“Like a Dog?” Nasty GOP Insults Flung at Women Candidates

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/dog-nasty-gop-insults-flung-women-candidates

Todd Akin put his foot in his mouth again with comments about his opponent, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg attacked Elizabeth Warren.

By Alex Kane
October 22, 2012

Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin can’t stop putting his foot in his mouth.

During an October 20 fundraising event with Fox News star and evangelical Christian Mike Huckabee, Akin compared Claire McCaskill to a “dog.” McCaskill is Akin’s Democratic opponent for the Senate seat.

“She goes to Washington, D.C., it’s a little bit like one of those dogs, ‘fetch,’” said Akin, according to the website PoliticMO.com . “She goes to Washington, D.C., and get all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri.”

The comments  are only the latest controversial remarks from Akin. He became a household name in August when he claimed on television that “legitimate rape” victims rarely get pregnant because “ the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin also said last month that McCaskill’s debate performance against him was not as “ladylike” as she was in 2006.

Akin is trailing McCaskill narrowly in the polls.

Meanwhile, another male, conservative politician has hammered away inaccurately at a female candidate. In a New York Times interview, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw his weight behind Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who is running against the progressive Elizabeth Warren. Bloomberg told the Times that a vote for Warren is a vote to “bring socialism back, or the USSR.”

Complete article at:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/dog-nasty-gop-insults-flung-women-candidates

Blame the Ultra Right Wing Extremist Republicans

I’m tired of liberals, progressives and especially LGBT/T folks blaming the Democrats for actions of the ultra right wing Republi-Nazis.

As the late Molly Ivins used to say, “You got to dance with them that  brung you…”

We don’t have a Progressive Party.  Every attempt that has been made to build a third party has been performed top down and ass backwards.  The most recent example being “The Green Party”, which is now mostly a burnt out shell funded by Republi-Nazis.  Before that there was “Peace and Freedom”.  The lesson that needs to be learned is, “You do not start a political party to run someone for president.  You start by running someone for school board.”

We have spent the last 40 years or so engaging in self-defeating behavior including identity politics, only organizing among people like ourselves.

The Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s crossed racial lines.  It may have seemed patronizing to some but a multi-racial movement had seriously left wing progressive roots and the potential to unite poor black and poor white people as well as the better educated  and higher up the class structure, leaders.  One year to the day after Martin Luther King started talking about matters of class and how poor whites and poor blacks were in much the same boat when it came to opportunity, they killed him.  They being the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

Hillary was right on that one, there is a “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” in this country.  It is both long standing and powerful, backed by moneyed interests like Murdoch, Mellon-Scaife, and Koch.  They own the media, fund right wing think tanks, and fund astro-turf organizations like the Tea Baggers.  They are in a partnership with the religious right, which is funded via tax free tithings from their flocks.

They have a police state on their side that has the power to disrupt and destroy any movement that threatens to actually stand up for equality and social justice.  They infiltrate and subvert our movements, sow dissension and suggest we get apathetic.

They whisper in our ear, “Aww the Democrats didn’t get you what you wanted.  Why don’t you show them who is boss and sit this election out?  Why don’t you withhold money from them?”

Of course Democrats aren’t helped by having a bunch of oh so nice wimps on our side.  You know the kind, the ones who spew the lines about how calling Republi-Nazis the same sorts of names they call us is stooping to their level.  Shit, the oh so nice wimps don’t even want us to bring a knife to a gun fight, they want us to bring kind platitudes, an oath to passivity and a flower to that gun fight.

And at the first sign of failure on the part of the Democrats they want to give up.

Fuck that shit.

We let those Nazi dickwads funded by Breitbart  destroy ACORN, a truly progressive organization and we didn’t put up a protest or a fight.  We have let the media give these bestiality loving Nazis like that cum bag Paladino and self avowed Satanist Christine O’Donnell all the publicity while they ignore serious Democratic candidates who might be better equipped to govern this nation.  We aren’t making a huge uproar when Tea Bagger candidates suggest committing genocide on LGBT/T people by invoking the imprimatur of  “The Bible” and “God”.

It is time to get tough.  Out organize them and take seats from them rather than giving up seats.  If they sling one clod of mud at one of out candidates dump a truck load of manure on theirs.

The corporate funded media have treated ultra right wing airheads like Rand Paul as people to be taken seriously, when in reality they are insane and their ideas are totally un-American.

Speaking of which…  Remember Molly Ivins?  She said of Pat Buchanan’s speech at the ’92 Republi-Nazi Convention, “It probably sounded better in the original German.”

We have let these Confederate flag and Nazi values assholes trademark “American Values” and after giving them exclusive rights of usage allowed them to pervert those very same values into something I sure as hell do not recognize as American Values.

I was pretty proud of how far we have come when we elected President Obama, even prouder still when the nomination came down to being between a man of color and a woman.  When I looked at our convention I saw the common people who make up the beautiful tapestry of this diverse nation, and I was proud to be a Democrat.

Not that the Democrats have gotten me the things I want but they have at least tried.

When I looked at the Republican Convention, my only comment was….  “I…I…see white people…” They do not represent us.  The majority of the people of this nation including the majority of Republican voters support the repeal of DADT.

We have about 45 days to work for the party.  Less than half a month to show we refute all the Birther lies about Obama.  45 days to show the world how proud we are of all sorts of people, of all different races and sexualities as well as classes all pulling our oars in the same direction in 2008 to elect the first President , who wasn’t a white male.

Even if we are disappointed this isn’t a time to retreat or to surrender… And damn it I am sometimes seriously disappointed with both Obama and with our congress.  I want them to fight harder but then I realize that we Democrats are a wishy-washy bunch and we don’t like fighting.  Say something is “socialist” and we fold when we could fight for it instead and make the Democratic party represent the sort of democratic socialism they have in much of western Europe.

Am I disappointed with not having Single Payer, inclusive ENDA, the Repeal of DADT and Marriage Equality?  Damn right I am.  But giving in now means never getting those things.  Giving in now means letting a bunch of racist, homophobic bigots who care only for the interests of the rich win.

Now isn’t the time to mourn our failures. Now is the time to organize.

A Matter of Semantics: The Difference Between “Identifying as” and “Identifying with”

This post grew out of something I read in Sherry Wolf’s book, Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation .

This book had been on my must read list for a while. I was familiar with Ms. Wolf’s writing from her columns at Socialistworker.org.

Yesterday, on Face Book, Ethan St Pierre asked if people identified as male, female or transgender.

I’m an old fashioned lefty.  I’m not something because I identify as that thing.  Claiming to identify as without being seems to me to be an odd construct that doesn’t fall much in line with my existentialist line of thinking.

I am not a woman because I identify as a woman. I am a woman even though I was assigned male at birth because of having been born with something that the best term for still seems to be “transsexualism”.  I had sex reassignment surgery that made me female.

Now there are all sorts of debates about why one is transsexual.  Is it nature, is it nurture or is it both. What ever it is the origin doesn’t matter all that much to me. The only thing I can say for sure is: Don’t tell me that I have to embrace transsexual as a permanent identity.  Perhaps as a transitory one…

What I find most problematic of the dictum implied in the semiotic “identify as” is that it is both exclusive and exclusionary in that it carries with it an implication, a subtext if you will, that implies that if you too do not “identify as” then you must be in opposition.  Further if the “I” who is policing the borders of this “identification as” decides you bear the one particular trait for inclusion in that “identity” then that one trait over rules all other aspects of ones being.  This is an extension of some very reactionary politics based on the rather anachronistic application of “the one drop of black blood makes you black (or Jewish etc) rule”.

Usage of this semiotic carries several other subtexts, including:  If you share that one trait but do not embrace that identity (in this case transgender) then you must be self -loathing.  You are in denial and an antagonistic separatist, particularly if you defend not embracing that “identify as” semiotic.  Refusal to identify as is therefore grounds for assumption of hostility towards the group one refuses to identify as.

The seeds for identity politics possibly date to the 1960s and the rise of “black nationalism” instead of a united front in support of the African American Civil Rights Movement.

There  was a rush to place primacy of oppressions in what seemed like a queue.  This lead to the term, “Oppression Olympics”.  And the dismissal of claims of empathy.

The alternative that would help unite the various groups fighting what is generally speaking a common source of oppression would be to switch from a requirement to “identify as” to people learning to “identify with” the struggles of others, and through the exercise of empathy find commonalities with others.

I do not have to “identify as” to identify with the struggles of say African Americans, or farm workers, in their struggle for civil rights. As I can extrapolate through my own experiences what it feels like to suffer abuse, discrimination and oppression.

Lately there has been this requirement for people with transsexualism firmly claim “having always identified as a member of the sex to which they are reassigned”.  Perhaps in the best of all possible worlds, where one’s “identity” is never challenged.  That would seem in total contradiction with the reports of almost universal childhood abuse for “gender inappropriate behavior”.

Those who give priority to identity over the physical sneeringly call my response  citing my present body as reason for being assured of my identity, essentialist.  Perhaps it is as I considered SRS as “making it real” in flesh as well as in performed sex role behavior.

