Friday Night Fun and Culture: Summer Time

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‘Boy or girl?’ As even younger kids challenge gender identity, schools try to adjust

From The Washington Post:

By Associated Press
Published: May 27, 2013

CHICAGO — From the time they are born, we put our boys in blue beanies and our girls in pink ones. It’s a societal norm, an expectation even, that you just are what you are born — a boy or a girl.

From early on, we divide toys and activities by very distinct gender lines, with superheroes and trucks and muck on one side and princesses and dolls and all things frilly on the other.

Many children land, enthusiastically, on the expected side. Others dabble in both “girl” and “boy” things. But what if your kid, even from an early age, mostly showed interest in doing opposite-gender things? More importantly, what if they wanted to BE the opposite gender — or a less-defined mix of both? And what if they wanted to test those limits in public places, like school?

Would you let them?

It’s not, of course, that pat of a process. Parents don’t just decide to let their kids switch genders. But, whether parents are dragged through the process, or if they decide to work it through more openly, more kids are challenging the boundaries of traditional gender, and going public at younger ages.

And they are doing so with the guidance of a growing faction of medical experts who no longer see this as something to be fixed. Last year, the American Psychiatric Association removed “gender identity disorder” from its list of mental health ailments.

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Media criticised over transgender teacher Lucy Meadows’ death

From BBC:

28 May 2013

A coroner has criticised the media over the “character assassination” of a transgender teacher who later took her own life.

An inquest heard Lucy Meadows hit the headlines after announcing her return to Mary Magdalen’s Primary School in Accrington, Lancashire, as a woman.

Ms Meadows, 32, previously known as male teacher Nathan Upton, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in March.

Coroner Michael Singleton said media guidelines should be tightened.

Ms Meadows had complained to the Press Complaints Commission about harassment and an article in the Daily Mail by columnist Richard Littlejohn questioning her right to teach, the inquest in Blackburn was told.

‘Sensationalist and salacious’

The inquest heard notes written before she died did not attribute her death to press intrusion but stated she had “simply had enough of living”.

Mr Singleton, however, said he was appalled at the “sensationalist and salacious” media intrusion she had faced.

He said: “She had done nothing wrong. Her only crime was to be different – not by her own choice but by some trick of nature.”

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Poland: I do not demand tolerance, I demand equal rights. — Anna Grodzka

From Daily Kos:

By rserven
Tue May 28, 2013

Recently Poland’s Anna Grodzka was in the UK to give the annual Kaleidoscope Trust IDAHOT lecture.  Grodzka is currently the only transgender member of parliament in the world.

[M]y high visibility illustrates a strange paradox that we as transgender people experience daily.  We are highly visible and yet almost invisible at the same time.Individually you often can’t miss us.  On a bus or in the street many trans people stand out, even if we would like to pass as a woman or a man.  And because we are easy to spot, we are easy to bully.  I have lost count of the number of times I have been shouted at in the street or felt threatened by unwanted attention from drunk men who think it’s funny to ridicule someone who looks different from the norm.  Most of my trans friends report similar treatment.


There were a total of 1123 reported killings of transpeople in 57 countries from 2008 to 2012.

Despite estimates that 2-5% of the population is transgender (ie experience some kind of gender dysphoria) the violence against, and even murder of, transgender people is rarely discussed.Where the human rights of ethnic minorities, gay and disabled people are now taken very seriously, and in the case of the former, rising fast up the international agenda, the rights of transgender people remain an afterthought.

I put this down to the unsettling challenge transgender people can represent to norms of masculinity and femininity, which many hold dear. The fear and discomfort we can engender sometimes results in mockery and contempt from those with power, including from some well-known media commentators.


Georgina Beyer of New Zealand was the world’s first known transgender Member of Parliament, serving from November 1999 until February 2007.  She is currently suffering from extreme kidney failure as she awaits a transplant.  She has been on welfare since 2010.

