The Normalization of Transsexual and Transgender People

We are not there yet, we are still sort of like gays and lesbians.  Progressive, fair minded people treat us like neighbors who happen to be part of a minority group.

Which, all the transgressive gender outlaw/transgender ballyhoo aside, is what we really are.

Scrape off the idea of flamboyant drag queens in parades and club, people who are performing and generally have real lives outside of their performance and the “gender outlaws” who are often young people in academic or other safe environments where rebellion is chic if not  mandatory and you are left with a whole lot of people who have to worry about mundane stuff.

Marriage equality is coming, employment non-discrimination is going to be harder, because the Christo-Nazis are starting to make all sorts of noise about how paying for contraception coverage, and hiring people they hate violates their religious freedom.

But if we look around there is probably a numerical majority of people who are having issues with employment discrimination.  Racism is alive and well, people of color are actively discriminated against.  Places like Chick fil-A and Hobby Lobby are alleged to feel they have a right to ask about people’s religious practices and discriminate against those they feel are not “real Christians.”  Domino’s Pizza and others feel they should have the right to dictate women’s reproductive freedom and refuse to pay for Government mandated insurance that covers contraception.

Corporations regularly engage in age discrimination and all sorts of invasions of employee privacy.

For many TS/TG people coming out means stepping on the down escalator when it comes to employment and social mobility.  TS/TG is and for the foreseeable future will be a class that is discriminated against and bullied.  But over the last couple of years I have seen many TS/TG people make the connection with other groups and classes of people who are also discriminated against.

I was elated to see so many of my sisters and brothers supporting Occupy.  Lately we seem to be everywhere and speaking out on all sorts of issues.  This means we are moving beyond the we of identity politics to the larger we of all oppressed people.

Still there are TS/TG people who cling to their own bigotries, their racism, classism, homophobia and internalized transphobia.  On an up note people pushing these trips are increasingly seen as trolls.

Making sure we are included in health care programs is going to be important.  If the right wing doesn’t want to pay for women’s health care including contraception then we better be ready for the shit storm that will happen when we demand coverage for TS/TG health care issues.

Retail sales and the like have become the main source of employment for a major segment of the working population.  Big box workers include people with degrees, some of those degrees are in fields like engineering.  Some are even advanced degrees.  Many people are deliberately held to part time hours.  A living wage of 15-20 dollars per hour and health care should be the right of all workers.

This is something that impacts a lot of TS/TG people.

As a loosely defined group TS/TG people have a lot of substance issues.  We need to see more support groups for TS/TG people trying to deal with those issues.  Too often people feel excluded from straight sobriety support groups.  People are hesitant to talk about TS/TG specific issues around cis-folks.  A life time of being put down leads to fear that if they try to talk about their specific issues they will be told not to come back to that meeting.

The modern TS/TG movement is around twenty years old and a lot of this stuff is about a movement maturing.  Now some lucky kids with supportive parents are able to come out as kids, but some are still runaways and throwaways.  We need to continue to support places like the Ali Forney Center and the LAGLCC that provide housing for some of those throwaway kids.

A New Year, New Challenges many of the same old problems.

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The New America Is Not About Identity Politics

From Truth Out:

By Charles Derber
Monday, 31 December 2012

The prevailing narrative is that President Obama’s re-election and hopes for long-term Democratic Party control are rooted in a demographic revolution, in which Hispanics, African-Americans and other nonwhite minorities are becoming the new American majority. This view is not wrong, but it is incomplete and misleading.  The deeper narrative is economic, pointing to a socio-economic transformation in which majorities of all races depend increasingly on government protection and public investment. The two narratives, while they agree on the demographic statistics, have different policy implications, with the current interpretation of the demographic story belying the deeper change that both parties must make.

Whites, currently 63 percent of the population, will become a minority by 2050, according to a November 7, 2012, Pew Research Center Report. Republicans, fearful of permanent minority status, are rethinking immigration policy as a way to appeal to Hispanic voters and other minorities, while also eyeing 2016 potential White House candidates such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio, son of Cuban immigrants, and his mentor, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, married to a Mexican-American and fluent in Spanish. Meanwhile, the Democrats consider moving immigration policy to the front burner to hold onto the Hispanic vote.

But this is where the reigning demographic story misleads. It suggests that minorities are voting identity politics, with dark-skinned candidates or immigration the key way to their hearts and ballot. And it focuses on policy toward minorities rather than toward whites, a misreading of how to win in the new America.