Damn here I am in bed with Judy Butler… I promise not to hate myself in the morning…

Identity has an amorphous character that is constantly open to challenge and negotiation.  But so too are bodies.  We should know that all to well.  T to F people have memories about being labeled as sissies and being told they aren’t really boys.  Hence my response to Anna about thinking I was half boy/half girl as a child, given I had boy parts yet was physically feminine in appearance and was feminine in behavior. Identity open to challenge due to physical traits that were written on the body.

Simone de Beauvoir wrote, “One is not born a woman, one becomes a woman.”  The existentialist analysis is about becoming through influences and actions.  Beat poet Diane di Prima’s first sentence in her book, “Recollections of my Life as a Woman” reads:  “My earliest sense of what it means to be a woman was learned from my grandmother, Antoinette Mallozzi, and at her knee.”

Then there is a paragraph that starts on page 5:

“As I went into the kitchen this morning to make some tea, I saw through the (intentionally?) open crack in her door, my beautiful young daughter in the arms of a beautiful young Black skateboarder, who had evidently spent the night (skateboard propped against the wall in front of her door like an insignia).  As I went tranquilly into the kitchen and called out to ask them if they wanted tea or coffee, I thought with deep gratitude of some of the women I met when I first left home at the age of eighteen: those beautiful, soft strong women of middle age with their young daughters who made me welcome in various homes, where I could observe on a given morning mom coming out of her bedroom with a lover, male or female, and joining daughter and her lover at the table for breakfast in naturalness and camaraderie.  These women, by now mostly dead I suppose were great pioneers.  They are nameless to me, nameless and brief friends I encountered along the way who showed me something else was possible besides what I had seen at home.”

I view who I am not as some sort of “identity” claimed without experience but as the sum total of my experiences and encounters.

The experiences and my awareness of self were uncertain and abused as a child. As I gained agency as a teenager, I sought out answers and those answers changed my sense of being.  Through choosing to learn certain things and not other things, to learn certain ways of being, skills, I became those things and those skills became my natural skills learned in muscle memory and unconscious  in nature.

Coming out was a matter of stating “I AM!” and then acting upon it.  My first steps were uncertain, like some one first learning to ice skate, yet the things I had been absorbing in secret rapidly asserted themselves.  People reacted differently to me and the different way I was treated became part of who I am.  Within weeks the ability to don the mask I had worn for 21 years became impossible.  Is this identity?

If it is… Does the fact I didn’t particularly think of the concepts of  “I am” or “I am becoming” in terms of identity, but rather in terms of “being” and “becoming”, both aspects of the philosophy of existentialism, invalidate those who speak in terms of identity?  Do the semantics of “identity” replete with semiotic meanings require a subjugation of existentialist thinking to a new god of post-modernist terminology?

Are these idiotic matters to be argued over while hiding in an attic we might not be in were it not for our immersion in “identity politics”?

I am my life experiences, my interpretations of those experiences, my analysis of those experiences are subject to change as I am immersed in new experiences.

If I say I am post-transsexual it doesn’t mean I am beyond all concern regarding the subject or all concern for those going through transition.  It means that for me those experiences were all so long ago and when dredged up are subject to new interpretations based on the many years of experience since.  The requirement that I “identify as” is alienating as it negates the passage of time and the experiences of life after SRS.

However, I am as capable of “identifying with” the struggles of TG and pre-op sisters and brothers as I am with any other oppressed group that I am not specifically a part of.  Identifying with the struggles of the oppressed does not require one to “identify as.”

To answer Ethan St. Pierre’s question.  I don’t identify as a woman.  I am a woman.

A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage

From The New York Time Op-Ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/opinion/25stansell.html?ref=opinion

By CHRISTINE STANSELL
Published: August 24, 2010

LOOKING back on the adoption of the 19th Amendment 90 years ago Thursday — the largest act of enfranchisement in our history — it can be hard to see what the fuss was about. We’re inclined to assume that the passage of women’s suffrage (even the term is old-fashioned) was inevitable, a change whose time had come. After all, voting is now business as usual for women. And although women are still poorly represented in Congress, there are influential female senators and representatives, and prominent women occupy governors’ and mayors’ offices and legislative seats in every part of the United States.

Yet entrenched opposition nationwide sidelined the suffrage movement for decades in the 19th century. By 1920, antagonism remained in the South, and was strong enough to come close to blocking ratification.

Proposals for giving women the vote had been around since the first convention for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848. At the end of the Civil War, eager abolitionists urged Congress to enfranchise both the former slaves and women, black and white. The 14th Amendment opened the possibility, with its generous language about citizenship, equal protection and due process.

But, at that time, women’s suffrage was still unthinkable to anyone but radical abolitionists. Since the nation’s founding, Americans considered women to be, by nature, creatures of the home, under the care and authority of men. They had no need for the vote; their husbands represented them to the state and voted for them. So, in the 14th Amendment’s second section, Republicans inserted the word “male,” prohibiting the denial of voting rights to “any of the male inhabitants” of the states.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/opinion/25stansell.html?ref=opinion

One Little N-Word

Laura Schlessinger, who may have a doctorate just not in psychology or psychiatry has been spewing hatred and bigotry towards LGBT/TQ people for years.

For those of you unfamiliar with this self appointed dispenser of advice from the fetid swamp land of ultra right wing hate radio and television Dr. Laura has had a radio show for years.

During that time she has told women it is their own fault if they suffer spousal abuse but that they will go to hell if they divorce.  Unlike so many for whom I use the label of Christo-fascist Dr. Laura is different, she is a Judeo-fascist.

This makes her an oddity as there is this incredible history of Jewish support for so many truly progressive causes here in America.  The neo-con movement has been the exception rather than the rule.

In some ways right wingers have been given a pass for their spewing of hate.  I guess it sells in Peoria, a mythical standard of heartland America.

The reality is the full force of the state has been used and abused in the silencing of nearly every progressive cause that has reared its head in America.  This has included laws that make it difficult if not impossible to form labor unions capable of wielding power equal to that of the corporations.

The labeling as Red of anyone who dares speak the dreaded word “equality” or stand for the subversive cause of social justice.  Speaking of the labeling of people as “communist”.  why is there no equivalent of Godwin’s rule regarding red-baiting?

Dr. Laura is part of a tradition of hate speech on the radio and television, protected because it sells products without too much “blow back”. What makes Dr. Laura different from many of the spewers of bigotry is that she is not some dubiously credentialed fundamentalist preacher spewing misogyny and homophobia from the sanctity of the pulpit, nor is she some ignorant pundit reading ultra right wing neo-Nazi talking points that pass as political analysis to gown and hood wearing bigots stoked on “White Panic” and “Gender Panic”.

While working on this I received a bulletin from Media Matters for America that had two parts related to this essay:  http://mediamatters.org/research/201008180029

Malkin, other conservatives voice support for Dr. Laura

Following Laura Schlessinger’s announcement that she will end her radio show in the wake of widespread criticism for her use of a racial slur, Michelle Malkin and other conservatives have responded by praising Schlessinger and her comment that, by quitting the show, she will regain her First Amendment rights.

Michelle Malkin, aka “the rabid Shihtzu” is engaging in a typical right wing tactic of lying with regards to the First Amendment.  Freedom of Speech is no guarantee of a platform. Were this defense of Dr. Laura but a thread in a tapestry, a history of defending free speech on the part of the “rabid Shihtzu then perhaps it would not be such an egregious distortion. But I have never once seen or heard anyone on the right wing ever once support “Free Speech” for anyone on the left.  I’m not referring to a commercially financed platform for where one gets paid for speaking their piece. No, I’m speaking about the right wing defending say the rights of protesters to gather, march and present their position.

If anything the right wing spewers of hate use their platforms to not only belittle the opinion of their opposition (much the same way as I use my platform to belittle them) but they use state power to deny their opposition any platform at all.  It has long taken great courage in this nation to support progressive cause such as equality and social justice.  Too often people on the left have had to face blacklisting, spurious laws enforced by the state, police state type tactics directed at even the most innocuous of groups (hence my using the example of “Quaker Vegans for Peace” as organizations subjected to fascist police state tactics). Too often demands for equality and social justice for people who Dr. Laura slurred by use of the N-word have been met by Concerned Conservative Christian Citizens and their lynching rope.

Schlessinger announces end to show after racial rant
Schlessinger: “I articulated the ‘n’ word all the way out — more than one time.” On August 10, Schlessinger launched into a racially charged rant, during which she — in her own words — “articulated the ‘n’ word all the way out — more than one time.” Among other things, Schlessinger told an African-American caller that she had a “chip on [her] shoulder” and later stated: “If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.” The next day, Schlessinger apologized.

During an August 17 interview on CNN’s Larry King Live, Schlessinger announced that when her radio contract expires at the end of the year, she will not renew it. She said that, following her racial rant, “my First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry, hateful groups.”

