Why I am Supporting President Barack Obama’s Reelection

In 1968 I lived in the Haight Ashbury and was a member of Students for a Democratic Society.

I had been at the Pentagon Demonstration in October of 1967 and I moved from protest to resistance.

I took part in numerous violent street demonstrations and would continue to do so until February 1970.

I threw my vote away in 1968.

After all I was a radical, I was pure and LBJ, who was one of the most socially progressive Presidents I have lived under was a monster for continuing the war which had been handed to him by JFK.

Of course no one remembers what a hawkish war monger JFK was.  All we ever remember of him is that he and Jackie were glamorous and that he was murdered 49 years ago in Dallas.

As for LBJ we remember the war.  We forget the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the War on Poverty.

“The evil men do lives after them, the good is so oft interred with their bones.”  (Act 3, scene ii of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare Mark Antony)

I was 21 in July of 1968, the elections that fall were going to be my very first chance to exercise my right to vote.

I was part of a faction of “radicals” who spurned the very thought of seriously engaging in electoral politics in 1968.  Gene McCarthy and the “Get Clean for Gene” campaign seemed  senseless.  While RFK did arouse excitement, that last hope died in early June, cut down by an assassin.

So come November we were faced with a choice between two candidates:   Hubert Humphrey who represented the gray banality of  failed liberalism, which lacked the courage to stand up to Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare or the Military/Industrial Complex, or Richard Nixon, the very embodiment of the banality of evil, a man who promised to undo all the positive programs the democrats had instituted over the previous eight years.

I listened to the radicals who said we shouldn’t vote for the lesser of two evils.  They rationalized that if Nixon won, his election would heighten the contradictions and bring on the revolution.

Instead we should vote for the alternative; The Peace and Freedom Party Ticket.  They ran Eldridge “the rapist” Cleaver, who bragged about being a rapist.

At the time of the election I was still three months shy of coming out as transsexual, yet I had been raped a few months prior while in the San Francisco City Jail and would never vote for a rapist no matter how radical he claimed to be.

So I was one of the was one of the few people in the state who voted for the Communist Party USA that year.

Well 1969 dawned and I came out.

The radicals became more violent.  People started getting killed by the police and the National Guard at a frightening rate.

The radical machismo with the pick up the gun and throw the bomb rhetoric sounded like a recipe for revolutionary suicide, instead of the kind of revolution where peaceful, gentle people, who loved life would have a place.

When the ultra radicals started quoting Mao, Stalin and Kim Il Sung they lost me because I knew those countries were openly hostile to not only transsexuals but to gay and lesbian people.

But moreover I might have been a radical but I was an American Radical, raised on the Yankee radical values that made the people of New England among the first to support the American Revolution, Abolition and Women’s Suffrage.

I was born in a small town where the streets were named for the Generals who fought the wars that shaped this nation, I played outside the walls of Fort Ticonderoga.  I knew where John Brown was buried and why he lay there mouldering in his grave.

I was from a part of the country where the abolition and suffrage movements were born.

Those were my values.

My ideas of freedom and justice had their roots in the Americans who have shaped this country not in Lenin or Mao.

Jean Luc-Godard called my generation the children of Marx and Coca Cola.

Many of us who were hippies not revolutionaries put it slightly differently. We used to say, “We are followers of Marx and Lenin, Groucho Marx and John Lennon, that is…

By mid-1970 the violence had alienated so many of us that we stopped listening to the absurd rhetoric.

Too many of us abandoned politics altogether.

Others of us, particularly women and LGBT/T folks who had never been taken seriously in the macho world of the Revolutionaries started working within the system.

Even Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale of the Black Panther Party were starting to tell people, “Serve the People.”  Build the institutions that support the people instead of committing revolutionary suicide.

So we built those institutions in enclaves like Berkeley, West Hollywood and other places.

But too often we refused to embrace politics or support the Democratic Party.

In the meantime the Republican Party treated every single election, no matter how small, as important.  They placed increasingly rabid right wingers on school boards and in small elected offices across this country.

In the 43 years since I came out I have watched as transsexual and transgender people have won numerous small victories that have made our lives ever so much easier.

I have watched as feminist won  many victories during the 1970s only to see support for feminism be eroded as the increasing provenance of the “radical feminists” drowned out the voices of way too many ordinary women.

I lived through the 1980s when Reagan, the epitome of banal evil, couldn’t bring himself to say the word AIDS or pony up the money needed to deal with the AIDS Crisis.

I’ve been horrified as I’ve watched the ever rightward drift this nation and too many other nations have taken over the last forty years.

Yet people react as though I am engaging in hyperbole when I use the words Fascism and Nazism to describe this drift.

Now I am old. It has been fifty years  or so since I was moved to left wing activism by the students sitting in at the Woolworth Counter in Greensboro.

If JFK failed us as President he nonetheless inspired my generation when he said “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Fifty years since Mario Savio called upon us to put our bodies upon the wheels and demand a better more human world, with institutions that serve the people and not the corporations.

Fifty years ago…

Back then I thought there would come a time when progressive values would win, simply because they were the right thing to do.

Finally in 2008 we elected a black man as President.  Hell the campaign for the nomination came down to a black man and a white woman.  Both representing people who had to fight for the right to vote during the 20th century.

The right wing is so upset by his election they are busy passing laws to keep people of color from voting.  Laws that impact the voting rights of the young and old, alike, including the poor and others who might not drive and therefore lack the designated mandatory identification to vote.  This also includes TG/TS people who may live in a state that doesn’t  permit them to obtain gender appropriate identification. Or people who may be gender ambiguous in appearance and therefore turned away from the polls for identification “non-match.”

