Social Construct is a Hammock for the Intellectually Lazy

In a comment regarding the death of Kiira, Edith Pinkelton, a regular commenter to this blog threw in the trite phrase, “Yes, intersex, as is all sex, is a socially constructed category.”

I’m not singling out Edith for criticism, even though her phrase triggered this post.

It is just that the idea of everything being a “social construct” has become the post-modern new age equivalent of “What’s your sign.”

Throw it in and thinking is supposed to stop.  Like how saying so and so is a Pisces is supposed to cause everyone to sigh and say, “That explains everything.”

I’ve had Simone de Beauvoir’s book, “The Second Sex” on my nightstand for months.  Every evening I read three or four pages and it is an over 700 page book.

I also watch Animal Planet and many of the documentaries about different species of animals.

I feel kind of safe in saying sex is biological even if male and female tend to mostly overlap with the majority of their physical being.

As for what we call gender and its place in the realm of “social construct.”  I find that to be an intellectually lazy statement like, “What’s your sign?”

What constitutes a social construct?  Seriously…  What makes something a social construct?

Is it something being a learned skill rather than a biological trait?

Is the whole “social construct” idea one of those mind traps, an ideological trap we fall into when we are too lazy to explain, or lack the easy words to explain something far more complex.

I’ve criticized both the HBS Borg and Transgender Borg for their resorting to the use of dogmatic slogans rather than actual thought.

The reason I get along much better with activists rather than theory people is because activists focus on issues rather than dogma.

Maybe it is time to retire “social construct” as an unexplained buzzword that is supposed to substitute for an explanation of something more complex.

Post-modernism is the neo-liberalism of academe and has had as negative an impact upon the lives of ordinary people as neo-liberal economics have.

Denise Magner aka Kiira Triea: fabrications and hoaxes

Andrea James has graciously given me to post the following from her incredible website TSRoadmap

Andrea James has done an amazing job of exposing some extremely malevolent people, many TS/TG people themselves who have helped perpetuate hatred and bigotry directed at the various TS and TG communities.

Denise Magner aka Kiira Triea: fabrications and hoaxes

From TSRoadmap:

By Andrea James
Originally published 12 November 2012

Reposted with permission.  If you wish to repost this please request permission from Andrea and link with her site rather than with this blog.

This was written in November 2012 in response to published eulogies repeating lies and unsubstantiated claims made by Denise Magner.

Denise Magner, one of the handful of transgender people active in the “autogynephilia” movement, died in November 2012. I had to hold publication of this piece until Magner’s death could be independently confirmed. Magner was also known as Kiira Triea, and Denise Tree, and a host of fake online personae centered around the hoax website Anything Magner ever said or wrote needs to be independently confirmed by an uninvolved party before it is believed. Basic information she claimed about herself that I fact-checked against government and medical records turned out to be false. Even basic facts she claimed about herself that were printed in books and articles have turned out to be false. Throughout her life, she lied to journalists, to academics, to activists, to her closest friends, to her family, and to herself.

I’m sure the sexologists who exploited Magner are rushing to eulogize her in their house organ, the Archives of Sexual Behavior, so I thought I’d pre-emptively refute their testimonial about her as some teller of great truths. I have much more to say on this down the road, but this summary will suffice for now. Magner’s fraud is very complicated and spanned decades, so bear with me as I try to summarize.

Background: exploitation of transgender youth

Autogynephilia” is a disease made up by gay psychologist Ray Blanchard in 1989. Blanchard ran one of the last “gender clinics” in North America until his retirement. Blanchard’s mentor was preoccupied with dividing people into “homosexual” and “non-homosexual” categories, and Blanchard extended that preoccupation to his own studies of “male gender dysphorics, paedophiles, and fetishists.”

Blanchard claims transgender women are either “homosexual” men or “non-homosexual” men. He believes the second group in this two-type taxonomy is motivated to transition by “autogynephilia,” the thought or image of themselves as women, a paraphilia similar to sexual attraction to children (pedophilia), animals (zoophilia), corpses (necrophilia), rape (biastophilia), etc. The idea that transsexualism is fetishistic is not new; second-wave feminists like Janice Raymond claim that trans women “rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves.”

Blanchard did not get a lot of notice until his ideas were popularized in the 2003 book The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey. You may recall Bailey is that professor at Northwestern University who used to teach their intro course on sexuality until he held an exploitative live “fucksaw” demonstration in 2011 as part of a course. The intro course is now taught in the gender studies department, because Northwestern’s entire psychology department has consistently demonstrated that they are unable to maintain an acceptable level of academic rigor or ethics in matters of human sexuality.

