Every Day People

This is me in Hollywood circa 1974.

During this time I was modeling, a groupie, and a documentary photographer.

I hung out with artist, musicians, groupies, photographers actors and actresses. Many of my friends were transsexuals both pre and post-op, others were queens who would  by the end of the decade start being called transgender.

My friends were different races and ethnicities.

But they had one thing in common, they were interesting people.

We were a better world at that point before the rise of the rabid right wing.  Before the ethos of Ayn Rand.  Before the idea that you weren’t some one unless you were crushing someone else.Now we have little Hitlers to the right of us and little Stalins to the left of us, all demanding blind unquestioning allegiance to their particular dogma.

Me… I’d rather have interesting friend, save the planet, end this corporatist version of cancer stage capitalism and replace it with a sustainable form of socialism.

I’m older now and perhaps wiser.  I don’t like bullies and I don’t like being expected to either join lynch mobs or look for windmills to attack.

Quenyar made a comment about sisters who have a lot of plastic surgery to create themselves.  We get very judgmental about that but ignore body builders or people who have sleeves or even full body tattoos.

I get extremely tired people especial TS/TG people looking for something to pick on about another sister.

I’m really harsh about the silicone pumping because it is done by quacks.  Yesterday I read an article about a woman who became a quad-amputee as a result of amateur pumping.

But while I’ve wondered about some of my friend’s ability to know when to stop with the plastic surgery I understand the impulse.

Mostly because I don’t know what lengths I might have gone to if I hadn’t looked the way I did.

So I can’t use the line, “I never had a bunch of plastic surgery, so why should you.” If I say that I’m being kind of hypocritical since I wasn’t in a place where it would make me prettier or more passable.

Sly & The Family Stone – Everyday People/Message of Peace

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Obama Is Gay, Claims Fascist Research Institute’s Paul Cameron

Considering how so many homophobes are really closet cases perhaps Paul Cameron, like George Riker is on the down low.

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How beauty pageants view transwomen

From Indy:  http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/how-beauty-pageants-view-transwomen/Content?oid=3065129

by Eva Hayward
May 09, 2012

Reposted with permission

Miss Universe: a laudable honorific. Mistress of not just our lowly solar system but intergalactically so, outranking even Miss Whirlpool Galaxy. Reigning over the totality of matter and energy, Miss Universe reaches across the darkness to gather stars for her astronomical tiara.

Many of us have heard the story of Jenna Talackova’s disqualification from Miss Universe Canada for not having been a “naturally born female,” and Donald Trump’s recent announcement that Talackova will be allowed to compete, “provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions.”

The story hadn’t interested me until I began thinking about the role of beauty pageants and that niggling phrase “naturally born female.” Having dismissed the pageants as patriarchal relics that objectify women, I didn’t think it much of a coup that transwomen could compete. Any institution should rectify its discriminatory practices, but what will “the transgender community” achieve with this inclusion?

Beauty pageants have had long histories of exclusion. Early Miss America contestants were required to fill out a biological questionnaire to determine ancestry, and rules stated, “Contestants must be in good health and of the white race.” Miss America contestants had to be able to perform a fantasy of white womanhood, an impossibility that even white women could not achieve. So makeup artists and lighting directors powdered skin and bleached hair to construct an incandescent perversity of white womanhood. With the advent of televised pageants in the ’50s, film stocks and processing techniques further defined whiteness as an invisible power; whiteness, then, was a touchstone, a baseline for the ideological control of white America. Though not alone, Miss America pageantry aided solidifying a politics of exclusion.

In 1985, Laura Martínez-Herring became the first Latina to win the Miss USA pageant. As Miss USA, she was asked to be the featured speaker at a naturalization ceremony at which her mother, among others, was becoming a U.S. citizen. In her speech, Martínez-Herring had this to say: “Becoming a U.S. citizen does not mean you may not take pride in your culture or be proud of your roots or love your people. … It simply means that you are now loyal to this wonderful country that is full of opportunities and will support the Constitution.”

Moving away from the exclusionary politics of early Miss America, Miss USA created a tension between allowing contestants to maintain a particular heritage while participating in an industry that actively erases that identity. For example, Martínez-Herring’s pageant director sent her to voice classes to “soften her Spanish accent,” so that she would better fit the fantasy of American womanhood.

