Announcing the December Project: Surviving the Holidays with the trans community

From The December Project:  http://www.jenniferboylan.net/2012/12/01/announcing-the-december-project-negotiating-the-holidays-with-the-trans-community/

There from Here, USA

Announcing the December Project: Surviving the Holidays with the trans community

By Jennifer Finney Boylan
Published: December 1, 2012
Reposted with permission

I wanted to announce what we’re calling THE DECEMBER PROJECT, a reachout by Dylan Scholinski, Mara Keisling, Jennifer Finney Boylan, and Helen Boyd to raise the spirits of people in the trans community during what can be a difficult time of year.

We are trans activists, homebodies, authors, parents, spouses, artists, and teachers, including a trans man, two trans women, and a loving spouse. Here’s our pledge to you: If you feel low this December, and need someone to talk to, contact us, and we’ll call you on the phone. Period.

We want to make clear that we are not therapists, and that anyone in a serious crisis should dial 911, or seek professional help from qualified folks in the helping professions.

On the other hand we are people who may have experienced what you are feeling, and it is our hope that simply having someone to listen or talk to this December will have value. This project is 100% free and no one involved in it is getting anything out of it other than the opportunity to help.

Trans people– and the people that love them– face unique challenges during the holidays. Too often we can find ourselves separated from families, from spouses and children and parents. It’s a time of year that, as Dickens well noted, can be the most haunted of all, a time when we travel in time and feel all too keenly the distance between ourselves and others, when what we most desire is warmth, and community, and love.

So think of us as friends you haven’t met yet. Want to talk to somebody on the phone? Here’s what to do: 1) send an email to Jenny Boylan at <ahref=”mailto:JB@jenniferboylan.net”>JB@jenniferboylan.net, and in the subject heading write, DECEMBER PROJECT. List your name, your phone number, and the time when we can reach you–preferably with a few different choices. Let us know which one of us you want to talk to.

You can also contact people directly through Facebook– ask to “friend” Jennifer Finney Boylan and then make your request through the Direct Message page, and JFB will forward your request to the person you’ve asked for. (or if you’re friends with Mara, or Helen, or Dylan, you can contact them directly.)

If we can’t reach you, or if the person you’ve requested isn’t available, we’ll let you know that too. Also, if we get overwhelmed, we’ll also tell you that.

So let us help. And you don’t need to be in trouble to participate in the December Project. If you want to celebrate all the good things in your life and share your sense of joy– we’re good with that too.

Who we are:

Helen Boyd is an author of 2 books, including MY HUSBAND BETTY, an account of life with a trans spouse. She is a well regarded spokeswoman for trans people and the people that love them, especially spouses and partners. She’s a Lecturer in Gender and Freshman Studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.

Jennifer Finney Boylan, an author of 13 books including SHE’S NOT THERE: A LIFE IN TWO GENDERS. An English teacher at Colby College in Maine, a trans woman, wife to Deirdre Boylan, and mother (or “Maddy”) to two fine young men, Zach and Sean. Serves on the board of directors of GLAAD and on the board of trustees at the Kinsey Institute.

Mara Keisling is founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. She is well known as a commentator on trans issues; she lives in Washington DC.

Dylan Scholinski was born Daphne Scholinski. He currently lives in Boulder, CO with his beautiful wife and 4 year old son and is the Founder/Witness of Sent(a)Mental Studios
<http://sentamentalstudios.weebly.com/index.html> as well as a distinguished artist, author and public speaker. His most recent book was The Last Time I Wore a Dress, listed by Out Magazine as one of its Top Ten Must Reads.

We send everybody love, and hope that this month is a time of hope.

Email for The December Project:

jb@jenniferboylan.net

FB: Jennifer Finney Boylan.

http://www.jenniferboylan.net/2012/12/01/announcing-the-december-project-negotiating-the-holidays-with-the-trans-community/

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Stone Poneys: Different Drum

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Transgender Restroom Kerfuffle

I’m running this full post in part because of a comment Dianne left on my blog post:   Canada: Bill C-279 testimony met with jeers

I too have noticed how a couple of incidents first appeared in ultra right wing/Christo-Fascist outlets and were then spread to the usual mob of bigots at various point when laws protecting people based on gender identity or presentation were up for consideration.

I don’t under estimate either the underhandedness of the right wing/Christo-Fascists, but over the years I have also seen how stupid and arrogant some individuals in the TS/TG communities can act.

From Dianne in the Provinces:  http://tgdianne.blogspot.com/2012/12/transgender-restroom-kerfuffle.html

By Dianne
Monday, December 3, 2012

Reposted with permission

I posted this on my favorite Canadian newspaper blog. There is a bill in the Canadian Parliament to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity and expression protections. The element of the bill that has raised the most “kerfuffle” is restroom access for trans people. Yup! The old chestnut of “Trannies in the Ladies Room!” (And, yes, I advisedly used the potentially inflammatory word “trannies” specifically due to it’s emotional tone)  Conservative Canadians have drug out the imagined threat of sexual predators invading the women’s restroom to carry out assaults on natal women and children. I am seriously looking for any record of any such assault having ever taken place!!! This search is becoming a hobby for me…  And I don’t mean embarrassing Colleen Francis episodes where individual judgment and social comfort diverge, I mean actual incidents involving predatory behavior carried out by trans people in restrooms. So please, comment and re-post and help me find actual evidence!