Bailey’s book is framed by the case of Danny Ryan, the world’s most famous published case report about a gender-nonconforming child. Bailey witnesses that Danny is no longer gender-nonconforming at the end of the book, suggesting that gender non-conformity is either just a phase or something that can be fixed through “curing” with reparative therapy espoused by Bailey and Blanchard’s colleague Kenneth Zucker. Danny’s case is used to bolster Bailey’s theories. Bailey’s ideological nemesis, sexologist John Money, also exploited a child with a similar case report that made his career. Money reported for decades on the successful case report of David Reimer, a boy raised as a girl after a circumcision accident in infancy destroyed his penis. Money used his famous case report to bolster his theories that gender roles are socially conditioned. Bailey holds the opposite view, so he created a case report with the opposite conclusion of Money’s. Money was later exposed as a fraud whose results were fabricated. Bailey’s case report has not been independently fact-checked by anyone to date. Given the remarkable parallels with Money, there’s an extremely strong likelihood that Bailey’s case report is a fabrication as well, although he denies it. Sexology is not well-respected inside or outside academia because the few ethical researchers in their field are apparently unwilling or unable to stop unethical ideologues from making things up out of whole cloth in order to promote themselves and their careers.

During his book tour, Bailey was giving an exploitative lecture using images of gender-variant children that provoked laughter from attendees. The book and Bailey’s exploitation of our children were a galvanizing moment for the trans community; we almost universally condemned both. One book on LGBT history said the successful protests against the book “represented one of the most organized and unified examples of transgender activism seen to date.”

I played a role in the protests, and I have since been branded an enemy of “academic freedom” by Bailey’s allies for going after everyone involved and working to expose the facts in this sordid affair. The whole thing had pretty much died down until Bailey’s colleague, “ethicist” Alice Dreger, got mad that I was invited to speak at Northwestern University in 2006. Dreger unsuccessfully tried to suppress my speech (so much for “academic freedom”). After I mocked her attempts to stop me, she went nuts, spending over a year trying to get back at me by constructing her own version of the book protest. In 2008, Dreger unsuccessfully tried to suppress a panel refuting her version of the facts at an academic conference (so much for “academic freedom”).

In Bailey and Dreger’s world, “academic freedom” apparently means “being able to make up anything you want without consequence.” That explains why both were closely tied to Magner.

Denise Magner, the self-hating trans woman

Bailey did have a few supporters among transgender people. The backlash against our backlash was spearheaded by Magner. She and a few others found Blanchard’s transgender taxonomy appealing, usually because they believed it put them in a category that is more socially desirable. This taxonomy appeals to three small subgroups of transgender people:

1. People who would be considered “non-transsexual” under other taxonomies but self-identify as transsexual.

2. People who would be considered “non-homosexual” by proponents of this taxonomy but self-identify as “homosexual transsexual.”

3. People who would be considered “non-intersex” but self-identify as intersex.

Magner was part of the second and third subgroups, depending on when you asked her. Trans supporters of this taxonomy believe it improves their social standing, because these terms create a false hierarchy, from best to worst:

1. Intersex

2. “Homosexual transsexual” (or “primary” or “true” transsexual)

3. “Non-homosexual transsexual” (or “autogynephilic” or “secondary” transsexual)

4. “Pseudotranssexual”

Magner’s bogus life story changed so often you need a scorecard. She has always reminded me of a poor man’s Laura Albert, the middle-aged non-trans woman who made up transkid JT Leroy out of whole cloth and created an elaborate series of identities to keep her literary hoax going. When I saw the film Catfish I was again reminded that many people like Magner exist in the world. Magner was highly dysphoric and deeply troubled. That’s about all that can be said with certainty.

Will the real Denise Magner please stand up?

Magner, like most of the major figures in the “autogynephilia” movement, was a hoarder living in abject poverty, but she had an extra level of idiosyncrasy. When she would fixate on something, she would appropriate it as her identity. When she got fixated on the computer programming language Linux, she claimed to be from Finland, where the Linux founder is from, and took a Finnish-sounding name. She created fake friends with Finnish names. When she was into music, she created fake bands she claimed to be in. When she got fixated on intersex issues, she started insinuating herself into that community, creating fake personae like Kiira Triea and Arika Aeirt. When she got fixated on underage and young adult transgender youth, she created several she claimed to know, even going so far as to set up multiple USENET and LiveJournal accounts and ultimately the website, to entice them to contact her and befriend her. quickly became a repository of attacks on Bailey’s enemies, and Bailey and his allies referred to it heavily in their work, as if it were legitimate. Bailey didn’t limit his exploitation to unconsenting trans youth. He actively sought out attention-craving eccentric adults like Magner to exploit, in order to further his argument that transgender people are mentally disordered. Bailey ultimately co-authored a paper with Magner, mainly a rehashing of the attacks found on

Magner was part of the “lost generation” of transgender people; those who transitioned between the late 1960s to the late 1980s. Many of these people were forced to go through one of a few regressive “gender clinic” programs in North America. Before the rise of the gender clinic, trans people found a sympathetic physician and got the health services they requested. These centralized clinics were started by people who had various agendas. Many of these clinics were interested in sex offenders and were looking for data on chemical and surgical castration while skirting the ethical problems of unconsented castration. Others had various “nature vs. nurture” theories about sexuality, sex roles, or gender roles, and they saw trans people as a great way to further their aims.