We are in an economic crisis as well as an environmental crisis.  Instead of addressing those important issues the Republican party has declared war on women’s reproductive rights while scapegoating LGBT/T people in a manner reminiscent of the Nazis scapegoating of the Jews during the rise of the Third Reich.

As a life long left wing activist and as a proud progressive I am appalled and embarrassed when I hear the “radicals” say we should sit this election out rather than vote for “the lesser of two evils.

Or that we should vote for a “true progressive.”

Like who?  Nader has come to his senses.  Perhaps they mean:  On August 4, 2012, the Peace and Freedom Party nominated Roseanne Barr for President and Cindy Sheehan for Vice President.

This election isn’t a fucking joke.

Does any sane person want Mitt Romney nominating Tea Bagger approved neo-Nazis to fill the Supreme Court vacancies that are likely to occur over the next four years?

There was a slogan in 1968: “Better get straight, in ’68 because there may not be time in ’69”  It was part of the “Get Clean for Gene” campaign but it could have been applied to the entire election that year.

After I came out I realized how much I was going to be dependent on social service agencies that were government funded to assist me in my transition.  Unfortunately one of those was a center funded by the War on Poverty.  Eventually I co-ran that center.  By then it had been defunded by the mentality of “small government” that started with Nixon.  We got a private grant but were no longer able to get funds for education to help our people gain employment retraining.

Now we are faced with a choice between someone who believes in America and the American people vs someone who represents the one percent and believes in out sourcing the jobs we need to survive.

A man who started out by serving the people as a community organizer vs one who lines his pockets on profits from deserted factories and broken lives.

A man who may have been slow in coming to the position of fully supporting the rights and equality of LGBT people vs one who panders to those evil factions who would deprive us of all rights perhaps even including our lives.

If you value Social Security and Medicare as well as health care for all then the choice is clear.

If you value women’s reproductive rights then the choice is clear.

If you are opposed to the racism and bigotry of the Republican Party then the choice is clear.

If you are really a progressive and not some posturing revolutionary dreamer then the choice is clear.

If you are concerned about climate change then the choice is clear, as the Republicans lie about the reality of climate change.

If you believe in religious freedom then the choice is clear, as the Republicans are a bunch of theocrats pushing a Christian version Sharia.

I am supporting Barack Obama and I am appealing to all that is good and decent for you to support him as well.

Obama Boy Scouts Statement: President Opposes Group’s Gay Ban

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/obama-boy-scouts_n_1757549.html


President Barack Obama expressed his opposition to the Boy Scouts of America’s reaffirmation of its policy of excluding gays on Wednesday.

The president called the rule, which was renewed in July after a two-year review, “discrimination” in a statement to the Washington Blade.

“The President believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century,” White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said. “He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation.”

The ban has been faced with opposition by some former scouts, several of whom returned their badges in protest of the rule. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney also expressed opposition to the ban, saying “all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Despite the opposition, the Boy Scouts’ chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, said most Scout families support the policy, which applies to both adult leaders and Scouts.

The AP reported earlier:

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/obama-boy-scouts_n_1757549.html

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I Didn’t F*ck It Up – Katie Goodman

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On Trans Celebrities: From Lana Wachowski & Before

From Dented Blue Mercedes: http://dentedbluemercedes.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/on-trans-celebrities/

Also Bilerico: http://www.bilerico.com/2012/08/on_trans_celebrities_from_lana_wachowski_before.php

By Mercedes Allen
Aug. 6, 2012

Reposted with permission

“Cloud Atlas” will be winding its way to movie theaters shortly, being billed as an exploration of “how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.”  Neat, huh?  Except that the movie is in danger of ending up buried under an avalanche of press distracted by the fact that a promo video is Matrix trilogy co-filmmaker Lana Wachowski’s first public appearance since transitioning in 2006.

Times have changed a little, at least.  Since she made her decision, Chaz Bono grabbed headlines for his transition to male.  In the music world, Mina Caputo of Life of Agony and Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! rocked the metal and punk worlds with their announcements.  In the modeling and acting realms, Alexandra Billings, Isis King, Alexis Arquette and Candis Cayne emerged — most having transitioned prior to achieving celebrity, but still grabbing headlines.  And Jenna Talackova sent waves around the world after fighting for (and winning) the right to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.  In a few short years, we discovered celebrities in our midst… and they were no longer automatically met with the same sensationalistic, lurid, invalidating and vicious derision that had been previously the norm — or when they were, they were also widely supported and found allies.

That’s probably not a whole lot of comfort for Wachowski, who’s still being met with some abhorrent commentaries.  Wachowski’s transition had originally been the subject of a ghastly exposé — a sensationalistic, lurid, misrepresentative sideshow-style piece that probably drove her further into reclusive seclusion than she needed to be.

But something does speak volumes from the video:  she’s happy.  And full of creative energy.  And in the end, that will speak louder than the bat$#!t.

Between the Distance From Me To You

When Mina Caputo announced her decision to transition and the media called her the first recording artist to do so in the spotlight (in actuality, Jayne County was probably the first, in 1979, but that makes Caputo’s coming-out no less groundbreaking in 2012), the first thing the public did was look back and see where she had let the clues slip.  Her chosen band name –”Life of Agony” — was probably the first clue, but then there were lyrics like this:

you put yourself away
you’re locked up in a cage
people think I’m crazy…

That kind of “post-mortem” is probably inevitable right now, and not unlike our own lives and transitions where our parents, loved ones and acquaintances try to look back and see what indicators we let slip in our years prior.  It’s an inevitably human (even if sometimes dreadfully wearisome) response, even if we can almost never see those same kinds of indicators before the fact, or be certain of them.

