by Cavan Sieczkowski
A transgender athlete is suing CrossFit after the fitness company allegedly barred her from competing in the women’s division of the CrossFit Games.
Chloie Jonsson, a personal trainer and CrossFit athlete living in Los Gatos, Calif., filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against CrossFit for violating her civil rights, TMZ reports. Jonsson alleges she was denied the chance to participate in the women’s division, despite the fact that she had gender confirmation surgery in 2006 and is legally recognized as a woman by the state of California.
The company reportedly said she cannot compete because she was born a male.
“Our decision has nothing to do with ‘ignorance’ or being bigots — it has to do with a very real understanding of the human genome, of fundamental biology, that you are either intentionally ignoring or missed in high school,” read the letter CrossFit allegedly sent Jonsson, according to TMZ.
Jonsson’s lawyer, Waukeen McCoy, called CrossFit’s response “horrifying.”
“I think it’s horrifying that CrossFit has taken this position while this has already been looked at with the International Olympic Committee and other sports committees,” he told The Huffington Post, referring to the IOC’s decision to allow transgender athletes to compete in their gender-identified divisions post-surgery. “CrossFit ignores this altogether. They claim that it’s not ignorance or bigotry but I disagree. I’ve talked to Chloie’s doctor and other physicians who’ve said CrossFit needs to change their policy.”
“They basically say that Chloie was born a man with a penis [with] the XY chromosome and, therefore, she’d have an advantage over women if she was in the competition,” he added.
McCoy said the lawsuit was filed Thursday. He said they have not received a legal response from the company.
In a press release obtained by CNN, Jonsson is quoted as saying: “If I am going to be forced to out myself, I want it to be for the good for all [transgender] people and athletes — not because of a company’s discriminatory policies.”
Actually he’s wrong. The poor often work much harder than the billionaires. How often do billionaires get crippled or maimed by their work? How often do billionaires get repetitive stress injuries that leave them with chronic pain?
By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Tuesday on his show “Off the Grid,” former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura “called bullsh*t” on the “one percent” who are complaining about anti-rich persecution despite being allowed to run amok in the United States.
“With great power comes great responsibility, and with great wealth comes the right to b*tch and moan when you’re being persecuted. Not on my watch. I’m knocking the silver spoons out of the number one percenters mouths on today’s ‘Off the Grid,’” he remarked.
Venture capitalist Tom Perkins recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that wealthy people like himself could end up being forced into Nazi-like concentration camps if liberals continued to wage a “progressive war on the American one percent.” In 2010, another venture capitalist, Steve Schwarzman, compared tax increases to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
Ventura said it looked like the ultra-rich had a “sickness” and were dangerously addicted to money.
“I think that’s what’s wrong with these one percenters. They have so much money they couldn’t spend it in their lifetime or their grandchildren’s lifetime, but it truly becomes a sickness.”
Ventura also questioned the conventional wisdom that billionaires earn their enormous salaries because they work more than the rest of Americans. He laughed at the notion that the one percent “work harder.”
“Is it work pushing numbers around on papers and moving decimal points?” he said. “Or is it work washing dishes or digging a ditch? Because I highly doubt that any of these one percenters — I’d love to know how many of them began like I did, at Mama Rosa’s restaurant washing dishes for $1.50 an hour. That’s work, and it’s as hard of work washing them dishes all day long as it would be doing what these CEOs do.”
“I’ve been a CEO, they don’t get their hands dirty very often,” Ventura added. “They go to all sorts of free meals all the time. They may put in the time and effort, but what you define as work, well, maybe it is mental work, but it is certainly not physical work.”
By Martha Rosenberg
March 5, 2014
Do you remember the “hygiene hypothesis” of the late 1990s? It theorized that humans had so over-sanitized their environment with disinfectants and hand cleansers, our immune systems were no longer doing their jobs. So many consumer products like toothpaste, hand and dish soap, laundry detergents and even clothes now include antibiotics, said the theory, we seldom encounter the “bad” germs our immune systems are supposed to recognize and fight.
Since the hygiene hypothesis surfaced, there is growing evidence of its truth. In fact the theory that certain medical conditions, especially autoimmune ones, may be caused by a changing or declining bacterial environment in the human gut is gaining momentum and now called the “disappearing microbiota hypothesis.”
The bacteria in our gut, collectively called our microbiome, is a huge, ever-changing universe of billions of microbes. Each person’s intestinal ecosystem is so individualized and such a reflection of his unique inner and outer environments, “gut microbiota may even be considered as another vital human organ,” says one scientific paper. The microbiome has also been called a second genome and even a second brain.
Most people know that taking antibiotics can change their microbiome by killing off the “good” bacteria with the bad. That’s why antibiotics can cause diarrhea and many clinicians recommend taking probiotics with them. But what scientists are just beginning to learn is microbiomes are also affected by their outside environment including influences like house dust and even aerosolized matter when a toilet is flushed. They are also learning that gut bacteria is highly adaptive and one person’s gut bacteria will take root and flourish in another’s intestines. This explains the growing popularity of “fecal transplants” (yes, you read that right) between people who have been depleted of “good” bacteria and donors with healthy populations of microbes in their intestines.
