Staying in the Same Town as My Ex

From Kveler: A Jewish Twist on Parenting:

Dec 3 2012

Recently, one of my children was referred to a new doctor. Somewhat unusually, my ex came along to the appointment.

The doctor entered the room where we sat waiting, introduced herself, and greeted my child. I introduced myself as my child’s mother. “And who are you?” the doctor asked my ex. “I’m the other parent,” my ex replied stiffly. “The other parent,” the doctor echoed, laughing and nodding. I could see her assessing the situation, making the obvious assumption about our family composition: I had given birth to my child. Her “other parent” was my former lesbian partner. Half right. Sketching in our child’s medical profile the doctor asked some questions about her brother and sister, and we provided the necessary information.

“But do they have the same father?” the doctor inquired. What she meant but didn’t say was, “Do they have the same sperm donor?”

“Yes,” we said in unison. What we meant but didn’t say was, “Yes, and you are looking at him.”

A funny thing happened on the way to my becoming a single mom.

My husband and I got together in our teens. More than 20 years and three children later, he decided to live the rest of his life as a woman. Our marriage melted along with his masculinity. I went through the anguish any woman might over the unexpected demise of a long and happy marriage. I faced the usual potpourri of dread–of penury, isolation–when I contemplated raising three children alone, the youngest still in diapers. Worse, I felt crushed by a sense that the reason for my marriage’s demise said something so terrible about me it would be intolerable to remain in a place in which it was public knowledge. Exactly what it said, I wasn’t sure. Maybe that was part of what made it so awful.

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Trans people still “disordered” according to latest DSM

From Whipping Girl:

By Julia Serano
Monday, December 3, 2012

This morning, I woke up and found my Twitter feed full of article links celebrating that transgender people are no longer “disordered” according to the DSM (that is, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – often referred to as the “psychiatric Bible” because it contains all of the official psychiatric diagnoses). The DSM gets revised every 10-20 years or so, and diagnoses sometimes get modified, expanded, or completely removed. The change that people are now celebrating is the fact that the previous diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) has now been changed to Gender Dysphoria.

Admittedly, the new Gender Dysphoria diagnosis is an improvement over GID for a number of reasons – Kelly Winter of describes some of these improvements, as well as many of the lingering problems with the new diagnosis. Despite the remaining drawbacks (for instance, that gender variance is still formally pathologized in the DSM), many people seem excited that transgender people are no longer described as being “disordered” in the DSM. But the problem is that this is patently untrue.

When the new DSM committee was chosen back in 2008, all the focus was on what the new committee (chaired by the notorious Ken Zucker) would do with GID. This is understandable, given that this is the diagnosis that trans people are required to submit to if they with to access the means to legally and/or physically transition. It has also been used to justify horrible reparative therapies against gender-non-conforming children. But the greater trans community gave short shrift to the other existing DSM diagnosis that affected transgender people: Transvestic Fetishism.

I was especially horrified when Ray Blanchard was named to head the DSM “Paraphilia” section, which historically contains several sexual crimes (e.g., pedophilia, frotteurism and exhibitionism) and a handful of other generally consensual but unnecessarily stigmatized sexual acts (such as fetishism and BDSM) that are considered “atypical” by sex researchers – including Transvestic Fetishism.

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The Complicated Question Of Diagnosing Transgender Identities

From Think Progress:

By Zack Ford
on Dec 4, 2012

A number of ThinkProgress readers have expressed concern over Monday’s widely-shared post, “APA Revises Manual: Being Transgender Is No Longer A Mental Disorder,” about the American Psychiatric Association’s decision to revise the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to reclassify “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID) as “Gender Dysphoria.” A prominent LGBT scholar called the headline “erroneous,” noting that as long as a designation exists in the DSM, trans identities are still treated as a disorder. One trans advocate pointed out that “Gender Dysphoria” still stigmatizes trans people because there’s no exit clause to the diagnosis. Another activist shared a letter (Ansara, et al) that she and others submitted to the APA criticizing much of its framing around trans identities and providing possible alternatives. One other trans health activist called the article “a bit of a pinkwash” — essentially an attempt to give the APA more credit than it deserves.

As a cisgender (not trans) gay male who edits ThinkProgress’s LGBT vertical, I assume a heightened responsibility to report on trans issues effectively and thoroughly. For all members of the LGBT community, there are many issues that impact us in very personal and unique ways, resulting in many seemingly-conflicting points of view that all have validity. Many of the points submitted by readers have such merit, and the continued discussion seems an apt opportunity to further explore the complexity of anti-trans stigma and the potential impact of the APA’s decision.