One such clinic was the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic. John Money, who ran the Clinic, invented the term “gender role” and had a major role in promoting the term paraphilia for non-normative sexual interests. It’s not clear whether Magner actually attended the clinic as an adult, but she was certainly not there as an adolescent. Magner’s aunt Nancy Henley studied at Johns Hopkins, so Magner may have just fixated on Hopkins and appropriated the identity as symbolic of her alienation. One of these days I may get around to writing a piece called “How HIPAA Helps Hoaxers” to discuss the problem of people like Magner who appropriate intersex identities because they see it as socially desirable. Because of the way medical privacy laws are now structured, people like Magner and Bailey and Zucker know they can make up whatever they want and no one will be able to refute them. At any rate, Magner was connected with Johns Hopkins via her aunt and via her computing skills, and she had an email account there in the early days of the internet. That’s when she first started creating fake online “friends,” a habit that was a full-blown compulsion within a decade.

Besides being a compulsive liar and compulsive hoarder, Magner had other compulsions as well. She did a stint with Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems. Her drug use led to a pattern of idealizing, then devaluing relationships. Like many unstable people, Magner lived on the verge of homelessness at times.  She had some sort of self-described breakdown in 1993, and things continued to get worse from there, exacerbated by her ability to use the internet to play out her anger via multiple personae. I had not had a lot of dealings with low-functioning people like Magner until Bailey’s book fiasco, but they really came out of the woodwork for that dramafest.

The eulogies

The first eulogy of Magner I read was by a transgender woman in the “autogynephilia” movement named Candice Brown Elliott. Elliott, also known as “Cloudy,” promotes “autogynephilia” via the website and via a blog called Sillyolme. The site was initially started by Magner and a couple of other transgender women in the “autogynephilia” movement, and it is currently maintained by Elliott. Magner and Elliott are kindred spirits: both have been heavily involved in computing and technology, a hallmark of “autogynephilia” according to their psychologist friend Bailey (see page 192 of his book and run your own test score for Elliott). Both Magner and Elliott are part of the “lost generation” and both claim to have attended gender clinics around the same time. Both have insisted they represent transgender youth and insisted they would not be classified as “autogynephilic,” even though it’s painfully obvious both would be labeled as such by proponents of Blanchard’s taxonomy. Elliott describes a sad encounter when she flew Magner out for a visit. Elliott is clearly not the best judge of character. One of her other “friends” stole one of her airplanes a couple of days after I wrote about Elliott’s involvement in the transkids hoax, eventually ditching it hundreds of miles away and being arrested.

Dreger wrote the other eulogy I read:

Dreger and Magner are also kindred spirits. Both are not-too-clever charlatans who have managed to dupe some people with their assertions. Dreger wrote a book about intersex issues (she nicknamed herself “the hermaphrodite monger”). Magner became fixated on intersex as a concept at the same time Dreger was doing her work, and Magner assumed intersex as an identity in the early 1990s.

Magner sought and got attention and money from Elliott and Dreger through skillful manipulation. Dreger is the kind of gullible chump that people like Magner seek out. Blinded to the truth by their own incompetence. Highly susceptible to flattery. Extremely thin-skinned. Willing to believe anything from anyone who agrees with them. Willing to believe anything from anyone who disagrees with a perceived enemy.

Magner claimed she was born in 1964. She was actually born in 1951. She claimed she was at Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic in the mid-1970s, having genital surgery at age 14. She was not at Johns Hopkins at age 14. She did not have surgery at age 14.  She did not know or interact with John Money’s famous case report David Reimer in any way. There is no independent evidence that Magner was ever even at the Johns Hopkins clinic or the Psychohormonal Research Unit. It’s entirely possible Magner cobbled together her story from the work of her aunt, Nancy Henley, who got her Ph.D. there and went on to research women’s issues as a career. Magner made countless other bogus claims about herself, many of which she later tried to scrub from the internet when the lies piled up so deep they began to contradict each other.

I have received many letters from people duped and manipulated by Magner, and I have published a few previously. Here’s what one person told me when she met Magner at her home, expecting to meet an edgy artist and activist and her many young trans friends like Janelle, Inoue, and Magner’s main fake persona, Stephanie Alejandra Velasquez, or Ale. Here’s how she described what she found upon arriving at Magner’s:

I think Kiira is quite pitiful actually, her house was in a huge mess and she probably suffers from depression. I had to put in quite abit of effort to help her clean it up :X But essentially me and my friend cut ties because we felt disturbed as the whole fracas drew on. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kiira roped in others after us… but yeah. I think she’s like a lonely old lady in some respects. 😦

The one thing I always remember being shocked by together with my friend was that how old Ale sounded on the phone. She did do an about turn after admitting both ale and janie were fake… I’d be honestly surprised if both ale and janie are real. Its just a little disturbing though that she goes through so much effort to maintain so many identities. :X

I think she’s essentially a nice person who messed around with drugs and alcohol and just spiralled into some bipolar, schizo state.

