November 30

From the Howard Zinn Project

Nov. 30 is the birthday of Mark Twain (1835), Gordon Parks (1912), Shirley Chisholm (1924), and Abbie Hoffman (1936).

Who else should we add to the list?

It is also the day in 1930 when fearless labor leader Mary Harris “Mother” Jones died. (Thanks to Bread and Roses 1912-2012 for the reminder.) Opponents called Mother Jones “the most dangerous woman in America.” When she was denounced on the floor of the U.S. Senate as “the grandmother of all agitators,” she said she hoped to live long enough to be the great-grandmother of all agitators.

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Bikini Kill

This week an article in The New Yorker reminded me of Bikini Kill, of the band that started the Riot Grrl Movement some twenty years ago.

From The New Yorker:

Hanna and Her Sisters

Bikini Kill sparked the riot-grrrl movement. It also made great music.

November 26, 2012

In May of 1989, a junior at Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington, named Kathleen Hanna traveled to Seattle to meet Kathy Acker, a forty-two-year-old author she admired. Acker, who had written about abuse, incest, and other forms of sexual extremity, was conducting workshops at the Center on Contemporary Art. Hanna, then nineteen, bluffed her way into an interview. As reported in Sara Marcus’s carefully documented history, “Girls to the Front,” when Hanna explained that she was interested in spoken-word performance and in writing, Acker told her that she should be in a band: “There’s more of a community for musicians than for writers.”

Hanna felt rebuffed at first, but she ultimately took the advice. In 1990, after touring with a band called Viva Knievel, she formed a new group, eventually called Bikini Kill, with a drummer named Tobi Vail, whom Hanna knew from Olympia. Vail had been publishing and writing a feminist zine called Jigsaw, which Hanna admired. Hanna and Vail found bandmates in the bassist Kathi Wilcox, who had never been in a band before, and the guitarist Billy Karren. This led to both a small catalogue of recordings and the birth of the very sort of community that Acker was referring to. People often use the phrase “riot grrrl” as shorthand for the feminist music activism of the nineties, but sometimes they use it simply to refer to Bikini Kill. The group’s first two vinyl recordings are being reissued, twenty years after their initial release, on a label set up by the members to preserve their output. Even though the riot-grrrl community has come to dwarf the songs in historical memory—that was the point, really—the music is still a pungent tonic.

Bands like Gossip, who became pop stars (in England, at least), cite the influence of Bikini Kill and the riot-grrrl movement. Members of the Russian political collective Pussy Riot, two of whom are currently in prison for hooliganism, also cite the band’s impact. (Pussy Riot is known for wearing balaclavas during public actions; is it coincidence that Hanna wore one in “No Alternative Girls,” a short film, from 1994, by Tamra Davis?)

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Having Someone Demonstrate Why I think HBS is Bullshit… Priceless

Yesterday I ran a post: “Mainstream” and “Traditional”: Meaningless Code words Used to Attack TS/TG People along with Women and Gay/Lesbian People

It was  predictable that some HBS Troll hiding behind an alias and gmail or yahoo account would pop up to whine about how she really isn’t a bigot but how I have to agree with her.

Funny isn’t it how the 99% of sisters who aren’t part of the HBS Klan have real names and are on Facebook.

HBS’er (actual alias):

At 25 I was close to 6ft tall, nearly bald, covered in thick body hair, 280lbs and built like a brick out-house, my family rejected and disowned me, I had only qualifications as a car mechanic. I nearly chose to kill myself (it would have been easier). Before I turned thirty, I was post SRS.

I spent nearly $100,000 on surgeries and doctors and treatments (in three years) before even considering keeping a roof over my head or food in my belly.

How did I do that?

I got a job driving a truck that delivered lubricating grease to coal mines for their bulldozers and excavators. I worked 12 hour days 6 and 7 days a week and came home covered in black grease and coal dust from head to toe with skin off my hands and arms, I shut my mouth and put up with the treatment I was afforded (which most of the time in spite of what the “community” would have you believe was respect ), and the men out there are the exact kind of “bigots” and transphobes” that “victims” in the TG community spruke (sic) about constantly.


Because it paid me $30 an hour and I NEEDED SRS to live, to be loved and connect with a partner the RIGHT way for me. I NEEDED to be PHYSICALLY female.

