Monday, August 26, 2013

Lateral Oppression or Peer to Peer Oppression

Earlier this month one of my blog posts went viral, it was referenced in a national trans-blog and my hit counter went wild. The post was about how an Austrian military officer said that she knows that she will never be “a woman,” that she will always be transgender and I agreed with her. I said you can never leave your past behind. Well that generated all kind of spam (using my email address to sign up for newsletters) and derogatory comments by “Anonymous” like this…
Diana, is it true that you lost your wig once while swimming... right in front of everyone? OMG, that must have been so embarrassing! It's no small wonder you don't think we can ever be real women... it's obvious that you'll never be one!
There is a name for this type of behavior, it is called “Lateral Oppression” or “Lateral Violence” and it is common in all marginalized communities.* The definition is,
Later Oppression or Violence: oppression or violence that is directed towards other members of the social group or community, usually toward a subculture of the social group or community.
U.S. Legal Definitions defines it as,
Lateral violence happens when people who are both victims of a situation of dominance, in fact turn on each other rather than confront the system that oppresses them both. Lateral violence occurs when oppressed groups/individuals internalize feelings such as anger and rage, and manifest their feelings through behaviors such as gossip, jealousy, putdowns and blaming.
We find lateral violence or oppression wherever we look…
We find it with teenage girls
We find it with immigrants
We find it in socioeconomic classes
We find it in racial groups
We find it in the gay and lesbian communities
And we find it in within the transgender community
So what causes it?

It is caused by internalize of guilt and prejudice. It is used as a defense mechanism against otherwise unbearable discomfort that they have as a member of the oppressed group. It is a method which a member of the marginalized group uses to separate themselves from that group. For an example, during the early 70s many gays and lesbians of the “Gay Liberation Front” did not want any feminine gays or masculine lesbian in their organization. Because of their internalized guilt and prejudice they want to separate themselves from the flamboyant gays or lesbians. The straight looking and acting gays and lesbians want to be disassociate from them; they only wanted gays and lesbians who can be assimilated into the straight society so they could blend in with everyone else.

The same thing for trans-people, those that can pass or have had surgery want to disassociate from trans-people who cannot pass. They want to establish a pecking order with passible post-op trans-people on top. They want to be assimilated into the straight society and not be associated with what they call “men in dresses” meaning anyone who cannot pass.

Here is a video that talks about Lateral Violence within the First Nation community (Only the first 1:45 of video pertains to my discussion). The same type of oppression exists in  other marginalized communities.

In the video “7 Symptoms of Lateral Violence” Denise Findlay talks about the symptoms of Lateral Violence and I think the important symptoms are,
3. Marginalized Voices
4. Internalized Voice of Oppression
7. Revenge

In the video the “7 Antiodotes to Lateral Violence” she talks about ways to counter lateral violence.



*Community: in this case I use the word in a sociological sense, where a group of people have cultural, religious, ethnic, or other characteristics in common. You do not need to feel a member of the community, you are part of the community because you share a characteristics in common, we are all trans.

Update 2:00PM : Ops, I forgot to embed the first video

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The same thing for trans-people, those that can pass or have had surgery want to disassociate from trans-people who cannot pass. They want to establish a pecking order with passible post-op trans-people on top. They want to be assimilated into the straight society and not be associated with what they call “men in dresses” meaning anyone who cannot pass"

Well, no....That is not really true. That is how you and your "everybody is include BY FORCE" definition of "trans-folk", define it. The reality is that some people who are not "trans"* do not want to be labeled as "trans"*, nor included in some political platform which works against our better interests.

That is not "lateral oppression". That is self preservation.

Diana_CT said...

You are right, what you describe is not Lateral Violence; what you describe is a difference of opinion. When you disagree with someone in a civilized manor, it is not Lateral Violence. What Lateral Violence is, is verbal attacks, putdowns, name calling, spamming someone with hundreds of email subscriptions. Not wanting to be a part of social group, such as the trans-community is not Lateral Violence; Lateral Violence is from the way you separate yourself from the community. An example of LA is an immigrant who calls someone arriving in here “fresh off the boat” or uses the derogatory slang term “FOBs.” So when a trans-person sues the phrase “men in dresses” or “MID” they are name calling to putdown another member of the community is LA. Take two minutes and watch the first part of the first video.