My Gender on My ID: A letter a away from citizenship!

This is the audiovisual campaign that accompanies the Ecuadorian Reforms to the Civil Registry Law dealing with Gender Identity, officially launched on September 13, 2012 and presented to the Ecuadorian Parliament – the Asamblea Nacional by the Ecuadorian Confederation of Trans and Intersex Communities – CONFETRANS, Silueta X Association, Project Transgender, Yerbabuena Foundation and other members of the “Building Equality Platform”. Support our efforts advocating legislative change in Ecuador in favour of trans and intersex persons! Contact us at:

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Introducing Trans Issues Week

From The New Statesman:

Every day this week, the New Statesman website will host a blog exploring gender issues.

By Helen Lewis
14 January 2013

In the twelve months preceding November 2012, at least 265 transgender people were murdered across the world. That figure comes from the Trans Murder Monitoring group, and covers only documented cases in 29 countries, so the true tally is likely to be higher.

For anyone interested in equality, it should be obvious that trans people are subject to harassment simply for the way they express their gender identity. If they do not “pass” in the street, they can be subject to everything from cruel comments and sideways glances to assault or rape – just for standing out. The kind of dehumanising language which most people would find outdated and offensive if used against women, or a racial group, is routinely used when talking about trans people.

In recent decades, there have been great improvements in the way that both the medical community and the wider public deal with issues around gender identity. But sometimes it seems that a lack of knowledge, or awareness, is preventing people from engaging in what should be an important cause. Many people I know would never deliberately set out to offend, but are clueless about what pronouns to use, or how to refer to trans people.

For that reason, the New Statesman blogs will be hosting a week devoted to trans issues, with a new blog every day on the subject. We hope to dispel some myths – and also offer some hope. Talking about trans issues purely in negative terms does not do justice to the many trans people living happy and fulfilled lives, and so there will also be pieces celebrating positive trans role models in pop culture, and describing the reasons to be optimistic about the future of trans people in Britain.

The aim of the series is to reach out in a straightforward and friendly way to people who haven’t considered these issues before: potential commenters should know that no one is waiting to jump down your throat for an innocent mistake.

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The trans community has finally arrived

From Yahoo:

By Jane Fae
January 15, 2013

At the start of ‘Airplane’ – one of Hollywood’s all time greatest comedies – flight controller Steve McCloskey opines that he “picked a bad week to give up smoking”.  As events turn from bad to worse, the list of things he gives up giving up on grows longer, encompassing smoking, glue sniffing and amphetamines, before he finally throws himself out of the control tower.

The last thing suggested here is that writer and columnist Suzanne Moore has any such bad habits. However, reading through the car crash that was her last week on Twitter (for now), I couldn’t help but think: she picked a bad week to take on the trans community.

Let’s start with the narrow focus – the stuff everyone has been writing about over the past 24 hours. A while back (though actually a little more than a week) Moore wrote a perfectly OK piece about the power of women’s anger. Ok, that is, apart from one small reference to Brazilian transsexuals which was not so much offensive as indelicate.

Some members of the twittersphere – not, in fact trans ones at all, initially – took exception to it and instead of apologising, Moore defended.  Then she took to the Guardian to be ever so slightly rude about the trans community, which in turn got ruder back and possibly (it depends on your point of view) ruder still until Friday, when Moore walked.  From Twitter, that is, claiming she had been bullied off.

There was a temporary respite until Sunday morning’s Observer, when friend and columnist Julie Burchill escalated the alert level from DefCon Three to DefCon One with a piece that oozed venom toward the trans community from its every pore. The trans community retaliated and, if we conclude the metaphor, the entire matter was now nuclear, with both sides MAD as hell.

Which takes us back to the start and why Moore really did choose the wrong week to take on the trans community.

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We don’t need Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill to police the borders of womanhood

From The Telegraph UK:

Two ‘feminist’ writers, Julie Burchill and Suzanne Moore, urgently need to update their thinking about what it is to be a woman and realise that trans women fighting back is not ‘bullying’, writes Dr Brooke Magnanti.

By , formerly known as Belle de Jour
14 Jan 2013

People can say whatever they damn well please. But they shouldn’t be surprised that someone, somewhere, may object. That’s been my takeaway this week, as a piece by well-known British columnist Suzanne Moore in the New Statesman containing an unfortunate slur against trans women was followed by a Twitter tirade, a very public flouncing off of social media as Moore objected to her “bullies” and “trolls”, and a subsequent Guardian column by the infamous Julie Burchill that not so much poured oil on troubled waters, as crouched down with a flamethrower and set it alight.

