US: Violence Against Women Act Renewed

From Human Rights Watch:

Lessons From Renewal Process Should Spur Further Reforms

February 28, 2013

(Washington, DC) – Bipartisan efforts to ensure the safety of all domestic violence victims should continue following the vote in Congress on February 28, 2013, to renew the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), Human Rights Watch said today. The bill includes provisions aimed at improving access to justice and services for victims from a range of backgrounds, and continuing efforts should include advancing protections for immigrant victims of violence during the process of comprehensive immigration reform, Human Rights Watch said.

The bill passed by the House of Representatives addresses gaps in access to justice for victims of violence on Native American reservations. It includes protections against discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) victims, and modestly expands protections for immigrant victims. Efforts to renew VAWA in the last Congress stalled over differences between the House and the Senate on these issues.

“Congress came together today and put partisan politics aside to protect victims of violence,” said Meghan Rhoad, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “With continued cooperation, Congress can make further strides to ensure that everyone has access to justice, to services, and to safety.”

VAWA is the primary federal law providing legal protection and services to counter domestic abuse, sexual violence, and stalking. Congress has reauthorized VAWA twice since it originally passed in 1994. The Senate passed S. 47, a bipartisan bill to renew VAWA, with 78 votes on February 12. The House approved S. 47 with a vote of 286 to 138. The House took the vote after rejecting another bill that would have watered down protections for victims, Human Rights Watch said.

The bill passed by the House addresses the jurisdictional issues that make it difficult to hold non-Native American men accountable for violence committed against Native American women. The bill would restore Native American tribal courts’ jurisdiction in such cases if domestic violence and dating violence crimes are committed on tribal lands. Currently, neither state nor tribal authorities have jurisdiction in such cases. The federal government has jurisdiction but often does not make prosecuting misdemeanor domestic violence and dating violence offenses a priority.

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Bradley Manning pleads guilty to 10 charges but denies ‘aiding the enemy’

From The Guardian UK:

Soldier admits guilt in lesser crimes that carry up to 20 years in prison while denying most serious charges against him

in Fort Meade, Thursday 28 February 2013

Bradley Manning has pleaded guilty to having been the source of the massive WikiLeaks dump of US state secrets, though he has denied the most serious charge against him that he “aided the enemy” that could see him languishing in military prison for the rest of his life.

Through his lawyer, David Coombs, the soldier pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges that included possessing and wilfully communicating to an unauthorised person all the main elements of the WikiLeaks disclosure. That covered the so-called “collateral murder” video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq; some US diplomatic cables including one of the early WikiLeaks publications the Reykjavik cable; portions of the Iraq and Afghanistan warlogs, some of the files on detainees in Guantanamo; and two intelligence memos.

These lesser charges each carry a two-year maximum sentence, committing Manning to a possible upper limit of 20 years in prison.

Manning also pleaded not guilty to 12 counts which relate to the major offences of which he is accused by the US government. Specifically, he pleaded not guilty to “aiding the enemy” – the idea that he knowingly gave help to al-Qaida and in a separate count that by causing secret intelligence to be published on the internet he knowingly made it accessible to the enemy.

He also denied that at the time he made the transmission of information to WikiLeaks he had “reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation”.

With Manning having pleaded not guilty to these overarching charges, the prosecution is now almost certain to press ahead to a full court-martial which is currently set for 3 June. The judge has indicated that the trial could run for 12 weeks, although Manning’s guilty plea to the lesser charges may short-circuit the process as the government will no longer have to prove that he acquired and communicated the trove of classified material to WikiLeaks.

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nFile Under I Don’t Think So: “‘Gender And Sexual Diversities,’ Or GSD, Should Replace ‘LGBT,’ Say London Therapists”

First of all if I want any fucking advice from therapists I’ll rattle their cage.

I look at therapists the way I look at any sort of religious true believers, some are benevolent, some are malevolent and most simply have nothing to offer.

“Therapy” is a new age version of religion.  It tells people that social oppression is something one can deal with internally instead of rising up and taking action against the oppressing factors.  They administer drugs to keep people quiet and submissive to oppressive systems.