Its complicating but… I’m not sure why after Kiira/Ale talked to me I got convinced on stuff and like somehow my mind was mentally framed to like side her views. She’s very good in asking questions about me and deflecting those about her. Its weird now, instead of feeling *hateful* i actually pity her. She’s extremely perceptive in picking out my insecurities? And like somehow I told her everything about my life etc. I feel, it might be some convenient attempt to find “a place”.

I seriously don’t understand why Kiira does why she does. The weird thing I feel though as much as she is a scam, she actually believes what she talks about *despite* all appearances and behavior. But yes, she is quite good in manipulating people with pseudo empathy of sorts, that you’d want to believe the good in her.

This brings me back to Dreger, the incompetent patsy who desperately wanted to believe Magner because it helped her career. Dreger plied her with attention and money, the two things Magner needed most, right up to the end in exchange for helping her with her career by giving her a veneer of legitimacy. Dreger even cited Magner and her fake personae in her published work as if they were different people. Dreger is the kind of needy person who loses her virginity to an exploitative high school teacher. Bailey is also very good at this form of seduction with former students, and his manipulation of Dreger and her desire to please him seem very similar to her high school behavior. More on Dreger’s weird fixation with presenting herself as sexually desirable in the future.

Sadly, Dreger is what passes for an academic these days. A clueless hack who allows people like Bailey and Magner to continue their lies unchallenged because she is too incompetent or lazy to do the most rudimentary fact-checking. She’s also blinded by her own histrionic self-righteousness. She has made a name for herself in the age of trolling with academic drive-bys, where she tries to stir up old controversies to make a quick buck and get the attention she craves as much as Magner did. Daddy was probably a strict disciplinarian, and Dreger found the best way to get attention was to get in trouble. (I’ll tell you a funny story about Dreger’s brief undergraduate stint at Georgetown one day.) Dreger, like a lot of Christians, thrives on feeling persecuted. That’s why she keeps picking fights. She can’t get anything done unless she feels persecuted/angry, so she tries to pick fights with people who threaten her livelihood or veneer of credibility.

Magner’s manipulation from beyond the grave

It’s probably bad to laugh out loud at a eulogy, but I am amazed at how Magner is able to play Dreger like a fiddle even from beyond the grave. When Dreger tried to pick a fight with another person, Heino Meyer-Bahlburg of Columbia University, Magner knew just how to manipulate Dreger, who writes:

“Kiira and her bandmates recorded a version of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” that exactly captured the terror and anger we both felt. I must have listened to it a thousand times, especially the part we both knew was about the way she felt toward Money and Heino.”

Because Magner was such a pathological liar, I immediately determined that this cover song was not recorded by Magner and her friends. Magner had no lasting friends, and she never recorded music professionally (she just hoarded second-hand gear). Magner appropriated the song she gave to Dreger from the metal band Nonpoint. In fact, here’s the version Dreger has on her playlist:

That’s right, Dreger listened to “Magner’s” song “a thousand times,” never once stopping to wonder how a 60-something reclusive hoarder and drug addict might be able to create a professionally-produced studio recording. That’s a perfect analogy for what’s going on here. Magner was such a skillful liar and fraud, and Dreger is so incompetent and blinded to the truth, that it didn’t even occur to Dreger she’s been duped by Magner for over 20 years (and counting). Dreger asks rhetorically,

“How many times did we talk about the ‘pack of lies,’ Kiira?”

Such staggering irony. Magner made no deathbed confession of her lies, apparently, and Dreger will of course never bother finding the truth because it will make her look like an even bigger dimwit.

Why is Dreger so easy to exploit? Why is she so eager to spread misinformation and lies without checking them? Everything Magner claimed about her life was a lie or exaggeration designed to manipulate people like Dreger. Apparently Magner’s first lie was such a big success that she had an encore performance of playing Dreger like a fool. Dreger writes in her hagiography of Magner:

“A couple of months before they finally made the terrible diagnosis of cancer all through her body, she wrote and recorded a new song, “Kali’s Day,” a song she told me was about her and progestin, and simultaneously about me and dex. I’m crying too hard to explain that whole song. I’ll just say here that the refrain is this:

Is this the end of the story finally coming?
Is this the end of the story, finally?
It’s the longest way to the shortest ending.
It’s the longest way to the shortest ending.”

I will chuckle the rest of my life when I hear either song, which any simpleton with an internet connection could quickly ascertain Magner stole from the same band who did the Phil Collins cover. Magner’s song “Kali’s Day” is of course “The Shortest Ending,” also recorded by Nonpoint:

When I think of Dreger crying as she pecked out that fact-free eulogy of Magner to this song, I marvel at what a virtuouso scam artist Magner was. Magner appropriated these songs just as she appropriated her fake intersex identity and the biographical details of young trans women she tricked into befriending her. Dreger then makes up a fake history for the song, like so many other fake histories she has concocted in the past few years. It’s the perfect analogy for Dreger’s life’s work.

