The Effect of Class on Gender

Drew Cordes has a must read piece over on Bilerico about class and trans.

Usually when I put up a teaser to try and get folks to read something I recently read and thought interesting I go with the first few paragraphs.  In this case I’m going to use a few paragraphs from a little way into the piece.

From Bilerico:

By Drew Cordes
July 22, 2012

I’m a veteran of successful sex reassignment surgery and facial feminization surgery; I have years of hormone replacement therapy under my belt; I have endured hours upon hours of electrolysis; I’ve had voice modulation lessons/therapy; I’ve spent many hours talking (and some just blankly staring) with a therapist who specializes in gender transition. I know (I don’t “believe,” I know) that I would not be who/where/what I am right now if not for all those things, and more.

I am the end; those were the means.

How did I come to have access to those means, though? Money is the easy answer, but that explanation is reductive. Raw spending power and cash flow is certainly one way to access those things, but the reflexive focus on wealth as the answer ignores how one achieves wealth, in its various forms. A more accurate (albeit still fairly reductive) answer is class. The means to my end were accessible to me through social standing.

Make no mistake – I am not rich, and I do not come from a rich family. What I am is middle class, white, and the only child of somewhat upper middle class parents. This grants me certain privilege – privilege that many people like me don’t recognize because we’re born into the world with it as our “normal.”

This is where a lot of those in the “majority” (white/cis/straight/etc.) freak out and say “Hey, I’m not privileged. I work hard to provide for myself and my family. I don’t have a silver spoon. Nobody gave me anything.” Quite right. I’m not saying there are no hardships and that being white and middle class is a 24/7 happy-hour boat cruise. Everybody has hardships; the difference is merely that if you’re white and middle class, statistics show that chances are you have fewer and/or less threatening problems than someone who’s black and lower class.

Let’s examine just one facet of my gender transition, and break down the role my privilege played. My sex reassignment surgery cost $20,000. I don’t have that kind of money, but I do have health insurance. Because of that, my operation cost me $240 (not counting travel expenses, etc.).

Complete article at:

Too often we act as though class privilege doesn’t play a major role in who gets or doesn’t get SRS during the current era.

I got SRS in the early 1970s which were far more economically advantaged times even got those of us who were in the working poor classes.

I don’t know if I would be able to get SRS today given my socio-economic background.

Too often we over look the role class plays in determining who gets SRS and who does not.

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UK: New search rules for trans police officers and suspects drawn up

From Pink News UK:

23 July 2012

It is all change for trans police and policing, as increased awareness of trans sensitivities sees new rules for searching suspects – both who can do the searching and how people should be searched – emerging in the last few weeks.

First up is a long-awaited sweeping away of some of the last barriers to trans police officers playing a full and effective role in police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last month. New guidelines on the searching of suspects made it clear that there should no longer be any obstacle to trans officers carrying out intimate and body searches of suspects of the appropriate gender.

This follows a change in advice to police forces issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers, overturning guidance in place since 2005 and bringing the Police into line with current legal rulings on this matter.

The issue arose in 2005, as ACPO issued what they then considered best practice guidance to police forces on searches of suspects by trans officers. Under PACE rules, non-intimate searches could be carried out by officers of either gender: but intimate and body searches could only be carried out by officers of the same gender as the suspect.

ACPO guidance therefore stated that officers in possession of a gender recognition certificate – which amends the gender on an individual’s birth certificate and renders them for almost all legal purposes the gender they identify as – could carry out such searches on individuals whose gender matched that now recorded for the officer. However, officers not in possession of a GRC – even those who had fully transitioned – would not be permitted to do so.

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Canada: Pressure grows to improve human rights for transgender people in Newfoundland

From The Canadian Press:

By Sue Bailey, The Canadian Press
July 21, 2012

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – As Newfoundland and Labrador celebrates its gay pride week, pressure is growing on the province to improve human rights protections for the transgender community, one of society’s most marginalized and vulnerable groups.

The NDP has called on the Progressive Conservative government to add gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination under its Human Rights Act.

Openly gay NDP member Gerry Rogers says the province should follow action already taken in the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Manitoba and parts of the U.S. and Europe to distinctly protect men and women who present as the opposite sex or are in the midst of transitioning.