The economic narrative argues that minorities, like the majority of whites, while not at all indifferent to identity appeals and often promoting important identity politics agendas, are voting mainly their socio-economic interests, especially jobs, but also broader social government protections of education, health and the environment.

This interpretation is supported by The New York Times exit polling data showing that lower-income Americans of all colors supported President Obama at higher rates than higher-income voters. As shown by the Pew Report, economic logic – a strong need for government protection – helps explain why minorities, women and singles voted for Obama and have long expressed more support for an activist government than whites, men and married people.

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Sexual violence is not a cultural phenomenon in India – it is endemic everywhere

From The Independent UK:–it-is-endemic-everywhere-8433445.html

Owen Jones
Sunday 30 December 2012

We don’t know the name of the 23-year-old student who was raped and killed on a city bus in Delhi.

We do know that, after getting on a bus home after watching a film with a friend, she was tortured so badly that she lost her intestines. Six people – including the bus driver – have been arrested; they have been widely denounced as “animals” on social media. It’s always comforting to think – despite everything that the 20th century should have taught us – that those who commit vile acts are sub-human, are not quite like us, so we can create emotional distance from them. But it was thinking, feeling, living human men who committed this rape, however nauseating it is to accept.

The death of a woman popularly named Damini – “lightning” in Hindi – has provoked thousands to take to India’s streets, furious at endemic and unchecked violence against women. Some have been met with police batons, tear gas and water cannon. But, in the West, Damini’s death has triggered a different response: a sense that this is an Indian-specific problem. “The crime has highlighted the prevalence of sex attacks in India,” says the Daily Telegraph; “India tries to move beyond its rape culture,” says Reuters. Again, it’s comforting to think that this is someone else’s problem, a particular scandal that afflicts a supposedly backward nation. It is an assumption that is as wrong as it is dangerous.

Rape and sexual violence against women are endemic everywhere. Shocked by what happened in India? Take a look at France, that prosperous bastion of European civilisation. In 1999, two then-teenagers – named only as Nina and Stephanie – were raped almost every day for six months. Young men would queue up to rape them, patiently waiting for their friends to finish in secluded basements. After a three-week trial this year, 10 of the 14 accused left the courtroom as free men; the other four were granted lenient sentences of one year at most.

Shocked? Again, let us Brits not get all high and mighty, either. Amnesty International conducted a poll in the United Kingdom a few years ago. Only four per cent of respondents thought that the number of women raped each year exceeded 10,000. But according to the Government’s Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls, 80,000 women are raped a year, and 400,000 women are sexually assaulted. It is a pandemic of violence against women that – given its scale – is not discussed nearly enough.

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Edie Windsor, DOMA Plaintiff, Says Gay Benefits Of Supreme Court Case ‘Bigger Than Marriage’

From Huffington Post:

By Larry Neumeister

NEW YORK — At age 83, Edith Windsor gets plenty of compliments for her courage to take on the federal government in a landmark case that has put attitudes about gay America squarely before the Supreme Court.

But the Philadelphia-born former IBM executive scoffs at how much gumption was necessary to go to court at a time when societal views of gay relationships are shifting.

“The world has progressed,” Windsor says. “At the beginning of World War II, they really did think we had horns.”

Windsor’s lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan is one of two that the Supreme Court agreed to take up Dec. 7 when it announced it would hear arguments over California’s ban on same-sex unions and Windsor’s dispute about federal benefits for legally married gay couples.

“It’s very joyous,” Windsor said in a recent interview at her apartment on Fifth Avenue in lower Manhattan. “I feel like everybody’s treating me like a hero. Everybody thinks it takes enormous courage.”

It was a moment she could not fathom when her heart nearly gave out after the 2009 death of her spouse, Thea Clara Spyer, less than two years after their marriage in Canada.

Windsor suffered an attack of stress cardiomyopathy, also known as broken heart syndrome, that was so bad that her heart stopped.

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Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George: Same-sex marriage ‘violates natural law’

From LGBTQ Nation:

Staff Report
Sunday, December 30, 2012

With Illinois state lawmakers poised to consider a marriage equality bill in the lame duck session that begins Wednesday, Catholic bishops and other advocates of “traditional” are taking a new approach: same-sex marriage simply violates natural law.

Marriage comes to us from nature,” said Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, in a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune.

“That’s based on the complementarity of the two sexes in such a way that the love of a man and a woman joined in a marital union is open to life, and that’s how families are created and society goes along. … It’s not in our doctrine. It’s not a matter of faith. It’s a matter of reason and understanding the way nature operates,” he said.