The head line:  ‘Gender And Sexual Diversities,’ Or GSD, Should Replace ‘LGBT,’ Say London Therapists, was on Huffington Post.

While transsexual/transgender seem like they should be natural allies due to our all being lumped together as queer by the nasty right wing religious shits the reality remains gay and lesbian are about who people have sexual relationships with while TS/TG are about what sex/gender people are.  TS/TG people can be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual etc.

But wait folks the suggestion of these therapists gets worse.  While LGBT people are trying to normalize our existences so we can get marriage equality and employment non-discrimination measures these useless fucks want to saddle us with swingers and other groups that “don’t fit the mainstream”

Screw that.

First of all most LGBT people are pretty damned mainstream.  We live all over the place and work typical crappy jobs in the New World Order, have to deal with the disappearing middle class and student loans.  All the same crap as our straight neighbors.  We aren’t a thrillingly transgressive subculture anymore.

I also love how they plug their services in this suggestion.

To be or not to be
To enter therapy and continue to be oppressed by not only the shitty system but therapist bills
Or to take up arms against the shitty system and thereby liberate myself and others from its oppression
Aye there is the rub.

From Huffington Post:


Could “LGBT” one day become “GSD”? A London-based advocacy group certainly hopes so.

Pink Therapy director Dominic Davies and fellow therapist Pamela Gawler-Wright suggested GSD, or “Gender and Sexual Diversities,” as a more inclusive community term in a new video posted on the group’s Facebook page.

In the clip, Davies noted that the term LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) still excluded “a whole batch of people who didn’t feel able to go to mainstream counseling organizations and also wouldn’t necessarily be welcome at LGBT counseling organizations,” including asexual people and those in otherwise non-traditional relationships, such as swingers.

Added Gawler-Wright: “Now we’re allowing more of a spectrum…people need wider language, people need better language to have that conversation … We exist at this time in a different way of thinking collectively and inclusively.”

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Transgender Girl’s Parents Lobby for Her Right to Use the Bathroom

From Yahoo:

February 27, 2013

The parents of a 6-year-old transgender girl who has been banned from using the girls’ bathroom at her Fountain, Colorado public school have filed a formal discrimination complaint with the aid of a lawyer—and are using the opportunity to speak out publicly in support of their child.

“The more you talk about something, the more awareness and acceptance there is,” Kathryn Mathis, mother of first grader Coy, who was born a boy, told Yahoo! Shine. “We’re really just trying to make it known what the school has done and make them accountable.”

The family has filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. It will be investigated, and if either party is unhappy with the outcome, the next step would be a lawsuit.

Kathryn and her husband, Jeremy, appeared with Coy on the “Katie” show Wednesday to talk about the case. “The school is really missing out on something big,” Kathryn, a photographer and certified nurse’s assistant, said during the broadcast. “They could be taking the opportunity to teach all of the students that everybody is different and that we should embrace our differences and we should respect everybody. Instead they’re creating this divided environment where they’re showing all these children that a child is different and we’re going to treat them poorly because of it.”

Kathryn and Jeremy, a full-time student and disabled veteran, have four other children, including a set of triplets, one of which is Coy. Kathryn explained on “Katie” that Coy, a Girl Scout who loves pink, began gravitating toward girls’ toys and clothes by 18 months. Gender eventually turned into a bigger issue when Coy asked, at age 4, “When are we going to go to the doctor to get me fixed so I can be a girl?” A psychologist confirmed then that Coy was indeed transgender, at which point, noted Jeremy, “We really needed to let Coy be who she was.”

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See also: Denver Post: Colorado parents of transgender 1st-grader file complaint over restroom ban

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Bullying’s lasting impact

From The Dallas Morning News:

Emily Bazelon
26 February 2013

A significant new study from Duke provides the best evidence we’ve had thus far that bullying in childhood is linked to a higher risk of psychological disorders in adulthood. The results came as a surprise to the research team. “I was a skeptic going into this,” author and Duke psychiatry professor William Copeland said about the claim that bullying does measurable long-term psychological harm. “To be honest, I was completely surprised by the strength of the findings.”