I can’t help but wonder how one can cry censorship when one is not being forced to resign as a result of engaging in the spewing of hateful speech, when in point of fact one has had an entire career of many years and has earned big bucks getting paid to spew misogyny, homophobia and other right wing garbage that has contributed to a hate movement that has denied LGBT/TQ people their equal rights.  How is voluntarily not renewing one’s contract, censorship?

Would anyone care to bet that Dr. Laura has another even more highly paying platform  to preach hate from lined up and awaiting her signature on a new contract?  Contrast that with the victims of the right wing black list of the Hoover and McCarty eras.  Those people had their careers destroyed not for preaching hatred and bigotry but for taking stands that supported among other things, opposition to Franco, support for labor unions and support for racial equality.

No…  Dr. Laura’s use of the N-word was not some sort of courageous stance taken in the defense of free speech. It was simply a public airing of what is all to often voiced among those claiming to support “traditional values’ those who wrap themselves in the flag in order to hide their swastikas and Klan robe.

Dr. Laura let her sanctimony slip and revealed her true face.  One that is as ugly as Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism  or the racism of Aryan Nation.

Were it only true that Dr. Laura would be reduced to Blogging without sponsors and supporting that blogging working in a Big Box Store.

Gender… Schmender #$%@&^*

The whole ideology of gender is purely sexist bullshit.

Gender is a pure social construct, a fiction that oppresses both men and women but more women than men.

When I hear “gender assigned at birth” I want to slap someone. I wasn’t assigned a gender at birth.  The doctor looked between my legs and said, “It’s a boy.”  I was assigned male by reason of having a penis there later in life I had an operation that reassigned me to female based on that same genital appearance factor.

When I came out in 1969, I came out as a feminist.  Women in the collective gave me clothes. While the guys claimed they respected me but they also started treating me in a way that told me they expected me to adhere to the sex roles both hippie and movement women were expected to adhere to.

When other movement women saw this they introduced me to feminism.  When SDS split into Weatherman and other factions I became Weather, largely because of Bernadine Dohrn.  You see there weren’t very many strong women’s voices in SDS and the Anti-War Movement.

Bernadine Dohrn gave great rants…  Maybe months later on reflection you went WTF but at the time…  Oh how I admired her audacity and how she inspired me to act courageously.

I also learned from other radical women. Putting women and the interests of women first yet never forgetting that sexism was only one axis of oppression. Consciousness raising and analysis gave me/us an understanding of what the world expects of women.

Many of us who were dealing with having been born with transsexualism owe far more to feminism and the feminist movement than we ever did to Stonewall and the Gay Liberation Movement. We weren’t gay men even if we had male lovers.  Especially if we had male lovers… being transsexual and having a male lover meant we were straight or more accurately heterosexual since straight also had other connotations.

We weren’t some “T” so recently grafted on to what was first a Gay Liberation Movement.  We were women in transition to female having to deal with the same sexism as natal female women had to deal with.  It didn’t much matter if we were radical feminist Weather Nation women or Cosmo “Sex and the Single Girl” women.  We had to deal with sexism and pay discrimination as well as sexist assumptions based on what are now called “gender” stereotypes.

Gender was something used to keep women oppressed.  It was the idea that women are weak and stupid; fit only to be sex objects or mothers. Daddy’s little princess until given to a man only to lose her last name and become his property.* Gender became a way of telling feminists that they were not real women since they questioned the marketing of very high profit items based on pandering to a sense of insecurity in one’s own womanhood or attractiveness.

When feminism challenged those who were dealing with transsexualism part of the challenge was due to the tendency of so many of us to embrace all the marketing of gender without insight or even a sense of irony.

But gender as it is so often used today is if anything a far more sneaky and loaded with subtextual readings semiotic. Gender has now replaced sex in so much of the common discourse that we look at the construct as reality and skip over the subtextual readings of the semiotic.

Whereas once upon a time the Cockettes Troupe in San Francisco deconstructed gender and showed it as performative through the usage of exaggerated costumes and the performing of equally over the top stereotypes taken from films of the 1930s and 40s I now have some people ask if these performers were transsexual or transgender. The answer is maybe some were.  One was in the Stanford program at the same time I was, others were gay men and some were natal females.

By breaking the rules of gender through Absurdist Theater they created both campy comedy and a critique of sex roles. One of the crucial mistakes in feminist criticism of more traditional drag is the assumption that women are the target when it often seems the aim is more a matter of ridiculing roles portrayed in movies.

But Second Wave Feminism went even further in delivering a devastating critique of sex roles as defining what the proper role of women was.  When women dared step beyond the stereotypes and enter male dominated career field they were told that doing so would un-sex both women and men.  Fashion magazines and all sorts of corporate interests dished up massive loads of propaganda aimed at undermining the confidence of women seeking equality of opportunity.

One of the critiques of transsexual to female people is that we have not been socialized as women. This is an assumption that is often times contradictorily both true and false. Transsexual to female people grow up as transkids and are influenced by the same sales pitches and indoctrination as natal women yet they are told it is something they must adhere to and we are told it is something to be ashamed of.

This makes it hard for us to have a critical eye regarding this propaganda when we first come out. We may acquire it with experience but it is equally possible for us to join the masses of women who march to the beat of Sex in the City rather than to NOW and more radical feminisms.

At some point sex became gender and roles acted replaced that which was written upon the body. The ironic labeling of sex as a definer of maleness or femaleness as essentialism has resulted in many people with a poor understanding of feminist theory using it as a careless accusation.

Dividing people into classes of male and female based on the appearances of genitalia would mean that heterosexual post-SRS women and men would be able to legally marry partners of the other sex.  No more Christie Lee Littletons, no more Nikki Araguzs.

But when the misogynistic reactionary forces of both religious fundamentalism and ultra right wing politics united to defeat feminism as well as LGBT/TQ liberation and the progressive movements of the 60s and 70s they seemed to unite with corporate interests in reasserting misogyny.  Trying to sell sex roles and their importance after 15 years of serious feminist critique was more of a struggle than repackaging sex roles as gender.

The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan was supposedly a self help book for women.  In reality this 1974 publication was grounded in the rising right wing Christo-Fascist backlash that also spawned the rise of the homophobic bigotry of Anita Bryant and crew.

Along with Phyllis Schlafly these genderists put forth an ideology that could have been penned by the late transvestite activist pioneer, Virginia Prince.  The ideology was one that kept women in their places by telling them that they weren’t real women unless they filled this total woman gender role.  The same gender role feminists had critiqued under the name of “sex roles.”

Now I view “gender” as a culturally defined social construct that varies a great deal according to culture and time (see Margaret Mead’s work.  BTW her “debunker” were right wing McCarthyites).

With western modernism the naturally occurring over lapping of sex traits and abilities lead to a lessening of rigid gender roles that are more often found these days in non-western cultures.

Defining people as real men or real women based on gender is a characteristic of conservative values often based in religiously fanatical cultures which is why I find the embrace of “gender” as definer by Transgender Inc. to be more reactionary than progressive.

I read a story on Bilrico about some creep beating an infant boy to death to make him act like a man. http://www.bilerico.com/2010/08/man_kills_17-month-old_boy_for_acting_like_a_girl.php This is the problem with putting so much emphasis on gender.

In the real world an Emo boy even with nail polish and a magenta streak in his long black hair is still a boy.  The rocker girl with facial piercings, tats and black leather motor cycle boots is still a girl.

Of course without the ideology of transgender Thomas Beatie is a masculine woman who dresses and acts like a man when she isn’t having children.  But c`est la vie.  And no I wouldn’t mis-gender him like that even though I am supremely irritated by the neo-quiver full thingie.

Gender is masculinity or femininity not maleness or femaleness.  We got suckered into discussing that core identity of male or female as being gender based on Stoller’s book (Sex and Gender) way back in the 1960s.  We didn’t have a whole lot of information to operate on and lacked a vocabulary to describe what we were feeling.  We should have used “core sex identity” for that sense of being female trapped in a male body.
Little did we realize that even then introducing “gender” in to the discourse was using poisoned seeds from the fruit of a poisonous tree.  The misogynistic world according to Virginia Prince became the bullshit crop of the transgender social construct of gender.

The way Transgender Inc. uses gender is not the least bit liberating.  It can’t be as it is based on a construct that defines membership in the sex class of female or the sex class of male not based on what one commonly uses.  Male and female are generally based on whether one has a penis or vagina.

Yet the simple reality of hole or pole unites both Transgender Inc and the religious fanatic/right wingers in finding ways to tell women born transsexual that their pussies do not really make them women.

British National Health Service faces life-threatening cuts

You are going to be hearing more about “Austerity Measures” and other economic issues as well as matters and suggestions for survival on this Blog.

No matter how one looks at it being a member of a social class that is viewed as expendable by the corporate overlords sucks.  It sucks even more when is burdened by a multiplicity of factors of of oppression including being female and part of the alphabet soup even if that membership in the alphabet soup is a matter of past history.

Many of us having been denied equal access to employment, coupled with low glass ceilings and non-pension granting jobs are already faced with an austere old age.

Austerity measures will most harm those at the bottom.

