A Woman’s Right To Choose Must Apply To All Women

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/valerie-keefe/abortion-law-canada_b_1595667.html

Writer, activist, candidate, unpaid political consultant, service-sector prole, and general nuisance

Reposted with permission

It’s been 24 years since the Supreme Court decided in Regina v. Morgentaler that governments had no right to interfere with the on-demand provision of reproductive health services, in this particular case, abortion.

Twenty-four years later, abortion is not just the law of the land, but firmly embedded in the political consensus. How embedded? Stephen Woodworth, a backbench Conservative MP introduced motion 312 into the commons in April. The motion would direct the government to select an all-party committee to discuss whether the current Canadian legal standard of whether or not life should begin at birth. The non-binding motion will be lucky to only lose 280 to 30. Stephen Harper and Gordon O’Connor have come out against it. The bill is utterly dead. But it was an excuse for people who are desperate to keep the conversation from moving forward to have yet another sandbox slapfight.

Specifically, a feminist group that calls themselves Radical Handmaids.

The Radical Handmaids are devoted to opposing this action despite the fact that there are more pressing issues, such as the large number of Canadian trans women who don’t enjoy on-demand access to the most important reproductive health procedure that they will ever need (Exogenous Endocrine Intervention). It’s far more important to Radical Handmaids that they oppose a go-nowhere bill that most Conservatives oppose then actually do the hard activism that requires saving women’s lives.

Why? Well, it couldn’t happen to have anything to do with the fact that the women being denied rights as we speak were assigned male at birth, could it? That trans women within much of the cis feminist movement are regarded as honourary women at best, our childhoods erased, our bodies essentialised as not female, and assertiveness shamed away, surely has nothing to do with this utterly weak commitment by feminists who claim to fight for a woman’s right to choose, but whose actions imply support only for a cis woman’s right to choose.

The reason is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Judy Rebick and CARAL, (the former testified in court on behalf of Vancouver Rape Relief’s position that they had the right to discriminate against incite against trans women), and much of the Canadian cis feminist movement as one can reasonably refer to en masse, have been as milquetoast on the right of trans women to access transition medicine on demand as one could imagine. Bland statements of support followed by no real action.

If Canadian cis feminists were this weak on fighting for the right to abortion on demand, a warm bath and a pint of gin would still be a leading method of inducing abortion in Canada, instead of the safe and dignified procedures available today.

It is time for cis feminists to say loudly — instead of the scattered voices of a few allies — that just as one cannot plausibly be anti-choice on abortion and a feminist, one cannot plausibly be anti-choice on transition medicine and a feminist.

It is time for estrogen (and testosterone) to be as accessible for those who can give informed consent as abortion is in Canada.

And it is time for my fellow feminists to do what they do best in the battle for equal medicine: Provide safe spaces for this to happen, to find conscientious objectors such as Henry Morgentaler and Russel Reid to the current system from within the medical community, and to challenge unjust law and unjust practice until it is, like Canada’s restriction of abortion, such a distant memory that people come out to protest someone suggesting there be a debate to roll back these rights, rather than being unable to get a forum in which to demand these rights in the first place.

It is time for a woman’s right to choose to apply to all women.

 Follow Valerie Keefe on Twitter: www.twitter.com/valeriekeefe


Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on A Woman’s Right To Choose Must Apply To All Women

No Longer At Sea: Kate Bornstein Talks Scientology

I keep hearing wonderful things about Kate’s new book.  Even though Kate sometimes infuriates the hell out of me we’ve met a couple of times and she is wonderfully witty and a genuinely terrific person have a conversation with.

If some one were to comp me a copy of her book, it would go to the top of my reading list and I would review it.  Otherwise  I’ll get around to reading it later this year when I have finished my memoir.

Even though I’m presently reading mainly fiction and avoiding the memoirs of sisters and brothers due to my own writing and the need to avoid cluttering my own thought processes with other voices.

I have a feeling there are a lot of pissed off people in Sea Org in Hollywood, where Scientology has become the monster that devoured wa wonderfully sleazy bohemian area.

This Review is from Religion Dispatches:  http://www.religiondispatches.org/books/atheologies/5988/no_longer_at_sea:_kate_bornstein_talks_scientology_|_%28a%29theologies_|_/

By Kristin Rawls
June 13, 2012

  • A Queer and Pleasant Danger
  • by Kate Bornstein
  • Beacon Press , 2012

Kate Bornstein is a trans activist and writer who first gained notoriety with the 1995 release of Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us. Now a staple in college courses, that book remains controversial for questioning the male and female gender binary.

Always forthcoming, Bornstein has nonetheless avoided writing, until now, about one period of her life: the twelve years she spent as a staff member in the Church of Scientology. Recently, I caught up with Bornstein to discuss her new memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger.

You say you wrote this book for your daughter—what do you mean by that?