But marriage equality advocates say the Church’s renewed effort to highlight natural law is a clever but disingenuous appeal to the masses.

“On sexual ethics, nature is neutral,” said Bernard Schlager, executive director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. “We’re moral beings. We may look to nature for some aspects of how we are in our lives, but we answer to a higher standard. Sexual behavior is an expression of human love.”

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Ten of My Favorite Things about 2012

From Common Dreams:

by Medea Benjamin
Published on Monday, December 31, 2012 by Common Dreams

There are many things to be thankful for in 2012, starting with the fact that the world didn’t end on December 21 and that we don’t have to witness the inauguration of Mr. One-Percent Mitt Romney. The global economic crisis continued to hit hard, but people have been taking to the streets around the world, from students in Chile to indigenous activists in Canada to anti-austerity workers in Europe. And while the excitement of the Arab world uprisings has been tempered by divisions and losses, the struggles are far from over.

Here are some US and global issues that experienced new found gains in 2012.

1. While conservatives launched vicious attacks on women’s rights, it backfired—and fired up the pro-choice base! US voters elected the highest number of women to Congress ever, including the first openly lesbian senator (Tammy Baldwin), the first Asian-American senator (Mazie Hirono) and first senator to make the banks tremble, Elizabeth Warren! Voters also rejected 4 crazy candidates who called for limiting a woman’s right to choose—including the resounding defeat by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill over Mr. Legitimate Rape Todd Akin. Don’t forget that when Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced it would no longer fund Planned Parenthood, it got so heartily trounced that it caved in than seventy-two hours later. And stay tuned for the 2013 global women rising—a billion of us demanding an end to violence against women on February 14!

2. Immigrant rights groups, especially young Latinos, mobilized and took great risks to force a change in attitude—and a thaw in policy. They fasted and caravanned and marched and knocked on doors. They pushed the administration and in June, just before the election, President Obama announced a new immigration policy that allows some undocumented students to avoid deportation and receive work authorization when they apply for deferred action. While not nearly enough, especially in light of this administration’s record rate of deportations, a mobilized immigrant community with significant voting power stands poised to make more impactful changes in U.S. immigration policy next year.

3.  More money flooded the elections than ever before (some $5.8 billion!), but most of it went down a big, black hole—and unleashed a new movement for money out of politics. Billionaires wasted fortunes trying to sell lousy candidates and lousy ideas.Looking at the candidates supported by the biggest moneybags of all, Sheldon Adelson, NONE were elected to office. Right-wing “pundits” like Karl Rove proved themselves to be idiotic partisan hacks and the Tea Party has been tearing itself apart. But best of all, from Massachusetts to Oregon, Colorado to Illinois and Wisconsin, and Ohio to California, citizens throughout the country voted overwhelmingly for their legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling and declare that only human beings – not corporations – are entitled to constitutional rights and that money is not speech and campaign spending can be regulated.

4. The marijuana genie is now out of the bottle, with people across the country backing referendums seeking an end to the decades of destructive, counterproductive drug wars. Colorado and Washington voters legalized recreational pot, and medical marijuana will be legal in Massachusetts. Voters in California passed Prop 34, which restricts lifetime incarceration via the “three strikes” law to violent or serious third offenses, a change that will help limit the prison sentences of nonviolent drug offenders. Prominent leaders including Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy, former President Bill Clinton and President Obama have hinted that they will reconsider the harsh criminal drug policy that has cost so much money and so many lives while failing to curb drug abuse.

5.  This year marked momentous wins for gay rights. Massachusetts, Maine, and Washington legalized marriage equality, and Minnesota defeated a restrictive state constitutional amendment that would have upheld a ban. Now, one-tenth of states in the U.S. uphold marriage equality. Thanks to activist pressure, on May 9 President Obama became the first sitting president to endorse marriage equality for same-sex couples. Several prominent leaders in the Democratic Party followed his lead, and muted conservative responses only served to demonstrate how far public opinion has shifted on the issue.

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Hillary Clinton Hospitalized With Blood Clot

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Who paid for the Log Cabin Republicans’ anti-Hagel NYT ad?

From The Guardian UK:

The gay GOP group confirms the ad was funded by outside donors, but refuses to identify them or their cause, Sunday 30 December 2012

Last Thursday, the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) placed a full-page ad in the New York Times that attacked Chuck Hagel as anti-Israel and anti-gay and urged President Obama not to appoint him as Defense Secretary. This was quite a strange event for multiple reasons.