From World Socialist Web Site

By Stephen Alexander
2 July 2010

The claim that the National Health Service (NHS) will be ring-fenced off from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat governments’ budget cuts is a lie. Annual “efficiency savings” of 6 percent, totalling £20 billion are already tabled, and will have a deadly impact.

A study into the potential impact of spending cuts on public health, headed by Oxford University epidemiologist David Stuckler, has warned that planned cuts to welfare programmes “will severely impact people’s health” and will result in up to 38,000 additional deaths over the next decade. He said, “At the time when people need help from their government the most, their social supports and protection are being wiped away”.

A national survey of medical staff by the British Medical Association has indicated that economic pressures will have “devastating and long-lasting consequences”. A quarter of respondents indicated that redundancies were planned within their organization. Fully 62 percent acknowledged a freeze on recruitment; whilst over half of those with no explicit freeze reported unfilled vacancies. Almost three-quarters reported that development projects for infrastructure and clinical services had been postponed.

Continue reading at: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jul2010/bnhs-j02.shtml

Poverty is a queer issue

From LGBT POV

http://www.lgbtpov.com/2010/06/gloria-nieto-poverty-is-a-queer-issue/

By Gloria Nieto

Over the weekend, Pride weekend in many parts of the world, I visited with old friends.  What was completely astonishing to me was the state of poverty that we find ourselves in right now.

All of us are well over 50.  We are the only ones to lose our home at this point.  The other friends are barely holding on.  Of the four of us out the other night at the Egyptian museum, only one of us has a job.  The other three hobos, I mean homos, have all been gainfully employed all our adult lives.  One has owned and operated several businesses over time.  Her unemployment just ran out on Friday.  She is one of the 1.3 million who were dropped that day.

My unemployment ran out back in April.  No income since then so my spouse is trying to keep both of us afloat.

The other friend is on disability and her partner is her paid caregiver.  The Governator is about to drop that program so that poor disabled will continue to bear the burden of this Depression.  They live a half hour drive out of town and cannot afford to move in closer to town so they are facing down foreclosure also.

I have to give a shout out to fellow blogger Patricia Nell Warren  for also talking about the financial crisis many lgbt folks find themselves in, including herself.  We are losing our houses, our savings, our dignity in this disaster.

In all the latest rumblings about LGBT rights, I wonder how we get more of our own folks realizing the recession is a queer issue?  ENDA is a jobs bill, so is DADT.  But ultimately my life and ability to be a participating member is tied up in the Senate and their lack of understanding of our realities, straight and LGBT.

It was finally explained to me during my last visit to DC.  It is an obvious answer, really.  None of the legislature, Senate and House alike, ever see needy people every day.  There is always money in DC so since they don’t go outside of the comfort zone of the Hill and their homes, why would they see the other realities.

There is no urgency on the economy.  There is no urgency on anything.  When I heard the President tell the folks on the Gulf Coast that they were not going to be forgotten, I thought well what about the rest of us?  You have forgotten about us and left us.  We have no help and there is no help on the horizon.

Abandoned.

Let me ask this – how many unemployed people were invited to the White House cocktail party last week?  All the glowing reports of words from the President are irrelevant without action.  There is no action because we have been forgotten and left behind.  Again.

This continued depression has a strong effect on our community.  How many lgbt centers are struggling?  The AIDS prevention money was stripped from the California budget so who will be the next wave of infected gay men in California?  How many activists are sidelined because they have no resources and cannot devote time to planning or activism because we are crippled by poverty.  Getting turned down repeatedly for jobs doesn’t do a lot for a person’s self esteem, trust me.

There is a price to pay for this disaster.

Unfortunately, those who should be paying for it are summering in the Hamptons.  The rest of us are stuck with the bill, both financial and emotional.

So during this month of Pride, while we celebrate all our victories over the years, try to remember those on the sidelines, struggling to keep our heads above water.  Equality should mean an equal chance to contribute to our communities, live  a good life, and hold our heads high.

Mr. Fierce Advocate, this is your chance to make a difference for all of us.

Posted in Politics, Poverty, Social Justice, Unequal Treatment. Comments Off

Worker Bees and Caffeine, the Legal Drug

Here I am at six thirty in the morning facing another 9-10 hour day filled with stress.  Before me is a huge cup of coffee, the legal stimulant drug that gets me through the day.  Along with “energy drinks”.

I go to work where conformity is demanded and individuality suppressed.  Out on the floor the disgruntled murmur and anger runs skin deep. The name of the game is selling, pushing product with smiling enthusiasm even if the product has so much fat in it or so much sodium that it should wear a skull and cross bones.

Workers are treated like children and act out in a passive aggressive manner.

The stress of part time work in retail is brutal with its fluctuating hours meaning one can never count on a certain amount of pay when ones check come out.

Workers can be forced to pee in cups or the more modern swab instant drug test that gets so many false positives particularly in older workers who are often on a shopping list of medications.

Coffee is the perfect drug.  It helps the focus and boosts both energy and fake enthusiasm. Work turns us into corporate liars and caffeine helps us with the guilt.  We learn to project a false sincerity in order to sell and keep our jobs secure.

Insecurity is the life blood of the retail slave.  We eat insults and customer condescension with a smile knowing that many doing the condescending are but one more economic down turn, one more round of out sourcing or right sizing by the corporate raiders and junk bond peddlers, from joining us.  Welcome to Thomas Friedman’s globalized flat earth.  Welcome the race to the bottom when it comes to paying workers.

So lift your cup of coffee high in a toast to the death of the middle class.  Welcome to the world of the bottom line.

Welcome to the world created by the “free market” and the class war that created the super rich.  Thank the neo-cons and neo-libs who brought us here.

And if you are a straight person of color or a white LGBT/T person welcome to the world where we waste our time on horizontal hostility while those with the money who created this world use us as scapegoats to distract us from who the real oppressors are.

Happy May Day

Today many people have become convinced that May Day Celebrations are rooted in Communism.  Ask most folks and they will tell you that it is Russian in origin.

Yet the roots of May Day as a worker’s celebration are American and Canadian in origin.

Once upon a time workers believed they had rights including the right to form unions and take direct action agianst the companies and corporations that treated them like slaves.

I am on the threshold of being an old woman and I can remember the days of not so long ago when workers had far more rights than they have today after some thirty years of corporate fascist rule.

In 1886 on May Day workers across the US and Canada went out on strike for the eight hour day.

http://www.marxists.org/subject/mayday/articles/tracht.html

Resolved by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions the United States and Canada, that eight hours shall constitute legal day’s labor from May First, 1886, and that we recommend to labor organizations throughout their jurisdiction that they so direct their laws as to conform to this resolution by the time named.

Although nothing was said in the resolution about the methods by which the Federation expected to establish the 8-hour day, it is self-evident that an organization which at that time commanded an adherence of not more than 50,000 members could not declare “that eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s work” without putting up a fight for it in the shops, mills, and mines where its members were employed, and without attempting to draw into the struggle for the 8-hour day still larger numbers of workers. The provision in the resolution that the unions affiliated to the Federation “so direct their laws as to conform to this resolution” referred to the matter of paying strike benefits to their members who were expected to strike on May First, 1886, for the 8-hour day, and would probably have to stay out long enough to need assistance from the union. As this strike action was to be national in scope and involve all the affiliated organizations, the unions, according to their by-laws, had to secure the endorsement of the strike by their members, particularly since that would involve the expenditure of funds, etc. It must be remembered that the Federation, just as the A. F. of L. today, was organized on a voluntary, federation basis, and decisions of a national convention could be binding upon affiliated unions only if those unions endorsed these decisions.

Preparations for May Day Strike

Although the decade 1880-1890 was generally one of the most active in the development of American industry and the extension of the home market, the year 1883-1885 experienced a depression which was a cyclical depression following the crisis of 1873. The movement for a shorter workday received added impetus from the unemployment and the great suffering which prevailed during that period, just as at the present time the demand for a 7-hour day is becoming a popular issue on account of the tremendous unemployment which American workers are experiencing.

The great strike struggles of 1877, in which tens of thousands of railroad and steel workers militantly fought against the corporations and the government which sent troops to suppress the strikes, left an impress on the whole labor movement. It was the first great mass action of the American working class on a national scale and, although they were defeated by the combined forces of the State and capital, the American workers emerged from these struggles with a clearer understanding of their class position in society, a greater militancy and a heightened morale. It was in part an answer to the coal barons of Pennsylvania who, in their attempt to destroy the miners’ organization in the anthracite region, railroaded ten militant miners (Molly Maguires) to the gallows in 1875.

The Federation, just organized, saw the possibility of utilizing the slogan of the 8-hour day as a rallying organization slogan among the great masses of workers who were outside of the Federation and the Knights of Labor, an older and then still growing organization. The Federation appealed to the Knights of Labor for support in the movement for the 8-hour day, realizing that only a general action involving all organized labor could make possible favorable results.

One of the demands we made in the 1960s was for a 4 day work week for 5 days pay.  We didn’t want to be the slaves of the corporations. “We work for a living, we do not live for working!”