As I see it, there are two issues at stake: the first is trolling, and the second is transphobia. Both are not good, and also widely misunderstood.

Let me explain trolling properly

Perhaps in the world of columnists who came up in the largely pre-mainstream internet age of the 80s and 90s, there’s been a certain amount of being sheltered from criticism. Without an outlet – such as social media or the comment box – most of those who disagree either shook their heads and turned the page. A few might have written letters.

There is the widespread misconception that only anonymous commenters can be “trolls”. This usually stems from a misunderstanding of what trolling is. It’s not anonymous criticism. That’s just the thing we call life, and it has existed in some form from ancient graffiti at Pompeii to the internet today. Interacting with other humans means that, inevitably, you will do or say something others disagree with. Do it from a media platform with a national audience that reaches beyond the myopic confines of Twitter, and even more people will criticise.

Similarly, some people have equated “trolling” to making vile threats. It’s not that either; that’s just called making vile threats and has a similarly long pedigree to criticism. Sometimes the two overlap; often, they don’t.

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Julie Burchill, transphobia and hostility towards the victims of oppression

From The Guardian UK:

The recent media furore over an article by Julie Burchill has brought to light prejudice against transgender individuals among people who should know better. But this tendency to demonise the victims of unfair treatment is a well established phenomenon

Posted by
Tuesday 15 January 2013

There was a bit of outrage flying around online recently. You may not know about it, and I wasn’t involved, but if you have any interest in online media it was impossible to miss, in the same way that any ships travelling near Bikini Atoll would struggle to not notice when the military were running a few little tests there. It culminated in a Julie Burchill piece for the Observer (which is a different publication to the Guardian … I’ve been blogging for them for months and I only found that out this weekend). Burchill’s article was supposedly a defence of her friend Suzanne Moore and her recent dealings with trans people, but seems to be an all-out attack on trans people in general (which I won’t be linking to here because the online version has been withdrawn and, even if it hadn’t been, it has already had enough traffic thank-you very much).

I wouldn’t dare to assume that I was qualified to comment on the issues and hardships facing trans people, or feminists for that matter. It is such a sensitive subject that odds are I’ve accidentally said a number of offensive things in that last paragraph alone and will continue to do so in the remainder of this piece. Sorry about that in advance, I promise it’s not intentional, and feel free to point out my mistakes to me.

But leaving the political, sociological and ideological factors aside, I was amazed to discover the degree of hostility there is to trans people, particularly from those who are supposedly opposed to oppression and prejudice. Why would members of society who are persistently victimised in the worst possible ways still be vilified so?

Could it be the Just World Hypothesis? This dates back to research by Melvin Lerner which showed that subjects asked to evaluate someone undergoing painful electric shocks (they were fake, don’t worry) tended to rate the victim far less favourably if they were told their suffering would continue. If they were told they’d be rewarded in the end, people rated the victim far more favourably. The worse the victim apparently suffered, the worse the subject’s opinion of them was.

What’s going on there? The Just World Hypothesis states that people have an inherent belief that the world is fair and just and that people’s actions and behaviour is eventually met with the appropriate consequences, i.e. “you get what you deserve.” When faced with evidence that suggests that this is bollocks, most people’s first response is to rationalise it in a way that allows the illusion to continue. The most obvious example of this is victim blaming.

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The Burchill controversy – a mixed blessing for the trans community

From The Liberal Democratic Voice UK:

Tue 15th January 2013

I have followed recent mainstream media events unfolding around the transgender community with a mixture of excitement, anxiety and sadness.

Excitement, because it is rare that trans issues get coverage that isn’t designed to portray us as perpetrators of some hideous evil. Even though the stories started with biased coverage in the Guardian about a doctor under investigation by the General Medical Council, it turned into something more positive when the #TransDocFail hashtag lead to LibDem Councillor Sarah Brown discussing the issue on BBC Radio. Even the continuation of bad reporting had a silver lining, when Julie Burchill’s transphobic screed in The Observer lead to widespread condemnation from the internet at large and calls for her to be sacked.

Trans people have put up with biased reporting and name-calling for years, even suffering from the ignominy of having transphobic writers nominated for awards by LGB campaigning groups. The difference here is that, oblivious to the turning of the tide when it comes to hate speech, Julie Burchill and the editors of The Observer finally crossed a line that mainstream opinion could not ignore.