Still, the most astounding research that is developing around the microbiome is the ability of our gut bacteria to affect our brain and “influence our mood and temperament,” says food expert Michael Pollan. “If you transplant the gut microbiota of relaxed and adventurous mice into the guts of timid and anxious mice they become less stressed and more adventurous.”
When my father died of secondary liver cancer, they didn’t have time to find the primary, but assumed it was in his bowel. My stepmother was pleased because she said: “At least nobody can say he drank too much” (to which I replied: “Yeah, unless they’d met him”). On the assumption that it did start in his bowel, we agreed that if there had been any fault at all in his lifestyle, it would have been eating too much red meat. This was in 2004, but the link between red meat, especially processed meats, and cancer of the bowel had been well-established for some time. And who can blame a man for eating too much red meat? You might just as well blame him for singing too loudly in the bath; it’s part of what it is to be an exuberant human, living in fortunate times.
This week, it transpires that red meat doesn’t just cause bowel cancer, but all cancer, as well as heart disease, strokes, almost anything you could file under “early death”. High levels of protein from any animal – nay, any animal source – have been linked (in people under 65) to a fourfold increase in their risk of death from cancer or diabetes, and a near doubling of the risk of dying from any cause over an 18-year period.
Vegans took obvious pleasure in this, the way they can take pleasure in being right in almost all situations, dietary, moral and environmental. But it has piquancy for everybody, starting with a simple reversal of orthodoxy. Red meat, apart from the small matter that it is a carcinogen, has been popular with faddists and weight-loss gurus, as has all protein. The quest for dietary perfection has centred on avoiding carbohydrates, especially refined ones. (I like the way that refinement and process are now basically bywords for nutritional toxicity. In your face, art.)
While the Atkins diet in its strictest sense has been on the slide, mainly I think for being too old for fashion, and for the sheer senselessness of all that cheese, the very-high-protein credo has hung on in other forms, currently the Paleo diet. It’s a lot like the Atkins, except you’re not allowed diet cola. “Yuk! That disgusting aspartame backtaste!” Paleolithic man would have said, if any of us can say for certain what he truly thought. Often characterised as the Anna Wintour 2.0 (famously, she used to have a steak with béarnaise sauce every lunchtime, and never ate anything else), this basically involves, again, a lot of protein, mostly mackerel, judging from the pictures, along with some nuts.
But if all these diets are doubling our chances of dying, should we be worried? First, no, because very few of us stick to them. All those decisions that weren’t really decisions – Oh, go on then, a muffin if you absolutely insist – are instantly vindicated, while perfectionists can be derided and laughed at, and will eventually die of their perfectionism. Second, the overwhelming impression is that, if proteins from animals are no good for you, which almost all of them are, then what are we supposed to eat? Who’s to say that this era isn’t as mistaken as the last? Who’s to say that any advance has any meaning? Why don’t we just eat what we like! Loads of it. Less of it. Who cares? Who knows! Nobody.
I’ve gotten to the point where getting me to watch a non-documentary about or featuring presentations of TS/TG folks is almost as easy as convincing me to let a friend of mine who owns a Dremel Tool and pair of vice grips to practice amateur dentistry on me.
Needless to say, short of someone threatening me with a gun, it is unlikely that I will watch Jared Leto don black face and sing “Mammy”. Oh wait he didn’t don black face he put on a dress to become a heroic straight white man playing a poor oppressed trans-woman with AIDS.
How brave… How heroic… How challenging…
Fuck that shit…
Challenging is living our lives with a modicum of dignity.
Challenging is never getting to be the ones who control our own narratives without having cis-gender people appropriate our lives and stereotype us as pathetic drag queens with AIDS, sex workers, murder victims and performers.
Because you know we are never ever musicians, techies, artists, writers, teachers, doctors or the girl next door.
This puts me well within the ranks of those saying ENOUGH… No More Cis-gender People Playing Trans-Folks…
See Huffington Post: Jared Leto’s Oscar Win For ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Criticized By Transgender Community
It is more acceptable for a cis-gender woman to play a trans-woman than it is for a man to do so.
One perpetuates the “Man in a Dress” trope. The other doesn’t.
Therefore “TransAmerica” was more acceptable than “Dallas Buyers Club”. Olympia Dukakis in Tales of the City falls in that category.
I don’t do Netflix although Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black is almost enough to get me to do so.
If cis-gender men want to play a trans-person perhaps they should try out for the numerous roles of trans-men in film.
Oh wait aside from Brandon Teena there haven’t been any role presenting trans-men in film because they aren’t sex workers or murder victims, Brandon Teena being the exception to that general rule.
Part of the casting of men to play trans-women and women to portray trans-men is the cementing of the trope that we are always the sex we were assigned at birth.
Back in the late 1990s when I was a volunteer at the LA Gay and Lesbian Service Center’s “The Village” I was comped a ticket for the LA Gay and Lesbian Film Festival screening of “Different for Girls”.