But that’s where our culture is now.

Where is it going?  Well, hopefully, it’s going in a direction in which we become not so much a novelty as yet one more characteristic group that is accepted as a “person in the neighbourhood” — where people like Lucas Silveira can be first considered a talented musician and songwriter and secondly a trans man, rather than the other way around.  But we (as a movement, community, or whatever informal grouping you feel appropriately describes those of us bound together by the single need to transition between sexes) have seen a clear shift in that direction.

When people can relatively succeed like this (even if not overwhelmingly) in the world of paparazzi and “entertainment news,” this is an exceptionally good sign.  In our society, when someone excels at something, tall poppy syndrome tends to kick in.  It becomes sport to try to knock someone off their pedestal, as though to prove one’s own merits at the expense of someone famous, despite the critic’s absence of accomplishments.  Rather than challenging someone because of their talents (which can be difficult to dispute at times), it can be easier to seize upon characteristic differences (like being trans) as a point of criticism, backhanded humour or venom.  In an age where trans status is still used as a tactic of ridicule or insult, this is a sign that trans-as-comedy is coming to an end — that even if comedians and shock journalists aren’t getting it yet, the public is well on its way to doing so.  And if the media, comedians and entertainment wonks don’t try to catch up, they’re just going to look silly.

Celebrity also brings up the “role model” question, though, and as much as we want to celebrate people and thrust them out there as heroes and idealized icons, we need to be cautious about doing so.

It’s inevitable that we want icons.  In a characteristic group so starved of people who are looked upon with respect, all our idols were either given to us 40 years ago by Andy Warhol, or else completely fictional — and sometimes misrepresentative and rightfully not eagerly embraced by us even at the time they appeared (i.e. the transphobic-ending Hedwig, or the narrative from Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady”).  Celebrities tend to represent qualities that people admire, and provide a source of inspiration and self-respect for those who see themselves in their idols (this kind of projection is actually not a good thing to do, but it also seems an inevitable quality of being human).  But the pressures of role model expectations can have a tragic cost.

We were reminded of this when LA Weekly published a long, thorough and heartbreaking look at the story of Christine Daniels / Mike Penner, the sportswriter who transitioned, was pushed into the public eye, and then detransitioned, ultimately committing suicide after being torn apart between who he was, who she needed to be, and a love who was desperately wanted as a part of that life.  Although what ultimately happened wasn’t a direct result of the pressures activists and trans people as a whole had placed upon Penner / Daniels, that pressure appears to have contributed:

In the end, we wanted Christine to be happy and to be herself.  I don’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think it’s presumptuous to say that.  But a mistake was made in thinking that what we… needed was always exactly what she needed too, and that she had to be a champion of that.  In the end, we sometimes push people into a spotlight they’re not prepared for, we’re not always kind to or appreciate the people who do willingly take up our cause and speak, we ignore their personal needs, objectives and limits, and then we forget them.

… as much as we may be desperate for our Chaz Bonos and Stephen Ira Beattys, we have to recognize that it is patently unfair to push a person to take a representative role and then decry them for it…. [We] have to leave the need for representation and validation out of it and let people become who they will inevitably need to be, in their own time, and with whatever journey they need to undertake to arrive there.

As a movement that has just recently touched the public consciousness, we have to remember not to push, but to respect the risks taken by the people who will be new pioneers, and the needs that they still have as individuals.  In the world of celebrity, it’s too easy to go from the suffocation of the closet to the suffocation of fans’ expectations — and too easy to fail those expectations, given that heroes — being human — tend to develop clay feet.

More than that, though, we need to look toward a world not where trans people are able to achieve extraordinary things, but one in which it’s no longer notable that extraordinary things have been accomplished by people who are trans… where it has become commonplace and unremarkable.  And that will happen by not simply inspiring a characteristic group, but by reaching people at large on a universal level.

Probably the best way to see this is anecdotally.

Choking on the Ashes of Her Enemy

I knew I was different. I thought that I might be gay or something because I couldn’t identify with any of the guys at all. None of them liked art or music, they just wanted to fight and get laid. It was many years ago but it gave me this real hatred for the average American macho male.” — Kurt Cobain in Melody Maker.

After he was found dead in his home on April 5, 1994, L.A. Times music critic Robert Hilburn wrote that “In a pop world filled with pretenders and opportunists, [Kurt] Cobain was the real thing–a unique and invaluable voice.  Other reminiscences were similar.  Rolling Stone contributing Editor David Wild described Cobain as “arguably the last truly great rock star — or maybe the first great rock star who truly didn’t want to be one.”  Bob Guccione Jr. (then editor of Spin magazine) wrote:

He was the poet of this generation. It will be easy in the coming months, especially for older people, to downplay Kurt’s significance and contribution, but that would be wrong. Like Rimbaud, he died too young, lived too unflatteringly and left too little compared with what we hoped for, but it was enough for him to be one of the pillars in the artistic pantheon.

But would Kurt Cobain have still been hailed by Rolling Stone as “the spokesman of a generation” or by MSNBC’s Eric Olson as “a messiah and martyr whose every utterance has been plundered and parsed” if he had become “Kara Cobain, the transgender grunge singer?”  Would “Come As You Are” have reached a generation of fans on a universal level if it had become a singularly trans-specific anthem?  Would Kurt the Legend, about whom swirls a mystique of conspiracy theories and overwhelmingly awestruck remembrances, still have attained a level of rock star myth when he died at the (apparently magically martyr-prone and dangerously tragic) age of 27?