Gee isn’t that special…  I was built like  a girl and androgynous to the point of people being uncertain as to my sex prior to my coming out at 21. I too worked some pretty physically hard jobs including one at a paper mill where the homophobes/transphobes tried to murder me on a couple of occasions.

The possibility of getting SRS was pretty sketchy when I first came out to my parents when I was 15 but between 1962 and 1969 the world changed.

The reality is I would have been a queen if SRS were not available. I had friends for whom the struggle was too much, who settled into life as queens/transgender women because they lacked the wherewithal to pull it together for the final push.  If I didn’t get my surgery when I did I could have wound up feeling the same way.

Like most of the HBS Klan, HBSer struggles with the coherence thingie.  It is hard to tell who she is trying to impress:

I’m one of those “pure” ones you so hate Suzan, never used my penis, never fathered children, never married a woman, want desperately to be a mother, to be “normal”, genetic even, but I’m NOT under ANY illusions as to that ever happening the way I need it to or as to who or what I am, NOR do I think I’m “better” or more valid or deserving as a human being than anyone else. All that I hope for for ANYONE is happiness, safety and equality.

In other words , “Don’t hate me because I am beautiful.”  No wait that was pure, because having seen the pictures of a number of HBS folks beauty isn’t something most can claim.”

Let’s unpack the purity claim.  First thought:  I’m supposed to be impressed that you didn’t even try using your former parts to have sex, presumably with either men or women.  I’m not really impressed.  That was never really a hurdle in the screening process.  That was one of those purity queen generated gates.  A lot of the doctors in the early days thought it was a really good idea for people to explore their sexuality a bit prior to taking such major step.

Some people complain they felt pressured to try having sex with men. But there was a reason for doctors to do this.  The doctors were dealing with transphobes who claimed transsexual women were just gay men in denial.  So people were encouraged to try having sex with men to see if that was really what they were.

As for the wanting children. Some people with a firm grasp on reality choose to defer transition in order to do just that, have children and be a parent.

Having been guided by the wisdom of doctors who posted the Serenity Prayer in the clinic I always accepted the reality.  But the deeper reality is that I had a really sucky childhood and would have been a highly irresponsible parent.  I chose a different path.

What it seems you fail to recognise is that the “equal” rights sought by non-op TG’s are NOT being afforded on equal/equivalent life circumstance and as such, those with the (circumstantial) disadvantage are being FORCED to lose THEIR “rights”, THEY! are being made to suffer (further) for the “convenience” of these others.

Does it occur to you that “HBS’ers” (such as myself) are NOT the ones attempting to separate and berate “trans” people through the use of “mainstream”? does it occur to you that that is simply the only option left to refer to those that DON’T belong to the self-proclaimed/inflicted LGBT “community” how else do we refer to anyone outside of that?


Right wing asshat comes to mind.  Especially when you pour forth your homophobic bigotry and assorted right wing bullshit.

Rights are based on being born human.  That is why they are called rights and why the Constitution refers to them as inalienable.  Right wingers always want to make equality and basic rights into special privileges like denying gay and lesbian people the right to marry or people of color the right to vote.

The idea that others having the same rights as you have some how takes away from you is a mountainous pile of bullshit that treats rights, basic human rights as the exclusive property of the rich.

Most of those YOU would call “HBS’ers” do NOT think we are better or more deserving than anyone else, we do NOT wish poor treatment or oppression on ANYONE but we also believe we are NOT the same as everyone and need to be treated appropriately.

Am I the SAME as a forty year old “trans” person who fathered multiple children and now can’t “afford” SRS?
How about a 25 year old college student who happily uses their penis with women and can “deal” with having it without needing to shoot themselves?

If THEY are TS (IE the same as me to the “uninitiated”) what does that make ME in the eyes of those people in the world who aren’t “trans” and have no understanding of transsexuals (the “uninitiated”? what does that make ME to the men who might find out I how I was unfortunate enough to have been born?

If people don’t want “REAL” TS’s telling them they’re different to “us” then maybe they should quit shitting on OUR path by telling everyone we’re “the same” and using “us” and “OUR” story for their own gain, because (clearly) we’re NOT the same.

First of all you are a troll hiding behind an alias.

I have to weight that against the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of other transsexual and transgender people I’ve met over the years.People from every walk of life.  People who came out at a wide variety of points in life.

