Thoughts on “The Cotton Ceiling”

One of my Facebook friends, who reads this blog asked me today if I was going to comment on the “Cotton Ceiling Controversy”.

I’ve been pondering this issue for several days now.

I’ve been having to gather some background material.

My first observation is that this is really only controversial among the self proclaimed  “radical feminists”. Cathy Brennan and others seem really upset about our even discussing this issue.

This is one  issue  I suspect has impacted the lives of the majority of people who have been described at one time or another by a trans-prefixed word.

It isn’t the easiest of issues to talk about… When I start writing I find myself choking up… filled with sadness and anger…

Anger at not being able to trust a movement I’ve spent my life supporting.

Anger that “radical feminists” expect to be able to use people like me as workers and foot soldiers, without ever considering us their sisters. Worse yet is when they enlist us as mercenaries to do their dirty work for them in attacking transsexual and transgender people.

I think it is possible to argue ideology without attacking people who are transgender.  Hell, we have wars among transsexuals that aren’t much prettier than the wars between transsexual and transgender people.

This is a shared issue no matter your present genitalia.

Even if we are not impacted personally, we would have to be totally without empathy, to not feel the impact when others like ourselves are trashed.

In the 1970s I was lucky enough to escape being personally held up for public trashing by the “radical feminist” faction. Two of my acquaintances were not so fortunate.

I was raped and barely escaped being murdered in the summer of 1974.  I sought help and support from the rape crisis center at the Gay Community Services Center in LA.  They we no more help or support for me than the police at the Hollywood LAPD station.  A guy who was my pot dealer and a male photographer I was friends with were more supportive, one giving me a can of mace that mail carriers carried to repel dogs and the other giving me a set of nunchakus.

A few years later my girlfriend, who had become increasingly abusive towards me, punched me in the face starting a mutual knock down drag out fight that wound up leaving both of us injured.  The center for abused women at the now Gay and Lesbian Center told me they couldn’t offer me counseling after learning I was transsexual.

I went to classes at the Women’s Building but avoided making serious friendships out of fear of being trashed.

When I developed a relationship with a sister (TG) in SF who was an artist and whom I taught photography.  I didn’t share my elation with this affair with the women I was working with at The Lesbian Tide. I was afraid they would use my being TS and her being TG as a way to negate our affair.

I hid being bisexual, never saying how my relationships with certain men were far less fear laden or complex than my relationships with women.

There was a time when the only lesbian organizations that were openly accepting of transsexual women were Samois and other sexual outlaw lesbian groups.

I’ve never felt at ease going to lesbian bars, even though as a sex worker I had hundreds of encounters with men who never questioned my femaleness.

I wouldn’t have ever dared to make an advance at a lesbian bar, hell sometimes I had a hard enough time acting available.

About 15 years ago I was a volunteer at the LA Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center’s “The Village”.  I helped putting on events, setting them up taking them down.  I volunteered for it all.

Trans events, gay men’s events and lesbian events.  I was such a good volunteer that they gave me an outstanding volunteer of the year award.

Then one Sunday there was an event in a park in West Hollywood.  I was there to help with the event including the take down after the event.   When much of the work was done one of the women’s told me a bunch of them were going to a party at 4:00 and asked,   “Would you mind finishing up here and dropping the papers at the Center?”

The message was, “You are good enough to do the shit work but not quite human enough for us to socialize with.

People who have been reading my blog or other writings for any extended period have no doubt heard my take on the MWMF.  How I’d rather do dental work on myself with a Dremel tool than subject myself to going to that hate fest in the woods.

Forty years post-op/post-transsexual I’ve learned a few things along the way.

One of them is to not look for acceptance from people who hate transsexual and transgender people.

The other is that there is an alternative to the gay and lesbian world.  The alternative scenes, the art scene, the hippie scenes where we can find people, who will love us for who we are rather than abuse us for an abstraction of what we are.

My first real girlfriend was a Cuban-American sister named Stephanie.  I met her at a very sleazy Hollywood drag bar called The Speak.  She died of an overdose on Valentine’s Day 1974.

I didn’t have much of anyone to turn to about the sorrow I felt.  Sister’s who were our mutual friends didn’t understand what I felt for her.  Because I was TS and she was TG I didn’t bother seeking counseling from the lesbians at the Center.

Sometimes all the abstractions and labels get in the way.  Sometimes we have a hard time talking about something other than ideology, like attraction, love, lust are not something we are supposed to feel.

