Review: Mirrors: Portrait of a Lesbian Transsexual by Beth Elliott

I just finished Beth Elliott’s new edition of  Mirrors: Portrait of a Lesbian Transsexual.

Published on CreateSpace and available through Amazon  currently $17.24  (http://www.amazon.com/Mirrors-Portrait-Transsexual-Geri-Nettick/dp/146360520X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316451777&sr=8-1)

Beth and my paths started crossing occasionally in the early 1970s.  I was in the radical left/feminist movements while she was involved with Daughters of Bilitis and the lesbian feminist movements.

I read the original version of this book and didn’t much care for the Roman à clef manner in which Beth told the story.  I wasn’t alone in criticizing her timidity without knowing more of the back-story behind the self protective measures she took.

While the new and improved version maintains the core Roman à clef of the original edition it offers a whole lot of analysis and self exploration as to who was involved and what their motivations were.

Beth is a person in history and was unfortunately the focus of an immense amount of focused hatred and bigotry at a young age while fighting for the right of transsexual women, both pre and post-op to have a place in the lesbian feminist movement.

She wasn’t a superhero, damn few of us were.  Most of us were making our way without any maps or guide posts up a sheer cliff sort of learning experience.  Being pioneers meant having to feel our own way, including making mistakes, getting knocked down and having to get up again.

Beth was the first sister I knew who was viciously trashed by the Lesbian Feminist Community, starting with an article she omits from this book.

One thing I have observed about women with transsexualism over the years, my self included, is no matter what our politics or our sexuality we try so freaking hard to be the absolute best we can be in that area.  There is little difference between those who make that commitment to becoming fashion models or feminists.  The goal may be totally different but the amount of commitment and effort is the same.

We often run into problems because until we have had a few years post-transsexual most of our socialization has come second hand.  We haven’t grown up learning the sexual politics of prima donas and mean girls, the vicious game of telephone and the spreading of rumors by people who would never say certain things to our faces.

We are vulnerable to being exposed because transsexualism is stigmatized, no where more so than it came to be stigmatized in certain “feminist” circles.

From everything I have heard from lesbians who knew and worked with Beth during the early 1970s, she was honest, sincere and very hard working. She was not deceitful or there to disrupt the movement or any of the myriad of vile accusations that were made towards her.  As I said our paths intersected on occasions during the 1970s.  I was staff photographer and a production artist at the Lesbian Tide several years after Beth wrote for them.

The Anti-Trans lesbian Klan intimidated them too and it can be presumed many others in the lesbian feminist movement.

I was with the Tide and active at the LA Women’s Building when the trashing of Sandy Stone began and saw the fear of defending Olivia Records and Sandy Stone.

Those post-transsexual women who were part of the feminist and lesbian feminist movements who weren’t personally trashed were scarred by the hate directed at transsexuals by the Lesbian Klan.

I’m very glad Beth chose to speak out regarding the criminal stalking and harassment she has endured for 40 some years at the hands of the clearly sociopathic BevJo Von Dohre, who is allegedly a compulsive regarding her own personal history as well as the accusations she has made regarding Beth and other post-transsexual lesbians and feminists.

For too long the Lesbian Klan bigotry has been presented as starting with Janice Raymond and her “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” type, contradictions filled smear job.

This book is worth buying and reading for Beth’s exposing of Robin Morgan’s duplicity and manipulation of anti-transsexual bigotry in service of the promotion of Robin Morgan.  The long time married to a man Robin Morgan, who has no problem exercising heterosexual privilege while claiming to be a woman identified lesbian, Robin Morgan.  The same Robin Morgan who trashed Kate Millett.  The same Robin Morgan who succored and manipulated Jane Alpert, an alleged snitch who appears to have ratted out numerous people involved in helping 1960s anti-war resisters who were underground.

It is shameful that the only voice I can really find from the feminist community, who had the courage to speak out regarding the trashing that so harmed the movement was Jo Freeman.  Many have spoken out since including Ruth Rosen and Susan Brownmiller.

Beth adds herself to those giving witness to the destructiveness of all the trashing not just the anti-trans trashing that went on.

As I said much of the body of this work was originally published a decade and a half ago and used a fictionalizing device.  The names have been changed in several cases, those of us who were there know who the people named were/are.

We need more books from this era that actually take the history into account with broad views as well as the more narrow views we have come to associate with trans-memoirs.

I should add this is a memoir of a lesbian feminist who happened to have been born with transsexualism and she expresses the same skepticism of the Transgender Borg one commonly sees in most post-transsexual women.

Now go to Amazon and buy the freaking book.  Beth deserves the support and so many of you need to really know the history of that period so you can contradict the historical revisionism.

Fish shrinkage probed in lab

From BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14852081

By Jennifer Carpenter
Science reporter, BBC News
18 September 2011

Scientists are starting a novel project to investigate whether overfishing alters fish behaviour and changes their pattern of development.

Over exploitation of stocks has already been shown to select for smaller fish.

A team reporting at the meeting of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology in Germany will deliberately remove the largest individuals from populations of lab-bred guppies.