First, full-page ads in the NYT are notoriously expensive, particularly for a small, poorly-funded group like LCR; published rates indicate that such an ad can cost well in excess of $100,000, though some discounts are possible with flexible dates (five years ago, the published rate for a black-and-white full-page political ad was $142,000). Second, LCR – which touts itself as “the only Republican organization dedicated to representing the interests of LGBT Americans and their allies”- has virtually no demonstrated prior interest in Israel; the only mention of that country on its entire website is as part of a laundry list of nations which allow gay and lesbians to serve in the armed forces, while its only substantive position on Iran policy is a tepid 2010 statement advocating a single 2010 bill for increased sanctions, something which Obama supported and signed (the group did lend its name to a coalition against Iranian nuclear proliferation). Third, since when does LCR – which endorsed McCain/Palin in 2008 and Mitt Romney with his abundant anti-gay advocacy in 2012 – oppose GOP officials on the ground that they have some anti-gay aspects to their record?

All of those facts made me deeply curious about what prompted LCR to place this ad and, especially, who funded it. That curiosity was heightened by another fact: a favorite tactic of neocons – who have led the smear campaign against Hagel – is to cynically exploit liberal causes to generate progressive support for their militaristic agenda. They suddenly develop an interest in the plight of gay people when seeking to demonize Iran, or pretend to be devoted to women’s rights when attempting to sustain endless war in Afghanistan, or become so deeply moved by the oppression of Muslim factions – such as Iraqi Shia – when it comes time to justify their latest desired invasion.

As it so often does, this tactic has worked magically here, as numerous progressives who do actually care about gay issues – from Rachel Maddow to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force – dutifully popped up to attack the neocons’ number one public enemy. Andrew Sullivan is right that this is a classic technique of the neocon smear campaign – recruit progressives to their cause with exploitation of unrelated issues – and he’s also right that Hagel’s record on gay issues is hardly uncommon or unusually disturbing for DC officials (particularly given his apology and disavowal). Indeed, very few of these progressives had difficulty supporting Obama in 2008 despite his opposition to same-sex marriage on this warped ground: “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God is in the mix.” But the LCR ad is designed to rile up progressives against Hagel by making it appear that Good Liberals oppose the former Senator for reasons having nothing to do with his heresies on Israel (just as so many Good Liberals were convinced to support the attack on Iraq, and will do the same with an attack on Iran, on the ground that the war advanced their Liberal Values).

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Tom Harkin On Fiscal Cliff Talks: ‘This Looks Like A Very Bad Deal’

From Huffington Post:


WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), one of the leading liberal voices in the Senate, went after his fellow Democrats on Monday for possibly caving on their promise to keep Bush tax cuts for only those earning $250,000 or less, saying “the direction they’re headed is just absolutely the wrong direction for our country” and “grossly unfair” to the middle class in a speech on the Senate floor.

Harkin referenced reports that a “fiscal cliff” deal could include extending tax cuts implemented under President George W. Bush for those making less than $450,000 per year, rather than the $250,000 per year President Barack Obama promised as the cutoff.

Harkin said the $250,000 level already seems like a compromise. He called that cutoff a “tough pill to swallow,” as that income level is already far above the income of middle-class Americans.

“As I see this thing developing — quite frankly, as I’ve said before — no deal is better than a bad deal, and this looks like a very bad deal, the way this is shaking up,” he said.

“This is one point in time where decisions that are made on this so-called deal, decisions that are made could lock in for the next 10 years what kind of a country we’re going to be, what kind of a society we’re going to be,” he added. “So we better be darn careful.”

Harkin hedged later when asked whether he would filibuster such a deal, according to Fox News’ Chad Pergram, saying, “Well, there might be some extended debate.”

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David Icke – Archons,Energy Vampires,Money & The Parasitic Banking System

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Rebecca Solnit: 2013 Will Be Year Zero In Our Climate Battle

From Mother Jones:

From climate change to class conflict—the challenges we will confront in 2013.

—By Mon Dec. 31, 2012

As this wild year comes to an end, we return to the season of gifts. Here’s the gift you’re not going to get soon: any conventional version of Paradise. You know, the place where nothing much happens and nothing is demanded of you. The gifts you’ve already been given in 2012 include a struggle over the fate of the Earth. This is probably not exactly what you asked for, and I wish it were otherwise—but to do good work, to be necessary, to have something to give: these are the true gifts. And at least there’s still a struggle ahead of us, not just doom and despair.