I’m less surprised, because as I explain in my new book about bullying, Sticks and Stones, earlier research has shown that bullying increases the risk for many problems, including low academic performance in school and depression (for both bullies and victims) and criminal activity later in life (for bullies). But the Duke study is important because it lasted 20 years and followed 1,270 children into adulthood. Beginning at the ages of 9, 11 and 13, the kids were interviewed annually until the age of 16, along with their parents, and then multiple times over the years following.

Based on the findings, Copeland and his team divided their subjects into three groups: people who were victims as children, people who were bullies and people who were both. The third group is known as bully-victims. These are the people who tend to have the most serious psychological problems as kids, and in the Duke study, they also showed up with higher levels of anxiety, depressive disorders and suicidal thinking as adults. The people who had only experienced being victims were also at heightened risk for depression and anxiety. And the bullies were more likely to have an antisocial personality disorder.

The researchers also checked to see if the variation could be attributed to differences in socioeconomic status, or family dysfunction/instability, or maltreatment (which they defined as physical or sexual abuse). All three groups had higher rates of family hardship than the kids who didn’t experience bullying. For the victims, the risk of anxiety disorders remained strong even when taking into account family problems, though the risk of depression did not. For bully-victims, the risk of both anxiety and depression held, and for bullies, the risk of antisocial personality disorder did as well. In other words, these results suggest that bullying scars people whether they grow up in a home with two functional parents or with frequent arguing, not much parental supervision, divorce, separation or downright abuse or neglect. It’s a finding that’s in line with other work.

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More Feminist Than Thou: Moving Beyond Self-Defeating “Choose My Choice” Feminism

From RHReality Check:

by Andrea Grimes
February 27, 2013

I am so tired of “I choose my choice” feminism. So, so tired of it. I just can’t have another fight about whether it’s possible to be a stay-at-home mom, shave your legs, wear makeup, date men, have rough sex, have submissive sex, change your name, watch porn, worship a Judeo-Christian God, shop at Wal-Mart, wear hijab, get breast implants, listen to hip-hop, go on a diet, eat meat, or wash the dishes and be a feminist at the same time.

Let’s stop choosing our choices and start choosing our battles.

Choosing is passive. Choosing is not enough. Choosing devolves into finger-pointing, into holier-than-thou posturing, into casting feminism as some kind of private mental exercise, rather than a powerful force for social change. No one person is making all the right feminist choices, but so many people are fighting good fights.

Choose-your-choice feminism brought us, for example, the so-called Mommy Wars, which pits women against each other, instead of against anti-family work policies and the intersecting mechanics of economic oppression; it pits a very small group of “each others,” usually deeply privileged “each others” against those “each others” who blessedly have the option of choosing at all.

Choose-your-choice feminism implies that all women already have the full spectrum of choices available to them in the first place. Choose-your-choice feminism is for people who don’t play the long game, or who are so blinded by their own privilege that they no longer see the need to. Choose-your-choice feminism is for people who think the fight is over.

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Study shows wealth gap between whites and African-Americans tripled in 25 years

From Raw Story:

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The wealth gap between white and African-American households almost tripled within the past 25 years according to a study released on Wednesday by Brandeis University.

The study, (PDF) conducted by the university’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy, tracked 1,700 working-age households between 1984 and 2009 and concluded that the disparity between white and black families went from $85,000 to $236,500 during that period.

According to the study, there was “little evidence” that commonly-held perceptions about personal choices and behaviors held true when it came to measuring the ability to accumulate wealth.

“In my estimation, policies and institutional practices are the main story,” said the institute’s director, Tom Shapiro, who was the principal author of the report, during an online seminar on Wednesday.

Instead, the study pointed to what researchers described as “the configuration of both opportunities and barriers in workplaces, schools, and communities that reinforce deeply entrenched racial dynamics in how wealth is accumulated and that continue to permeate the most important spheres of everyday life.”