After the screening I stayed for the talk with the director, the oh so sensitive director.
Everyone cooed about how sensitive the film was and how it told a real story.
I was really pissed off because it was a rehash of the common tragic trans tropes. As usual the trans-woman was portrayed by a cis-man in a dress, replete with silicone body suit ala some of the fetish folks.
True to my general bitchiness when torqued off I had to ask:
“How come with all the transsexual and transgender women in Great Britain you couldn’t find a trans-actress to play this role? Why did you have to use a cis-gender man?
He hemmed and hawed a bit saying that he had Faye Presto, a British magician and entertainer as a technical consultant on the film. Then he said that the trans-women who tried out for the part were so real no one would believe they were trans and that it was impossible to find a transsexual woman who brought the gender ambiguity he was searching for and trying to portray.
We come of as too real to actually portray transsexual women on the screen. Okay I guess that means trans-women who are actresses find all sorts of roles as cis-gender women open to them.
Buuuht… Fuck me, wrong again. Trans-actresses, particularly out trans-actresses, (and make no mistake about it in this internet era we are all a few clicks from being out) are told they can’t credibly play non-trans roles because people knowing they are trans won’t view them as non-trans-women.
That sort of blows one of Calpernia Addams arguments in the Advocate article, In Defense of Jared Leto out of the water.
“I caution others to remember, however, that the same logic that leaves zero room for a nontrans actor to try a trans role will be used to mandate that trans actors should not be able to play nontrans roles. And that would piss me off.”
Actually I think that argument would be a lot more effective if there were actually non-trans roles open to trans-actresses or for that matter trans-actors.
There aren’t. So we are like African Americans not wanting our characters portrayed by white people in black face.
Recently Jennifer Boylan wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times: Transgender, Schlumpy and Human.
In it she defended the use of Jeffery Tambor, as a schlumpy man “transitioning”.
Just as Calpernia served as an adviser to Dallas Buyer’s Club, she served as an adviser to the show.
I can fully understand not wanting to bite the hand that feeds us…
I can even get the aspect of not wanting to offend the people in power who could create a far more negative image of TS/TG women but at some point I think it is important to remember that quote from Audre Lorde “The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.”
We learned we will never gain our rights or dignity by merely waiting for the cis-gender culture to bestow rights and dignity upon us based on their conscience or largess. We have to push for and demand our rights and dignity.
That means no more actors in drag face portraying TS/TG people. No more use of TS/TG people as stereotypical tropes for straights to demonstrate how progressive they are.
Trigger Warning: this piece discusses trigger warnings. It may also look askance at college students who are now asking that trigger warnings be applied to their course materials.
If you’ve spent time on feminist blogs lately or in the social-justice-oriented corner of Tumblr, you have likely come across the Trigger Warning (TW): a note to readers that the material following the warning may trigger a post-traumatic stress reaction. In the early days of feminist blogging, trigger warnings were generally about sexual assault, and posted with the understanding that lots of women are sexual assault survivors, lots of women read feminist blogs, and graphic descriptions of rape might lead to panic attacks or other reactions that will really ruin someone’s day. Easy enough to give readers a little heads up – a trigger warning – so that they can decide to avoid that material if they know that discussion of rape triggers debilitating reactions.
Trigger warnings in online spaces, though, have expanded widely and become more intricate, detailed, specific and obscure. Trigger warnings, and their cousin the “content note”, are now included for a whole slew of potentially offensive or upsetting content, including but not limited to: misogyny, the death penalty, calories in a food item, terrorism, drunk driving, how much a person weighs, racism, gun violence, Stand Your Ground laws, drones, homophobia, PTSD, slavery, victim-blaming, abuse, swearing, child abuse, self-injury, suicide, talk of drug use, descriptions of medical procedures, corpses, skulls, skeletons, needles, discussion of “isms,” neuroatypical shaming, slurs (including “stupid” or “dumb”), kidnapping, dental trauma, discussions of sex (even consensual), death or dying, spiders, insects, snakes, vomit, pregnancy, childbirth, blood, scarification, Nazi paraphernalia, slimy things, holes and “anything that might inspire intrusive thoughts in people with OCD“.
It is true that everything on the above list might trigger a PTSD response in someone. The trouble with PTSD, though, is that its triggers are often unpredictable and individually specific – a certain smell, a particular song, being touched in that one way. It’s impossible to account for all of them, because triggers are by their nature not particularly rational or universally foreseeable. Some are more common than others, though, which is why it seems reasonable enough for explicitly feminist spaces to include trigger warnings for things like assault and eating disorders.
College, though, is different. It is not a feminist blog. It is not a social justice Tumblr.
College isn’t exactly the real world either, but it’s a space for kinda-sorta adults to wade neck-deep into art, literature, philosophy, and the sciences, to explore new ideas, to expand their knowledge of the cultural canon, to interrogate power and to learn how to make an argument and to read a text. It is, hopefully, a space where the student is challenged and sometimes frustrated and sometimes deeply upset, a place where the student’s world expands and pushes them to reach the outer edges – not a place that contracts to meet the student exactly where they are.
