Friday Night Fun and Culture: Grace Slick and The Great Society

Before Grace Slick joined the Jefferson Airplane, she was a member of another band, The Great Society.

Truth, Consequences and Gender Transition

From Huffington Post:


Let me introduce myself: I was a loving husband and father over a quarter-century of marriage to a woman I met in my first semester in college. I remained loving and faithful through an excruciating divorce, impoverishing myself to maintain my ex’s and our children’s standard of living, and commuting to a job 150 miles away so that I could live near my children and be involved in their lives. Now, five years after I moved out, I continue to support my ex and children, whom I see several times a week despite working out-of-state.

Like many divorced couples, my ex and I tell very different stories of our break-up. Unlike many divorced former couples, both of us have published accounts of our divorce. (Huffington Post published my version last year.) Neither of our versions accuses the other of lying, but as you can see from the comments after my account, many people insist that I lied throughout my relationship — because I’m transgender. Some say that I lied by living as a man, then broke my marital vows which, according to them, included the promise that I would live as a man for the rest of my life. Others say I lie by living as a woman when I was born and lived for 45 years as a man, and by portraying myself as loving and faithful to my family despite what they suffered as a result of my gender transition.

My ex and children did suffer as a result of my gender transition. My ex lost the man she had loved since college. My children suffered much more from the divorce than from my transition, but though I remain their loving parent, they mourned the loss of the father they had known. My ex has eloquently described her experience of my transition, which to her felt like watching her husband die.

Of course, as my children know, I didn’t die, but my ex’s account is true to her feelings. As she had warned me since I first came out to her as trans in college, she couldn’t love me once I stopped looking like a man, so for her my transition was pure loss. But my ex’s sense that she was watching me die is also true in another way: as I told her at the time, living as a man was literally killing me. My body and the male persona that I had created to go with it — the male persona she loved, and which I had endured for decades — had become living hells. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t feel anything but pain. My male persona was dying, and I, the invisible person who had always hid within that persona, was dying inside it, before her eyes.

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Coalition seeks trans rights

From The Washington Blade:

on January 9, 2013

Seventeen local, state and national organizations have joined with individual activists to form the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality, in a broad effort to fight for trans rights.

MCTE’s mission is to advance equal rights for transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming people in Maryland through leadership, collaborative decision-making processes and resources.

Over the spring and summer of 2012, MCTE held several listening sessions across the state. Through these sessions MCTE asked community members to share their vision of progress for trans people in the state. Attendees articulated a demand for a broader coalition to do this work. Acting on that directive, MCTE has brought together numerous organizations working for equality and justice in Maryland.

“Equality Maryland embraces doing this vital work in a coalition that has trans individuals at the center of decision-making,” said Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland in a statement. “We witnessed the power of a coalition winning and preserving marriage equality and we are confident this model will succeed for trans equality.”

Other organizations in the coalition include ACLU of Maryland, Baltimore Black Pride, FreeState Legal Project, Maryland NOW (National Organization for Women), National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and PFLAG. For more information, visit

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Rhode Island Governor Says He Won’t Put Marriage Up for Referendum

From The Advocate:

Legislators are elected to make such decisions, says Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

BY Lucas Grindley
January 10 2013

Hopes by some to put marriage equality up to a vote by Rhode Island’s citizens instead of its lawmakers got a big setback today.

Democratic state senator Frank Ciccone had suggested introducing a bill that would put marriage equality up to a statewide vote. But Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Thursday, according to the Providence Journal, that he would veto such a bill.

The Providence Journal reports, “Chafee, a same-sex marriage supporter, said he believes lawmakers are elected to make such decisions and should be allowed to decide the issue of same-sex marriage.”

All remaining signs point to Rhode Island being among the next states to legalize same-sex marriage. One the main obstacles to passage had been Senate president M. Teresa Paiva Weed, who now supports holding a vote on the bill. And House speaker Gordon Fox, who is gay, also plans to hold a vote.

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Rape in the Age of Social Media

From Salon:

From Steubenville to India, videos and tweets are being turned against perpetrators of sexual violence

By Thursday, Jan 10, 2013

A video of a gleeful teenage boy crowing, “She is so raped” and “They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson!” An Instagram image of the same girl of Steubenville, Ohio, limply borne by boys holding wrists and ankles. An 11-year-old girl whose gang rape in Texas last year was discovered by adults via cellphone video, a video she then had to watch when she took the stand. A teenage boy in Canada who posted photos on Facebook of a 16-year-old girl being gang-raped, sentenced last year to probation and ordered to write an essay on “the pros and cons of social media.”

They are a loop of retraumatization, these images replaying sexual violence and the culture around it, but they are something else, too: evidence. They are proof not just for a courtroom that formally recognizes the existence of rape and sexual assault, but for a culture prone to denying it or explaining it away. The evidence is made not by concerned bystanders seeking to document crimes but by the victimizers themselves, who chronicle their actions because they see nothing wrong with them or because they think nothing will happen to them. Often the images are made by people who see only spectacle, not reason for intervention. But in all of these cases, the recorders eventually lost control of their own productions — in Steubenville, for example, the kids’ careless tweets were screen-grabbed by an enterprising blogger. Their own creations were turned against them in the service of justice, if far too late and too often incomplete.

