Setting Unattainable Imaginary Standards

The Stanford Gender Identity Clinic had a poster of the Serenity Prayer on the wall. on the wall.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

I’m an atheist and yet that prayer along with Bene Gesserit, Litany against Fear (from the Dune series ) have served me well over the many years I’ve been post-transsexual.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Dr. Benjamin had this overly optimistic pattern of thought regarding the mountain of problems people with transsexualism faced both before and after sex reassignment surgery, that overly optimistic and god like approach carried over to the doctors that treated us in the early years.

We were treated as though transsexualism was a self contained issue that needed only surgery to correct.  That surgery made everything better.

Part of that misconception came from treating us like specimens to be studied, as though transsexualism was some sort of exotic condition.

Except it isn’t all that rare, and wasn’t even all that rare in the early 1970s.

I spent some 18 months working in one of the first transsexual peer group counseling centers.

I got the job because people there considered me bright, compassionate, understanding and willing to work for nothing for the first six months.

I saw a lot of damaged people during those 18 months, I’ve seen a lot more since.

I actually thought the idea of the Transgender Umbrella was a good thing back in the early 1990s before it turned into a Stalinistic cult of true believers and fanatical ideologues.

I thought it was a good idea back then because I saw a lot of people who were damaged by the problems of living in a society that is brutally bigoted towards both transsexual and transgender people.

The brutality starts from the cradle, when kids show the first signs of being different, meaning likely to grow up to have one or more initials from the alphabet of the children of the queer rainbow attached to them.

When I hear straight post-transsexual sisters (and it is mostly sisters) proclaim their straightness and how none of this applies to them.  The only thing I can say about that is, “Why, that’s just so sweet. Bless your little heart.  Oh and don’t call me if your privilege suddenly evaporates.”

Forty years and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

I’ve learned that it hurts to keep my mouth shut when people spew bigoted bullshit towards minority groups while assuming that because I look just like them I share those bigoted points of view.

Last Presidential election I supported Obama because I am a Democrat living and working in a place where Democrats are a minority.  I am white and have stood against racism since I was a child. People assumed that I wouldn’t find their racist crap to be offensive. I  did and they were surprised when I said I didn’t like that sort of casual racism.

Transsexualism is a lonely experience. I imagine that as children most of us thought we were the only one.

The idea that we are the only one can be a warping idea.

It leaves us devoid of the experiences of others, removes any means of measuring ourselves against others.

Add in the idea that we should only learn from “real women”, even though people who were assigned female at birth go through a different set of oppressions, while growing up and have never had to deal with the process of changing sex, with its attendant joys such as being disowned by family and discriminated against by society.

There are some  judgmental transsexuals out there who think they are really special because they are the only real, pure transsexuals on the planet. I’ve actually seen a pictures of some of them and there are a whole lot of non-op transgender people who would have an easier time not getting stared at than some of the ultra judgmental folks.

Oh… Lots of these folks think they are stealth, which is rally weird since they have this huge on line presence, often trolling every where.

I was pretty much stealth for a few years in the 1970s, during the time when being transsexual in the lesbian feminist movement meant getting trashed.

So I bit my tongue and ignored bigoted comments about transsexuals just as long as I wasn’t being targeted.

And I paid a therapist to listen to me babble about how depressed I was listening to all the crap.

I was also lonely.  I needed some friends I could just talk with about the bullshit society lays on us.

So I wound up with a circle of transsexual best friends.

But I also have people I knew before I had SRS, I have a cousin I like a lot.

At times I’ve been afraid of the things I’ve had to deal with in life and the Litany against fear has helped.

But that Serenity Prayer has helped more than most things.

Changing what I can and accepting what I can’t as well as knowing the difference has been one of the most important things I ever learned.

Transsexualism is something I was born with and have dealt with as best I can.

I’m not ashamed to say that having other friends to talk with who have also had to deal with the issues that come with transsexualism helps.

It also seems as though those people who most successfully deal with having been born transsexual are those who find a balance somewhere between stealth and total outness.

Both those extremes seem to exhaust people. People who start out totally out, draw back while those who go deep stealth for a while tend to reach out to others when they are lonely and need someone to talk to.

Stealth has become far harder than it used to be.  If you had an online presence then trying to go stealth is like trying to push toothpaste back into the tube.

But stealth is limiting in other ways. It means you can’t do anything that might draw attention to yourself, including promotions at work that might bring about a background check.

Too many transsexuals are obsessive about setting imaginary rules as to dress, behavior etc.  This is kind of ironic because we violated the most basic social rule of all when we turned what most people consider an ascribed trait, sex, in to an achievable one.

Perhaps that is at the root of all this rule setting. Perhaps people think because I did this or that and this other person did other things I’m authentic and the other person isn’t even, though we both had the same sex reassigning surgery.