It’s not unthinkable.  Over the years, Cobain has been rumoured to have been trans and even now, it’s not unusual to have the suggestion resurface in blogs and social media.  My first encounter with this was a late ’90s Geocities website containing someone’s thesis paper, collecting circumstantial occurrences to support the idea — from minor things like featuring a crossdressing nanny on the In Utero CD label to a story of when Axl Rose apparently sent bodyguards to rough him up, resulting in an attempt to topple his trailer; from comments made at an LGBT ordinance benefit concert to his sometimes wearing a plain grey skirt onstage (rather than the “safer” kilt which had become de rigeur at the time for male performers wanting to beat the heat onstage).  And speculation surfaces around songs like “Been A Son,” which could as easily be about Courtney Love (as the lyrics are purported to be) as about someone feeling like they couldn’t live up to that role.  Overall, a picture emerges of someone who was not afraid to be out as gay-friendly or even gay, but was still fighting some unknown struggle that seemed even bigger.  One of the most compelling moments parsed was an interview he gave to The Advocate (archived here) where Cobain admitted to being bisexual:

Yeah, absolutely. See I’ve always wanted male friends that I could be real intimate with and talk about important things with and be as affectionate with that person as I would be with a girl. Throughout my life, I’ve always been really close with girls and made friends with girls. And I’ve always been a really sickly, feminine person anyhow, so I thought I was gay for a while because I didn’t find any of the girls in my high school attractive at all. They had really awful haircuts and fucked-up attitudes. So I thought I would try to be gay for a while, but I’m just more sexually attracted to women. But I’m really glad that I found a few gay friends, because it totally saved me from becoming a monk or something.

Biographers, friends and family have since said that Kurt — a showman — had played things up for The Advocate, and this may be true.  The “evidence” is speculative and sometimes harder to believe than the other explanations that have been given… yet cumulatively, it’s curious.  And adherents have sometimes piled onto the speculation with the trite “at least he’d still be alive…” but in reality, even that’s still hopeless conjecture, and really doesn’t take into account the full context of Cobain’s life experiences — or the obvious truth that nobody could ever have possibly wanted things to end as they did.  But if true, we’ll never know… although we’ve at least reached a moment in time where his legacy likely wouldn’t be destroyed by such a revelation.

In the context of 1994, coming out as trans (true or not) would have been unthinkable.  Even today, it’s seen as risky.  Courtney Love recently cautioned Lady Gaga that queer flamboyance is something you can only do for awhile and then one needs to move on, lest one turns “into a lonely drag queen. Straight guys just aren’t in to that kind of thing.”  But there has, at least, been clear indicators of change.

If I Could Make the World as Pure and Strange as What I See, /
I’d Put You in the Mirror I Put in Front of Me.

We need to remember the principle of visual iconicity and identity, and how it relates to celebrity culture. It’s a principle best seen in comic books: Green Lantern John Stewart was one of the first iconic superhero characters designed for African-American readers to relate to… but the iconic “happy face” is a character in which people of all races, genders, ages and walks of life can usually see themselves.  The simpler and less detailed an image and its characteristic associations are, the more universal it can become (which is perhaps why anime became a phenomenon, but that’s besides the point).  Recognition of self happens most frequently in undetailed faces, in visual culture.

The thing that draws us as trans people toward Bono and Caputo, Talackova and Grace, Cayne and Wachowski is that their revelation of being trans or of trans history gives us a point of verbal and visual representation, where we can recognize ourselves in them, and find empathy in what they create.  Yet that is the same thing that they have potentially lost with the cissexual / cisgender public.  I say potentially, because it can still be overcome, but this happens by repeatedly showing that regardless of (or sometimes because of?) individual characteristics, a songwriter / actor / public speaker / director / performer is still able to reach universal truths that transcend those characteristics… that despite their uniqueness, our visionary Cobains can still touch on truths that make them voices of a generation.  But it becomes a greater challenge for trans people than it is for marketably heteronormative white “pretty people.”

Of course, the people I’ve named (or missed) didn’t come out as trans for our benefit, but for theirs — but even so, they’ve made this sacrifice in their lives, and we’ve already benefitted from it.  So it does call for some respect, right there.

But there is also a point where being universally accessible means playing into heteronormative expectations, and out trans celebrities would probably never be able to completely do that, even if they wanted to.  Nor, probably, should they.  There is a point where we have to be ourselves, as characteristically unique and distinctive as we are.  The purpose of transition is not to erase our individuality but to accept it.  There will be a balance that each and every out trans public figure will have to discover for themselves — and probably, where they find that balance will not be exactly where each of us would like that balance to be.  So we will have to grant the space, the respect and the levity for them to achieve what they need to — balancing their unique identity and their career ambitions — without creating yet another directional pull.

And sometimes, we’ll be pleasantly surprised with what people do with their newly awakened social consciousness.

Sometimes the Party Takes You Places That You Didn’t Really Plan on Going

I have to admit, when Jenna Talackova’s story first emerged, I didn’t really think that a beauty pageant was a high priority in the long list of trans issues, nor that playing into gender-specific lookism and the beauty myth was something that I was all too eager to support.  She did, however, impress me with her sense of conscience — persisting until the rules were changed, rather than simply accepting having an exception made for her — and her willingness to be associated with all trans people, rather than to play an “I’m not like them” card, which she could have easily done.  There has been some misunderstanding about what the Miss Universe rule change has been, but the media event that surrounded her teaches us a lot about benchmark issues (which I will write about soon), and she has gone on to continue to impress me with a desire — in her own way — to use her newfound fame in a socially-conscious way:

Her decision to enter the pageant was “out of pure vanity,” but she says she won’t let her new found role go to waste.