In the crudest journalistic terms, rape is having a moment, from India to Ohio. (Recall how much of last year’s widespread anger at Republican politicians had to do with rape at least as much as reproductive freedom. They’re intimately related, and both concern ownership over bodies that are considered collective property, but not everyone sees the connection.) It’s having a moment on the streets, in both of those places, though even that has had a virtual element, as people all over the world have watched and live-tweeted the livestream of the Steubenville rallies and passed around stories of the Indian protests. Sexual violence remains something that is rarely openly discussed in daily life, but has become something that is urgently talked about on the Internet — by introverts, the semi-anonymous, those with too much to lose, those who named what happened to them too late, all rendered angry activists and confessors.

Sometimes, the survivors of such reproduced assaults take matters into their own hands. “There you go, lock me up. I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell,” wrote 16-year-old Savannah Dietrich on Twitter after naming, in defiance of a court order, the boys who had sexually assaulted her — and photographed it — while she was passed out. “I just wanted to stand up for myself,” she told the Daily Beast recently. “I’ll never take those tweets down.” That same story quoted a legal advocate saying that the new technologies are increasingly used “as a weapon to harass and humiliate the victim,” adding up to  “an invasion of privacy beyond what we’ve seen before.” That’s undeniable, but Dietrich chose to use another virtual platform to turn the glare back on the perpetrators.

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Birds, Bees and Bad Information: The Deplorable State of Sex Education in the US

From Truth Out:

By Eleanor J Bader
Thursday, 10 January 2013

Although we know what works and what doesn’t in sexual education, the US fails its young adults and their families, providing inadequate, inconsistent, medically inaccurate and socially biased information.

Depending on where a child grows up, he or she might – or might not – attend a Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) class in school – a several-month-long discussion of anatomy and physiology, puberty, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, healthy relationships, personal safety and saying “no.”

According to a March 2012 report released by the National Conference of State Legislators, only 21 states and the District of Columbia require schools to teach sex education. And, in a finding that should jolt parents and teachers out of their chairs, only 18 states require that the information be medically accurate.

Birds, Bees and Bias,  a 2012 New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) study, evaluated 108 school districts in New York state – the City of New York was excluded because the Department of Education put a revised CSE protocol into effect in September 2012, making it too new to appraise – and came to some disturbing conclusions. Among the findings: “Lessons on reproductive anatomy and basic functioning were often incomplete and pervasive factual limitations reflected gender stereotypes and heterocentric bias.” The survey also found explicit moral overtones regarding sexuality, the value of abstinence, teen pregnancy and family life in many of the curricula.

Johanna Miller, assistant advocacy director of the NYCLU, told Truthout that since the early 1990s, all New York school districts have been mandated to offer lessons about HIV/AIDS – but not CSE. “Some use materials that are outdated,” she says. “Most simply tell students to use condoms if they are having sex, but only one in three offers instruction on the proper way to use them. What’s more, few teachers make mention of sexual orientation, emergency contraception or abortion. They also rarely explain what they mean by sex. Is it only intercourse? What about anal and oral sex?” Miller asks. “When you offer HIV education without Comprehensive Sex Education, the context is missing and the program does not meet the actual needs of students.”

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Is Barney too Frank to fill John Kerry’s Massachusetts Senate seat?

From The Guardian UK:

The former Democratic congressman has made no secret of his wish to take the role, but he may be too outspoken to find favour, Tuesday 8 January 2013

Democrat Barney Frank, former Massachusetts congressman, is itching to get back to Capitol Hill. Frank has emerged as a leading choice to take up a short-term US Senate appointment to replace Secretary of State-in-waiting John Kerry. The seat would be decided in a special election, but until that can be arranged, the governor of Massachusetts is obliged to appoint a senator as temporary replacement.

Saddled with a reapportioned congressional district that removed one of his key urban strongholds, the waspish congressman announced his retirement in 2011. Frank came out more than 30 years ago, the first gay Washington lawmaker to be so bold – his move prompted then speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, another Massachusetts politician, to lament that Frank would never be “the first Jewish speaker”. In 2012, he also became the first congressman to marry to his same-sex partner.

Few would quibble that Frank would hit the ground running in the Senate. He was instrumental in crafting the 2008 bank bailout and the Dodd-Frank Act, the 2010 financial regulatory reform package that bears his name. He is popular in Massachusetts Democratic circles and is getting a healthy amount of support from Bay State newspaper editorial boards and opinion leaders. Even newly-minted Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren likes the idea.

With the 113th Congress under way, the interim senator will have to contend with the unfinished fiscal business of a new sequestration deadline and debt ceiling negotiations, along with a passel of cabinet vacancies. Beside the secretaryships of State and Defense, nominations for the top slots at the CIA, the treasury department, and the Environmental Protection Agency will also wind their way through the Senate in the coming months.

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