Friday Night Fun and Culture: Gogol Bordello

Eviscerate a trans woman if you are a trans woman

By Radha Smith
April 18, 2014

Reposted with permission

I’ve been reading the latest “eviscerate a trans woman if you are a trans woman” battles. Mostly at advocate . com, but also through boing boing and Huffpo and a person called Zinnia’s petition.

It’s so hilarious in a rather sad and demented way. It puts me in mind of the battles in the 90s at Usenet and the bulletin boards of the early Aughts where a couple of the participants ran one, or contributed regularly to one.

Seems like about every ten years the same ole, same ole breaks out and through magazines, alternative newspapers or on the webz folks rise up and condemn and make fun of the views and experiences of the generation before them.

Trans female generations seem to be about ten years as those who come on appear to have almost no relation to those who went before. A lot of that prolly has to do with the historical fact that once you did your bidniz and sucked all the knowledge, sympathy and advice you could and saved up and had surgery/ies you moved on, thanking the universe that you no longer needed to deal with that anymore. I understand that.

But, along about the mid 90s that started to change. A few women wanted to maintain connection with something they started calling “the Community.” By the early Aughts there were lots of women who saw no need to be in stealth, or hidden as ever having been trans at all, anymore. They would have fights on those bulletin boards with those who were hidden about how “all transwomen” should act on that matter.

Now an even younger group has started pushing their elders. Thus, we have this developing battle that appears to demand to some degree that once more we all divide into a side, pull out huge machetes and begin hacking at one another in a rather gruesome and bloody fashion.

What fun! But, no thanks. I haven’t any desire to demean other people, question their way of making a living, or demand that people say nice things about me and not use words I say are slurs, while I am writing tone-deaf libels and generally nasty slurs about others. Seems like a free-for-all that I’d rather not enter.

Ya know, I think there may be a reason, Monica Roberts, why trans women of color are beginning to be the most visible and admirable trans women on the block. Ain’t seen a one of them carrying and using a machete on anyone. Least of all on one another.

This bs don’t win no one nuthin. But, in Murica it seems to take a lot of time to make history. Goddess knows, we like to slog through the same crap time and time again. Maybe we should honor Cristan Williams, by studying what she has to write rather than just naming her to a hundred person list. Especially if I’ve been named on that list at some point myself.

Or, I suppose we could just eviscerate each other while we wait for the haters to come and eviscerate us all, with real steel.

Guest Post by Barbara Carrellas: A Plea for Help for Kate Bornstein

From Kate Bornstein:  http://katebornstein.typepad.com/kate_bornsteins_blog/2014/04/guest-post-by-barbara-carrellas-a-plea-for-help-for-kate-bornstein.html

Today is Friday, 18 April 2014. As of this morning, you have raised $6600.00 to help Kate #StayAlive! Our goal is $75,000. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. xoxo

Hello friends and family,

This is Barbara, Kate Bornstein’s partner in life, love and art. I’m writing to ask—once again—for your help.

As many of you know, Kate’s lung cancer is back. It reappeared in late December in a lymph node behind her collarbone. The good news is that it did not travel far from it’s original site. Recent scans show it’s not in her brain or bones. The further good news is that it did not reappear anywhere that had been previously treated with radiation and chemotherapy. This means that the doctors can treat this new tumor aggressively and the treatment is likely to work. We have been assured that this cancer is still curable.

The bad news is that the treatment for this second round is way more intense than the last (and we thought that round was challenging!) This means that in addition to more intense chemo and radiation, she needs more supplements and alternative therapies to keep her fighting. She’s much weaker with this new treatment and needs to spend more on transportation to and from treatments. She has a hard time doing basic tasks, like preparing food for herself and the pets. Even getting dressed to go to chemo/radiation treatments is a challenge. Small tasks are not just physically, but also emotionally, overwhelming. This “brain fog” and the accompanying extreme energy drain are common, yet hideous side effects of the treatment. Worse yet, these effects will continue for months after treatment has stopped. This means we have no idea when she can return to work.

