Stephanie Loveless helps Green Party embrace trans community

National Women's Caucus now open to trans women

By Jason Michael

FERNDALE - After a fierce and sometimes fiery battle that raged for more than two years, local publisher, performer and trans activist Stephanie Loveless has succeeded in securing a place for herself and other trans women in the National Women's Caucus of the Green Party of the United States.

"I am the first transsexual member of the caucus, and I hope many more will follow," said Loveless in an e-mail to her supporters. "The caucus's new membership policy is far from perfect, and I am working to improve it further. But a critical change has been accomplished - the caucus no longer defines gender merely on the basis of one's birth genitalia."

Loveless, who was born Tom Ness, has been a member of the Green Party for decades, and even ran for Congress on the party's ticket in 2000. But following her transformation, she was disappointed to learn that certain sects of the party weren't as progressive as she had believed. Still, it was only with the support of the party's more liberal leaders that she was able to eventually see her application for membership to the NWC accepted.

"The Accreditations Committee formally recommended disaffiliating the NWC as a result of inaction over my application," Loveless said. "This battle has become one of the primary controversies in the Green Party, and I am glad that it looks to be finally resolved.

"The NWC officers have consistently demonstrated an inability to tolerate dissent, demand far too much secrecy, and often behave as if the Caucus belongs to them as individuals rather than the Party itself," Loveless continued. "I hope so very much that this will change now. I have no hard feelings towards the NWC officers in the least, and to the extent I can recognize their weaknesses it is only because I share those very weaknesses."

Loveless said she hopes to eventually see a stronger and more open membership policy embraced by the NWC in the years to come. For now, it reads in part, "The NWC is a caucus for individuals identifying as and living as women full-time. There is no access to: transvestites (men dressing as women but identifying as men); individuals identifying as third gender or other differently gendered people; female-to-male transgender individuals who identify as men and live full-time as men (transmen, transsexual men); individuals living part of the time as women; [and] men."

"Frankly, I am in agreement with most of the criteria, and agree that transvestites, crossdressers, etc. should not be allowed membership," Loveless said. "[But] when it comes to trans people, it must be based on nothing more than self-identification. Nothing else works. It is distressing when people define gender by way of genitalia, for example, as I am much more than just a penis."

What Loveless takes issue with is the phrase "living as women full-time."

"So many of my sisters are forced by hunger and the threat of homelessness to put on boy clothes for employment," she said. "And the younger sisters always face the risk of being kicked out of their homes, etc. ... It's a hard, physically dangerous and emotionally battering life to be trans. The world must learn to forget some deeply imbedded traditional perceptions about gender."

For now, though, Loveless is satisfied with the results her scrappy determination produced.

"The real winner is trans dignity" she said. "There is an old saying, 'Well-behaved women rarely make history.'"

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