From The Committee to Stop FBI Repression: http://www.stopfbi.net/2014/2/26/documents-raids-anti-war-activists-unsealed
On Feb. 26, the application and affidavit used to obtain the search warrants for the 2010 raids on homes and offices of anti-war and international solidarity activists were unsealed, revealing lies and attacks on the constitutionally-protected rights to speak out and organize. The unsealing of these documents came as a result of legal action taken by the anti-war activists.
The timeline in the documents show what we have always stated. Shortly before the huge protest at the Republican National Convention, undercover police agent and professional liar, going by the name of Karen Sullivan (identified in the affidavit as UC1) joined the Anti-War Committee and became active in the efforts to build the demonstration. She later joined Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
The documents demonstrate a callous disregard for free speech and the right to associate. They in effect criminalize those of us who oppose U.S. wars, and stand in solidarity with the oppressed. From Palestine to Colombia, people want to be free from the domination of Washington. We have said this publicly on thousands of occasions and will continue to do so.
Not unlike countless “anti-terrorism” cases against Arabs and Muslims, the affidavit contains a collection of lies and out-of-context statements to try to isolate people from their communities and movements. In a McCarthyite return to the 1950s, the affidavit shows an obsession with Freedom Road Socialist Organization. After decades working in the anti-war movement, anyone who has worked with us knows we are proud to be fighters in the struggles against war, and for justice and economic equality. The documents imply that is something sinister, when really, it is commendable.
Having just received these documents, we are in the process of consulting with attorneys and we will have more to say in coming days. We are glad we forced the government to unseal these documents and we demand that the U.S Attorney makes a public statement that the investigation is closed and that there will be no indictments of anti-war and international solidarity activists. Moreover, we demand an end to repression and spying against the people’s movements.
From The Intercept: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/
24 Feb 2014
One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.
Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”
By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today:
Continue reading at: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/06/climate-change-effects_n_4914116.html
WASHINGTON — From roads and bridges to power plants and gas pipelines, American infrastructure is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, according to a pair of government reports released Thursday.
The reports are technical documents supporting the National Climate Assessment, a major review compiled by 13 government agencies that the U.S. Global Change Research Program is expected to release in April. Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory put together the reports, which warn that climate-fueled storms, flooding and droughts could cause “cascading system failures” unless there are changes made to minimize those effects. Island Press has published the full-length version of the reports, which focus on energy and infrastructure more broadly.
Thomas Wilbanks, a research fellow at Oak Ridge and the lead author and editor of the reports, said this is the first attempt to look at the climate implications across all sectors and regions. Rather than isolating specific types of infrastructure, Wilbanks said, the report looks at how “one impact can have impacts on the others.”
Previous extreme weather events, which scientists warn may be exacerbated by climate change, offer insight to the types of failures they’re talking about. For example, during Hurricane Katrina, the loss of electricity in the region meant that several major oil pipelines could not ship oil and gas for several days, and some refineries could not operate. Gas prices rose around the country.
Other scenarios include a major storm wiping out communications lines, a blackout that cuts power to sewage treatment or wastewater systems, and a weather event that damages a bridge or major highway. In the latter case, the damage would not only cost money to repair, but could cause traffic backups or delays in the shipment of goods, which could in turn have wider economic implications. As the report describes it:
A central theme of the report is that vulnerabilities and impacts are issues beyond physical infrastructures themselves. The concern is with the value of services provided by infrastructures, where the true consequences of impacts and disruptions involve not only the costs associated with the cleanup, repair, and/or replacement of affected infrastructures but also economic, social, and environmental effects as supply chains are disrupted, economic activities are suspended, and/or social well-being is threatened.
While many reports on climate change focus on the long-term impacts, looking ahead 50 or 100 years, the effects described in Thursday’s reports are the kind that cities, states and the federal government can expect to see in the next few decades, Wilbanks said.
Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/06/climate-change-effects_n_4914116.html
From Trans Advocate: http://www.transadvocate.com/the-shame-of-sheila-jeffreys-hate_n_12766.htm
By Cristan Williams
March 6, 2014
Reposted with Permission
University of Melbourne Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF), Sheila Jeffreys is being called out for her racist comments by the indigenous Australian community. Jeffreys asserted on a radio show that being trans is like blackface. A genderqueer member of the Indigenous people of Australia, told the Star Observer:
There is a fear that racist, misogynistic, queerphobic and transphobic people will take her message as truth and enact these prejudices against trans identified Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. By reducing transgender identities to that of histrionic mimicry is more reflective of her prejudice than it is of my understanding and practice of gender as a genderqueer Indigenous person. I cannot change my racial configuration. I can however mold and express my gender identity as unique and valid to my culture. - Andrew Farrell
Sheila Jeffreys, a TERF who also asserts that women who get tattoos are mutilating themselves to appease the patriarchy, is an opinion leader of a branch of “feminism” that most other feminists reject. In fact, the feminist community popularized the “TERF” back in 2008 to try to distance TERF rhetoric from feminism.