We are deeply grateful for your astoundingly generous donations of over $100,000 last year. It’s the support of her community—and we mean emotional, physical, and psychic support, as well as financial—that helps Kate #StayAlive. We still have a bit of that $100,000 left and we are stretching it as far as it can possibly go. (Let me take a moment to thank the people who are currently providing their services and products at reduced cost.) But Kate is going to run out of money very soon.

In short, if Kate is going to #StayAlive, she needs the financial support of her community once again. Kate wants me to be sure to tell you how hard it is to ask for this kind of support. She knows many of you have financial challenges of your own. Please give only if and what you can afford. All of the money raised goes directly towards Kate’s treatment.

Here’s the PayPal link to donate: http://bit.ly/1pkRV4K

Whether or not you can donate, you can help Kate #StayAlive by letting others know how they can help. Please forward/post/distribute this message widely. For inquiries and/or offers of help, write to KateStayAlive(at) gmail (dot) com.

And just so you know, Kate is truly appreciative of all the supportive tweets and other messages she’s been receiving. Please understand that although it’s hard for her to respond to all of them, they mean the world to her.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Love,

Barbara Carrellas

& Team Kate

Burning Books, One Word at a Time

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/04/17/op-ed-burning-books-one-word-time

A new movement cracks down on 50 years of LGBT culture.

By:  Calpernia Addams
April 17 2014

To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child. —Cicero

Some time in the early 2000s, I saw a profoundly troubling trend being born in the newly popular Live-Journal-type blogs. It later spread through Tumblr and Twitter, across our small, bright quilt of communities: an online thought police. The officers of the thought police felt deeply entitled and were intent on unraveling a half-century of LGBT community-building to insulate themselves from what has become the unendurable offense of much of today’s activism: feeling offended.

The Internet is a world of words, whether typed, superimposed on cat pictures, or spoken in videos, and decades of boundary-shattering LGBT culture have delivered up dictionaries full of scandalous language that make children — particularly those who’ve been windburned by a lifetime of hovering helicopter parents — very uncomfortable.

Right now, the endless flap over the gender community’s language is a hot topic, with RuPaul’s televised shemale and tranny games highlighting the question of who gets to say what in our balkanized communities. The language cops, in this case conservative trans women who object to their use under any circumstance, want tranny and other such words completely banned. I understand the arguments against the insult, but I don’t think these torch-wielders realize that transsexual women do not own the experience of gender crossing or the language created around it. Both the experience and the language have a long and hard-fought history across many groups; our history books are full of these stories. In seeking to blot out our internal language of historical words like tranny, the thought police are essentially burning books, one word at a time.

I am an artist. I’m far from being placed among the best in my fields (at least by those who want to hold a measuring stick to everything), but I feel this identity deeply. My deepest and most banal experiences all flow through the lens of my creativity, which I express as art. Before I am a woman, a transsexual woman, or even a physical body, at my core, I am a soul who loves to create whatever beauty I can from whatever I have at hand.

The world is full of those who create, and also those who destroy. Flaubert said, “One becomes a critic when one cannot be an artist, just as a man becomes a stool pigeon when he can not be a soldier.” Those who criticize their own community’s artists as transgressive word villains while producing nothing themselves might find uncomfortable resonance in that quote.

The LGBT community has historically been a source of art, culture, and wit that guides the world’s tastes. In being forced to embody the artifice of acceptable lives, we learned to create art itself. We wrote love songs to those we loved in secret. We brought together those who shared our marginality. Pushed to the fringes, we were often forced to find dark humor in the worst of circumstances. Through it all, disempowerment, rejection, and violent punishment lent an intrinsic sense of transgression to just being ourselves. And pain does inspire some of the most moving art.

