Transsexual/Transgender Day of Remembrance.. There But For Fortune…

Yesterday I left a Facebook group called “Transsexual Liberation” because there was a twit on it who claimed she was going to pull a Fred Phelps and picket her local Day of Remembrance.

This person is a pre-op who has been out for less than a year and is a right wing asshole as well as a homophobe.  One thing I have noticed about so many of the people who feel compelled to trash TG people rather than question the cult like nature of the ideology is that they are quite willing to deny the humanity of not only transgender people but to trash post-transsexual women who don’t go along with or meet their peculiar standards.

What really blew me away is this person also regularly engages in red baiting and is generally a real live transsexual Michelle Bachmann.  She called me a socialist and I responded by calling her a right wing asshole because I’m not one of those squishy nice pacifist lefties who takes being red baited while hearing the mantra Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dalai Lama in my head.  I’m one of those nasty red/black sorts of lefties who verbally fights back.

Leaving aside the politics, there are a hell of a lot of people being treated like their being transgender or transsexual makes them into prey. They are considered worthless people that too few people care about. Therefore criminals who prey upon them are not subjected to the same level of police and court severity that they would be if they had murdered a middle class white woman.

Which brings us to another unpleasant topic: Axis of Oppression.

I noticed many of the trans-women listed were from  Honduras. The US government has sponsored repeated right wing coups, juntas and death squads in Honduras. Extremist right wing Catholic organizations have replaced the 1960s “liberation theologians”.  Right wing “evangelical” missionaries with their poisonous homophobia have flooded into Latin America.  Dire poverty has encouraged the rise of the drug cartels and extremely violent street gangs.

The vast majority of trans-women on these lists are people of color.

Many if not most are sex workers.

Many lack any alternative to sex work or the education to seize that opportunity were it made available to them.

Almost all TS/TG people have had violence done to them from the cradle.  Some of us are far more fortunate than others.  We have been privileged with white skin, good looks, education and opportunities to avoid the high risk life patterns most but not all of the TS/TG people on this list were forced to live in.

Since the 1960s and 1970s we have seen a concerted effort on the part of the right wing and the religious fanatics to rollback the advances in human rights, social justice and equality that grew out of the 1960s’ movements.  They demonized those movements, demonized the activists, ridiculed them as hippies, commies and utopians.  They used the media starting with Hollywood renegade cop movies to ratchet up fear so the public would demand ever more brutal police.  They cut all the programs that offered people an alternative to the streets.  They eliminated low cost housing and put people in the streets.

They escalated the War on Drugs after flooding the ghettos and barrios with cocaine and heroin.  They created a Prison Industrial Complex and filled it with people of color.

They crushed opportunity for the already marginalized so that often times the only survival alternative they had were either prostitution or selling drugs.

Video games like Grand theft Auto encouraged violence against sex workers.  Violent rap lyrics reduced all women to bitches and ‘hos’ and glorified violence towards the very women they degraded.

We allowed it to be acceptable for men to laugh and joke about how they would kill “faggots dressed as women” who came on to them.  A particularly vile lie since it is the men who make these jokes who come to the bars and strolls to buy sex from the TS/TG sex workers.

But society failed to censure that sort of advocacy of violence towards transsexual and transgender sex workers.

Yet we all live in a world where the religious right and thug thinking encourages men to kill us.  They use the lie that we deceived them as an excuse even when they come to trans-clubs to pick us up.

After all they are just “Trannie Trash.”

Shit… I even hear that from some of the privileged white  “classic transsexuals”, who came out in middle age while keeping their well paying careers and wives.

I looked around this weekend.  I checked out a lot of feminist blogs, LGBT/T blogs as well as the left wing blogs and I noticed something.  Those folks care and most of them are neither transsexual nor transgender.

I’d wager that more folks in the Occupy Movement care than in the Republican Party.

That is because empathy is a left wing trait.  Harshness and cruelty are right wing traits.

When I was little kid, a boy named Emmett Till was mutilated and lynched.  The story of his lynching outraged decent people everywhere.  Just as good people of all races stood with the Black Civil rights Movement against the conservative racism and evil of Jim Crow.

Today conservatives have resurrected Jim Crow with their efforts to deny the poor the right to vote.