Most of this sound and fury just comes off as very drama queenish.

Psychiatry Manual Drafters Back Down on Diagnoses

From The New York Times:

Published: May 8, 2012

In a rare step, doctors on a panel revising psychiatry’s influential diagnostic manual have backed away from two controversial proposals that would have expanded the number of people identified as having psychotic or depressive disorders.

The doctors dropped two diagnoses that they ultimately concluded were not supported by the evidence: “attenuated psychosis syndrome,” proposed to identify people at risk of developing psychosis, and “mixed anxiety depressive disorder,” a hybrid of the two mood problems.

They also tweaked their proposed definition of depression to allay fears that the normal sadness people experience after the loss of a loved one, a job or a marriage would not be mistaken for a mental disorder.

But the panel, appointed by the American Psychiatric Association to complete the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or D.S.M., did not retreat from another widely criticized proposal, to streamline the definition of autism. Predictions by some experts that the new definition will sharply reduce the number of people given a diagnosis are off base, panel members said, citing evidence from a newly completed study.

Both the study and the newly announced reversals are being debated this week at the psychiatric association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, where dozens of sessions were devoted to the D.S.M., the standard reference for mental disorders, which drives research, treatment and insurance decisions.

Dr. David J. Kupfer, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and the chairman of the task force making revisions, said the changes came in response to field trials — real-world studies testing whether newly proposed diagnoses are reliable from one psychiatrist to the next — and public commentary. The psychiatric association has posted its proposals online, inviting public reaction. More than 10,500 comments have come through the site, many of them critical.

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Who’s more compassionate…atheists or fundamentalists?

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Christian Men Want Their Kingdom Back, and They Won’t Stop Until They’ve Gotten It

From RH Reality Check:

May 8, 2012

Full Disclosure: I never believed the Creation Myth was real.

I was raised Protestant. Mostly Mainstream Protestant, which I know doesn’t count to the fundamentalist right, but still. In Sunday School, of course, we learned the Old Testament’s Greatest Hits. I had a Sunday School teacher, Dayton Lewis, who called himself a fundamentalist, but even he glossed over the question of whether we were all descended from Adam and Eve. I was always suspicious of that, and the Noah’s Ark story, because it seemed weird to me, even as a child, that Adam and Eve’s children — brothers and sisters — married each other and had babies. Animals, too, would have had to do that after getting off the Ark. It struck me as wrong, because I was raised on a farm, and we had sheep. My father made sure to rotate out the ram to prevent it from mating with its sisters. He explained this was because inbreeding hurt the flock, causing malformed sheep.

So if Adam and Eve were the first humans — and the only ones at the time — and their kids married each other and had babies, I raised my hand one Sunday to ask Mr. Lewis, “Does that mean their kids were all deformed?” I didn’t stop there, because I had a habit of thinking aloud, and taking things to their logical extreme. “And then the next generation would have had to marry their siblings or their first cousins…” so it’d still be too close for genetic comfort. “Does that mean, Mr. Lewis, that Christians are inbred?” I had worked my self up into a frenzy of genetic concern.

Mr. Lewis, not accustomed to being challenged by second graders, especially girls with animal husbandry experience, reassured me. “Times were different then,” he said. But that didn’t do anything to reassure me.

A few years later, we would again discuss the creation story, but this time, older and more attuned to the social justice movements of the late sixties and seventies, I had a new insight as I contemplated Adam and Eve. Again, I raised my hand, an action that Mr. Lewis, a kind man who really believed in his mission of Christian education, had come to dread. “So that means, then, that if all people are descended from Adam and Eve, we truly are equal, right? Like in the song, red and yellow, black and white — we really are all brothers and sisters under the skin!”

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The EEOC and Sissies Like Me: How the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Made the Case for a United LGBT Movement

From The Huffington Post:


I had never heard of the EEOC before my coworker said we were hoping for a ruling from them that would protect transgender people under Title VII, the law that prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. I asked around, and most of my friends had never heard of it, either.

Let me break it down. The EEOC interprets and enforces employment anti-discrimination laws. They’re one of those super-important governmental agencies that many people never hear about until an issue like this comes up for an individual or community. Take a look at their website, and you’ll get a sense of all the work they do to ensure equality in the workplace.

When they finally did issue the ruling that trans people are protected by Title VII, everyone here at the Transgender Law Center was ecstatic. For the first time ever transgender people throughout the country can file discrimination complaints at their local EEOC offices knowing that they are protected by federal law.

What struck me personally about the ruling was how broad-reaching and how eloquently it explained the connections between gender and sexuality that so many gay, lesbian, and bisexual people struggle to make. “The term ‘gender,'” says the ruling, “encompasses not only a person’s biological sex but also the cultural and social aspects associated with masculinity and femininity.”