Anxiety, because I worry what will happen to stories like this when the mainstream press gets hold of them. Besides the usual errors, such as erasure of trans men and use of “transsexuals” as a noun rather than an adjective, coverage has been on the whole pretty positive. Except for one point: The anti-trans lobby has been allowed to rewrite history in portraying a “baying mob” that hounded Suzanne Moore off Twitter, which was the catalyst for Julie Burchill’s piece. In reality, although someone picked her up for her “Brazilian transsexuals” comment online, that sort of behaviour is so common that, against the background of lady-boy jokes on BBC TV, that it would not even warrant a footnote in the annals of trans history. It was her subsequent abusive response to polite criticism from non-trans people on Twitter including the phrase “lopping bits off your body” that angered people.

If there was a mob on Twitter, then the leader was Suzanne Moore who reacted to valid criticism with abuse before flouncing off the site for a couple of days. But despite some disgusting language from Julie Burchill, her version of the “facts” has been accepted almost unquestioningly by many, because it appeared in a national newspaper.

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Trans Rights Top Maryland Activists’ ”To-Do” List

From Metro Weekly:

Many organizations hoping 2013 session will see the General Assembly pass a gender-identity nondiscrimination bill

By John Riley
Published on January 13, 2013

If the third time wasn’t quite the charm, maybe the seventh time will be, with some of Maryland’s LGBT community leaders hopeful that 2013 will be the year a gender-identity nondiscrimination bill finally passes the General Assembly. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), a longtime LGBT ally, is expected to sign such a measure – prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression in housing, employment and credit – should it pass the General Assembly.

Just two months after Marylanders voted to uphold the law granting same-sex couples access to state marriage licenses, LGBT-equality advocates now see few roadblocks stopping their progress in the General Assembly, which started its 90-day 2013 session Jan. 9.

Carrie Evans, executive director Equality Maryland, the state’s primary LGBT-rights organization, says Maryland Senate President Thomas V. ”Mike” Miller (D-Calvert, Prince George’s counties) seems open to allowing the gender-identity bill, introduced in various forms since 2007, to move forward in the upper chamber.

A similar measure, HB 235, passed the House of Delegates in 2011 by an 86-52 vote before being voted back to committee by the Senate, effectively killing it.

Evans expects a hearing on the bill within 30 days, as she’s hoping the measure will pass the Senate before the upper chamber begins debating other issues such as a proposed assault-weapons ban, repeal of the death penalty and budget issues.

”We don’t want to get lost in the mix,” says Evans.

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Nancy Keenan: Abortion rights facing attacks on all fronts

Nancy Keenan Speaks with Jennifer Granholm about 40th Anniversary of Roe v Wade

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Aaron Swartz…Symptom of an Over-Reaching Police State?

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Aaron Swartz’s Father Says Reddit Co-Founder Was ‘Killed By The Government’

From Huffington Post:


HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — Internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz was “killed by the government,” his father told mourners Tuesday during his son’s funeral in suburban Chicago.

Swartz, who help create Reddit and RSS, the technology behind blogs, podcasts and other web-based subscription services, was found dead Friday in his New York apartment. He was facing federal charges that alleged he illegally gained access to millions of articles from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer archive.

Robert Swartz said during the service in Highland Park that his son was “hounded by the government, and MIT refused him,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported .

“He was killed by the government, and MIT betrayed all of its basic principles,” he said.

Swartz, 26, was facing charges that carried a maximum penalty of decades in prison. His trial was scheduled to begin in April.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz had no comment about Robert Swartz’s remarks, Ortiz spokeswoman Christina DiIorio-Sterling said.

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The Prosecution of Aaron Swartz Paints Obama’s Justice Department as Needlessly Cruel and Capricious

From Alternet:

A powerful indictment of our justice system, the Swartz case exemplifies the sick hypocrisy of persecuting information activists while corrupt corporations and bankers get off easy.

By Marcy Wheeler
January 15, 2013

On Friday, January 11, 2013, 26-year-old visionary technologist and social activist Aaron Swartz hanged himself in New York City. A passionate advocate for making access to online information as widespread as possible, Swartz was grappling with the fallout from his efforts to do just that.