For all too many of us the 8 hour day is but a memory.  We live in the insecurity of part time hell with no time to be ourselves.  The rich have all the good things in live while we are in debt to own even a few toys we rarely have the time to enjoy.  Our lives caught in a vicious cycle of work and consumption.

When the rich blow their money on high risk gambles called derivatives and exotic instruments the working people are expected to bail them out as they are too big to fail.  When working people get behind and lose all they have worked so hard to gain is is purely due to their personal inadequacy.

Mine workers die in the black coal hells of the mines, oil workers die when the rigs explode in fire.  Far more of us suffer with out health care, stressed out by employment insecurity and all the ailments brought on by too much stress and insecurity.

So all of you out there who work for a living….  This Day is for you…

Fighting for a hate-free union

By Christine Darosa

From Socialist Workerhttp://socialistworker.org/2010/03/30/fighting-for-a-hate-free-union

Christine Darosa reports on the fight of a transgender union activist in Service Employees International Union Local 1021 to remove a union supervisor from his position because of his reported prejudice.

March 30, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO–On the heels of the reform slate “Change 1021″ victory in Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021’s first elections [2] comes another victory: a supervisor in the union’s San Francisco office has been fired for what activists say is his prejudice.

Andre Spearman, one of the staff supervisors in the Union’s San Francisco office, had reportedly created a hostile work environment through a heavy-handed, top-down approach to working with both staff and rank-and-file membership, combined with blatant disrespect of the membership and staff.

Gabriel Haaland, Local 1021’s political coordinator for San Francisco, and a target of what he calls Spearman’s harassment, described Spearman as having “a very anti-membership-participation perspective” in a progressive local where the membership has historically been very engaged. In fact, Haaland feels that Spearman’s presence and conduct were part of a systematic effort to tamp down rank-and-file activity and involvement in advance of the election.

Over time, Haaland says that an obvious pattern of dismissiveness and derision emerged, though it was difficult to challenge due to Spearman’s abusive management style. As workers in the office began to share their experiences, it became clear that Haaland in particular seemed to receive an extra share of abuse due to his identity as a transgender man.

For example, when Haaland was not in the room, Spearman would refer to Gabriel as “he” in a sneering, belittling way–treatment Spearman also reserved for a transgender woman in the rank and file who crossed his path.

In November, Haaland filed a grievance on behalf of the unionized staff with SEIU management. When the grievance was ignored, he filed a complaint with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION is still all-too-common for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. A 2006 San Francisco study by the Transgender Law Center (TLC) and Bay Guardian newspaper found that 57 percent of transgender people surveyed had experienced employment discrimination in some form, despite the city having had transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws since 1994. Further, only 12 percent of those surveyed had filed a formal complaint.

Haaland, a longtime local progressive figure, has been involved in drafting protections and raising visibility around the harassment of transgender workers, and was part of the group of people who worked to get the TLC/Bay Guardian study underway.

Still, it took Haaland some time to make the decision to file the complaint against Spearman. This was due in part, he explained, to not wanting to give ammunition to union-bashers and his belief that, surely, the union could do better–but also in part to the personal difficulty of taking this step.

If deciding to file a complaint was so challenging for Haaland, it is clear how much harder it would be for people in more precarious situations or those who are isolated in their communities. With the threat of repercussions–such as job loss in a population where unemployment is as high as 75 percent–it is easy to understand why so few people might come forward.

Haaland said that when he found out that the Change 1021 slate had won 26 out of the 28 contested union positions, he knew immediately that the new leadership would be responsive to the issues raised in the grievance. He “knew and respected” the people who won, having worked alongside them in the union for years, he explained.

As Larry Bradshaw, the new third vice president of Local 1021, commented recently:

[M]ost of us that were elected to office on the reform slate knew that there were many internal problems with staff and staff management, but we had no idea that there was this sort of harassment occurring. The first we heard about it was when we read about it in the local press a couple days before we took office, and our new rank-and-file chief elected officer moved within a couple days to remove Mr. Spearman from his position in the union.

Haaland feels that Local 1021 is now returning to the “long tradition of progressive, democratic unionism” that he had signed on to when he took his job with SEIU. He also feels that Change 1021’s win is connected to the actions happening elsewhere at the grassroots–from labor to the LGBT movement to the March 4 Day of Action against the budget cuts in California.

“Things are different now in a number of different contexts. Old ways of doing things are shutting down,” he said. “It excites me…We’re winning a lot–in transformative ways, not in traditional ways.”

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

Material on this Web site is licensed by SocialistWorker.org, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0) [3] license, except for articles that are republished with permission. Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and SocialistWorker.org.

  1. [1] http://socialistworker.org/department/Labor
  2. [2] http://socialistworker.org/2010/03/09/sweeping-victory-for-seiu-reformers
  3. [3] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0

Activism Inc

Serendipitous convergence might be the best way to describe stumbling on to two seemingly unrelated sources both talking about something that has been bothering me for some time.

I’ve been thinking about something for the last few years.  I describe myself as an anarchist because so much of my activism and so many of my political positions are outside of a structured activist organization.  My activism is also spread widely across many issues which makes it hard for me to feel at home in identity based politics.

Back in the 1980s I was a disgruntled professional nerd working in Silicon Gulch and I answered an ad in one of the Bay Area Newspapers looking for people who were passionate about environmentalism and progressive politics. It offered an opportunity to work as paid activists on a campaign headed by Tom Hayden,  a California State Representatives and former SDS leader.

Much to my disappointment I discovered that ads for activists that one finds in papers and on sites like Craig’s List are not looking for people to organize or do the other things I associate with activism.  Instead they are ads for people who beg for money either on the phones or going door to door, all in the name of a good cause or causes but demeaning and disillusioning nonetheless.

This was not something I particularly considered activism.

Shit happens or serendipitous convergence. Just as I am thinking about this several things come up that help me illustrate and further define my discomfort with this new form of “activism”.

Documentaries about the slaughter of whales and the decimation of the seas with drift nets that stretch for miles and are the equivalent of clear cutting forests in their environmental destruction caused me to get a couple of books about Earth First and David Foreman.  David Foreman and the people of Earth First attacked Greenpeace as corporate accommodationists more interested in professional activism, fund raising and lobbying than direct action.  As an alternative to Greenpeace Foreman suggested supporting Sea Shepard, which actually spends much of its energy going out and attacking whalers and the fishing fleets that are strip mining the oceans in an effort to leave no fish behind.

In the 1960s I was part of SDS, an extremely nebulous organization at best, particularly so after about 1966.  If you said you were a member then you were a member.  Earth First had the same organizational pattern.

I was around for the early days of Gay Liberation, Lesbian Liberation, Second Wave Feminism and yes one of the first real grassroots Transsexual Liberation and Support groups.

By 1975 so much of that was withering away, being replaced by “professionals” with degrees and careers, organizations that had big plans with bright shiny offices with prestigious addresses.  Organizations with large budgets.  Enter the new role for those at the grassroots, professional beggar.  But major organizations with prestigious headquarters do not survive on nickel and dime donations, they require the support of major donors.

At one point AIDS Project LA had a fund raising dinner for major donors and honoring Elizabeth Taylor that was reputed to have cost somewhere in the realm of a half million dollars.  It cost more than it raised and needless to say none of the out reach workers who passed out condoms to LGBT/T sex workers doing survival sex on the corners of Santa Monica Blvd were invited.

I’m not going to go into my thoughts regarding “transactivism” except to say it too seems to have strayed from its roots in various bad neighborhoods to a point that much of what we hear about seems out of touch with lumpen prole trannies.  The ones doing sex work to survive, or working in  underpaid often part-time menial jobs that have come to be the mainstay for many working class people. Transactivism with its calls to go to Washington to lobby your Representatives, come to conferences to discuss and calls to Camp Out outside the MWMF seems to assume a level of affluence beyond that of many trannies, especially those who are part of the trans under classes.

Over the last few days I have been watching the struggle going on over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It is crystal clear that HRC has become an irrelevant organization that is pretty useless when it comes to doing much of anything other than insuring that Joe Solmonese, is the most fashionably well dressed “activist” among the lobbyist set.

Are we really sending our hard earned dollars to HRC to buy Joe Solmonese expensive designer clothes and attend expensive events?  It all seems so corporate. Speaking of which.  as much as I love Kathy Griffith as a comedian, what the fuck does she have to do with LGBT/T activism other than perhaps entertain us?

From Newsweek:  http://www.newsweek.com/id/235290

Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and fluent Arabist being discharged from the Army for being openly gay, was arrested last week along with former Army captain Jim Pietrangelo II, after handcuffing themselves to the White House gate in protest of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. They were handcuffed with the help of Robin McGehee, a former PTA president turned activist who last week cofounded GetEQUAL, an LGBT activism group inspired by civil-rights organizations and gains made through civil disobedience.

Lt. Choi basically reamed out Solmonese and HRC for their “executive” demonstration at Freedom Plaza and their failure to support him and others who actually took their protests to the the White House fence where they handcuffed themselves to the fence and allowed themselves to be arrested.  They languished in jail overnight. Lt. Choi said that HRC failed to give either legal support or bail.