Jeffreys has made a career out of sweeping generalizations supported by anecdotal, cherry picked data and more than a little equivocation. She will assert that trans surgeries are patriarchy-driven mutilations without ever mentioning the inconvenient fact that her own community – Australian lesbians – pioneered trans surgical care:
On top of that, equivocation never seems far from her lips. Jeffreys pretends that when the world speaks of gender, we only ever mean cultural rules. The reality is that when people talk about gender, they’re also talking about their subjective and innate experience of their body’s sex (which would exist with or without culture), the VERY complex and nuanced ways they conceptualize that experience (which would exist with or without culture) and the ways they communicate that experience (which would exist with or without culture). While her ontological gesticulations may appeal to her own in-group, her ideology is ultimately meaningless to practical discourse.
If you’ve noticed that Jeffreys sounds a bit like a right wing demagogue, there’s a very good reason for it:
“Now one of the things I find puzzling about it is that, when I look at the House of Lords debate on this legislation, those I agree with most are the radical right. Particularly the person I find that I agree with most, in here, and I’m not sure he will be pleased to find this, is Norman Tebbitt… Tebbitt also says that the savage mutilation of transgenderism, we would say if it was taking place in other cultures apart from the culture of Britain, was a harmful cultural practice, and how come we’re not recognising that in the British Isles. So he makes all of these arguments from the radical right, which is quite embarrassing to me, but I have to say, so called progressive and left people are not recognising the human rights violations of transgenderism or how crazy the legislation is.” - Jeffreys
Criticism of the practice of transgenderism is being censored as a result of a campaign of vilification by transgender activists of anyone who does not accept the new orthodoxy on this issue.
- The very first sentence of Sheila Jeffreys defence the RadFem2012 Conference – a conference that which was later given the boot by their event host for being an anti-trans hate group
Despite being a Catholic, Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario forced even Catholic schools to promote the homosexual agenda in the schools and have Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs, even though the practice of homosexuality violates Catholic teaching. (So much for religious freedom!)
- White supremacist, Paul Fromm
Framing being gay or trans as a mere practice – something that one does instead of what one is – is a favored rhetorical tool used by hate groups the world over and unsurprisingly, Sheila Jeffreys uses the same type of rhetoric. For if being trans is merely a practice – an addiction, a lifestyle, a pastime, etc – then it can be argued that one can cease engaging in that practice.
People like Jeffreys wrap their hate in the language of feminism because to do otherwise would make it immediately recognizable for exactly what it is. While one might be tempted to dismiss people like Jeffreys as harmless conspiracy theorists attempting to validate their own existence by contrasting it against a strawman of their own design, it’s not as benign as all of that.
For instance, the TERF movement played a significant role in the revocation of trans healthcare access. In fact, TERF activist Janice Raymond, authored the American government’s anti-trans position.
The National Center for Healthcare Technology was a government funded body that reviewed metadata so that Health & Human Services (HHS) would be able to make evidence-based judgements about the efficacy of medical technologies. In short, they informed the US government on what was and what was not medically efficacious. The NCHCT had Janice Raymond, author of The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male issue their position on the efficacy of trans medical care in a paper titled, “Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery.” This position paper makes practically all the same assertions about trans people commonly found in far right-wing anti-trans propaganda; however, unlike other extremist group propaganda, this misleading report informed HHS’ position on trans medical care. The report was available through the Office of the Associate Director for Medical and Scientific Evaluation, Public Health Service.
Raymond asserted that trans medical care was a new phenomena, unethical, asserted that legislation should block trans medical care and that it would be best to institute a national program of reparative therapy.
Until Raymond’s HHS paper, the US government generally supported trans care as medically necessary. I want you to reread that previous sentence. This meant that poor trans people could access psychological and medical care and it also meant that public and private insurers had no basis upon which to reject coverage of trans care.
It was only after the NCHCT pushed Raymond’s bigotry in 1980 that the US government reversed course in 1981 and took up Raymond’s views and rhetoric. Raymond’s hate became the government’s stance. Raymond – a Catholic ethicist, not a clinician – was the architect of the anti-trans stance the US government adopted in the 1980s. This official anti-trans stance soon spread to private insurers and the American trans population soon found itself without access to medically necessary health care.
There’s a reason many trans people lay the death and suffering of untold numbers of trans people at the feet of Janice Raymond. In a time when employment discrimination against trans people became legal, Raymond helped dismantle the trans community’s ability to access trans health care through public and private insurance. Raymond heralded in the era in which trans people (many to most of whom were unemployed, depending upon the study) had to pay out of pocket or go without. In essence, Raymond helped ensure the future of a medical system that was unresponsive to the needs of the trans community at every level.
If you want to get a sense of just how many trans people TERF policy killed, consider the following governmental study published in 2012:
One of the most severe results of denying coverage of treatments to transgender insureds that are available to non-transgender insureds is suicidal ideation and attempts.
A meta-analysis published in 2010 by Murad, et al., of patients who received currently excluded treatments demonstrated that there was a significant decrease in suicidality post-treatment. The average reduction was from 30 percent pretreatment to 8 percent post treatment.
