A couple of weeks ago I read this post by Nathan Winograd, about why single-issue thinking is not appropriate for animal rescue advocates. Nathan Twittered about this New York Times article about teens who dress in gender nonconformative ways at school. He then received comments stating that he shouldn’t write about such things, as “it dilutes the support [he] receive[s] for the No Kill message.”
I have huge respect for Nathan; I think his book, Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation & The No Kill Revolution in America, is incredibly important (& unlike many in the animal rescue movement, he puts his money where his mouth is & is vegan). And people listen to him — so I am hoping his eloquent words will get more people to think:
I believe in No Kill. But I also believe in animal rights, human rights, gay rights, gender equality, and racial equality….
I believe that you must embrace compassion wherever and however it presents itself. That is who I am. And that is what I will promote publicly and privately. Compassion, compassion, compassion, compassion. For animals, for cross dressing kids, for that fly that President Obama should have left alone rather than killed. It is the unending drumbeat I will play until my time on this Earth is finished.
I know we can do better; that we can construct our communities in a way that is truly kind, fair, and compassionate to everyone—regardless of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or species; that we can bring to our society the fullest expression of our common pledge to promote the general welfare for ourselves and our posterity, and I do not doubt that ultimately that pledge will be interpreted in ways which we—trapped in our own time—cannot even begin to imagine. History reveals this to be the case…. the arc of history not only bends toward greater compassion, but for greater compassion to a wider circle of groups; indeed, to include the planet itself. From that perspective, the No Kill movement is an extension of all that historical progress that has come before it, and will be an extension—and a part—of those movements yet to come that will push the envelope even further. Taking the long view, the issues are the same. I am not “off topic.”
On a related note, there is a very important series on Vegan Ideal about transphobia & cisgender privilege in our movements (part one, part two, & part three). I highly recommend these posts; please read them, because these issues are often handled in really problematic & oppressive ways.