Thursday, September 22, 2011

NSFW: Pool Campaign Sign Vandalized, Is Anti-Trans Bias to Blame?

Houston's historic "gayborhood" of Montrose is home to an active street art community that often sparks conversations about whether graffiti is art or a crime, but the recent vandalism of a Jenifer Rene Pool sign along the busy thoroughfare of Westheimer begs the question "is it art or a hate crime"?

Art, hate crime or overzealous supporters?
I've never been much good at art criticism, so it's hard (natch) for me to tell what the intended message of this graffiti is.  It's possible that the person who painted this is saying that all politicians are metaphoric "dicks," but it's difficult for me to view this and not think that the message is directed specifically at Pool, an out and proud transgender woman. The subtext would seem to be that any person who is presumed to have been born with a penis continues to be male regardless of surgical intervention or actual gender.  The choice to dress the penis in a business suit (traditional male attire) and to have him point at an euphemism for male genitalia suggest that the gender one is assigned at birth should be rigorously enforced.  The large red "X" through "At Large Position 2"conveys a message that it is inherently inappropriate for a transgender person to run for public office, regardless of their qualifications.

Overzealous Dick Supporters
Of course it's also possible that this is just another one of those "overzealous supporters" that Pool's opponent Eric Dick keeps blaming for his illegally placed signs on top of utility poles.  Maybe the warnings from the city and utility companies to the Dick campaign have persuaded them to take another tactic and simply re-purpose other candidate's signs, who knows?

I can't know what the intention of the person who vandalized Pool's sign was, but the message I received was that trans people should shut-up and stay out of public life.  Fortunately I know Jenifer Rene Pool well enough to know that some anonymous graffiti is not enough to send her running. Jenifer has diligently served this city for years: sitting on the Building and Standards Commission and the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Buildings and Standards, serving three terms as president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, and working as a board member for the Houston Transgender Unity Committee and the Diversity Committee of the Human Rights Campaign-Houston. She's encountered tougher obstacles than some punk with a can of spray paint... and won.

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