not what I said?

What if I just was saying to myself. "Ummm, I know who I am, you are being an asshole, why should I PROVE anything...I am who I am"

Yeah, idiotic on his part and totally unrealistic about the ability to participate in a community. Traveling to Houston regularly was out of the option, as was being part of a nonexistent community in B/CS.

My second experience, I would drive every two weeks to Austin and back to see a therapist. At this time my DL still had a male name and male designation. As such I dressed androgynously (maybe some femme shorts or pants), no makeup though. My fear? Getting stopped by DPS and suffering ignorance and crap.

The questions from the therapist that was stupid?
"Well, maybe you would just prefer being a feminine man? How does that feel to you?"

"OK, so you ignored these sessions we have had thus far and do not comprehend the complications of travel in todays world as a trans person. Maybe you just don't get it and should see other clients, not trans clients..." (I didn't really say that, just think that in reflecting back).

My point is thus, LITMUS TESTS ARE BS.
Don't use them. As an educator now I have teachers ask "How can they spot a trans student". 1) Why would you want to unless you are going to offer genuine support and 2)The best way to offer that support is to be open, listen, and to accept people for who they are at face value when they tell you.

The way to spot a trans student? Really easy.....when they come up to you and tell you that they are a trans student.

Feel free to comment and share....just had to vent that out this morning, been saving it up for about 16 years

Monday, November 3, 2014

Towards Wholeness

I need your help.

A long time community advocate for LGBT Rights in general and my transgender family in particular, I have given everything I am and everything I have to the movement. Countless hours, savings, and elbow grease all to make a little space for us in Texas.

Through all of this I have also tried to raise funding for my own gender confirmation surgery. As of right now I am $1000 towards a $16500 goal, and I could really use your help this holiday season.

My birthday is November 5th, it is my hope that you will consider a nominal donation towards helping me achieve the goal of a surgery that will make me feel more complete in myself.

Thanks for reading, have a truly blessed day!