“I got thrown this opportunity to be a role model and I now have a reality TV show coming out that’s just going to broaden more the society’s eyes to transpeople and see that we’re just as normal as everybody else,” she said.

“I believe I got this role and I’m going to do my best with it, reaching out to young kids because it’s my obligation and I see that now.”

Talackova is also planning to take on more animal and environmental activism….

While we can’t expect it, we can and should applaud when it happens.  And also take solace in this:

We’ve finally reached a point in time where those who’ve traveled the most difficult road are those who have suffered in silence… even if we haven’t yet reached the time in which being trans has become unsensational.

Until that time comes, go see something brilliant.

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Trans disclosure? We can get into that

From Zinnia Jones:  http://zinniajones.com/blog/transcripts/trans-disclosure-we-can-get-into-that/

Zinnia Jones

In one of my recent videos, I proposed something that is perhaps the most controversial thing I have ever said. Briefly, I suggested that post-op trans women are not always obligated to disclose the fact that they’re trans to a prospective partner, including prior to sex. Judging from the responses to this idea, it’s clear that this is quite a divisive issue, and I think it’s something that we should discuss further.

Many people insisted that not disclosing this fact would constitute a kind of deception. But how is anyone being deceived here, and what would they be deceived about? My suggestion was that men for whom this is a concern should first ask if their partner is trans. I did not recommend lying in response. But these people have flatly refused to ask, and claim that simply not telling someone that you’re trans means lying to them. These people feel they should be able to assume that women aren’t trans – but if that were a valid assumption, this wouldn’t be an issue to begin with. Some women are trans, including the women these men might take an interest in, which is why this is a concern for them. Their assumption does not hold true, and wishing to act as though it does is like saying that the mere existence of trans women is an inconvenience to them, and that they should not have to account for that reality. But if you make a knowingly inaccurate assumption, and make no effort to verify it, and you end up being wrong, it doesn’t mean that anyone else has deceived you. If this is a concern for you, it’s nobody else’s responsibility to divine your expectations when you intentionally refuse to make them clear.

These people then claim that trans women should already know that something like 99% of men would not want to be with a trans woman. In other words, 99% of people would apparently drop them like a hot potato, not even because there’s anything wrong with them, but simply because of who they are – and trans women are expected to inflict this upon themselves with no hesitation. But when men say that they don’t prefer trans women, this stands in blatant contradiction to their actions. After all, what most distresses them here is the possibility that they might sleep with a trans woman and enjoy the experience, without knowing that she’s trans. So, they don’t prefer trans women, yet they have no problem sleeping with them. What does that say about their true preferences here?

Some people have compared this to other information that one could be aware of which might alter their decision to sleep with someone: things like being married, or having HIV, or being a convicted sex offender. (Those are their examples, not mine.) And this seems like an obviously different situation. Nobody is being exposed to contagious and deadly diseases. No one is being dragged into the middle of someone else’s pre-existing relationship. And they haven’t committed some horrible act that would reflect strongly upon their character. So why should the fact that they’re trans change anything?

Continue reading at:  http://zinniajones.com/blog/transcripts/trans-disclosure-we-can-get-into-that/

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Trans, but not like you think

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/writer/thomas_page_mcbee/

As gender transitions become more visible, it’s tempting to think all our stories are the same. They’re not

Monday, Aug 6, 2012

Just last week I got a birth certificate from North Carolina Vital Records that put a state seal on a tale that began before I could talk. “Thomas Page McBee,” it says, under “Certificate of Live Birth,” and then, there’s the word I spent thousands of dollars, a major surgery, two trips to probate court, two physicals, a doctor’s letter, plus the 80 oily milligrams of testosterone self-shot into my thigh every week to achieve: male.

When I tore open the envelope it took my breath away, much like seeing my reflection every morning — the growing pronouncement of my jaw, the square sideburns, the scruff on my cheek, the pecs and biceps ballooning steadily with each workout — I tear up sometimes, I’m so floored by the rightness of it all. I held my birth certificate, my heart galloping, and I felt born again at the age of 31.

Maybe you think you’ve heard my story before: I knew I wasn’t a girl before I knew much of anything. There were the years of private, simmering mirror-hate; the jealous glances at men, the coveting of facial hair and biceps. As trans people become more visible, our stories have narrowed into a neat narrative arc: born in the wrong body, pushed to the brink of suicide/sanity/society, the agonized decision to begin hormone treatment/surgeries for the reward of ending up ourselves and looking “normal,” which ends in a lesson about the tenacity of the human spirit, the gorgeous triumph of believing in yourself.

This is all true. But for me, and many others, it’s also more complicated than that.

I don’t think I was born in the wrong body. I am not “finally myself.” I’ve never spent a day being anyone else. Mine is another story, a real and complex story, and one, by definition, that’s not as easy to tell.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/writer/thomas_page_mcbee/

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The Trials of Being Alone After a Big Change in Your Life

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/trials-being-alone-after-big-change-your-life

We all have to learn to be by ourselves, whether it’s after a breakup, a move or a divorce — but how, exactly?

By Tracy Clark-Flory
August 6, 2012

I recently went through a breakup. It was the worst — they always are — but as I wrestled with sadness over the end of the relationship, another perplexing challenge arose: how to be alone.