Looking ahead

Magner’s lifetime of lies is over, a sad end to a pathetic, angry life. I take no joy in her suffering or death, and I would not wish cancer on anyone. However, I am not going to whitewash the fact that she was a very troubled person who caused a lot of harm to the youth in my community, certainly more harm than good, and she continually hurt the people who wanted to help her the most by lying to them and manipulating them. There’s no nice way to say that.

To quote Nonpoint, Is this the end of the story, finally? Not yet, I’m afraid. J. Michael Bailey is an even bigger and better liar than Magner, and he’s been playing Dreger even more masterfully. Maybe Dreger will soon wake up to the sunk cost fallacy of doubling down on Bailey, and she’ll rat him out to save herself. Or maybe she’ll wait to go down with him. Time will tell. I have some other truths to divulge on all this, but I am holding it back for now. There’s going to be a moment in the future when the time is right. To quote Phil Collins, I can feel it coming in the air…

In the meantime, I’ll end with what I told Dreger to her face in 2008 when she tried to suppress an academic panel refuting her bogus “history” of the Bailey affair:

Danny Ryan doesn’t exist, and when all that comes out, that’s when your career is over.

By Andrea James (All rights reserved)

From TSRoadmap:

Good Riddance: Denise Magner alias Kiira Triea is Dead

I honestly don’t know how much more schadenfreude I can handle in such a short period of time. First Obama and the Democrats kick ass on the insane right wing Republicans and  then yesterday morning I learn Kiira Triea is dead.

Kiira was a sociopath, a compulsive liar with absolutely zero ethics or morality.

Everything about her was a fraud.

I first encountered this person in the late 1990s when she was an activist, with another fraud named Cheryl Chase.  They had an organization called ISNA.  Intersex North America.

Kiira absolutely hated transsexual and transgender people while claiming she was intersex.

I found it a little odd that she spent so much time trolling TS/TG mailing lists.

She made numerous claims.

But one stuck out.  She claimed involvement with the Berkeley Women’s Music Collective.

It just so happened that during the 1970s I had photographed a number of the women who recorded on Olivia Records, the label that the Berkeley Women’s Music Collective recorded on.  I still had a couple of contacts with people who had been part of Olivia and knew the Berkeley Women’s Music Collective.  None of them had ever heard of this person.

After about 2001 Kiira stopped posting to Trans-Theory.  The Bailey-Blanchard thing took over and Kiira popped up as a “Transkid.”  From intersex to transkid.  Quite some journey don’t cha think?

So Tuesday morning when I read the following on ENDABlog2:  For Those Who Think the Radphlegms Are the Worst that the LGBT Community Has to Offer, We Have: The Death of Denise Magner a/k/a Kiira Triea a/k/a Denise Tree

It was like learning that a cancer was no longer infecting our communities.

I contacted Andrea James and asked if I could run a long piece from her website.

East Aurora Developing New Transgender Student Policies: Why We Must Stand With Them

From Huffington Post:


On Tuesday, October 23, the school district of East Aurora decided to be on the right side of history. That day, its school board unanimously approved policies that would protect the district’s transgender students, making their schools safe spaces for students of all gender identities. The new policy permitted transgender students to use the restroom of their choice, to play on the sports team that correctly aligned with their gender identity and to use their chosen name and pronoun in school, even if a faculty member or administration made an issue of it. The policies gave transgender students the agency and protections they often lack in high school today, a culture that hasn’t gotten easier since my first day as a freshman over 10 years ago. We talk about it getting better for LGBT youth when they grow up and leave, but high school is a horrible, scary place sometimes, and trans youth need our help to fight the problems they face today. They can’t wait until tomorrow.

And that’s exactly what the East Aurora School Board promised their students: It gets better now.

But just as quickly as they were enacted, protections for transgender students went away. After the policies were announced to the media, the Illinois Family Institute — a Christian organization based in Wheaton, Illinois, described as the “Vatican City of Christian fundamentalism” — called the protections a ” biased, radical and offensive school board decision that all Illinois taxpayers (especially Aurora community members with or without children in school) should vigorously and tenaciously oppose.” In her plea to get Illinois Family Institute followers to take action against East Aurora’s measure, Laurie Higgins (the “Cultural Analyst” for IFI) further writes:

The school board is now imposing non-objective, ‘progressive’ moral, philosophical, and political beliefs — not facts — about gender confusion on the entire school. This feckless school board has made a decision to accommodate not the needs of gender-confused teens, but their disordered desires and the desires of gender/sexuality anarchists who exploit public education for their perverse ends… Gender confusion affects approximately .003 percent of males and .0001 percent of females. Aurora East High School is now accommodating the disordered impulses and unproven beliefs of a statistically miniscule segment of their population and in so doing ignores the beliefs of the majority. Some would argue that this policy also reflects a gross distortion of compassion and profound ignorance about what truly helps the few students who suffer from gender dysphoria or Gender Identity Disorder.”

