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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