I have been thrilled by the rise of the Occupy Movement and heartened by LGBT/T involvement in that movement.  Progressive people have been isolated for way too long in the ghettos of identity politics, where we are often tiny minorities within slightly larger minorities.  It is time to resurrect the spirit of the 1960s when we were all in this together and were all fighting to build a better world.

To do that we will have to free our empathy, open our hearts to compassion for other who are not identical to ourselves.  Listen to their need just as we would like them to listen to ours.

We need to put aside the John Galt mentality of “I’m number one and that’s who I am looking out for!”  It has become obvious that the one who dies with the most toys is still dead and has won nothing.  Perhaps making the world a better place for others is a better goal than amassing a mountain of crap no matter how bright and shiny or expensive that crap is.

Friday night I put up a video of Joan Baez singing  “There but for Fortune”, a Phil Ochs’ song.  One doesn’t have to be a transgender sex worker living on the streets to have empathy for that person.  All one has to do is acknowledge the privilege that comes with birth, white skin privilege, class privilege, education privilege and find that spark of humanity in your heart, that drop of empathy that says, “There but for Fortune go you or I.”

Dallas Occupies Donald Rumsfeld Event

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Police pepper spraying and arresting students at UC Davis

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Anger Sowing Seeds of a New Consumer Movement

From In These Times:

A new study suggests consumer rage against businesses is at an all-time high.

BY David Sirota
November 18, 2011

As we all know, America is angry. Really angry. To put it in pop culture terms, we’ve moved from the vaguely inspiring agita of Peter Finch in Network to the wild-eyed, primal-scream rage of Sam Kinison in Back to School.

When we pay attention to politics, we get peeved at Congress and the presidential candidates. When we tune into sports, we’re annoyed with squabbling players and owners. When we turn on the news, we fume at the smug pundits. And when it comes to the economy, we’re in a tizzy at big corporations.

Most of this indignation is nothing new; it is atavistic fury expressed in the modern vernacular. Yet, one strand of our anger—the kind directed at big business—may be truly novel, as our chagrin is no longer just that ancient animosity toward excessive corporate power. Instead, it has also become a personal disdain toward firms we deal with on a daily basis.

This is the key finding of the latest report from the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State University. Its findings show that after years of rising anger, consumer rage has reached an all-time high.

Back in 2004, ASU’s researchers theorized that such apoplexy was an outgrowth of affluence. “Households simply have more products and services today, and thus more points of contact, increasing our chances that we will have a problem,” they wrote.

But, of course, 2004 was a comparatively prosperous time. Today, by contrast, recession-battered consumers have access to fewer products and services and yet are angrier at companies, meaning the sentiment likely reflects a response to deeper trends.

One of those is a decline in craftsmanship in the era of free trade and offshore production. With America now awash in foreign wares, we’ve imported the developing world’s lax regulatory standards and, thus, its lower product quality. That means poorly constructed furniture, malfunctioning electronics and all the other shoddiness that drives customers nuts.

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Skin In The Game: Super Committee Cuts Could Lead To Worse Health For Gay And Transgender Americans

From Think Progress:

By Kellan Baker
Nov 18, 2011

The ongoing budget and deficit reduction negotiations carry far-reaching consequences for every American. But further capping or cutting funding for vital health programs such as Medicare, community health centers, and Medicaid place communities that already face disparities in health and access to health care, including gay and transgender Americans, under even greater threat.

Heavy cuts to health care entitlement programs and health programs funded by nondefense discretionary spending would put these communities at serious risk of losing assistance essential to their well-being. Many gay and transgender people, like other Americans, rely on entitlement programs such as Medicare and stand to benefit substantially from the expansion of Medicaid and other promising provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Most importantly, further cuts to discretionary spending threaten to undermine the national health infrastructure that protects the health of all Americans and that is critical to closing the disparities that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population.

