From The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/boy-or-girl-as-even-younger-kids-challenge-gender-identity-schools-try-to-adjust/2013/05/27/ee1fbc2e-c6f7-11e2-9cd9-3b9a22a4000a_story.html
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.
Continue reading at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/boy-or-girl-as-even-younger-kids-challenge-gender-identity-schools-try-to-adjust/2013/05/27/ee1fbc2e-c6f7-11e2-9cd9-3b9a22a4000a_story.html
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.”
Continue reading at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-22694847
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.
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.
Continue reading at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/british-media-get-interactive-trans-people290513
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.
Continue reading at: http://www.bilerico.com/2013/05/chief_reviewer_repudiates_regnerus_study.php
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.”
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Erick Erickson, the conservative blogger and Fox News personality, became the most hated man on Twitter today after responding to a much-discussed Pew survey on female breadwinners by saying that science says that men should dominate women (to be fair to Erickson, Juan Williams and Lou Dobbs expressed equally retrograde sentiments on the very same segment, but have largely escaped the drubbing).
Erickson tried to clear things up with a blog post this afternoon, but only made matters worse by showing how much he doesn’t get it. The missive started off poorly, with some whining about how feminists and “emo lefties have their panties in a wad” (pro-tip: when accused of sexism, don’t reference your opponents’ panties while mounting your defense) and only got worse from there.
First there was a science lesson:
I also noted that the left, which tells us all the time we’re just another animal in the animal kingdom, is rather anti-science when it comes to this. In many, many animal species, the male and female of the species play complementary roles, with the male dominant in strength and protection and the female dominant in nurture.
There are also species where males castrate themselves before sex to avoid being eating alive by females. Perhaps Erickson would like to experience that — you know, because science?
Erickson goes on to equate all female breadwinners with single mothers, and then to assume that the outrage directed at his comments was about some kind of politically correct effort to destroy families:
But we should not kid ourselves or scream so loudly in politically correct outrage to drown the truth — kids most likely will do best in households where they have a mom at home nurturing them while dad is out bringing home the bacon.
Here he shows he just doesn’t get it. What upset people about Erickson’s comments had less to do with single mothers and the decline of marriage rates than about gender roles. It was his notion that women should always stay at home and tend to the kids and that men should always be the breadwinners and dominate women — because that’s only natural.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/30/erick_erickson_makes_it_worse/
By Robert Parry
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
One reasonable way of looking at democratic governance is that it carries out the collective will of a society, especially in areas where the private sector can’t do the job or needs regulation to prevent it from doing harm. Of course, there are always many variables and points of disagreement, from the need to protect individual rights to the wisdom of each decision.
But something extreme has surfaced in modern American politics: an ideological hatred of government. From the Tea Party to libertarianism, there is a “principled” rejection – at least rhetorically – of almost everything that government does (outside of national security), and those views are no longer simply “fringe.” By and large, they have been embraced by the national Republican Party.
There has also been an effort to anchor these angry anti-government positions in the traditions of U.S. history. The Tea Party consciously adopted imagery and symbols from the Revolutionary War era to create an illusion that this contempt of government fits with the First Principles.
However, this right-wing revision of U.S. history is wildly askew if not upside-down. The Framers of the U.S. Constitution – and even many of their “anti-federalist” critics – were not hostile to an American government. They understood the difference between an English monarchy that denied them representation in Parliament and their own Republic.
Indeed, the key Framers – James Madison, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton – might be called pragmatic nationalists, eager to use the new Constitution, which centralized power at the national level, to build the young country and protect its fragile independence.
While these Framers later split over precise applications of the Constitution – Madison opposed Hamilton’s national bank, for instance – they accepted the need for a strong and effective federal government, unlike the weak, states’-rights-oriented Articles of Confederation.
More generally, the Founders recognized the need for order if their experiment in self-governance was to work. Even some of the more radical Founders, the likes of Sam Adams, supported the suppression of domestic disorders, such as Shays’ Rebellion in Massachusetts and the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania. The logic of Adams and his cohorts was that an uprising against a distant monarch was one thing, but taking up arms against your own republican government was something else.