A dozen years ago I used to question how some one who came out in middle age or later could feel the same way I did.

I too was much more rigid in my thinking.

But the more I though about it the more I came to see that had a few details , crucial turning points in my life gone the other way I could have wound up transitioning in my 40s just as easily as I did in my early 20s.

There is an emotion, a soft squishy sentiment often attributed to women and liberals, called empathy.  The ability to put oneself in the shoes of others.  Secular humanists and many religious people consider empathy to be a treasure of great virtue.

One thing I have noticed is a common trait among HBSers, for that matter most right wing conservatives, is a total lack of empathy.

Instead I see nothing but jealousy, greed and tight lipped anger.  HBS assholes are cowardly bigots and bullies trolling blogs and spewing hatred to make up for something that is obviously missing in their lives.

Finding a Place to Go: The Transgender Bathroom Dilemma

From The Huffington Post:


Imagine that there are two bathrooms, one labeled “black people” and one labeled “white people.” For an Asian person or an Arab person (or any person who is not marked “Caucasian” or “African-American” by the U.S. Census Bureau), there are two layers of problems to be addressed in choosing a bathroom to use. The first issue is that there are only two identities represented, which, in a world with a vast array of racial diversity, is clearly an improvident method of social categorization. Secondly, the uncategorized individual needing to use the bathroom is forced to either not use a bathroom at all or find a way to identify themselves as either black or white enough to use one of the given options.

I recently used this anecdote to explain to an acquaintance the experience of being transgender in a binary-based society. Since starting my transition a year ago, and even before transitioning, I have woken up most mornings to the self-directed question, “Do I look masculine enough to pass today?” Regardless of the pressure from certain circles within the queer community to embrace a “genderqueer” identity and reject gender binaries for either personal or political motivations, my life just has not played out that way. I don’t identify with my female body; my gender expression follows the pattern of a pretty typical cisgender man. Unlike some of my genderqueer friends, I don’t thrive off my gender ambiguity or enjoy the experience of living outside the box, at least in terms of gender. The ambiguity of my appearance makes me uncomfortable, and my nonconforming gender expression gives me anxiety.

Delving deeper into bathroom segregation, genderqueer people and actively transitioning transsexuals can both identify with the “black and white” bathroom dilemma. To have “male”- and “female”-delegated bathrooms is to say that there are only men and women in this world. From a biological perspective, that just isn’t true. From a social perspective, sexual identity and gender expression blur the lines of “masculinity” and “femininity,” the two backbones that keep our delicate binary society in motion. Not unlike the growing understanding of racial “mixing” that has created literally hundreds of racial identities in the world, gender is also stepping outside the boundaries that traditional institutionalized societal structures feel so comfortable in. In the context of bathrooms, identifying outside traditional male or female expression will keep you from having a place at the table (or the toilet).

Because I identify within our constructed binary, my experience with bathroom selection leans less toward demanding genderless bathrooms and more toward finding a way to fit into the binary bathrooms that have defined my 21 years of life. In a public setting, when I know I will be forced into using a gendered bathroom, or not going to the bathroom at all, I go through a series of self-checks:

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Clinton: LGBT-inclusion ‘the smart thing’ for U.S. foreign policy

From The Washington Blade:

By Chris Johnson
on November 28, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered on Wednesday what might be her last public address before an LGBT audience as chief diplomat for the United States when she told group of LGBT Foreign Service officers their service is integral to the country.

“Creating an LGBT-welcoming workplace is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing,” Clinton said. “And part of that is because the nature of diplomacy has changed and we should and need to keep up. Today, we expect our diplomats to build relationships not just with their counterparts in foreign governments, but from people from every continent and every walk of life, and, in order to do that, we need a diplomatic core that is as diverse as the world we work in.”

Additionally, Clinton said having an LGBT-inclusive State Department makes the Foreign Service corps “better advocates” for American values.

“When anyone is persecuted anywhere and that includes when LGBT people are persecuted, we’re kept from fully participating in their societies,” Clinton said. “They suffer, but so do we. We are diminished because our commitment to the human rights of all people has to be a continuing obligation and mission of everyone who serves in the government of the United States.”

Clinton delivered the remarks in Benjamin Franklin room at the State Department to observe the 20th anniversary of the department’s LGBT affinity group, Gays & Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, or GLIFAA.