Programs and initiatives at risk include:

Data collection by HHS on sexual orientation and gender identity that would allow gay and transgender disparities to be identified and effectively targeted

– Biomedical and behavioral research on HIV prevention and treatment at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health

– Primary, preventive, and other direct health care services through community health centers, which will serve an estimated 40 million Americans by 2015, including many gay and transgender people and their families

– Mental health services that help gay and transgender youth and adults cope with depression and other consequences of bullying and discrimination

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11-17-11 1a – Occupy Brooklyn Bridge, with Adam Gabbatt – Countdown with Keith Olbermann

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Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Opens Eastern Front for Neoliberalism

From In These Times:

By Michelle Chen
Friday Nov 18, 2011

With the U.S. economy stuck in a constant rut and Europe going into a tailspin, President Obama is looking to escape to the East. While the nations of the Asian Pacific rim face strains of their own, from massive inequality to climate change, their growth rates look positively zen compared to the stagnant economies that used to run the world.

So for the past several days President Obama has been charming Asia-Pacific officialdom, hoping these “emerging” economies can prop up the West’s sagging empires. At home, the White House has sold its vision for the “Pacific Century” as a boon for U.S. jobs, and abroad, he’s looking to consolidate influence over Asian leaders with subtle overtures toward checking China’s regional power.

The centerpiece of this program is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would involve Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, in addition to the U.S. While it would build on existing trade ties in the region, critics see it as an unprecedented supersized neoliberal agenda repackaged with the bow of modernization and “development.”

But according to fair trade activists, the deal may end up not only failing to bring significant job opportunities, but laying the groundwork for an economic regime built on offshoring, deregulation and the swapping of national sovereignty for corporatocracy.

Negotiations have proceeded quietly for months, cooking up sweeping new trade rules for the nine partner countries (with diplomatic nods at another enfeebled giant, Japan). The factsheet reiterates the usual boilerplate lines on ensuring a “competitive business environment,” and “securing fair, open, and transparent markets for services trade.”

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Occupy Oakland Activist Calls for Annual Occupations Of City Hall

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Op-ed: The Harsh Reality of Some Transgender Lives

From The Advocate:

When the LGBT community breeds transphobia, everyone gets left behind, and the scores of transgender women who are commemorated each year at the Transgender Day of Remembrance are proof.

By Jake Finney, op-ed contributor
November 18, 2011

Hidden in the shadows of West Hollywood’s vibrant gay scene, Angeline, a transgender woman, is getting a manicure at one of the few nail shops willing to serve transgender clients. In the meantime, she is on the phone talking about the best places for clothes shopping, where she will actually be allowed to use the women’s dressing room. All of this is in preparation for a night out of dancing with her transgender girlfriends at downtown nightclub.

Angeline is an undocumented immigrant who has lived in L.A. for the past six years. She fled her home in Honduras in order to save her life. As a child she saw her gay uncle brutally beaten in the street by the other men in their town. As she grew into a young adult, her mother feared an even worse fate for her transgender daughter and gave her a small amount of money and told her to leave the country. She did not want to see her transgender daughter murdered, like so many of the other transgender women in Latin America, at the hands of their neighbors or the local police. Angeline’s only hope for survival was to move to the United States and apply for political asylum.

Once she arrived in the U.S., it took a while for her to find support and resources. She needs to save several thousand dollars to hire a new immigration lawyer. The last one she had ended up being a con artist who promised to help her apply for asylum but instead took all her cash and changed his phone number.

Unable to find work, she ended up homeless, and most homeless shelters are unwilling to accommodate a transgender woman. She spent a lot of time on the streets, where men frequently pressure her for sex. Eventually, like many of her friends, she found that the only way she is going to be able to provide for her basic needs and hire a new immigration lawyer is to start engaging in sex work.

Despite antidiscrimination laws, finding jobs can be extremely difficult for transgender women. Being undocumented only makes things more complicated. Recent studies published in Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality showed that unemployment among transgender people is double the rate of the general population and more than 15% of trans individuals have been compelled to engage in the street economy for survival (such as doing sex work or selling drugs).

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Senate Hearing Room Erupts into Chant: ‘We Are the 99 Percent!’

From AFL-CIO Blog:

by Adele Stan,
Nov 17, 2011

Today’s National Day of Action, called by Rebuild the Dream, the Alliance for Retired Americans and embraced by members of the Occupy movement, took an unlikely turn on Capitol Hill, as working and retired Americans joined together to tell lawmakers not to balance the budget on the backs of the 99 percent, as a joint congressional committee has threatened to do through proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

In a packed hearing room at the U.S. Senate, participants in a “Jobs, Not Cuts!” rally, keynoted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), erupted into the chant that has come to identify the Occupy movement: “We are the 99 percent!”  Most of the chanters bore little resemblance to the stereotyped image of an Occupy protester—many were senior citizens, and the young people in the audience bore a distinctly clean-cut look.

