Tell your senators to vote for the LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act

Press Release from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

April 25, 2012

Imagine being beaten up by your partner and trying to get help from a domestic violence shelter only to be turned away. Just because the person who hurt you is the same gender or because your orientation or gender presentation aren’t what they’re used to, you get no help and are put at risk of being hurt again. The fact is that LGBT people experience domestic violence at the same rate as the general population — 25-35% of anyone in a relationship runs the risk of violence.

But there’s a solution at hand. For the very first time, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) includes explicit language that ensures that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can get the services they deserve at their local shelter or precinct. Contact your senator right nowand make sure they KEEP the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) protections in the bill when they vote on it this week.

Every victim of domestic violence deserves access to these life-saving protections and should not be afraid to ask for them. In a 2010 study, 96% of victim services and law enforcement agencies said that they did not have specific services for LGBT victims. And right now, only one in five survivors of same-gender sexual assault and intimate partner violence receive victim services.

We can change this. Act now to ensure that all survivors have services they can turn to when the worst happens.

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Landmark Employment Ruling Protects Against Anti-Transgender Discrimination

From The Advocate:

In a decision described by one legal expert as “game-changing,” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that existing federal law protects transgender individuals from sex discrimination on the basis of their gender identity.

By Andrew Harmon
April 24, 2012

When Mia Macy was passed over for a position at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, that she said had been promised was hers, the Phoenix police detective’s investigative prowess kicked in.

More than a year ago, Macy, who is transgender, had contacted the director of an ATF crime laboratory in Walnut Creek, Calif. about an open position as a ballistics forensic technician. At the time, she presented herself as a man. But Macy soon informed the hiring agency that she was transitioning from male to female. Five days later, she was told the Walnut Creek position had been eliminated due to federal budget cuts.

Only it hadn’t. Someone else had been hired for the job, and Macy suspected she had been dropped from consideration after revealing she was transgender. She filed a complaint in June 2011 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that she was discriminated against on the basis of her gender identity.

Now, in a decision described by Macy’s attorney as “game-changing,” the EEOC has ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects transgender individuals from sex discrimination.

Title VII does not simply prohibit discrimination based on biological sex, the EEOC, an independent agency that enforces federal workplace discrimination laws, ruled in a 16-page decision issued April 20.

Rather, the law’s “protections sweep far broader than that, in part because the term ‘gender’ encompasses not only a person’s biological sex but also the cultural and social aspects associated with masculinity and femininity,” the commission ruled. Macy’s case has now been remanded for further investigation.

The EEOC decision confirms a trend in federal court decisions interpreting Title VII to protect transgender individuals from sex-based discrimination.

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New study finds genderqueer people face unique patterns of abuse and discrimination

From The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

April 23, 2012

Genderqueer people face distinct patterns of discrimination and violence according to a new study based on the dataset gathered for Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality.

The study, A Gender Not Listed Here: Genderqueers, Gender Rebels, and OtherWise in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, was just published by the LGBTQ Policy Journal at the Harvard Kennedy School. It examines the experiences of genderqueer individuals and others who clearly identified as neither a man nor a woman.

A Gender Not Listed Here found that, when compared to transgender-identified respondents surveyed in Injustice at Every Turn, genderqueer respondents said they were more likely to be unemployed (76 percent vs. 56 percent); suffer physical assaults (32 percent vs. 25 percent); experience harassment by law enforcement (31 percent vs. 21 percent); and forgo healthcare treatment due to fear of discrimination (36 percent vs. 27 percent). There were other measures in which transgender respondents suffered higher levels of discrimination or harassment.

“These findings aren’t just groundbreaking for our academic understanding of the genderqueer experience,” says study author Jack Harrison of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Policy Institute. “As with Injustice at Every Turn, they are a call to action. No one should have to get up in the morning fearing they will be denied a job, abused by police, mistreated by a doctor or attacked while walking down the street simply because of their gender identity and expression. For genderqueer people, this is a harsh and unacceptable reality.”