De Cuypere, et al., reported that the rate of suicide attempts dropped dramatically from 29.3 percent to 5.1 percent after receiving medical and surgical treatment among Dutch patients treated from 1986-2001.
According to Dr. Ryan Gorton, “In a cross-sectional study of 141 transgender patients, Kuiper and Cohen-Kittenis found that after medical intervention and treatments, suicide fell from 19 percent to zero percent in transgender men and from 24 percent to 6 percent in transgender women.)”
Clements-Nolle, et al., studied the predictors of suicide among over 500 transgender men and women in a sample from San Francisco and found a prevalence of suicide attempts of 32 percent. In this study, the strongest predictor associated with the risk of suicide was gender based discrimination which included “problems getting health or medical services due to their gender identity or presentation.”According to Gorton, “Notably, this gender-based discrimination was a more reliable predictor of suicide than depression, history of alcohol/drug abuse treatment, physical victimization, or sexual assault.”
A recent systematic review of largely American samples gives a suicide attempt rate of approximately one in every three individuals with higher rates found among adolescents and young adults. According to Dr. R. Nicholas Gorton, MD, who treats transgender people at a San Francisco Health Clinic, “The same review also noted that while mental health problems predispose to suicidality, a significant proportion of the drivers of suicide in the LGBT population as a whole is minority stress.” He continues to conclude that, “[f]or transgender people such stress is tremendous especially if they are unable to ‘pass’ in society. Surgical and hormonal treatments — that are [also] covered for non-transgender insureds — are specifically aimed at correcting the body so that it more closely resembles that of the target gender, so providing care significantly improves patients’ ability to pass and thus lessens minority stress.”
These studies provide overwhelming evidence that removing discriminatory barriers to treatment results in significantly lower suicide rates.
TERFs seem happy with these outcomes and still campaign against trans health care. To quote TERF pioneer, lecturer, and writer Bev Von Dohre, “They expect we’ll be shocked to see statistics about them being killed, and don’t realize, some of us wish they would ALL be dead.”
[Transsexual surgery] could be likened to political psychiatry in the Soviet Union. I suggest that transsexualism should best be seen in this light, as directly political, medical abuse of human rights. The mutilation of healthy bodies and the subjection of such bodies to dangerous and life-threatening continuing treatment violates such people’s rights to live with dignity in the body into which they were born, what Janice Raymond refers to as their “native” bodies. It represents an attack on the body to rectify a political condition, “gender” dissatisfaction in a male supremacist society based upon a false and politically constructed notion of gender difference. - Sheila Jeffreys
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is requesting that you assist them in researching the TERF movement.
We’d very much appreciate any information you or your allies could provide of the major players, websites, etc., in the anti-trans world. We would like to take a look at this for a possible investigative story for our magazine, Intelligence Report. I’m especially interested in links between the groups. Any help will be greatly appreciated. - SPLC
Send your stories and experiences with the TERF movement to the SPLC:
Twitter: @splcenter #no2h8splc
Email: SPLC contact form
Phone: (334) 956-8200
Also, please sign this petition.
By Mercedes Allen
March 6, 2014
I’m putting on my op-ed hat for this. This is prefaced at my blog with a preamble about my own experiences in sex work, and how the contrast between them informs my perspective on the issue. I won’t burden readers with that here, but they’re welcome to look further if they want the context.
It’s important to acknowledge that neither decriminalization nor “abolition” (which is probably a misnomer, since it wouldn’t completely eradicate sex work) will eliminate risk, nor will either of them completely eliminate the fact that exploitation occurs. This is important, because abolitionists will often point to the fact that a risk still exists as evidence that decriminalization fails, while erasing the fact that the same is true of abolition… and that the risk may in fact even be compounded by abolition-focused laws.
In a decriminalized environment, there are greater options, and more unconditional support for a person if they are wronged and seek help (although social attitudes toward sex workers can still be a barrier). Likewise, there is far less deterrent for a person to report exploitation if they are aware of it occurring. Harm is reduced through decriminalization simply by the virtue that it empowers people (well, more accurately, it eliminates much of the disempowerment that anti-prostitution laws institutionalize — it would take more to actually empower).
And an empowered person has greater freedom to choose (or create) less exploitative circumstances.
But I think where the divide among the political left and among feminists (and womens’ rights supporters under any other label) is resides in whether someone sees a sex worker’s autonomy as the desirable endpoint. Is it enough to place people in a position where they can better determine their own destiny? Or does government have a responsibility to eliminate all the variables, in order to save the few who might still find themselves in miserable circumstances — even if it increases the hardship and risk for everyone else? That is the question.
My belief is that government cannot possibly eliminate those variables, and it’s far more practical to give individuals the power they need to address their own needs based on their circumstances. What is needed is the freedom to communicate, to reduce harms and stigma, and to form independent support organizations that are worker-focused and better positioned to see and address them… something people are not very free to do in the current social climate.