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Three-Quarters of Progressive Caucus Not Taking a Stand Against Cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

From Common Dreams:

by Norman Solomon
Published on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 by Common Dreams

For the social compact of the United States, most of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has gone missing.

While still on the caucus roster, three-quarters of the 70-member caucus seem lost in political smog. Those 54 members of the Progressive Caucus haven’t signed the current letter that makes a vital commitment: “we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”

More than 10 days ago, Congressmen Alan Grayson and Mark Takano initiated the forthright letter, circulating it among House colleagues. Addressed to President Obama, the letter has enabled members of Congress to take a historic stand: joining together in a public pledge not to vote for any cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

The Grayson-Takano letter is a breath of fresh progressive air, blowing away the customary fog that hangs over such matters on Capitol Hill.

The Progressive Caucus co-chairs, Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, signed the letter. So did Barbara Lee, the caucus whip. But no signer can be found among the five vice chairs of the Progressive Caucus: Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Michael Honda, Sheila Jackson-Lee and Jan Schakowsky. The letter’s current list of signers includes just 16 members of the Progressive Caucus (along with five other House signers who aren’t part of the caucus).

What about the other 54 members of the Progressive Caucus? Their absence from the letter is a clear message to the Obama White House, which has repeatedly declared its desire to cut the Social Security cost of living adjustment as well as Medicare. In effect, those 54 non-signers are signaling: Mr. President, we call ourselves “progressive” but we are unwilling to stick our necks out by challenging you in defense of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; we want some wiggle room that you can exploit.

In contrast, the House members on the short list of the letter’s signers deserve our praise for taking a clear stand: Brown, Cartwright, Conyers, DeFazio, Ellison, Faleomavaega, Grayson, G. Green, Grijalva, Gutierrez, A. Hastings, Kaptur, Lee, McGovern, Nadler, Napolitano, Nolan, Serrano, Takano, Velazquez and Waters.

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Politics Rumble – Is Voting about to blown up

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John Lewis to Justice Scalia: The right to vote is ‘what people died for, bled for’



Congressman John Lewis, a hero of the civil-rights movement, said he was appalled to hear Justice Antonin Scalia refer to the Voting Rights Act as a “racial entitlement” today. Rep. Lewis was at the nation’s highest court to listen to arguments about whether the 1965 Voting Rights Act should be struck down as unconstitutional.

“It was unreal, unbelievable, almost shocking, for a member of the court to use certain language,” he said “I can see politicians and even members of Congress–it is just appalling to me.”

For Lewis, the comments were especially offensive because he knows from experience how hard he and others fought to win those rights. He was severely beaten by Alabama state troopers as he marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Al., on March 7, 1965, a date that’s now known as Bloody Sunday.

“It is an affront to all of what the civil rights movement stood for, what people died for, what people bled for, and those of us who marched across that bridge 48 years ago, we didn’t march for some racial entitlement,” he said. “We wanted to open up the political process, and let all of the people come in, and it didn’t matter whether they were black or white, Latino, Asian-American or Native American.”

Reverend Al Sharpton, who was also in the court, called Scalia’s words “shocking.”

“How is that an entitlement?” Sharpton asked. “I thought African-Americans were citizens! For us to have the right to vote protected is some kind of entitlement program?”

Lewis agreed, calling the right to vote “precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent instrument that we have in a democratic society. And if the courts come to that point where they declare this section, section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, unconstitutional, it would be a  dagger in the heart of the democratic process.”

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Supreme Court: Racism deniers?

From Salon:

If the Scalia wing strikes down the Voting Rights Act, it thinks we’re beyond our history of racial bias

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013

This morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the constitutionality of the pre-clearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which require certain states with a history of disenfranchising African-American voters to have any changes in their law regulating voting to be approved by the Department of Justice first.

Most observers expect the court to declare those provisions unconstitutional, even though they were extended by the Senate by a unanimous vote less than seven years ago, while facing only token opposition in the House. All in all, 488 of 521 members of Congress voted to renew the pre-clearance provisions.