This isn’t a topic that is going to go away soon.

Not all lesbians are part of this hateful minority who call themselves “radical feminists.”  Most aren’t and yet the minority has manged to make the our participation in the lesbian community feel toxic for us no matter our surgery status.

The real shame of this situation is how many of us are in all sorts of loving relationships outside of this sphere of projected hatred.  With AFAB women, with men and often with each other.  Our significant others catch the fallout of this bigotry as well; because by challenging our right to have our bodies loved for what they are, loved without abstractions or ideology getting in the way they are also being challenged.

I’m going to do something I haven’t done before.

This topic is way too important for me to be the only one weighing in on it.

The e-mail for this Blog is: suzan.wbt@gmail.com

I’m open to reposting the blog posts of others on this topic, putting up links or considering guest posts.

Radical feminist bigots need not apply on this issue.  If you are a radical feminist and feel excluded unjustly…  Well that’s what TS/TG people spend a lifetime feeling.

The Department Of Homeland Security Is Buying 450 Million New Bullets

From Business Insider:  http://www.businessinsider.com/us-immigration-agents-are-loading-up-on-as-many-as-450-million-new-rounds-of-ammo-2012-3

Eloise Lee
Mar. 28, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is getting an “indefinite delivery” of an “indefinite quantity” of .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK.

U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over five years, according to a press release on the deal.

The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.”

This refers to the the bullet’s hollow-point tip that passes through barriers and expands for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet getting warped out of shape: “this bullet holds its jacket in the toughest conditions.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/us-immigration-agents-are-loading-up-on-as-many-as-450-million-new-rounds-of-ammo-2012-3

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Police face racism scandal after black man records abuse

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/30/police-racism-black-man-abuse

Crown Prosecution Service reviews decision not to charge officers heard boasting of strangling 21-year-old black man


guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 March 2012

Scotland Yard is facing a racism scandal after a black man used his mobile phone to record police officers subjecting him to a tirade of abuse in which he was told: “The problem with you is you will always be a nigger”.

The recording, obtained by the Guardian, was made by the 21-year-old after he was stopped in his car, arrested and placed in a police van the day after last summer’s riots.

The man, from Beckton, east London, said he was made to feel “like an animal” by police. He has also accused one officer of kneeling on his chest and strangling him.

In the recording, a police officer can be heard admitting he strangled the man because he was “a cunt”. Moments later, another officer – identified by investigators as PC Alex MacFarlane – subjects the man to a succession of racist insults and adds: “You’ll always have black skin. Don’t hide behind your colour.”

The Independent Police Complaints Commission referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service on the basis that three officers, including MacFarlane, may have committed criminal offences.

The CPS initially decided no charges should be brought against any of the police officers. However on Thursday, the service said it would review the file after lawyers for the man threatened to challenge the decision in a high court judicial review. MacFarlane has been suspended.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/30/police-racism-black-man-abuse

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Sen. Leahy: Supreme Court thinks corporations can be president

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/29/sen-leahy-supreme-court-thinks-corporations-can-be-president/

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said Thursday that corporations could be elected president according to the rationale of the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

“I remain troubled today that the Supreme Court extended to corporations the same First Amendment rights in the political process that are guaranteed by the Constitution to individual Americans,” he said at a hearing on the DISCLOSE Act of 2012. “Corporations are not the same as individual Americans. Corporations do not have the same rights, the same morals or the same interests. Corporations cannot vote in our democracy.”

According to the Supreme Court’s logic, we should elect corporations to public office, Leahy said.

“This country has elected General Eisenhower as president, shouldn’t we elected General Electric as president? We know we like to elect a lot of yahoos as vice president, why not elect Yahoo as a corporation as vice president. ”

“Vermonters and Americans across the country have long understood that corporations are not people in this political process,” he continued. “Unfortunately, a very narrow majority on the Supreme Court apparently did not.”

The controversial Citizens United ruling struck down key provisions of the federal McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law and gave rise to super PACS, which have caused campaign spending by outside groups to skyrocket. Super PACs have also exploited a loophole that allows them to postpone the disclosure of their donors until after the elections they participate in.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/29/sen-leahy-supreme-court-thinks-corporations-can-be-president/

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Author Alice Walker On How Killing is Symptom of Unaddressed Racism

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Hundreds Converge on ALEC Headquarters Demanding Justice for Trayvon Martin

From The Center For Media and Democracy:  http://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/03/11400/hundreds-converge-alec-headquarters-demanding-justice-trayvon-martin

by Sara Jerving
March 30, 2012

The killing of Trayvon Martin brought hundreds of people to the headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) Thursday to rally against the extremist legislation that the organization pushes, and the deadly real-life consequences it has. George Zimmerman, who shot and killed 17-year-old Martin in February, could be protected by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which was later ratified by ALEC as a model for other states and supported in over two dozen legislatures by numerous ALEC politicians.

