23 October 2008

Trans for Obama - Volunteer Edition

For those of you who don't know, Trans for Obama is an effort to create an obvious trans presence in the presidential campaign by trans people and allies. The point is in the number of people who contribute, not the amount. I contributed $5 since I am currently not wealthy. Please contribute what you can!

Goal Thermometer

Silly me, I thought that my donation would otherwise go unnoticed. Not so! I recently got a call from the local Obama campaign HQ asking me to volunteer since they really need volunteers in these final days before the election. Not quite being up to the personal rejection involved in canvassing, I volunteered instead for the phone banks. Not thinking, I signed up for a four hour shift.

Four hours of making phone calls is a strain on any voice. It's even more a strain when you're a transwoman without voice training and trying hard to gender "woman" not "man" with your voice. While I overall scored more "ma'am" than "sir" responses, at the end it was a losing battle. I had also signed up for the next day but that didn't happen since my voice is still recovering.

As for the actual calls, it was mostly heartening. I ended up calling older voters who I was more concerned about having open racism inform their voting discussions. That wasn't true with perhaps a couple exceptions. One man said that he didn't want Obama in the White House because he it contained "National Treasures" which presumably a black man would either destroy or steal. Others showed that right-wing rhetoric worked. A woman said she wasn't voting for anyone with the middle name of Hussein (I guess I should be thankful my middle name is my mother's name?). I only got a few hangups and thankfully no one yelled at me, though I did have one man talk my ear off. But he was voting for Obama, so I let him.

As a person interested in the workings of politics as well as gender, I found it interesting that the operation was staffed by women and most of the volunteers were women. Of the men that did volunteer, they overwhelmingly chose canvassing. I'm not sure what, if anything, can be made of this, but it did seem interesting.

On a personal level, it was gratifying to be correctly gendered by everyone even if they hadn't been introduced to me. On a sad note, I lost an earring to the cause.

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