The enthusiasm with which the court’s righter wing appears to be greeting constitutional attacks on provisions adopted and renewed by overwhelming legislative majorities could make a cynic suspect that “conservative” criticisms of judicial review can often be reduced to the axiom, “the democratic process should be respected, unless it produces a result we really don’t like.”  (Reportedly, during this morning’s oral argument, the increasingly egregious Justice Scalia likened congressional renewal of the Voting Rights Act to a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”)

The policy arguments for getting rid of pre-clearance boil down to the claim that the sort of disenfranchisement motivated by racial bias that pre-clearance was designed to combat has largely if not completely disappeared. This may or may not be true, but it’s hard to see why unelected judges should decide whether or not it is rather than elected legislators.

But there’s a deeper problem with claims that America has “moved past” our history of racial discrimination to the point where a vigorously enforced Voting Rights Act is no longer necessary.

The Voting Rights Act, and its equally important cousin the Civil Rights Act, were both adopted in the mid-1960s, when, incredible as it may seem to today’s youth, Jim Crow still flourished throughout the American South. (My mother, who grew up in Mexico, attended the University of Texas in the 1950s, and was deeply shocked to encounter “colored” and “whites only” public facilities.)

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See also:

Talking Points Memo:  Scalia: Voting Rights Act Is ‘Perpetuation Of Racial Entitlement’

Daily Kos:  John Roberts has always had it in for the Voting Rights Act

Mother Jones:  Chief Justice Roberts’ Long War Against the Voting Rights Act

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Somewhere In New Mexico Before The End Of Time

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Five More States Consider ‘Ag Gag’ Laws To Silence Factory Farm Whistleblowers

From Think Progress:

By Aviva Shen
on Feb 26, 2013

As state legislatures begin their 2013 sessions, a flurry of new “ag gag” bills to protect factory farms from potential undercover whistleblowers have been introduced in 5 states. This week, the Indiana Senate is debating a proposal to criminalize taking photographs or videos inside an agricultural or industrial operation without permission.

Senate Bill 373 is the first of two ag gag bills introduced during Indiana’s 2013 session. New Hampshire, Nebraska, Wyoming and Arkansas are also considering them.

Since trespassing is already illegal, ag gag laws can only have one clear motive: to punish whistleblowers, advocates, and investigative reporters who use undercover recordings to reveal the abysmal conditions in which our food is produced. Undercover investigations have captured factory farms all over the country abusing livestock, passing off sick cattle as healthy, and discharging unregulated amounts of animal manure, which the US Geological Survey identified as the largest source of nitrogen pollution in the country.

The bill’s author, Sen. Travis Holdman (R), added a provision exempting anyone who turns over their video or photos to law enforcement within 48 hours — as long as they do not also share the footage with non-law enforcement, such as media or an animal rights group. But, as the Indy Star points out, many exposés are “undertaken precisely because the authorities failed to do their job. Sometimes, they have spotlighted conditions that were not illegal but were disturbing enough to inspire new laws.”

Indeed, factory farms have largely escaped regulatory and legal scrutiny. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency abandoned an effort to require these operations to report even basic information like location, number of animals, and amount of manure discharged. Meanwhile, the meat lobby’s grip on lawmakers is so powerful that the USDA was pressured into apologizing for an internal “Meatless Monday” last year by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who claimed the optional vegetarian day was a full-scale attack on agriculture.

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We’re All Guinea Pigs

From Other Words:

I don’t want to expose the most precious people in my life to an endocrine disruptor.

February 27, 2013

A few years ago, my world changed when I began dating a single dad whose youngest child was a toddler. Bonding with and loving his two kids has been the single most enriching and rewarding — and sometimes frustrating and exhausting — experience of my life.

During the three years we lived together, I became a de-facto stepmother. Parents, you know how it is with 3-year-olds. The name of the game is “choice.” Either you yield some control and decision-making power or they’ll assert themselves in ways you might find inconvenient.