A diverse coalition of advocacy organizations, watchdog groups, activists, and national leaders stood in front of ALEC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to protest the “Kill at Will” legislation, which was written by ALEC corporate member the National Rifle Association (NRA). The groups protesting at the event included the National Urban League, the NAACP, ColorOfChange, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, ProgressNow, the Center for Media and Democracy/ALECexposed.org, Common Cause, People For the American Way, ProgressNow, Presente, Public Campaign, UltraViolet, Faith in Public Life,Organization leaders locked out of ALEC’s headquarters. the National Council of Churches, USAction, Moveon.org, and others.

Leaders of the groups attempted to deliver a letter asking the ALEC chairmen of the public and private boards to “fully disclose ALEC’s financial relationship with all NRA entities, including any contributions, sponsorships, in-kind support or other support ALEC has received, and we ask your joint board to pledge to desist from supporting and promoting lethal ‘Shoot First’ legislation.” (ALEC’s board chairs are Indiana Rep. Dave Frizzell and the head of the lobbying firm CenterPoint 360, W. Preston Baldwin.) The leaders were locked out of ALEC’s headquarters.

Participants at the rally held signs that read: “I am Trayvon Martin,” “Don’t Shoot me — I’m a Mom,” “(A)LEC (L)obbying (E)xemplifies (C)orruption,” and others. The Nation Magazine’s John Nichols called the convergence in DC a “renewed civil rights coalition,” noting that beyond the “Kill at Will” legislation, which has provoked a vibrant national conversation on racial profiling, ALEC promotes other legislation that targets minorities, including restrictive “voter ID” laws.

Continue reading at:   http://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/03/11400/hundreds-converge-alec-headquarters-demanding-justice-trayvon-martin

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The spread of “Suspicious Activity Reporting”

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2012/03/30/the_spread_of_suspicious_activity_reporting/singleton/

Suspicious Activity Reporting asks citizens to keep an eye out on their neighbors — and it’s spreading

By Uzma Kolsy
Friday, Mar 30, 2012

Crime in Los Angeles is a gritty enterprise, and donning an LAPD badge has historically involved getting your hands dirty. Long before the New York Police Department was spying on Muslim students, the LAPD was running a large-scale domestic spy operation in the 1970s and ’80s, snooping on and infiltrating more than 200 political, labor and civic organizations including the office of then Mayor Tom Bradley. Today, the LAPD isn’t quite so aggressive, but it still employs a directive titled Special Order 1, which permits police officers to deem what is “suspicious” and then act on it.

SO 1 enables LAPD officers to file Suspicious Activity Reports on observed behaviors or activities. Where things get murky, however, is how SAR guidelines categorize constitutionally protected, non-criminal and commonplace activities such as using binoculars, snapping photographs and taking notes as indicators of terrorism-related activity. The SARs are coupled with the LAPD’s iWatch program, a campaign the police pioneered to encourage regular citizens to report “suspicious” activity, including “a person wearing clothes that are too big or too hot for the weather,” or things that just plain old don’t “look right.”

Far from being merely a local phenomenon, the standardized program that the LAPD developed in 2008 served as the lead model for a National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative. “Success” stories from the LAPD’s program are used in national training material, and the LAPD touts it as “the first program in the U.S. to create a national standard” for terrorism-related procedures.

According to the Information Sharing Environment, the nationwide SAR initiative “establishes a standardized process whereby SAR information can be shared among agencies to help detect and prevent terrorism-related criminal activity.” Personal data that is collected on these individuals is treated as criminal intelligence. The rapidly expanding and dangerously intrusive network houses personal data on thousands of Americans. “The level and the rate at which local law enforcement is expanding its intelligence-gathering activity is very alarming,” said Ameena Mirza Qazi, deputy executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations-LA. “We as community advocacy groups hope to continue to work with law enforcement and encourage them to maintain their community policing models working with communities to identify criminal behavior.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/03/30/the_spread_of_suspicious_activity_reporting/singleton/

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