She reminded the estimated 200 people in attendance that world in which GLIFAA was created was much different than today and the organization has worked over the course of 20 years to create a fairer workplace for LGBT Foreign Service officers.

“As we heard, in 1992, you could be fired for being gay,” Clinton said. “Just think about all of the exceptional public servant — the brilliant strategists, the linguists, the experts — fired for no reason other than their sexual orientation. Think of what we lost because we were unable of their hard work, expertise and experience.”

Clinton also gave recognition to Tom Gallagher, whom she said joined the State Department in 1965 and in the early 1970′s became the first openly gay Foreign Service officer. He was in the audience during Clinton’s speech and rose when the secretary mentioned him.

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The Walls Are Closing in on the Ex-Gay Industry

From Huffington Post:


In 1998, 15 religious right organizations launched a huge advertising campaign to promote “pray away the gay” programs. Anti-gay activist Robert Knight called the “Truth in Love” campaign the “Normandy Landing in the larger cultural wars.”

Things didn’t quite work out as Knight had hoped. In 2000, I photographed their poster boy, John Paulk, in a Washington, DC gay bar. In 2003, I joined attorney Mike Hamar in reporting that the star of their television campaign, Michael Johnston, was hooking up with men he was meeting on the Internet.

The already shredded credibility of such groups markedly deteriorated this year after Exodus International’s leader, Alan Chambers, said that his “ex-gay” ministry did not work for 99.9 percent of clients. This followed a similar admission from Love In Action ministry leader John Smid. The icing on the cake occurred this spring when Dr. Robert Spitzer renounced his infamous 2001 “ex-gay” study claiming that some gay people could go straight.

The cherry on top of the icing came last month when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill prohibiting reparative therapy for minors in California, which greatly damaged an industry where more than half of the clients are youth.

This week, the rest of the chickens came home to roost and the roles from 1998 were reversed, with the LGBT community and its allies storming the beaches of the “ex-gay” shoreline.

On Monday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the victims of reparative therapy. Representing four clients, and two of their mothers, SPLC slammed Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), its director Arthur Abba Goldberg, and life coach Alan Downing, with an historic complaint alleging consumer fraud.

SPLC’s lawsuit is based on JONAH and Downing’s “misguided and erroneous belief that that being gay is a mental disorder — a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago.” The lawsuit says that some Plaintiffs were instructed to “remove all clothing during both individual and group therapy sessions including an instruction to Chaim Levin to hold his penis in front of Defendant Downing.

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Calif. Congresswoman to introduce resolution targeting reparative therapy

From LGBTQ Nation:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) has announced that she will introduce a House resolution on Wednesday, Nov. 28, asking the U.S. House of Representatives to encourage states to take steps to prevent minors from being harmed by controversial and discredited gay-to-straight conversion therapy.

Jenny Werwa, Speier’s Communications Director, told LGBTQ Nation on Tuesday that the Congresswoman’s efforts stem from the recent, “well publicized tragic examples of the harmful psychological abuse inflicted on young Americans by these dangerous sexual orientation conversion practices,” also known as reparative therapy, which aims to convert or “repair” an individual’s sexual orientation.

Werwa said that Speier’s office has been working closely in recent months with Christine Sun, Legal Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, a Vermont-based watch group that has tracked “Ex-Gay” organizations and therapists who practice reparative therapy.

Speier’s legislative effort, a House resolution entitled “Stop Harming Our Kids” (SHOK), was inspired by California’s recent passage of legislation authored by State Sen. Ted Lieu, which prohibits reparative therapy for minors. The historic bill was signed into law on Sept. 29 by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Speier has also been investigating whether taxpayer funded programs such as Medicaid or TRICARE healthcare programs have been used to reimburse therapists who practice conversion therapy.

Speier will discuss the resolution and her efforts at a press conference on Wednesday, and is expected to be joined by advocacy leaders and survivors of sexual orientation change practices. Sheldon Bruck, a plaintiff in a new lawsuit against a New Jersey organization for offering fraudulent conversion therapy services, will share his story.

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See also:  Huffington Post:  Jackie Speier Introduces ‘Stop Harming Our Kids’ Resolution, Hits ‘Ex-Gay’ Conversion ‘Quackery

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