A few years ago I was one of the few proud sissies in a documentary film called The Butch Factor. In the film man after man talked about the pressures he felt, both within the gay community and beyond, to bulk up his muscles and present himself as masculine. Some of them put down feminine folks like me, while others noted how much courage it takes for a feminine gay man or genderqueer person to live authentically.

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The New Wall Street Racket Looting Your City, One Block at a Time

From Alternet:

New schemes hold the public hostage to private finance.

By Matt Reichel
May 7, 2012

When Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced a “new and innovative” financing tool last month to help Chicago renovate failing infrastructure without precipitating another budget crisis, many in the city were understandably critical.

Chicagoans have already endured the notorious 75-year lease of their parking meters to a consortium headed by Morgan Stanley. That sale promulgated a system wherein the public is held hostage by private finance, due largely to the inclusion of arcane legal stipulations like “non-compete clauses” and “compensation events” in the language of the contract.

Ellen Danin, writing in the Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy relates that: “Chicagoans learned about compensation events when CBS reported that the city’s parking meter contract required reimbursement for events like repairing streets. Public records showed that in the first quarter of 2009, the city was liable to the parking meter contractor for more than $106,000 in lost income during the slow months for street repair and street closings for festivals, parades, and holidays, as well as repairs and maintenance. At that rate, it is not unreasonable to predict that Chicago will owe roughly $500,000 a year to the private contractor.”

The city essentially acts as an insurer for the meter merchants, with the return being a one-time injection of roughly a billion dollars that the previous mayor, Daley the Second, haphazardly exhausted on closing budget deficits in the waning years of his two-decade tour at the helm.

With the current infrastructure deal, Emanuel has repeatedly claimed that this is not privatization: This is not like the parking meter deal. Can the public believe him?

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The Corporate Media’s Attempt to Kill the Occupy Movement

From Truth Out:

By Michael Corcoran and Stephen Maher
Monday, 07 May 2012

“It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.” George Orwell, “1984.”

This May Day brought the explosive global resurgence of Occupy, one of the most significant social movement in decades. In New York City, the heart of global capitalism and center of the movement, the New York Civil Liberties Union estimated that 30,000 demonstrators took part in a massive rally and march down Broadway, led by a score of city taxicabs. As has become alarmingly common for a country that constantly proclaims its zealous devotion to democracy, the day ended with brutal police violence and arrests.

The visible success of Occupy in creating a space for the voice of the people impelled uncontrolled thousands to pour onto the streets of New York City, Oakland, and elsewhere around the country and across the world on May Day, in the start of what US organizers have called an “American Spring.” Touting its message of class solidarity–“we are the 99 percent” – Occupy has revealed the profoundly undemocratic nature of a democratic consensus expressed by corporate-sponsored political representatives, demanding direct popular involvement in areas of social and political life normally dominated by ruling class power.

The powerful rejuvenation of the Occupy movement, however, was used by the US media – owned by the very same interests that Occupy directly threatens – as an opportunity to finally kill the Occupy movement and marginalize the voices of its participants. Since September, the mainstream press in the US has systematically ignored and demonized the Occupy movement. The nakedness of the class bias in this case, however, was especially jarring: the size and significance of the protests were downplayed, reports of police brutality were largely ignored, and the movement was portrayed as violent and dangerous. Many of the most prominent US news outlets, such as The New York Times, practically ignored the protests altogether. These shameful distortions by the corporate press display the function of the media as an organ of the rule of “the 1 percent,” and reveal how threatened elites are by organized, direct action and democratic participation.

While tens of thousands of activists took to the streets on May Day, the only prominent mention of economic inequality on the homepage of The New York Times web site was titled “A Wealthy Guy’s Case for Inequality,” written by a former associate of Mitt Romney at Bain Capital. The Times, in fact, did not even cover the protests as a national story, instead merely producing a brief and dismissive 400-word article buried in the “Paper of Record’s” Metro section. Predictably, the article focused mostly on the wickedness of the demonstrators, who “snarled traffic and smashed windows.” The Times did see fit to cover May Day protests in Europe in its international section, but here, too, no connection was made to protests of a nearly identical nature and size at home. In other words, since “the march was too big to allow Occupy Wall Street to continue to be reduced to a dog-and-pony show,” as Occupy Handbook editor Janet Byrne said, the Times simply chose to ignore it altogether.

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The Secret Group that’s about to Swift Boat Barack Obama

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Heartland Justice

From The New York Times:

Published: May 5, 2012


WE tend to think of people who play pivotal roles in the advancement of social justice — and who pay steep prices for it — as passionate advocates with intense connections to their cause. We imagine them as crusaders.

Marsha Ternus wasn’t. She just tried to be fair.