In Ottawa, an NDP bill to include gender identity in federal human rights law has won support from several members of the Conservative majority government.

“We know the research that’s out there. It’s undeniable, the type of discrimination that transgendered, transsexual people experience on a daily basis, whether it be actual hate crimes or very subtle discrimination,” Rogers said in an interview.

“It’s important that our human rights code extends specific protection for them.”

Rogers has repeatedly pushed the government on the issue to no avail. But the passing of a bill last month to add both “gender identity” and “gender expression” to Ontario’s human rights code was hailed by supporters as a breakthrough that could see other provinces follow suit.

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Sally Ride, First (Gay) American Woman in Space, Dead at 61

From The Advocate:

Pioneer Bravely Fought Cancer

The accomplished pioneer loses a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

BY Neal Broverman
July 23 2012

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, passed away at the age of 61, leaving behind her longtime female partner.

Ride, who suffered from pancreatic cancer, died peacefully Monday. Born in Los Angeles in 1951, Ride obtained degrees in physics and English before signing up to become a NASA astronaut in 1977; it was the first time NASA allowed women in space. Ride apparently wasn’t out then — it’s unlikely an openly gay person would be allowed to become an astronaut at the time, as the government believed gays represented security risks thanks to potential blackmail situations. She was actually married to a fellow astronaut, Steven Hawley, during part of her time with NASA.

Ride was chosen to be an astronaut in 1978 and jetted out of Earth’s orbit in 1983 as the first American woman to go into space. Ride was part of the Challenger mission and would attend another Challenger voyage in 1984. A third trip was halted after the deadly 1986 Challenger explosion killed several astronauts and teacher Christa McAuliffe. Ride retired from NASA in 1987, eventually becoming a college professor in California.

A hero to millions of girls and women, Ride leaves behind her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, as well as her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country, according to Ride’s website.

“Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy became friends at the age of 12 when they both played tennis,” an article on Ride’s website recalls. “While their lives took different paths, they stayed in contact over the years.” Ride went onto Stanford and became the first American woman in space, while O’Shaughnessy became a professional tennis player, then earned degress in biology and psychology and became a science teacher. She worked with Ride on six books — Voyager, The Third Planet, The Mystery of Mars, Exploring Our Solar System, Mission Planet Earth, and Mission Save the Planet. She also helped lead Sally Ride Science, which Ride founded in 2001 to inspire children through science.

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Capital of Glitz and Homelessness

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US evangelical Christians accused of promoting homophobia in Africa

From The Guardian UK:

Liberal thinktank says rightwingers are aggressively targeting the continent with an anti-abortion and anti-gay agenda

in Johannesburg
The Guardian, Monday 23 July 2012

Christian evangelical groups in the US are attempting a “cultural colonisation” of Africa, opening offices in numerous countries to promote attacks on homosexuality and abortion, according to an investigation by a liberal thinktank.

American religious organisations are expanding operations across the continent, lobbying for conservative policies and laws and fanning homophobia, argues the Boston-based Political Research Associates (PRA).

The groups include the American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ), founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson, which has established bases in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

“The religious right [in effect] claims that human rights activists are neocolonialists out to destroy Africa,” the report states. Groups named in it vehemently rejected the claims.

Entitled Colonising African Values: How the US Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa, the study analysed data from seven African countries and employed researchers for several months in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It identified three organisations that it believes are aggressively targeting the continent: Robertson’s ACLJ, the Catholic group Human Life International and Family Watch International, led by the Mormon activist Sharon Slater.

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Don’t Regulate the Banks, Nationalize Them

From Common Dreams:

Wall Street is too big to regulate and breaking them up — if political will existed to accomplish such a thing — wouldn’t last for long

Published on Monday, July 23, 2012 by The New York Times

The Barclays interest-rate scandal, HSBC’s openness to money laundering by Mexican drug traffickers, the epic blunders at JPMorgan Chase — at this point, four years after Wall Street wrecked the global economy, does anyone really believe we can regulate the big banks? And if we broke them up, would they really stay broken up?

Most liberals in Washington — President Obama included — keep hoping the banks can be more tightly controlled but otherwise left as is. That’s the theory behind the two-year-old Dodd-Frank law, which Republicans and Wall Street are still working to eviscerate.