For what it’s worth, ThinkProgress was not alone in its framing. Slate similarly reported “Being Transgender Is No Longer a Disorder.” The AP also compared this change to the 1973 removal of homosexuality as a disorder. Other LGBT outlets, like GLAAD, reported that “Gender Identity Disorder” had been removed from the DSM and that the idea trans people are disordered is now antiquated. Indeed, this was the intention behind yesterday’s post: to emphasize the value of the rhetorical change while acknowledging that complications remain.

It is true that trans identities are still contained within a manual of mental disorders, which alone can be stigmatizing regardless of how the classification is labeled. Still, for many trans patients, the availability of this diagnosis remains important in a way that it was not for homosexuality decades ago. For those who seek a physical transition to achieve a sense of personal congruity, some insurance providers will only cover the expenses if they are deemed “medically necessary” by a physician. The United States does not have the same luxury of government-guaranteed healthcare without discrimination as is available in other countries (like France, as the Ansara letter references).

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Associated Press Ban on ‘Homophobia’ Plays Into Anti-Gay Agenda

From Huffington Post:


Last week the Associated Press declared war on the word “homophobia,” deciding its new stylebook would ban it (and “Islamophobia”) because a “phobia” is an “illness” and connotes a “mental disability.” Therefore, says the AP, it is not accurate and should not be used in a “political or social” context.

Many journalists and commentators have taken issue with the AP’s decision, while others believe the AP’s reasoning is sound. In a discussion on my radio program, callers seemed evenly divided, and those who agreed with the AP made some compelling arguments for the why the word should be used sparingly or not at all. But I disagree and find that the AP’s actions, taken at this time, serve one side in a political battle.

The problem with the AP axing the word “homophobia” is not necessarily the logic of the argument as much as it is how long it took the AP to get to it. This word came into usage 40 years ago, coined by Dr. George Weinberg, and for 40 years the AP was fine with it it all cases in which animosity toward gays and opposition to LGBT rights was being described — or at least didn’t say anything about it. For years many of us have probably intuitively used the word in specific contexts while not using it in others. Looking back at my own usage, I seem to have saved it mostly for describing a known psychological motive (i.e., “internalized homophobia”) rather than a political crusade, for which I’ve mostly used “anti-gay,” which the AP now advises, or “bigoted” or some other term. But there have been many exceptions, and other people have used it in their own way. And I think there’s got to be a statute of limitations on the usage of new terms before AP can come in and say, “Sorry, we’re canning this one.”

At the outset of this post, I wrote that the AP had “declared war” on the word. Of course, the AP is not a sovereign nation and doesn’t have an army. It’s a metaphor, and the AP is fine with terms like that because we all know what they mean. I’d say it’s the same with the word “homophobia” now. We all know that those opposed to gay rights don’t necessarily have a “mental disability,” nor are we describing them that way. And whether or not they all have an actual “fear” of gays, the word “homophobe” has come to mean a person opposed to gay rights in a general sense. Furthermore, many such people do have a fear of gays, obsessed with homosexuality in ways that are certainly irrational.

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See also Huffington Post:  AP’s Discouraging ‘Homophobia’ Is Discouraging

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Religious Child Abuse a Huge Problem

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Right Wing Hate Group Spokesman, Bryan Fischer: “Our Second Amendment Is Rooted In The Teaching Of Jesus Christ”

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Catholic teen’s gay marriage stance unsettles Minnesota town

From The LA Times:,0,6040864.story

By Jenny Deam,
December 4, 2012

It’s a fight straight from the Vatican now landed on the wind-swept prairie of western Minnesota — all because of a Magic Marker, a yard sign and a 16-year-old boy with an iPhone.

Lennon Cihak, a high school junior in the Minnesota town of Barnesville — population about 2,500 — was raised Roman Catholic like his parents and grandparents. His mother and father, Shana and Doug Cihak, were baptized, confirmed and married in Barnesville’s century-old Assumption Church, the same one where Lennon had been attending confirmation classes since spring.

Then on Oct. 24 — 13 days before the vote on a proposed state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman — everything changed.

That night, Lennon attended a run-through for the ceremony of his confirmation, the sacrament in which believers reaffirm their faith. Lennon, who was named after Beatles member John Lennon, says nothing special happened at church to set the fateful events in motion, but for weeks he had been thinking about the marriage amendment. A lot of his friends were opposed, saying it didn’t seem fair.

“In the Constitution it says all men are created equal. If they can’t get married, they aren’t equal,” he remembers thinking.

So that night he took a pro-amendment yard sign, changed “Vote Yes” to “Vote No” with a black marker and scrawled the words “Equal Marriage Rights.” He then posed with the sign, snapped a photo with his phone, and posted the picture on his Facebook page.

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