I’ve been through a million — OK, three — breakups before. I’ve spent plenty of time single in between. I thought I’d be good at this alone thing by now. I’m an only child, for crying out loud. Instead, on the heels of another split, I’m amazed at how difficult just being by myself can be. I have friends – they are wonderful — but I feel a suffocating solitude at the end of the night, in the morning or at any moment of the day that isn’t scheduled with distraction. It wasn’t this way when I was coupled. Just the knowledge that I had “a person” to call my own (even though I know in my bones that you can never truly call another person “your own”) was a comfort; that knowledge itself was a constant companion.

How does one become good at being alone? This question might be uniquely poignant for those of us fresh out of a breakup, or still in our 20s, but it’s a question people confront at all stages of life and for all sorts of reasons, whether it’s a big move to a new city, an unexpected death, a divorce or any countless number of things that life can throw your way. And regardless of your romantic status or friend count, it’s nice to be capable of enjoying a movie or dinner alone. A friend told me a story about an acquaintance who is married with kids: She has a meltdown whenever her family goes out of town; she doesn’t know what to do with herself.

So, I decided to seek out the world’s wisdom on how to be alone. (As I  tweeted earlier this week, “One of my favorite things about being a journo? Being able to take my own burning questions to experts under the pretense of public service.”) In terms of romantic aloneness, Anna David seemed like a good first stop: She wrote the memoir “Falling for Me: How I Hung Curtains, Learned to Cook, Traveled to Seville, and Fell in Love,” and understands the ache of singlehood all too well. “I spent so much time where everything was filtered through this lens of ‘but I’m alone.’ And I was haunted by the thought, ‘I’m going to be alone forever,’” she says.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/trials-being-alone-after-big-change-your-life

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Pussy Riot Prosecutor Calls for 3-Year Jail Term: ‘Feminism Is a Mortal Sin’

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/08/07-1

Common Dreams staff
Published on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 by Common Dreams

Russian prosecutors on Tuesday called for a three year jail term for three members of punk band Pussy Riot. Prosecutors accused the band members of insulting Russian Orthodoxy and posing a danger to society, after performing one of their songs in a Moscow cathedral. The defendants, however, argue that their song titled, “Virgin Mary, Chase Putin Out”, was not an act of religious hatred, but an act of political protest.

“This crime is severe and the prosecution considers that their correction is only possible in conditions of isolation from society and the punishment needed must be a real deprivation of freedom,” State prosecutor Alexander Nikiforov told the court.

“All the defendants talked about being feminists and said that is allowed in the Russian Orthodox church,” said Yelena Pavlova, a lawyer for several of the nine victims who said they were insulted by Pussy Riot’s performance. “This does not correspond with reality. Feminism is a mortal sin,” she said.

The Pussy Riot case has caused an international outcry, calling on Russia to protect free speech and end political persecutions. The trial has re-focused attention on a crackdown on dissent since Putin returned to presidency on May 7. The members considered their act as part of an anti-Putin protest movement, which saw the biggest demonstrations since Putin’s rise to power in 2000 last winter.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/08/07-1

See also:  Amnesty International:   Time is Running Out for Pussy Riot

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Belgium film on street harassment strikes a chord across Europe

From The Guardian UK:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/03/belgium-film-street-harassment-sofie-peeters

Sofie Peeters’s account of everyday sexist insults women face triggers debate about inaction over universal problem

in Paris
guardian.co.uk, Friday 3 August 2012

When Sofie Peeters moved to Brussels for a film degree, she found herself confronted with a depressing problem almost every time she left her front door. Walking around her local neighbourhood, the mixed, working-class district of Anneessens, at any time of day she would be greeted with cat-calls, wolf-whistles and jeers of “slag” and “how much do you cost?”

Sick of wondering whether it was her fault for wearing particular clothes, she made her end of year film on the topic, armed with a hidden camera to record the street harassment.

Female acquaintances admitted the problem was so bad they never went out in a skirt, avoided the metro, never made eye contact with men, avoid walking certain streets, never wore shorts and in one case, only ever left their house by bike.

The student film, Femme de la Rue, a shocking account of everyday sexist insults in the street, is now at the centre of a political and social storm in Belgium and across its borders. After it was shown on TV and at a screening last week it has become an internet success and triggered a public debate.

Belgian politicians say they were already planning legislation to crack down on sexist insults and harassment, promising fines for offenders. French feminist groups seized on the film to highlight similar problems in France and break the taboo surrounding street harassment. In turn, Peeters has denied charges of racism as the film shows mainly jeers by men of immigrant north African origin.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/03/belgium-film-street-harassment-sofie-peeters

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How to Be a Woman: Not A Feminist? Caitlin Moran Asks, Why Not?

From NPR Books: http://www.npr.org/2012/08/02/157728094/not-a-feminist-caitlin-moran-asks-why-not

August 2, 2012

Writer Caitlin Moran believes most women who don’t want to be called feminists don’t really understand what feminism is. In her book How to Be a Woman, Moran poses these questions to women who are hesitant to identify as feminists:

What part of liberation for women is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man that you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Vogue by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that stuff just get on your nerves?

In a conversation with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross, Moran talks about how women are pressured into Brazilian waxing and how humor is the sharpest weapon she has a writer.

“People get really scared when women reclaim words, talk about themselves honestly and also make jokes because it’s a really unstoppable combination,” Moran says. “It’s part of the reason why I decided to use humor in my book because it’s kind of hard to argue with someone who’s making you laugh.”