Some economists in and around the University of Chicago, who founded the modern conservative tradition, had a surprisingly different take: When it comes to the really big fish in the economic pond, some felt, the only way to preserve competition was to nationalize the largest ones, which defied regulation.

This notion seems counterintuitive: after all, the school’s founders provided the intellectual framework for the laissez-faire turn against market regulation over the last half-century. But for them, “bigness” and competition could easily become mutually exclusive. One of the most important Chicago School leaders, Henry C. Simons, judged in 1934 that “the corporation is simply running away with our economic (and political) system.”

Simons (a hero of the libertarian idol Milton Friedman) was skeptical of enormity. “Few of our gigantic corporations,” he wrote, “can be defended on the ground that their present size is necessary to reasonably full exploitation of production economies.”

The central problem, then as now, was that very large corporations could easily undermine regulatory and antitrust strategies. The Nobel laureate George J. Stigler demonstrated how regulation was commonly “designed and operated primarily for” the benefit of the industries involved. And numerous conservatives, including Simons, concluded that large corporate players could thwart antitrust “break-them-up” efforts — a view Friedman came to share.

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Justice Scalia tells America to, “Get Over It”

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Climate Emergency Action Plan

From Yes Magazine:

We can still avoid a devastating climate crisis. But we’ll need a World War II-level mobilization. And we’ll need to stand up to Dirty Energy.

by Sarah van Gelder
posted Jul 20, 2012

The extreme heat, storms, and drought sweeping most of the nation are finally convincing a large majority of Americans that climate change is upon us. According to Bloomberg News, 70 percent of Americans now believe the climate is changing.

It’s late to be getting to solutions, but now, perhaps, we’re finally ready to take on the challenge.

Bill McKibben lays out how dire the picture really is in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone: We’ve already warmed the planet by 0.8 degrees centigrade, and the weather is getting frightening. At the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the one thing the world agreed on is that we must stay within a 2-degree centigrade heat increase—although climatologist Jim Hansen has called even that level of increase a recipe for disaster. And if current trends continue, we’re headed for much more global heating. But powerful oil, gas, and coal companies have blocked needed action. With billions in profits, they have plenty of money to channel to political campaigns, climate-denying think tanks, and right-wing media. Together, these groups have prevented progress.

If we had acted 20 or 30 years ago, when the alarm bells were first sounded, the transition to a climate safe world could have been more gradual and less disruptive, and we could have saved many more coral reefs, forests, glaciers, and species.

Now, time is short.

Although there is already enough extra carbon in the atmosphere to make major climate change inevitable, there is still a big difference between the sort of change that brings increased droughts, storms, temperature extremes, and sea level rises, and a change that extinguishes life on Earth. Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is among those who say that runaway climate change could transform the planet into one like Venus, on which human life is impossible.

There is no greater emergency than this. Is an effective response beyond us? There are lots of reasons to think so. Dirty Energy has blocked action, and there’s every reason to believe they will continue to do so. International collaboration is tough. And given the choice, most of us would prefer to hold on to creature comforts as long as possible, and to stay in denial.

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Manipulation of California energy market gives consumers a jolt

From The Los Angeles Times:,0,4749635,full.column

By Michael HiltzikJuly 18, 2012

The next time your electricity bill prompts you to curse your local utility, here’s another target where you should direct your anger: JPMorgan Chase & Co., which has manipulated the California energy market for its own profit and at a cost to residents and businesses in the state that could be $100 million, $200 million or much more.

That’s the accusation leveled by the California Independent System Operator, which has jurisdiction over 80% of the state’s electrical transmission. The ISO, a nonprofit corporation controlled by the state government, estimates that JPMorgan may have gamed the state’s power market for $57 million in improper payments over six months in 2010 and 2011.

But that could be just the tip of the iceberg: The bank continued its activities past that time frame, according to the ISO. It also says JPMorgan’s alleged manipulation could have helped throw the entire energy market out of whack, imposing what could be incalculable costs on ratepayers.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the regulator of the ISO and its trading markets, has started a formal investigation into Morgan’s allegedly manipulative energy deals in California and with the Midwest ISO, which covers 11 states from Michigan to Montana.