The first woman ever to preside over the Iowa Supreme Court, she was asked three years ago to rule on a challenge to an Iowa statute banning same-sex marriage. She looked at the case and at the law and deemed the ban a violation of equal-protection language in the state’s Constitution, which said that no privileges should be reserved for a limited class of citizens. Her six fellow justices agreed. Their unanimous decision is why Iowa is among the minority of states in which two men or two women can marry.

It’s also why Ternus lost her job. The following year, she and two other justices came up for what are usually pro forma retention votes, and Iowans booted them from the bench. National groups on the religious right had mounted a furious campaign against them, calling them members of “an arrogant elite” with a “radical political and social agenda.”

“We laughed about that,” Ternus told me, referring to the accusation, not its career-ending consequence. “I mean, honestly, I can remember the first time somebody used the words ‘gay marriage.’ And I said, ‘What is that?’ ”

Which happened… when?

“Sadly, not that long ago,” she said, looking embarrassed.

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North Carolina passes Amendment 1 banning same-sex unions

From The Guardian UK:

60% of people endorse constitutional amendment that prevents same-sex couples having any kind of legal union

Karen McVeigh in Raleigh, North Carolina, Tuesday 8 May 2012

Voters in North Carolina have approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions, according to the Associated Press.

It will become the 30th state to define marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman. With more than half the precincts reporting, unofficial returns showed the amendment passing with about 60% for to 40% against.

Same-sex marriage has been illegal in the state since a law enacted in 1996. The amendment will enshrine the ban in the state constitution. It can now only be amended by another vote by the people.

The amendment declares that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognised in this state”.

Supporters of Amendment 1 declared a victory for “God’s institution” of marriage. “With God’s grace we have won at overwhelming victory,” Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Votes For Marriage NC, told supporters.

“We are not anti-gay, we are pro-marriage,” she said. “The whole point is you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design for marriage based on the demands of a group of adults.”

Jeremy Kennedy, of the Coalition to Protect All NC Families, said: “It is just a skirmish in a battle, a war that we will win.”

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Federal appeals court: Illinois cannot enforce ban on recording police officers

From Raw Story:

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A federal appeals court on Tuesday barred the enforcement of a controversial law that allowed for the arrest and prosecution of individuals who made audio recordings of police officers without their consent.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Illinois’ Eavesdropping Act “likely violates” the First Amendment, according to the Associated Press.

“The Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests; as applied to the facts alleged here, it likely violates the First Amendment’s free speech and free-press guarantees,” the court held (PDF).

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois challenged the law in 2010 on behalf of organizations that wished to monitor police activity to uncover misconduct.

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Quebec students send a message against austerity

From The Toronto Star:–quebec-students-send-a-message-against-austerity

By Linda McQuaig
Mon May 07 2012

No wonder those Quebec student protestors have been spooking the English Canadian establishment. If they get their way, the same ideas could catch on here, leaving the best-laid plans for austerity in tatters.

What seems to particularly gall some English Canadian commentators is the fact that the Quebec students — who reached a tentative deal with the province on the weekend after a three-month strike — have been protesting tuition hikes that would still leave them with the lowest tuition in the country. Why can’t these spoiled brats be grateful, and go back to watching video games and keeping up with the Kardashians like normal, well-adjusted North American youth?

It’s that old problem about Quebec. Somehow people there manage to shake a bit loose from the rigid corporate-imposed mindset that has gripped North America in recent decades, convincing us that we as a society must cut back on things — like university education and old age pensions — that were somehow affordable in days when our society was a lot less rich.

The Quebec students, more attuned to the outside world, have figured out that this self-denial has more to do with dogma than with some new reality allegedly necessitated by the global economy.

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John Conyers: GOP’s Violence Against Women Act Is A ‘Flat-Out Attack On Women’

From Huffington Post:


Five minutes into a House Judiciary Committee mark-up of the GOP’s Violence Against Women Act, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) called the bill a “flat-out attack on women” for eliminating protections for immigrant women, Native Americans and the LGBT community.

“This bill is a move backwards,” Conyers told the committee. “I can assure you, you will not get the vote of the Democratic side of this committee because it is a step backwards and a flat-out attack on women.”

The comment drew audible sighs and one “Come on!” from Conyer’s Republican colleagues, who are tired of being accused of waging a “war on women.”

The congressman went on to list the various key provisions that have been stripped from the bipartisan, Senate-approved bill, which protected several minority groups, including immigrants, LGBT victims and Native Americans. Namely, the GOP draft eliminates existing confidentiality protections for immigrant women who have been abused, blocks a pathway to citizenship for immigrant witnesses who cooperate with police on domestic violence cases, and strips the protections for LGBT and Native American victims included in the Senate version.

Conyers also noted that The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 diverse civil rights groups, opposes the House GOP version of the bill for its lack of those provisions.

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