Vladimir Luxuria was a transgender member of parliament in Italy from 2006 until 2008.  She lives exclusively as a female but does not perceive herself as either male or female…so I apologize for the pronouns.

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British media get interactive with trans people

From Gay Star News:

Charity runs ‘interactions’ between journalists and trans people to increase understanding of trans issues in the media

By Anna Leach
29 May 2013

After a spate of nasty incidents involving coverage of trans people in the UK media last winter, charity On Road (which works to improve the portrayal of minorities in the media) is arranging a series of ‘interactions’ this summer.

One of the first interactions – informal meetings between media personnel and trans men and women – was suitably with The Observer, the Sunday newspaper that printed an offensive column with trans slurs last January.

The Observer’s editor John Mulholland assistant editor, Robert Yates and three section editors met five prominent trans rights activists – Paris Lees, Ralph Francis Fox (from Channel 4’s My Transsexual Summer), Ayla Holdom (Royal Air Force search and fescue flight lieutenant), Jamie Pallas and children’s book author Sarah Lennox – earlier this month.

The interaction to the form of one-to-one chats and group discussions.

‘The editors were generally moved and struck by the personal journeys they heard,’ said a write-up about the event on the website for the project, All About Trans.

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Chief Auditor Eviscerates Regnerus Study, But Questions Remain

From Bilerico:

By John M. Becker
May 30, 2013

In an explosive interview published yesterday by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Darren Sherkat — a member of the editorial board of the journal Social Science Research, which published Mark Regnerus’s disgraced “study” claiming that gays and lesbians make inferior parents — once again eviscerated the study as “deeply flawed” and its author as “disgraced.” Sherkat, who is also a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University, was appointed by Social Science Research editor James Wright to conduct an audit of the process by which Regnerus’s study was reviewed and approved for publication.


Speaking to the SPLC’s Evelyn Schlatter, he remarked,

When we talk about Regnerus, I completely dismiss the study. It’s over. He has been disgraced. All of the prominent people in the field know what he did and why he did it. And most of them know that he knew better. Some of them think that he’s also stupid and an ideologue. I know better. I know that he’s a smart guy and that he did this on purpose, and that it was bad, and that it was substandard.


Additionally, Sherkat said that Regnerus’s “study” is part of a much larger and very alarming trend: the infiltration of mainstream academia, science, and research by conservative evangelicals, who then conduct and publish dubious studies bought and paid for by private foundations and think tanks with specific ideological agendas. In short, the right wing is hijacking science in a long-term effort to win the culture wars:

There is in fact a movement to change the intellectual and cultural climate of academics. This has been going on for over 30 years. Look at things like James Davidson Hunter’s Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation, where he talks about the growth of these more intellectual conservative evangelical types in Christian colleges like Wheaton and Gordon and Calvin, which is Regnerus’ alma mater. They’ve actively courted the young, successful people in these colleges to become professors, to become intellectuals, and they support their careers.

One thing that’s disturbing to me about the Regnerus study is that Regnerus (right) received a large amount of money from these foundations and this creates a very different scholarly and intellectual atmosphere. It creates a playing field that’s not level. Someone like Regnerus is now able to go out and buy his own data, if we’re to accept data of this quality.

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Leading neuroscientist: Religious fundamentalism may be a ‘mental illness’ that can be ‘cured’

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Thursday, May 30, 2013

A leading neurologist at the University of Oxford said this week that recent developments meant that science may one day be able to identify religious fundamentalism as a “mental illness” and a cure it.

During a talk at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales on Wednesday, Kathleen Taylor was asked what positive developments she anticipated in neuroscience in the next 60 years.

“One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated,” she explained, according to The Times of London. “Somebody who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology – we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance.”

“I am not just talking about the obvious candidates like radical Islam or some of the more extreme cults,” she explained. “I am talking about things like the belief that it is OK to beat your children. These beliefs are very harmful but are not normally categorized as mental illness.”

“In many ways that could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage, that really do a lot of harm.”

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