Harrison authored A Gender Not Listed Here: Genderqueers, Gender Rebels, and OtherWise in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey along with Jaime Grant of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College and Jody L. Herman of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

The study also found that genderqueer individuals had distinct demographic characteristics. Compared to other Injustice at Every Turn respondents, they were more likely to be people of color (30 percent were people of color vs. 23 percent who were people of color in the overall sample) and young people (89 percent vs. 68 percent were under age 45). These demographic findings mark a crucial new development in the understanding of the way race and age affect gender identity/expression-based discrimination.

To download: A Gender Not Listed Here: Genderqueers, Gender Rebels, and OtherWise in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

To download: Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

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Occupy, the 99% Spring, and the New Age of Direct Action

From Yes Magazine:

Collaboration or cooptation? Expansion or dilution? Mark Engler on what to make of the 99% Spring.

posted Apr 23, 2012

Over the past several weeks, a broad coalition of progressive organizations—including National People’s Action (NPA), ColorOfChange, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA),, the New Bottom Line, environmental groups like Greenpeace and, and major unions such as SEIU and the United Auto Workers—has undertaken a far-reaching effort to train tens of thousands of people in nonviolent direct action. They have called the campaign the 99% Spring.

Starting this week, many of these same groups will be rallying their members and supporters to use newly honed skills to confront the shareholder meetings of corporations across the United States—charging executives with abusing workers, the environment, and communities in pursuit of profits for the 1 percent. They are calling the drive 99% Power. With prominent actions gearing up this week—starting with major protests at Wells Fargo meetings in San Francisco—the campaign may soon be coming to a city near you.

The Genesis of the 99% Spring

Although this month’s 99% Spring trainings have taken place in the shadow of the Occupy movement, the coalition building behind them actually predated the emergence of Occupy Wall Street. Last summer, a handful of organizers from groups such as Jobs with Justice, NPA, and NDWA had discussions in which they lamented the lack of direct action in recent years. As NPA Executive Director George Goehl explains, “We felt what was missing in terms of organizing and in terms of the broader fight was that there wasn’t enough energy pointed towards challenging corporate power: That’s not going to government and saying, ‘Reign these guys in,’ but actually going toe-to-toe with big corporations.”

The groups envisioned bringing together organizations to work across single-issue lines, using more confrontational strategies. For the fall, they planned overlapping weeks of action in eight major cities—which resulted in arrests from Boston to Los Angeles of activists demanding accountability for the big banks and protesting foreclosures. Since the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park exploded into a nationwide phenomenon at the same time, these protests were largely covered in the media as part of the Occupy movement. Participants from the Occupy encampments joined in the demonstrations, and actions that had been organized by community groups, in turn, helped to create a sense of national scope and escalating drama for the movement.

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Wendell Berry, American Hero

From The New York Times:

By Mark Bittman
April 24, 2012

The sensibility of Wendell Berry, who is sometimes described as a modern day Thoreau but who I’d call the soul of the real food movement, leads people like me on a path to the door of the hillside house he shares with his wife, Tanya, outside of Port Royal, Ky. Everything is as the pilgrim would have it: Wendell (he’s a one-name icon, like Madonna, but probably in that respect only) is kind and welcoming, all smiles.

He quotes Pope (“Consult the genius of the place in all”), Spenser, Milton and Stegner, and answers every question patiently and articulately. He doesn’t patronize. We sit alone, uninterrupted through the morning, for two or three hours. Tanya is at church; when it’s time, he turns on the oven, as she requested before leaving. He seems positively yogic, or maybe it’s just this: How often do I sit in long, quiet conversation? Wendell has this effect.

Tanya returns around noon, and their daughter, Mary, arrives shortly thereafter. (Mary lives nearby, runs a winery, and is engaged in enough food and farm justice issues to impress Wendell Berry.) We eat. It’s all local, food they or their neighbors or friends or family have grown or raised, food that Tanya has cooked. There’s little fuss about any of that, only enjoyment and good eating. I note that I can’t stop devouring the corn bread, and that the potatoes have the kind of taste of the earth that floors you.