In the global context, largely U.S.-produced pageants have given rise to political fervor. In 1996, Denny Méndez, a black Caribbean immigrant, won the Miss Italy pageant. Her crowning raised public debate about national identity. Two pageant judges were suspended “for saying that Méndez, as a black woman, could not represent Italian beauty.” In contrast, the Miss World pageant in Bangalore, India, “had a nation in an uproar” when feminists and nationalists decried the contest as a corrupting Western force that demeaned women.

In last 30 years, pageants have become places of contradiction, in part because they have replaced exclusion from membership with a promise of unity, but exclusion from power often remains the effect. Predicated on tolerance, these gestures toward diversification have been anemic. We see a similar rhetoric at play in debates about the same-sex marriage amendment in North Carolina: Tolerance is used to sympathize with the struggles of gays and lesbians, but not all sympathizers are willing to give lesbians and gays the right to marry. Tolerate difference, but don’t let difference change the status quo.

Many journalists have written positive stories about Jenna Talackova’s inclusion in Miss Universe, going as far as to suggest that changed policy is advancement in human rights. Transgender political organizations have called Trump’s decision a triumph, with many leaders rallying around Talackova’s induction into the “common culture of women” as a goodwill ambassador of the transgender community.

Not surprisingly, Talackova’s beauty has been described as the obvious reason for her inclusion. Even Talackova’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, told the media, “Just look at her.” Beauty is supposedly the qualifier for all Miss Universe contestants—although beauty is not an absolute thing, but a relative one. Apparently for Talackova, beauty means not only that she is beautiful but that she is also “naturally” a woman.

In pageants, beauty is used to reframe politics of identity—such as race or sex—as merely aesthetic. The inverted romanticism of “beauty” is reworked into a socio-political prettiness that promotes tolerance rather than transformation.

Jenna Talackova, Caroline Cossey, Isis King and Lea T have been media darlings partly because they are “pretty,” which is also code for “passing” unquestionably as the women they are. The euphemism is that they are “successful women.” Their prettiness exclaims, “See, transwomen can be attractive,” because the stereotype is that transwomen are anything but beautiful. And, problematically, the attractiveness of these women suggests an authenticity of womanhood. Regardless of prettiness, transwomen are women, but “passing” has a particular privilege among transwomen, a privilege not always acknowledged.

What, then, does the social acceptance of passing transwomen mean for other transwomen who do not fulfill social expectations of prettiness? Or who do not wish to “pass” at all? Every transwoman, even those who “pass,” has experienced the forensic fascination of an onlooker who scalpels away at your gender to see “who you really are.” It’s an excruciating experience, and can be violently so. It isn’t just a judging “eye,” which declares you non-passing, but an aggressive act of stripping you of your humanity. I have had it happen at dinner parties and in classrooms. The onlooker’s eyes give up all social decorum and stare unblinkingly at you, studying your body and presentation for inconsistencies.

You catch them looking; for a moment they don’t notice, lost as they are in their own private study, then catching your eye they quickly avert their gaze in that guilty gesture of “I am not doing what we both know I am doing.” It is difficult to describe how pernicious and commonplace this activity is, even among those we might call friends.

So, I am not sure how far we have all advanced with Talackova’s victory, but surely we will all have to re-question ourselves as to who is a “naturally born woman.” And wonder if this old question will ever uncoil itself from our social lives and slither away into history. While I am happy for Talackova, I don’t think I will be watching Miss Universe this year or next.

Transgender journey: facing the reality of surgery

Here’s wishing writer Juliet Jacques good luck and an easy time with her surgery.

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/may/15/transgender-journey-reality-surgery

After a consultation with her gender reassignment surgeon, the reality of impending surgery dawns on Juliet Jacques. Is she doing the right thing?

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 15 May 2012

I’m finally moving towards the second major stage of the gender reassignment pathway – surgery.

I asked myself: “Is this still what you want to do?” I’d never regretted coming out as transsexual or starting hormone therapy, but both were reversible (at least to a point). This, less so. Some people live full-time in their desired gender without pursuing surgery, but I felt as certain as ever that it was the right course for me.

The clinicians at the Gender Identity Clinic agreed, so I awaited a consultation date. In the meantime, I focused on other things – where to live, where to work and what to write about.

On the appointed day I arrived at the clinic to meet surgeon James Bellringer and Manjit, the clinical nurse specialist.