Responding to Higgins’ hate-filled screed, IFI supporters put so much pressure on East Aurora that the school board met again to discuss reversing the decision. One of the school board members, Stella Gonzalez, claimed to have received over 1,000 emails during IFI’s siege on the East Aurora School District, a district that few of those complaining about the policy actually lived in. However, those who did actually live in the district showed up in droves that Friday to support the policy, as concerned parents, friends, neighbors and community members who want the best for their students. The day that the policies were repealed, supportive East Aurorans pleaded the school board to keep the new transgender protections and put their students before the demands of hatemongers. Mother-of-four Joanna Kenyon gave voice to the “floods of support” in a heartfelt testimony to the East Aurora School Board:

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Doctor criticised for breast removal surgery

From The Copenhagen Post:

Peter Stanners
November 13, 2012
The mother of a 15-year-old transsexual child, who had his breasts removed last year, said her child was thriving after the operation

A specialist doctor has been formally criticised by the health agency, Sundhedsvæsnet, for last year performing an operation to remove the breasts of a 15-year-old transsexual child.

Born with a female body, Caspian’s family said that he had acted as a boy from an early age and as a result had started taking male hormones that meant he had developed a deep voice and stubble. The hormones did not, however, prevent Caspian from developing noticeable breasts that he wanted to get rid of.

Caspian was referred to the Sexologisk Klinik at Rigshospital, which is responsible for approving sex change operations by the national health service. They turned him down for a procedure to remove his breasts, however, as only people aged 18 or over can be considered for the operation, which can only take place after several years of studies and psychological testing.

Caspian could not wait that long, so he and his family approached a private clinic, the HC Andersen Klinikken in Odense, in May 2011. After three months of consultation, doctor Jens Pilegaard Bjarnesen performed an operation to completely remove Caspian’s breast tissue.

While the family stated that Caspian thrived after the operation, Sundhedsstyrelsen’s disciplinary body last October decided to launch an investigation into the decision by the private clinic to completely remove the breast tissue, an irreversible procedure, rather than perform breast reduction surgery.

The disciplinary body criticised Bjarnesen for not conducting thorough enough psychological and sexological testing before the operation that would permanently change Caspian’s body.

“The disciplinary body has found that specialist doctor Jens Pilegaard Bjarnesen has acted substantially below the norm for ordinarily accepted professional standards with the treatment,” the disciplinary board wrote. “The disciplinary body also finds that specialist doctor Jens Pilegaard Bjarnesen should be strongly encouraged to show greater care in his future work.”

Neither breast removal surgery nor the prescription of hormone therapy to a 15-year-old are strictly speaking illegal, however, and Caspian’s parents thought the doctor made the right decision.

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Further confirmation that Mark Regnerus is an asshole

From Zinnia Jones:

Zinnia Jones
November 13, 2012

Researcher Mark Regnerus didn’t just misrepresent his flawed study as being about same-sex parents when barely any same-sex couples were present in his sample. He also holds some particularly ugly opinions about same-sex parents themselves. Addressing another study that actually focused on lesbian parents, he said:

And yet all this is not actually why I think it’s time for the NLLFS to shutter its operation. No, the reason is that its sample — 78 kids growing up in activist households — is no longer a source for valid, reliable information.

Did you catch that? “Activist households.” He continues:

In this case, I’m concerned that the kids feel pressure to give better-than-accurate portrayals of their household and personal life. When the adolescent children of lesbian parents are being intermittently interviewed for a study whose results have proven quite politically important — and almost always covered favorably by the mainstream media — it’s prudent for scholars to be skeptical about whether respondents are still offering valid and reliable responses years after they were first contacted.

Take note of the dichotomy he’s set up here. He contends that his own study is superior because of its use of a nationally representative sample. This is in spite of the fact that:

1. His study defined “gay fathers” and “lesbian mothers” as any father or mother who had ever had a same-sex relationship, rather than restricting this to same-sex couples who were actually raising children together.

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Pope Escalates Anti-Gay Marriage Holy War, Compares Gay Marriage To Polygamy

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by David Badash
on November 13, 2012

After three U.S. states voted to extend the institution of marriage to same-sex couples, and a fourth refused to enshrine a ban into its constitution, and on the footsteps of Spain upholding its same-sex marriage laws and France pushing forward with theirs, the Vatican escalated Pope Benedict XVI‘s international anti-gay marriage holy war.

READ: Vatican Declares Gay Marriage Holy War, Forms Worldwide Religions Coalition

“In a front-page article in Saturday’s Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the Holy See sought to frame itself as the lone voice of courage in opposing initiatives to give same-sex couples legal recognition,” the AP reported in The Huffington Post:

In a separate Vatican Radio editorial, the pope’s spokesman asked sarcastically why gay marriage proponents don’t now push for legal recognition for polygamous couples as well.

Catholic teaching holds that homosexuals should be respected and treated with dignity but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” The Vatican also opposes same-sex marriage, insisting on the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman as the foundation for society.

