Sunday, March 16, 2008
Benjamin Paige remains on ICRME board, issues statement
ICRME has stated that Benjamin Paige remains as a member at large of the Board of Directors despite submitting his resignation as Corporate Development Officer. ICRME plans to make a determination on his board position soon.
Paige has issued a statement in the wake of his retracted article mocking a trans child in the Denver area. Well, more of an incoherent rant than a statement, and certainly not an apology.
The best line is: “I have never treated any member of our GLBT community with anything less than the utmost respect.” I suggest Mr. Paige drive over to this child’s house and read his article to her parents and see if they believe that it qualifies as “the utmost respect.”
Since he is obviously too much of a backwards rube to understand why his article has elicited this response, I won’t bother to educate him. His attitude is a perfect distillation of a specific kind of anti-trans sentiment all too common among gay men. I will leave it to others who wish to clue him in. To me, he will always be a prime example of gay male bigotry toward trans women, which is unfortunately a position for which there is considerable competition. Maybe he will be his generation’s Jim Fouratt.
At any rate, if you wish to slog through his statement, it is reprinted here per his wishes.
Through the past year I have become extremely warmhearted towards the ICRME. I was elected unanimously to the Board of Directors approximately 1 year ago at the age of 24. Certainly the youngest board member in recent history, and probably one of a handful of members under the age of 30. It seems that I was one of the few members who represented an age group that everyone agreed was vital to this organizations success and progression in the future.
Within a month I was voted unanimously to take on the job as the Director of Corporate Development. Since that time, I have contributed significantly to this organization. I was instrumental in holding a function, overlooked for some years, which allowed our group to become acquainted with the individuals and faces of other charitable organizations in Denver. I have built strong connections to local and national companies allowing us to benefit from their generosity. I worked with the leaders of GLBT organizations established at local universities in order for our members to become more visible amongst the younger generation. I applied for a number of grants and single-handedly was successful in getting the ICRME one of its very first. I had hoped I could do so much more for this organization in time. Unfortunately, my continued service would more than likely cause a reduction in productivity to a point where successful operations may no longer be possible.
I believe this is a fantastic organization, and many of the people involved work hard for our local charities. There is so much untapped potential within our association and community. But this last year alone, there have been three different Parliament Chairs, multiple vacancies on both the Parliament and Board of Directors. We all know it can be difficult to find people who are passionate about a charity, and who are willing to stick around and take time out of their busy schedules for an organization they care about.
While I think the Gayzette is a fantastic publication, and its place in Denver is invaluable for its entertainment purposes. I must remind you that it is not the Washington Post, New York Times, Rocky Mountain News or Chicago Tribune. I know it can be difficult to make a distinction between a paper whose tag line is “all the news fit to print” and one whose tag line is “smut at your fingertips” but it can be done. The article in question is one that is followed directly by another piece written by me, whose main topic was an LA nightclub bartender’s testicle sweat. How any of this got taken literally, is absolutely beyond me. You need to have your head checked if you think that any of this was meant to be taken seriously. But clearly it is difficult for everyone to make this distinction.
Perhaps the worst part, is that people who flaunt a need for education amongst our community members are the ones who are least willing to find out anything of substantial value about the author in question, other than his positions in the community that they can use to further their hypocritical agenda. After my first response to this group I assumed that I might get some questions, concerns, need for clarification or even death threats from these people who presume that my raison d’être is to be a “backwards rube”, a “trans-phobic hatemonger” or “official spokedouche.” And while I must say that I rather liked that last one. The idea that I am not compassionate towards members of the transgendered community is absurd. I have never treated any member of our GLBT community with anything less than the utmost respect. I have attended lectures in regards to gender and social issues from such speakers as Karl Mayer, Deborah Davis and *Andreas Glaeser**. *For god sakes people, I wrote an exceptionally well received honors thesis entitled: “The Metaphysics of Gender and Sexuality in the 21st Century.” I will continue to voice my concerns for the need of healthy dialogue between all members of society and the GLB and especially Transgendered community advocating better education and understanding.
But when people presume to know everything about my stance on issues from their misinterpretation of a piece I wrote for a local newspaper that has * never* advocated accurate presentation of facts and opinions, it greatly disheartens me. And worse, the members of my own organization, a member of the Board of Directors, The Parliament, and even a current reigning monarch would rather spew their amateurish, unapprised, uninformed opinions about what they think my intentions were all over the Yahoo Court groups, (which is the most inappropriate forum for a discussion such as this.) This, rather than even attempt to contact me first to allow me to present them with my thoughts. Furthermore, my continued attempt at contacting the majority of individuals, transgendered and otherwise, who adamantly voice their revulsion of what they perceive to be my views, has been met with nothing but resistance. These individuals, who publicize the need for ‘education’ and to ‘inform the masses’ refuse to engage in a civilized conversation concerning a topic on which they think I have been misled. My attempts at contacting those whose voice is strongest is refused upon the grounds that they believe they know “everything they need to know about the issue”, without ever having spoken or corresponded with the alleged. Additionally, my attempts at pursuing a healthy dialogue within their blogosphere has been continually denied. It seems that those individuals who feel that they are being misunderstood and mislabeled in the community due to ignorance and lack of edification are conforming to the very characterization of what they pronounce to be advocating against.
The famous sociologist John Porter once said “Prejudices are instilled through many different aspects of ones life experience and growth process, but it is the negation and indifference to educate and enlighten ones self as to the truth of others that manifests continually in the form of abhorrence and discrimination.”