Two years before Swartz ended his life, he was arrested by police from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the City of Cambridge, Mass., police for breaking and entering into an MIT storage closet. In the closet, Swartz had stashed an Acer laptop  he had programmed to download in bulk millions of scholarly articles from JSTOR, a non-profit database that provides access to the articles for academic libraries. At the time, articles on JSTOR were locked behind a paywall for non-academics who wished to access them through their own computers. Swartz aimed to make them available, free of charge, to anyone who wanted to read them.

At the time of his arrest, an investigation of Swartz’s MIT/JSTOR action was already underway, and two days earlier, the Secret Service’s online crime division assumed control of the probe. The Secret Service routinely conducts complex computer crime investigations; its involvement signaled the treatment of this as a major crime, not a caper. Six months later, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz charged Swartz with a four-count indictment.

To those who knew Swartz’ ethic, that indictment already seemed like overkill, essentially labeling an effort to share information as wire and computer fraud. But then last year, Ortiz multiplied each of the main charges, turning the same underlying actions into a 13-count indictment that threatened Swartz with a 35-year sentence.

Swartz had long struggled with depression that may have contributed to his suicide. But his family and associates have also blamed the government’s conduct in prosecuting Swartz. A statement issued by the family the day after Swartz’s suicide charges that “the U.S. Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims.”

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Anger at suicide of US internet activist

From Al Jazeera:

Family accuses US Attorney’s office and MIT of contributing to the death of 26-year-old Aaron Swartz.

14 Jan 2013

Angry activists poured scorn on US prosecutors for leading an overzealous campaign against internet freedom fighter Aaron Swartz, with his family suggesting it contributed to his suicide.

Swartz, who was just 14 when he co-developed the RSS feeds that are now the norm for publishing frequent updates online and went on to help launch social news website Reddit, hanged himself in his New York apartment on Friday.

He had been due to stand trial in April for allegedly breaking into a closet at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to plug into the computer network and download millions of academic journal articles from the subscription-only JSTOR service.

Swartz had written openly about suffering periodically from depression, but friends and family suggested the looming trial contributed to his suicide and accused MIT and prosecutors of being overzealous in pursuing their case.

“It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach,” a family statement said on Sunday.

“Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death.”

MIT president Leo Rafael Reif expressed shock and grief at Swartz’s death, and tapped computer science and engineering professor Hal Abelson to lead a “thorough analysis” of MIT’s involvement in the JSTOR case.

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Could a deadly super bird flu be coming?

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Top Climate Scientists Urge Obama To Reject Keystone XL Pipeline, Warn Approval Would ‘Undermine Your Legacy’

From Think Progress:

By Joe Romm
on Jan 15, 2013 news release

Eighteen of the nation’s top climate scientists released a letter to President Obama today urging him to say no to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

“Eighteen months ago some of us wrote you about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, explaining why in our opinion its construction ran counter to both national and planetary interests,”  wrote the scientists. ”Nothing that has happened since has changed that evaluation; indeed, the year of review that you asked for on the project made it clear exactly how pressing the climate issue really is.”

Indeed the past year has shown that climate change is here. A few months after Superstorm Sandy flooded parts of the Northeast, NOAA announced last week that the average temperature for 2012 was 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.2 degrees above normal and a full degree higher than the previous warmest year recorded — 1998.

The State Department is expected to soon release its supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) required for the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. The department’s previous pipeline EIS downplayed climate risks by arguing that the tar sands would be developed with or without Keystone XL and therefore the project had no responsibility for the additional greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning tar sands oil.

But two of Canada’s largest banks, TD Economics and CIBC, have recently said that without added capacity, “Canada’s oil industry is facing a serious challenge to its long-term growth” and that “Canada needs pipe — and lots of it — to avoid the opportunity cost of stranding over a million barrels a day of potential crude oil growth.”

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Can the Cannabis Economy Be Ecologically Sustainable?

From Huffington Post:


The future of sustainable cannabis agriculture might reside in the practices of a third-generation Emerald Triangle farmer known to his friends as Fuzzy. He indeed looked a good deal like Thorin Oakenshield. Based in Mendocino County, the 40-something’s flowers are perennial top five finishers in California’s Emerald Cup (“The World’s Only Organic Outdoor Cannabis Competition”).

When I asked him his secret on the soggy redwood-enshrouded Humboldt County deck outside this year’s competition December 15, his answer was much more Gregor Mendel then Monsanto. “Local breeding and native soil. The guys that bring in bags of fake soil aren’t ever going to win.”