HRC was already on the shit list of many transsexual and transgender people for its willingness to support a non-trans inclusive ENDA.  Perhaps we are too lumpen and not fashionable enough for Joe.

Back in the 1990s one of the exciting things about trans-activism was the Transsexual Menace and how it had a lot in common with Act Up and the Lesbian Avengers.  Membership and participation could be had for the cost of a t-shirt and the guts to wear it.  I sometimes think that what ruined trans-activism was when privileged white late emergers became the face of it and started with all the post-modern theoretical crap.

They were divorced from the reality of prostitution, criminalization, AIDS, addiction and all the murders that were part of the lives of those transsexual and transgender people found in the under classes.

On the other hand a local grass roots organization here in Dallas managed to get numerous demonstrators together to go to a DART meeting and protest the mistreatment of a transsexual DART worker who had some bureaucratic piece of shit in Human Resources decide that they didn’t have to accept that she had SRS as well as jumping through all the hoops to legally change her sex to female.  This person decided that she had been born male and should be forever considered male.

The slogan of the IWW, an anarchist labor union back in the early 20th century was “Direct action gets the goods”.

Perhaps instead of all this high level activism that seems to get very little in results from the efforts of the well paid professional activists lobbying in Washington we should at least divide the money and devote more of it to the development of local grass roots activism and less to supporting those who aspire to live the life of the corporate shills of K Street.

President Obama Breaks Faith with Women

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

March 21, 2010

The National Organization for Women is incensed that President Barack Obama agreed today to issue an executive order designed to appease a handful of anti-choice Democrats who have held up health care reform in an effort to restrict women’s access to abortion. Through this order, the president has announced he will lend the weight of his office and the entire executive branch to the anti-abortion measures included in the Senate bill, which the House is now prepared to pass.

President Obama campaigned as a pro-choice president, but his actions today suggest that his commitment to reproductive health care is shaky at best. Contrary to language in the draft of the executive order and repeated assertions in the news, the Hyde Amendment is not settled law — it is an illegitimate tack-on to an annual must-pass appropriations bill. NOW has a longstanding objection to Hyde and, in fact, was looking forward to working with this president and Congress to bring an end to these restrictions. We see now that we have our work cut out for us far beyond what we ever anticipated. The message we have received today is that it is acceptable to negotiate health care on the backs of women, and we couldn’t disagree more.

Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” Movement Organizing in Newark, NJ

From Alternet

http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/145362

By Bruce Wilson, AlterNet
Posted on January 23, 2010, Printed on January 23, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/145362/

As my new report, Movement Behind Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” Bill Organizing in Newark begins,

Street by street, block by block, organized by city ward, PrayforNewark’s squads of church members are walking their city, praying for residents and businesses… its leaders claim their effort now fields enough volunteers to pray for almost every street in the New Jersey city… the effort is directly tied to an international movement that, as detailed in my new video documentary Transforming Uganda, played a significant role in organizing and inspiring Ugandan politicians who have backed the internationally notorious “kill the gays” bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before Uganda’s parliament.

As a preface, let me start with this:

The movement in question in not synonymous with The Family, as covered by journalist Jeff Sharlet. That entity has played a major role (in both promoting the bill, it would seem, and later opposing it after a world outcry over the proposed legislation) in Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality bill, before Uganda’s parliament, which would mandate that HIV positive Ugandan citizens convicted for the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” be executed by hanging and would also require Ugandans to turn in to the Ugandan police, or face a three year prison sentence, family, friends, and acquaintances who might be gay.

Continue reading at:

http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/145362

December 1, World AIDS Day

In the Summer of 1981 I was dating a woman , who lived on Delores Street in San Francisco across from Mission-Delores Park.

It was just a few months into the Reagan Regime and the war between sex positive and pro-censorship lesbians was just on the horizon.  I was going to school in Santa Rosa and would hang out with her on the weekends as well run around with a gay male friend of mine who lived up on Twin Peaks.

It was a hedonistic time.  I was still in Shane mode (L-Word reference) and loving freely.  I was having unprotected sex with one sister who was a sex worker and another sister who was also promiscious, mostly with women.  My main girlfriend had been in a relationship with Kim, a sister I knew from the days we were both in the program at Stanford.  If this all sounds like the plot to a Michelle Tea book…  Well.. Valencia Street is only a couple of blocks away from where my girlfriend lived.

That summer gay men started getting sick, by fall they were dying of a disease that had no name.  One of the men who lived down stairs from her died and his partner was dying.

As summer faded the few cases turned into many cases and as winter set in they started calling it “the gay cancer”.  Soon it would become GRID or (Gay Related Immune Deficiency).

By Pride Day 1982 I would be more or less celibate, yet marching bare breasted in S/M leather with the women of Samois, a sex positive lesbian group that both opposed censorship and was at that point just about the only lesbian group that was openly supportive of women born transsexual.  My leather was more punk than S/M but the defiance was the same.

“And the Band Played On”  (see both the Randy Shilts book and the film).  As the number of deaths passed a thousand gay men still fought to defend the hard won sexual freedom of the 1970s.  And President Reagan never uttered the word AIDS as the disease had come to be named.

By 1985/86,  San Francisco had become like Camus’ Oran, a city of Plague where death walked stealing friends and co-workers, leaving those who were HIV- with address books filled with scratched out names.  A city of mourning, yet the research dollars trickled instead of flowing.

A grim joke at the time was, “What is the hardest part of having AIDS?  Convincing your parents you are Haitian.” Because AIDS was never only a gay male disease. Haitians, drug users, hemophiliacs and women, people who had blood transfusions.

Yet I would go to offices to service computers and ask where so and so was only to hear he had died.  I stopped asking and started drinking more often.  A sign in the Metro said “We all have AIDS Now”.  I tried to deny that one, but then I one gray day I saw a group of men gathered around one of their friends who had collapsed in the street and died, just as the rescue crew was arriving.

I fled the City for Los Angeles.  San Francisco’s compactness had made it all too claustrophobic, in LA even though there were far more people with AIDS the size of the city meant that it was less concentrated. I still got the phone calls.  Bear died, Kim too.  In LA it seemed as though half the queens I had known who were sex workers or performers at the C’est la Vie were either sick or dead.  But mostly though it seemed as though  post-SRS women had by and large escaped the disease, at least among my circle of friends.

Now we have lived with AIDS for nearly 30 years.  It isn’t an automatic death sentence.  It is “manageable” for those who can pay the thousands for the “cocktail”.  Some times it seems as though Larry Kramer is the only angry prophet left voicing outrage at how this disease has become yet one more profit stream for the drug corporations to use as an instrument of control.

Perhaps we need to ask some Krameresque questions:  Who is being controlled, and who is doing the controlling?  Who is profiting?  Why?  Who is still dying?  Why?

Why does it seem as though every disaster becomes a corporate money stream?

 

Senate bill includes the Botox tax – Live Pulse: Senate bill includes the Botox tax

November 18, 2009

The bill levies a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery. The provision raises $5 billion and was needed to make the numbers work, according to a Democratic Senate aide.

The Finance Committee considered the tax but dismissed it, in part because it was a public relations battle that senators were not willing to wage.

Page 2045

SEC. 9017. EXCISE TAX ON ELECTIVE COSMETIC MEDICAL PROCEDURES.

(a) IN GENERAL.-Subtitle D of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended by this Act, is amended by adding at the end the following new chapter:

”CHAPTER 49-ELECTIVE COSMETIC MEDICAL PROCEDURES ”Sec. 5000B. Imposition of tax on elective cosmetic medical procedures.

”SEC. 5000B. IMPOSITION OF TAX ON ELECTIVE COSMETIC MEDICAL PROCEDURES.
”(a) IN GENERAL.-There is hereby imposed on any cosmetic surgery and medical procedure a tax equal to 5 percent of the amount paid for such procedure (determined without regard to this section), whether paid by insurance or otherwise.
”(b) COSMETIC SURGERY AND MEDICAL PROCEDURE.-For purposes of this section, the term ‘cosmetic surgery and medical procedure’ means any cosmetic surgery (as defined in section 213(d)(9)(B)) or other similar procedure which-
”(1) is performed by a licensed medical professional, and
”(2) is not necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or disfiguring disease.
”(c) PAYMENT OF TAX.-
”(1) IN GENERAL.-The tax imposed by this section shall be paid by the individual on whom the procedure is performed.
”(2) COLLECTION.-Every person receiving a payment for procedures on which a tax is imposed under subsection (a) shall collect the amount of the tax from the individual on whom the procedure is performed and remit such tax quarterly to the Secretary at such time and in such manner as provided by the Secretary.”(3) SECONDARY LIABILITY.-Where any tax imposed by subsection (a) is not paid at the time payments for cosmetic surgery and medical procedures are made, then to the extent that such tax is not collected, such tax shall be paid by the person who performs the procedure.”.