My daughter, my ex-wife and my grandkids are all members of the institutionalized Church of Scientology. By canonical law, they’re not allowed to talk with me because I am “evil.”

My daughter was born into the Church of Scientology in the early 1970s. I left in 1981 when she was nine. And you know, I needed to leave. It was the end of twelve years, and I had to get the fuck out of there. I’ll be saying “fuck” here—you can change it if you have to! [That’s OK, carry on. -Eds.] Anyway, I figured, I’m 64 years old. I won’t be around much longer. If she ever wonders what happened, I want it there for her.

Continue reading at:  http://www.religiondispatches.org/books/atheologies/5988/no_longer_at_sea:_kate_bornstein_talks_scientology_|_%28a%29theologies_|_/

Transgender pioneer April Ashley given MBE

While others cite Christine Jorgensen as the sister who gave them the courage to go on and inspired them to dare live what they felt in their hearts, April Ashley was the one who provided that bit of hope and inspiration.

I was fifteen the year I read a serialized biography of her in a tabloid complete with pictures.  She was so pretty and glamorous, and lived an exciting life.

I was a transkid in a small isolated town in the mountains far from the big city and the freedom to be myself.

I clipped the articles and my parents found them.  I wound up coming out for the first time although they pretended not to hear me.

From Gay Star News:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/transgender-pioneer-april-ashley-given-mbe160612

Actress and model April Ashley was honored by Queen Elizabeth II for services to transgender equality

By Joe Morgan
16 June 2012

Actress and transgender pioneer April Ashley was given a MBE for services to equality today (16 June).

Ashley, 77, was the first British person to have gender reassignment surgery in 1960, and since has dedicated her life to transgender equality.

She was given a MBE, or Member of the British Empire, as part of the annual Queen’s Birthday Honors list.

On her website, she says: ‘In Paris, I debated with myself the decision to have a sex change. It was a hard decision. I knew I would be pioneering a dangerous operation.

‘The doctor told me there was a 50/50 chance I would not come through. However, I knew I was a woman and that I could not live in a male body. I had no choice. I flew to Casablanca and the rest, as they say, is history.’

After her tortuous 7-hour surgery, Ashley became a successful model and actress, appearing in movies like Road to Hong Kong. She was outed as transgender by The Sunday People in 1961.

Complete article at:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/transgender-pioneer-april-ashley-given-mbe160612

I Am A Woman Now

They are all women of a certain age; blue-haired ladies using canes, well-preserved sixty-year-olds walking small dogs in the park, or aging beauties meeting old beaus for a posh lunch. And they all have one thing in common: Dr. Georges Burou, who in the ’60s and ’70s operated a clinic in Casablanca where he performed groundbreaking sex-change surgeries.

In this beautifully photographed documentary, five transwomen reflect back on their lives as women, and the various paths that led them to surgery. In a mixture of interviews, home-movies, and scenes of their daily lives, we hear their stories. April, now every inch the British dowager, remembers her mother’s rejection and her early years in the navy. Corinne and Bambi reminisce about their days as showgirls at Le Carrousel in Paris and Colette talks about the difficulties of post-op dating; meanwhile, Jean recounts a life spent travelling back and forth across gender borders.

Wednesday, June 20, 1:30 PM
Castro Theatre

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Transgender pioneer April Ashley given MBE

Archivists as Activists

From In These Times:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13356/archivists_as_activists

BY Sady Doyle
June 14, 2012

Can curation be a form of activism? And how well do New Yorkers know, or value, their city’s activist past? These are two questions raised by “Activist New York,” the first exhibition at the newly inaugurated Puffin Foundation Gallery at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit is comprised of 14 separate booths, each devoted to a separate chapter of New York’s activist history; the booths are designed to be removed and replaced over time with new ones that document different chapters of this history. The causes the exhibit explores are eclectic. There’s Stonewall, of course, and the suffrage movement and abolitionism. There’s also space devoted to the recent fight for bike lanes—a cause which, I’m sure, is a grand and noble one, but which is also probably not on anyone’s list of Things That Are Just As Important As Slavery. There’s even a display on mid-20th-century conservative activism, a gesture so big-hearted that it might even be unnecessary, were it not that the pamphlets about welfare-leeching hippies are objectively hilarious.

The exhibit uses mixed media to tell its story. Artifacts from the time are arranged in glass cases, and screens project images of historic events. Scrolls on the wall explain the significance of the time period. An exhibit on the activist theater of the 1930s, for example, contains a bust of actor and civil rights activist Canada Lee. A table for gay rights contains scrolling images of protesters, including one young man holding a sign reading “GOD IS GAY.”

This exhibit about activism and social change is designed to be active, and to change; to move and grow, both with time and with the visitor’s own participation. “It would be a terrible irony if an exhibit on activism allowed viewers to be passive,” says Museum of the City of New York’s chief curator Sarah Henry.