I recently received an email forwarded to me; the original author was a transgendered activist/Rev. who boasts as a TG support group leader, TG newsletter editor, and organization board member/officer. In her email she calls for “greater education” (as most of them did). And although I do agree with her premise, and nearly everything that she states in her argument. Advocating for public education and greater knowledge, she points to a famous quote by the historical figure: Henry Ford. And while I acknowledge that Mr. Ford played a large part in contributing to the American Industrial Revolution, it certainly is not the case that he should be referenced in regards to social equality and vast public enlightenment to proper social discourse in relation to GLBT issues. In fact, Henry Ford is probably the last person to quote when advocating civil equality; you see Henry Ford was an adamant admirer of Adolf Hitler. If truth be told, Ford was awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal awarded by Nazi Germany to foreigners. Ford in fact praised Adolph Hitler for his attempts at subverting and eliminating not only Jews, but Homosexuals. So what’s the point? The point is that we cannot look at what we perceive to be the message of an individual without actually looking at the individual themselves. The quote was clearly taken out of context in order to advance an idea that advocates social equality, when in fact Ford’s intentions were anything but. The same can certainly be said for my article when you look at it out of the context of what it actually is. Some people clearly perceive something far different than the ideas that align with my personal agenda. And while I do appreciate the four people who have attempted to contact me in order to have a healthy dialogue about my ideas and opinions. The fact is, that the majority of people would rather presume to know my intentions without any knowledge of them, other than their misinterpreted ideas from a local periodical, indicate that these people are not concerned with education or the betterment of society. Rather they are simply furthering their agenda through fear, intimidation and eradication of truth. Which, while clearly is an effective way of doing business, it certainly is not an ethical one.
The difficult part for me is coming to terms with the fact that people don’t want to educate themselves as to the legitimacy of the matter. They simply want to form uneducated opinions and reinforce that idea through refusing to inform themselves as to tangible truths. I’ve come to realize that many of these individuals play a major role in our organization. There is, quite simply, nothing that I can do to educate someone who refuses to listen to reason or rationale.
Many on the Board of Directors have come to know me personally. They have come to know who I am and the kind of beliefs that I hold dear; which is why a majority needed to remove me from office is very unlikely. Although one member in particular has, from the beginning, been adamant about my removal or reprimand, although not a single correspondence has been attempted with me. It is because I have respect for the Board of Directors that I will spare making a mockery of that individual behind closed doors. I feel that because of the willingness to be subjugated and under the control of individuals outside of our organization, my continued involvement would most certainly cause the most trouble of all; partly because of people’s presumptive nature and clear unwillingness to be educated as to the facts of the matter, but also because it has become quite clear that the release of any information pertaining to my continued involvement would clearly not be dealt with in an appropriate manner. The actions of the leaders of our governing body within the last week have shown me unequivocally, that the situation would be handled most incongruously. Even though I’m quite certain that no matter what happens, it will most likely be dealt with inappropriately, at least this way, they can take the easy way out and spin it in whatever way they believe is going to appease the most people. But I certainly don’t believe that this organization would be better without my involvement. Even though I’m sure that the people voicing their unqualified views inside and outside of our organization will be racing each other to fill any one of the now three available Board seats.
Perhaps instead of forming uneducated presumptive opinions about an individual’s personal activities, and how that misinterpretation plays a part in the non profit work that someone does, you should be doing what you can to assist our transgendered Empress candidate in her bid for a successful candidacy. Wouldn’t that really be the most effective use of your time and effort? In fact if I understand the situation correctly, she has actually had to dispel rumors that she doesn’t support transgendered rights. There isn’t an emoticon in the world that can express my disgust at that notion.
But the most regrettable part of this whole situation is that it has cost people friendships, it makes me sick to know that something like this has caused a break in bonds of members of our organization, especially some that took years to establish.
While the ultimate goal of my writings pertaining to political issues is to invoke feelings and ideas (and in that sense it has been my most successful piece of writing), I never thought that I (of all people) would be defending myself from allegations of transphobia.
I have learned a valuable lesson about human nature. I understand now why the most successful politicians never challenge people to think for themselves, but rather just tell people what they want to hear. I understand the power of propaganda and its continued use in today’s modern culture. I better understand how interest groups operate and pray on the weakness of dim-witted individuals to garner support for an agenda regardless of any factual information. Because as we can clearly see, facts have no place in politics (and lets be clear, politics is exactly what this is).
Ultimately when my integrity is called into question by leaders of our organization who are so childish they would rather form their opinions based on the misunderstanding of what they read on page 6 rather than logical reasoning, I can no longer be effective in my duties.
I am sending this email out, not only to all of the members of the ICRME, but I am also including all of the people outside of the organization who have an opinion in this matter. My hope, however naïve it may be, is to be included in their blogs and is even another attempt (however futile) at initiating a discussion about these issues.
However, pertaining to the court, I hope this is the last we shall hear about this matter. You have much more important things to focus on in the upcoming months. I am a passionate enthusiast of the general principles of this organization and will continue to support it in whatever way I can.
That said, I will see you at Coronation. And for those that remain opposed to what they identify to be my views, or even those that object to me as a person – I will see you at Smack-A-Star. Bring your dollars!
My Name is Benjamin Michael Paige
My Phone Number is 303.359.2709
My Email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Benjamin M. Paige**