From of that artistic heritage came the words we have created and reclaimed to describe ourselves. I feel slightly ridiculous talking about slang words like tranny and shemale, words I myself do not choose to use. But I’m not going to asterisk them out or hint at them, because if you’re reading this, you’re most likely a grownup and I’m going to hold you to that. Faggot and dyke have reached the sort of homeostasis that racial epithets have in their communities; taboo for outsiders but reclaimed in the culture’s art, with full awareness of the history. But control over the language of gender travelers is still being fought for in the LGBT community, and like children squabbling over an inheritance, transsexuals, genderqueer people, and drag queens all lay historical claim to these words.

In the United States, a major difference between us and non-LGBT people is how we are shaped by our struggle against society’s rejection and punishment. As this struggle has lessened, so have some of the differences in our formative experiences, and one result is the emergence of the kind of comfortable, privileged scold we once only saw warming the pews of conservative churches. Like those who demanded chastity and temperance with little experience in the ways of sex or booze, our modern-day conservatives would strike words from the lexicon that were created long before they first tinted their Twitter avatar to Equality Red.

Continue reading at: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/04/17/op-ed-burning-books-one-word-time

Transgender Icon Jayne County Banned from Facebook for Using Transgender ‘Slur’

From Nerve:  http://www.nerve.com/features/transgender-icon-jayne-county-banned-from-facebook

“All over a few words.”

by Kate Hakala
April 17, 2014

Yesterday, transgender icon Jayne County — rock’s first gender variant singer and a fixture at Andy Warhol’s  Factory — was temporarily banned from Facebook for including the words “tranny” and “shemale” in a post to her Timeline.

Many of her followers commented on County’s Timeline in outrage that she had been banned from Facebook for using common self-identifying transgender slang. Today, Jayne County has made a brand new status in reaction to the censorship, “What a sad day this is for the poor LGBT Community. All over a few words that have been made even more powerful and evil by those that seek to erase them! If this is what you are going to do with your rights then you don’t deserve to even have them!”

When I reached out to Facebook for comment, they said that someone within County’s Facebook community had reported her status for “containing slurs,” and her account had been temporarily suspended for a 24-hour period. (It’s currently back up.) This is an across-the-board policy. Facebook says that if they receive a report for a violation of their hate speech policy, they remove the hate speech and don’t spend time “interpreting what people mean.” Facebook doesn’t have a specific list of terms people get banned for, with over a billion users, they rely on fellow users to report when violations have been made.

This censorship is part of a larger conversation dividing the transgender community about policing community-specific language. Over the past several weeks, popular Logo staple RuPaul’s Drag Race has been under fire for its use of what some trans activists have declared transphobic and offensive language. During one challenge on the show, contestants were asked to look at a cropped portion of a photo and identify whether the photo depicted a cisgender woman or a Drag Race contestant. The controversial title of this segment was “Female or She-male.”

Logo responded to the backlash by pulling the episode, issuing a public statement of apology, and removing the recurring “You’ve got She-mail!” segment from future episodes. During the controversy, former Drag Race contestant and transgender woman Carmen Carrera made comments on her Facebook that “Drag Race should be more conscious of the words they use and shouldn’t further objectify transwomen with a game that obviously hurt a lot of the shows fans in the first place.” Others were less subtle. Transwoman and journalist Parker Marie Molloy caused a stir when she tweeted, “I fucking hate RuPaul,” noting that the word “she-male” was actually first used to describe transgender porn. She then clarified to Dame Magazine, “I’d just like to clear up that I don’t actually hate RuPaul. Does his dismissal of trans people and our identities frustrate me? Absolutely.”

Others in the transgender community are wary of the push against free speech, something they see as taboo-breaking, and a part of the historic push against gender norms. Transgender artist Our Lady J speaks out against trans language censorship on a blog post on The Huffington Post.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nerve.com/features/transgender-icon-jayne-county-banned-from-facebook

Stephen Cohen on Russia Ukraine Crisis

As a Woman, a Feminist and an Atheist I Support Ayaan Hirsi Ali

To speak specifically of our problem with the Muslim world, we are meandering into a genuine clash of civilizations, and we’re deluding ourselves with euphemisms. We’re talking about Islam being a religion of peace that’s been hijacked by extremists. If ever there were a religion that’s not a religion of peace, it is Islam. – Sam Harris

Recently Brandeis University withdrew an honorary degree promised Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an atheist feminist born in Somali. She documented the horrors of her life under Islam in her best selling book, “Infidel“.