Think of 2013 as the Year Zero in the battle over climate change, one in which we are going to have to win big, or lose bigger. This is a terrible thing to say, but not as terrible as the reality that you can see in footage of glaciers vanishing, images of the entire surface of the Greenland Ice Shield melting this summer, maps of Europe’s future in which just being in southern Europe when the heat hits will be catastrophic, let alone in more equatorial realms

For millions of years, this world has been a great gift to nearly everything living on it, a planet whose atmosphere, temperature, air, water, seasons, and weather were precisely calibrated to allow us—the big us, including forests and oceans, species large and small—to flourish. (Or rather, it was we who were calibrated to its generous, even bounteous, terms.) And that gift is now being destroyed for the benefit of a few members of a single species.

The Earth we evolved to inhabit is turning into something more turbulent and unreliable at a pace too fast for most living things to adapt to. This means we are losing crucial aspects of our most irreplaceable, sublime gift, and some of us are suffering the loss now—from sea snails whose shells are dissolving in acidified oceans to Hurricane Sandy survivors facing black mold and bad bureaucracy to horses starving nationwide because a devastating drought has pushed the cost of hay so high to Bolivian farmers failing because the glaciers that watered their valleys have largely melted.

This is not just an issue for environmentalists who love rare species and remote places: if you care about children, health, poverty, farmers, food, hunger, or the economy, you really have no choice but to care about climate change.

The reasons for acting may be somber, but the fight is a gift and an honor. What it will give you in return is meaning, purpose, hope, your best self, some really good company, and the satisfaction of being part of victories also to come. But what victory means needs to be imagined on a whole new scale as the news worsens.

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Story of the Year: It’s Global Warming, Stupid

From Eco Watch:

Stefanie Spear

My favorite headline of 2012 was “It’s Global Warming, Stupid,” which appeared on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek on Nov. 1, just days after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast. On the same day, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election for president.

Bloomberg, having seen firsthand the devastation of the severe weather on his city and region, said:

The floods and fires that swept through our city left a path of destruction that will require years of recovery and rebuilding work. And in the short term, our subway system remains partially shut down, and many city residents and businesses still have no power. In just 14 months, two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods—something our city government had never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable.

Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be—given this week’s devastation—should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.

Hurricane Sandy certainly wasn’t the only indicator this year of the consequences of a warming planet. I would think that the following reports would have been enough to encourage policymakers to prioritize climate change and pass policies to help reverse global warming, and people to become conscious of their impacts on the Earth and make changes in their daily lives to help create a sustainable world:

Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided – This report is a snapshot of the latest climate science prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics. It states that the world is on a path to a 4 degree Celsius (4°C) warmer world by end of this century and current greenhouse gas emissions pledges will not reduce this by much.

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When fracking came to suburban Texas

From The Guardian UK:

Residents of Gardendale, a suburb near the hub of the west Texas oil industry, face having up to 300 wells in their backyards

in Gardendale, Texas
The Guardian, Monday 31 December 2012

The corner of Goldenrod and Western streets, with its grid of modest homes, could be almost any suburb that went up in a hurry – except of course for the giant screeching oil rig tearing up the earth and making the pavement shudder underfoot.

Fracking, the technology that opened up America’s vast deposits of unconventional oil and gas, has moved beyond remote locations and landed at the front door, with oil operations now planned or under way in suburbs, mid-sized towns and large metropolitan areas.

Some cities have moved to limit fracking or ban it outright – even in the heart of oil and gas country. Tulsa, Oklahoma, which once billed itself as the oil capital of the world, banned fracking inside city limits. The authorities in Dallas last week blocked what would have been the first natural gas well in town. The town of Longmont, just outside Denver, meanwhile, is fighting off attempts by industry groups to overturn a fracking ban.

But Gardendale, a suburb of 1,500 people near the hub of the west Texas oil industry, exists in a legal and political environment in which there are seemingly few restrictions on fracking, even inside city limits. For residents here, fracking is part of daily life.

“You can hear it, you can smell it, and you are always breathing it. It’s just like being behind a car exhaust,” said Debbie Leverett, during a tour of the area last October organised by the Society of Environmental Journalists. “All of your senses change.”

Over the last few years oil companies have drilled 51 wells in Gardendale, an area that covers about 11 square miles – and that’s just the start.

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