The experiment is designed to uncover what is happening in our oceans.

“There are clear indications that almost all… commercial fish are shrinking,” said marine biologist Carl Lundin, who directs the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Global Marine and Polar Program.

For mass spawning fish such as cod, there is a great advantage to maintaining older, larger females because they are very efficient at restocking the population.

And if industrial fishing selectively removes the largest individuals, explained Dr Lundin, the industry suffers as populations are reduced to the smallest fish.

However, smaller seafood is unlikely to be the only consequence of industrial fishing; research has also shown that fish in the oceans are reproducing earlier.

Continue reading at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14852081

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How Change Is Going to Come in the Food System

From The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/article/163399/how-change-going-come-food-system

Michael Pollan
September 14, 2011 

Editor’s Note: This piece is one in a series of replies to Frances Moore Lappé’s essay on the food movement today.

In the forty years since the publication of Frances Moore Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet, a movement dedicated to the reform of the food system has taken root in America. Lappé’s groundbreaking book connected the dots between something as ordinary and all-American as a hamburger and the environmental crisis, as well as world hunger. Along with Wendell Berry and Barry Commoner, Lappé taught us how to think ecologically about the implications of our everyday food choices. You can now find that way of thinking, so radical at the time, just about everywhere—from the pages of Time magazine to the menu at any number of local restaurants.

To date, however, the food movement can claim more success in changing popular consciousness than in shifting, in any fundamental way, the political and economic forces shaping the food system or, for that matter, in changing the “standard American diet”—which has only gotten worse since the 1970s. Recently there have been some political accomplishments: food movement activists played a role in shaping the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, both passed in the last Congress, and the last couple of farm bills have thrown some significant crumbs in the direction of sustainable agriculture and healthy food. But the food movement cannot yet point to legislative achievements on the order of the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act or the establishment of the Environmental Protection Administration. Its greatest victories have come in the media, which could scarcely be friendlier to it, and in the food marketplace, rather than in the halls of Congress, where the power of agribusiness has scarcely been disturbed.

The marked split between the movement’s gains in the soft power of cultural influence and its comparative weakness in conventional political terms is faithfully mirrored in the White House. While Michelle Obama has had notable success raising awareness of the child obesity problem and linking it to the food system (as well as in pushing the industry to change some of its most egregious practices), her husband, after raising expectations on the campaign trail, has done comparatively little to push a reform agenda. Promising anti-trust initiatives to counter food industry concentration, which puts farmers and ranchers at the mercy of a small handful of processors, appear to be languishing. Efforts to reform crop subsidies during the last farm bill debate were halfhearted and got nowhere. And a USDA plan to place new restrictions on genetically modified crops (in order to protect organic farms from contamination) was reportedly overruled by the White House.

There are two ways to interpret the very different approaches of the president and the first lady to the food issue. A cynical interpretation would be that the administration has decided to deploy the first lady to pay lip service to reform while continuing business as usual. But a more charitable interpretation would be that President Obama has determined there is not yet enough political support to take on the hard work of food system reform, and the best thing to do in the meantime is for the first lady to build a broad constituency for change by speaking out about the importance of food.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/article/163399/how-change-going-come-food-system

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The Election of 2012: Why the Most Important Issues May Be Off the Table (But Should Be On It)

From Robert Reich: http://robertreich.org/post/10292950339

By Robert Reich
Friday, September 16, 2011

We’re on the cusp of the 2012 election. What will it be about? It seems reasonably certain President Obama will be confronted by a putative Republican candidate who:

Believes corporations are people, wants to cut the top corporate rate to 25% (from the current 35%) and no longer require they pay tax on foreign income, who will eliminate capital gains and dividend taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 a year, raise the retirement age for Social Security and turn Medicaid into block grants to states, seek a balanced-budged amendment to the Constitution, require any regulatory agency issuing a new regulation repeal another regulation of equal cost (regardless of the benefits), and seek repeal of Obama’s healthcare plan.

Or one who:

Believes the Federal Reserve is treasonous when it expands the money supply, doubts human beings evolved from more primitive forms of life, seeks to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and shift most public services to the states, thinks Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, while governor took a meat axe to public education and presided over an economy that generated large numbers of near-minimum-wage jobs, and who will shut down most federal regulatory agencies, cut corporate taxes, and seek repeal of Obama’s healthcare plan.

Whether it’s Romney or Perry, he’s sure to attack everything Obama has done or proposed. And Obama, for his part, will have to defend his positions and look for ways to counterpunch.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/10292950339

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11 Reasons Why the Unemployment Crisis Is Even Worse Than You Think

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/economy/152401/11_reasons_why_the_unemployment_crisis_is_even_worse_than_you_think/

Here are 11 unemployment facts that mass media underreport or ignore completely.

By Michael Thornton
September 14, 2011

President Obama recently addressed the nation during a joint session of Congress and the main theme of that address was the need to create jobs, lots of jobs, millions of jobs. The Great Recession has cost US workers millions of jobs and those jobs have not come back as quickly as they disappeared and in many cases those jobs will never return. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “In total, there are 6.9 million fewer jobs today than there were in December 2007.”