I have been following Ottawa’s progress on Bill C-279 with keen interest. I’m frustrated but not surprised to see it bogging down on the washroom issue. I understand the underlying feelings about allowing trans people into the Ladies room. What I don’t understand is the rationale applied that there is a very specific threat of child molesters invading these spaces for predatory purposes. This meme keeps surfacing in North America and I just can’t help but wonder what tiny kernel of fact can back it up?

Not long ago I spent a weekend of free internet time doggedly trying to find evidence that any trans person, or anyone pretending to be a trans person, had ever lurked in a restroom with criminal intent. All I could find were dozens and dozens of hits where people raised the dire warning of the impending threat of predators just waiting to be descend once they were given free rein. The closest I came was one young trans woman who used the men’s  room for a semi-consensual encounter with an underage teenage boy. There are many jurisdictions where trans women are allowed to use the Ladies room. Why haven’t those areas seen cases of trans or faux-trans people lurking in the washroom?

Well, what else did I find in my Google frenzy? A frightening number of trans women who had been harassed or assaulted for using the women’s bathroom. One young trans woman in the U.S. was beaten into a seizure at a fast food restaurant for using the women’s room. I found a website (www.safe2pee.org) that provides a directory of safe places for trans people to relieve themselves. I found reasonable people using these incidents and statistics to push for accommodations allowing trans people access to safe facilities. So yes, I did find evidence of a persistent threat of violence at the door of the women’s washroom. It’s just not the one that legislators in Ottawa, or Tennessee or any number of places, are bellowing about. It’s the threat that an entitled majority posses to a minority.

So here, again, I implore anyone to show links to real factual evidence of dangerous trans people prowling restrooms. I’m sure someone will bring up the person in a Texas hospital who was confronted when using a women’s room who also had a criminal record of sexual crimes. But that logic would also keep anyone who had ever written a bad check from using a bank or anyone who had ever caused a serious accident from driving. While those are attractive things to consider, no reasonable person would begin to consider keeping all brown haired people from driving because ONE brown haired person had caused an horrific fatal accident.

It is a sticky question, but how much of the question relates to the “Ick Factor” of honest discomfort and how much is a truly clear and present danger?

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DSM-5 Field Trials Discredit the American Psychiatric Association

From The Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allen-frances/dsm-5-field-trials-discre_b_2047621.html

10/31/2012

The $3 million DSM-5 Field Trials have been a pure disaster from start to finish. First, there was the poor choice of design. The study restricted itself to reliability — the measurement of diagnostic agreement among different raters. Unaccountably, it failed to address two much more crucial questions — DSM-5’s potential impact on who would be diagnosed and on how much its dramatic lowering of diagnostic thresholds would increase the rates of mental disorder in the general population. There was no possible excuse for not asking these simple-to-answer and vitally important questions. We have a right to know how much DSM-5 will contribute to the already rampant diagnostic inflation in psychiatry, especially since this risks even greater overuse of psychotropic drugs.

Second problem — the design of the DSM-5 field trial had a byzantine complexity that could be dreamed up only by people with no experience in real-life field testing. One look made clear that there would be serious implementation problems and that it would be impossible to complete within the time allotted. The first stage of the field trial limped in eighteen months late, having taken twice as long as was scheduled. APA then had to choose between delaying the publication of DSM-5 or canceling its planned second stage of field testing that was meant to provide for desperately needed quality control. APA decided to cancel the trial and instead is rushing ahead with the premature publication of DSM-5 next May — publishing profits clearly trumped concern for the quality and integrity of the product. Fiduciary responsibility was thrown out the window.

Now, we have strike three. The DSM-5 leadership has reported the results of its field trial in a distressingly misleading paper.

According to the authors, 14 of the 23 disorders had “very good” or “good” reliability; six had questionable, but “acceptable” levels; and just three had “unacceptable” rates. Sounds okay until you look at the actual data and discover that the cheerful words used by the DSM-5 leaders simply don’t fit their extremely disappointing results. The paper is a classic example of Orwellian “newspeak.” When DSM-5 failed to achieve acceptable reliability by historical standards, the DSM-5 leadership arbitrarily decided to move the goal posts in and lower the bar in defining what is “acceptable.” In fact, only the five of the 23 DSM-5 diagnoses that achieved kappa levels of agreement between 0.60-0.79 would have been considered “good” in the past. DSM-5 cheapens the coinage of reliability by hyping these merely okay levels as “very good.” Then it gets much worse. The nine DSM-5 disorders in the kappa range of 0.40-0.59 previously would have been considered just plain poor, but DSM-5 puffs these up as “good.” Then DSM-5 has the chutzpah to call acceptable the six disorders that achieved lousy, absolutely unacceptable reliabilities with kappas of 0.20-0.39. DSM-5 finally finds unacceptable the three diagnoses that were below <0.20 (which is barely better than chance).