And we chat, and then Wendell takes me for a drive around the countryside he was born in and where he’s lived for most of his life. As he waves to just about every driver on the road, he explains that the land was once home to scores of tobacco farmers, and now has patches of forest, acres of commodity crops and farms where people do what the land tells them to. That’s one of Wendell’s recurring themes: Listen to the land.

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Occupy Wall Street: what is to be done next?

From The Guardian UK:

How a protest movement without a programme can confront a capitalist system that defies reform, Tuesday 24 April 2012

What to do in the aftermath of the Occupy Wall Street movement, when the protests that started far away – in the Middle East, Greece, Spain, UK – reached the centre, and are now reinforced and rolling out all around the world?

In a San Francisco echo of the OWS movement on 16 October 2011, a guy addressed the crowd with an invitation to participate in it as if it were a happening in the hippy style of the 1960s:

“They are asking us what is our program. We have no program. We are here to have a good time.”

Such statements display one of the great dangers the protesters are facing: the danger that they will fall in love with themselves, with the nice time they are having in the “occupied” places. Carnivals come cheap – the true test of their worth is what remains the day after, how our normal daily life will be changed. The protesters should fall in love with hard and patient work – they are the beginning, not the end. Their basic message is: the taboo is broken, we do not live in the best possible world; we are allowed, obliged even, to think about alternatives.

In a kind of Hegelian triad, the western left has come full circle: after abandoning the so-called “class struggle essentialism” for the plurality of anti-racist, feminist etc struggles, “capitalism” is now clearly re-emerging as the name of the problem.

The first two things one should prohibit are therefore the critique of corruption and the critique of financial capitalism. First, let us not blame people and their attitudes: the problem is not corruption or greed, the problem is the system that pushes you to be corrupt. The solution is neither Main Street nor Wall Street, but to change the system where Main Street cannot function without Wall Street. Public figures from the pope downward bombard us with injunctions to fight the culture of excessive greed and consummation – this disgusting spectacle of cheap moralization is an ideological operation, if there ever was one: the compulsion (to expand) inscribed into the system itself is translated into personal sin, into a private psychological propensity, or, as one of the theologians close to the pope put it:

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Why You Should Still Care About Chicago’s NATO Summit

From Truth Out:

By Allison Kilkenny
Tuesday, 24 April 2012

When it was announced in March that the G-8 summit would not take place in Chicago as scheduled, but instead Camp David, Occupy Wall Street activists declared victory. After all, it was Occupy that had been making waves all fall, threatening to tarnish some of the glossiest public facades of the most powerful companies and figures in the world, and it is Occupy that is working to organize thousands of protesters expected to flood Chicago next month in anticipation of NATO and (at the time) G-8.

Suddenly, there was Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for President Obama’s National Security Council, admitting that the G-8 was high-tailing it from Chicago, Obama’s hometown, because of “political, economic and security issues.”

But real victory for activists was far from secure. The NATO and International Security Assistance Force meetings are still scheduled for the third week of May, and Occupy Chicago, along with other protest groups, are prepared to demonstrate despite Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s police state-esque transformation of the Chicago Police Department.

Even though the G-8 will now be held in a friendly-sounding bunker, the world should still watch Chicago this May, if only to bear witness to the clash between forces bearing wildly different styles of armor. Protesters will be armed with, well, nothing. Signs, maybe some banners. These activists will face a police force on steroids and a mayor wielding unprecedented levels of power, who essentially has full carte blanche to crush protest actions under the guise of maintaining security.

As of right now, it seems authorities in Chicago still expect a large turnout, despite the transfer of the G-8 summit. Chicago Police Department Chief Debra Kirby, head of the department’s international relations office, told the media that the removal of the G-8 from Chicago has done nothing to curb the interest from protesters intending to demonstrate during the summit weekend and police still expect large crowds of demonstrators to descend upon the city.

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