As we introduced the little one in my life to normal routines like brushing her teeth, washing her hands, and going to bed at a reasonable hour, we tried to make it fun.

“Do you want to use the bubbly soap or the fruity soap?” we’d ask her. “Do you want to wear SpongeBob or princess jammies?” This was a much more successful strategy than simply commanding her to go to bed.

Around the same time, I began reporting on some very scary chemical news. One by one, I’d discover the dangers of this toxic chemical or that one. I carefully eliminated these chemicals from my own life, replacing them with affordable and effective alternatives.

Out went Herbal Essences, and in came Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. And who needs a chemical cocktail labeled “aloe” when they can easily keep an aloe plant in the front yard or their windowsill to take care of sunburns?

But occasionally, out of curiosity, I’d pick up Miss Toddler’s bubbly soap or princess pajamas to read the ingredients label. Lo and behold, the kid products — which should be the safest things in the house — were often the most toxic.

One offending ingredient in the soaps and toothpaste marketed for tots is triclosan. It’s common in anti-bacterial soaps aimed at the grownup market too — as well as facial cleanser, shave gel, lip gloss, deodorant, and even dog shampoo.

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Maker’s: Women who Make America

I actively started transition on a New Year’s Eve, as 1968 turned into 1969.

In 1968 the Women’s Liberation Movement held a big protest in Atlantic City outside the Miss America Pageant.  In spite of what the mainstream media said bras were not burned.  By 1968 many women would have had to buy a bra in order to burn it, but that is beside the point.

The more important thing is that like the anti-war in Vietnam movement and later the gay/lesbian liberation movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement was immediately malreported on and mischaracterized by the mainstream media.

(While the right wingers have continually repeated the big lie regarding mainstream media having a liberal bias, generally speaking it tends to have a strongly conservative bias.)

I started supporting women’s liberation before I started hormones and considered myself a feminist by the time I went 24/7 in mid-June of 1969.

The linking of trans-oppression to the sexist oppression of women seemed far more obvious to me than any connection to the Gay Liberation Movement.

Unlike Nicole Murray Ramirez, whose piece I ran just before this post, I never considered myself a gay man.

Stonewall wasn’t a big deal for me.  I didn’t got to Stonewall Pride events until 1974, after I had come out as lesbian (even though bisexual would have been more accurate).  I started going to Pride events because I had started seeing myself as part of the Lesbian Feminist Movement.

Last night I watched Makers: Women who Make America on the local PBS station.

As soon as the show started Tina started saying, “You have books by her, and her, and her, and her. Oh you took photos of her.”

While much of the activity shown took place in New York the Women’s Liberation Movement was every where.

I remember how close we came to passing the Equal Rights Amendment before the right wing mainstream media stated pushing the crap of Phyllis Schlafly, the harridan of the ultra right.

If you missed the screening on PBS last night it is available to view with streaming video at:

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Tranny? Queer? What’s in a name?

Nicole Murray Ramirez has been around as long as I have.  She was around when I first started going to Christopher Street West Pride Day in LA in 1974. I have photos of her from those days.

She was involved in the Imperial Courts which give her as much of a legitimate claim to being a pioneer of the building of the trans-gay community connection as anyone.

But she’s a queen and these days drag queens are more or less rejected by the transgender community, which sometimes seems to have a homophobic streak.

That said, I think ‘trannie” has become like the “n-word”, disrespectful in spite of its common usage by trans-folks.

From The San Diego LGBT Weekly:

by Nicole Murray Ramirez
Thursday, February 21st, 2013

In her column last week in San Diego LGBT Weekly (issue 113, Feb. 14) Ms. Autumn Sandeen went off on RuPaul and others for using the word “tranny.” Ms. Sandeen even actually attacked RuPaul as “trans-negative” and that the word “tranny” was offensive. To whom, Ms. Sandeen?

The facts are that our GLBT community uses a lot of names and words to identify us and not all of us like or use the words and some do.

Let me give you a history lesson, Ms. Sandeen.