How to Be a Woman combines Moran’s observations of contemporary sexual issues with her own experiences as a teenager, a mother and a writer. Moran is the eldest of eight children; her family lived in subsidized housing in the U.K. She began her career as a rock journalist and is now a columnist for the Times of London.

Interview Highlights

On becoming a woman

“The feminine role models I had were the cast of Dynasty and Dallas, and I just found that terrifying. I just remember sitting there sadly going, ‘I’m just not gonna make it.’ Literally, it was like being a woman was a boat that was leaving a dock and it was already too far away for me to jump. I mean how could I — this fat girl from Wolverhampton, you know, who had no clothes, I didn’t have a coat, I was wearing a dressing gown for a coat, a tartan dressing gown — look like Alexis [Carrington Colby onDynasty] or beautiful Cybill Shepherd in Moonlighting?

Continue reading at:  http://www.npr.org/2012/08/02/157728094/not-a-feminist-caitlin-moran-asks-why-not

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Missouri mosque burned to the ground

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Right Wing Propaganda Whore: Fischer: The Sikh Temple Shooter was a Liberal

What a lying sack of shit.

He was a good conservative racist just like the rest of you bigoted scumbags.

From Right Wing Watch:  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/fischer-sikh-shooter-was-liberal

by Kyle Mantyla
Tue, 08/07/2012

On today’s program, Bryan Fischer weighed in on the shooting at a Sikh temple over the weekend where a racist neo-Nazi murdered six people and injured several others.  Fischer declared that the shooter was obviously a liberal because he was a Nazi who didn’t like Herman Cain … and everyone knows that the Nazis were liberals just as liberals and Democrats have always been “the party of racism” and responsible for slavery and the Ku Klux Klan:

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Lone Wolf Killers Are Often A Combination Of Hatreds and Frustrations

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-levin-jd/lone-wolf-killers-are-oft_b_1747344.html


Lone Wolf Attack

As 27 federal and local agencies investigate the mass shooting at an Oak Creek, Wisconsin Sikh gurdwara south of Milwaukee that left seven people dead including the shooter as a suspected domestic terrorism case, more limited details are emerging about the “hate rock” suspect, who appears to be part of a trend of distressed lone wolves.

Wade Michael Page, the alleged killer, according to multiple news sources was a 40 year old Army veteran with a hate symbol tattoo who received a demotion and a less than honorable discharge from the military in 1998 for “patterns of misconduct” according to CNN after six years of service, finishing up at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Disgruntled military veteran killers like Nidal Hassan (who was in the Army), Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn, Olympic and clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph as well as executed Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh and D.C. Sniper John Allen Muhammad (the latter two had accomplices), have led many to mechanistically conclude that military service is part of a profile of loner extremists.

The real story is far more complex, as it is more likely that a first responder or victim to a mass shooting will be a military veteran than the shooter. Irrespective of their military status, these kind of killers are often depressed, socially and psychologically itinerant adult males whose significant and defining life setbacks in career or relationships create a festering anger that explodes into violence against a symbolic target. These targeted locations and innocent people are the sincere focus of aggression in the contorted thinking of someone whose anger and belief system leads them to settle a score and reaffirm their self worth by achieving notoriety through violence. A violent act transforms them from losers to warriors for a cause that is bigger than they are, and they are hitting back, not only on behalf of themselves, but for others who faced similar unfairness from an uncaring society.

The three main categories of extremist aggressors are listed below, and usually one is the primary element with an offender, with at least one other playing a secondary supporting role:

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-levin-jd/lone-wolf-killers-are-oft_b_1747344.html

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Racist murder at a Wisconsin temple

From Socialist Worker:    http://socialistworker.org/2012/08/07/racist-murder-at-a-wisconsin-temple

Nicole Colson
August 7, 2012

“THE BIGGEST question we have is, is this a hate crime? What did we do wrong?”

That was the anguished question of a member of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wis., right after a mass shooting on August 5. Seven people, including the shooter, were killed, and several more people were wounded.

In the hours that followed , as information trickled out in the media about the killer, Wade Michael Page, the answer to that question became clear: Page was motivated by racist hate.

Page apparently arrived at the temple carrying a semiautomatic handgun just past 10 a.m.–a time when many congregants, including children and women preparing a meal, were getting ready for services. He reportedly shot a priest standing outside and then entered the temple and began stalking his victims.

When the shooting began, many congregants reportedly locked themselves in various areas of the temple, including bathrooms and a kitchen pantry, and frantically called 911. Some 400 families worship at the temple, and many say the massacre could have been much worse.

Though we don’t know his exact motivations for choosing the Sikh temple, Page has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups in the U.S., as a white supremacist who belonged to a neo-Nazi band called “End Apathy.” A picture from the SPLC shows Page and another band member playing with a Nazi flag in the background. In the picture, Page’s racist tattoos–including a Celtic cross with the number “14” in it (a neo-Nazi symbol)–are clearly visible. He also reportedly had at least one “9/11 memorial” tattoo.

Continue reading at:  http://socialistworker.org/2012/08/07/racist-murder-at-a-wisconsin-temple

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The ED Show – Did Mitt Romney have a 0% tax rate in 2008 & 2009?

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The Right’s Leading Argument Against Wind Power Is For The Birds

From Media Matters For America:  http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/08/07/the-rights-leading-argument-against-wind-power/189176

Aug 7, 2012

In a Washington Times op-ed sensationally titled “Wind-energy tax credits fund bird murder,” Paul Driessen argues that we should not invest in wind power because of its impact on wildlife. But wind power accounts for a “minute fraction” of human-caused bird deaths, and fossil fuel production poses a much larger risk to birds and the environment.