To describe what she wrote regarding growing up female under Islam as a criticism is to do her book an injustice for she documented the monstrous evil of Islamic misogyny that shows itself in the form of female genital mutilation, child marriages and Sharia.

Too often Liberals and Conservatives alike treat the abuse of women as a minor issue.  Too many in academia wear their cultural sensitivity as though it were a matter of pride and a sign of superiority when in point of fact it merely makes them enablers of atrocities.

It is one thing to oppose discrimination against and the persecution of Middle Eastern and other Muslim peoples.  The persecution of classes of people no matter what the basis of that categorization is wrong, it denies individuals their human rights including their right to dignity.

At the same time it is perfectly acceptable to condemn an ideology that perpetuates evil.

That is what Ayaan Hirsi Ali does.

In turn the left acted in a manner that is identical to that of the Christo-Fascist right.  Just as atheists who come from a Christian back ground are accused by Christians of being bigots and Christophobes so too is Ayaan Hirsi Ali accused of being a bigot and Islamophobe.

I sometimes wonder what part of the atheist phrase, “No gods, no masters!” is so hard for the peddlers of various forms of magic invisible misogynistic sky daddy based faiths to understand.

To be an atheist is to view all religions as compendiums of various superstitious beliefs.

It doesn’t much matter what name is given to the magic invisible misogynist in the sky.

What matters more is what the apologists for those various religions are supporting when they condemn those who point out the evils of said religions

From Newsday: Opinion: Brandeis betrays its educational mission

Brandeis University has withdrawn the honorary degree promised Ayaan Hirsi Ali after realizing that Ali has criticized Islam in the past. In fact, criticizing Islam was the focus of her best-selling memoir Infidel. The petition to reject her was written by a barely literate undergrad peeved that the university would honor someone who is “an outright Islamophobic.” Oh dear. Views are Islamophobic. People are Islamophobes.

Really…

Islamophobe…

What an appropriate charge for a woman pointing out the misogyny that is so ingrained in Islam and Islamic law that women in Saudi Arabia are forbidden to drive cars.  Or how Wahhabism has forced women in to burqas and other coverings.

Or pointing out her own experiences.

Now I know Ayaan Hirsi Ali has become a darling of the right wing in America, a position she would have never obtained had she been attacking the misogyny found in Fundamentalist Christianity.

However considering the voracious attacks leveled upon her from the left one has to wonder if she would have gone there had the progressive feminist movement embraced her.

As to the truth or falseness of her charges I offer the following:

From The American Humanist Association: Saudi Arabia’s New Law Defines Atheism as “Terrorism”, Bans All Criticism of Government

Humanist and secular organizations, as well as civil liberties and human rights groups around the world, have responded with outrage to the news that a new law in Saudi Arabia equates “atheism” with “terrorism”.

The Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing criminalizes as “terrorism” all free expression on a vast range of topics, including advocacy of “atheist thought”, criticism of Islam as it is understood by the state, and any expression deemed to “insult the reputation of the state”.

Saudi Arabia is a current and recently-elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Details of the law

Article 1 of the “terrorism” law prohibits “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.” The law was introduced by royal decree without judicial oversight.

Domestic “terrorism” is defined in the decree as “any act” (expressly including non-violent acts) which among other things is intended to “insult the reputation of the state,” “harm public order,” or “shake the security of society”. The terms are very broad, and and could be used to prosecute any criticism of the state, its king or officials, or the state conception of Islam.