But the Tea Partiers are not entirely wrong when they insist that their hatred of “guv-mint” has its roots in the Founding era. There was an American tradition that involved resisting a strong and effective national government. It was, however, not anchored in the principles of “liberty,” but rather in the practice of slavery.
Continue reading at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/16619-source-of-anti-government-extremism
Commemorating the traitorous Confederates by naming military bases and other things after them is the same as naming our military bases after Nazis.
The Confederacy stood for treason and slavery, racism and bigotry. Its history is a blot upon America.
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/opinion/sunday/misplaced-honor.html
IN the complex and not entirely complete process of reconciliation after the Civil War, honoring the dead with markers, tributes and ceremonies has played a crucial role. Some of these gestures, like Memorial Day, have been very successful. The practice of decorating the graves arose in many towns, north and south, some even before the war had ended. This humble idea quickly spread throughout the country, and the recognition of common loss helped reconcile North and South.
But other gestures had a more a political edge. Equivalence of experience was stretched to impute an equivalence of legitimacy. The idea that “now, we are all Americans” served to whitewash the actions of the rebels. The most egregious example of this was the naming of United States Army bases after Confederate generals.
Today there are at least 10 of them. Yes — the United States Army maintains bases named after generals who led soldiers who fought and killed United States Army soldiers; indeed, who may have killed such soldiers themselves.
Only a couple of the officers are famous. Fort Lee, in Virginia, is of course named for Robert E. Lee, a man widely respected for his integrity and his military skills. Yet, as the documentarian Ken Burns has noted, he was responsible for the deaths of more Army soldiers than Hitler and Tojo. John Bell Hood, for whom Fort Hood, Tex., is named, led a hard-fighting brigade known for ferocious straight-on assaults. During these attacks, Hood lost the use of an arm at Gettysburg and a leg at Chickamauga, but he delivered victories, at least for a while. Later, when the gallant but tactically inflexible Hood launched such assaults at Nashville and Franklin, Tenn., his armies were smashed.
Fort Benning in Georgia is named for Henry Benning, a State Supreme Court associate justice who became one of Lee’s more effective subordinates. Before the war, this ardent secessionist inflamed fears of abolition, which he predicted would inevitably lead to black governors, juries, legislatures and more. “Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand for that?” Benning wrote. “We will be overpowered and our men will be compelled to wander like vagabonds all over the earth, and as for our women, the horrors of their state we cannot contemplate in imagination.”
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/opinion/sunday/misplaced-honor.html
As if I give a shit what this Neo-Nazi thinks about anything. As far as I’m concerned the Joseph Goebbels of the Tea Party can go play in traffic with Louie “the Goofball” Gohmert.
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-james-hansen/the-american-party_b_3358546.html
Dr. James Hansen
My remarks when receiving the Ridenhour Courage Award were written in Union Station on my way to the event. But my concluding comment — that we are near a point when the American people should contemplate a centrist third party — was not an idle spur-of-the-moment reflection.
I was in government 40 years, long enough to understand how aging organizations can evolve into self-licking ice cream cones1, organizations whose main purpose becomes self-perpetuation rather than accomplishment of their supposed objectives. The public can see this tendency in our politicians, our Congress, and our major political parties.
Our government has failed to address climate, energy, and economic challenges. These challenges, addressed together, actually can be a great opportunity. Our democracy and economic system still have great potential for innovation and rapid adoption of improved technologies, if the government provides the right conditions and gets out of the way.
The Solution is Not Rocket Science
Conservatives and liberals alike can recognize the merit of honest pricing of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels today receive subsidies and do not pay their costs to society. Human health costs of pollution from fossil fuel burning and fossil fuel mining are borne by the public. Climate disruption costs are borne by the victims and all taxpayers.
This market distortion makes our economy less efficient and less competitive. Fixing this problem is not rocket science. The solution can be simple and transparent.
I have described a fossil fuel “fee-and-dividend” approach, summarized on Charts 1 and 2. 100% of a continually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies at the domestic mine or port-of-entry, is distributed uniformly to all legal residents (electronically to bank account or debit card). 60% of people receive more in the dividend than they pay in increased prices, but to get or stay on the positive side of the ledger they must pay attention to their fossil fuel use. Millions of jobs are created as we move toward clean energy. Economic modeling shows that our fossil fuel use would decrease 30% after 10 years. A rising carbon fee provides a viable international approach to reduce global emissions, the basic requirement being a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and China. A border duty on products from nations without an equivalent carbon fee or tax would provide a strong incentive for other nations to join.
Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-james-hansen/the-american-party_b_3358546.html
By Jen Alic
Tue, 28 May 2013
Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) is cutting its losses on algae biofuels after investing over $100 million only to find that it couldn’t achieve commercial viability.
Earlier this week, Exxon announced that while it wasn’t throwing in the towel, it would be forced to restructure its algae research with partner California-based Synthetic Genomics Inc (SGI).
When the two launched their algae-derived biofuels program in 2009, Exxon planned to invest around $600 million with the goal of developing algae fuels within 10 years.
But it’s been more complicated than expected, and after $100 million down the drain, it has become clear that much more research—and at least another decade and half—are needed.
Exxon spokesman Charles Englemann told Bloomberg that the partners had “gained significant understanding of the challenges that must be overcome to deliver scalable algae-based biofuels.”
Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM Group) declared the northern portion of Keystone XL as environmentally safe and sound on behalf of State in March, in defiance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s assessment, among others.
The northern half of Keystone XL will connect to the over 75-percent complete southern half and – if built – will carry Alberta’s tar sands bitumen south to Texas refineries, with most of the final product shipped to the highest bidder on the global market. State and eventually President Barack Obama have the final say over the proposal because the northern section of pipeline crosses the international border.
The overarching problem with that ERM assessment, as first revealed on Grist by Brad Johnson: ERM Group was chosen not by the State Dept., but by TransCanada itself. Furthermore, as first revealed on Mother Jones by Andy Kroll, the State Dept. redacted biographical portions of the EIS that pointed to ERM’s ongoing close consulting relationship with ERM Group and TransCanada.
“The American public was supposed to get an honest look at the impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline,” writes Checks and Balances‘ Gabe Elsner. “Instead…a fossil fuel contractor, hid its ties from the State Department so they could green light the project on behalf of its oil company clients.”
Instead of an honest look, the public got deception, perhaps not surprisingly given ERM’s historical contracting relationship with Big Tobacco, as first revealed here on DeSmogBlog. ERM seems to have blatantly lied to the State Dept. – which apparently did no homework of its own, or turned a blind eye at least – and answered “no” to the question shown in the screenshot below.
by Bill McKibben
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Earlier this month, the trustees of the city graveyard in Santa Monica, California (final resting place of actor Glenn Ford and tennis star May Sutton) announced they were selling their million dollars worth of stock in fossil fuel companies. As far as I know they were the first cemetery board to do so, but they join a gathering wave of universities, churches and synagogues, city governments and pension funds.
In the last few months, fossil fuel divestment has turned into one of the fastest-growing protest campaigns in recent American history – and it’s already reached all the way to Australia, where portions of the Uniting Church have announced they’ll sell their fossil fuel stock as well.
It’s happening because it’s one of the few ways for concerned people and institutions to take a stand on climate change, and confront the enormous power of the fossil fuel industry. But it’s also happening because once you run the numbers, there’s no way to escape the conclusion that this industry is now an outlaw industry. Not outlaw against the laws of the state – they generally have a large hand in writing those – but outlaw against the laws of physics.
Here’s the maths: almost every country on earth, including Australia, has signed on to the idea that we shouldn’t raise the planet’s temperature more than two degrees – that was the only tangible outcome of the otherwise pointless Copenhagen conference on climate change in 2009. The one degree we’ve raised so far has already melted the Arctic, not to mention laid the ground for Australia’s “angry summer”. As such, two degrees is too high but it’s the only red line the planet’s governments have ever agreed to.
We know roughly how much more carbon we can emit before we go past two degrees: about 500 billion tons. And at current rates of emissions, that will take us less than 40 years. But the math gets really impossible when you consider how much carbon the world’s coal, oil and gas industries already have in their reserves. That number is about 2,800 gigatons – five times what the most conservative governments and scientists on earth say would be safe to burn.