Forget JPMorgan’s well-publicized multibillion-dollar trading loss in derivatives; this trade turned a handsome profit, and it came directly out of electric customers’ hides. The toll may not have amounted to much for each of the 37 million men, women and children in California. But collectively it’s a massive, illegitimate tax on the entire state.

What’s worse, it shows that we haven’t learned anything from Enron’s bogus energy trading, the disclosure of which helped destroy that firm in 2001 and land several of its executives in jail. To the extent it was designed to exploit loopholes in energy trading rules, experts say, the scheme allegedly perpetrated by JPMorgan Ventures Energy Corp. is cut from the same cloth as Enron’s infamous “fat boy” swindle, which cost the state’s ratepayers an estimated $1.4 billion in 2000.

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America’s rich moving jobs out of the country?

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Romney Campaign’s Race-Baiting Strategy Could Have Dire Consequences for America

From Alternet:

Romney’s strategy has incorporated racial and cultural cues, both subtle and blatant, as a means of deflection from the Obama campaign’s questions about Bain Capital.

By Adele M. Stan
July 22, 2012

The Romney campaign got the memo: Race-baiting and xenophobia work — at least among the segment of the electorate former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney hopes to capture in his quest for the presidency.

Over the course of the last two weeks, Romney’s strategy has incorporated racial and cultural cues, both subtle and blatant, as a means of deflection from the Obama campaign’s relentless offensive based on questions about Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, from which Romney claims to have been retired during a period of time, 1999-2002, in which his name is listed on documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission as the sole owner and chief executive officer of the firm.
Add those questions — what was Bain doing at that time, and why does Romney want deniability for those actions? — to Romney’s refusal to release more than his last two years of tax returns, and you’ve got a pretty shady-looking candidate.
Furthermore, Romney, an elite member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has suffered difficulties from the start among elements of the Republican base, especially right-wing Christian evangelicals, who view Mormonism as a cult and doubt Romney’s conservative bona fides, especially on abortion, given the fact that he was, at one time, pro-choice.
Race trumps religion
Searching for a theme that would unify the base of the Republican Party, the Romney camp sought to find its footing in voter sentiment verified this week in a Washington Post/ABC News poll: Race-based reservations about Obama trump religion-based reservations about Romney. (It’s not unlikely that the Romney campaign’s internal polling revealed much the same information.) In short, the theme boiled down to this: remind those core voters that the stakes in this election include another four years with a black guy in the White House — and you know what those people are like.
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Meet the Front Group Leading the Fight Against Taxing the Rich

From Mother Jones:

Does the National Federation of Independent Businesses really represent small business owners—or billionaires?

Mon Jul. 23, 2012

While most Americans don’t object to Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy, they’re less excited about raising them for family-owned barbershops and ice cream parlors. This may be why Mitt Romney often claims that collecting more taxes from high earners would hurt mom-and-pop employers whose profits are taxed as individual income. “This is a direct attack on small business,” he declared at a recent campaign stop in Virginia. His argument has the support of a powerful ally: the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), a “nonpartisan” small-business advocacy group that has put defending the Bush tax cuts for the richest of the rich near the top of its political agenda.

Often cited as the leading voice of small business, the NFIB was founded in 1943 by a former US Chamber of Commerce staffer who thought that business groups were neglecting the little guys. Today it claims 350,000 members, chapters in all 50 states, and a $95 million budget. In May, the Washington Post cited the NFIB to back up Romney’s attacks on Obama’s tax plan, reporting that the group had given an F to the portion of Obama’s budget that deals with taxing the wealthy.

The NFIB’s defense of the rich offers handy political cover for the Learjet crowd, but few among the legions of small business owners that it represents will benefit from its lobbying. Only 3 percent of small businesses net more than $250,000 a year, the lowest income that would be affected by Obama’s tax plan. This is one reason why a variety of rival small business groups now accuse the NFIB of doing exactly what it was founded to prevent: selling out small business owners to benefit the rich and powerful.

“They have proved themselves to be just a shill operation for big corporations,” says Rick Poore, the owner of DesignWear, a 35-person screen printing shop in Nebraska and member of the Main Street Alliance, a business association that disagrees with the NFIB on many issues. “People just jump onboard because it has all the right sound bites, but in reality so much of it is against their own best interests.”

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