The debate is further confounded (possibly deliberately) by the ever-increasing conflation between sex work and human trafficking, which are actually two very different issues. Equating the two is a serious derailment of the issue of actual human trafficking, by exploiting a real and urgent problem to attack a tangential population, and divert the funds that could have been used to address actual coercion, abduction and exploitation, directing them instead toward initiatives that will not provide any significant help to those who are genuinely trafficked.
This conflation occurs because the language from abolitionists deliberately equates sex workers with bought-and-sold commodities, portraying transactional sex as though it is the person themselves who is for sale, rather than the service the sex worker provides. The language that assumes that one is a traded product during commercial sex is understandably enraging. It would be natural to be infuriated about sex work if that were really the case. And this is often the way that abolitionists frame the discussion: as though prostitution sells people. In reality, sex workers sell an experience, from which a they ultimately walk away, with their capacity to direct their own lives intact and their ownership still in their own hands (as much as is possible for any of us, at least).
Melissa Gira Grant
March 5, 2014
There is no one sex industry. Escorting, street hustling, hostessing, stripping, performing sex for videos and webcams—the range of labor that falls under the umbrella of “the sex industry” makes speaking of just one sometimes feel inadequate. To collapse all commercial sex that way often risks conjuring something so flat and shallow that it would only reinforce the insistence that all sex for sale results from the same phenomenon—violence, deviance or desperation.
In many ways, the sex industry is just a part of the larger “informal economy,” that shadow marketplace of workplaces with varying degrees of regulation and legality. In the informal economy, those industries operating under the most intense criminalization, in the least understood sectors, have methods of organization and convention that are kept intentionally private, discreet. The workers of these industries are confined to a “floating city,” as sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh describes it in his book of the same name, imagined as existing outside the confines of more legitimate society. But it would seem that the informal sector’s many scholars, who have mapped the labor of trash pickers and street sellers, counterfeiters and smugglers, have failed to give sex work its due—because it is criminal, because it is service work and, in many cases, because it is work gendered as female.
I’ll describe just a few of the workplaces that these observers of the informal economy have almost entirely overlooked. One is a commercial dungeon—which is in reality just a house on a residential block in a suburb of a major American city, connected by public transit to its central business district and those who work there. This is not a marginal place, nor is it a place marked by transgression. It’s only called a dungeon so that clients seeking the services of those who work there can know what to expect—versus, say, a massage studio or a gentlemen’s club. There is no one held in chains but those who pay to be placed in them, and even then, only for an agreed time.
In a dungeon a client can expect that several workers will be available on each shift, and some of these workers will want to do what he wants to and some won’t. A receptionist will take his call, or answer his e-mail and assign him to a worker based on what he’d like, the worker’s preferences and mutual availability. Some dungeons might post their workers’ specialties on a website. They might also keep them listed in a binder next to the phone, the workers each taking turns playing receptionist, matching clients to workers over their shift. After each appointment the worker would write up a short memo and file it for future reference should the client call again, so that others would know more about him. The dungeon is informal only to the extent that the labor producing value inside its walls isn’t regarded as real work. There are shift meetings, schedules and a commission split based on seniority. Utility bills arrive, and are paid. Property taxes, too. In some cases the manager would give discreet employment references. And sometimes people were fired.
Continue reading at: http://www.thenation.com/article/178683/lets-call-sex-work-what-it-work#
Saturday, Feb 22, 2014
In the annals of great American nuttiness, the recent live-streamed creation vs. evolution debate between former kids’ television host and all-around mega-egghead Bill Nye and Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham will forever hold a distinguished place. Held on February 4 at the Petersburg, Ky., Creation Museum, which serves as the flagship enterprise for Ham’s Christian fundamentalist Answers in Genesis ministry, the science vs. religion smackdown showcased two competing theories about the origin and nature of life that have come to shape much of the sociopolitical discourse in modern America.
It’s unlikely that the debate ultimately changed any minds, but it did demonstrate a long-running historical theme that has made the U.S. fertile ground for the belief that God created humankind with a providential purpose. Since the days when the Puritans first arrived on its shores, Americans have believed that their nation was specially ordained by God to create a perfected society on earth untainted by the sins of the Old World. The origins of the simultaneously maligned and revered notion of “American Exceptionalism” can be found in the earliest Puritan attempts to forge a Godly society out of America’s supposedly uncivilized landscape, and this early attempt at creating heaven on earth made the U.S. susceptible to creationism.
Although Ken Ham is a native Aussie, he comes from a country spawned, like the United States, from the once-powerful British Empire. Australia and the U.S. share many cultural similarities, including a penchant for fundamentalist Christianity, and Ham’s twenty-plus years in America preaching the gospel of Young Earth creationism have made him every bit the pugnacious adopted Yankee. Ham’s beliefs are, to put it scientifically, flat-out bonkers. He contends that God created humans exactly as depicted in the Book of Genesis; that the earth is only 6,000 years old; that humans once coexisted with dinosaurs and, most significantly, that the Bible is the literal, inerrant word of God. Yep, Ham is the most extreme type of biblical literalist, and has no compunctions about using the Bible as the complete guide to history, geography, paleontology and theology all in one neat package.