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allen-frances/dsm-5-field-trials-discre_b_2047621.html

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Christo-Fascist Pat Robertson On Gay Wedding At West Point: Robert E. Lee ‘Rolling Over’ In His Grave

How interesting of Robertson to single out one of the worst traitors this nation has ever know as symbolizing some one we should be concerned about upsetting.

Lee took up arms against his own nation, the United States.  This is far more un-American than being an anti-war protestor.

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What Do Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Gay Conversion Therapy Have in Common?

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/12/02/when-religious-right-preys-on-vulnerable-can-consumer-protection-laws-provide-rem

by Jessica Mason Pieklo, Senior Legal Analyst, RH Reality Check
December 3, 2012

“Pray away the gay” conversion therapy is a fraud and its perpetrators swindlers who should be held liable under state consumer protection statutes.

So says the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), in the first-of-its kind lawsuit against a religious organization that promotes the dangerous practice. According to the SPLC, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) fraudulently claims to provide services that “convert” people from gay to straight. Previously known as Jews Offering New Alternatives for Homosexuality, the group was founded by Arthur Goldberg, a former Wall Street executive and attorney who was convicted of mail fraud and ultimately disbarred. The lawsuit, filed in state court in New Jersey, alleges that JONAH, its founder Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by claiming that their counseling services could cure clients of being gay.

According to the lawsuit, JONAH customers typically pay a minimum of $100 for weekly individual counseling lessons and another $60 for group therapy sessions. In those therapy sessions counselors would force clients to strip naked in the group, encouraged clients to blame their parents for being gay and have them participate in violent role play exercises where they would beat effigies of their mothers. These services cost clients as much as $10,000 per year, exclusive of any fees associated with the professional treatment needed to recover from the abuse under JONAH’s care. The stories are tragic and infuriating.

The complaint, nearly thirty pages long, provides what amounts to an in-depth annotated bibliography of the medical evidence to refute “conversion therapy” as anywhere near legitimate, and pain-stakenly details how the defendants made thousands of dollars subjecting individuals to mental and physical abuse, in the name of prayer and spiritual study, and based on promises it would “cure” their homosexuality.

Of course faulty therapies grounded in religious doctrine and used to turn a profit are the very business model of a crisis pregnancy center and it seems little can be done about it. Recent attempts to regulate CPCs by forcing them to disclosure their positions on contraception and abortion have run into First Amendment problems. Is it time to start exploring consumer fraud claims against these organizations?

Complete article at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/12/02/when-religious-right-preys-on-vulnerable-can-consumer-protection-laws-provide-rem

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Why It’s Hard to Replace the “Fiscal Cliff” Metaphor

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/03-0

by George Lakoff
Published on Monday, December 3, 2012 by Common Dreams

Writers on economics have been talking since the election about why the “fiscal cliff” metaphor is misleading. Alternative metaphors have been offered like the fiscal hill, fiscal curb, and fiscal showdown, as if one metaphor could easily be replaced by another that makes more sense of the real situation. But none of the alternatives has stuck, nor has the fiscal cliff metaphor been abandoned. Why? Why do some metaphors have far more staying power than others, even when they give a misleading picture of a crucial national issue?

The reason has to do with the way that metaphorical thought and language work in the brain. From a cognitive linguistics perspective, “fiscal cliff” is not a simple metaphor bringing “fiscal” together with “cliff.” It is instead a linguistic metaphor that is understood via a highly integrated cascade of other deeper and more general conceptual metaphors.

A cascade is a neural circuit containing and coordinating neural circuits in various parts of the brain.

Because we think with our brains, every thought we have is physical, constituted by neural circuitry. Because about 98 percent of conscious thought has an unconscious neural substrate, we are rarely aware of conceptual metaphors. And because the brain is a physical system governed by conservation of energy, a tightly integrated cascade of neural metaphor circuits is more likely to be learned, remembered, and readily activated.

Let’s take a look at the metaphorical complexity of “fiscal cliff” and how the metaphors that comprise it fit together. The simplest, is the metaphor named MoreIsUp, which is a neural circuit linking two distinct brain regions, one for verticality and one for quantity. It is a high-level general metaphor widespread throughout the world, and occurs in a vast number of sentences like Turn the radio up, the temperature fell, and so on.

The economy is seen as moving forward and either moving up, moving down or staying level, where verticality metaphorically indicates the value of economic indicators like the GDP or a stock market average. These are indicators of economic activity such as overall spending on goods and services or the sale of stocks. Why is economic activity conceptualized as motion? Because a common conceptual metaphor is being used: ActivityIsMotion, as in sentences like The project is moving along smoothly, The remodeling is getting bogged down, and so on. The common metaphor TheFutureIsAhead accounts for why the motion is “forward.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/03-0

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