BY Karen Iris Tucke
May 28 2013
Iconic pop duo the Indigo Girls have long been a staple at the annual Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, but this is the last time Emily Saliers and Amy Ray will take the stage — unless the festival reverses a long-standing policy that only “women born women” may attend.
“It became clear that we had to take a stand and let people know exactly how we felt,” says Saliers. She and Ray issued a statement on their website in April announcing that while they will perform this year, it will be their last until Michfest moves to formally admit transgender women after nearly four decades of being excluded. Saliers and Ray also vowed to donate any money made from the performance to trans activism. They plan to use the stage as a pulpit to discuss the issue, and their statement has already helped start the debate.
On August 6, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival will take place, with roughly 3,000 women in attendance, as it has for the past 38 years in the remote woodlands of Michigan. It began with a simple, yet radical idea: an annual gathering where women alone could congregate from around the world, pitch tents, and enjoy music. Yet its bedrock separatist credo of being an event to create safe space solely for “women born women” has increasingly come under fire as discriminatory, and even transphobic.
The conflict reached a boiling point in April, when writer and comic Red Durkin, a lesbian trans woman, launched a Change.org petition calling on performers to boycott the festival until its organizers would “explicitly welcome all self-identified women.” The petition now has more than 2,000 signatures.
Poet Andrea Gibson dropped out of this year’s lineup. Conversely, songwriter Melissa Ferrick, who admits she’s waffled on the issue in recent years, plans to perform. “I believe boycotting should be a last-resort tool for activism when dealing with like-minded folks with whom you generally share political solidarity and a grassroots worldview,” Ferrick says. Other performers reached by The Advocate were loath to take sides.
In its early years, second-wave feminists and members of an erstwhile fledgling lesbian movement traveled to Michfest simply to revel for a week in the clothing-optional atmosphere “on the Land,” and escape the typical trappings of patriarchy and homophobia. Many of those women — now with children in tow — still return for that same experience.
Saliers theorizes that history is why some Michfest attendees continue to support excluding trans women: “It’s this great fear that this really, really small community will come in and take over and ruin the institution of a safe space that women born women have created.”
Lisa Vogel, 57, a founder of the festival and its artistic director, is no stranger to controversy. “In my 38 years of being involved with this festival, there have been a fair number of junctures where the festival has come under fire,” Vogel says. “In the beginning it was because it was a women-only event. It was construed as anti-male.”
Vogel released her own statement on the heels of Durkin’s petition, essentially reiterating the women-born-women position. “I respect the politics of separate space,” she says. “What I am trying to address in my statement is that if you are born female, deemed female at birth, raised as a girl, experienced the rigid enforcement of gender hierarchy from the time that you are a baby, you have a certain shared group experience that is different from someone who was born, deemed male, and raised as a boy.”
Continue reading at: http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2013/05/28/it-wrong-perform-michfest
by David Badash
on May 29, 2013
The Regnerus anti-gay parenting “study” by Mark Regnerus (image, above) is “deeply flawed” and as a result, the author himself is “disgraced,” says the study’s top appointed scholarly reviewer.
In a lengthy interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Darren Sherkat, a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University, and a member of the editorial board of Social Science Research — the publisher of the Regnerus “study,” officially the “New Family Structures Study” (NFSS) – once again decimates the Regnerus paper.
“When we talk about Regnerus, I completely dismiss the study,” Sherkat tells the Southern Poverty Law Center:
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.
Regular readers will note that The New Civil Rights Movement was at the forefront of investigating the background and methodology of the Regnerus work, which falsely claimed that adult children raised by gay and lesbian parents by far more likely to perform poorly in life. The Regnerus study claimed that these adults of gay parents had far great chances of using drugs, being on welfare and food stamps, have behavioral problems, and exhibit self-destructive behaviors. The list of negative outcomes was lengthy — and false.
In fact, Regnerus used a sample of adults who were asked not if their parents were LGBT, but if they thought their parents had ever had sex or a relationship with a member of the same-sex. Only a handful of the study’s participants were actually raised by a same-sex couple.
Here at The New Civil Rights Movement, Scott Rose authored dozens upon dozens of articles on Regnerus, and was instrumental in convincing the academic community to re-examine the Regnerus work and the University of Texas to conduct a review of Regnerus’ study.