In the 1950s we were “homosexuals.” Around the 1960s we became “gay.” As gay men and women then in the 1970s we became “gay and lesbian.” Now, not everyone liked these names and labels while some did.

Many females like being called “gay women” and fought the name lesbian. To this very day Susan Jester (founder AIDS Walk, San Diego) does not like to be called a lesbian, but describes herself as a “gay woman.”

I remember serving on the national executive boards of the Marches on Washington and the debates and votes if we should add bi-sexual and transgender.

Now about transgender. It is a relatively new word for our community. I was a pre-operative transsexual during the late 1960s and 70s. The word transgender was not around.

All of a sudden a group of people organized and came up with the word “transgender” and a “transgender umbrella” that included everyone from drag queens to transsexuals.

The facts are that not everyone is even comfortable with this “trans-umbrella” and almost 100 percent of “drag queens” consider themselves “gay men.”

A lot of transsexuals consider themselves either women or men and hate to be called transgender, as they want to pass and consider themselves “heterosexual” after their complete operations, while others remain in the gay community and want to have the “trans” label added.

I have fought for “transsexuals” and yes, transgender people for decades as I’ve walked in their shoes and I am proud of the progress and visibility the trans community has accomplished in such a short time.

But you, Ms. Sandeen, don’t and can’t speak on behalf of the entire trans community and nor can I. And I do know this, that many of us use the word “tranny” with love and good meaning and have done so since the 1960s and 70s. Long before you began your activism.

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Trans Folks Who Are Unemployed, Homeless, or in Massive Debt

From The Advocate:

Paying for medical care isn’t the only concern facing transgender Americans.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
February 24 2013

CNNMoney, a digital partnership between CNN and Fortune and Money magazines, came up with an impressive series this week in which they spoke to six transgender people who were either unemployed, homeless, living on food stamps, or facing piles of debt. Trans leaders are heralding the stalwart news site for looking at the significant issues that transgender Americans faces in every day life: money, healthcare, and jobs.

Among the key points in Blake Ellis’s opening article:

“It’s hard to pin down a precise jobless rate since there’s so little transgender-specific data available. The most recent comprehensive study of more than 6,000 transgender individuals was released in 2011 by the National Center for Transgender Equality. This report found the transgender jobless rate to be 14% — double the national rate — and as high as 28% for black respondents. And a recent online Prudential survey of 49 transgender individuals had similar findings.”

“Homelessness among this group is estimated to be double the national rate, according to the NCTE study. Respondents were also nearly four times more likely to have annual household incomes of less than $10,000, and 16% said they resorted to sex work or drug dealing for income — a percentage that nearly doubled for the unemployed and skyrocketed to 53% for black respondents.

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Why ‘LGB’ and ‘T’ Belong Together

From Huffington Post:


As an analyst, historical data is often important because it helps answer the question, “How did we get here?” However, this eventually becomes less important than determining “where are we going, and how do we get there?” This is exactly the mindset of most LGBT millennials when it comes to civil rights and advocacy.

Unfortunately, some transgender leaders keep trying to revive old grievances, like 18-year-old articles from The New York Times. However, people like Jim Fouratt haven’t been relevant in decades. Janice Raymond and her ilk are a poorly regarded footnote in the annals of second-wave lesbian feminism. Things cited as proof that LGB leadership has it in for the transgender community may or may not have actually been said. Barney Frank has retired. So has Joe Solmonese. The historical reasons typically cited for the division between the LGB and T have become just that: history.

While many pundits have piled onto the Republicans for failing to recognize the effects of a generational shift in attitudes, leadership in the LGB and T communities also need to recognize the same. Millennials will soon, if not already, constitute the majority of the people represented by LGBT organizations. To the younger folks these divisions look like a Monty Python sketch about the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea “bickering and arguing about who killed who.”

I certainly do not speak for everyone, but from the perspective of millennials who are educated, diverse, and looking for the “BLUF” (Bottom Line Up Front), LGB and T have more experiences, goals and obstacles in common than not.