I attended the gallery on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. It wasn’t crowded, but the people in attendance were fully absorbed, peering into touch screens and glass cases. To further engage museumgoers, the exhibit allows people to upload photos of their own activist movements, which are both projected on a wall and visible on the museum’s blog (activistnewyorktoday.mcny.org). This feedback loop allows the museum to reflect history in real time and democratically.

Continue reading at:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13356/archivists_as_activists

Vaginas aren’t dirty, even in Michigan

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/15/vaginas-arent-dirty-even-in-michigan

A Michigan politician was banned from a debate after saying ‘vagina’ in a discussion about women’s health. Whatever next?

Naomi McAuliffe
, Friday 15 June 2012

What’s the worst thing you can call female genitalia? I’m guessing Jeremy Hunt just popped into your mind. Yet for Michigan state representatives, the most offensive thing you can say when debating the issue of abortion, is “vagina”. In a debate on a bill that would restrict abortion in a number of ways, state representative Lisa Brown finished her opposition speech with: “Finally, Mr Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.” She was subsequently banned from taking part in a debate on the school employee retirement bill.

Apparently, when discussing a medical procedure, it’s not really appropriate to use medical words. Well not about lady bits anyway. It makes me wonder what euphemisms would be acceptable. “Will the representative get his hand out of the otter’s pocket?” “Can the honourable gentleman refrain from trespassing in the lady cave?”

Delicate little flower, representative Mike Callton, reacted to Brown’s quim quip with: “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women.” Well thank you, Mike, the last thing I want is an informed political debate about my genitalia that involves the correct anatomical words.

This comes a month after a woman was thrown off an American Airlines flight for wearing a T-shirt bearing the legend: “If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d fuck a senator.”

But while both statements may prove that the pro-choicers have the best jokes, what these clampdowns on legitimate freedom of speech demonstrate is that the tactic of the anti-choice movement (euphemistically called “pro-lifers”) to airbrush women’s bodies out of the debate on abortion. To be against abortion, you need to get round the uncomfortable fact that women and girls’ bodies must play host to your ideological opinions. You need to focus on the foetus and not an actual human being surrounding it.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/15/vaginas-arent-dirty-even-in-michigan

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Vaginas aren’t dirty, even in Michigan

Vagina, Vagina, Vagina

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/168429/vagina-vagina-vagina

Jessica Valenti
June 15, 2012

Yesterday, Michigan Representative Lisa Brown was banned from speaking after having the audacity to use the word “vagina” in a debate over an anti-abortion bill. Apparently, it’s not enough that Republicans have made it a political priority to roll back women’s reproductive rights—they also want to ensure that we remain silent as they do it.

Representative Mike Callton, for example, was absolutely scandalized by Brown’s comments: “What she said was offensive.… It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.” (He does realize that this mixed company likely has vaginas, yes?)

I wished this latest GOP gaffe surprised me, but Republicans feeling squirmy about women’s “down-theres” while desperately trying to keep said “hoo-hoos” in check is pretty standard these days. We live in a country where it’s fine to legislate vaginas, but saying the actual word is forbidden.

Is it run of the mill misogynist disgust of female bodies? Puritanical pearl-clutching? Or simply sexist legislators who would rather not be reminded that the vaginas they’re attempting to control have pesky women with opinions attached to them?

No matter the reason, it speaks volumes about the way in which Republicans would like women to participate in policy conversations that effect their health and lives: they wish we would just shut up already. It would be so much easier if we just left the important decisions about women’s bodies up to men!

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/168429/vagina-vagina-vagina

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Vagina, Vagina, Vagina

Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom Made History

From The Progressive:  http://progressive.org/elinor_ostrom_made_history.html

By Amitabh Pal
June 14, 2012

Elinor Ostrom, who passed away on June 12 from pancreatic cancer, made history by becoming the first and only woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics. Her research provided acute insights into how the world really worked. I was fortunate to interview her two years ago at Indiana University (where she taught for decades), just months after she was awarded the Nobel.

“I’ve been interested in democratic governance at the very base,” she told me. She focused on “the capabilities of people at the smaller scale: from schools and parks to fisheries and irrigation systems,” she said.

Ostrom made her name critiquing a concept in the social sciences called the “tragedy of the commons.” This concept assumes that common property will inevitably be overused and degraded in the absence of private ownership. Not necessarily so, Ostrom said. Through her study of communally owned property in places ranging from Southern California and coastal Maine to Nepal and Kenya, she demonstrated that democratically managed commons could be sustainably used and preserved.

At the same time, Ostrom was conscious of libertarians co-opting her work by arguing that it showed the lack of need for any large-scale governance.

“The important thing about large-scale is the court system,” she said. “For example, you would not have civil rights for people of black origin in the United States but for a federal court system and also the courage of Martin Luther King and others.”

Continue reading at:  http://progressive.org/elinor_ostrom_made_history.html

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom Made History