(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.-The table of chapters for subtitle D of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended by this Act, is amended by inserting after the item relating to chapter 48 the following new item:
”CHAPTER 49-ELECTIVE COSMETIC MEDICAL PROCEDURES”.

(c) EFFECTIVE DATE.-The amendments made by this section shall apply to procedures performed on or after January 1, 2010.

This is potentially discriminatory towards people with either transsexualism or transgenderism, who are already often times excluded from having the procedures they need excluded from Health Insurance coverage, whether explicitly and directly or implicitly as a pre-existing condition.

Procedures other than SRS that bring us more into a place where we can assimilate and avoid some of the employment discrimination are often deemed cosmetic.  FFS and implants certainly would fall within this category.

But for all women there seems to be a really sexist attitude to everything surrounding Health Care Reform.  From Stupak-Pitt Amendments banning abortion coverage to the exclusion of coverage of contraception.  Then this weeks suggestion that there be less screening for breast cancer.

What gives?  I know that the old men of the Catholoc Church, who are the real men in dresses as well as the patriarchs of all the other superstition based patriarch systems of oppression are misogynistic to the core but of late they have become extremely blatent about it.

Perhaps taxing them to pay for these things would be a good idea.  I know they would object that their tax dollar shouldn’t go to things they morally object to but hey I’d rather not pay for non-working over priced war toys.

At the same time no one has suggested eliminating hard on pill or prostate cancer screening.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Give: the gAyTM is officially shut down

Reposted with Pam’s permission

ORIGINAL AT:  http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/14025/dont-ask-dont-give-the-gaytm-is-officially-shut-down

by: Pam Spaulding

Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 16:44:14 PM EST

We’ve talked about the fatigue of being jerked around as a constituency, now several of my fellow bloggers have had enough and I’ve signed on to the effort launched by Joe Sudbay and John Aravosis of Americablog. (FYI (Tues., 3:58 ET: Joe caught me on my cell Monday as I was leaving the cell-free zone in hospital in Brooklyn, so that’s why I didn’t get on the endorsement list until later in the day).

The boycott is cosponsored by Daily Kos, Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Andy Towle and Michael Goff of Towle Road, Paul Sousa (Founder of Equal Rep in Boston), Pam Spaulding, Robin Tyler (ED of the Equality Campaign, Inc.), Bil Browning for the Bilerico Project, and soon others.

It’s really more of a “pause,” than a boycott. Boycotts sounds so final, and angry. Whereas this campaign is temporary, and is only meant to help some friends – President Obama and the Democratic party – who have lost their way. We are hopeful that via this campaign, our friends will keep their promises.

So please sign the Petition and take a Pledge to no longer donate to the DNC, Organizing for America, or the Obama campaign until the President and the Democratic party keep their promises to the gay community, our families, and our friends.

Why should hard-earned LGBT dollars go to a party fast to line up with its palms outstretched to whisper sweet nothings in our collective ears, then turn away and tell us equality will have to wait until “X” occurs first. We’re not stupid. We just want our funds to go to the people in office or running for office who will focus on passing legislation that the “fierce advocate” can sign, since he’s stated numerous times he’ll sign it if it makes it to his desk. Well, put up or shut up.

Interestingly, one would expect a response to this effort by the HRC to be negative. To the contrary, it looks like a tacit endorsement (FDL):

“Individual donors should always make their own careful assessments of how to spend limited political contributions. We all need to focus on the legislative priorities identified by AmericaBlog and with whatever tactic individuals decide to employ, the ultimate objective needs to be securing the votes we need to move our legislative agenda forward.”

David Dayen notes that “HRC hasn’t given to the DNC this year, as per the policy put in by Obama after his election that the Party cannot accept contributions from organizations structured as a C(4).” And if you read the whole post, other progressive blogs, equally dissatisfied with the powers that be straying from progressive causes, are about ready to call a boycott of donations to the DCCC and the DSCC.FAQs are below the fold.

Pam Spaulding :: Don’t Ask, Don’t Give: the gAyTM is officially shut down

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is this?
We are asking voters to pledge to withhold contributions to the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, and the Obama campaign until the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is passed, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) is repealed, and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is repealed -– all of which President Obama repeatedly promised to do if elected.

Why are you asking people to take this pledge?
Candidate Obama promised during the campaign to be the gay community’s “fierce advocate.” He and the Democratic party have not kept their promise.
Can you give examples of how the President and Democrats have not been fierce advocates for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans?

But won’t your pledge hurt Democrats?
It never hurts Democrats to keep their promises to the voters. The American people respect strong leaders who have the courage to stick to their beliefs. And it will only help Democrats in the next election to stand by their commitments to a core constituency. If Democratic voters aren’t motivated, they won’t vote. We are concerned that the President’s failure to fulfill his promises may suppress voter participation not only from gay Democrats, but from our families, friends and allies. In a very real way, this is an effort to ensure that we get-out-the-vote in 2010, 2012 and beyond.

But if you don’t give money to the DNC, won’t that help elect Republicans who are even worse on gay issues, and other issues Democrats care about?
We are not calling for a boycott of donations to the DNC. We are simply calling for a pause until the party follows through on its campaign promise to repeal DADT and DOMA, and pass ENDA. The party will get the same donations it would have gotten, when the promises are kept. The Democrats could choose to make good on their promise today. And by doing so, they will only further motivate the Democratic base to again turn out for the next election, a decidedly good thing.

You have to admit, gay rights is controversial – wouldn’t it be political suicide for Democrats to push gay rights?
Democrats should not have promised to support gay civil rights rights in exchange for our votes if they never intended to keep the promise. If we’re not controversial during the campaign, when politicians are happy to accept our votes and our money, we cannot accept being labeled controversial after our candidates win. We kept our part of the bargain, we voted for Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress. It’s entirely reasonable for us to ask our elected officials to keep their part of the bargain too.

What’s more, gay rights are not controversial. Americans favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military by a margin of 69% – 26%.  By a margin of 57% – 37%, “A clear majority of Americans (57%) favors allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements with each other that would give them many of the same rights as married couples.” That can’t happen if DOMA is the law.  And in fact, if these civil rights promises were controversial, they would have hurt candidate Obama at the polls. But, he proudly and loudly proclaimed his support for LGBT equality, and he won.

No matter how disappointed you are, aren’t Democrats still better than Republicans?
The Republican party is terrible on gay issues. That doesn’t excuse the Democratic party breaking specific promises to the gay community made in exchange for our votes. We didn’t break our promise at the ballot box, the Democrats shouldn’t break theirs after we helped put them into office.

President Obama has only been in office less than a year, why the rush?
In less than a year, serious damage has already been done to the President’s commitments to the gay community. The problem isn’t only that he hasn’t been quick enough to fulfill his promises, it’s that he has actually backtracked on his promises and hurt the cause of civil rights and our community, as detailed above.

But aren’t there bigger priorities than gay rights for the Democrats to deal with, like health care and the economy?
Would President Obama, the DNC and the Congress tell other minorities that their civil rights aren’t important? The suggestion is that Democrats have more important things on the table. When won’t Democrats have more important priorities than the civil rights of gays and lesbians? Will there ever be a day, a year, an administration, when the President and the Congress won’t have serious crises to deal with? Suggesting that gay Americans and their friends and families wait until the President and Congress have nothing else to do is not only insulting, it’s a recipe for never. And regardless, we trust that this President, unlike the previous, can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Who is behind this effort?
John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay, two longtime political operatives in Washington, DC, and the editors of AMERICAblog.com. AMERICAblog has raised over $300,000 for Democratic candidates and progressive causes, including nearly $50,000 for then-candidate Barack Obama, supported by AMERICAblog early in the primaries.

The boycott is cosponsored by Daily Kos, Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Andy Towle and Michael Goff of Towle Road, Paul Sousa (Founder of Equal Rep in Boston), Pam Spaulding, Robin Tyler (ED of the Equality Campaign, Inc.), Bil Browning for the Bilerico Project, and soon others.

You can contact us at: dncboycott@gmail.com

How can I help?
Sign the pledgetell your friends about this campaign, read the blog, and stay tuned for updates and action alerts on how you help make sure that the President, the Congress and the Democratic party keep their promises to the LGBT community, our families, our friends and our allies.

This is an excellent sweep of top progressive and LGBT bloggers and activists who have signed on right at the outset and many readers are backing this – are you ready to send the party hacks and WH foot-draggers a me$$age?

We Are What We Have Done

I am an existentialist not an essentialist.

I am also an out and proud atheist as well as a left winger, more anarchistic than Marxist.

I am currently reading Gail Collins book, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. I just finished the chapter on the Civil Rights Movement that took place in the early 1960s where she described SNCC and how participation in the beloved community had a lifelong impact on the lives of those who were a part of that community.

It became the defining moment of their lives and forever shaped them.

I was part of SDS, the Anti-war in Vietnam Movement, including Weather Nation, those of us who had gone with Weatherman when SDS splintered in 1969 and who were left when the leadership went underground.  I had a deserter boyfriend during  my pre-op days and for a year after with an off again on again relationship that lasted a couple of years beyond that.