The AP adds:

The article insisted that Catholics were putting up a valiant fight to uphold church teaching in the face of “politically correct ideologies invading every culture of the world” that are backed by institutions like the United Nations, which last year passed a non-binding resolution condemning anti-gay discrimination.

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Marriage Equality wins at the polls

From The Chicago Tribune:,0,6667357.story

November 12, 2012

For years, the debate about same-sex marriage was mainly an intellectual controversy. But in 2003, it moved into the realm of actual policy. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that under the state constitution, gay couples could not be denied “the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage.” Massachusetts soon became first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Since then, several other states have followed suit in revising marriage laws. But the durability of the progress was always in doubt. That’s because the changes came via court ruling or action by the legislature, not from an irresistible tide of popular support.

Opponents took great pride that whenever citizens had a chance to weigh in, they voted against same-sex marriage — 32 times in a row. The movement away from what they call “traditional marriage,” they said, was the work of out-of-control judges and out-of-touch politicians.

But that is no longer the case. For the first time, the cause of marital equality prevailed at the polls. On the ballot Tuesday in four states, it managed a clean sweep.

In Maine, where an initiative went down to defeat just three years ago, the electorate did an about-face. Maryland and Washington voters also approved gay marriage. In Minnesota, a constitutional amendment to ban it failed, though it is still not permitted under state law.

On top of all that, an Iowa Supreme Court justice targeted for a decision authorizing same-sex marriage held on to his seat, unlike three others voted out in 2010. Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, told The New York Times, “We had success across the board and across the country.”

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Two Additional Corporations Discontinue Funding Boy Scouts of America Over Concerns for Boy Scouts Discriminatory Policies

Unlike the Girl Scouts of America, who have shown real American Values of openness and non-discrimination bases on sexual and gender identity the Boy Scouts continue to discriminate against gay and transgender kids.

From GLAAD:  Boy Scouts of America No Longer Eligible for Grant Funding from The UPS Foundation

by Aaron McQuade
Monday, November 12, 2012

The UPS Foundation today joined a growing number of corporate leaders in providing financial support to those organizations that align with the company’s non-discrimination policy. Under this policy, the Boy Scouts of America is no longer eligible for grants from the UPS Foundation because of the BSA’s ban on gay scouts and scout leaders.

The UPS Foundation posted the following on its site:

The UPS Foundation seeks to support organizations that are in alignment with our focus areas, guidelines, and non-discrimination policy. UPS and The UPS Foundation do not discriminate against any person or organization with regard to categories protected by applicable law, as well as other categories protected by UPS and The UPS Foundation in our own policies. These include, but are not limited to race, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran or military status, pregnancy, age and religion.

UPS confirmed to GLAAD that under these guidelines, which UPS said have been in development for several months, organizations that are unable to attest to having a policy or practices that align with the Foundation’s non-discrimination policy will no longer be considered eligible for funding. Prior to The UPS Foundation’s non-discrimination language, UPS gave $167,000 to various Boy Scouts of America entities in 2010 and said there would not be a change to grant-making at that time according to an American Independent report in September 2012. UPS has consistently received high marks on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, an annual survey that rates U.S. corporations on their non-discrimination policies and practices toward LGBT employees and consumers.

From Lexie Cannes:  Chip-maker Intel kills support for anti-transgender Boy Scouts of America

Lexie Cannes
November 11, 2012

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — And it’s about time, too. Approximately $180,000-a-year going to Portland, Oregon area Boy Scout troops from giga-chip maker Intel is gone.

Intel finally pulled the plug after increased pressure from transgender and LGBT activists. A petition on seems to have been the final straw. Intel dodged earlier confrontations by arguing the money came as a result of Portland area employees volunteering with the scouts, in which Intel matched each hour’s time donated with $10. With 17,000 Oregon employees, this added up to a pretty penny for the scouts.

Intel announced that organizations getting donations from them must now have the same anti-discrimination as the one Intel has for itself. The only way the scouts can get Intel money now is to sign a nondiscrimination pledge. This is unlikely to happen any time soon.

The Boy Scouts’ Cascade Pacific Council’s Matt Devore: “When any political, adult issue gets in the way, where the real pain is is when it affects children.”

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Denying Women Abortion Access Increases Their Risk Of Falling Into Poverty

From Think Progress:

By Tara Culp-Ressler
on Nov 13, 2012

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco launched a Global Turnaway Study this year to explore the potential social and economic implications of denying women access to legal abortion. And after documenting the experiences of the women who seek to terminate a pregnancy but are turned away from abortion services, the UCSF researchers found that those women were three times more likelythan the women who successfully obtained abortions to fall below the poverty line within the subsequent two years.

The Gawker affiliate i09 summarizes some of the researchers’ preliminary findings, and notes that denying women access to abortion puts a strain on struggling women as well as federal assistance programs. Although the women who participated in the Turnaway Study were in comparable economic positions when they sought abortions, the woman who were unable to terminate their unwanted pregnancies were more likely to have slipped into poverty just a year later:

A year later, [the women who were denied an abortion] were far more likely to be on public assistance — 76 percent of the turnaways were on the dole, as opposed to 44 percent of those who got abortions. 67 percent of the turnaways were below the poverty line (vs. 56 percent of the women who got abortions), and only 48 percent had a full time job (vs. 58 percent of the women who got abortions).