The provisions of the “terrorism” law define and outlaw numerous acts and forms of expression as “terrorism”, including:

  • “Calling for atheist thought in any form”;
  • any disloyalty “to the country’s rulers”, or anyone “who swears allegiance to any party, organization, current [of thought], group, or individual inside or outside [the kingdom]“;
  • anyone who aids, affiliates, or holds “sympathy” with any “terrorist” organization as defined by the act, which “includes participation in audio, written, or visual media; social media in its audio, written, or visual forms; internet websites; or circulating their contents in any form”;
  • contact with groups or individuals who are “hostile to the kingdom”
  • and the article on “Seeking to shake the social fabric or national cohesion” prohibits all protest, without qualification as to its message or intent, by outlawing “calling, participating, promoting, or inciting sit-ins, protests, meetings, or group statements in any form”.

From Care2: Brunei is Gearing Up to Start Stoning People to Death

by April 16, 2014

Brunei wants to stone more people to death, and it’s about to bring into force a new penal code provision that would allow it to do just that.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced in October of 2013 that he would move Brunei, a predominantly Muslim country, toward adopting Islamic Sharia law within the next six months. While Sharia was previously implemented for what are essentially family court disputes, the country officially had secular laws though many of those laws gave great deference to Sharia anyway.

At the time of announcing this change, the Sultan said that Sharia law would only be applied to Muslims. However, the United Nations and international human rights bodies feel that the law change will likely affect all of Brunei’s citizens, if not immediately then over time.

Making it a Crime to be Gay or to Insult Islam

The penal code change would make consensual same-sex sexual encounters a crime punishable by stoning. Homosexual “acts,” and by extension homosexuality, have long been a crime in Brunei. At the moment, though, someone convicted under the penal code can only serve a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Homosexuals are not the only group to be targeted by this law change, however. The revised penal code would proscribe the death penalty for the following (not an exhaustive list but one designed to give a good overview):

  • adultery
  • rape
  • murder
  • insulting any verses of the Quran and/or the Hadith
  • blasphemy
  • declaring that you are not a Muslim (apostasy)

While a lot of media attention has focused on how this penal code change would impact gay people, and for good reason, the penal code also seems particularly malignant to women’s rights, something that the International Commission of Jurists has already noted. Writing in commentary made back in January while the change was still being considered, the ICJ said that because of how a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam privileges men, women would therefore be “more [at] risk of receiving this penalty because they are most likely to be found guilty of adultery or having engaged in extra-marital sexual relations.”

From The Guardian UK: Egypt’s gay community fears government crackdown

Recent series of raids and long jail terms fan fears that gay people may be new target of authoritarian government

in Cairo
The Guardian, Thursday 17 April 2014

Egypt‘s gay community fears it is the latest target of the country’s authoritarian government following a series of recent raids on gay people.

Activists interviewed by the Guardian said they had documented up to nine raids across the country since October 2013 – an unusually high rate of arrests. Most significantly, at least seven raids have seen people arrested at home rather than at parties or known meeting places, raising concerns that the community is facing the start of a targeted crackdown.

The latest and most concerning raid saw four men seized from their east Cairo apartment on 1 April within hours of signing the lease, according to activists. Within a week, the four were given jail terms of up to eight years – sentences unusual for both their length and the speed at which they were handed down.

Interviewees warned against exaggerating the oppression levelled at what is a flourishing underground gay community. But almost all agreed the recent arrests had frightened and perplexed many of its members. One experienced activist, who identified himself as Mohamed A, said: “It has struck fear within many of us. I could be sitting with a couple of friends [at home], and these arrests could happen at any moment.”

While homosexuality is technically legal in Egypt, citizens suspected of being gay have long been the target of sporadic detentions – with those arrested often convicted of debauchery or insulting public morals. But some activists claim the recent arrests, which began at a gay meeting-place in a poor Cairo suburb last October, are happening at a faster rate than at any point since 2004.

Considering the horrific behavior on the part of so many Muslims in the name of their faith I have a hard time believing atheist infidels like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and  Salman Rushdie are simply Islamophobes meriting the condemnation of all correct thinking progressive people.  Actually I tend to see them as highly courageous people standing up to a force filled with numerous fanatics, who would consider murdering them an act of faith.

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