After reciting conservative talking points on the futility of wind power, Driessen accuses legislators who support extending wind tax credits of contributing to the “ultimate extinction” of bird species across the country:

Every vote to extend the production tax credit — or to approve wind turbines in or near important bird habitats and flyways — is a vote for the ultimate extinction of majestic and vital avian species in habitats all over the United States. No member of Congress should want that on his conscience.

But according to the National Research Council, wind turbines account for less than 0.003% of bird deaths caused by human activities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service estimates that wind turbines kill 150,000 – 200,000 birds annually. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of birds are killed every year by collisions with buildings, cars, and power lines. And many more are killed by oilfield production pits and coal mining, which has destroyed numerous bird habitats.

A 2009 comparison of the impact of six electricity generation types on wildlife in New England found that wind power poses “no population-level risks to birds.” Factoring in the effects of pollution and climate change, it concluded that “non-renewable electricity generation sources, such as coal and oil, pose higher risks to wildlife than renewable electricity generation sources, such as hydro and wind.”

Continue reading at:  http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/08/07/the-rights-leading-argument-against-wind-power/189176

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Putting a price on the rivers and rain diminishes us all

From The Guardian UK:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/06/price-rivers-rain-greatest-privatisation

Payments for ‘ecosystem services’ look like the prelude to the greatest privatisation since enclosure

guardian.co.uk, Monday 6 August 2012

‘The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying ‘This is mine’, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not anyone have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, ‘Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody’.”

Jean Jacques Rousseau would recognise this moment. Now it is not the land his impostors are enclosing, but the rest of the natural world. In many countries, especially the United Kingdom, nature is being valued and commodified so that it can be exchanged for cash.

The effort began in earnest under the last government. At a cost of £100,000, it commissioned a research company to produce a total annual price for England’s ecosystems. After taking the money, the company reported – with a certain understatement – that this exercise was “theoretically challenging to complete, and considered by some not to be a theoretically sound endeavour”. Some of the services provided by England’s ecosystems, it pointed out, “may in fact be infinite in value”.

This rare flash of common sense did nothing to discourage the current government from seeking first to put a price on nature, then to create a market in its disposal. The UK now has a natural capital committee, an Ecosystem Markets Task Force and an inspiring new lexicon. We don’t call it nature any more: now the proper term is “natural capital”. Natural processes have become “ecosystem services”, as they exist only to serve us. Hills, forests and river catchments are now “green infrastructure”, while biodiversity and habitats are “asset classes” within an “ecosystem market”. All of them will be assigned a price, all of them will become exchangeable.

The argument in favour of this approach is coherent and plausible. Business currently treats the natural world as if it is worth nothing. Pricing nature and incorporating that price into the cost of goods and services creates an economic incentive for its protection. It certainly appeals to both business and the self-hating state. The Ecosystem Markets Task Force speaks of “substantial potential growth in nature-related markets – in the order of billions of pounds globally”.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/06/price-rivers-rain-greatest-privatisation

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Life on the Edge (of Wildfire): High-End Real Estate Worsens Wildfires

From One Earth:  http://www.onearth.org/article/life-on-the-edge-of-wildfire

In Colorado and the West, the most desirable real estate is also the most likely to burn

August 7, 2012

When the Waldo Canyon fire ignited in the mountains near Colorado Springs this June, Cindy and Mark Maluschka started packing. The evacuation zone mapped out by city officials ended two streets away from them, but the Maluschkas have seen fires spread faster than expected before. The 2002 Hayman Fire — until this summer, the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history — had come within six miles of their old home in the forested hills of Woodland Park. But when they moved to suburban Colorado Springs, they thought they would be safe. In their new neighborhood, Cindy Maluschka says, “there were more streets, more services, and more distance from the forest itself. We certainly felt safer from a wildland fire.”

Even so, as June’s Waldo Canyon fire spread, she and her husband gathered documents, family photos, and the tooth their daughter, Amber, had recently lost. They put a clothesbasket in the little girl’s room. “Pack this with all your most important things,” her mother told her, limiting the number of stuffed animals the six-year-old could bring to her grandfather’s house outside the evacuation zone. When the fire blew up three days later, Cindy and Mark were back at the house, trying to get some work done, when officials suddenly issued a mandatory evacuation order. Cindy opened their garage door and could see the mountain on fire. “I felt the heat,” she says. “I felt the pressure. It was kind of like tornado pressure.” They had 10 minutes to pack the last things they would save — computers and clothes — and get out.

Outside the house, Mark shouted to his wife that he needed to go back in to rescue the family’s goldfish. “I am not going to do this for goldfish,” she replied as she drove away, leaving him to make his way out with the couple’s other car. Racing off, she was stunned to see many of her neighbors standing in their driveways, gazing at the flames. “You have got to leave!” she screamed at one of them. “Quit taking pictures!” When her husband caught up with her at her father’s house outside the evacuation zone, he had the goldfish — and a photo of a wall of flame coming down their street. “I knew, absolutely, that our house was going to be gone,” she says. “I didn’t see how it could not be.”

She was right. The Maluschkas’ home, reduced to a pile of rubble, was one the 346 houses in and around Colorado Springs that burned in the Waldo Canyon fire, which also killed two people. The most expensive fire in Colorado history, insurance claims for losses are expected to exceed $352 million. Fighting the fire has cost about $17 million.

Continue reading at:   http://www.onearth.org/article/life-on-the-edge-of-wildfire

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