  1. We all violate gender norms. LGB people break one of the most fundamental stereotypes and expectations of gender, namely women should fall in love with men, and vice versa. Transgender people violate other gender stereotypes, sometimes including who we are supposed to fall in love with and marry. At some point in their lives, many transgender people will either be seen as LGB by others, or see themselves as LGB.

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Widow asks supreme court to strike Doma on grounds of discrimination

From The Guardian UK:

Lawyers for Edith Windsor file brief ahead of March 7 hearing that urges justices to find anti-gay legislation unconstitutional

in New York, Tuesday 26 February 2013

Edith Windsor, the New York widow at the centre of a US supreme court legal challenge to the act that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriage, put her case on Tuesday in a brief arguing that the law contributes to the “pervasive history of discrimination” experienced by gay people in the US.

Windsor, 83, and her long-term partner, Thea Spyer, married in Canada in 2007, after Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. When Spyer died two years later she left everything to Windsor, her partner of 44 years, but because the marriage was not recognised under federal law, Windsor was required to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes. She requested a refund from the government but her request was rejected because of the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma).

In her brief to the court, Windsor’s legal team argues that laws like Doma that classify people based on their sexual orientation should be subjected to “heightened scrutiny”, a standard which calls on the court to presume that anti-gay legislation is unconstitutional and asks the government to provide a strong explanation for the law in question.

Windsor’s lawyers wrote: “As this court has already recognized, laws burdening lesbians and gay men that were ‘once thought necessary and proper’ may in fact ‘serve only to oppress’.”

The brief notes that “gay men and lesbians have experienced a pervasive history of discrimination” and that “as a result lesbians and gay men have confronted discrimination at the hands of both government and private actors”.

On Friday, the Obama administration also filed a brief in the case with a similar argument that laws targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation should face additional scrutiny by courts reviewing them. In it, solicitor general Donald Verrilli argued the law is unconstitutional because it violates “the fundamental guarantee of equal protection”.

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Rape: The Universal Crime

From Reader Supported News:

By Ruth Rosen,
24 February 13

The feminist writer Susan Griffin called rape “The All American Crime” in Ramparts Magazine in 1971. She was the first feminist to explain that men rape children, elderly and disabled women, not just girls dressed in mini-skirts. In other words, she challenged the belief that that rape was a sexual act, fueled by men’s irrepressible sexual drive. Instead, she argued that rape was an assault against a woman, fueled by the desire to control and harm her, not a sexual act at all.

While I became a professor of history at the University of California a few years later, an elderly woman was raped by a man who stalked the campus looking for prey. He finally found a woman in her 90s and raped her in Davis’s Central Park. (I can’t find the newspaper story, but I remember the terror he caused among the town’s women.) In 2012, a 43-year-old man raped a 73-year-old woman in New York City’s Central Park and even boasted about how many elderly women he had raped. So, no, rape is not a sexual act.

Griffin was right. Even more, we now know that rape is the universal crime. Men don’t need seductive young bodies scantily dressed to incite them to use their overwhelming power over a vulnerable woman. Even though rape has been declared illegal in war as a means of demoralizing an enemy, the Balkan wars revealed the creation of “rape camps” on all sides.

And has anything changed? Well yes, there was a huge outpouring of protest against the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in India in December 2012. But after that atrocity, countless rapes followed in Timbuktu, Mali, just weeks later. In every ethnic strife, opponents rape women as part of the spoils of their victory. It’s in the newspaper every day with sickening regularity.

Closer to home, I recently received a message from the Berkeley police, notifying me that the number of rapes in Berkeley, California, has doubled during the last year. The twenty rapes that occurred in 2011 jumped to 39 in 2012. Many of these crimes took place near campus, where I live, and some, as you would expect, involved alcohol and drugs, according to the local news station, KGO. Very likely, some of these involved date rape, a term not used until the women’s movement coined it.

Then I read a story in the New York Times that women are now among the loudest voices against gun control. They are crowding the shooting ranges, learning how to shoot and protect themselves. Why? Because of fear of rape, fear of gender violence of all kinds, and probably fear of criminals as well as immigrants in the border states.

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