Dr Bellringer’s first query threw me: “Who do you live with?” I’ve been privileged enough to live alone for almost my entire transition, finding it helpful to have my own space as I came to terms with my changing body, so I’ve not covered housing in this blog. Associations cannot refuse accommodation ‘to a transsexual person’, but it can still be precarious for trans people if anyone around them takes exception.

Housing became an issue when I decided to move from Brighton to London. Knowing one-person flats anywhere near central London were beyond my means, I’d asked around and looked online for shares, fretting about the possibility of moving in with strangers. Several trans friends had struggled with abusive flatmates, and securing a place that I knew would be comfortable proved surprisingly difficult.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/may/15/transgender-journey-reality-surgery

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The Weight of the Nation

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-blumenthal/weight-of-the-nation_b_1518217.html


Written in collaboration with Elena Hoffnagle

Last week, obesity took center stage in Washington, D.C. with the conference “The Weight of the Nation,” sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that convened researchers, advocates and clinicians to tackle the epidemic facing our country today. Tonight, HBO will air a documentary on this issue. While obesity rates have increased dramatically over the past 30 years and solutions to address the issue have been slow to show impact, we are at a critical turning point for combatting this major public health problem in our country today. Currently, we know more than ever about the most successful strategies to help Americans live healthier lives, reduce obesity rates, and decrease medical costs. Now it is time to take the actions needed to tip the scales on obesity using innovative “health in all policies” approaches.

In the U.S., two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. For the first time in the history of our nation, there are more obese people than overweight ones, and it is estimated that unless we can reverse this alarming trend, by 2030 42 percent of the U.S. population will be obese. Obesity increases the risk for many chronic diseases including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, gout, and sleep apnea. Due to the rise in obesity rates and the resulting health-damaging effects, the current generation of American children may be the first not to live as long or be as healthy as their parents. For Latino and African-American children, the predictions are especially grim — 50 percent of these youth are expected to develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.

Obesity is not only a problem that undermines the nation’s health, but it is also an economic and national security threat. These obesity-related diseases account for an estimated $190 billion in yearly medical expenditures, 21 percent of all medical spending in America today, and drive up the cost of medical care for everyone, even those not directly affected by the problem. Some experts believe that the health care costs of obesity have surpassed the health spending resulting from tobacco use. Currently, 27 percent of our nation’s young adults, ages 18-24, are ineligible to enroll in the military because of their weight. There are also indirect costs of obesity, including the value of income lost from decreased productivity, restricted activity and absenteeism — accounting for an estimated $450 billion annually.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-blumenthal/weight-of-the-nation_b_1518217.html

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Argentina Passes Comprehensive Transgender Rights Law

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2012/05/11/argentina-passes-comprehensive-transgender-rights-law

The law passed 55-0 in the Senate, and the president is expected to sign it.

BY Trudy Ring
May 11 2012

Argentina’s Senate has overwhelmingly passed a sweeping transgender rights bill, and President Cristina Fernandez is expected to sign it into law.

The measure, passed Wednesday, allows people whose gender identity does not match their physical characteristics to change their name and gender marker on public documents without having undergone gender-reassignment surgery and without approval from a doctor or judge, the Associated Press reports. It also assures that those who want surgery or hormone therapy will have insurance coverage for it with no extra premium, through both public and private plans.

The vote was 55-0, with one senator abstaining and more than a dozen declaring themselves absent.

The law will give transgender people in Argentina more freedom than they have in many U.S. states, some of which require proof of surgery for changing the gender marker on, for instance, a driver’s license. “This gives the individual an extraordinary amount of authority for how they want to live,” Stanford University professor Katrina Karkazis, who has written extensively on issues of gender identity, told the AP. “It’s really incredible.”

Complete article at:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2012/05/11/argentina-passes-comprehensive-transgender-rights-law

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Conservatives: Giant Bullies That Abuse the Weak

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/155420/conservatives%3A_giant_bullies_that_abuse_the_weak/

Mitt Romney is a bully. And he’s just right for the GOP.

By Chauncey DeVega

May 14, 2012

Mitt Romney says he likes being able to fire people. Mitt Romney takes a drive with a terrified family pet strapped to the roof of his car. Mitt Romney assaulted a gay student while in prep school. Mitt Romney tricked a blind teacher, apparently one he “liked,” letting the man walk into a glass door. He is a bully. Mitt Romney is also the presumed presidential nominee for a political party of unapologetic bullies. Ergo, he is a near-perfect leader for the Tea Party GOP.