Ken Ham’s beliefs don’t even represent the majority of American Christians, whether they be Evangelical, Catholic, mainline Protestant or otherwise. Heck, Ham is even too out-there for televangelist Pat Robertson, who declared on his “700 Club” broadcast that “to say that it all came about in 6,000 years is just nonsense and I think it’s time we come off of that stuff and say this isn’t possible.” But if Bill Nye the Science Guy seemed at times to be utterly flummoxed over the awe-inspiring logical fallacies that characterize Ham’s beliefs, it’s worth noting that this debate was less about evolution and more about competing ideas about the nature of human existence.
From Socialist Worker: http://socialistworker.org/2014/03/05/cointelpro-version-2
March 5, 2014
THERE’S AN old cliché about the left that we see plots by the state where they don’t exist. But the latest revelations about the Big Brother spy state via National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden show that an equally old joke has the ring of truth: Just because we’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get us.
Recent articles by journalist Glenn Greenwald for NBC News and The Intercept document, using evidence obtained by Snowden, cooperation between the British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the NSA.
A previously unknown division of GCHQ called the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) presented classified documents to the NSA and other government intelligence agencies that detailed some of their favorite spy tactics and dirty tricks–including “monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same [denial of service] attacks they accuse ‘hacktivists’ of using, the use of ‘honey traps’ (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses,” Greenwald wrote.
The bottom line, according to Greenwald: “[T]hese agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the Internet itself.”
Consider JTRIG’s advice on how to discredit a political activist, as explained in a Power Point presentation: “Set up a honey-trap. Change their photos on social networking sites. Write a blog purporting to be one of their victims. E-mail/text their colleagues, neighbors, friends, etc.” Other slides in the presentation include suggestions for “Identifying and exploiting fracture points” of activist groups–and “Gambits for deception” when infiltrating such organizations.
According to JTRIG, the “four D’s” of “online covert action” are: “Deny/Disrupt/Degrade/Deceive.”
Continue reading at: http://socialistworker.org/2014/03/05/cointelpro-version-2
Reuters in Moscow
theguardian.com, Thursday 6 March 2014
Two members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot were attacked by a group of men who poured rubbish and bright green paint over them and shouted obscenities at them at a McDonald’s restaurant.
A video, uploaded by the group on Thursday, shows at least three men attacking Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, shouting “[Go] to America!” and shooting paint into their faces from syringes in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.
“It hurts! Why are you doing this?” Tolokonnikova says, with green stains on her face and hands. “You don’t have the right to hurt me. Please don’t do that to anyone anymore.”
Alyokhina said she suffered head injuries and Tolokonnikova had chemical burns. The men wore patriotic symbols – so-called St George, ribbons which commemorate the victory over Nazi Germany in the second world war.
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina spent nearly two years in prison for performing a “punk prayer” in a protest against Vladimir Putin in a Russian Orthodox church in Moscow.
Celebrated in the west as activists who fight for freedom of speech, they are disliked by many people in Russia‘s socially conservative provinces, where support for Putin is strong.
When I do “Trans 101″ workshops for adolescent audiences, I sometimes simplify my transition into an explanation that I think they’ll grasp: When I was born, the doctor looked at my body and declared that I was a person who would grow to become a woman. But I eventually knew in my head and in my heart that I’d grow to become a man. And I have done so, with some effort and assistance.
In these words I’m addressing an unspoken question that lingers in the air: But how do you know you’re a man?
I’ve been meditating on this query lately, and I keep coming to the same counter-question: How does any male-identified person know he is a man? And does my answer really diverge greatly from how many men, trans or cisgender, would answer?
Transgender people are often said to have a “narrative” to their lives; we’re encouraged to see our journey toward recognizing our gender as a story with an articulable pattern. The truth is, though, that everyone’s gender is a story; it’s just that trans folks are more likely to be — perhaps I could say “are given the gift of having to be” — aware of it.
The story of becoming a man, a woman, or a person of any other gender often follows aspects of that most instinctual of story arcs: the hero’s journey. For instance, my personal narrative was one of effort in seeking a transformative goal (a quest), assistance (tools provided by medicine, law, and intangible emotional support), and mentorship by those who went before me (guides).
And my manhood was ultimately achieved through what could be considered rites of passage — which is to say a similar structure to communal cultural tales of how one achieves cisgender manhood. It’s simply some details that vary.
I do see one key difference in how all this plays out, however: Trans men make this invisible process disconcertingly visible by flipping the variables. While a cisgender man may be born with certain inherent potentials to physically embody a manhood that others will acknowledge socially, he’s not necessarily imbued with the demanding drive, the internal compass, the awareness of the systems and tropes he’s drawing on, and the deep gratitude concerning the specific man he’ll be.
It’s quite possible to reach cisgender manhood externally (for instance, by reaching a certain age or displaying changes in voice, facial hair, etc.) long before one reaches an internal sense of his own unique self — and, further, before one reaches a sense of how hard he’ll fight to be that self, no matter the costs or resistance. For trans men it’s often much the opposite case.