I was shaped by Second Wave Feminism to the point where my primary question on any set of politics is,  “Is this good for women?”

I read Kate’s book a couple of years before I first met her.  We first met at a National Coming Out Day Rally at UCLA.  I wore my Transsexual Menace t-shirt and realized that even wearing that didn’t necessarily out me.

Kate did a monologue from one of her performance pieces where she defined herself in negative terms.  I am not this, I am not that.  I thought of it as a rather nihilist approach because as an existentialist I define who and what I am by my history and by what I am currently doing, my dreams/desires to do in the future.

Later I met other ex-Scientologists and came to realize that Kate’s involvement in Scientology shaped her and her thinking even though she is no longer a Scientologist in the same way SDS had shaped me and how the people of SNCC were shaped by their life experiences.

Having been born with Transsexualism is a rather profound experience, having to deal with it and how we deal with it shapes our lives, even if we deny it.

Can we ever really escape what we were born with and what we went through as a result of what we were born?

Some of us deny our history and some embrace it.  Most like me tend to compartmentalize it as something shared with close friends and perhaps on the internet.  The strangest are those who are all over the internet proclaiming how “real” they are and denouncing all those who do not meet the precise standards laid out by those who see themselves as iconically the only true transsexuals (Oh I forgot.  They aren’t transsexual, they are HBS.).

I can see how being born with transsexualism shaped my life by making me an outsider in the town where I was born, and outsider to the classmates I was otherwise identical to in class, race and religion.  How it made me an outsider to that religion and even my family.  John Rechy, author of City of Night has said that LGBT/T people are the only minority born into the family of the oppressor.

My difference led to my being aware of the oppression I faced by matter of birth, and my liberal left rearing led to my feeling empathy towards others who were also oppressed for reasons of birth in matters such as race and class, sex or sexuality.

For a while I was so alienated from the identity politics and the presumption that one facet of my being defined my entire being that I lashed out, hopefully more at the identity politics than at individuals the way some on the internet  so obsessively do.  I wrote in terms of hegemony and colonization because I was bothered by the way in which the identity politics of transgender as umbrella not only erased transsexualism and its particular uniqueness  but turned WBTs into a tool to advance “the cause”.  However, that wasn’t the only aspect of transgender as umbrella that bothered me.  It also erased all those other unique experiences that shape us as individuals, even though we might be members of a class.

I saw that as very Stalinistic and not very realistic.  Just as I was shaped  by transsexualism, I was shaped by growing up working class and left.  I was shaped by being a radical left wing hippie, by being a feminist.  Just as Kate was shaped by having been a Scientologist.

Just as others were by growing up passing as male and receiving male privilege without having the the taking away of that privilege as an obvious transkid.  Growing up Fundamentalist or in a right wing and upper class back ground also shapes people.  Those who get their world view from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh become different people from those get their world view from MSNBC and Amy Goodman.

If the most influential books you’ve read have been the Bible and Atlas Shrugged you will see things different than if you found Being and Nothingness and The People’s History of the United States 1492 to Present to be the most influential.  The obviousness of this should not require pointing out, and yet one issue identity politics levels out these distinctions, erases the individual in favor of a monolithic group where the one common featured trait overcomes all the differences that make us individuals.

For this reason identity politics has been a resounding failure, degenerating almost immediately into turf wars over hurt feelings.  The success of the anti-war in Vietnam Movement was in its focus on the issue of America’s role in the war.  That was also its weakness in that once the draft was ended and the shift was made to an air war as well as secret war run by the CIA, many lost interest.

The same was true regarding the reaction to the anti-feminist backlash endured during the Reagan Regime.  Issues based struggle was lost to the time wasting matters of identity politics.

These days I blog.  I work long hours and I see a multitude of issues that can impact not only people who have had their lives impacted by one trans-prefixed word or another but by issues of class and race, sex or sexuality.

Time to get back to existentialism, essentialism sucked when it was practiced by certain radical feminists and it sucks when practiced by certain people with transsexualism or transgenderism.

You are what you do and what you have done.  You are not who you claim to “identify” as unless your actions are consistent with that claimed identity.  Claiming identity is paramount is the suckiest form of essentialism for it is essentialism that ignores action.

Posted in Existentialism, Politics, Questioning Authority. Comments Off

NOW Opposes Health Care Bill That Strips Millions of Women of Abortion Access

Says Bill Obliterates Women’s Fundamental Right to Choose

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

November 8, 2009

The House of Representatives has dealt the worst blow to women’s fundamental right to self-determination in order to buy a few votes for reform of the profit-driven health insurance industry. We must protect the rights we fought for in Roe v. Wade. We cannot and will not support a health care bill that strips millions of women of their existing access to abortion.

Birth control and abortion are integral aspects of women’s health care needs. Health care reform should not be a vehicle to obliterate a woman’s fundamental right to choose.

The Stupak Amendment goes far beyond the abusive Hyde Amendment, which has denied federal funding of abortion since 1976. The Stupak Amendment, if incorporated into the final version of health insurance reform legislation, will:

  • Prevent women receiving tax subsidies from using their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;
  • Prevent women participating in the public health insurance exchange, administered by private insurance companies, from using 100 percent of their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;
  • Prevent low-income women from accessing abortion entirely, in many cases.

NOW calls on the Senate to pass a health care bill that respects women’s constitutionally protected right to abortion and calls on President Obama to refuse to sign any health care bill that restricts women’s access to affordable, quality reproductive health care.

The Next Phase of Healthcare Apartheid

Published on Thursday, November 5, 2009 by CommonDreams.org

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/11/05

by Norman Solomon

In Washington, “healthcare reform” has degenerated into a sick joke.

At this point, only spinners who’ve succumbed to their own vertigo could use the word “robust” to describe the public option in the healthcare bill that the House Democratic leadership has sent to the floor.

“A main argument was that a public plan would save people money,” the New York Times has noted. But the insurance industry — claiming to want a level playing field — has gotten the Obama administration to bulldoze the plan. “After House Democratic leaders unveiled their health care bill [on October 29], the Congressional Budget Office said the public plan would cost more than private plans and only 6 million people would sign up.”

At its best, “the public option” was a weak remedy for the disastrous ailments of the healthcare system in the United States. But whatever virtues the public option may have offered were stripped from the bill en route to the House floor.

What remains is a Rube Goldberg contraption that will launch this country into a new phase of healthcare apartheid.

People who scrape together enough money to buy health insurance will discover that they’re riding in the back of the nation’s healthcare bus. The most “affordable” policies will be the ones with the highest deductibles and the worst coverage.

We’re hearing that large numbers of lower-income Americans will be provided with Medicaid coverage in the next decade. Translation: If funding holds up, they’ll get to hang onto a bottom rung of the healthcare ladder. Many will not be able to get the medical help they need, from primary care providers or specialists.

Not long ago, we were told that the Obama administration was aiming for a public option that could provide coverage to one out of every four Americans. Now the figure is around one out of every fifty.

Not long ago, the idea was that taxpayer-funded subsidies were to be used only for the public option. But now the entire concept has been hijacked by and for the private insurance industry. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it on October 8, private insurance companies “are going to get 50 million new consumers, many of them subsidized by the taxpayers.”

Pelosi was making the argument that the least the insurance industry could do, in return, would be to accept a higher level of taxation. But her comment was a telling acknowledgment that all the “public option” proposals now provide a massive funnel from the U.S. Treasury to the insurance conglomerates. The individual mandate is a monumental giveaway to private insurance firms.

The specter of “healthcare reform” that requires individuals to stretch their personal finances for often-abysmal insurance coverage is the worst of all worlds — government intrusion for corporate benefit without any guarantees of decent health coverage.

In effect, the individual-mandate requirement tells people that obtaining health coverage is ultimately their own responsibility — and the quality of the coverage is beside the point. In essence, when it comes to guaranteeing quality healthcare for all, the gist of the policy is: “Let’s not, and say we did.”

The predictable result is reinforcement of vast — and often deadly — inequities in access to healthcare.

With Washington making such a corporate mess of “healthcare reform,” the best way to get what we need — healthcare for all as a human right — will be to enact single-payer healthcare in one state after another.

But the House Democratic leadership has not been content to serve up a grimly pathetic “healthcare reform” bill. Speaker Pelosi has used her political leverage to quash Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s amendment — approved months ago by the Education and Labor Committee — that would grant waivers so that states could create their own single-payer system. Pelosi removed the Kucinich amendment from the House bill.

The California legislature has twice passed a strong single-payer bill, both times vetoed by the state’s current execrable governor. The official position of the California Democratic Party is unequivocally in favor of single-payer healthcare. And yet Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, did what she could to sabotage the single-payer position of her own party in her own state.

Sickening.

Norman Solomon is a journalist, historian, and progressive activist. His book “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death [1]” has been adapted into a documentary film of the same name. His most recent book is “Made Love, Got War. [2]” He is a national co-chair of the Healthcare NOT Warfare [3] campaign. In California, he is co-chair of the Commission on a Green New Deal for the North Bay; www.GreenNewDeal.info [4].

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