It all served to prove Sanders’ point that mainsteram American wants the wealthiest Americans to pay more taxes, and they want Congress not to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Sanders said:

Poll after poll, that is what the vast majority of the American people want.

Rally participants also heard from several people who told how Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security had saved them from abject poverty or enabled them to maintain their independence. Among them, Marilyn Dixon Hills of Camden, N.J., a 58-year-old widow,worked as nurse for 30 years before being suddenly struck with a paralyzing illness. She’s currently without health-care coverage because she can’t afford her COBRA payments, which extend health care coverage after someone leaves a job. Her Social Security disability benefits make her ineligible for Medicaid. But without those Social Security benefits—benefits the Super Committee might cut—she would have no income.

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Obama raises tension in the Pacific

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It Is “Virtually Certain” That Climate Change is Causing More Extreme Weather

From Treehugger:

Brian Merchant
November 18, 2011

There’s little to no doubt that climate change will both exacerbate extreme weather events, and cause many kinds to occur more frequently. But there’s still debate over which events will be most severely worsened by climate change, and how greatly events like droughts, hurricanes, tropical storms, and floods will be impacted by the climbing global temperature.

These are the basic conclusions of the latest IPCC Special Report, “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation“, which was published today. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), as you know, is an international body of scientists who work together to synthesize the latest climate research into policy recommendations and guidelines for the public.

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Occupy Wall Street Plan’s to undermine it

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The Coach and the Pope

From Common Dreams:

by Christopher Brauchli
Published on Saturday, November 19, 2011 by

There is only one religion although there are a hundred versions of it.
— George Bernard Shaw, Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant

Penn State and the Vatican have some things in common (although there’s been no talk of shutting down the Vatican whereas a few curmudgeons suggested Penn State shut down its football program for a year; nor is there any talk at the Vatican of firing its head coach, Benedict XVI, whereas Penn State fired both its president, Graham Spanier, and its head coach, Joe Paterno.) The Vatican and Penn State each has formal reports describing the errors of the institution’s ways. Penn State has a grand jury report detailing sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky and the Vatican has four formal reports detailing multiple accounts of sexual abuse by assorted priests in Ireland (to mention only one of many countries with such reports.) The last two pertaining to Ireland were the Murphy Report in 2009 and the Cloyne report in 2011.

The Murphy Report examined more than 300 abuse claims in the Archdiocese of Dublin between 1975 and 2004. (The Murphy for whom the report is named is not Father Lawrence Murphy who abused more than 200 deaf children in Wisconsin between 1950 and 1974. Father Murphy did not write a report detailing his activities and those who did, did so in letters describing his activities to top Vatican officials including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict. The letters were ignored.) The Murphy report said that rather than being concerned about the children, the Church was concerned about “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church and the preservation of its assets.” In response to the Murphy report, Pope Benedict sent out a pastoral letter on March 19, 2010. In that letter he said he shared “in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them. . . .”

The Murphy report was followed by the Cloyne Report that was released in July 2011. That report said that from 1996 to 2009 the clergy in Ireland’s Cloyne Diocese ignored complaints about 19 priests. In response to the Cloyne report the Vatican said enough contrition is enough contrition and recalled its ambassador, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, the Papal Nuncio, to the Vatican, for consultation. Vatican Spokesman, Fr Ciro Benedettini said: “The recalling of the Nuncio, a measure rarely used by the Holy See, denotes the seriousness of the situation, and the desire of the Holy See to deal with it (with) objectivity and with determination, as well as a certain note of surprise and regret regarding some excessive reactions.” In referring to “excessive reactions” the spokesman may have been referring to the speech to Parliament given by Ireland’s prime minister four days earlier in which he referred to the Church’s dysfunction, disconnection and elitism” in failing to deal with child sex abuse. He said: “The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation.’” On November 3, 2011, Ireland closed its Vatican embassy. Dublin’s foreign ministry said the closure occurred because the embassy “yields no economic return.” Presumably it has nothing to do with the Vatican recall of the Ambassador 4 months earlier.

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