That is only a small part of the jobs-hole story, a story that is often ignored, overlooked and oversimplified by mass media.

The media has failed to present the unemployment problem, with all its associated economically devastating consequences, in the manner it deserves. It’s possible that unemployment facts and figures don’t translate well for advertisers, or they are too cumbersome to present in a two-minute segment. Whatever the reason, the mass media seem to avoid unemployment details as they would avoid describing and filming fresh road kill during a dinnertime newscast. While some excellent blogs clearly explain unemployment data, such as Mish’s Economic Trend AnalysisCalculated Risk and Economic Populist, mass media sites are absent.

The unemployment rate remained at 9.1 percent for August. Unemployment to the mass media generally centers on that single point within the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monthly employment report. There is passing mention of discouraged workers and the underemployed, but the true scale of the jobs crisis is given scant attention considering the magnitude of the problem.

What follows are 11 unemployment details that mass media underreports or ignores completely. This list will not be recalled fondly as a top-10 list of best quarterbacks or favorite vacation retreats would, but it’s where the REAL unemployment crisis is exposed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/152401/11_reasons_why_the_unemployment_crisis_is_even_worse_than_you_think/

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The theft of the American pension

From Salon: http://www.salon.com/news/economics/index.html?story=%2Fmwt%2Ffeature%2F2011%2F09%2F17%2Fretirement_heist_interview

In the last decade, the country’s biggest companies have raided worker benefits for profit. An expert explains how

By Thomas Rogers
September 17, 2011

America is in the midst of a retirement crisis. Over the last decade, we’ve witnessed the wholesale gutting of pension and retiree healthcare in this country. Hundreds of companies have slashed and burned their way through their employees’ benefits, leaving former workers either on Social Security or destitute — and taxpayers with a huge burden that, as the baby boomer generation edges towards retirement, is likely to grow. It’s a problem that is already affecting over a million people — and the most shocking part is, none of this needed to happen.

As Ellen E. Schultz, an investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, reveals in her new book, “Retirement Heist,” it wasn’t the dire economy that led these companies to plunder their own employees’ earnings, it was greed. Over the last decade, some of the biggest companies — including Bank of America, IBM, General Motors, GE and even the NFL — found loopholes, abused ambiguous regulations and used litigation to turn their employees’ hard-earned retirement funds into profits, and in some cases, executive compensation. Schultz’s book offers a relentlessly infuriating look at the mechanisms they used to get away with it.

We spoke to Schultz over the phone about the companies’ deliberate deceptions — and what they mean for the future of the country.

How did you first discover this “retirement heist” was happening?

In the late ’90s I noticed that many companies, including a lot of the largest companies in the country, were hiring experts to change their pension plans. They all claimed they were doing it to make themselves more modern and better for the mobile workforce, but it struck me as unlikely that a lot of companies would be doing something that was apparently costing them money just to make employees happy. I ultimately figured out that they had found a way to use the accounting rules to profit from cutting benefits.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/news/economics/index.html?story=%2Fmwt%2Ffeature%2F2011%2F09%2F17%2Fretirement_heist_interview

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Thousands Cheer Bernie Sanders’s Appeal to Obama, Super-Committee: Make the Rich Pay for Deficits

From The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/blog/163467/thousands-cheer-bernie-sanders-appeal-obama-super-committee-make-rich-pay-deficits

John Nichols
Sunday, September 18, 2011

Declaring that “Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation’s history,” and decrying threats to Medicare and Medicaid that would punish Americans who did not cause the current economic crisis, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders brought thousands of progressives from across the Midwest to their feet Saturday, as they cheered his message to President Obama and the Congressional “super-committee”: “We can deal with deficit reduction in a way that is fair and responsible.”

“Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable,” Sanders said, “it is time to ask the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in this country to pay their fair share.”

In several speeches to crowds numbers in the thousands who gathered for Fighting BobFest events in Madison, Wisconsin, Sanders continues to spell out the progressive economic agenda that argues against cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to balance budgets and address deficits and for tax policies that end special breaks for the wealthy and multinational corporations that offshore jobs from the United States.

President Obama is expected to deliver a major speech Monday on deficit reduction, and the White House has indicated that the president’s plan will not include “changes to Social Security.” Sanders is glad of that: “I am delighted that the White House has decided not to cut benefits under the program that has kept millions of retirees out of poverty,” the senators said in Madison. “Social Security has $2.5 trillion surplus, can pay out every benefit for the next twenty-seven years and has not contributed one nickel to the deficit. Social Security should be strengthened, not cut.”

That does not mean the House-Senate “super-committee” on deficit reduction—which is ramping up its work as members of Congress return to Washington—will do so, however. Nor does it mean that related and equally vital programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, are off the chopping block.

“Rumors persist that President Obama may embrace the idea of raising the age of Medicare eligibility, an idea he put on the table in his negotiations with Republicans during the debt ceiling debacle.” notes the Campaign for America’s Future, which has been closely monitoring threats to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/163467/thousands-cheer-bernie-sanders-appeal-obama-super-committee-make-rich-pay-deficits

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