In addition to everything else in my life, I am currently a full time college student through the UBB working on my AA degree. A couple weeks ago we were given an assignment which I received a 20/20 for (go me!) that I would like to share.
The assignment was: choose a social movement (in the US or globally) that has occurred within the last 40 years (so, from 1980 onward), and:
a) describe the type of social movement and why
b) describe the origin of this movement and one of the elements of this social movement
c) discuss what you think the various kinds of impacts this movement may have had on American society and culture
d) discuss what you think your own personal involvement (or non-involvement) in this movement would have been at the time and why.
My answer is as follows:
I choose the current movement for transgender rights.
a) The movement for transgender rights is not a singular organization, but a collection of many grassroot efforts. It is a political reform movement because the goal is to create social and legal change that makes the world a safer place for transgender people, particularly trans people of color living in poverty.
b) This movement can be traced back to a combination of technological development and social conflict. It can be traced to these because trans people are fighting for it to be socially acceptable to violate a “traditional” social taboo, the crossing of the gender divide. This creates social conflict as trans people express our need to cross this boundary and/or completely ignore it while some sections of society wish to enforce that boundary.
Technology comes into play because medical advances in the past hundred years have developed to a point where many trans people, with enough money for meds and surgery, can pass should they choose to. This drives the “gender police” mad by showing the gender divide to be an unenforceable boundary.
Lastly, the internet and social media have allowed this small demographic (on both sides of the issue) to unite and support each other. This allows trans people to fight for our human dignity, but also allows our opposition to unite against us.
We, as a community, first united in order to support each other when dealing with a hostile medical establishment that did not want to give us treatment. Over the course of the last 50-70 years, this has expanded to dealing with a system that does not want to acknowledge our existence or humanity.
c) One major effect of trans people fighting for our rights is that we have been used as the scapegoat of the LGBT movement to get things like a national antidiscrimination law to protect lesbians and gays by sacrificing protections for trans people during the negotiations to try and get the bill passed.
d) I am currently involved in the movement for transgender rights as an inside committee member of the Coalition for Trans Prisoners. Our specific coalition is fighting for people in prison in Washington state who are transgender to be able to receive the care and protections we need.
Transgender History by Susan Striker
The Gay Revolution by Lillian Faderman
The Transgender Studies Reader (various essays and authors)
So that’s my week 5 Sociology 101 homework. Hope you enjoyed it.