When a woman is denied the abortion she wants, she is statistically more likely to wind up unemployed, on public assistance, and below the poverty line. Another conclusion we could draw is that denying women abortions places more burden on the state because of these new mothers’ increased reliance on public assistance programs.

The UCSF researchers also told i09 that their study did not find any statistical correlation between abortion and drug use, or abortion and clinical depression — in other words, women who successfully obtained abortions did not experience any negative emotional consequences stemming from their decision to end a pregnancy, including an uptick in drug abuse. In fact, the researchers explained, “One week after seeking abortion, 97 percent of women who obtained an abortion felt that abortion was the right decision; 65 percent of turnaways still wished they had been able to obtain an abortion.”

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It’s Time To Ratify Global Women’s Rights Treaty

From Common Dreams:

by Lucinda Marshall
Published on Monday, November 12, 2012 by Common Dreams

The United States is one of six countries that has not yet ratified CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women which was adopted by the United Nations in 1979.  The Convention is a significant tool in insuring women’s human rights which defines discrimination against women as,

“any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”.

Upon ratifying the Convention, it requires countries,

  • To incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;
  • To establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and
  • To ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

That the U.S. with all of its power and resources has chosen to not yet ratify CEDAW is appalling and is significantly detrimental to protecting and furthering women’s human rights and the time to rectify that is now, without reservation (see below for why this is so important).

The question then is what would it take to get CEDAW ratified?

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OWS launches Rolling Jubilee

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Flood Insurance, Already Fragile, Faces New Stress

From The New York Times:

By , and
Published: November 12, 2012

WASHINGTON — The federal government’s flood insurance program, which fell $18 billion into debt after Hurricane Katrina, is once again at risk of running out of money as the daunting reconstruction from Hurricane Sandygets under way.

Don Horneff, 74, in his yard in Tuckerton, which has not taken federally recommended steps to protect homes from flooding.

Early estimates suggest that Hurricane Sandy will rank as the nation’s second-worst storm for claims paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program. With 115,000 new claims submitted and thousands more being filed each day, the cost could reach $7 billion at a time when the program is allowed, by law, to add only an additional $3 billion to its onerous debt.

Congress, just this summer, overhauled the flawed program by allowing large increases in premiums paid by vacation home owners and those repeatedly hit by floods. But critics say taxpayer money should not be used to bail it out again — essentially subsidizing the rebuilding of homes in risky areas — without Congress’ mandating even more radical changes.

“We are now just throwing money to support something that is going to end up creating more victims and costing more money in the future,” Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon, said of the program, which insures 5.7 million homes nationwide near coasts or flood-prone rivers.

Even with the new rules, critics argue, it will be many years, if ever, before many homeowners are required to pay premiums that accurately reflect the market cost of the coverage. Some communities have long resisted imposing more appropriate building codes to prevent damage, putting the program at further risk of devastating losses when storms like Hurricane Sandy hit. And despite some efforts in recent years, many of the flood maps the program relies on are out of date — which can have expensive, and even deadly, consequences in this era of rising sea levels if homeowners are not cognizant of the risks they face.

The program’s giant debt makes matters worse because simply covering the interest owed the Treasury consumes from $90 million to $750 million a year, depending on interest rates. This means it is much harder to build reserves for future catastrophes.

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Al Gore calls on Barack Obama to ‘act boldly’ on climate change

From The Guardian UK:

Former vice-president and climate champion urges re-elected president to immediately begin pushing for a carbon tax

, US environment correspondent, Tuesday 13 November 2012

The former vice-president and climate champion, Al Gore, has called on Barack Obama to seize the moment and use his re-election victory to push through bold action on climate change.

The president has faced rising public pressure in the wake of superstorm Sandy to deliver on his promise to act on global warming.

But none of those calling on Obama to act carries the moral authority of Gore, who has devoted his post-political career to building a climate movement.

Now, Gore said, it is the president’s turn. He urged Obama to immediately begin pushing for a carbon tax in negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” budget crisis.

The vice-president’s intervention for a carbon tax could give critical support to an idea that has gained currency since the election – at least among Washington thinktanks. The conservative American Enterprise Institute held an all-day seminar on the carbon tax on Tuesday.

“I think all who look at these circumstances should agree that president Obama does have a mandate, should he choose to use it, to act boldly to solve the climate crisis, to begin solving it,” Gore told the Guardian in a telephone interview.

“He has the mandate. He has the opportunity, and he has the inherent ability to provide the leadership needed. I really hope that he will, and I will respectfully ask him to do exactly that.”

Gore will ratchet up his own pressure on Wednesday evening when he hosts a 24-hour live online broadcast from New York city on the connections between climate change and extreme events such as Sandy.

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