American politics in the age of Obama is beset by deep divides in partisanship, ideology and political values. These debates are about more than policy. They have devolved into disagreements about the very nature of empirical reality, facts and science. We’re having fights over whether global warming is real; whether tax cuts for the rich trickle down to the rest of us; whether Barack Obama is a United States citizen.

According to the right-wing media echo chamber, Democrats and progressives are not just wrong on almost every major political and social issue. No, they are treasonous, deserving of death, and want to destroy the country.

Interestingly, research has found that the diametrically opposed worldviews of conservatives and liberals can be a function of differences in biology, brain structure and political personality types. For example, researchers have discovered that the fear centers of conservatives’ brains are over-developed. This in turn makes them highly susceptible to anxieties about social change and threat, and creates a hostility toward people conservatives perceive to be the Other.

Moreover, conservatives tend to be deferential to authority and hierarchy, fearful of change, closed off to new experiences, possessed of a binary world view, attracted to simple moral appeals (right and wrong, good guys vs. bad guys) and highly intolerant of ambiguity. These traits are a formula for authoritarian thinking, which according to the book, has a broad impact on public opinion regarding such topics as immigration, privacy, women’s reproductive rights, national security, gay marriage, and matters of race and racial inequality.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/155420/conservatives%3A_giant_bullies_that_abuse_the_weak/

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Super PACS $pending

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Attack ads of the giant billionaires

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/11/attack-ads-giant-billionaires

The new trope in the 2012 election’s negative campaigning is to criticise the other side’s shadowy big donors. Plenty of material

guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 May 2012 

This yet-to-be-named, somewhat-regular look at new political ads began with the premise that this election cycle, post Citizens United, promises to be one of the ugliest yet. The idea was to look at the worst of the worst attack ads. Left unspoken was my assumption that there was a genre of ads that would not require examination.

As we get into the general election season, and politicians can dispense even a dash of leavening intra-party politeness, I wonder if this cycle will see a statistically significant portion of ads that aren’t attacks. There are clips that are the equivalent of authorized biographies. There are spots that focus on the solutions to an issue. Or at least, I think there are – please let me know if you find one.

But for the most part, we’re stuck in the mud. (Shall we call this series “Stuck in the Mud”? I will consult with the editor.)

Political scientists are divided about the effectiveness of negative ads. Conventional wisdom used to be that voters were turned off by negative campaigning (primarily because they perceive it as dishonest). Then, pundits pointed out that analytic studies of voter attitudes didn’t matter as much as who wins – and in recent years, negative campaigns proved to be winning campaigns.

So, maybe, voters only tell pollsters they dislike attack ads, but the ads are effective, nonetheless. One academic researcher has gone so far as to argue that attack ads are a positive contribution to the process, as they are more likely to raise relevant issues (rather than, I suppose, speak in general terms about a candidate’s awesomeness).

The fraught relationship between negative campaigning and those that campaign has a more lengthy history than most people realize (the race between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams was a Mobius strip of attack and regret), and it produces ads that fall into a tautological cul-de-sac: attack ads that attack ads. The Obama campaign has been unprecendently pro-active in this arena … (see here, here, and here). Though, perhaps, that’s understandable. There were some unprecedented aspects to Obama.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/11/attack-ads-giant-billionaires

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Tim DeChristopher Appeals Conviction

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No more official religion for Norway

From The Toronto Sun:  http://www.torontosun.com/2012/05/15/no-more-official-religion-for-norway

QMI Agency
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Norway is distancing itself from its Christian past. The Storting — the country’s Parliament — will amend the constitution so that the state no longer has an official religion, ending the 1,000-year tradition of the Church of Norway.

A parliamentary committee report presented Tuesday contains a unanimous recommendation to have the state permanently separate from the church.

All 169 members of the seven parties in Parliament, including 10 representatives from the Christian Democratic Party and 30 from the Conservative Party, are said to be behind the move, according to a report from TV2.

The government will no longer have a minister of churches, and the state will no longer be responsible for the appointment of bishops and deans.

Instead, Norway will treat all religions and philosophies equally.

Continue reading at:  http://www.torontosun.com/2012/05/15/no-more-official-religion-for-norway