“Organic outdoor cannabis is our brand,” says Tim Blake, who founded and produces The Cup, as it’s known regionally. “This is what we do.”

For many local farmers, some of whom farm cannabis alongside grandparents who were 1970s back-to-the-landers, the concerns of the modern outdoor farmer are still the concerns of every farmer since humans stopped hunter/gathering. Early autumn rains, for instance, threatening fragrantly flowering $20,000 plants with botrytis (a kind of fungus also called bud rot) a week before harvest.

Because of this isolation, prohibition, and now, cultural tradition, Northern California’s remote Emerald Triangle is poised to provide a model for a sustainable post-prohibition cannabis industry. In particular, this model, which was institutionalized in a landmark cannabis farmer permitting program by the Sheriff’s Department in Mendocino County in 2011, can provide a farmer-owned, outdoor cultivation playbook to counter some of the grow room-based models that are in danger of becoming institutionalized in the first U.S. states to re-legalize full adult use of the plant.

“This is part of the larger food revolution we’re seeing everywhere,” the overalls-wearing Fuzzy told me during what became a sodden farmer caucus during a break between speakers at the Cup, contemplatively stroking his red chest length beard. While thick, icy raindrops fell quite audibly from redwood eaves all around me, I thought about my own produce shopping preferences. I wouldn’t buy a spear of supermarket hothouse broccoli when there’s a local organic heirloom variety available at the weekend farmer’s market.

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Canada’s Energy Juggernaut Hits a Native Roadblock

From The Toronto Star:–canada-s-energy-juggernaut-his-a-native-roadblock

By Linda McQuaig
Monday January 14, 2013

Those who believe we can freely trash the environment in our quest to make ourselves richer suffer from a serious delusion — a delusion that doesn’t appear to afflict aboriginal people.

Aboriginals tend to live in harmony with Mother Earth. Their approach has long baffled and irritated Canada’s white establishment, which regards it as a needless impediment to unbridled economic growth.

Nowhere is this irritation more palpable than inside Stephen Harper’s government, with its fierce determination to turn Canada into an “energy superpower,” regardless of the environmental consequences.

So it’s hardly surprising that the Harper government has ended up in a confrontation with Canada’s First Nations.

Certainly the prime minister has shown a ruthlessness in pursuing his goal of energy super powerdom.

He has gutted long-standing Canadian laws protecting the environment, ramming changes through Parliament last December as part of his controversial omnibus bill. He has thumbed his nose at global efforts to tackle climate change, revoking Canada’s commitment to Kyoto.

And he’s launched a series of witch-hunt audits of environmental groups that dared to challenge the rampant development of Alberta’s oilsands — one of the world’s biggest sources of climate-changing emissions — as well as plans for pipelines through environmentally sensitive areas.

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First Nations Logging Blockade in Canada Passes 10th Year as “Idle No More” Support Grows

From Truth Out:

By Carmelle Wolfson
Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Grassy Narrows’ logging blockade to thwart Canadian government and industry control of their lands is a decade old as the “Idle No More” movement grows.

As natural resources become scarcer worldwide, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is rushing to sell off the country’s pristine waterways and forests to multinational corporations abroad. As their lands are devastated by industrial projects, First Nations indigenous communities in remote reservations across Canada often suffer most from these efforts. The Canadian economy has long been propelled by resource extraction industries such as mining and logging (with the US being a major trading partner), while plans to build pipelines from the Alberta tar sands to the USA and overseas form the latest battleground.

A glaring example of the government disregard for Aboriginal rights is the passage in December of Bill C-45, which makes unilateral amendments to the Indian Act and changes laws governing waterways and environmental protection. While the Canadian government claims the law is necessary to reduce red tape and protect the economy, it was the last straw for natives who argue the law was illegally passed without their consultation and have reacted by openly calling for indigenous sovereignty and coordinating blockades across Canada.

“They’re not recognizing us as nations,”  says Anishinaabe activist Chickadee Richard. “It’s just an act of genocide. I believe they’re trying to extinguish us as nations.” She contends that the environmental impact of this legislation will not just affect indigenous peoples, but all Canadians.

Historically, road and rail blockades have been common last resort tactics employed by First Nations opposing government and corporate actions. Most blockades are temporary, such as the 1990 Kanehsatake blockade in Oka, Quebec, which led to a 78-day standoff with the government (commonly referred to as “The Oka Crisis”) and the more recent Six Nations blockade of a housing development in Caledonia, Ontario, in 2006.

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